Sivananda Yoga

Based on the teachings of Swami Sivananda, Sivananda yoga is one of the mildest forms of yoga that focuses on breathing, spirituality, and meditation. A more unconventional form of yoga, Sivananda works to build overall physical and mental well-being.

Since it’s introduction to the western community by Swami Vishnu-devananda in 1957, Sivananda Yoga centers have been gaining popularity due to its simple yet effective practice all over the world including the United Kingdom, United States, and West Africa.

How Is Sivananda Yoga Performed?

Sivananda yoga empowers the mind and body through a unified motion of internal energy through meditation and relaxation techniques.

The practice involves a combination of slow and coordinated movements, breathing exercises, relaxation, and imagery. An average Sivananda yoga session lasts for about 90 minutes with a few minutes of rest between the asanas.

The practice usually starts with resting followed by Prayanama. After relaxation, ‘Kapalbharti’ and ‘Anulom Violom’ breathing exercises are performed followed by the following yoga poses.

  1. Headstand (Sirshasana)
  2. Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana)
  3. Plough (Halasana)
  4. Fish (Matsyasana)
  5. Sitting forward bend (Paschimothanasana)
  6. Cobra (Bhujangasana)
  7. Locust (Shalabhasana)
  8. Bow (Dhanurasana)
  9. Spinal twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
  10. Crow (Kakasana) or peacock (Mayurasana)
  11. Standing forward bend (Pada Hasthasana)
  12. Triangle (Trikonasana)

Five Principles of Sivananda Yoga

1. Asana – Proper Exercise

Asana is considered one of the eight limbs of the yoga practice and refers to the physical practice of yoga that involves exercise.

2. Pranayama – Proper Breathing

Although breathing is an involuntary action, we have the option to control our breathing. Pranayama allows us to control our breathing mannerisms to improve the circulation of oxygen to the brain and promote overall relaxation of the mind and the body.

3. Savasana – Relaxation

Savasana is a relaxation technique that is carried out in a gentle resting pose (Vishraam mudra). Savasana is the final relaxation (Antim Vishraam) pose that is taken during the end of the Sivananda yoga session.

4. Bhojan – Yogic/Vegetarian Diet

Diet (Bhojan) is an essential component of the Sivananda Yoga practice. Maintaining a yogic diet consisting of vegetarian meals, foods from nature (Upeksa), and an avoidance of processed foods, promote healing of the body from the inside out.

5. Vedanta and Dhyana – Thinking and Meditation

Vedanta refers to the optimistic approach you take towards your daily activities and Dhyana is associated with finding a deeper awareness of yourself.

Benefits of Sivananda Yoga

Sivananda yoga primarily focuses on the emotional and spiritual enhancement of the individual and unlike other yoga practices, doesn’t involve physical exercises.

1. Respiratory Ailments

Sivananda yoga is specifically beneficial to help with various respiratory disorders. Controlled breathing and relaxation exercises improve nourishment to the muscles and enhance the level of oxygen consumption.

2. Psychological Disorders

Relaxation and meditation strategies help to promote a soothing effect on the mind. Additionally, asanas involved in the practice induce positive thinking and promote optimism.

Precautions to Take with Sivananda Yoga

Although Sivananda yoga is a safe and effective practice, it is not recommended for the following individuals:

  • Women in their last trimester of pregnancy; Asanas can be risky and are likely to affect the developing fetus
  • Patients with cardiovascular disorders
  • Elderly individuals

Sivananda Yoga: the Art of Relaxation

Channeling relaxation in your body and enhancing self-awareness can have a positive effect on your life and improve your overall well-being. The five principles of Sivananda yoga promotes consciousness in the way you exercise, eat, and your overall perspective on life.

Quick FAQs

1. Where is the Sivananda yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram located?

The Ashram is located in Neyyar Dam, Trivandrum in Kerala, India.

Updated by Siya Rajan on 05/10/2018

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Sivananda Yoga. (2012, May 09). Retrieved from