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Sivananda Yoga

What people don't realise is that yoga isn't just exercise, it is so much more... we think of yoga as the performance of yoga positions (called asanas), each of which having specific physical benefits, but yoga will also give you huge mental benefits. You might be signing up to yoga practice just to exercise, but it is worth knowing the history of and origins of yoga to get its full benefits.

At Beacon Yoga Centre we teach Sivananda YogaHatha Yoga describes any of the physical practices of yoga. (Yoga has eight limbs, only one of which, asana, involves doing yoga poses.)  Sivananda is the guru that put this set of yoga poses and philosophy teachings together. Thus Sivananda Hatha Yoga.  Read on to understand yoga and meet the inspiration behind Sivananda Hatha yoga, Swami Sivananda.

What is the meaning of Yoga?

Yoga Means Union

Although many people think this term refers to union between body and mind or body, mind and spirit, the traditional acceptance is union between one's individual consciousness and the Universal Consciousness. Therefore Yoga refers to a certain state of consciousness as well as to methods that help one reach that goal or state of union with the divine.

The 8 Limbs of yoga

According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, one of the ancient texts that is the basis for the philosophy behind yoga, there are eight “limbs” (Ashtanga in Sanskrit) of yoga. Each limb relates to an aspect of achieving a healthy and fulfilling life, and each builds upon the one before it. You may be surprised to hear that only one of the limbs involves the performance of yoga postures. Here is a description of the eight limbs.

1. Yama:
Five ethical guidelines regarding moral behavior towards others:
Ahimsa: Nonviolence
Satya: Truthfulness
Asteya: Nonstealing
Brahmacharya: Nonlust
Aparigraha: Noncovetesness

2. Niyama:
Five ethical guidelines regarding moral behavior towards oneself:
Saucha: Cleanliness
Santosa: Contentment
Tapas: Sustained practice
Svadhyaya: Self study
Isvara pranidhana: Surrender to God

3. Asana:
Practice of yoga postures.

4. Pranayama:
Practice of breathing exercises.

5. Pratyahara:
Withdrawal of the senses, meaning that the exterior world is not a distraction from the interior world within oneself.

6. Dharana:
Concentration, meaning the ability to focus on something uninterrupted by external or internal distractions.

7. Dhyana:
Meditation. Building upon Dharana, the concentration is no longer focused on a single thing but is all encompassing.

8. Samadhi:
Bliss. Building upon Dhyana, the transcendence of the self through meditation. The merging of the self with the universe. Sometimes translated as enlightenment.

The 5 Points of Yoga

There are hundreds or more of yoga techniques and therefore as many different Yogas. In order to simplify and clarify the topic, Swami Vishnu-devananda summarized the vast science of Yoga into 5 principles of Yoga which are easy to understand and to include in one's daily life.

These 5 principles constitute the essence of the teachings of the Sivananda Yoga

To clarify the science of Yoga and make it accessible to the majority of seekers, Swami Vishnu-devananda extracted its essence and presented it in these universal principles for physical and mental health as well as spiritual growth.

1. Proper Exercise (Asanas)
Our physical body is meant to move and exercise. If our lifestyle does not provide natural motion of muscles and joints, then disease and great discomfort will ensue with time. Proper exercise should be pleasant to the practitioner while beneficial to the body, mind and spiritual life.

2. Proper Breathing (Pranayama)
Yoga teaches us how to use the lungs to their maximum capacity and how to control the breath. Proper breathing should be deep, slow and rhythmical. This increases vitality and mental clarity.

3. Proper Relaxation (Savasana)
Long before the invention of cars, planes, telephones, computers, freeways and other modern triggers of stress, the Rishis (sages or seers) and Yogis of yore devised very powerful techniques of deep relaxation. As a matter of fact, many modern stress-management and relaxation methods borrow heavily from this tradition. By relaxing deeply all the muscles the Yogi can thoroughly rejuvenate his nervous system and attain a deep sense of inner peace.

4. Proper Diet (Vegetarian)
Besides being responsible for building our physical body, the foods we eat profoundly affect our mind. For maximum body-mind efficiency and complete spiritual awareness, Yoga advocates a lacto-vegetarian diet. This is an integral part of the Yogic lifestyle.

5. Meditation (Dhyana)
Here is the most important point of all, we become what we think. Thus we should exert to entertain positive and creative thoughts as these will contribute to vibrant health and a peaceful, joyful mind. A positive outlook on life can be developed by learning and practicing the teachings of the philosophy of Vedanta. The mind will be brought under perfect control by regular practice of meditation.

The Four Paths of Yoga

The various Yogic practices have been traditionally classified into the four Margas (paths). These four paths are:

  1. Jnana Yoga or Jnana Marga which is the Yoga of wisdom and develops the Intellect or will
  2. Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of devotion, opens the heart
  3. Karma Yoga, the path of action of selfless service.
  4. Raja Yoga, the royal or psychological which involves the mind. A branch of Raja Yoga which is Hatha Yoga which prepares the Yogi for the higher stages of Raja Yoga.

Sivananda Yoga, the Yoga of Synthesis

Swami Sivananda recognised that every Yogi, or human being, possesses and identifies with each of these elements: Intellect, heart, body and mind. He therefore advocated everyone to practice certain techniques from each path. This came to be known as the Yoga of Synthesis. He also taught that in accordance with individual temperament and taste one can practice certain Yogas over others.

Further reading: The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga by Swami Vishnu-devananda, Meditation and Mantras by the same author, Bliss Divine by Swami Sivananda.

Click here to find out more about Swami Sivananda




















Sivananda Ashram and Beacon Yoga Centre
Tel:  (08) 9335 9339 (08) 9335 9339    |    Email: info@sivanandaashram.org.au
151 South Street, Beaconsfield WA 6162  |  Mail To:  PO Box 2, South Fremantle 6162
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