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Sivananda Yoga: What is it?

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 201 views

Sivananda Yoga aims to achieve physical and mental health through a series of physical exercises, breathing techniques and relaxation. Yoga master Swami Sivananda is behind the holistic yoga concept. Read more about it here.

What is Sivananda Yoga?

The name Sivananda Yoga derives from the Indian yoga master Swami Sivananda. He was a doctor and taught classical yoga with a holistic approach. In the 1920s he met his guru, Swami Vishwananda Saraswati, who had a significant influence on him. He was concerned with keeping the body healthy, balancing the mind and finding inner peace.

In the more than 200 books he has written, Swami Sivananda has dealt with the teachings of yoga, among other things. The result: Sivananda Yoga has a spiritual component and combines Hatha Yoga and the four yoga paths:

  • Raja Yoga (Path of Mind Control)
  • Jnana Yoga (Way of Wisdom)
  • Karma Yoga (path of selfless action)
  • Bhakti Yoga (Path of Devotion)

Swami Vishnudevananda was a disciple of Swami Sivananda. In order to continue his teacher’s style of yoga, he founded the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Organization. Behind this is a worldwide network of ashrams and centers that are committed to the spread of yoga and the training of Sivananda yoga teachers.

What is special is the holistic approach. In Sivananda Yoga, just as much emphasis is placed on relaxation and correct breathing as on the asanas, i.e. the various physical exercises. It is also important to eat a healthy diet in order to fully unfold the effects of yoga and to release blockages in the body and mind.

When a yogi collects his thoughts with the help of meditation and steers them in a positive direction, serenity and inner strength come almost automatically. This helps to cope better with the challenges of everyday life.

This is how Sivananda Yoga works

Various elements play a role in Sivananda Yoga. We present them in more detail.

Physical exercises (asanas)

The asanas consist of twelve basic positions – including headstand, shoulderstand and forward bend. The yogi performs them in a specific order and for a specific period of time. The various physical exercises keep the joints and muscles supple. They also activate the cardiovascular system and promote concentration and meditation.

Breathing Techniques (Pranayamas)

Deep and conscious breathing connects the body with the solar plexus (solar plexus). The latter is a network of fibers and nodes of the autonomic nervous system. It lies between the breastbone and the navel – at the junction of the thoracic and lumbar spine.

Relaxation (Savasana)

Deep relaxation always takes place at the end of a Sivanada yoga class. It is particularly important to keep your body and mind healthy. The yogi lies on his back in the so-called corpse position. His feet are hop-width apart and fall outwards. The arms are at a 45 degree angle to the body. It is important that the flow of thoughts comes to rest. This works best when the yogi concentrates on his breathing.


A conscious choice of food is also part of Sivananda Yoga. A yogi chooses the foods that have a good effect on the body and mind. It is also important that they do not harm the environment.

Positive Thinking and Meditation (Vedanta and Dhyana)

Both of these approaches aim to reduce stress. They should also help the yogi to break new ground. Through meditation he should find inner peace and be able to concentrate better.

Effects of Sivananda Yoga

The asanas strengthen and stretch all muscle groups in the body. In addition, tissue, fascia and muscles are kept supple. Yoga also stimulates the circulation, the arteries remain elastic and the heart is strengthened.

The effects on the nervous system are particularly impressive. For example, when yogis stretch into the forward bend, the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system responsible for relaxation, is activated. In a subsequent counterposition, muscles must tense, which in turn stimulates the active part of the nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system. In this way, the nervous system is optimally balanced.

Does Sivanada Yoga Help Burn Calories?

Calories, i.e. fat , are hardly burned by yogis during a Sivananda yoga class. On the contrary: asanas and pranayama reduce the basal metabolic rate of energy and this is exactly what should actually be increased in order to burn calories.

However, it is possible to lose weight through yoga. This is true when the yogi is overweight. Balancing the nervous system slows down the whole system, body awareness deepens, mood swings can be better balanced and appetite can be better controlled. We eat more consciously and it is easier to avoid unnecessary calorie intake. On the other hand, if you are underweight, you can achieve your normal weight.

Who is Sivananda Yoga suitable for – are there any restrictions?

Sivananda Yoga is suitable for everyone – no matter what age. The reason: It covers the whole range from gentle asanas to intermediate and advanced exercises.


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