Yoga

In my opinion two great masters are largely responsible for our present interest in and practice of yoga. Yoga was an obscure practice and philosophy even in India but a century ago.  This is particularly the case of Hatha-Yoga (physical practices), which had gained an occult and subversive reputation during the British Raj. These two masters not only revived interest in yoga but they also spread its message to every corner of the globe through their respective students. Amazing that neither of these dynamic individuals ever left India. Both were South Indian orthodox brahmins who held fast to tradition but simultaneously adapted that same tradition to meet modern needs. They were both conservative and radical reformers. Between the two, they represent India’s two forms of master-disciple relationship; one being a sanyasin (monk) living in the Himalayas and the other a householder in a busy South Indian city. Any and all yoga teachers (and practitioners too) should know of these two masters and our debt to them. Even in modern times, we can easily draw inspiration from their example in our practice and in our lives.

It is very important to be clear that Sivananda was not a “Yogi” in the sense that he practiced the Yoga of Patanjali. Here the term is being used as a generic title for a “holy man”, “sadhu” or “saint”. Swami Sivananda admittedly was a Vedantin, meaning he followed and preached the message of Advaita-Vedanta (no-dualist philosophy). This is a separate and distinct philosophy from the Yoga system. It just so happens that Sivananda also encouraged the practice of Hatha-Yoga at his ashram for the purpose of maintaining the good health. Thus, his students carried what they knew and practiced at the ashram around the globe; meaning Hatha-Yoga exercises with Vedanta philosophy. This has led to confusion in the modern Yoga movement about what is Yoga philosophy.

Yoga philosophy is taken from the Yogasutras of Patanjali Maharishi. It is also called PatanjalayogadarshanaRaja-Yoga; and Ashtanga-Yoga (not to be confused with Pattabhi Jois’ athletic Hatha-Yoga system called Ashtanga-Vinyasa). Sri T. Krishnamacharya was a “Yogi” proper, having lived and taught the path laid out in the Yogasutras of Patanjali.

H. H. Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati Saraswati Maharaj

H. H. Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati Saraswati Maharaj

(Professor) Samkhya Yoga Sikhamani, Vedanta Vageesa, Veda Kesari, Nyayacharya Mimamsa Tirtha, Mimamsa Ratna, Yogacharya Sri T. Krishnamacharya

Samkhya Yoga Sikhamani, Vedanta Vageesa, Veda Kesari, Nyayacharya Mimamsa Tirtha, Mimamsa Ratna, Yogacharya (Professor) Sri T. Krishnamacharya

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