Interview with Swami Sivadasananda: "the only authentic yoga exists in the person"

Swami Sivadasananda is a world 'Yogi', aware of how evolving yoga in other countries. It defends the flexibility and the antidogmatismo. Reminds us of a quote by Swami Sivananda: "Love little, love long". And underlines it thus: "yoga must love it, but for a long time".

Swami Sivadasananda

It is a direct disciple of Swami Vishnudevananda, the founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta ashrams and centers. Dedicated to yoga for more than 30 years, he was director of the Centro Sivanandade Madrid, for three. Today is one of the six members of the international staff of Yoga Acharyas (teachers of yoga), who coordinate the functioning of the delegations from around the world.

You know your fee the evolution of yoga in different parts of the world. What stresses it?
Yoga went from the India to North America, especially California; from there to the East Coast; and from there to Europe. But in Europe it has reached all countries simultaneously. The development of yoga at the European level is very, very balanced. What we see in Spain, Germany, France, England is very similar, but all tend to be a reflection of what is happening in North America. And then, of course, there are traditional schools that have direct ties to the India. We also.

Do you think that the evolution in Europe is very similar?
It is very massive in certain countries such as United Kingdom, Germany, France (somewhat less), whereupon a type of very diverse yoga market was created. It also happens here in Spain, but I see it very positive because there are many open doors for many people from many places and many levels of training.

What the essence of the Sivananda Yoga?
Almost paying us to the word "Sivananda yoga", but basically we don't like. Swami Sivananda said: "do not make me a religion, do not make me a system. I am not a system; yoga is the system."

What sets us apart from other approaches is the synthesis of yoga, the four paths from asanas, pranayama, relaxation and diet to meditation, philosophy and hindu culture as an element to see the tradition of yoga rooted in society. Although the society today in the West has nothing to do with the ancient society of the India, abstract philosophical system of yoga, in the Scriptures, has survived for hundreds of years, and this is something interesting to know.

Yoga began to teach in the West only 50 years ago, so we could say that it is almost a teenager. There are many improvisation because we try to adapt the teaching to our societies. First have to understand the evolution of yoga in India, then the huge difference between the India and the West, and finally the authentic values of yoga adapted here. The process is not finished.

What would fail, to complete it?
It never ends, yoga is always developing. In the India it is always developing. An interesting fact: in Europe we are creating federations of yoga, and in some cases arrives at the governmental level, as in Spain, which is the first country where the State has intervened. In the United Kingdom did not work. In 50 years we have tried to create forms, criteria in the India and fixed, nothing, no yoga federations. There we see a constant adaptation, they are very adaptable to yoga. In the West there is no why create a fixed system or think that the process is going to end, because that does not correspond to the yoga.

Yoga teaches us flexibility at the level of the position, but at the level of attitudes, the India has always been very flexible. He has had invasions, as the Muslim 300 years ago. Now the best musicians of the North are Muslims, but they play Indian music. At the festival of music that we have now in Madrid, the Chief musician is accompanied by three Muslim musicians; two of them are Muslims... At the moment yoga isn't very dogmatized...

What do you think you all those new styles, all this dynamic that has much to do with marketing? How do you rate it?
It has to do with marketing, but finally in the kind people you have and what you've learned is what you can transmit. What counts is the experience of the person, and this does not experience a style, but a relationship of body, breathing, relaxation and energy. And in the same style may be different, new situations.

The styles are artistic and creative, and as such they are beautiful. But a system is not so easily created because first the impeller will have had to experience it, you will need to have reached a suitable State of yoga, realization even; and then that system should work for others. Why not it occurs many times, perhaps only when necessary. The most frequent are so-called traditional systems and many styles that mingle with others. And I think that you have to be very flexible.

Do you not believe in that which is called "authentic yoga"?
Non, non. What we think is real is what corresponds to our needs. If you see in the India what teachers teach and how people approaching to yoga, is totally different. There was a time when yoga was almost forgotten in the India and now there is a teacher who is called hoga Tera Baap, a hindu who teaches only in hindi, to five thousand people at a stadium in football at five in the morning. So now the India yoga, which corresponds to a society where there are millions of people.

If we want to use the word "authentic" do it to refer to a sincere personal experience; that it is authentic yoga, and only exists at the level of the person.

There is the idea that in workplaces Sivananda practised a yoga very closed, very devotional, when in fact it is a yoga for life, for health, for food, for mental hygiene...
When the magazine Time put on its front page for the first time the holder "Yoga", it was very commented. The report described several schools, and reference centres Sivananda said, among other things: "may require a change in lifestyle". That for some people is attractive and others not; Some want to do yoga but don't want to change, and others want yoga to change. This is so. The yoga that is taught here tries to help people to change their lifestyle, and the main change is the power.

Completely. There can be no yoga without changing the diet; the effect more or less prolonged in a yoga class generally has to do with what comes after. I realized this personally when I saw that a few days the effects of yoga is maintained very well and others not so much, and saw that he had changed his diet.

And what diet is suitable?
Lighter, and little by little towards vegetarianism, because it is food that corresponds to maintain the effects of yoga. Meat, canned, microwave pizza meal... do not have prana. There are two types of food: which gives you prana and that spends it, who gives you life or take it away. At Sivananda we not preach vegetarianism, but we always offer cooking classes so that people will adapt to the change.

How yoga appeared in his way and how this brought it to Spain?
In the year 78, At 18 I saw my sister do yoga in the garden and I said, "That can't be, something I don't know." I went to the Sivananda center in Munich, where I grew up. Then there weren't many schools, everything was new. I was fascinated by yoga. At the age of 20, I did a teacher course to be part of this organization. First one year, then one more year, and one more. And in '86, when I arrived in Spain, it was a key moment, because I came across a society that seemed more balanced than that of other countries. People were very fond of each other and there was some respect for the more formal spirituality (mantras and ceremony), which still exists.

I was in the first course of teachers which was made in Spain with Swami Vishnudevananda. And asked him if he thought that someday could be a swami, and said to me: "You call", and the next day they called me! So I started as swami in Spain, in the first course of teachers here. I was here three years in a row, but I have always been much.

How did you find Spain after a while without coming?
I have not seen so much imbalance. People go on living at the Centre, donations are minor, but all we adapt, because yoga is part of a basic idea of solidarity; the powers of yoga are not materials: need two square meters and time.

Time... And yet we are so impatient... We want everything here and now.
The good thing about yoga and what satisfies us is making us an immediate effect. And however, if you want to go further, take long time. In the tradition of the Yoga Sutras reportedly, carrying you twelve years of practice know your mind. I think it is a good deal. Get to know yourself and then accepted with own failures and limitations is already a self-control. But to get up there you should see where the conflicts are, many are outside you, but others are in your own head, and that needs time to be known. Yoga has to join us year after year.

It is said that yoga is like a seed that you planted in the garden and water every day. But you can not measure the growth of the roots each day to see how it goes. you have to leave it. The subconscious effects of yoga takes years and soon as you perceive them. Then comes a time when you compare how you were five or ten years ago and you see much difference.

Yoga must love it, but for a long time. It is a saying of Swami Sivananda: "Love little, love long". Yoga is a love story that should last a long time so it can bear fruit.

Times in which motivation decays are passed...
We all go into yoga with a honeymoon, but it ends and the life of a couple begins. When yoga gives you energy and mental balance, you know it works for you and the minimum practice you need to have those two things. There are a thousand reasons to follow with yoga and none to stop; only you have to be very patient.

Being ambitious in yoga is not smart, because that will not last long; you're going to compare yourself to others and you're always going to find someone taller! If you practice out of a sense of duty, because you do teaching, fine, but it won't take you that far either. And if you do yoga to stop suffering, from stress or mental imbalance, when it passes you, what will you do? You're likely to stop practicing at that very moment.

At the end what works is very simple: I love yoga. It is the only thing that can take us as far as we go.

From 22 to 25 May they will celebrate in the center of Madrid a Festival of yoga and music: the Festival of Yoga La Vida Divina: direct and simple...
The Yoga of music is not known too, the singing of mantras is known, but is difficult to follow the Indian music because we lack tools, so we have to adapt to our system of music, or imitate Indian music without knowing how it works.

And Indian classical music, as it applies to the traditional songs of the yoga, mantras, is very special. Nada Yoga, Yoga of sound is called. Both Swami Sivananda and Swami Vishnudevananda put much emphasis on creating occasions to have that kind of music in the ashram, because the Nāda Yoga affects balancers in the nadis (channels of the body through which flows the power and the vibration of the sound).

The relationship between sound and energy is balanced by the practice of asanas. But from there, if you enter the music of ragas and melodies of the India, together with the rhythm and with the devotional part of attitudes, and then with the energetic part of mental concentration of the mantras, is a wonderful thing that gets to people.

The guest of honour at the Festival, Sri Venugopal Goswami, a teacher of Nada Yoga, on the one hand, and on the other hand you know much of classic yoga texts. We like to bring this presence to the world of yoga in Spain.

The Divine Life Festival: direct and simple

When: 22 to 25 may 2014 in Sivananda Yoga Center. Conferences and workshops special Asana and philosophy with the Yoga Acharyas Swami Durgananda, Swami Sivadesananda.

Guest of honour: Sri Venugopal Goswani, Bhakti Yoga Acharya, who will make several musical recitations.

Delicious vegetarian meals. Donation suggested for Thursday and Friday: €12 free musical recitation. Donation suggested for days of celebration Saturday and Sunday: € 25, with vegetarian meals.

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By • 12 May, 2014 • section: Interview