Here’s everything you need to know about Jivamukti Yoga, a relatively new, but popular, style of yoga developed in the 1980s in New York City.
What is Jivamukti Yoga?
Jivamukti Yoga is an energetic and dynamic style of yoga, with roots in the more traditional Hatha Yoga. However, the practice of Jivamukti Yoga extends far beyond the confines of the yoga studio, and is a way of life. The five central tenets of Jivamukti Yoga outline the spiritual and ethical practices that should be adhered to in order to improve all aspects of life, guiding you along the path to enlightenment.
What are the five tenets?
There are five key tenets, which are central to the practice of Jivamukti Yoga. These are all equal in terms of importance, and have been defined as follows:
Shastra relates to the study of the key scriptures relating to yoga, which are the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Bhagavad Gita, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and the Upanishads. Those practicing Jivamukti Yoga should explore these texts in depth, and should also learn the Sanskrit language in which they were originally written.
Bhakti is a term used widely used, both within Hinduism and Buddhism, to relate to religious devotion. It is a key belief that the goal of Jivamukti Yoga is universal unconsciousness, with devoted followers freeing themselves of all ego and notions of self-importance. Within Jivamukti Yoga, the God itself is not important. What is important is that followers are devoted to something more powerful than their own egos.
Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word, meaning non-violence. Followers of Jivamukti Yoga should adhere to this principle at all times, avoiding any kind of harm or violene to others. This includes physical harm, vocal harm and mental harm, and should apply yourself, as well as those living around you.
Nada comes from the Sanskrit word for “sound”. This pillar of Jivamukti Yoga relates to the requirement for deep inner listening. This tenet is practiced throughout each yoga class, through the use of chanting and inspirational, relaxing music. Through the practice of external listening, experienced yogis are able to develop strong inner listening skills.
The final tenet, meditation, relates to the practice of disconnecting from any internal thoughts, monitoring the way in which your mind thinks, but not allowing yourself to identify or analyse those thoughts. Meditation features in all Jivamukti classes, helping to develop this essential skill.
What happens in a typical class?
The most popular type of class is known as an Open Class. This is suitable for all levels, from beginner to advanced, and includes teaching on each of the key tenets within each class. The teacher will guide you through each of the asanas, providing scalable options for each level. In addition to the challenging asanas, the instructor will use chanting, breathing exercises, meditation, spiritual teaching and music to guide you through the exercises.
For beginners, certified Jivamukti schools, such as Jivamukti Yoga London, also offer basic classes. These are four classes, spread across four weeks, that guide students through the key asanas and meditiation techniques used within the main classes. Completion of the course is recommended to ensure that students new to Jivamukti Yoga are able to practice safely and effectively within the open classes.