This yoga style originated from one of the best yoga studios in New York in the 1980s.
David Life and Sharon Gannon are the founders of this yoga method influenced by the thoroughness of Ashtanga yoga, joined together with spiritual teachings, chanting, and meditation.
Many yoga instructors have learned this yoga style and teach them to their students in gyms and yoga studios across the United States and Europe.
Jivamukti yoga classes are physically demanding or intense and usually include inspirational themes handpicked by the instructor.
Origin of Jivamukti Yoga
The founders of this yoga style met in 1983 in New York in a restaurant owned by David life, the iconic Life Café in the East Village, where Sharon’s band played. Both of them were lovers of music, art, and counterculture in the 1980s, and they started practicing yoga together.
They founded Jivamukti yoga in 1984, one of the first hybrid yoga techniques created in the US. This style of yoga is a hybrid yoga because its techniques and philosophy combine elements from the instructions or teachings of different yoga gurus.
The founders of this yoga style considered their most influential teachers to be Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (Ashtanga guru), Swami Nirmalanda, and Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati.
Jivamukti got its name from a Sanskrit word that translates to “liberation while living.” This yoga style stayed close to its East Village root for several years, it was located in 2nd Avenue and 10th street, then later moved to Lafayette street.
Jivamukti relocated to Union Square in 2006, opening a studio that has a boutique and café. Celebrities in Hollywood and music industry like Gwyneth Paltrow, Uma Thurman, Christy Turlington, Sting, and Russell Simmons were among the early devotees.
This yoga style is a type of vinyasa practice where the yoga postures are usually intense, although the classes can be fun and lighthearted. There is a theme for every class, which is performed through scriptures from yoga, meditation, chanting, pranayama, asana, and music; this is why this yoga style is appealing to people who want more than working out.
The instructors are encouraged to relate yoga principles with real life by taking examples from contemporary music and modern life, so a theme is often presented before commencing a class, this theme is reemphasized all through the class.
A strict interpretation of the yamaahimsa (non-violence) is one of the strongest currents in this style of yoga. Sometimes, Jivamukti instructors also recommend vegan diets.
Finding a Jivamukti Studio
There are several other certified or licensed studio were you can practice Jivamukti in New York besides the Union Square location. These studios are located in New Jersey, Jersey City, and Woodstock New York. They have studios in Munich and Berlin, Germany. Other official locations include Moscow, Sydney, London, and Puebla.
You have nothing to worry about if you don’t live in any of these cities. There are other ways you can go about this style of yoga. You will find a list of certified teachers and affiliated studios on the official website.
Most of the yoga classes will be the Jivamukti style in affiliated studios. Certified teachers may also offer Jivamukti yoga classes in health clubs or non-affiliated studios. So check your location to know what’s available.
There are also DVDs for this style of yoga, but you will benefit more by engaging in classes than watching from a screen.
This yoga style has one of the most respected training programs in the United States. To be a certified Jivamukti instructor, you have to dedicate more time than required to obtain the basic Yoga Alliance registered teacher status.
It takes about 300 hours to complete the first level of Jivamukti training. This training is handled by the founders and other senior instructors; it lasts for weeks or months. About four Jivamukti training takes place every year in different places around the globe.
It requires the student to have practiced yoga for about two years and have knowledge of the Jivamukti methods. Instruction areas include anatomy, philosophy, teaching methodology, pranayama, Sanskrit, and Satsang, meaning community and comprises of meditation, chanting, and so on.
Advanced level Jivamukti training required an additional 500 training hour; thus, Jivamukti certification requires about 800 hours.
Prone to Scandal
Despite the reputation of this yoga style, Jivamukti yoga is not immune to scandal. A lawsuit was filed against a senior Jivamukti instructor in 2016 for sexual harassment; it was authorized by the strict internal hierarchy that praised apprentice teachers demonstrating total devotions to their mentors.
According to an article by Michelle Goldberg published in Slate, April 2016, Plaintiff Holly Faurot’s lawyers had plans to expose Jivamukti as a cult.
A confidential out-of-court settlement resolved the case in June 2016. Thus, this legal strategy has not been tested. Nevertheless, the lawsuit has called the headquarters of this yoga style into question.