Sivananda yoga is named after its founder, the Yoga Guru Swami Sivananda who revived classical yoga. Swami Sivananda taught this style of yoga in the Himalayans in the early twentieth century. One of his disciples, Swami Vishnu Devananda, brought the lineage to the west by the request of his Guru in 1957. The first Sivananda Yoga Center was established in Canada in 1962 and there are currently centers all over the world. The idea behind the Teacher Training is to find peace within, without peace within we cannot achieve peace outside of ourselves.
Sivananda Yoga is more of a meditative approach to yoga that focuses on proper breathing, relaxation, and concentration. This gentle approach means that Sivananda yoga is perfect for novices, the elderly, children, or people recovering from serious injuries. Nonetheless, if you are new to yoga, or are suffering from any serious injuries, you should seek the approval of a qualified medical doctor before venturing into any yoga class, or other form of exercise.
The Sivananda Yoga Centers teach classical yoga based on the 4 classical paths:
Raja Yoga/Hatha Yoga
how to control the mind to experience inner peace. Hatha Yoga is the preparation for Raja yoga and helps you to control the breath and releases tensions from the body preparing you for the state of meditation.
The path of the heart. Purifying the heart of selfish emotions and conditional love to selfless emotions and unconditional love.
Selfless actions to purify the ego. Giving rather than taking.
The path of knowledge and wisdom for self discovery. Teaches you to find the happiness within yourself.
Swami Vishnu-Devananda, the founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, synthesized the 5 points of yoga to help today’s modern society easily incorporate the ancient wisdom of yoga into our lives.
The 5 Points of yoga are:
- Proper Exercise: Yoga helps in lubricating the joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles of the body and increases circulation and flexibility. When asana’s (yoga’s steady poses) are done with awareness you not only receive physical benefits but greater mental concentration and meditation. You can mental control with the asana’s since they are always practiced with deep breathing, relaxation, and concentration. Asana’s also massage and tone the internal organs keeping them functioning at their optimal levels.
- Proper Breathing: Yoga teaches you how to breathe properly to fully oxygenate the blood and control the mind. When we’re not breathing fully we deprive our bodies from a proper supply of oxygen which can create painful tension in the upper back and neck. Most of the blood cells in our lungs reside in the lower portion so when we don’t take full breaths we deprive our body from fully oxygenating our blood. Also, by focusing on the breath the mind begins to calm down.
- Proper Relaxation: This cools the system down and is nature’s way of recharging the body. Remember rest is nature’s universal prescription for all aliments. Our body and mind waste precious energy through unnecessary physical and mental tension which at times we’re not even aware we have since we have come accustom to our patterns and have adapted the mind state of “this is just how it is”. Perfect relaxation includes all levels of relaxation: physical, mental, and spiritual. Everything we do, think, say, or feel requires energy and by proper relaxation we recharge our bodies preventing fatigue and burn outs.
- Proper Diet: This provides proper fuel to the body. A diet that is unprocessed and closest to nature (namely organic; free from chemicals and pesticides) gives a proper supply of nutrients to the body. Processing, refining, and overcooking foods destroy most of the foods value. Pure, simple, and natural foods that are easily digested are required for a proper diet. The Sun is the source of energy for all of life so by eating foods grown in fresh air with adequate sunlight you provide better fuel for the body.
- Positive Thinking and Meditaiton: These practices put you in control and purify the intellect. Through training the mind with concentration and steadiness our negative tendencies are brought under conscious control. This allows us to make better decisions and see behind truth and illusion. We become what we think.
These points are a true holistic approach to our whole system of body, mind, and soul giving you the strength and balance necessary to face life’s challenges. Overcoming our challenges in life make them stepping stones for success.
Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize
Health is wealth. Peace of mind is happiness. Yoga shows the way. – Swami Vishnu-Devananda