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What is Jivamukti Yoga?

Jivamukti Yoga is the combination of physical, ethical and spiritual practice which combines traditional Hatha style with intensive vinyasa-flow incorporating the five principles Shastra, bhakti, ahimsa, nada, and dhyana. Jivamukti Yoga is a method developed by David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1984.  It also has emphasized the idea of animal rights, veganism, environmentalism, and social activism.

Jivamukti Yoga is a synthesized practice of different tenets of yoga philosophy. The word Jivamukti is combination two other words, Jiva and Mukti. The word Jiva means ‘an individual living soul’ and Mukti means ‘liberation’. The ‘liberation from the cycle of death and birth’ is generally understood as Jivamukti. In other words, Jivamukti literally means ‘liberation while living’.

Because of its five central tenets, Jivamukti yoga has received its distinction and difference from many other styles of yoga in spite of its practice of asana, pranayama, and meditation as mutual to many other popular yoga styles. The elements it has approved as its’ core aspects are Shastra (Scriptures), Bhakti (Devotion), Ahimsa (non-violence), Nada (Music), and Dhyana (Meditation).

Five Canons of Jivamukti Yoga

The Shastra Jivamukti talks about are some original Sanskrit texts such as Patanjali Yoga Sutra, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Bhagavad Gita, and Upanishads. In addition to the exploration and study of these four holy texts, Jivamukti also emphasizes the learning of Sanskrit language.

As its second prime principle, Jivamukti states about Bhakti. It’s the act of devoting oneself or surrendering oneself in the lotus feet of the lord physically, mentally and psychologically. Jivamukti Yoga doesn’t particularly mention the name of God whom one needs to follow or praise or devote. But it mainly talks about the action of devoting oneself beyond the self-ego. The act of humility and devotion in front of the God whoever one believes in is the significant aspect of Jivamukti Yoga.

Ahimsa is the third among the five vital features of Jivamukti Yoga. Ahimsa means ‘non-violence’. It is the first characteristic of Yama, the universal conduct, among four other; Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Aparigraha. Ahimsa, as described in Patanjali Yoga Sutra, refers to the act of being harmless not only in physical level but also in mentally and orally which called Kayik, Manasik, and Vachik.

The idea of being non-violent is not only confined to the human beings but also to the animals, all the living creatures focusing on the vegetarianism both for karmic purification as well as for the environmental health for the future generation in the earth.

Jivamukti Yoga adopts Nada as its fourth traits in the practice. Nada encompasses the act of chanting, listening deeper sound, inspirational music to lead one into the state of finding oneself in connection with that eternal sound which is believed to have existed in everything. Jivamukti Yoga also includes the chanting of Sanskrit mantras and chants. Following the main goal of yoga i.e. to find the inner sound ‘Om’ or the universal sound within oneself, Jivamukti also integrates the listening the inner deeper sound.

The aspect of Dhyana imparted in Jivamukti yoga mainly focuses on observing the things that are going on in our mind. It specifically incorporates the idea of being an observer to see the hustle and bustles of the mind as a meditation practitioner. One is expected to go through the practice of meditation in Jivamukti Yoga.

Jivamukti Yoga asserts the practice of Dhyana in its five main aspects making it a way to enhance the inner tendency and thought the pattern of a mind and eventually ceasing one to identify with those thoughts and tendencies. It also tries to lead one to the belief that one is higher than the thoughts and tendency.

Types of Classes in Jivamukti Yoga

Open Class

Jivamukti Open classes are basically focused on an essay which is under the category of ‘Focus of the Month’ by either David Life or Sharon Gannon. Exploring the yoga and its’ numerous aspects such as asana, pranayama, chanting, mantras, music, meditation, Jivamukti Open classes tries to embrace all. The majority of time is consumed by the asana practice especially vinyasa flow adding some vigorous asanas.

Basic Class

Jivamukti Basic class is designed for consisting four different chapters in each week. Starting the first week with standing asanas, it follows the forward backing, backward bending and lastly inversion and meditation. Open classes mainly focus on vinyasa while the Basic class works on alignment.

Beginner Vinyasa Class

Beginner Vinyasa class is mainly targeted to offer the underlying principles of Vinyasa and how it works. It is a good way to begin the journey of yoga. In this class, asana sequences are presented in slower and detailed manner than in Open and Spiritual Warrior classes.

Spiritual Warrior Class

Jivamukti’s third style of yoga is mainly designed for the people having less and certain time to practice yoga. In this class, chanting, asana with warm up, sun salutation, pranayama, meditation are structured to conduct in a class at a pace rather than trying to go with discourse.

In-Class Private Class

Jivamukti has its fourth style of yoga class which mainly maintains the traditional belief of yoga which has to be dealt with one to one. It specifically focuses on dealing with a single person and taking one to the open class as an assistant of Certified Jivamukti Yoga Teacher. It offers both opportunities; to learn individually as well as to experience the open class. At the end of each In-Class Private, one is given the massage while in savasana with deep relaxation.

Meditation Class

Jivamukti Yoga’s sixth style classes, in particular, emphasizes the three steps; choose a seat, be still and focus. It’s all about silent repetition of the mantra assimilating with the ingoing and outgoing breath as a form of meditation. It’s the practice of realizing the supreme self initially observing the combination of the body with breath and mind and thought and then letting go of the identification of the body and mind. The vital stand on which Jivamukti is based on is its ultimate goal to realize the liberation or the enlightenment.

History of Jivamukti Yoga

With the hope of the better world, better life and harmonious relationship among all the living and non-living things in the world, Jivamukti Yoga was coined with the brilliant mind and honest aim of the brighter world by two inspiring and wonderful yoga seekers named David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1984.

By the direct inspiration and connection of Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, and Swami Nirmalananda, these two people collected and combined different theories and aspects of yoga to bring it in the name of Jivamukti Yoga.

While being a dancer and musician Sharon Gannon happened to meet her yoga-partner at a program conducted at the restaurant. Actually, she had started learning yoga since 1969. The coincidence to meet with her partner of yoga journey took place in the decade of 80s. The owner of the restaurant named David Life came to be the spiritual journeyer of her life as well as the devout and sincere supporter of the yoga journey that both of them continued together since then.

They visited many times to India together with the sheer devotion and dedication to enhance the yogic life-experience and insights. The wisdom and wonder of Yoga were taken in their body, mind, and spirit to make it expand in the United States. They set up Jivamukti Yoga Society in the East Village of New York City.

Currently, Jivamukti has been one of the most comprehensive and elaborative styles of yoga which has attempted to include not only the trendy aspect of asana but also pranayama, meditation, mantra chanting, scriptures and learning the Sanskrit language. Moreover, Jivamukti also approves the life of veganism, humanity, and non-violence as its strict elements of yoga.

Benefits of Jivamukti Yoga

  • Jivamukti yoga is the best practice for flexibility and strength.
  • Jivamukti Yoga helps to improve the habit of breathing and overall breathing gets improved along with the strength of the lungs.
  • Since Jivamukti Yoga tries to encompass the practice of asana, pranayama, and meditation in relation to the health, happiness, and spirituality, sense of wellness is experienced.
  • Jivamukti Yoga helps to lower the blood pressure.
  • For better respiration process, Jivamukti Yoga can help you a lot.
  • Jivamukti Yoga can be a better practice for relieving the anxiety, stress, frustration caused by the environment, lifestyle or whatever may be the cause.
  • Mental clarity and the intelligence quadrant can be improved by the regular practice of Jivamukti Yoga.
  • Jivamukti Yoga helps to develop the feeling of humanity, compassion, and love with you.
  • It also works on overall strength and improvement of physical, mental, and psychological health.
  • It offers the learning environment for ancient yogic texts as well as the Sanskrit language.
  • Jivamukti Yoga includes the knowledge and understanding of mantra chanting, singing, and music as its part of practice which has greater benefits for your heart.
  • Jivamukti Yoga teaches and inspires one to be vegan as it has been one of the prime goals of Jivamukti Yoga Method.
  • Jivamukti Yoga encourages to adopt an equally approve other aspects of yoga besides asana. It has indeed taken high effort and time for other aspects of yoga.
  • Jivamukti Yoga can be a complete course or study of Yoga for many people who are in search of an in-depth and explorative study of the ancient philosophy of Yoga in relation to the modern world.
  • Jivamukti Yoga has both practical as well as philosophical ground to discuss the idea of yoga. It always opens the environment of mutual, healthy and harmonious relationship with all the people all around the world.