Of the many different branches in the yoga tree, Jivamjkti Yoga may well be one of the lesser understood types of class. Created in 1984 by David Life and Sharon Gannon, it has gained a huge amount of popularity in a short space of time, and has spread worldwide – but what exactly is it, and what should you expect from a Jivamukti yoga class?
It is one of the most powerful and structured practices for experiencing yoga. As well as an intense physical asana practice, it incorporates many spiritual aspects of yoga – making it both physically and emotionally challenging and stimulating.
A Jivamukti session encompasses the 5 core tenets of the Jivamukti practice. From learning more about ancient scripture (Shastra), to offering your intent of devotion (Bhakti), the practice also focuses on practising kindness to others and yourself (ahimsa). We especially love the focus on music (nada) and meditation (dhyana).
What many love about Jivamukti yoga is the richness of the practice. Many teachers start their practice with a scripture of choice, demonstrated in a form of chanting and reading. Even if you are not used to chanting, it is a great way to experience by being in a room of people who are comfortable doing so. Use it as a chance to immerse yourself in the vibes of music and let go a little.
After the initial opening, a class will then move on to warming up to an energetic and stimulating flow of sequences. A Jivamukti sequence is a really great mix of energies – it’s less structured than an Ashtanga class, but has more of a structure than a Hatha or Vinyasa class where classes can be wildly different from teacher to teacher and week to week.
Top tips for a Jivamukti class:
Don’t practice on a full stomach – it is a vigorous and cardio-based experience, and you don’t want to end up with indigestion while you’re in your first down dog!
Don’t be intimidated by the chanting or by the spiritual side of things – be open to all ideas and see what you come away with!
Don’t feel that Jivamukti is for very advanced yogis – it is open to all levels, and to anyone who would like to enjoy a fantastic workout for mind, body and soul.
Do give everything a go – Jivamukti has an emphasis on giving everything a go, and if you fall on your face? Your mat will catch you.