Satyananda Yoga

In de weekenden van 25 maart en van 10 april heb ik me weer mogen onderdompelen in de traditie van de Satyananda Yoga. Hieronder kun je meer lezen over deze Satyananda Yoga traditie.

Satyananda Yoga – Bihar School of Yoga

Eighty years ago, the visionaries of yoga in India recognized that yoga was needed in society. At that time, Swami Sivananda began to train his disciples, both sannyasins and householders in the main branches of yoga – hatha yoga, raja yoga, kriya yoga, karma yoga, bhakti yoga, jnana yoga etc. as a way to develop their personalities and establish a conscious way of life which he called the divine life.

That is where the source of Satyananda Yoga lies, with the distinctive characteristic, that it is not only philosophical, but practical in nature and lifestyle oriented.

Swami Sivananda’s disciples were inspired to propagate yoga and each one was instructed to emphasize a particular theme. Swami Satchitananda emphasized hatha yoga, jnana yoga and bhakti yoga and founded the Integral Yoga Movement in the USA. Swami Vishnudevananda established many Sivananda centers in Canada, making hatha yoga the focus of his teaching.

In 1963 Swami Satyananda, established the Bihar School of Yoga, following the mandate of his guru to develop an integrated path of yoga and spread these teachings from door to door and shore to shore. Thus, had travelled extensively spreading the message of yoga. Through experimentation, research and his profound understanding he gave to the knowledge of the scriptures a practical shape.

Contributions like the three pawanmuktasana series, the grouping of asanas, the systematization of pranayama, the explanation on mudras and bandhas, all used in yoga schools of various traditions worldwide today, can be attributed to his work and his exploration.

He also discovered and revived various ancient meditation techniques, as yoga nidra, antar mouna, ajapa japa, trataka, chidakash dharana, prana vidya etc. Bihar School of Yoga has published numerous books on these themes, based on his early research (all of these books can be found on

His wish was that people should have a deep, thorough and experiential understanding of yoga as well as yoga in day-to-day life, in relation to their thoughts, environment and lifestyle. He conducted teacher training courses and people from all over the world were inspired to do further investigations into the practices of yoga.

Following from the research in the benefits of yogic practices in healing, many medical colleges in India also adopted yoga and BSY published several books on the yogic management of physical/mental ailments.

From the 90’s onwards yoga was taught in prisons in India and throughout the world. It was also adopted by sports bodies. In all of this one can see that the focus of Satyananda Yoga is on integral yoga. Its approach is classical and traditional, based on thousands of years of scriptural knowledge adapted to the needs of modern living. It is a practical system based on research and experimentation leading to an understanding of sadhana as a method to awaken the dormant potential within.

Swami Niranjanananda, in a seamless way continues to develop this tradition of yoga. The 2nd chapter of the Bihar School of Yoga was announced by him at the World Yoga Convention 2013. Whereas the first chapter had been about the propagation of yoga, the emphasis of the 2nd chapter is to connect with the ancient vidya (science) of yoga, and Swami Satyananda’s original teachings of the six main branches of yoga: hatha, raja and kriya yoga (the external aspects) and karma, bhakti and jnana yoga (the internal aspects).

In this second chapter cultivating the yogic lifestyle is the major theme.

Yogic lifestyle is the application of yoga in life, so that one’s life is an expression of yoga. Yoga becomes the inspiration for living in a positive, creative and uplifting way.

Swami Sivananda spoke of this “yoga of synthesis “as a way of life to “harmoniously develop our head, heart and hands.” In order to develop our full potential and have a balanced personality, all three aspects need to be developed. Here head implies our intellect, our ability to analyze, think, observe and rationalize. Heart implies our emotions and desires and hands refers to our actions. Satyananda Yoga teaches us to integrate all of these aspects, so that all the needs of the personality are balanced, and “you develop and discover a better you.

“Satyananda yoga is the integration of head, heart and hands. One learns how to allow the heart to direct the head, and the head to direct the instincts and desires behind our actions (hands).” -Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Further reading from

Further reading from

History of Bihar School of Yoga, Swami Niranjanananda, YPT, Munger

Yoga in Daily Life: Integration of Yoga Capsules

The concept of ‘moment to moment yoga’ revolves around lifestyle – living yoga every hour, every minute. Simple adjustments according to the time and the need can make a big difference to your daily life. You have to decide what is possible, appropriate, in tune with your aspirations and with the environment you live in. You should not ignore the presence and needs of your family, the reality of your workplace, your social and cultural environment. With the right attitude, your routine, aspirations and efforts in life will automatically move in the right direction.

You start with 5 minutes daily of being aware of yourself and gradually extend the period of time, slowly expanding your awareness, every day a little more till eventually it lasts from morning until night, moment to moment. This will take time and there is no need to feel any pressure.

An awareness of ‘what I am doing and how I am doing it’ has to slowly develop, to realize what can be done to live more creatively and harmoniously. This happens when yoga becomes a part of one’s lifestyle.

Swami Niranjanananda has identified two corner stones necessary for a yogic lifestyle.

  1. the yoga capsules
  2. the conscious expression of the positive qualities (yamas and niyamas) of your nature.

They are the two foundations which allow you to integrate yoga into your daily routine, to improve the quality of your involvement in the world and at the same time strengthen the connection with your inner self, your inner being.

Yoga Capsules

The purpose of yoga for most of us today is to be able to manage our body, mind and energies to remain healthy on all levels and to be able to maintain our balance, peace and creativity in the midst of the fast and demanding life. Considering the lack of time for yogic practice and the speed of life, Swami Niranjanananda has introduced a specific set of practices that are easy to do, that take only about twenty minutes to complete and which will give benefits on all levels of being. He called this sadhana the ‘yoga capsules’.

Just as we take vitamin and supplement capsules for good health, we can take ‘yoga capsules’ to balance the energies in the body, improve mental efficiency, harmonize the emotions and bring excellence in our undertakings.

The capsule sadhana comes in small doses that we can practice throughout the day. This has two benefits: firstly, a sadhana becomes possible and can be done realistically by busy people without the need to sacrifice a lot of time. Secondly, our practice is integrated into the whole day. They infuse yoga into our life, and we live a yogic lifestyle for our upliftment. The yoga capsules introduced here contain mantra, asana, pranayama, pratyahara meditation, relaxation and a short reflection. The capsules ‘taken’ daily will support us to manage the challenges of life.