“The first time I visited the Sivananda School of Yoga, I fell in love with the depth of peace and love at the Ashram. Each time thereafter I would reconnect with the bliss of that first day.”
What Is Yoga?
Contrary to popular western belief, Yoga is a philosophy, not a set of excersices/stretches, which are correctly referred to as Hatha Yoga. It is the mystical path within Hinduism, just as the Kabbala is the mystical path within Judaism, and Sufism within Islam. Hatha Yoga is a step on the path of Yoga.
Yoga means ‘union’ (with God). The only objective of Yoga is God-realisation: a state of enlightenment and liberation referred to by all masters, but known only to mystics. Only the deep and prolonged practice of meditation by the right method can lead to God-realisation, Yoga’s only purpose. God-realisation is the only salvation
Yoga has two broad divisions which overlap and interpenetrate: Hatha, the ‘outer’, and Tantra, the ‘inner’ sadhana (curriculum). At the Sivananda School of Yoga we offer all the complimentary ingredients of Yoga as summarized in the Yoga Sutra of the Rishi (sage-seer) Patanjali.
Yoga’s ultimate purpose is Moksha, that is, liberation from reincarnation via the attainment of the mystical state of enlightenment called God-realisation. It is not necessary to follow any religion in particular to practice Yoga. For the Hindu, Hinduism is the religious base of Yoga; for a yogi of a different religion, or a non religious practitioner, Hinduism provides only a traditional background.
Yoga is the supreme spiritual science of the mystic – eternal, comprehensive and self-sufficient. Its origins are lost in pre-history, and we believe that is has always been practised by advanced members of society who have recognised it as our divinely intended, evolution-promoting, way of life.
Hatha, the exercise system of Asana (posture), Pranayama (life-force control via breathing techniques), Bhanda (energy locks/seals), Kriya (cleansing processes) and Mudra (energy-directing gestures) has as its purpose an improved flow of life-energy. Thereby the brain and mind are calmed, thus facilitating the yogi’s supreme practice — meditation — in which the yogi applies a sacred technique imparted at initiation.