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What is Jivamukti Yoga?

As described on the Jivamukti Yoga webpage,

Founders of Jivamukti, David Life and Sharon Gannon

"The Jivamukti Method is grounded in the original meaning of the Sanskrit word asana as “seat, connection” – relationship to the Earth. Earth implies all of life. Citing Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, which states that asana should be sthira and sukham, Jivamukti Yoga maintains that one’s relationship to others (asana) should be mutually beneficial and come from a consistent (sthira) place of joy and happiness (sukham). This is a radical idea that, when put into practice, can dismantle our present culture, which is based on the notion that the Earth and all other animals exist for our benefit and to be exploited for our own selfish purposes. So the practice of asana becomes more than mere physical exercise to keep one’s body fit or to increase strength or flexibility; it becomes a way to improve one’s relationship to all others and thus lead to enlightenment – the dissolution of the sense of separateness, the realization of the oneness of being, the discovery of lasting happiness".

A Jivamukti Yoga class is spiritual, uplifting and physically challenging. It emphasizes the physical yogapractice (asana), practiced in a continuous flow with a playful approach. While also including elements of chanting, music, meditaiton and yoga philosophy. The method originated in the 1980s in NYC. Founded by Sharon Gannon and David Life, students of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Swami Nirmalananda and Brahmananda Sarasvati.

Coming from a background in dance, which introduced me to Ashtanga Yoga, I fell in love with Jivamukti with the first breath count. I had traveled to New York for the first time in my life, planning to stay for one month to find inspiration in dance, fitness and to explore the big city. Little did I know that I would spend most of my time on the 2nd floor of 841 Broadway, at the Jivamukti Yoga School NYC.

Me and my friend, Rita, strolled in on a Sunday morning asking if we could do a drop-in for the 10 am class. It was Ruth Lauer-Manenti's class and it was a mind-blowing first encounter with Jivamukti, After class we approached the teacher to thank her for the amazing experience. We introduced ourselves telling her we were visiting from Norway and she replied; "You're from Norway? This is my last class before I'm traveling to teach in Stavanger, I feel so welcomed already" she said.

Our first class with Lady Ruth made us purchase a one month pass to the yoga school and we tried out a numerous of classes and teachers, Never leaving disappointed, not even once. Finally we discovered the 9.10 am class with Dechen Thurman and this became our daily practice for the rest of the month. It was in one of his classes that my heart let go of its dedication to Ashtanga Yoga and started beating fully for Jivamukti. I was in a 'downward facing dog' and from the speaker Jim Morrison's voice flowed; "come on baby light my fire", and I was immediately lit.

For me this was the humble beginning of a still growing love for this yoga method and its community (satsang). Jivamukti has truly changed me and opened my eyes for the world, myself and the wonders of life. I think its brilliante how this method strongly encourages us to bring our yoga practice off the mat and into our lives, completely changing the perspective of how we look upon and experience ourself and others. I see my teachers as visionaries and admire their strong voices and courage, speaking up for the voiceless, for a better world and for what they believe in.

If you haven't tried Jivamukti Yoga yet, I highly recommend that you do and I think you should...

Be kind, be free, be Yoga <3

David Life and Sharon Gannon

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