The first center where Sivananda yoga was practiced was founded by a disciple of Swami Sivananda, Swami Vishnu-devananda in 1959. At the moment, this yoga style has about 80 centers across the globe, including different ashrams.

sivananda yoga

Five principles govern Sivananda yoga; they include asana practices, meditation, and pranayama. The core of this style of yoga involves mastering 12 carefully selected yoga poses.

Sivananda yoga originated from Swami Sivananda lineage; it was introduced to the west late 1950 by his disciple Swami Vishnudevananda. This made this style an important aspect of the first yoga that became popular outside India. 

Sivananda (1988-1963), who was a practicing doctor, was very popular in the 1930s in India, when he created an ashram in Rishikesh.

Many western students who wanted studying yoga and vendata came to he because he was fluent in English and wrote several treatises in English. In 1936, Sivananda founded the Divine Life Society to organize and disseminate his teachings.

Important Disciples

Sivananda’s yoga, as well as his philosophies, was known to several western countries, all thanks to his disciples. Swami Satchidananda was one of his disciples, he founded the integral yoga. 

VIshnudevananda is another disciple that began the first Sivananda Yoga Center in Montreal, Canada, he came to North America in 1957. The yoga method and philosophies of Sivananda came to be because of Vishnudevananda, in an attempt to teach others what he learned from his teacher.

Currently, there are several Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers in the United States, Western Europe, Asia, South America, and also nine ashram retreats.

Sivananda Philosophy:

This style of practicing yoga attains optimal health and spiritual growth based on the five principles demonstrated by Vishnudevananda, they include:

  • Proper breathing exercise (pranayama)
  • Proper workout or exercise (Asana that focuses on 12 poses)
  • Positive thinking (Vedanta) and meditation (Dhyana)
  • Proper relaxation (Savasana)
  • Proper diet (vegetarian)


A typical Sivananda class starts with a breathing exercise. Sun salutations are done to warm the body up, then focus is directed towards mastering the 12 basic poses in the following order:

  1. Headstand
  2. Shoulderstand
  3. Plow 
  4. Fish
  5. Seated forward bend
  6. Cobra
  7. Locust
  8. Bow
  9. Seated Spinal Twist
  10. Crow or Peacock
  11. Standing forward bend
  12. Triangle

The class ends with Savasana. The poses that make up this workout were selected with care; they include backbends, forward bends, twist, inversions, hamstring stretches, and balances.

The exercise targets almost every part of the body is performed slowly and also with control in order to strengthen and stretch the body and also open blocked chakras. Students may be introduced to variations after they have mastered the 12 basic poses in this yoga style.

Is Sivananda Yoga for You?

Sivananda yoga aims to promote optimal health physically, mentally and spiritually. This style of practice is fairly fixed; therefore, you have to love a slow and methodological approach to master the basic poses.

If you find India philosophy interesting, there is a possibility that you will find Sivananda yoga appealing.


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