Yoga Traditions in India : Sivananda Yoga

masterSivananda Yoga is a holistic and classical approach to the traditional hatha yoga which tones and stretches the entire body. The best part about this type of yoga is that it is still practiced in its original form and has not yet been watered down or modified. The Sivananda yoga was introduced in India by Swami Sivananda and is now practiced all around the world in the same form.

Sivananda Yoga is a healing system aimed to help the body and mind to maintain a naturally healthy state. The practice of Sivananda yoga was made popular in the west by Swami Vishhnudevananda Saraswati who was one of the disciples of Swami Sivananda.

The philosophy of Sivananda yoga depends on the 5 main principles as mentioned below:

  • Pranayama– Proper breathing
  • Asanas– Exercise
  • Savasana– Relaxation
  • Balanced, vegetarian diet– A yogic diet which includes only sattvic food items and excluding both rajasic and tamasik foods.
  • Dhyana and Vedanta– Meditation and positive thinking

Benefits of the Sivananda yoga

The Sivananda yoga emphasizes more on the spirituality and positive thinking and is perfect for those who want to practice yoga for stress relief, meditation and self-empowerment. This particular style of yoga is also perfect for older yogis as the yoga practice aims at boosting the vitality and restoring the body. For those who are looking forward to a positive change in their lifestyle, Sivananda yoga is your ideal choice as it focuses both on positive thinking as well as a healthy diet.

Sivananda practice

A Sivananda yoga class includes 12 basic postures aimed at increasing the flexibility, strength, proper breathing and improved meditation technique. This sequence is also known as the Rishikesh sequence and is also known as the Rishikesh series as it originated in that particular region in the foothills of Himalayas.

The main characteristic of the Sivananda yoga also include the following:

  • Mantra chanting at the beginning and the end of each yoga session
  • Holding the postures for longer duration
  • Starting and ending the classes with pranayama
  • An all-round focus and awareness on breathing as well as the pranic dimensions of the practice

A session of Sivananda yoga starts with the practitioner resting in the savasana. This is followed by the practice of Kapala Bhati and anulom vilom, followed by rounds of Surya Namaskar. After this, the session of performing the 12 yoga asanas get started. On an average, this session may last for around 90 minutes. The practice of Sivananda yoga establishes physiological balance in the body and helps in maintaining the mental calmness through the scientifically curated set of yoga postures (asanas) and yogic breathing techniques (pranayama).

The series of asanas is performed in a set sequence followed by a relaxation pose after the completion of each asana. As the level of the skill of the student increases, the instructor may add variations and postures to it. This training/yoga system aims at maintaining the vitality of the body, lowers the chances of getting ill and slows down the aging process.

The main aim of the Sivananda Yoga is to strengthen and tone each and every muscle group of the body. Each session of this yoga practice is aimed to guide the student towards the correct practice of yoga asanas, allowing the student to sharpen and deepen his daily practice.