What is Yoga?

Yoga means Union. Union between the individual self and the Universal Self; union between Body-Mind-Spirit. Yoga is not just a system of physical exercises. It is a classical system of personal development of body, mind, and spirit.

There are four main paths to attain this Union which bring health, happiness and peace of mind: Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga (Hatha Yoga) and Jnana Yoga. Each path is suited to a different temperament or approach to life. All the paths lead ultimately to the same goal. The lessons of each path need to be integrated if true wisdom is to be attained. Swami Sivananda’s approach is the synthesis of all these paths in daily life.

What is Sivananda Yoga

Sivananda Yoga is a classical form of Yoga, which has been practiced based on the teachings from our guru, Swami Sivananda. Sivananda Yoga was introduced to west, by Swami Vishnudevananda. The aim of Sivananda Yoga is to create a healthy body and mind; through which one leads to Spiritual Evolution.   

Sivananda Yoga is summarized by Swami Vishnudevananda as the Five Points of Yoga that create a foundation for a yogic lifestyle and prepare the body and mind for advancing on the spiritual path.

Philosophically, Swami Sivananda taught a Yoga of Synthesis, drawing on four complementary paths: Karma, Bhakti, Raja, and Jnana Yogas.

 

The Four Paths of Yoga

The Four Paths of Yoga provide individuals with a clear way of living that promotes peace and mindfulness to counteract day-to-day trials and tribulations. The Four Paths give options that fit different human temperament.

  1. Karma Yoga (the yoga of action) teaches to act without egoist expectations in all endeavors of daily life ~ home, work, school. It is a good path with someone who is outgoing and enjoys a certain sense of spiritual activism to help others.

  2. Bhakti Yoga (the path of devotion) is a good path for someone with an emotional nature and enjoys prayer, worship and seeking God through unconditionally loving others. Bhakti Yoga is a growing path around the world.

  3. Raja Yoga (the science of the mind) is the path that takes us on a comprehensive journey to understanding our mind and thoughts. Through mental control, we are able to gain control of the physical body and the life force energy known as prana. This is a good path for those who are interested in meditation and its effects on the mind.

  4. Jnana Yoga (the yoga of knowledge) is considered a good path for those with strong intellectual tendencies as it requires great strength of will and mind. Using Vedanta as a vehicle, the inquiry into the individual nature is the key to this difficult path. It is best undertaken after some of the lessons of the other paths have been well understood in order to move along towards Self-realization or profound spiritual awakening.

The Five Points of Yoga

The Five Points of Yoga taught by Swami Vishnudevananda provide a clear and practical method for contemporary people to use:

  1. Proper Exercise (Asanas) – Yoga poses help develop a strong, healthy body by enhancing flexibility and improving circulation.

  2. Proper Breathing (Pranayama) – Deep, conscious breathing reduces stress and many diseases.

  3. Proper Relaxation – Helps keep the body from going into overload mode, easing worry and fatigue.

  4. Proper Diet – Eating simple, healthy and vegetarian foods that are easy to digest notably have a positive effect on the mind and body, as well as the environment and other living beings.

  5. Positive Thinking and Meditation – These are the true keys to achieving peace of mind and eliminating negativity in our lives.