Integral Yoga® Teachings
“Yoga” means “union” in the ancient Sanskrit language. It is a perfect description of the Integral Yoga teachings which synthesize the various branches of Yoga into a comprehensive lifestyle system. The aim is to promote the harmonious development of every aspect of the individual. The six branches of Integral Yoga are powerful tools to encourage wellness and self-mastery. Its results are subtle, profound, and measurable.
In Integral Yoga, we honor our Guru, our lineage and the classical Yoga teaching, thus connecting with the principle of Guru-tattva and respecting the ancient tradition of Yoga. This principle points to the transmission of the teachings and practices coming through this Guru, lineage and tradition.
The Integral Yoga system was synthesized by Sri Swami Satchidananda from his spiritual roots in the Tamil Saiva Yoga Siddhar tradition, the Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita and the nondual teachings of his Guru, Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati.
Students of Integral Yoga who receive mantra diksha (initiation) receive the bija mantra that comes from the Saiva Yoga tradition. Integral Yoga monastics are part of the Holy Order of Sannyas (Dasnami Sampradaya) founded by Adi Shankaracharya (8th century CE). Sri Swami Satchidananda was initiated into the Saraswati branch of this Sampradaya by his Guru, Sri Swami Sivananda in 1949.
Six Branches of Integral Yoga
The path of the physical practice of Yoga
To keep the body flexible, strong, healthy, and to prepare for meditation, we practice asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing practices), Yoga Nidra (guided deep relaxation), mudras (energy seals), bandhas (energy locks), kriyas (cleansing practices) and yogic diet.
The path of concentration and meditation
Offers a foundation for spiritual growth through the integration of ethical principles, with the regular practice of concentration and meditation. It helps cultivate a well-disciplined mind, senses in alignment with our spiritual goals, pure heart, and dedicated life, utilizing the eight limbs of Yoga delineated in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
The path of love and devotion
To open and nourish the spiritual heart we have the practices of kirtan (chanting), puja (worship), and prayers. Through pure love, faith, and constant remembrance of the Divine—however we conceive of this—we can rise above the illusion of a separate self and experience union with the spirit that dwells within everything.
The path of selfless service
When we engage in our activities with a focused mind and loving intention we become pure channels of selfless service. When the heart and mind are trained to act for the well-being of all, without attachment to the outcome or personal reward, we can more fully experience the inner peace and joy that is our essence-nature.
The path of wisdom
This path of wisdom includes self-analysis and systematic discrimination between Unity Consciousness and the ever-changing forms of creation. When we begin to identify less with the body, mind, and ego, we gain greater access to our inner wisdom and realize our essence-nature as that nondual Consciousness.
The practice of mantra repetition
With so many approaches to meditation today, Swami Satchidananda recommended mantra japa (mantra repetition) as one of the easiest and most effective forms of practice in this busy age in which we live. The concentrated repetition of a mantra leads to an awareness of and attunement to this cosmic vibration.
Integral Yoga & Wellness
Swami Satchidananda’s approach to mind-body health was decades ahead of its time in the West. He defined disease essentially as a state of “dis-ease” that could be remedied (and prevented) by a vegetarian diet, stress reduction through the Yoga practices and philosophy, and living a useful life of selfless service.
This holistic approach sparked a revolution in evidence-based Yoga therapy treatment programs for cancer, heart disease, immune diseases, physical disabilities, PTSD, addictions, and more.
The beauty and bounty of nature inspire Integral Yoga practitioners to live with gratitude and reverence for our planet, to use natural organic products and be earth-friendly in all activities.
“Be easeful physically, be peaceful mentally, and then be useful in your life. It’s not that you are going to acquire ease and peace newly. It is there already. If you only could take good care of it and see that you do not disturb it, it remains. So in our lives, we should be always vigilant and see that we do not do anything that would disturb the ease and peace of the mind and body.” ~Swami Satchidananda
Integral Yoga & Interfaith Values
“My motto has always been, ‘Truth is One, Paths are Many.’ The great sages and saints have experienced the same truth but only expressed it in different ways. It does not matter what name you give to the nameless Spirit—you are free to call it whatever you like. The only way to eternal peace and joy is to realize that Spirit. But when we miss that point, we fight in the name of Spirit.” ~Swami Satchidananda
Yogaville: Integral Yoga & Community
From the earliest days of Integral Yoga, Swami Satchidananda spoke about the benefits of sangha (community). The importance of coming together with other spiritual seekers to provide support and inspiration on the path of Yoga is a hallmark of Swami Satchidananda’s Integral Yoga teachings.
In 1979, Swami Satchidananda founded Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville, Virginia, as an optimal environment in which to study and live the principles of Integral Yoga. This Yoga village in the rural countryside, bordered by the James River, serves as a residential Yoga community, a teaching center, a spiritual sanctuary, and as headquarters for the global Integral Yoga organization. Surrounding the Ashram is the thriving Yogaville community, spanning four generations, whose members purchased additional property to build their homes and raise their families.
Swami Satchidananda described his vision for Yogaville as a sample “heaven on earth,” where people of all ages, faiths, and backgrounds come to together to live the teachings of Integral Yoga. Some 10,000 people visit Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville annually for guest visits and day trips, and to participate in workshops, teacher trainings, celebrations, interfaith gatherings, and silent retreats.
At Integral Yoga gatherings throughout the world, satsangs (spiritual discourses), free open group meditations, and other workshops and events reinforce the sense of community that unites people and is essential to building a more peaceful world.