What is Jivamukti Yoga?

Chris-Grosso-Jivamukti“We chose the name Jivamukti to reflect the true aim of yoga, which is liberation. ‘Jiva’ means individual soul and ‘mukti’ means liberation…The name Jivamukti Yoga reflects the fact that it is possible to have a beneficial and fulfilling life in the world, and also progress spiritually-perhaps even attaining liberation while living.” Sharon Gannon and David Life

Jivamukti Yoga is a vinyasa-based method of yoga that was created by Sharon Gannon and David Life in 1984 integrating the physical, philosophical and spiritual aspects of yoga. The Jivamukti Yoga method is a living translation of the Indian system of yoga that is presented in a format that western minds can comprehend. Jivamukti Yoga emphasizes vigorous asana as its primary technique, but other practices such as meditation, devotional chanting and study of the ancient texts play an important role as well.

At the heart of this practice is the original meaning of the Sanskrit word asana, meaning ‘seat’ or ‘connection’. In other words, asana is about the relationship to the earth and all of life. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the ancient text about how to practice yoga, it states that asana should be sthira and sukham: steady and joy-filled. Jivamukti Yoga maintains that one’s relationship to others (asana) should be mutually beneficial and come from a consistent (sthira) place of joy and happiness (sukham).

In this context, the practice of asana becomes more than mere physical exercise to keep one’s body fit or to increase strength or flexibility; it becomes a way to improve one’s relationship to all others and leads to the dissolution of the sense of separateness, the realization of the oneness of being, the discovery of lasting happiness.

This core philosophy is expressed through five tenets which form the foundation of Jivamukti Yoga.
The five tenets, not presented in any particular order of importance, are:

A nonviolent, compassionate lifestyle extending to other animals, the environment and all living beings, emphasizing ethical vegetarianism (veganism) and animal rights.

Acknowledgment that God/Self-realization is the goal of all yoga practices; can be expressed through chanting, the setting of a high intention for the practice or other devotional practices.

Meditation: connecting to that eternal unchanging reality within.

The development of a sound body and mind through deep listening; can be incorporated in a class using recorded music, spoken word, silence or even the teacher’s voice.

Study of the ancient yogic teachings, including Sanskrit chanting, drawn generally from the Focus of the Month.