In 1984, Sharon Gannon and David Life opened the first Jivamukti studio in New York City's bustling Union Square. Since its introduction, Jivamukti has become recognized as a form of hatha yoga, meaning it consists of vigorous poses known as asanas.
Classes follow a pre-determined theme, are highly meditative, and are set to mellow music - sometimes even live music.
Benefits of Jivamukti yoga: The flow of poses is designed to improve balance, strength and flexibility. Jivamukti practitioners also tout the spiritual gains of this socially responsible style.
Who Jivamukti yoga is best for: Jivamukti extends beyond the yoga studio with a philosophy known as "ahimsa," or non-harming. Ahimsa urges students to protect animals and the environment. Many Jivamukti students are vegans, environmentalists and social activists, which is why Jivamukti is sometimes called "political yoga."
Getting ready: Many instructors distribute scriptures at the start of class and lead chants in Sanskrit. Students are encouraged to wear comfortable, lightweight clothing for the duration of a practice.
Calories burned: Jivamukti is said to burn approximately 300 calories in an hour long class.
Jivamukti is trendy in the celebrity circuit. Among its biggest stars are Thandie Newton, Sting and his wife Trudy, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Madonna, Diane Keaton, Russel Simmons and Uma Thurman.
As with most forms of yoga, Jivamukti is gentle and rehabilitative. Failing to warm up properly, however, can result in muscle strain. Ease into a Jivamukti flow to help prevent injury.
Who shouldn't do it: Jivamukti has an unavoidable spiritual side to the practice. Individuals who are looking for a strictly athletic, non-meditative style of yoga may benefit from a less spiritual class like Power yoga.