Sivananda yoga

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Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres (SYVC)
FounderSwami Vishnudevananda
Practice emphases
Pranayama, asanas, relaxation, diet, vedanta philosophy, and dhyana meditation
Related schools

Sivananda Yoga is a non-proprietary form of traditional hatha yoga founded by Swami Vishnudevananda based on the teachings of his beloved guru Swami Sivananda. It is based on the principles of the 4 paths and 5 points of yoga.[1] The 4 paths of yoga consists of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga.[2] The 5 points of yoga consists of Proper Exercise (asanas), Proper Breathing (pranayama), Proper Relaxation (savasana), Proper Diet and Positive Thinking (Vedanta) and Meditation (dhyana).[3] Its emphasis on asanas influenced the development of modern yoga.


Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh followed Vivekananda's vision of yoga as having four parts, but asanas became more important in his teaching. His pupils, especially including Swami Vishnudevananda in Canada from 1959, helped to set up Sivananda Yoga Centres around the world.[4] Tony Sanchez, a founder of the U.S. Yoga Association, stated that Sivananda worked together with B. C. Ghosh to "develop a system of hatha yoga asanas for health and fitness, based on the original classic 84 postures."[5] Swami Vishnudevananda was largely responsible for driving the importance of asanas in Sivananda Yoga.[6] The Sivananda asana program had "a profound effect"[5] on the development of modern yoga, which strongly emphasizes asanas.[6] For example, Ghosh went on to train Bikram Choudhury, who founded Bikram Yoga, another of the major schools of modern yoga.[5] Another of Sivananda's pupils, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, founded the influential Bihar School of Yoga in 1964.[6]


Swami Vishnudevananda teaching the 12 basic asanas of Sivananda Yoga

The discipline teaches 4 paths of yoga: karma, bhakti, raja and jnana yoga,[7] and requests the student to practise all four and eventually to pick one as their main focus. Sivananda Yoga teachers are all graduates of the Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training Course.[8]

The Sivananda training system aims to teach an authentically Vedic system of yoga and believes that retaining the vitality of the body is a byproduct of the discipline and not the goal. The system philosophies are summarized in 5 principles:[7]

A session of training typically starts with every practitioner resting in Savasana, and begins with the Pranayama (breathing exercises) Kapalabhati and Anuloma Viloma, preceding rounds of Sūrya Namaskār, before the standard program of the 12 basic asanas. A session averages 90 minutes, and the traditional program has a basic sequence, allowing for some variation in the later part of the sequence.[14]

Twelve basic asanas[edit]

Sivananda Yoga identifies a group of 12 asanas as basic.[15]


  1. ^ "Teachings – Sivananda". Retrieved 2019-01-04.
  2. ^ Swami, Vishnudevananda (1978). Meditation and mantras. New York: OM Lotus Pub. Co. ISBN 093154601X. OCLC 5166096.
  3. ^ Yoga mind & body. Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre (London, England) (New ed.). London: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. ISBN 9781405315333. OCLC 456830658.
  4. ^ Newcombe, Suzanne (May 2017). "The Revival of Yoga in Contemporary India". Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199340378.013.253.
  5. ^ a b c Singleton, Mark (2010). Yoga body : the origins of modern posture practice. Oxford University Press. pp. 104, 135–137, 152, 216, 219. ISBN 978-0-19-539534-1. OCLC 318191988.
  6. ^ a b c Strauss, Sarah (2005). Positioning yoga : balancing acts across cultures. Oxford New York: Berg. pp. 97–100. ISBN 978-1-85973-739-2. OCLC 290552174.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "What is Yoga?". International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  8. ^ "Sivananda Yoga teaching training course: the good, the bad and the ugly". 20 March 2015.
  9. ^ "La signification et les effets des Asanas et des Pranayamas - Le langage du corps".
  10. ^ "What is Pranayama?". Yoga. Bihar School of Yoga.
  11. ^ "All about Yoga: What is Savasana?". Spirit Voyage. 5 June 2012.
  12. ^ Lidell 1983, pp. 80-85.
  13. ^ Frawley, David (2000). Introduction to Vedanta. Vedantic Meditation. North Atlantic Books. ISBN 978-1556433344.
  14. ^ Lidell 1983, pp. 29-31, 66-67.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "12 Basic Asanas". Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres. Retrieved 26 November 2018.

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