An Introduction to SwáSthya Yôga

SwáSthya Yôga (pronounced sooastia) refers to the modern systemization of an ancient form of yoga from the pre-classic period. Codified in Brazil in the 1960s by Maestro DeRose, the practice of SwáSthya Yôga follows the DeRose Method.

swásthya yôga

A relatively recent addition to the practice of yoga, most practitioners are unaware that this style is available. In fact, a lack of information about the DeRose Method has generated a number of rumors. Some people question its legitimacy as a form of yoga, while others claim that it is a cult. Do further research before drawing any conclusions.

Fundamentals of SwáSthya Yôga and the DeRose Method

As with other yoga styles, the goal of SwáSthya is to achieve samádhi, an elevated state of consciousness. However, SwáSthya is not mystical. Rather, it is naturalistic, technical, and tantric. “In SwáSthya Yôga, the body, beauty, health, and pleasure are all respected and valued,” shares Gabriel Abraham, 33, a self-described disciple of Maestro DeRose who has been teaching SwáSthya Yôga for eight years in Buenos Aires, Argentina. “The DeRose Method prides itself on not being severe or repressive.”

SwáSthya has three defining characteristics:
  • It has eight parts (mudra, puja, mantra, pranayama, kriya, asana, yoganidra, and samyama).
  • There are general rules of execution.
  • Poses are performed as choreographies set to music. (Typically in yoga postures are held, repeated, and synchronized to the breath of the practitioner.)

How to Practice SwáSthya Yôga

The DeRose Method begins with 1-3 months of pre-yoga classes. Basic yoga poses are introduced, but classes do not include other aspects of yoga, such as meditation and breathing techniques. Music is at the discretion of the teacher, and students invent their own choreographies at the end of each class. Fun and informal, pre-yoga classes are designed to prepare students physically for the practice of SwáSthya.

Before moving from pre-yoga to yoga, students must demonstrate sufficient knowledge of and commitment to the technique by reading a short book and taking a brief exam. According to Abraham, a typical SwáSthya Yôga class lasts approximately one hour and includes all eight areas of technique. Classes incorporate music and choreography, but are more serious than pre-yoga. Abraham explains that while SwáSthya has a strong physical component, it is meant to be an exercise in self-discovery and much of the class is done with eyes closed.

Where to Practice the DeRose Method

The DeRose Method is taught primarily in Brazil, Portugal, and Argentina. However, SwáSthya Yôga is also practiced in major cities such as Paris, Barcelona, London, San Francisco, and New York. Abraham suggests that the biggest obstacles to the expansion of the DeRose Method are language (the Method was founded in Portuguese) and the reluctance of teachers to relocate.

Who Should Practice SwáSthya Yôga

Pre-yoga classes may appeal to people interested solely in the physical benefits of yoga. Abraham warns that SwáSthya Yôga is physically and mentally demanding, and requires discipline. Therefore, practitioners tend to be young, fit, active, and healthy.

While the DeRose Method is nonrestrictive in that nothing is expressly prohibited, it does recommend that practitioners adopt a particular lifestyle. This includes a healthy, vegetarian diet and abstention from drugs and alcohol. Also, it is not uncommon for DeRose centers to organize activities and encourage students to connect outside of class.

For some students, the DeRose Method may become a way of life. For others, it is merely a form of exercise and an interesting alternative style of yoga. Students should feel comfortable determining their own level of participation.

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