Sivananda Yoga – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Yoga Styles Glossary

I. What is Sivananda Yoga?

Sivananda Yoga is a form of traditional hatha yoga that focuses on the holistic development of the individual through the practice of yoga postures, breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, and meditation. Founded by Swami Sivananda in the early 20th century, Sivananda Yoga aims to promote physical, mental, and spiritual well-being by integrating the various aspects of yoga into a comprehensive system.

II. History of Sivananda Yoga

Swami Sivananda, a renowned spiritual teacher and author, established the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh, India in 1936. He was a prolific writer and his teachings on yoga, Vedanta, and spirituality gained widespread popularity. Swami Sivananda’s disciple, Swami Vishnudevananda, played a key role in spreading Sivananda Yoga to the West in the 1960s. Today, there are Sivananda Yoga centers and ashrams around the world that continue to uphold the teachings of Swami Sivananda.

III. Principles of Sivananda Yoga

Sivananda Yoga is based on five core principles that serve as the foundation of the practice. These principles are proper exercise (asanas), proper breathing (pranayama), proper relaxation (savasana), proper diet (vegetarian), and positive thinking and meditation. By incorporating these principles into their practice, practitioners of Sivananda Yoga aim to achieve physical health, mental clarity, and spiritual growth.

IV. Practice of Sivananda Yoga

The practice of Sivananda Yoga typically follows a set sequence of 12 basic asanas, or yoga postures, that are designed to work on all parts of the body. These asanas are performed in a specific order to ensure a balanced practice that targets different muscle groups and energy centers. In addition to the physical postures, practitioners also engage in pranayama, or breath control exercises, to enhance the flow of prana, or life force, in the body. The practice also includes relaxation techniques and meditation to promote mental and emotional well-being.

V. Benefits of Sivananda Yoga

Sivananda Yoga offers a wide range of benefits for the body, mind, and spirit. Physically, the practice helps improve flexibility, strength, and balance, while also promoting overall health and well-being. Mentally, Sivananda Yoga can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and improve focus and concentration. Spiritually, the practice of Sivananda Yoga can deepen one’s connection to the self and to the divine, leading to a greater sense of inner peace and fulfillment.

VI. Philosophy of Sivananda Yoga

The philosophy of Sivananda Yoga is rooted in the teachings of Swami Sivananda, who emphasized the importance of selfless service, devotion to God, and spiritual practice as a means to attain liberation. Central to the philosophy of Sivananda Yoga is the belief in the unity of all beings and the interconnectedness of all life. Practitioners are encouraged to cultivate virtues such as compassion, humility, and gratitude, and to live a life of integrity and authenticity. Through the practice of Sivananda Yoga, individuals can awaken to their true nature and realize their full potential as human beings.