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Jivamukti Yoga: What is it?

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 354 views

In the 1980s, an artist couple from New York combined traditional yoga elements with a modern lifestyle. The result: Jivamukti Yoga , a combination of physical exercises, concentration and breathing techniques and a philosophical exchange. Yogis should find enlightenment and develop compassion for all beings. Read more about it here.

What is Jivamukti Yoga?

More than an ordinary yoga method: Jivamukti Yoga is a dynamic, sweaty and flowing workout that can lead to inner liberation. It was brought into being by the two musicians Sharon Gannon and David Life. They met at an East Village coffee shop in 1984, fell in love, and quickly felt their spiritual connection.

Her view: everything in life is interconnected. They therefore allowed yoga exercises , meditation and old yogic wisdom to merge with one another – framed by classical music, hip-hop, electro and punk.

The aim of the two charismatic founders was to shape the way we work together in society. They wanted to encourage their students to refine their perception of the world, to eat vegan and to respect nature.

Her approach: Away from egocentric individualism towards community. Jivamukti Yoga quickly found many followers – including the pop stars Madonna and Sting. The Jivamukti Yoga Center in New York is now one of the largest yoga studios in the USA.

As the two founders wrote in their book “Yoga of Liberation. Writing the practice book of Jivamukti Yoga”, the Yogil style is based on the contents of the ancient Sanskrit scriptures, on devotion, non-violence, music and meditation. The exercises focus on the unity of breathing and movement. The yoga style promotes concentration, strengthens the body and helps to find access to oneself.

The five focal points of a Jivamukti yoga class

According to Sharon Gannon and David Life, the focus of a Jivamukti yoga class is on the exercises of powerful Hatha Yoga in its purest form. They are embedded in a philosophy derived from these five elements:

The ancient Sanskrit scripts

Yogis gain insight into the yogic tradition through ancient Sanskrit scriptures such as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. This scripture explains how the yogi overcomes mental obstacles that stand in the way of enlightenment.

  • the Hatha Yoga Pradipika : It is a technical manual on Hatha Yoga
  • the central text of Hinduism : the Bhagavad Gita
  • the Upanishads : Behind it is a collection of philosophical writings of Hinduism.

Hingabe – devotional

Jivamukti Yoga is about devotion to God. The assumption is that every living thing has something divine in it. Tolerance and cross-religious understanding are also important components. These aspects are addressed through devotional chanting and the repetition of the Names of God.

Nonviolence Ahimsa

Non-violence is necessary for peaceful coexistence. That is why political activism, which leads to peaceful coexistence, plays a major role in Jivamukti Yoga. A vegan diet is a prerequisite for treating every living being with respect.

Music – Tones

In a Jivamukti yoga class, music is used to train the human ear. Thereby a union with the highest consciousness or the divine should be possible.

Meditation – dhyana

Meditation is the order of the day in every Jivamukti class. In this way the yogis can find themselves and liberate their souls.

Exercises and procedure in Jivamukti Yoga

The focus of Jivamukti Yoga is on the unity of breathing and movement. Therefore, pranayamas (breathing exercises), asanas (yoga postures) and kriyas (cleansing exercises) are part of a yoga class. A typical Jivamukti yoga class is very dynamic. The different asanas follow each other quickly and flow into each other. Typical elements of Jivamukti Yoga are:

  • an uninterrupted vinyasa yoga sequence such as the sun salutation
  • changing and sitting positions
  • The rotation
  • reversals
  • breathing exercises
  • Deep relaxation embedded in music from all possible traditions and genres

Effect of Jivamukti Yoga

Jivamukti Yoga has a holistic effect on the body, mind and soul thanks to its multifaceted content. The effects include:

  • The muscles throughout the body are strengthened.
  • The exercises are invigorating for the body and calming for the mind.
  • Concentration is encouraged.
  • The body becomes more flexible.
  • Access to oneself emerges. This enables yogis to better realize themselves.
  • According to the two founders, a finer perception for oneself and for the world can arise.

Who is Jivamukti Yoga suitable for?

Rapid sequences are typical of Jivamukti Yoga. Therefore, this type of yoga is particularly well suited for yogis who already have previous experience. However, there are also studios that offer different levels. Beginner courses usually teach the various exercises in a relaxed manner one after the other. The teacher first shows the standing exercises, followed by the bent over and backward bent before the meditation exercises. In the end everything is connected.

Courses, retreats & Co.: Where is Jivamukti Yoga offered?

Patrick Broome was one of the pioneers of Jivamukti Yoga in Germany. In 1999 he trained as a yoga teacher in the USA with Sharon Gannon and David Life and founded the first Jivamukti school in Europe in the Schwabing district of Munich. From there, the yoga style spread across Europe. Courses are now available in all major cities in Germany. Various organizers also offer multi-day retreats in Germany and abroad.

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