Jivamukti Yoga is a yoga style that focusses on compassion through physical movement. The ultimate goal of the practice is to reach enlightenment, which can be achieved by showing compassion for all living beings. The discipline teaches that every relationship should be mutually beneficial and come from a place of happiness. When used correctly, this idea prevents us from using other beings for our own selfish purposes. Through a series of physical asanas, practitioners can better their relationships with one another. Additionally, the postures allow yogis to improve their fitness, strength, and flexibility too. This element of the practice provides a wide variety of physical and emotional health benefits. For best results, it’s important to wear lightweight clothing when practising the discipline. To allow the body to oxygenate sufficiently, consider wearing a breathable yoga vest. In this article, we explore Jivamukti Yoga in more detail.
The philosophy of Jivamukti Yoga is expressed through the ‘5 Tenets’. The tenets are used by yoga teachers to form the foundation of each class. Typically, Jivamukti classes come in 3 different varieties: Open Class, Fundamentals Class, and Spiritual Warrior Class. We will discuss these in more detail later in the article. Different classes place different levels of emphasis on the 5 tenets, though every style will use them to some extent. Below, we explore the 5 Tenets of Jivamukti Yoga further.
The first of the 5 tenets is Ahimsa. This is best described as a non-violent, compassionate lifestyle. Practitioners must be compassionate to the environment and all living things. Additionally, they are encouraged to follow a vegan diet and support animal rights.
The second tenet is Bhakti. Bhakti represents the path of complete devotion to God or the Divine. The Sanskrit word ‘Bhakti’ loosely translates to ‘blissful, selfless and overwhelming love of God’. The meaning of ‘God’ is personal to each devotee. Often, the term refers to a God or Goddess such as Krishna, Ganesha, Radha, Sita, Vishnu, Shiva, Durga, or Lakshmi.
The third tenet, Dhyana, means absorption. Meditating regularly will teach us to absorb the qualities of meditation.
The fourth tenet is Nada. Nada focusses on developing the body and mind through listening. This tenet is used in Jivamukti classes through music or the spoken word. Some classes even use periods of silence to improve Nada.
Shastra is the study of ancient yoga techniques. Typically, classes focus on Sanskrit chanting.
As mentioned previously, there are a few different types of Jivamukti class. Below, we explore 3 of the most popular classes in more detail.
Focussing on asanas, meditation, and spiritual teachings, Open Classes are ideal for yogis of all sorts. The class is referred to as “Open” because is it suitable for all abilities. Placing equal focus on the key aspects of yoga, this type of class is perfect for those looking to gain a basic knowledge of the practice. Typically, an Open Class will begin with spiritual teaching. During this time, students will learn about the ancient yogic techniques and how they can be used in day-to-day life. Over time, practitioners will learn how to use these techniques both on and off the mat. After the spiritual teachings, students will move onto meditation and physical movement. The order of these will depend on the instructor’s preference. Open Classes often incorporate music into the session. Typically, classes will use a soundtrack of ragas, hip-hop, or even the spoken word; however, pieces by Mozart are also popular. While the soundtrack is still important during spiritual teachings and asana practice, more focus is placed on the music during meditation. In this section of the class, students take time to reflect on the session and connect with their inner-self.
Spiritual Warrior classes are ideal for those that are pushed for time. Typically, the duration of the class is kept to one hour, meaning that students can easily pop in after work, or even during their lunch break. With a fast-paced nature, Spiritual Warrior classes are also perfect for those looking to improve their fitness levels. With a vinyasa style, most classes stick to a set sequence of postures. Generally, a Spiritual Warrior class will begin with an asana warm-up and chanting. Next, practitioners will move onto the set posture sequence; typically, this is composed of standing postures, backbends, forward bends, twists, and inversions. Once the sequence has been completed, students will end the session with meditation. As the content of a Spiritual Warrior class remains the same, the sequence can be picked up within a few sessions.
While Open and Spiritual Warrior classes focus on vinyasa, the Fundamentals class places emphasis on alignment. During this class, students learn exactly how to practice each asana. Learning about correct alignment will allow students to get the most from vinyasa-based classes. The nature of the Fundamentals class makes it ideal for beginners. Here, novices can learn the best way to practice to avoid injury. With this in mind, beginners are encouraged to attend at least 4 Fundamentals classes before moving onto the Open or Spiritual Warrior class.
Whether you’re hoping to reach enlightenment or you’re more interested in getting in shape, Jivamukti Yoga can benefit yogis of all sorts. As the practice incorporates all the aspects of traditional yoga, it is ideal for those who are just starting out. However, it’s important to pick up the right yoga gear before your first class. For a practical but on-trend option, try picking up a breathable yoga short.