For the past month, I have sprinkled the name Alan Finger throughout my blogs on the individual Chakras. However, what is even more amazing than his book: Chakra Yoga
, is the philosophy of yoga that he developed in partnership with his father: Kavi Yogi Swarananda Mani Finger.
Have you ever gone to a yoga class and loved it but wished that it had a few elements of the other classes that you’ve attended? Have you ever felt that the time allotted on specific movements, meditations and or breathing was either too much or too little? Have you ever felt that certain theories and principles should simply be combined?
Well, these thoughts and ideas were exactly what Alan Finger and his father had and so they developed a new form of yoga which they called ISHTA yoga.
The History of ISHTA Yoga
In a hotel room in Los Angeles, Paramahansa Yogananda author of Autobiography of a Yogi was speaking, Kavi Yogi Swarananda Mani Finger decided to listen to this inspirational lecture. This powerful lecture and a private meeting afterward with the yogi, inspired Kari Yogi Swarananda Mani Finger to pursue a yogic lifestyle. Over the years, both Mani Finger and his son Alan studied yoga with a variety of teachers. They exposed themselves to yoga, tantric teachings, ayurvedic healing and meditation.
When trying to discover their own philosophy, both father and son found that they couldn’t pick a specific one. They saw that there were values in each area that they had learned about and practiced, and so they developed their own form of yoga: Ishta yoga.
What is Ishta Yoga?
In Sanskrit the word Ishta means to develop a personal practice that will meet your individual needs. However, the term ISHTA also serves as an acronym standing for the Integrated Science of Hatha, Tantra and Ayurveda.
One of the primary goals of this philosophy is to provide each student with their own pathway. This form of yoga works with the individual’s abilities, philosophies, theories and needs. As the individual ‘s needs fluctuate the practice of ISHTA yoga will follow to meet the individuals needs.
The Three Main Principles: Hatha, Tantra and Ayurveda
This is the movement portion of the Ishta philosophy. Similar to a typical yoga class, an Ishta yoga class will focus on a combining asanas to work towards a united goal. The movements may be fluid like Viniyoga, vigorous like Ashatanga or involve props similar to those used in Iyengar yoga.
The tantric philosophy recognizes the uniqueness and beauty of each individual. It helps us to realize that there is no perfect posture, but that we need to seek out the right approach for our own body at the moment. We will know when we are doing the right things for our body and mind when we reach the point of internal bliss. The tantric philosophy helps develop the mind body connection within the ISHTA movement: intertwining work on the Chakras, meditation, breathing and mantras.
The Ayurveda principle is based on the science of healing. ISHTA combines this principle by focusing on our self-healing through our individual explorations and recognizing our own bodies needs.
The integration of these three principles is the foundation of the Ishta yoga practice, making it a holistic philosophy that focuses on the individual’s needs. However, one of the main challenges could be locating a class in your area. Don’t let this limit you. Develop your own ISHTA practice by exposing yourself to a variety of philosophies, yogic movements and ideas and integrate the ones that work best for you.