What is Jivamukti Yoga?
Jivamukti Yoga is a path to enlightenment through compassion for all beings. The Jivamukti Method is grounded in the original meaning of the Sanskrit word asana as “seat, connection” – relationship to the Earth. Earth implies all of life. Citing Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, which states that asana should be sthira and sukham, 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). This is a radical idea that, when put into practice, can dismantle our present culture, which is based on the notion that the Earth and all other animals exist for our benefit and to be exploited for our own selfish purposes. So 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 thus lead to enlightenment – the dissolution of the sense of separateness, the realization of the oneness of being, the discovery of lasting happiness.
5 Tenets of Jivamukti Yoga
This core philosophy is expressed through 5 tenets, which form the foundation of Jivamukti Yoga. Jivamukti teachers embody these tenets, so that they color all of his or her teachings whether in Fundamentals classes, Open classes, other classes, workshops, or even just interactions with others in the Jivamukti community. In classes other than Open classes, the teacher does not necessarily teach the five tenets explicitly or even state them out loud. In an Open class, however, the five tenets have a special role, because it is part of the teacher’s job to give the students an experience of all five tenets in each Open class, though again not necessarily by teaching them explicitly or even stating them out loud, but by allowing them to inform the class plan and teaching style. Each of the five tenets should be clearly identifiable in every Open class, even though the names of the tenets may not actually be spoken. By doing this, students learn not to see asana as separate from spiritual study or chanting or meditation, but rather to integrate all of the elements that make up Jivamukti Yoga into one unified practice. This provides for a well-rounded approach to our goal—enlightenment through compassion for all beings.
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 from the Focus of the Month to the extent possible.
Jivamukti Spiritual Warrior classes are designed for busy people who only have an hour to practice. The class is fast paced and invigorating and is certainly a “get-in-shape” class. The structure is a fixed set sequence instructed in a vinyasa style. It is a fully balanced class which includes asana warm-up, chanting, setting of intention, surya namaskar, standing poses, backbends, forward bends, twists, inversions, meditation and relaxation. The teacher focuses on keeping the pace moving and does not stop to give spiritual discourses. Since the asana sequence is always the same, a student will pick it up quite quickly after only a couple of classes.
PDF for asanas for this class: spiritual-warrior
The Jivamukti Magic Ten Curriculum
- Downward Dog – 10 breaths. Then keep hands where they are and walk feet forward until shoulders are directly over the wrists and hips are directly over the feet.
- Uttanasana variation – 10 breaths. With legs and arms extended, press equal weight down through hands and feet and simultaneously lift up out of wrists and ankles (with blocks under hands, if necessary, in order to extend legs).
- Squat – 10 breaths. Feet mat-width apart, knees tracked over middle of feet, spine extended, hands in prayer at heart, using elbows to open inner thighs, press heels down into floor or into folded blanket or sit on a block.
- Teepee Twist – 5 breaths each side Seated with soles of feet on floor, feet and knees together, twist to the right, bend left elbow and embrace both knees with left arm, right hand on floor behind supporting vertical lift of spine, breathe 5 breaths; do left side, then extend both legs straight.
- Ardha Matsyendrasana – 5 breaths each side Bend right knee and cross right foot over extended left leg, placing right foot adjacent to the outside of left knee or further down near left foot. With left elbow bent, press outside of left arm against outside of right leg (or those who can, hold right instep with left hand); breathe 5 breaths, repeat to left side, then extend both legs straight.
- Table Top – 10 breaths Separate feet hip-width apart and bend knees, place hands behind you on floor, fingers pointing toward feet, chin to chest, inhale lift up, exhale extend head back, hold for 10 breaths (pelvis should be lifted as high or higher than knee level, with ankles under knees and wrists under shoulders).
- Handstand – 5 to 25 breaths Place hands on floor about 3-5 inches from a wall, and leading with one leg jump up and follow with the other, then rest heels on wall, feet flexed, and drop head between arms; or start on hands and knees and walk up to a 90 degree angle; or practice jumping with one leg in center of room. Finish by simply hanging over in uttanasana (no need to rest in child’s pose), then stand up for posture alignment.
- Standing Posture Alignment – 5 breaths Standing in tadasana (feet parallel, together or apart), interlock fingers together behind back, pressing palms together, lift arms away from pelvis, aligning pelvis and rib cage-pelvis is neither retracted nor tucked under, upper chest lifts as armpits expand, chin drops to meet lifted chest.
- Standing Side Bends – 4 breaths Extend arms overhead, interlock fingers, pressing palms together, inhale lengthen spine, exhale bend to the left side, inhale to upright position, then exhale bend to the right, repeat once more to each side for a total of 2 rounds. Inhale come to a upright standing position.
- Standing Spinal Roll – 16 breaths
- Exhale: place interlaced hands behind head .
- Inhale: in upright position, spread elbows, lengthen spine, expand chest – Exhale: arch back 1
- Inhale: lengthen spine – Exhale: lean back further 2
- Inhale: lengthen spine – Exhale: lean back further 3
- Inhale: come to an upright position – Exhale: draw elbows towards each other, chin to chest 4
- Inhale: breath space into back body – Exhale: roll down, nose toward upper chest 5
- Inhale – Exhale: roll down, forehead toward sternum 6
- Inhale – Exhale: roll down, forehead toward belly 7
- Inhale – Exhale: roll down, forehead toward navel 8
- Inhale – Exhale: roll down, forehead toward pubic bone 9
- Inhale – Exhale: roll down, forehead toward mid-thighs 10
- Inhale – Exhale: roll down, forehead toward knees 11
- Inhale – Exhale: bend knees, touching forehead to or toward knees 12
- Inhale: keep knees bent, open elbows, lift torso (like in utkatasana) – Exhale: stay 13
- Inhale: straighten legs, lift to upright position – Exhale: stay 14
- Inhale: in upright position, lengthen spine - Exhale: lean back 15
- Inhale: come to upright position – Exhale: release arms, tadasana 16 (Take 16 counts for the entire sequence)