I spent a lovely morning yesterday at a class offered in the Sivananda tradition by Helen, another local teacher here in mid Wales.
Founded by Swami Sivananda, the spread of Sivananda Yoga in the west is a direct result of the travels of his enthusiastic pupil, Swami Vishnudevananda. Swami Vishnu established ashrams and yoga centres all over the west, offering classes retreats and teacher training courses. Since establishing the first western Yoga Teacher Training course in 1969, 30,000 teachers have been trained in the Sivananda tradition.
Swami Vishnu condensed the many separate classic yoga texts into five, simple rules for living:-
Proper relaxation and
Positive thinking and Meditation.
He also radically pruned the number of asanasa to a core of 12.
1. Sirshasana – (Headstand)
3. Halasana (Plough)
5.Paschimotanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
6. Bhujangasana (Cobra)
7. Salabhasana (Locust)
8. Dhanurasana (Bow)
9. Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Spinal Twist)
10. Kakasana (Crow)
11. Pada Hasthasana (Standing Forward Bend)
12. Trikonasana (Triangle)
Between postures the practitioner rests in Savasana. I particularly like this because when I first began yoga in the 1980s my then teacher (trained at the Iyengar Institute) would always suggest that we rested in between postures in order to assimilate the practice.
There is also great emphasis on chanting in the Sivananda tradition. I am quite new to chanting, but I very much enjoy it, and I’m hoping to expand my knowledge of it in the future. There is a wonderful power in many voices making the same sound, especially if there are both men and women chanting, which expands the range considerably.
I was interested to learn that pranayama is normally practiced at the beginning of a Sivananda Class (apparently in the early days students would do their asana practice and then leave, so Swami Vishnu moved the pranayama work to early on in the session).
After a guided relaxation, we finished with more chanting and a short period of meditation.