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Sivananda yoga

The yoga Rotterdam studio Yoga Maya offers traditional Sivananda Yoga classes for beginners and advanced practitioners, in the Yoga Vidya style.

Sivananda yoga

Sivananda Yoga is a holistic form of yoga which alternates activity and relaxation. The name refers to the yoga as taught by Swami Sivananda, one of the greatest Indian yoga masters of the last century. A typical yoga lesson includes the sun salute, 12 fundamental postures, two breath control exercises and a deep relaxation. As the practitioner develops, the poses are held for longer and variations on the fundamental poses are introduced.

The Sivananda Yoga lessons at Yoga Maya are given in the Yoga Vidya style. This is a successful concept from Germany which is now becoming popular in other countries. Yoga Vidya Rotterdam (a part of Yoga Maya) is the first Yoga Vidya cooperation centre in the Netherlands. As well as the weekly lessons, Yoga Vidya Rotterdam hosts experienced guest teachers for regular workshops on different aspects of Sivananda Yoga. In January 2014 the new Yoga Teachers Training will start.

The essence of the teachings of Sivananda Yoga is contained in five yoga principles: Correct posture, correct breathing, correct relaxation, correct nutrition and positive thinking/ meditation.

1. Correct posture (asana)

The body is as young as it is flexible. Therefore it is important to keep it this way with yoga postures, or asanas. In Sivananda Yoga the asanas are held softly for a relatively long time, so that the practitioner is able to really feel the effects of the posture. Almost all the asanas work to enhance the strength and flexibility of the spinal column, where most of the important nerve centres are located. The asanas also influence the internal organs and the glandular system. The body is viewed as a vehicle for the soul on her journey to perfection. For this reason, the yoga asanas are not only designed to increase the strength and flexibility of the body, but also to broaden the mental and spiritual capacities.

2. Correct breathing (pranayama)

In daily life, most people’s breath is shallow and they use only a small percentage of their lungs. This can lead to stress and lack of energy. Yoga teaches us how to control our breath and use the full capacity of our lungs correctly. Ideally, our breath should be deep, slow and rhythmical, increasing vitality and mental clarity and reducing stress. During the Sivananda Yoga lessons, you will also learn specific breath exercises (pranayama) that bring you in contact with your subtle energy (prana). Chanelling this life energy also helps us to calm and control our souls.

3. Correct relaxation (savasana)

Modern life- food, work and leisure – make it difficult to relax. If our body and minds are constantly overworked, this leads to a reduction of productivity and of creativity. Yoga teaches us techniques for deep relaxation. Through relaxing deeply physically, mentally and spiritually, the yogi rejuvenates his nervous system and achieves and intense feeling of inner clam.

4. Correct nutrition (vegetarian diet)

The food that we eat has a significant influence on our body and soul. For maximum physical and mental productivity as well as complete spiritual awareness, yoga recommends a vegetarian diet. This is an integral part of a yogic lifestyle. The yogic diet consists of pure, simple and natural foods that are easy to digest, are beneficial to our health and are rich in energy (prana). A healthy motto is: “ Eat to live, don’t live to eat.”

5. Positief thinking / meditation

We become what we think. Therefore, it is important to cultivate positive and creative thought patterns that in turn help to create a radiant health and a content, happy spirit. We can develop a positive mindset by practicing the philosophical teachings of yoga and vedanta. Positivity and joyfulness are also stimulated by regular meditation practice.

Swami Sivananda (1889 -1963)

Swami Sivananda was one of the greatest Indian yoga masters of the last century. He is the inspiration behind the Yoga Vidya centres. He wrote more than 200 books and inspired millions of people across the whole world to practice yoga. Today 20 million people worldwide practice his holistic yoga. Swami Sivananda’s motto is: ‘Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realise.’

Swami Vishnu-Devananda (1927-1992)

Swami Vishnu-Devananda was a direct disciple of Swami Sivananda, who crowned him as Hatha yoga professor. Swami Vishnu-Devananda systemised and perfected Sivananda’s Hatha yoga. He brought this yoga to us in the west and became a world-reknowned authority on Hatha yoga. Swami Vishnu-Devananda was also a regular campaigner for peace, sometimes by spectacular means such as peace-flights over war zones.

My practice – What are the possibilities?

If you want to start practicing Sivananda Yoga, or deepen your interest, or advance in your practice, there are several options available for you to choose from:

  • Attending the monthly free satsang
  • Joining the meditation course
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