Yoga Traditions in India – Himalayan Yoga



Himalayan Yoga Tradition was started by Swami Rama, who was an Indian yogi. The Himalayan tradition is not the tradition where a teacher teaches his disciples about the tradition and the students are to believe whatever he teaches. In the Himalayan yoga tradition, the teaching directly comes from the tradition and the students can look up to the tradition to correlate with what the teacher is saying. The primary purpose of the yoga tradition is to lighten up the divine flame in each individual and the aim is to transform the student into a master of the tradition through self-realization. The responsibility of the teacher is to selflessly lead the students on the way to higher enlightenment.

The curriculum of the Himalayan yoga tradition is a fusion of the wisdom of Patanjali Yoga Sutras, the practice and philosophy of hatha yoga and the oral instruction and introductory experiences passed on by a number of yoga masters and saints. The Himalayan yoga tradition includes the principles and practices of all the known meditation systems and relaxation techniques such as yoganidra.

Swami Rama was born as Brij Kishore Dhasmana in a small village, Toli in the Garhwal Himalayas. Since a very early age, he was raised by his guru, Bengali Baba under whose supervision he traveled from place to place and studied under the guidance of a number of Himalayan saints and sages. At the young age of 24, he became the Shankaracharya of Karvirpitham in South India, but after a few years renounced the honor to get back to his master in the Himalayas to deepen his meditative practice.

After spending a few more years at working on his meditative skills, on the recommendation of his guru, he went ahead and traveled through the Himalayas to Nepal. While on his way to Nepal he established his first ashram on the outskirts of Kathmandu. The ashram is now known as the Hansada Yoga Ashram. In 1966, he established the original Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy in Kanpur, India. The headquarters of the same is situated in Honesdale, Pennsylvania with branches in the United States, Europe and India.

Apart from his yoga institute, he also founded other teaching and service organizations. He established a medical facility in Dehradun to provide sustainable medical services to millions of people in the nearby mountain areas. Prior to the set up of these facilities, there was no proper healthcare, sanitation, water and education available to the people in those regions.

Swami Rama also wrote several books in which he explains the path he chose to become a yogi and also mentions the benefits and philosophy behind practices such as pranayama and meditation. In his books, Enlightenment Without God and Living with the Himalayan Masters, he expresses the common theme which is the ability of an individual to achieve peace without the need to seek a structured religion.

Swami Rama was also one of the first yogis to be studied by the western scientists at the Menninger clinic for his ability to control involuntary bodily processes such as the heartbeat, body temperature and blood pressure.