"Health is wealth. Peace of mind is happiness. Yoga shows the way."
-Swami Vishnu Devananda

A Traditional Sivananda Yoga Class

What to Expect

 

Taking a traditional Sivananda class is like traveling to a different country at an earlier time and is unlike any other. It has been practiced for many years and was one of the first styles of yoga brought to the United States from India in 1957. The physical aspect of the practice (poses/asanas) revolves around the same 12 basic postures in each class, including frequent relaxation & deep yogic breathing during and between each pose.

 

What to Expect:

An Open Class is a traditional, slow paced, meditative class that helps encourage proper breathing, flexibility, strength and vitality in the body while calming the mind. Because Yoga is a spiritual system with a physical component, this non-competitive approach helps the practitioner gain much more than just a healthy body.

 

A typical open level class includes pranayama (breathing exercises), warm-ups including Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar), 12 basic asanas (postures) and deep relaxation. The focus is on mastering the basic asanas from which variations are then added to further deepen the practice. The asanas follow an exact order that allows for the systematic movement of every major part of the body in a balanced way that enhances prana or life force energy, keeping the mind quiet and without the need to think beyond each individual pose. Additional variations may also be taught.

 

Background:

Sivananda Yoga is a spiritual system founded by Swami Sivananda and refined by his disciple, Vishnu Devananda; it includes the use of asanas (physical postures) but is not limited to them as in systems of yoga as exercise. This yogic system equally emphasizes Pranayama (breathwork), relaxation, a svattic (vegetarian/non-stimulating) diet, vedanta philosophy, and meditation. Vedanta philosophy is the pursuit of knowledge into the Brahman (the absolute) and the Ātman.

 

The Brahman Atman is the Absolute Reality of existence. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Godhead. Brahman cannot be described. It can only be experienced. So when we say, “Atman is Brahman,” we're saying that the individual soul is the same as the universal soul

Swami Sivananda & Vishnu Devananda

 

Native to India, Swami Sivananda practiced as a medical doctor for many years before renouncing worldly life. He devoted himself to serving humanity through yoga until his death in 1963. While alive, he authored over 300 spiritual texts that still provide guidance to millions of seekers around the world and earned him the title of a spiritual teacher and saint of modern times. 

Six years before he left his body, Sivananda sent his devoted student, Vishnu Devananda, to the west to spread his ideals of yoga. His philosophy was grounded in five basic principles that aimed to ensure that the body retains its vitality over the years, thereby lowering the risk of disease when followed consistently. 

  1. proper exercise (12 basic asanas or postures)

  2. proper breathing (pranayama)

  3. proper relaxation (savasana)

  4. proper diet and

  5. positive thinking & meditation

 

Vishnu Devananda established the first yoga teachers' training courses in the west, set up yoga centers and ashrams throughout the world, and is recognized and remembered as a "pioneering world authority on hatha and raja yoga." He dedicated his life's work to the teachings of his guru, Sivananda, and contributed immensely to his legacy of love, peace, and knowledge. 

Sivananda Yoga is where my yoga journey began. I was in my early 20's when I first began practicing and at the time, I was not treating my body kindly. I knew I needed a change and yoga offered that opportunity for me. From the first time I stepped onto the mat, life has never been the same. I love to look back and remember how it all began with the beautiful tradition of Sivananda Yoga.