Sri Dharma Mittra

Dharma yoga is a yoga style based on the teachings of the legendary teacher Sri Dharma Mittra, who has been teaching since 1967. He studied the traditional teachings of yoga with Swami Kailasananda (also known as Yogi Gupta). He served his Guru while living with him in a spiritual community (Ashram) for 9 years. Swami Kailasananda was initiated to the Sanyasin order in Varanasi and established the Kailasananda Mission in Rishikesh before founding the Ashram in the state of New York. Dharma Mittra had the honor to be his Guru’s personal assistant for several years as well as teaching the intermediate and advanced asana classes in his Ashram. In 1975 Dharma Mittra founded the Yoga Asana Center in New York City. In his teachings he emphasizes Yamas and Niyamas and teaches many other esoteric secret practices such as Yoga Nidra, psychic development, and advanced Pranayama. In 1984 he completed the Master Yoga Chart of 908 Postures, which he dedicated to his Guru. One can find this poster in many yoga studios around the globe. Dharma Mittra is also enthusiastic advocate of raw vegan diet, as part of the practice of yoga and Ahimsa. He is faithfully serving examples to the yogic teachings, with his radiant presence, and being compassionate while joking like a kid. His jokes come to remind the students not to take oneself, or the practice too seriously. He is teaching with full faith the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita to his devoted students.

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Dharma Yoga

Dharma yoga is a heart opening and mind expanding yoga practice based on the teaching of the legendary teacher Sri Dharma Mittra. This practice is a mix of different Hatha and Vinyasa yoga styles, which is designed to stimulate all the energy centers of the body, unleashing the dormant forces within you. This practice is like a melting pot of many forms of yoga. Dharma Mittra was always eager to learn more and was influenced from old yogic texts such as, Ghernada Samhita, as well as from more contemporary texts such as Asana-Pranayama- Mudra-Bandha (Satyananda). He was also influenced from other teachers that were active at that time while creating this unique style. The Siva Namaskar part, following the Surya Namaskar, is a series of standing poses which imitates Vinyasa style. Dharma Yoga classes starts with Pranayama or other esoteric practices, using the concentration to move the Prana along the spine or using the voice. The classes tend to bring the students to their limits of physical abilities, and mostly helping to discover new frontiers. This strong Asana practice serves as a type of Tapas and is extremely useful in opening any kind of blockages and purifying the body, mind and emotional body. At the same time there is a big emphasis on Dharana (concentration) and Dhyana (meditation) during the Asana practice, especially when holding the poses longer.

Swami Vishnudevananda

Kerala the land of many sages was the birthplace of SwamiJi on 31st of December 1927. Born to Devaki Amma and Sri Chatthu Panicker in the Kanimangalam village, Palghat district. At the age of 6 month he was named Thankaswami. Thanka means gold and Swami means master. His mother used to say that from an early age he showed extreme will power and stubbornness, which later on were directed towards his spiritual practice. When he was 16 years old he joined the army, this way he could become an engineer without any educational fees. During his army service he found in the trash bin a scrambled paper, he opened it and read the words “an ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory”, this was written by master Sivananda and drove him to visit the master in Rishikesh. In Sivaratri, March 1948 his master initiated him to Brahmacharya. Very fast he became the Hatha Yoga professor of the Ashram and the personal secretary of Sivananda. After he was given Sannyasin, Swami Vishnu went for a 3 month intense Sadhana (practice towards self realization) in the Himalaya mountains. He spent in total 10 years at the service of his master in the ashram. Than Swami Sivananda gave him 10 Ruppees and told him go to the west to teach yoga, “people are waiting,” he said. Swami Vishnu traveled towards the west through many countries in Asia. In every place he visited he gave classes and lectures about Yoga. In his quest of spreading the word of Yoga, he established the Sivananda Yoga Vendanta international organization, which included many Yoga centers and Ashrams all around the world. He is the author of Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga, as well as Meditation and Mantras. In his teachings he emphasized the 5 points of Yoga; proper diet (vegetarian), proper exercises (Asana), relaxation (Shavasana), proper breathing (Pranayama), and positive thinking which includes meditation. An upsetting vision pushed Swamiji to his next project True World Order, a world peace promotion. The peak of his activities was flying above war zones with his own small plain, painted in colorful hippie style. He flow above Israel and the wall of Berlin while chanting Om Namo Narayanaya (Mantra for world peace) and handed out leaflets. The teacher training courses he led from 1970 was another action of True World Order. On the 9th of November 1993 Swami Vishnu left his body, in Manipal India.

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Swami Sivananda Saraswati

One of the greatest Yoga masters of the 20th century was born in 1887 in Tamil Nadu, south India with the name Kupposwami to a Brahmin family, devoted to the Lord Shiva. In early age young Kupposwami discovered strong tendencies to science and art, as well as religion and gymnastic. After finishing his medical studying with big success he went to Malaysia to practice as a doctor, in aid to help people, who were in a bigger need than in India. In short time he became the head of a hospital, very often, waiving treatment fees to poor patients. After a meeting with a Sannyasin (a renunciat monk) and getting some instructions about Yoga philosophy, he decided to become a Sannyasin himself, and helping human beings with more profound existential sufferings. In Rishikesh he found his Guru Swami Vishwananda Saraswati, whom initiated Kupposwami to the Sannyasin order as Swami Sivananda. Than he started an intense Sadhana (spiritual practice) which lasted 10 years, and included long fasts (30 days), and sitting up to 16 hours a day for meditation. Gradually he attracted many followers from near and far, writing over 200 books. His yogic teachings often called the Yoga of synthesis, combining the 4 path of yoga in the spiritual practice. He summarized his Yogic philosophy with 6 words; Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize. He opened his own Ashram and established various organizations to spread his message. Among these organizations are “The Divine Life Society”, “Sivananda Ayurvedic Pharmacy” and “Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy”. Many of his students were propagating Yoga all around the world, among them Swami Vishnudevananda, Swami Satyananda Saraswati (Bihar School) and Swami Chidananda. Swami Sivananda left his physical body on the 14th of July 1963.

Sivananda Yoga

Sivananada Yoga is a Hatha Yoga style, which emphasizes the health and the well being of the practitioner as prerequisites for Self-realization. Sivanada yoga is more than a yoga style; it is a life style including all fields of living. Sometimes we describe this life style as “the yoga of synthesis” because it combines all the 4 paths of yoga into one path. This style was created by Swami Vishnudevananda, a close disciple of Swami Sivananda. Swami Vishnudevananda summarized his teachings with the 5 points of Yoga:

  • Proper relaxation: Shavasana
  • Proper practice: Asana
  • Proper breathing: Pranayama
  • Proper diet: Vegetarian
  • Positive thinking: Meditation

The Asana sequence is composed of 12 poses, which includes Surya Namaskar as preparation to the poses, and some breathing exercises. The abdominal breathing and relaxation between poses is introduced as part of proper relaxation. In the Pranayama section Full Yogic Breath, Kapalabhati, and Analoma Viloma (a specific ratio of Nadi Shodana) are dominating, however in later stages of the practice other Pranayama techniques are taught.

An important role is kept for the Satsang in Sivananda yoga, this is the time where we practice Bhakti yoga, meditation and some yoga philosophy, all of which support positive thinking.

Karma yoga is encouraged as a practice of surrendering to the divine through selfless service to other people. One can always offer to do some Karma Yoga in Sivananda centers around the world and to uncover his own true self, with this beautiful practice.