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Satyananda Yoga

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Title: Satyananda Yoga  
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Subject: Sivananda Saraswati, List of yoga schools, Bihar School of Yoga, Niranjanananda Saraswati, Trikonasana, Swami Janakananda, Sivananda Yoga, Hinduism in Greece
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Satyananda Yoga

For other gurus called Satyananda, see Swami Satyananda (disambiguation).

Satyananda Saraswati (24 December 1923 – 5 December 2009), was a sannyasin, yoga teacher and guru in both his native India and the West. He founded the International Yoga Fellowship in 1956 and the Bihar School of Yoga in 1963. He wrote over 80 books, including the well-known Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, one of the most systematic yoga manuals today.[1] Since its first publication by the Bihar School of Yoga in 1969 it has been reprinted seventeen times and translated into many languages.


Satyananda Saraswati was born 1923 at Almora (Uttaranchal) in the foothills of the Himalayas, into a family of farmers and zamindars.

As a youth he was classically educated and studied Sanskrit, the Vedas and the Upanishads. Satyananda began to have spiritual experiences at the age of six, when his awareness spontaneously left the body and he saw himself lying motionless on the floor. Many saints and sadhus blessed him and reassured his parents that he had a very developed awareness. This experience of disembodied awareness continued, which led him to many saints of that time such as Anandamayi Ma. Satyanada also met a tantric bhairavi, Sukhman Giri, who gave him shaktipat and directed him to find a guru to stabilise his spiritual experiences.[2]

At age eighteen, he left his home to seek a spiritual master. In 1943 at the age of nineteen, Satyananda met his guru Sivananda Saraswati and came to live at Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh. Sivananda gave him the name Satyananda Saraswati and initiated him as a Paramahamsa sannyasin of the Dashnama sannyasa order, on the banks of the river Ganges on 12 September 1947. Sivananda described him as a 'versatile genius' who 'did the work of four people'. Satyananda served in different departments at the ashram for over 12 years. He did physical labour, edited the ashram's Hindi journal, wrote various articles and composed poems in both Hindi and Sanskrit. He wrote a translation and commentary in the English language of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad by Sivananda.

In 1956 after receiving the instruction from his Guru to spread yoga from door to door and shore to shore, Satyananda wandered throughout India as a mendicant parivrajaka travelling through Afghanistan, Nepal, Burma and Ceylon for the next 7 years, extending his knowledge of spiritual practices. He eventually found his way to Munger, in the province of Bihar. After establishing himself there, in 1963 he founded the International Yoga Fellowship and the Bihar School of Yoga a year later.

He lectured and taught globally for the next twenty years, including tours in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, North America, and Colombia and authored over thirty textbooks on yoga and spiritual life. By 1983 Bihar School of Yoga was well established and recognised throughout the world as a reputed and authentic center for learning yoga and the spiritual sciences. At the peak of his accomplishment, Satyananda renounced all that he created. He handed the active work of his ashram and organisation to his spiritual successor Niranjanananda Saraswati and in 1988 departed from Munger, never to return again. On 23 September 1989 he arrived at Rikhia, Deoghar, Jharkhand to live in seclusion[3] as a Paramahamsa Sannyasin, and perform Vedic sadhanas including panchagni, an austerity performed before five blazing fires outdoors during the hottest months of the year as described in the Satpatha Brahmanas and Kathopanishad.[4] At Rikhia, Satyananda conducted a 12-year Rajasooya Yajna which began in 1995 with the first Sat Chandi Maha Yajna, invoking the Cosmic Mother through a tantric ceremony. During this event, Satyananda passed on his spiritual and sannyasa sankalpa to Niranjanananda.[5] On 5 December 2009, he died at Rikhiapeeth, Jharkhand.[6]


Satyananda's teachings emphasise an "Integral Yoga" with a strong emphasis on Tantra, known as the "Bihar Yoga" system or "Satyananda Yoga". This system addresses the qualities of head, heart and hands – intellect, emotion and action and attempts to integrate the physical, psychological and spiritual dimensions of yoga into each practice.[7] Satyananda brought the yogic side of tantra to the forefront. In 1971 Tantra Yoga Panorama was published in which the concepts of tantra were outlined as applicable to the needs of today's society.[8] Satyananda codified the wisdom of yoga in ancient tantric scriptures and made it accessible to the modern aspirant. He defined the pawanmuktasana series, the shakti bandhas and the grouping of the various asanas according to position. Pranayama, prana vidya and the role of mudras and bandhas were scientifically explained by him and made generally available for the first time. Satyananda classified and expounded the techniques given in the tantras as a series of different stages and levels of pratyahara such as antar mouna, and different stages of meditation.[9] He invented the technique of yoga nidra, now known worldwide as Satyananda Yoga Nidra, according to the tantric system of nyasa and defined and codified the different stages of the technique.[10]

His system of tantric yoga involves the practice of:

  • Kundalini Yoga, in the tradition following Sivananda's explanation. Kundalini Yoga is the yoga of the evolutionary energy of the universe.
  • Kriya Yoga, in the form of Tapas, Svadhyaya and Ishvarapranidhana. Tapas is the practice of austerities. Svadhyaya is study of spiritual literature and also repetition of a personal mantra. Ishvarapranidhana is self-surrender to the Lord and doing all actions as an offering unto the Lord.
  • Mantra Yoga, the repetition of sacred sounds.
  • Laya yoga, the practice of a state of absorption on an object of meditation.
  • The four advanced stages of the Eight Limbs of Yoga as codified by Patanjali: Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.


Satyananda Ashram in Rocklyn Victoria in Australia

See also



External links

  • Bihar School of Yoga
  • Rikhiapeeth
  • Satyananda Yoga Teachers New Delhi India

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