The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers consider Yoga a discipline which reinforces strength of body, mind and soul. The Centers provide open yoga classes on a daily basis. These include beginners Yoga class, intermediate and advanced classes, gentle classes for the aged, pre-natal classes, and, finally, meditation sessions. All students can attend the first open session at any Sivananda Center for free.
Normally all classes are conducted in the same common way and instructors follow standard techniques.
The beginners class initiates students to the practice of yoga. It centers on breath work and basic Yoga poses. The instructor starts the class with a mantra incantation and the repetition of the sacred syllable Om. New students advised not to fret about doing all poses accurately but rather focus on being present and being aware.
The Sivananda Yoga instructor first takes students through a breathing exercise with. He / she will emphasize that deep breathing is a vital part of Yoga. Next, the instructor demonstrates the different asanas and stretching exercises. Then the instructor takes the students through the Sun Salutation. Students repeat this exercise a number of times, slowly increasing the pace, with full breaths, and retaining each pose for a specific length of time. The class, finally, ends with the Corpse Pose or Shavasana. This is deep relaxation that helps free the mind and body of all stress and strain.
Apart from regular Yoga sessions, the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers conduct a daily Satsang (company of the wise and holy). This is normally led by one of the Sanysins and consists of silent group meditation followed by devotional singing, chanting, and prayer.
The twelve basic postures of Yoga: