The Theory Underlying Integral Yoga

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Integral Yoga represents a rich synthesis of the major principles of yoga. This style of yoga is characterized by its practical, simple, and systematic approach to the practice of yoga. Dean Ornish, M.D., who is famous for developing his healthy lifestyle program for reversing heart disease, studied Integral Yoga. It is this approach to yoga that forms one of the key components in his healthy lifestyle program.

The three foundational practices of Integral Yoga are asana practice, pranayama, and meditation. Practice of the physical asana postures purifies, aligns, and strengthens the body.

Integral Yoga is an integrative approach to yoga that is both systematic and practical. It was developed by Sri Swami Satchidananda, a student of Sri Swami Sivananda, whose teachings also contributed to the development of Sivananda Yoga. Born in South India, Sri Swami Satchidananda came to the United States in the 1960s. He gained popular recognition as the spiritual mentor of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Through its headquarters in Buckingham, Virginia, and branches and centers throughout the rest of the United States and the world, Integral Yoga offers classes and workshops that emphasize the accessibility and practicality of yoga. It uses hatha yoga to serve people seeking relief from stress and fatigue as a doorway to yoga practice. Formal classes are generally 75 to 90 minutes in length. Integral Yoga emphasizes ease and comfort in the performance of asanas. Pranayama and meditation receive equal weighting with asana practice within the Integral Yoga system.


Pranayama, or the practice of breath control, is used to draw the mind and senses inward in order to progress up the higher rungs of the eight-limbed ladder of yoga. Meditation allows practitioners to connect to the divinity within.

The Integral Yoga approach to yoga emphasizes the accessibility and practicality of this ancient practice. It recognizes that many people come to yoga seeking relief from stress and fatigue. Integral Yoga uses hatha yoga as a doorway to yoga practice. The emphasis is on ease and comfort in performing the asanas. Pranayama and meditation receive equal weighting with asana practice within the Integral Yoga system.

In addition to these foundational practices, Integral Yoga teaches a variety of other practices and principles that are associated with a yoga lifestyle. These include relaxation techniques, vegetarian diet and cooking, as well as a yoga lifestyle training program.

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