Swami Sivananda (1887-1963)
The spiritual strength behind the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres, Swami Sivananda's teachings are a synthesis of all the formal doctrines of Yoga. One of the most influential spiritual teachers of the 20th century he established the Divine Life Society, Rishikesh, Himalayas to spread the ideals of Yoga and Vedanta.
"Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate and Realise"
Find out more
Swami Vishnudevananda (1927-1993)
Disciple of Swami Sivananda, and founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres. A world renowned authority on Hatha and Raja Yoga and author of the bestseller, The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga and other books, Swami Vishnudevananda was one of the pioneers of Yoga in the West.
"Health is Wealth. Peace of Mind is Happiness. Yoga shows the way"
Find out more
Yoga in 5 Points
Swami Vishnudevananda taught yoga in 5 points. They bring together the often complex philosophies and teachings of India's ancient yogis in a form that is easy to understand and simple to adapt to everyday life, wherever you live in the world. If you follow these points you will improve your physical and mental health and deepen your connection with the spiritual aspects of life. It is around these five principles that the activities at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center are based.
• Proper Exercise (Asanas) acts as a lubricating routine for the joints and muscles and other parts of the body by increasing circulation and flexibility. The Asanas not only produce physical benefits, but are also mental exercises in concentration and meditation, promoting optimum good health. Swami Vishnudevananda taught asanas in a system of 12 Basic Postures (see below).
• Proper Breathing (Pranayama) connects the body to the solar plexus where tremendous potential energy is stored. Through specific breathing techniques this energy is released for physical and mental rejuvenation.
• Proper Relaxation (Savasana) is a vital part of keeping the body and mind healthy. Yoga teaches three levels of relaxation: physical, mental and spiritual.
• Proper Diet (Vegetarian) is eating with awareness. A yogi takes food which has the most positive effect on the body and mind and the least negative effect on the environment.
• Positive Thinking and Meditation (Vedanta and Dhyana) relieves stress and replenishes energy. Meditation is well known to improve concentration and to bring peace of mind and spiritual strength. Meditation is beneficial for everyone, especially those with a hectic, stressful life.
The 4 Paths of Yoga
The Four Paths of Yoga all lead to the same place – union with the Divine – but help in getting there by giving options that fit different human temperaments and approaches to life.
Karma Yoga (also known as the yoga of action) teaches to act without egoist expectations in all endeavours 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.
Bhakti Yoga (also known as 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. The rise of kirtan or singing/chanting the names of God is a sure sign that Bhakti Yoga is a growing path around the world.
Raja Yoga (also known as 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.
Jnana Yoga (also known as 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.