Sivananda Yoga

Sivananda Yoga is named for Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, India, who created a very practical system of yoga that simplified the teachings of the Vedas (the ancient Hindu text). It was brought to the West by his disciple Swami Vishnu-devananda in 1957.

The goals of Sivananda yoga are strength, flexibility, reversal of physical decay, and peaceful, yogic breathing. Sivananda Yoga theory is based on five principles:
1.Proper exercise (Asana, or postures)
2.Proper breathing (Pranayama)
3.Proper relaxation (Savasana)
4.Proper diet (Vegetarianism)
5.Proper thinking (Vedanta) and
Proper meditation (Dhyana).

A typical class begins with a student in Savasana, fully relaxed on the floor. There is then a period of pranayama (called “kriya” in this tradition to mean a cleansing exercise, not be confused with the “kriya” of Kundalini Yoga.) Typical pranayama include Kapalabhati (a forceful, pumping breath through the nose where the exhale is active, but the inhale is passive) and Anuloma Viloma (alternative nostril breathing.) The student then undergoes a sequence of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations), followed by the 12 basic asana that are sometimes called the “Rishikesh series” because this sequence was developed in Rishikesh.

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