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Jivamukti Yoga

by Emily Regan: Jivamukti yoga is a style of yoga created in 1984 by David Life and Sharon Gannon…


The name comes from the Sanskrit word “jivanmuktih”: “jiva”, the individual living soul, and “mukti”, the liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth. The main principles of jivamukti yoga are demonstrated in the five tenets of this practice (in no particular order):

Ahimsa: This is the practice of nonviolence that extends not only through actions but also through diet as jivamukti yoga encourages a vegetarian or vegan diet. This vegetarian diet is often thought to function as a sort of karmic resolution and practitioners are also encouraged to help spread knowledge of animal rights, environmental concerns, and to take social and political actions to help rectify these issues.

Bhakti: Literally translated to “devotion to God”, the tenet of jivamukti does not encourage devotion to any specific deity as much as it encourages a practice of devotion and humility to a higher power outside of one’s self. In many jivamukti yoga centers, the altar will typically be decorated with items representative of a variety of religions and moral authority figures.

Dhyana: This is a the practice of meditation, an essential part of a jivamukti yoga session in order to connect within one’s self.

Nāda: This tenet connects to the practice of nāda yoga, which focuses on the incorporation of sound through chanting or music. Nāda yoga’s theoretical principle is based on the idea that everything that exists in the cosmos consists of nāda, or sound vibrations. By connecting to this energy, a practitioner could experience a greater unity with the cosmos. Jivamukti utilizes this through chanting, primarily with the use of Om. Additionally, jivamukti instructors often do not demonstrate poses while teaching the class, instead encouraging users to listen. As co-founder Sharon Gannon said, “Through listening, hearing arises, through hearing knowing, through knowing becoming, by becoming being is possible.”

Shastra: Translated as “scripture”, this tenet is the incorporation of a study of the four primary texts of yoga: Bhagavad GitaHatha Yoga PradipikaUpanishads, and Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Additionally, students study Sanskrit, the original language of all of these texts.

All of these tenets are, at their core, focused on connection. Ahimsa is about respect and connection to other living beings, from animals to the environment. Bhakti is about connection to a higher power. Dhyana is about a connection to one’s self through meditation. Nāda connects practitioners to the vibrational energy of the cosmos through sound and finally, shastra connects to the traditions and history of yoga through the formative texts and Sanskrit. Jivamukti is not the sort of yoga practice that is confined to the studio. Rather, this is more of a lifestyle practice that is meant to permeate all areas of a practitioner’s life and impact it in a positive way to promote interconnectedness and respect. By promoting this type of all-encompassing connection to all, the thought is that a practitioner can disregard self-importance, realize the oneness of being, and achieve enlightenment. If this type of practice appeals to you, the primary centers are based in New York but various affiliated studios can be found throughout the country. If you would like a more intensive experience, consider traveling to the Catskill Mountains near Woodstock, New York where, in 2003, the Jivamukti School NYC established the Wild Woodstock Jivamukti Forest Sanctuary, a 125-acre nature preserve and ashram.

Source: AWAKEN


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