What is Yoga? | Where did Yoga come from? | What is Classical Yoga? 


“Yoga leads us from ignorance to wisdom, from weakness to strength, from disharmony to harmony, from hatred to love, from want to fullness, from limitation to infinity, from diversity to unity, from imperfection to perfection.”
 – Swami Sivananda in “Bliss Divine” On this webpage we will cover:

1.  What is Yoga?

2.  What is Classical yoga?

3.  What is Sivananda Yoga?

4.  What are the 4 Paths of Yoga?

5.  Yoga Documentary Movie: Health, Peace, and Unity 

Swami Sivananda is a modern day saint from India who lived from 1887 – 1963. 

Swami Vishnudevananda is a disciple of Sivananda and brought Yoga to the West.  He lived from 1927 – 1993.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is a complete science of life that originated in India many thousands of years ago.  It is the oldest system of personal development in the world, encompassing in its scope, body, mind and spirit.

The ancient yogis had a profound understanding of man’s essential nature and of what he needs to live in harmony with himself and his environment. They perceived the physical body as a vehicle, with the mind as the driver, the soul as man’s true identity, and action, emotion and intelligence as the three forces which pull the body-vehicle. In order to have an integral development, these three forces must be in balance.

The underlying purpose of all the different aspects of the practice is to reunite the individual Self (the jiva) with the Absolute or pure consciousness (Brahman).  The word Yoga means literally “joining”.Union with this unchanging reality liberates the spirit from all sense of separation, freeing it from the illusion of time, space and causation.  

It is only our ignorance, our inability to discriminate between the real and the unreal, which prevents us from realizing our true nature.Sivananda Yoga teaches the classical method of the four paths of yoga in order for the individual to experience this state of Peace and Harmony in the body, mind and spirit.  The modern Yoga approach emphasizes the physical postures while classical Yoga includes mental and spiritual components in the practice.

What Yoga is according to Swami Sivananda

  • Yoga is taking care of body/mind/spirit, not seeking after fitness or beauty, or health.
  • Yoga is finding the cause of our suffering and showing the way to get out of it – to be free from it.
  • Yoga is a system of education for the body, the mind, the intellect, and the inner spirit.
  • Yoga is a way of life.
  • Yoga is universal, not sectarian or separate.
  • Yoga helps us to go to the root of our suffering, spiritual ignorance (not knowing who we really are).
  • Yoga brings individual peace of mind and collective peace.
  • Yoga is unity in diversity.
  • Yoga is self discipline.
  • Yoga is life.
  • Yoga is simple life.
  • Yoga is moderate life.
  • Yoga helps us to deal with stress.
  • Yoga helps calm emotions.
  • Yoga is a balanced mind, strong and steady.

What is classical Yoga?

Classical Yoga is a system of spiritual Knowledge coming from the scriptures (the Vedas), and handed down by a lineage of teachers.  It is not coming from the creativity of one individual. Classical Yoga is universal and not sectarian and can be practiced by all.  

It is a complete system in itself, with many different facets. It is a systematic approach, practiced over a long time, and not a quick fix.  The goal is Peace and Self-realization.  Its teaching needs to be selfless, to insure the purity of the teaching.

What is the Real purpose of Yoga?

We practice Yoga in order to evolve in life, to get success in life and Self-realization.  Yoga is not separate from life.

It is possible to integrate the practices in our daily routine using the 5 Points of Yoga, no matter our conditions in life (rich or poor, single or with family duties, old or young, healthy or ill), because everyone has spiritual potential and everyone wants to evolve.

  • We are looking for the ultimate answers to all the questions of life:  “What is life?
  • What is death?
  • What happens after death?
  • Why do certain people seem to be happier then others?
  • Why are certain people luckier than others?
  • How do we prioritize our life?
  • What is Karma?  What is Dharma?
  • What is right?  What is wrong?
  • Why is there war and conflict?
  • How can we have Peace?”

Sadhana – Spiritual Practice

Yoga practiced as a Sadhana (spiritual practice) gives multiple benefits, physically, mentally and spiritually.Yoga regards the individual in its totality, as a whole, not just as a physical body, or just as an ungrounded mind, or just as a disembodied spirit.

Peace and Health happen when the individual is in harmony with him or herself, when he is able to perceive himself as one with all, and consequently his actions and feelings are governed by this realization.Yoga brings about physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

What is Sivananda Yoga?

Sivananda Yoga, officially called the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers, teaches classical yoga in 11 ashrams and more then 30 centers around the world.

Sivananda Yoga was founded by Swami Vishnudevananda who was one of the first Indian Yogis to come to the West in the year 1957.  

Swamiji took the vast yogic teachings and made them accessible to the Western mind.Swamiji first published “The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga” in 1960 and spread the teachings of yoga around the world traveling to USA, Canada, Europe, South America, India, Israel and much more.  His main teaching is the 5 points of yoga and the 4 paths of yoga.

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