Most of us have heard about how various saints – from Gautam Buddha, St Francis of Asisi, Meerabai, and others attained salvations or Nirvana only when they left their mortal selves behind to enter into the cosmic world. Thus, we all began to associate salvation with death and saw physical existence as only the means to attain it. We never thought that we could ever attain salvation or be one with the Almighty when alive. On the other way, though most of us claim to know yoga, we all seem to think it is a means to get rid of diabetes and lose extra fat, thanks to the marketing strategies of many self-styled gurus. We tend to forget that the ultimate and main aim of yoga was to attain union with the Almighty. Since we seem to think we cannot do so while alive, we never even try to venture into that. That was when two Yoga practitioners from New York, David Life and Sharon Gannon, came up with the theory of ‘Jivamukti Yoga, which was supposed to help practitioners attain salvation while still alive. Here’s all you wanted to know about Jivamukti Yoga.
What Does ‘Jivamukti’ Mean?
The term ‘Jivamukti’ comes from two Sanskrit words – ‘jiva’ meaning the physical existence and mukti meaning salvation. Together they mean attaining salvation and union with God even while one lives, which is the ultimate goal of Yoga. The Jivamukti style of Yoga was created by David Life and Sharon Gannon, two teachers of Asthanga Yoga teaching in New York, in 1986. They called this branch as Jivamukti so that it poses as a constant reminder to their students that the ultimate goal of someone who practices yoga is spiritual enlightenment and union with the Supreme Being.
What Is The Principle Behind Jivamukti Yoga?
The noted proponent of Iyengar Yoga, Dr BKS Iyengar once remarked without meditation, chanting, and breath control, all the poses of Yoga or Asanas are mere acrobatics. This is one of the foremost philosophy on which Jivamukti Yoga is based. It follows the principles listed below, which makes all the difference between mere physical exercise and bringing one’s physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, intellectual and psychological self closer to the Supreme Being.
- Jivamukti Yoga focuses on the teachings of the Sanskrit Scriptures, ancient teachings that were written down by Patanjali and chanting of Sanskrit shlokas or couplets.
- Devotion or bhakti is another tenet that is essential to this branch of Yoga. Every person who practices yoga regards God as the omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent being that resides in every being; they believe that every living being is the seat of God.
- Non-violence or ahimsa, leading a compassionate lifestyle, emphasizing on ethical practice of vegetarianism and awareness about animal rights, are some other facets of Jivamukti Yoga. It also aims to spread awareness about the environmental and health problems that we shall face if we continue to eat a meat based diet. In fact, turning to a vegetarian diet is considered a way to incur good karma for the next incarnation.
- Nada Yoga - one of the tenets of Jivamukti Yoga - emphasizes on the importance of listening to the sacred sounds of yoga like the chanting of the syllable ‘Aum’ and other shlokas and chanting.
- Jivamukti Yoga lays stress on Dhyana or Meditation, which it believes is the ultimate way in which a human being can attain union with the Supreme Being.
How Is It Relevant?
Viewed from a modernist perspective, the Jivamukti Yoga combines each one of the branches of yoga to give the body as well as the mind a complete workout. It combines the traditional chanting and meditation as well as the more modern practice of vigorous yoga poses. A balanced program will include cardiovascular exercises, weight bearing exercises and flexibility training. Jivamukti Yoga also teaches breath control, meditation and chanting, which it emphasizes, is the surest way to attain union with the Supreme Being or the Paramaatman.