about sivananda yoga
A Sivananda Yoga session follows a specific sequence of classical hatha yoga postures, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques.
The practice stems from the teachings of the yoga master Swami Sivananda and his disciple Swami Vishnudevanada.
Please scroll down to learn about:
- Our yoga masters, Swami Sivananda and Swami Vishnudevananda
- The 5 points of yoga
Our Yoga Masters
Swami Vishnudevananda came to the West from India in 1957. He was sent by Swami Sivananda to spread the positive teachings of yoga. With very little money in his pocket he dedicated his life to selflessly spreading these teachings.
A Sivananda yoga class will stick closely to the teachings of the classical yoga scriptures as taught by Swami Sivananda. Whilst there is a strong focus on the exercises and physical benefits of yoga, we also focus on other more subtle aspects of yoga such as breathing, relaxation, healthy eating, meditation & positive thinking
All of our teachers have trained exclusively with Sivananda Yoga Vedanta - a worldwide organisation established by Swami Vishnudevananda, dedicated to the teachings of yoga, and offering worldwide yoga training and yoga teacher training courses.
The Five Points of Yoga
Yoga is not just an exercises routine but an entire lifestyle of physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being. Swami Vishnudevananda encapsulated the main essence of the yogic teachings in these five lifestyle points:
1. Proper Exercise (Asana)
2. Proper Breathing (Pranayama)
3. Proper Relaxation
4. Heathy Eating
5. Positive Thinking & Meditation
1. Proper Exercise
The Yoga Postures
A yoga posture is called an ‘Asana’ or steady pose. The Yoga Asanas are meant to be held for some time in a steady and relaxed way. Really learning to relax in a posture takes time in the beginning we concentrate on increasing flexibility, strength and concentration.
The Benefits of Practicing Hatha Yoga
In yoga the body is regarded as a vehicle for the soul on its journey towards self-realisation. So whilst the yogic practices do have a wonderfully health enhancing impact on the body they also strengthen the mental faculties and spirit as well.
The Benefits of a regularly maintained Sivananda Hatha Yoga practice are innumerable. They can include:
- General good health and well-being
- A healthy spinal column, muscles and joints
- Increased lubrication of the joints ligaments and tendons
- Massage and stimulation of the internal organs
- Reduced muscle tension
- Relief from aching and tight muscles
- Relief from back and neck pain
- Development of core stability & strength
- Increased flexibility
- Better body posture
- Help in the prevention of RSI
- A strong metabolism
- A strong immune system
- A strong nervous system
- Improved sense of balance
- Improved concentration and focus
- Mental flexibility
- Reduced mental stress
- Increased energy levels
- A more positive mental attitude
- Balanced left and right brain activity
- Increased creative thinking
- Increased self-awareness
- More self-confidence
- Increased spiritual awareness
- Mind Body Soul connection
- Increased joy-de-vivre
- Feelings of inner stability, contentment & peace of mind
2. Proper Breathing
Why practice breathing?
Breath is life force without breath there is no life. We breathe every minute of every day, mostly unconsciously for survival. But conscious breathing can bring tremendous awareness and richness to life experience.
The yoga scriptures teach that the mind, thoughts and emotions are intricately linked to the breath. If we can control our breath we can control our own minds and vice versa.
A Yoga practitioner experiences a deep connection with body and mind through breath. Proper breath control can take a lifetime we practice daily and do our best and achieve many benefits.
The problem with shallow breath
Most people use only some of their lung capacity for breathing. They breathe shallowly, barely expanding the ribcage. This can createhunched shoulders and tension in the back and neck. Also emotionally we can remain quite disconnected through shallow breathing.
The breathing exercises are called Pranayama. Prana means energy by learning to control our breath we are also learning to control the flow of subtle energy.
3. Proper Relaxation
Why practice relaxation?
When the body and the mind are consistently overworked, their natural efficiency to perform diminishes.
With our busy lifestyles even our relaxation choices can be quite stimulating. Watching the television stimulates the mind and the senses with a barrage of information and visual stimulation. A pint at the pub may be a fun and enjoyable evening but is again stimulating to the nervous system. Many of us with our fast paced dynamic lifestyles have even forgotten that we need to relax and recharge at all.
Even while trying to rest, if we are unable to let go of muscular tension and have no idea how to let go of mental tension, we find ourselves expending a lot of unnecessary physical and mental energy. Overtime the inability to relax properly can create stress disorders and physical and mental discomfort.
Much of our energy is often spent keeping the muscles in continual readiness for work, than in the actual useful work done.
A yoga practitioner aims to experience relaxation in every action. Being able to approach life from a position of calm relaxation is a practice developed through yoga. In a Sivananda yoga class we practice relaxation in every asana, throughout the breathing exercises and we always close the class with a deep guided relaxation practice.
4. Healthy Eating
The Yogic Diet
If we are what we eat, what are we?
Many of us sense that our diets are not really supporting us in our daily lives.
Our energy can feel sluggish and our minds foggy and we wonder if it might be to do with our diet? We can find ourselves bloated or constipated or suffering from irritable bowl and other digestive disorders. We gain weight, we loose weight, we comfort eat, we overeat, we under-eat and so it goes on...
Yoga is very much a practice of finding balance. ‘A Yogic Diet’ simply means finding a comfortable and healthy way to eat that fully supports a balanced, positive and healthy body and mind.
In a strict yogic diet we would avoid overly stimulating foods like garlic, onion, wine, alcohol, vinegar and caffeine. As well as heavy foods that are low in vital energy such as meat and fish.
It is suggested however that any change in diet is practiced slowly and thoughtfully.
The yoga scriptures make some suggestions to keep the body healthy and the mind balanced and calm through use of diet. Invigorating pure and healthy foods that are easy to digest and high in sunlight energy are a strong feature of the yogic diet including pulses grains and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
5. Meditation & Positive Thinking
Meditation is an experience, a state of mind. We practice deep inner concentration and awareness in an effort to experience inner stillness peace and silence.
We use techniques of withdrawal of the senses and creating inner focal points, to still the thought waves and to anchor the concentration of the mind within.
A regular meditation practice helps us to develop more control of our own thoughts. Stilling our noisy inner dialogues even momentarily can generate feelings and experiences of deep stillness, calm and peacefulness making it a very useful tool in the battle against stress and stress-related disorders.
Taking a short time out to simply ‘be’ encourages deep-relaxation and effective restoration.
About Positive Thinking
The mind is a vast expanse of conscious and unconscious thought, knowledge and wisdom.
We generally tend to use only a fraction of our mental capacity and often we can get stuck in very limited ways of thinking. Unconscious patterns of negative thought can hugely impact on our state of mind, mental and physical health, and emotional well being.
Unlike Western studies of the mind, yogic thought is not particularly interested in what constitutes mental illness, but keeps it’s focus on what constitutes radiant, positive and good mental health.
Techniques of positive thinking are taught in yoga. These techniques help us to learn to replace old worn out habitual modes of thinking, with uplifting, invigorating thoughts, that allow the mental faculties to expand and grow.
Sometimes we make real efforts to think positively only to be discouraged by stubborn repetitive ‘negative’ thought patterns. Nil Desperandum with regular practice and the consistent effort of repetition even the most persistent negative thoughts can be replaced with positive and uplifting ideas. Like anything else regular practice makes perfect!