Sivananda Saraswati lived from 1887 – 1963. Sivananda can be considered one of two grandfathers of many modern yoga schools, with Krishnamacharya being the other. Numerous organizations have emerged from his teaching. The most famous is “Sivananda Yoga” developed by Swami Vishnudevananda. “Sivananda Yoga-Vedanta centers” might be the most widespread yoga system on Planet Earth. This is especially true if you include organizations which accurately follow their practices but are outside of the control of the Sivananda Yoga legal entity (such as Yoga Vidya which dominates Germany). Quite an accomplishment for a person who clearly stated in his book “Upadesa” that this world is unreal.
Just when I thought I had completed this research, I tripped upon the saints page at divine life society. It was there that I learned of many other outpourings from Swami Sivananda.
But anyway, let’s go ahead and list down all the spiritual systems that have emerged from the life and teachings of Swami Sivananda.
Divine Life Society
The Divine Life Society is the original ashram of Sivananda. They are very generous with offering free digital copies of his texts. In addition to DLSHQ.org, they have a web presence at SivanandaOnline.org.
I was not aware that they had such a large international presence! I was under the impression that they only had one center in Rishikesh.
Bihar School of Yoga
Bihar School of yoga was founded by Satyananda Saraswati. Satyananda Saraswati was a direct student of Sivananda. He is credited with developed the practice of yoga nidra. Yoga nidra is a technique for putting the body to sleep while the mind remains awake. Satyananda has passed on his lineage to Swami Niranjananda. Niranjananda had his subconscious programmed by Satyanananda from a very young age. This programming has led to him being able to speak about 11 languages.
I could tell you a long story about how I tripped up on Vamadheva Rajan, but maybe some other time. At any rate, he has written directly back to me on youtube stating that he considers Sivananda his guru. Did he meet Sivananda in the physical? I dont think so. but you never know. You can see Sivananda in the backdrop of some of his videos:
Yogi Anand Ji
Yogi Anand Ji shows a picture of Sivananda at the start of each of his youTube videos. He has also explicitly stated that he considers Sivananda his guru during a conversation I had with him on his youtube channel. I am very impressed with his shaktipat ability and his simple approach to spirituality, which revolves around Tratak. His connection to his guru was mentioned in one of his books, but i could not find it. luckily a devotee website did mention the following:
His friend gave him a book on Yoga, which was in a torn condition. The book was written in Hindi-“Kisi Ek Ki Sadhana Gatha” (“Saga of Sadhana of some one”). He started reading it. After reading a few pages, an interest grew in him. He continued reading it to next 2-3 days, after the office schedule until he finished. He further writes- “After reading the book, I asked to myself, can I also do Yoga? I sat for Dhayana in the way suggested at the end of the book. I felt some kind of inner sensations in my body. When the Dhayana was over, I was stunned – it was a forty minutes whereas I imagined it to be just five minutes. After this event, I never looked back in this path.”
The author of that book Maa “Om Malti Devi” became his Guru. In her guidance, he touched the heights of Yog.
And this lady Maa was (I believe) a direct disciple of Sivananda.
Swami Satchidananda formed integral yoga. The physical yoga practice is very similar to Sivananda Yoga. The center volunteers receive pay unlike in Sivananda Yoga where no one received any money, including the swamis.
Sivananda Yoga (and offshoots)
Swami Vishnudevananda came to the US because his guru said “America is waiting for what you have”. I believe his initial arrival to the West was in Canada. And the official headquarters for Sivananda-Yoga is in Val Morin, Quebec, CANADA.
There are numerous groups who offer teaching completely in line with the official organization but are not governed by them:
Divine Grace (Ashram)
Divine Grace Ashram is located in Cottonwood, AZ. The founder of this system actually developed his spiritual awareness by taking peace walks across the US. In the process of living from day to day with no idea who was going to feed him or what he would encounter, he developed a great amount of detachment.
Although my conversation with Swami Sankarananda led me to believe he was completely independant of the Sivananda-yoga organization, his center is listed on their affiliated page.
Formed in 1992, Yoga Vidya bills itself as Europe’s Largest Yoga Institution. I thought they were only in Germany, but they apparently have branches throughout many other parts of Europe:
There are Yoga Vidya Centres in more than 80 major german cities as well as in Vienna, Austria; Swiss and the Netherlandshttps://www.yoga-vidya.org/english/about-us/
Sivananda Yoga, Gurgaon
Sivananda Yoga Centre, Gurgaon operates 7 yoga centers in Gurgaon, India. They are the producers of the excellent Sivananda Yoga DVD. It was formed by Arun Padwhal and Deeksha Jain Prasad. They are independant. As they state:
Sivananda Yoga Centre, Gurgaon (SYCG) is a RYS 200 and a RYS 300 Registered Yoga School with Yoga Alliance®, USA. (www.yogaalliance.org)
Sivananda Yoga Centre, Gurgaon conducts its yoga classes, retreats and teacher training courses independently, and is not affiliated to any yoga organization, in India or anywhere in the world.https://www.yogashowstheway.com/
Vishnu-devananda Yoga Vedanta Center
Gajananam founded the Vishnu-devananda Yoga Vedanta Center in Fremont, CA. He studied directly with Vishnu Devananda and has also taken deeper Sanskrit studies elsewhere.