The 5 tenants of Jivamukti Yoga form the foundation of the Jivamukti Yoga method. They are a set of principles that are woven into each Jivamukti Yoga class without them being (necessarily) explicitly stated out loud. But the 5 tenants of Jivamukti Yoga are more than just guidelines that we, as Jivamukti Yoga teachers, incorporate into our yoga classes. They are woven into our life off the mat too. They shape how we interact with the world around us and the decisions we make on a daily basis. In other words: As Jivamukti Yoga teachers and students, we should embody the five tenants, not just on the mat, but also off the mat.
In the following, I will give you a brief description of the 5 tenants of Jivamukti Yoga and how you can take them off the mat.
The 5 tenants of Jivamukti Yoga – And how you can take them off the mat
Ahimsa – sanskrit for non-violence
In Jivamukti Yoga we emphasise non-violence through compassion for all living beings. We stress adherence to a vegan diet, animal rights and environmentalism. That said, you don’t have to be a vegan or vegetarian to practice Jivamukti Yoga. Ahimsa simply means doing the best you can with the means and knowledge you have at any given time. Ahimsa is doing the least amount of harm possible to other living beings through your thoughts, words and actions.
Ways to practice ahimsa off the mat:
- Choose a plant based diet or vegan lifestyle
- Be an advocate for animal-, environmental- and social rights
- Choose organic and biodynamic when possible
- Limit your use of plastics and everyday disposables
- Be kind to others in your thought, words and actions
Contrary to popular belief ahimsa has nothing to do with how you think about yourself or treat yourself. Ahimsa is a part of Patanjalis Yamas (ethical guidelines) in the Yoga Sutras and ahimsa is purely seen in relation to other beings.
Bhakti – sanskit for devotion
Bhakti is devoting or dedicating your practice to a higher purpose or a big Self. It is the devout and humble realisation that there is something that is bigger than you, and offering all your efforts on the yoga mat and in your life to this higher Self. You can choose anything or anyone as your object of devotion. Bhakti is unconditional love to something else than yourself and it teaches you to let go of your ego. In a Jivamukti Yoga class, we practice bhakti by devoting our practice to someone or something else than ourselves or by setting a high intention.
Ways to practice Bhakti off the mat:
- Dedicate yourself to a cause that you believe in and put your efforts into that cause without expecting to get anything back
- Practice interreligious understanding and tolerance
- Create a devotional mood by making an alter with objects that have significance to you
Nada – sanskrit for sound or deep listening
Nada is the universal sound that reverberates throughout the universe. This is the sound that is said to be heard in the enlightenment state. In Jivamukti Yoga we use nada in the form of chanting and we play uplifting and liberating playlists in class, which could be anything from reggae and hip hop to instrumental and pop. It could also be through recorded or spoken words, or even silence. We use sound to refine our hearing and listening, with the aim of taking away the reliance on the eyes to reliance on the ears.
Ways to practice Nada off the mat:
- Chant or go to Kirtans
- Chant while preparing food to make it prasad (offered food)
Shastra – sanskrit for spiritual study
In Jivamukti Yoga we have three main spiritual scriptures that we study: The Bhagavad Gita, Patanjalis Yoga Sutra and Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Often we will take excerpts from these text to interpret and discuss in a Jivamukti Open Class. Every month we dive into a new Focus of the Month (FOTM) in all Jivamukti Open classes, and we study this focus off the mat too through spiritual texts. The purpose of this is to make these teachings available and relevant in a modern day context.
Ways to practice Shastra off the mat:
- Read one of the three ancient texts mentioned above – there are many good books and commentaries written about these texts that will make the teachings more available
- Read books on philosophy and Self discovery like Paulo Cuelho, Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chödrön, Martin Luther King…
- Read the FOTM. Sometimes additional books or practices are suggested for inspiration to go deeper in your practice
Dhyana – sanskrit for meditation
In every Jivamukti Yoga class there will be a meditation. Often, meditation will be in the form of concentrating your attention on your breathing and your thoughts, while repeating the simple mantra LET GO. It is not about pausing your thought or becoming blank but more about letting your thought pass through you without them causing a reaction in you. You just observe your thoughts, becoming a witness (sanskrit: sakshi) of your thoughts in stead of identifying with your thoughts.
Ways to practice Dhyana off the mat:
- Meditate – this doesn’t have to be for more than five minuts each day
- A walking meditation where you breathe and watch where you walk without ascribing any value to the things you see
Jivamukti Yoga differs from other yoga methods by emphasising that asana practice is not a separate practice from meditation, spiritual studies or chanting. The five tenants work together to create an integrated yoga practice to liberate both the body and the soul.
If you are interested in finding out more about the five tenants or practice them on the mat, I have made a series of short videos ranging from 10-30 minutes where I will walk you through each of the tenants and its corresponding practice. You can find the videos on Yogavivo (in Danish). If you are not already a member you can get a free trial period of 14 days and if you are a member you can just go practice straight away.
Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.