Jivamukti yoga: am I missing something?


Jivamukti yoga's founders: David Life and Shannon Gannon.
Jivamukti’s founders: David Life and Sharon Gannon. Image from holly-troy.com

Last week I went to a Jivamukti yoga class at Indaba yoga studio in Marylebone. I went with an old Sivananda buddy and my, how far we’ve strayed from our roots.

Before now I’ve told people I practice Ashtanga and they’ve told me I’m hardcore/mad/nuts etc. But I guess I just like a class that enables me to move and stay with my breath.

Perhaps it’s because I’m unfamiliar with the sequencing in Jivamukti but I was all over the place. It was so fast. I’m told it was a particularly challenging class but it just felt repetitive. So many chaturanghas followed by lunges or warriors… I couldn’t keep up, I kept losing my breath and child’s pose was a-calling.

I enjoyed the chanting of what I knew as the Sivananda meal prayer and the teacher busted out the harmonium which was fab.

And indeed, the Jivamukti London website describes the style as thus:

Jivamukti Yoga is a method of yoga that was created by David Life and Sharon Gannon in1984, which reintegrates the physical, philosophical and spiritual aspects of Yoga. The emphasis in the west has been on Yoga as mostly a physical practice. More and more people are achieving firmer bodies through regular yoga classes.

But many are finding something more: what starts out as a purely physical practice creeps into the hearts and minds of even the least spiritual practitioners.

David and Sharon became teachers because they were passionate about communicating Yoga as more than just a system of exercises, but also as a spiritual practice; a path to enlightenment. From their earliest classes, they have taught a living translation of the Indian system of yoga in a way that western minds can comprehend. That is why Jivamukti Yoga emphasizes vigorous asana as its primary technique, but other practices such as meditation, devotional chanting and study of the ancient texts play an important role as well.

I like trying new classes and styles of yoga but when I lose my breath, it simply becomes an exercise class.

Has anyone else tried Jivamukti? I’m reluctant to judge an entire style based on one class and I’m keen to hear other’s thoughts.