Throughout history there have been great explorers and adventure seekers, those that set sail across the oceans, those that rode camels across the deserts and those that made wings and tried to fly. Yoga for me has been and continues to be that great exploration, the journey inwards and the exploration of the self is full of the whole world and for me it is the Sivananda system of yoga that gives me the transport to dive into that journey. It is full of light, colour and darkness, elation and joy and then difficulties and challenges. But Swami Sivananda has given us the opportunity to feel and experience. To know yoga is to know what is in our hearts, he gives us the means to our own experience, an experience of feeling. He has shown us ways to open our hearts, there is so much emphasis on the bodies and the minds these days, everyone wants that perfect body, what ever that may be or what the media presents to us, and everyone is searching for knowledge or wants to find meaning behind everything but Swami Sivananda has given us the map to feel a more complete way of life through the heart, “Develop the heart, develop the heart.” Says Sivananda. Who cares what the body looks like as long as it is healthy, who cares if we don’t understand everything from an intellectual point of view as long as we feel. In our hearts is all cognition of memory, all time is there, all knowledge is there, all peace is there, all light is there, so why look anywhere else?
The Sivananda system of yoga is very profound, Swami Ji was one of the great enlightened masters who shared so much love for all people and brought so much peace to the world. To me it is a system that puts you on an arrow and directs you straight to the centre of the heart. And what is so beautiful is that it is accessible to everyone, beginners and very advanced practitioners alike, it is there for all of humanity whatever your culture, age, and background.
The practice always starts in stillness then there is the creation of sound with the chanting of the very powerful AUM, which is a vibration of consciousness, like the creation of the Universe. Then there comes an awareness of the body like an awakening, moving onto working with pranayama – breath work opening the vital life force ready to move on to Suryia Namaskar; our salutations to the sun where we move through the whole body like a creation of that body then strengthening, lengthening and preparing the body for birth with the inversions. Like birth the head comes first with the headstand and we move through the postures in the correct order working through the energy centres from the highest energy centre at the crown of the head to the earth centre at the pelvic floor. This flow of asanas are like the journey through life, they are always changing within the body, sometimes challenging and sometimes comforting and then like the circle of life we come back to stillness in savasana our relaxation pose at the end of the class. It is a very organic process and what you learn on the mat you can apply to the world that awaits you once you leave the studio or place where you practice. The journey allows you to dive within, experience it and then come back out flowing from the internal to the external just like our breath flows in and out of the body. For me I love it every time I practice I experience something else there is a real depth behind this system and often it is hard to get off the mat, I could just stay there in yoga, but like all things we have to be fluid and there are the other things in life to take care of!
His Holiness Swami Sivananda was born in 1887 in Tamil Nadu – India, and left his body in 1963. He was one of the first Indian masters to make yoga accessible to anyone also bringing this amazing practice to the West. He was eager to relieve human misery and decided to look within himself and became a Swami – a wondering monk – and spent long years in secluded practice in the Himalayas. He founded the Divine life Society in Rishikesh where he trained people from all walks of life and from all over the world in the synthesis of the key paths of yoga, encompassing Hatha, Raja, Karma, Bhakti and Jnana yoga and wrote hundreds of books explaining the most complex aspects of yoga. Today there are Sivananda teachers all over the world and centres and ashrams within India and many countries worldwide.
I hope I can bring the light of Sivananda to anyone that comes to practice with me, I certainly have felt him in my heart from the moment I saw his face staring at me from a computer screen as I searched through for teacher training courses, I saw him and knew yes this is what I am meant to do.
“Divine life is full, infinite, perfect and blissful. Therefore lead the life divine.” Sri Swami Sivananda
For now enjoy the journey!
May we be lead from the unreal to the real, from the darkness to light from mortality to immortality.
Om Shanti Shanti Shantih
Mangala / Nicky