Yoga is a sacred practice that cleanses one’s soul and brings them peace of mind. While its exercises and asanas help make one more physically fit, its meditational and breathing exercises help improve one’s mental faculties. Jivamukti yoga was started by Sharon Gannon and David Life in 1984. Once they had founded this new form of yoga, they traveled to India where they met Guru Swami Nirmalananda and later Guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. They met another guru in New York, who had a profound influence on their philosophy too. His name was Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati. With the help of these gurus, Shanon and David perfected their philosophy and principles.
Jivamukti is a combination of the words ‘jivan’, which means life and ‘muktih’ which means moksha or liberation. Together the word means attainment of moksha or liberation from the endless cycle of death and rebirth. This form of yoga is based on the literal Sanskrit meaning of asana which is seat or connection. It emphasizes on ‘sthira’ or place of joy and ‘sukham’ or happiness. One’s asana or relation with others should be instilled with sthira and sukham.
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This is the radical idea that Jivamukti Yoga embodies. If implemented properly, it will eradicate all forms of discrimination and unrest in the world. thus, Jivamukti Yoga aims to use yogic asana to improve not just the physical strengths of its disciples but also to improve their thinking and make them better people. It’s a way to estabilish harmony in the world, thus improving one’s relationship with all others. In this manner, with continued practice of magnanimity and tolerance you will soon reach enlightenment!
Jivamukti yoga’s core philosophy is based on five basic principles – ahimsa, bhakti, dhyana, nada and shastra.
Ahimsa literally means non-violence. The greatest preacher of ahimsa in this world was Mahatma Gandhi. This principle refers to living a peaceful life in harmony with all living organisms around us including even the smallest of insects.
Bhakti literally means devotion. It refers to a life dedicated to God and his plans for your life. It is a path of self-realization. It is achieved through chanting and other devotional practices.
Dhyana means meditation. This principle involves using meditation to achieve self-realization. It is a method to change the reality of one’s soul. Meditation helps clear your mind and puts your goals straight.
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Nada means balancing your body and spirit with the power of listening. It involves practice of ragas or any musical instrument. If you don’t practice music you can listen to recorded music that calms your mind.
Shashtra means scriptures. This aspect of Jivamukti Yoga involves detailed study of ancient Hindu scriptures including the Vedas, puranas and upanayas and the Geeta. Study of these ancient texts will impart great knowledge to the disciples and help them understand the world better.
All classes of Jivamukti yoga focus on asanas, meditation and spiritual teachings. The Gurus and teachers help their disciples to imbibe the spirit of all the five tenets of Jivamukti yoga. The basic class comprises of a four week model. The first week focuses on standing asanas. The second week focuses on forward bending asanas. The third week focuses on backward bending asanas and the fourth week focuses on inversions, meditation and tying all the classes up together. While the open classes focus on the more spiritual aspect of yoga, the basic classes focus more on the alignment of one’s body. The basic classes serve as a form of preparation for the students to enter the open classes. It trains their body to survive the rigours of yoga.
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Jivamukti yoga is one of its kind and has gained immense popularity in the recent past.