Yoga Sivananda

Finally we will have a closer look at a modern Indian yoga discourse already mentioned Sivananda’s healthy Hindu lifestyle yoga. His yoga style promoted by a corporate ashram network (signifying its Hindu roots) also influenced Western popular yoga from the 1960s, often reaching more marginalised groups. Today, however, this style has been overtaken in popularity by the Mysore style as the latter is more congruent with modernist popular sentiments.


Another popular branch with a large impact in both India and the West was founded by Sivananda Saraswati (87-1963) (Wikipedia link ). Originally a doctor he became according to legend a jivan-mukti in the late 1920s and settled in Rishikesh. In 1932 he established a yoga ashram which four years later became the Divine Life Society – a centre for development of spiritual knowledge’. He was very influenced by Vivekananda, Neo-Vedanta, Sri Aurobindo and Swami Kuvalayananda scientific yoga (Strauss 2008). In the Sivananda discourse, asanas were not as intensively cultivated as in the Mysore tradition. They restricted themselves to 12 asanas plus sun-salutations and tried to integrate them into a yogi lifestyle -very similar to the ashtanga module (the eight-limbs of a yoga life) of Patanjali. Sivananda knew about Iyengar and called him the king of yoga; he was not as obsessed with the perfectioning of asana as was Iyengar. Sivananda organised his movement in ashrams and was very much the educator of Indian culture. In the ashrams many of the old scriptures and philosophies were studied. Sivananda’s philosophy mixed together most of the Indian worldviews: Vedanta, Tantra, Bhagavad-Gita and yoga.

Sivananda clearly used the language of science, health and western physiology to explain the yoga practice in down-to-earth terms clearly inspired by the scientific therapeutic yoga discourse of Swami Kuvalayananda and Sri Yogendra. They also both founded their ashrams in the 1920s undertaking medical research and popularising yoga. However, Sivananda pulled in a slightly different direction, wishing to create and propagate his perception of a Hindu lifestyle.

Manually widen your sitting bones and upper thighs. Firm and Yoga yoga lift your abdominal muscles. Hold the sides of the chair back with your hands. Inhaling Yoga yoga, lift your back ribs up and bow forward, rounding your Yoga yoga spine slightly. This is the Kidney Loop again see Appendix III. Exhale and start to Yoga yoga lean back, still rounding your back to create length, until your upper back reaches the front edge of the chair. Come farther into the chair with your hips if you need to, in order to have the spine just below the shoulder blades come to the edge of the chair. Once your back is on the chair and before moving your shoulders and neck into a deeper arch, firm your shoulder blades onto your back and lift your heart up.

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