Swami Sivananda (1887–1963)
- Was one of the great yoga masters of twentieth-century India.
- Performed humanitarian work as a respected doctor in Malaysia.
- Did intensive study and practice of Yoga and meditation in Rishikesh, Himalayas.
- Founded the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh (an ashram that later developed into an international organization).
- Published more than 200 books in English on all aspects of Yoga.
- Trained outstanding Yoga masters, who would be instrumental in giving classical Yoga the great reputation it now enjoys throughout the world.
- Established the Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy in Rishikesh, which would become the model for the first Yoga Teachers’ Training Course in the West.
- Carried on personal correspondence with Yoga students worldwide.
- Integrated all known Yoga systems, teaching a yoga of synthesis which is the basis for the modern practice of Yoga in the West.
"Serve, love, give, purify, meditate, realize” – these teachings are the spiritual strength behind the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres and have inspired spiritual aspirants around the world to live a life of brotherly love and spiritual unity.
Swami Vishnudevananda (1927–1993)
- Is an internationally-recognised authority on Yoga and the founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres.
- Trained and did intensive practice as a close disciple of Swami Sivananda.
- Was Professor for Hatha Yoga at the Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy in Rishikesh, Himalayas.
- Left India in 1957 on the instruction of his teacher, “Go to the West. People are waiting.” (Thus began more than 35 years of pioneering work in spreading Yoga across the globe.)
- Published The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga, a best-selling book for modern Yoga practice, in 1960.
- Was convinced that outer peace cannot exist without inner peace. He became the first Yoga master in the West to develop a comprehensive training program for Yoga teachers, who would then inspire countless numbers of people in turn. His mission: Universal peace.
- Initiated the first Yoga Teachers’ Training Course in the West (Canada) in 1969; today, some 1,000 students graduate each year.
- Began his series of symbolic peace flights to the world’s trouble spots in 1970 (Northern Ireland, the Middle East, divided Berlin). His appeal to mankind: “Man is as free as a bird. Overcome man-made borders with flowers and love, not with guns and bombs!”
- Established the first Sivananda Yoga Centre in Europe (Vienna) in 1974; today there are more than 70 Sivananda Centres and Ashrams worldwide.
- Taught the first Teachers’ Training Course in Europe (Spain) in 1985.
- Taught classical Yoga in five basic points.
- Believed “Health is wealth, peace of mind is happiness, Yoga shows the way.”
The Five Points of Yoga
By closely observing the lifestyles and needs of people in the West, Swami Vishnudevananda synthesized the ancient wisdom of Yoga into five basic principles that could easily be incorporated into one’s own lifestyle to provide the foundation for healthy living. It is around these five principles that the activities at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center are based.
- Proper Exercise (Asanas) acts as a lubricating routine for the joints and muscles and other parts of the body by increasing circulation and flexibility. Practice of the asanas not only produces physical benefits, but is also a mental exercises in concentration and meditation, promoting optimum good health.
- Proper Breathing (Pranayama) connects the body to the solar plexus, where tremendous potential energy is stored. Through specific breathing techniques, this energy is released for physical and mental rejuvenation.
- Proper Relaxation (Savasan) is a vital part of keeping the body and mind healthy. Yoga teaches three levels of relaxation – physical, mental and spiritual.
- Proper Diet (Vegetarian) is eating with awareness. A yogi takes food which has the most positive effect on the body and mind and the least negative effect on the environment.
- Positive Thinking and Meditation (Vedanta and Dhyana) relieves stress and replenishes energy. Meditation is well-known to improve concentration and to bring peace of mind and spiritual strength. Meditation is beneficial for everyone, especially those with a hectic, stressful life.