We bet you’re loving Lizzie’s new Jivamukti classes that are coming out on MFML right now. But what really defines a Jivamukti class? Who better to ask than Lizzie herself. Read on to discover Lizzie’s thoughts on Jivamukti, health, music and yoga.
Photo: Lizzie Reumont by Karen Yeomans
What is Jivamukti?
Jivamukti is a contemporary framework for practicing raja yoga, the ‘royal’ or eight-limbed path of yoga as set forth by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. Each class has a focus that tends to come from ancient scripture, which acts as food for thought when entering into the physical asana practice.
The asana practice itself is a vinyasa style practice (vi means order, nyasa means placement), that is made conscious by linking the breath to intention, such as devoting the practice of yoga to building more compassion into our life!
A strong and even breath count turns the entire practice into a moving meditation, generally set to the back drop of music that both helps to maintain the breath as well as supports the focus of the class. For more information see www.jivamuktiyoga.com
Jivamukti: The Whole Package
Jivamukti comes from the word jivanmuktah, one who is liberated while living (Jiva means an individual, and mukti means liberation). This method of yoga aims at finding enlightenment through the practice of asana (meaning the union of the cosmic self with our individual sense of self).
In a nutshell, yoga, or union, means seeing ourselves in all beings, seeing sameness. The biggest contributing factor to feeling separate, is due to harming others, pervasive in western culture. Therefore, the first step to finding limitless bliss, unending peace, joy happiness (enlightenment) is that if we see ‘others’ then we should not harm them.
This is not unique to Jivamukti yoga, this is the most basic yoga practice as set out by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, a thousands year old text that should be the backbone for all yoga practices as we know it. Somehow, however, this has been largely overlooked by many modern forms of yoga. The Jivamukti style unabashedly puts this back at the forefront of the practice.
There are five tenets of Jivamukti Yoga, set to a rigorous hatha yoga practice:
- Ahimsa, nonharming. If we want to stop suffering ourselves, we must stop the suffering of others first. Yoga is literally the practice of merging, of becoming one. As long as we harm other beings, we are harming ourselves as well. This includes all animate beings. We take the path of least harm, on and off the yoga mat, meaning that our lifestyle also is yogic, including what we consume in food and other purchases.
- Bhakti, devotion. By devoting our life to uplifting the lives of others, we become uplifted. This includes seeing the Mother Earth and all earthlings as holy.
- Shastra, scriptural study. Through the study of ancient texts, we keep the essence of yoga alive, and we ultimately are studying the self, and getting to know ourselves in a deeper, more essential way. The ancient texts of yoga are aimed at uncovering the nature of the true self.
- Nadam, inner listening. We use music, chanting and also detailed asana instruction to cultivate inner listening, a practice that helps us to build awareness of our mental activity and moving through it to arrive at hearing the ‘unstruck’ sound of the heart. It is another way of knowing our true self.
- Dyana, meditation. A jivamukti class is a moving meditation, yet we also practice a seated meditation practice within the framework of the class.
Jivamukti yoga a framework for spiritual activism. We promote veganisam as the path of least harm to the planet and all beings, and as a part of that, we are also environmentalists, as we consider the Mother Earth as a very holy being!
Because we dare to care, we are political, and this involves using compassionate intention in the form of words and actions to protect those who do not have the power or means to protect themselves. The practices of jivamukti yoga aim to find a steady joyful connection to the planet, and to ourselves, through the asana practice (which should also be steady and joy filled!) it is a practice that is relevant on, and off the mat.
Music & Yoga
I am a music lover as well as an experimentalist. I have my favourites which tend to be everything from classical Indian bhajans to contemporary cello, but am constantly exploring new artists as well as revisiting my old favourites. The jivamukti focus of the month plays a role in the tracks I choose, as does the rhythm. Generally my music accelerates in beat count for the first 20 minutes, and then slows and neutralises. If I can practice to it, usually it is ok for a class.
This post was written by Lizzie Reumont. Lizzie’s practices of yoga include a variety of internationally renowned teachers and methods, however, she found a home in the Jivamukti Yoga method which she has been teaching since 2007. Classes are infused with a diverse and well-curated music collection, and her attention rests in alignment and breath awareness. Hands-on, intelligent adjustments are a unique aspect of Lizzie’s classes which are intended to enable the practitioner to better understand the energetics and key structures involved in various postures. Visit Lizzie’s own site at www.freeliz.com.