Wednesday, October 3, 2007

SwáSthya Yôga - a Latin American Phenomenon

Who would have believed that a supermarket would be a source for yogic revelations, but such was the case with my discovery of SwáSthya Yôga via a hefty book called Yoga Avanzada: SwáSthya Yôga Shastra which I purchased in one of the national Megamaxi supermarkets in Ecuador (where, oddly enough, many new age and alternative books are available), and which, unlike almost all of the other mass market Yoga "digests" available there, seems to have been written by a surprisingly knowledgeable and apparently seasoned Yogi from Brazil by the name of Maestro DeRose.

swasthya yoga imageGoogling SwáSthya Yôga finds very little information in English except for a few  websites promoting a newer, more complete  yoga experience, a number of youtube videos of the organization's impressive choreographies, a few personal blog commentaries mostly by students, and a few forum discussions.The fact that Mr. DeRose  is virtually unknown in the English speaking may change once a book is published in English. But for the moment it's difficult for English speakers to find out who this teacher is, and what is he teaching?

In the opening of the book a letter is printed from the President of the Indian Federation of Yoga who calls the book,

"...a monumental contribution to Yoga in this century and an inestimable gift for the century to come. Without of doubt
[DeRose has] produced a masterpiece of Yogic teaching."

And with support from the Indian Embassy, I felt I had to take a close look at the publication. Following is a short review for those who are unable to read it in Spanish or Portuguese.swasthya Yoga avancada

The heft (671 pages) and depth of this tome place it closer to the likes of Light on Yoga than almost any other book I have stumbled upon. And that similarity is further suggested by the lengthy gallery of asanas in the middle of the book in a section entitled "Vestiges of Primitive Choreographies" containing photos of over 2400 unique poses. In fact, the book is quite encyclopedic, and presents a very broad and detailed compendium of yogic practices which, if taught successfully, sounds very attractive. He is not only a writer and teacher. He seems to be quite an organizer, having written the Brazilian government sanctioned Regulations for Yoga Professionals, and founded the first University of Yoga in Brazil as well as the Brazilian Federation of Yoga with numerous centers that have spread across Brazil, Argentina and Chile.

And What is SwáSthya Yôga? According to the book DeRose first systemized the method in 1960 (also known by the older name of Dakshinacharatantrika Nirishwarasamkhya Yoga). His own definition at the beginning of the book is a good starting point for understanding the system:

"SwáSthya Yôga is the name of the systemization of ancient, preclassic Yoga, the most complete system in the world.

The principal characteristics of Swasthya Yoga are:

1. It's a very complete form of practice defined by eight modalities of techniques.
2. There are general rules for the execution [or development of] asanas.
3. It has rediscovered the archaic concept of linked sequences without repetition. (choreographies)
4. It is orientated toward unique individuals who were born for SwáSthya Yôga."

The rest of the book goes on to explain these corollaries, and other aspects of yogic science. For starters, the eight limbs of SwáSthya Yôga refer to: mudra, puja, mantra, pranayama, kriya, asana, yoganidra and samyama. The general rules for execution refer to a set of rules for developing and sequencing asanas which, according to DeRose, simplify learning and save the teacher from reading through voluminous descriptions of poses. "[These ancient rules] were neither known nor utilized [in modern times] until...they were identified by us and synthesized as the general rules." The linked sequences refer to the obligatory presentation of improvised choreographies of asanas on the part of students who develop them according to the general rules. Interestingly, most of these choreographies are set to rock music. Click here  to see an example from

The 4th characteristic in the list seems to refer to DeRose's insistence that only young people (18-38) with developed criterion will be drawn to SwáSthya Yoga's methods. His insistence on an age limit does seem a bit unusual for a method that declares it's goal to be samadhi.  That and a certain emphasis on exclusivity and superiority that could sound like preaching to some, is the only negative aspect of the book. Like many spiritual groups, SwáSthya Yôga insists on a strong guru/student relationship that leads to the revelation of more advanced techniques. And the charismatic DeRose and a group of highly trained teachers are spreading out from the south American continent with the offer to promulgate a technique that unites pranayama, asana, mudhra, raja yoga, bhakti yoga, jnani yoga, and tantric yoga in what he insists throughout the book is the most complete form of Yoga200px-Sandrowiki today.

Whether that's true remains to be seen. Much would depend on how it is taught and the results delivered. Be that as i may, the book has a lot of valuable information including several sections written especially for teachers that present useful techniques which are well thought out and well articulated. There is also an interesting history of the development of Hatha Yoga going back to 3000 years B.C. Many of the chapters include references to related study materials (books, CDs and videos) by DeRose and others, that expand on themes mentioned in the book. In fact, a number of these books and some audio materials are available free on the web in Spanish and Portuguese (see below).

My final word: much of the information in the book is new and refreshing to me coming from an Ashtanga background. I would be interested in meeting a SwáSthya Yôga teacher in Ecuador just to get chance to investigate it a little closer — that is — of course, if they'll accept me...I'm a tad over the age limit of 38. Nevertheless, one of SwáSthya's most well known slogans, and the original Portuguese title of this book, Practice Yoga before you need it will most likely find it's way into my studio -- with credit to DeRose of course!

FOR MORE INFORMATION check out the official Uni-Yoga site in Spanish here

Free downloads of books and mp3 materials in Spanish and Portuguese here

A forum discussion with both positive and negative opinions from students and former students can be found here



© blogspot templates | Make Money Online