A typical Sivananda Yoga class involves 12 basic postures that seek to increase strength, flexibility, proper breathing, and ease in meditation. The 12-posture sequence is also called the Rishikesh series as it originates in that region in the foothills of the Himalayas.
It also includes two breathing exercises and a deep final relaxation.
Characteristics of Sivananda yoga also include the following:
- Mantra/prayers at the beginning and end of yoga classes
- Longer holding of postures
- Pranayamas at the beginning or end of class
- An overall awareness and focus on breathing and the pranic dimensions of the practice
A session typically starts with every practitioner resting in Savasana. This is then followed by Kapalabhati and Anuloma Viloma, and then rounds of Surya Namaskara before the standard program of the 12 basic asanas is practiced. A session averages 90 minutes and the traditional program may be loosely followed by the instructor to allow for some variation.
The Sivananda practice establishes physiological balance in the body and secures mental poise through its scientifically-designed series of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (yogic breathing techniques).
Each asana is practiced in the same order at each class with a relaxation pose performed after every posture. The instructor adds variations and postures as the skill level of the student increases. The instructor closely monitors the students’ progress and frequently assists them with postures. Students feel relaxed, rested, and rejuvenated at the end of each class. The Sivananda training system aims to maintain the vitality of the body, slow the decaying process, and reduce the chance of disease by simply and naturally cultivating the body.
Sivananda Yoga Table of Contents