Core Philosophy of Jivamukti Yoga
This core philosophy is expressed through five tenets which form the foundation of Jivamukti Yoga. Jivamukti teachers embody these tenets, so that they color all of his or her teachings, whether in Basic classes, Open classes, other classes, workshops, or even just interactions with others in the Jivamukti community. In classes other than Open classes, the teacher does not necessarily teach the five tenets explicitly or even state them out loud. In an Open class, however, the five tenets have a special role, because it is part of the teacher’s job to give the students an experience of all five tenets in each Open class, though again not necessarily by teaching them explicitly or even stating them out loud, but by allowing them to inform the class plan and teaching style. Each of the five tenets should be clearly identifiable in every Open class, even though the names of the tenets may not actually be spoken. By doing this, students learn not to see asana as separate from spiritual study or chanting or meditation, but rather to integrate all of the elements that make up Jivamukti Yoga into one unified practice. This provides for a well-rounded approach to our goal—enlightenment through compassion for all beings.
Sharon Gannon & David Life
The gurus and founders of the Jivamukti Yoga method are Sharon Gannon and David Life. They met in 1983 in New York City and in 1984 created Jivamukti Yoga.
David being initiated into the order of Sannyasa by Swami Nirmalananda in 1989. Sharon with Swami Nirmalananda.
In 1986 they traveled to India and met their first guru, Swami Nirmalananda. On subsequent trips, they met their guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and later in upstate New York, they met their guru Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati. Each of their gurus guided them further on their individual spiritual paths, and the teachings of their gurus helped shape the development of Jivamukti Yoga. Sharon and David studied with their gurus for many years and received their blessings to incorporate their teachings into the Jivamukti Yoga method. They have also studied with many other prominent yoga teachers.
The role of the guru is to expose the seeker’s misperceptions and guide the seeker toward self-knowledge. Resting on this tradition but operating on a world stage, Sharon and David have illuminated the deeper, esoteric truths of yoga, linked them to present-day culture and lifestyle, and encouraged practitioners to let go of what they think they know and embrace the path to liberation in this lifetime. Through the innovations of Jivamukti Yoga, Sharon and David have brought the ancient teachings alive, going to the root of their wisdom and making it relevant to the contemporary world. They are pioneers in teaching yoga as spiritual activism/activation, demonstrating that yoga is a living tradition, a complete system for accessing the lasting happiness that is available to all beings. They incorporate their profound talents and experiences as artists, performers and musicians into their teaching styles, making their teachings compelling, exciting and empowering.
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
Shri K. Pattabhi Jois studied yoga under his guru Shri Krishnamacharya and also attended the Sanskrit College of Mysore, where he became a professor of Sanskrit and Advaita Vedanta. He and Shri Krishnamacharya developed the Astanga Yoga series based on the purifying practices described in the ancient texts. In 1948, he founded the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore. In 1958, he wrote his classic book Yoga Mala, which explores Astanga and Yoga philosophy. In 1998, David Life was made a certified Astanga teacher by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois. Both Sharon and David make regular trips to Mysore to study under him.
Manju P. Jois
Manju Jois, Ashtanga Yoga guru of Mysore, South India, is the oldest son of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, recognized worldwide as the foremost authority on Ashtanga Yoga. Manju was born on November 16th, 1944. At the young age of 7, Manju was awakened early each day by his father to begin lessons that would forever change the course of his life and the lives of those who would study with him in the years to come. He began his teaching career at the age of 15 with his father and has taught ever since.
Manju considers it a great honor to be the son of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. "He is my father and my teacher. I am grateful for both my mother and my father." Manju's mother, Savatri Jois, (Sathu to her family) was a beloved wife, loving mother and an expert in Indian cuisine. Sadly, she passed away in 1997. Manju is devoted to his wife Nancy and their young daughter Sathu, named after her paternal Grandmother, who was born in 2002. Sathu is a multi-talented, beautiful girl, who continues to bless the Jois family beyond measure.
Manju has taught the true Mysore Ashtanga method for over 47 years. Spanning 22 countries and 21 states in the US, Manju's world Ashtanga teaching tour is ever expanding. Manju is grateful to Gary Herlich and all of the other people who helped Manju to stay in US when he first started teaching in America.
He offers Ashtanga weekend workshops, teacher trainings and intensive week-long classes. He incorporates pranayama and vedic chantings in his classes, which go very well with Ashtanga yoga practice. Manju's intention is to teach in the way of the Ancient tradition and bring the many benefits of Ashtanga yoga to his students.
He hopes to bring "better concentration and understanding" of Astanga Yoga to his students in a world full of distractions. Manju's dedication to his life of teaching and practicing yoga has brought the benefits of the ancient tradition of Ashtanga Yoga Manju to many students throughout the world, as he guides each to "Unite with Yourself."
Sri Brahmananda Saraswati
Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati had an extensive background in Eastern and Western medicine. In 1958, he founded the Yoga Society of New York. Ananda Ashram, which he founded in 1964 in Monroe, New York, continues to be devoted to Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati's teachings and message, and the ashram hosts many Jivamukti events. A Sanskrit scholar, his life was dedicated to the union of science and the spirit. He is the author of Fundamentals of Yoga, The Textbook of Yoga Psychology (one of the definitive translations of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras) and Self Analysis and Self Knowledge, along with many essays. He left his body in 1993
Swami Nirmalananda believed in the potency of Self rule, and he called himself the "Anarchist Swami."
He inducted David Life into the sunnyas (renunciate) order in 1990. Swami Nirmalananda was a naturalist and a "mauni". He practiced silence for 11 years. "Unless the individuality is transcended, we cannot know what is universality and unless we die while living, we cannot know what is Eternal life. The mind can only think one thing at a time and it always functions within the realm of duality like good and bad, pleasure and pain, happiness and sorrow. Unless we rise above these pairs of opposites, we will not be able to know what the integrated state of existence is."
Hari OM…Beloved friends and loved ones of Shyamdasji and bhaktas and kirtan lovers. Our priceless friend Shyamdasji left this world this year. He spent his remaining hours, as usual, in satsang and bliss with a group of dear friends. On this night in particular they were reading Shri Vallabhacarya’s teaching “Krsnashraya” and reflecting deeply on and repeating the refrain, “Krsna eva gatir mama…Krishna is my refuge and destination.” He has arrived at his final refuge and destination now.
Though nothing can replace this loss for us, he left us with so much, so many teachings, reflections, and memories, and most of all, the example to live a divinely inspired life, in constant search for bhava and in appreciation for one another. He loves us all very much and would love nothing more than for us to continue our own journey towards eternal bliss and appreciation for satsang and kirtan of all kinds.
Always loved and forever devoted to we will be.