Jivamukti Yoga is a method of yoga that was created by David Life and Sharon Gannon in
1984, which reintegrates the physical, philosophical and spiritual aspects of Yoga. The emphasis in the west has been on Yoga as mostly a physical practice. More and more people are achieving firmer bodies through regular yoga classes. But many are finding something more: what starts out as a purely physical practice creeps into the hearts and minds of even the least spiritual practitioners. David and Sharon became teachers because they were passionate about communicating Yoga as more than just a system of exercises, but also as a spiritual practice; a path to enlightenment. From their earliest classes, they have taught a living translation of the Indian system of yoga in a way that western minds can comprehend. That is why Jivamukti Yoga emphasizes vigorous asana as its primary technique, but other practices such as meditation, devotional chanting and study of the ancient texts play an important role as well.
The Jivamukti method of Yoga is one of the nine internationally recognized styles of Hatha Yoga. The other eight being: Ashtanga, Iyengar, Viniyoga, Sivananda, Integral, Bikram, Kripalu, and Kundalini.
“We chose the name Jivamukti (pronounced Jee-va-mook-tee) Yoga to reflect the true aim of yoga, which is liberation. Jiva means individual soul and mukti means liberation. The exact transliteration of the Sanskrit word from which Jiavmukti is derived is jivanmuktih, which means liberation while living. The name Jivamukti Yoga reflects the fact that it is possible to have a beneficial and fulfilling life in the world, and also progress spiritually-perhaps even attaining liberation (Samadhi) while living.”
— Sharon Gannon and David Life, Jivamukti Yoga
Scripture — Study of the ancient yoga teaching including Sanskrit chanting.
Bhakti — Acknowledgement that universal consciousness is the goal of all yoga practices.
Ahimsa — A non-violent, compassionate lifestyle which emphasizes ethical vegetarianism and animal rights.
Nada — The development of a sound body and mind through deep listening.
Meditation — Connecting to that internal unchanging reality within.
Over 50 yoga classes per week are currently offered at Sangyé Yoga School. The centre also hosts a mindfully selected range of workshops, lectures and performances by internationally renowned teachers and artists.
The studio first opened its doors as Jivamukti Yoga London by Manizeh Rimer in July 2005. We are grateful for her and her husband Danny’s vision and dedication to bring the method to this city before it became the internationally well-known brand it is today.
In 2016, the next stage of the Yoga school’s evolution and development came in the renaming of JYL to Sangyé Yoga School, still continuing under Co-Directors, husband/wife, best friends, Phil Douglas and Cat Alip-Douglas
Manizeh Rimer: Founder, Jivamukti Yoga London & Advanced Certified Teacher
“Manizeh was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and as a child moved with her family to Geneva, Switzerland. She received a B.A. in Political Science from Brown University. After graduating she moved to San Francisco where she worked in the high-tech field. After years without sleep she began taking desperately needed Yoga classes. The physical practice was rewarding, but the philosophical and spiritual aspects were missing.
Soon after, her sister, Mithra, took her to a Jivamukti Yoga Class in New York. This was what she had been waiting for: in addition to a vigorous asana practice, she learned about karma, she meditated and chanted: the doorway to Yoga was opened.
In 2001 she moved to London with her husband and knew right away that Londoners were missing out on Jivamukti Yoga. She opened the centre in July, 2005 and could not have done it without the amazing contribution of Durga, cat, Emma and Danny. In 2009 she started the Yoga program at Maggie’s Cancer Centre and taught weekly Yoga there.
In 2003 she completed Jivamukti teacher training with Sharon Gannon and David Life, and an apprenticeship with Yogeswari at the Jivamukti Yoga centre in NYC. The following year she received her Advanced Certification. She gives thanks to Sharon and David for having created such an incredible method of Yoga. She also thanks Yogeswari, Patrick and Ruth for being such wonderful and generous teachers.
In July, 2011 her husband convinced her to move back to San Francisco for a few years, where she is currently teaching yoga to the techies at Dropbox and Twitter. She’s grateful to cat and Phil for assuming responsibility for Jivamukti Yoga London and blesses them daily as part of her meditation practice.”
Jivamukti Yoga London Press Page
-Now this is yoga as I have observed it in the natural world.
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali I.1
What is real, and what is true? Ken Wilber writes in his insightful little book titled Trump and a Post-Truth World: “If there is one line that summarizes the message of virtually all of the truly prominent postmodern writers, it is that “there is no truth.” Truth, rather was a social construction, and what anybody actually called “truth” was simply what some culture somewhere had managed to convince its members was truth: but there was no actually existing, given, real thing called ‘truth.’” The result of this viewpoint, and the state of the world that we find ourselves living in today is one where “there is no universal moral framework – what’s true for you is true for you, and what’s true for me is true for me – and neither of those claims can be challenged on any grounds that do not amount to oppression…They most definitely and strongly believed that it is universally true that there is no universal truth…and left nothing but nihilism and narcissism for motivating forces.”
Wilber, who can be my guru any good day, suggests an antidote for this situation with two interesting ideas: one, that we are all familiar with, is adapting a modus operandi of loving kindness; the second comes from close observation of nature and natural systems. He suggests that rather than rejecting all hierarchies as oppressive and bad systems, that we differentiate between what he calls “dominator hierarchies and growth hierarchies.” Growth hierarchies are not exclusive and domineering, they are inclusive and integrating while dominator hierarchies oppress and dominate. But the point he makes is that not all hierarchies are bad and need to be overthrown. Indeed in nature, hierarchies are the basis for growth and development as they “transcend and include or differentiate and integrate.” “Thus, a single-cell zygote first splits into 2 cells, then 4, then 8, then 16, then 32 (and so on) differentiated cells, and after those are introduced, they are integrated into inclusive systems – a nervous system, a muscular system, a digestive system, and so on – all of which are integrated in the overall organism. Each stage of the growth process goes beyond (or transcends) the previous stage but also includes or enfolds it, and it does so by differentiating and integrating it.”
In the postmodern yoga world we can find ourselves in an ego competition, struggling to appear novel, and in that struggle rejecting everything that came before as hierarchical and oppressive. The yoga tradition has fallen under a lot of criticism during these times for being structured as a dominating hierarchy with gurus and teachers controlling and abusing students. The parampara, or lineage of teachers and teachings is a growth hierarchy and for our future growth and development we need to differentiate and integrate those teachings and teachers. Rather than reject our past we need to enfold it into a larger organism. When students refuse to become part of the whole then growth is not possible—imagine an atom refusing to become part of a molecule.
What we are doing now determines what happens next. Sometimes we loose sight of where we have been, where we are now, and where it leads us. When we reflect on the amazing contribution that the Jivamukti Yoga Tribe has made to the world – and the bright future that it promises, it gives us hope and energy. Here is a short list: we made veganism and animal rights the important discussion in yoga class; we made it hip to be devoted to God; we married yoga class with music, poetry, and art; we created the first world-class standard of training; we made bhakti, meditation, and the study of scripture and Sanskrit essential; we created ahimsa food, products, books, and videos to fund world changing programs; we empowered activists who express concern for better environment, better government, and better living in the natural world. Actually, my list is even longer, but maybe you need to add to it (own it) yourself. As we strive to represent the growing tip of human presence on the Earth evolving into a new, more compassionate presence, we can begin to enfold our novel contributions into a new paradigm, new nervous system, a new organism, a new tribe.