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What is the Satyananda System of Yoga?

What is the Satyananda System of Yoga

The Satyananda system of yoga emerged directly from thousands of years of yoga tradition in India. In the twentieth century the essence of this tradition was conveyed and adapted for the times through the life’s work of Swami Sivananda Saraswati and Swami Satyananda Saraswati along with that of other great yogis. Swami Sivananda’s vision of taking yoga to the world was at the vanguard of the reemergence of yoga in India and has guided generations of yoga practitioners and teachers across the world.

What is the essence of this tradition?

Although yoga is fantastic for creating a healthy flexible body, it is not simply a series of physical exercises. Yoga is incredibly effective for releasing tension, creating deep relaxation, and slowing the busy mind, but it is not just concerned with the release of mental and emotional suffering. It is possible, by cultivating awareness through the techniques of yoga, to develop a deep understanding of one’s body, energy, mind, and the spiritual aspects of life.

Yoga does not emphasize the destination, but the process: the efforts of human life (purushartha), a life of practice (sadhana) and self-reflection (swadhyaya) - all needed to place oneself in a position where the destination reveals itself. In this way, all spiritual traditions are compatible with yoga. The Satyananda System of Yoga is about this entire journey.

If you wish to practice yoga for your health and wellbeing then it is there for you. The teachers of the tradition are acutely aware of society’s need for this and dedicate themselves to the relief of such suffering. If you wish to develop a deeper understanding of your body, energy and mind, and to have greater energy and capacity, this is also possible through regular practice of even the most simple yoga. If you wish to explore and evolve your full potential then this is also possible. The magic ingredient is not the teacher, although they are also important. What brings yoga to life is the commitment of the practitioner to undertake consistent steps on this journey towards self understanding.

In centuries past yoga was practiced mainly by ascetics living a simple life with few of modern life’s distractions. In today’s world we are typically sitting on chairs rather than the floor, we work at desks rather than in the fields, our diet is complex, processed and heavy, and our eyes, ears and minds are filled with constant over stimulation, often from multiple sources. Classical yoga typically involves practices, whether focused on the body, the breath, or the mind, that are enormously challenging for the contemporary individual saturated by the distractions from the environment and society in which they live. Complex practices may only be accessible after years of preparation. Yet the need for yoga is greater than ever.
During the twentieth century a number of yoga practices that fulfil the needs of today’s society were brought together as the Satyananda System of Yoga. These practices can also be utilized by those who wish to go deeper in the process of self discovery.
These practices include:

Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra is an effective and simple meditation practice which is performed lying down. This creates deep relaxation and allows the mind and body to release accumulated tension in a profound way.

Pawanmuktasana series 1, 2 and 3

These three series of asanas (postures), ranging from a systematic progression of joint movements through to dynamic energy practices, are at the heart of the Satyananda System of Yoga. They form a foundation based on increased awareness and understanding of the body, energy and mind, increased flexibility and strength and improved general health. They are accessible to most people and with time, the classic asanas also become more accessible.


Many yoga schools are hesitant in teaching pranayama, where the breath is utilized to regulate energy. The Satyananda System conveys these practices systematically, according to the needs of the individual, beginning with the simplest practices that, within a short time, create effects that can be felt in the body and mind. These practices include abdominal breathing, which can induce profound relaxation, full yogic breathing which utilizes the entire capacity of the breath, and Nadi Shodhana, known as alternate nostril breathing, which creates balance in body and mind. Pranayama is grounded in thousands of years of tradition and this is made systematically available through the Satyananda System of Yoga.

Meditation practices

There are a number of meditation practices that have been taken directly from the texts of the ancient yoga tradition and made accessible to the general population. These include Kaya Sthairyam, awareness of body stillness, Antar Mouna, (Inner Silence), a practice that works with the mind in order to understand and manage it and Ajapajapa, the constant repetition of mantra with breath awareness.

Just the beginning

The Satyananda System of Yoga is more than any practice. It is about cultivating self understanding that enables a more complete and creative way of living. It draws on the wisdom, teachings and classic texts of Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and others. Hundreds of books have been written in the tradition on various aspects of yoga, often as commentaries on the classic texts. Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, for example, is one of the most utilized textbooks in yoga teacher training across multiple yoga schools throughout the world.

Wherever you are in life, yoga is capable of playing a role. Whether you are recovering from illness, seeking health and wellbeing, looking to manage stress, looking to make a fresh start in the way you live, or seeking to go deep into exploring and understanding life’s deeper mysteries, including knowing yourself, the Satyananda System of Yoga is designed to support you as you take up the challenges and opportunities of this journey.