Yoga has been one of the key tools, which has accelerated me through the cycle of learning. It has allowed me to quell my demons and fill that empty space with peace and qualm. In my time, I have tried many different forms of yoga (Sivananda, Kundalini, and Ashtanga to name but a few). Sivananda was free-flowing and interesting; Kundalina was dynamic with its fast-changing movements; and Ashtanga was strong and powerful.
But there has only been one style, which has truly excited me.
Jivamukti is a very new method of yoga, created in 1984 by David Life and Sharon Gannon. They felt that the true essence of yoga had been lost in the West, and sought to reintegrate its philosophical and spiritual aspects. Their system, whilst very physical, was about spiritual enlightenment. Whilst the bedrock of the practice were very demanding asanas (poses), the method was supplemented with devotional chanting, meditation and a study of the yogic ancient texts.Within a few years of setting up the first New York studio; their style, passion, and overall message electrified the yoga scene. The method is now one of the nine internationally recognized styles of Hatha Yoga, with many thousands attending classes on a weekly basis throughout the world.
There were so many things about the method which makes it attractive.
- - Jivamukti in Sanskrit means liberated being in this lifetime – it summed up everything want to achieve in life.
The practice was extremely physical, and as such was at the raw edge of all yogic methods.
- - David and Sharon had been gifted musicians and dancers in their early years, and now drew upon that experience to create a flowing set of postures choreographed to great music – it is always fun and lively.
- Each class had a theme explored through yogic scripture, chanting, meditation, physical practice, or music – Every class was different.
- Unlike many yogic methods taught in the West, it actively engaged the student in digging deeper and changing their lifestyle. It practised Ahimsa (non-violence), vegetarianism, and living a more pure life through awareness of yogic scriptures. Simply put, they asked the student to change the world through personal example: “Change yourself and you can change the world.” – It was truly inspirational.
- It was the coolest yogic method, with the trendiest clothes and the hippest crowd.
That evening, whilst recovering my strength over a glass of wine in the bar, I decided that Jivamukti was the yogic method for me. It had the right blend of physicality and spirituality mixed with a trendy urban vibe. It was the perfect way to get fit and become mentally strong. As the weeks passed I would be found less and less in the hot room, and increasingly in the traditional studio.