Sivananda Yoga is built on the teachings of Swami Sivananda, a well-known Hindu yogi and founder of The Divine Life Society. His disciple, Swami Vishnudevananda, synthesized his teachings in order to make the yogic philosophy more accessible to the West.
The practice utilizes 12 basic postures, which aim at improving the physical, mental and spiritual health of practitioners. It is sometimes called the “yoga of synthesis,” as the discipline combines all four paths of yoga: Bhakti, Jnana, Karma and Raja. Sivananda Yoga may best be understood in terms of its five fundamental tenets:
- Asanas – Proper Exercise
- Pranayama – Proper Breathing
- Savasana – Proper Relaxation
- Vegetarianism – Proper Diet
- Vedanta & Dhyana – Positive Thinking & Meditation
As previously noted, Sivananda Yoga is based on the works of Swami Sivananda. The discipline was developed by Sivananda’s disciple, Swami Vishnudevananda, who brought the practice to the United States in 1957, at his master’s request. Soon thereafter, Vishnudevananda founded the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres; the first of which opened in Montreal, Canada in 1959. Today, there are around 60 Sivananda ashrams, centers and other affiliated establishments around the globe.
Vishnudevananda is also the author of The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga, a best-selling guide to yoga that is often considered the western introduction to yoga.
Sivananda Yoga aims at stimulating the physical, mental and spiritual growth of practitioners, and its benefits may be interpreted accordingly. In terms of physical health, the practice may result in increased flexibility, circulation and strength. Furthermore, the Yoga of Synthesis may pose more physical health benefits than other contemporary yoga systems due to the principle of proper dieting—in most cases, vegetarianism. According to Dean Ornish, M.D., the combination of proper diet and exercise may reverse the effects of coronary heart disease, among other chronic illnesses.
In order to obtain certification in this discipline, aspiring instructors must complete the Teacher Training Course (TTC), designed by Vishnudevananda. Over 26,000 students have successfully graduated this course since its naissance in 1969.
Today, there are two training programs available to Sivananda students, both of which are taught at the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers:
Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training Course (TTC)
Rooted in the ancient ‘gurukula’ system, this four-week program coalesces yoga training with the student’s daily life, focusing on self-discipline and –awareness as tools for yoga teaching. Students complete 200 hours of training, which includes study of the four paths of yoga and the five principles of Sivananda.
Sivananda Advanced Teacher Training Course (ATTC)
TTC graduates may pursue further education by completing this secondary training program, which consists of four weeks of rigorous yoga practice and study. Instructors complete an additional 300 hours of training in this course, receiving the 500-hour certification recognized by Yoga Alliance.