AboutISHTA and the ISHTA Yoga Tradition
ISHTA yoga is one of the world’s most profound lineages of yoga, with integration of hatha, tantra and ayurveda to create the maximum benefit for the individual.
To be able to show individuals to an understanding who they are, and how to be still and content in an ever changing world; both inside and outside. Also show that yoga is a science, not a religion.
ISHTA stands for the Integrated Science of Hatha, Tantra, and Ayurveda; understanding more about these three key sciences of yoga will assist us in developing and sculpting the best yoga practice for each of us.
- Hatha relates to the physical body. In practicing a sequence of asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques), we start to open the body channels so that energy can flow freely and we can begin to enjoy the feeling of bringing the body back into balance.
- Tantra comes from the root words tanoti (”expansion”) and trayati (”liberation”). In ISHTA, tantra refers to the oneness between the individual and the universe (often likened to a drop of water in the ocean) and the ability to expand and liberate the individual consciousness in order to connect to our inherent divinity. We practice tantra by using breathing and meditative techniques that expand our awareness of the more subtle aspects of being.
- Ayurveda is the science of life; specifically, what keeps us alive. Prana is the life force of the body and it is uniquely manifested in every individual. If we can understand how prana interacts with five key elements (air, space, fire, water, and earth), then we can begin to understand our body constitution. Knowing what makes us tick and, importantly, what doesn’t, is how ayurveda restores balance and ultimately brings us back to optimal health and well-being.
- An ISHTA class brings together asana to stretch, strengthen, balance, and release the physical body; pranayama with visualization to still and quiet the mind; and meditation to expand our awareness, with the goal of releasing energy and liberating consciousness.
- The ISHTA Teacher Training programs provide a comprehensive foundation for all aspects of yoga: a uniquely modern, individualized, and integrated approach to this ancient science. Through in-depth asana practice, posture labs, practice teaching, anatomy, and lectures on a wide variety of topics, the ISHTA-trained practitioner is rendered fluent in all aspects of yoga. We provide exclusive and copyrighted manuals and are a Yoga Alliance-registered curriculum. Every ISHTA trainee has the opportunity to explore, learn, and teach, as well as enhance and enrich his or her own personal practice.
ISHTA yoga was founded in the 1960’s by Mani Finger and his son Alan. Their intention was to integrate all the different systems and teachings from two decades of study with famed yogis such as B.K.S Iyengar and Swami Nishraisananda and to bring yoga into the modern world.
In Sweden, ISHTA Yoga yogaraj, yogini, Ulrica Norberg, is representing ISHTA yoga and it’s lineage.
The ISHTA Yoga Tradition
Kavi Yogi Swarananda Mani Finger and his son, Alan Finger, created ISHTA Yoga in the late 1960’s in South Africa. Mani was first initiated into Kriya Yoga by Paramhansa Yogananda in Los Angeles, and later as a Kavi yogi by Sivananda in India. Mani subsequently went back to South Africa where he transformed his home into an ashram. Over many years, Mani and Alan hosted many gurus at their house including Swami Venkatesananda (friend of T. Krishnamacharya and Sivananda’s ‘jewel student’), Ramakrishna Mission, BKS Iyengar, Swami Nishraisananda, and Tantric master Shuddhand Bharati, who initiated both Alan and Mani into Tantra. Seeking to integrate and celebrate the different teachings and lineages that passed through their ashram, Mani and Alan created ISHTA Yoga. ISHTA aims to give each student an understanding of how to incorporate aspects from various yoga styles and practices in a way that best suits their individual paths.
In 1975, after teaching in South Africa for thirteen years, Alan moved to the United States. He settled in Los Angeles and founded the Yoga Tantra Institute. Soon after, he co-founded Yoga Works. In 1993, Alan relocated to New York City and formed the Yoga Zone studios. Yoga Zone became Be Yoga and expanded Alan’s teachings into one of the most successful regional yoga teacher training programs in the country. Coming full circle, in 2004 Be Yoga rejoined the Yoga Works family of studios.
As the culmination of his life-long development of ISHTA, Alan and his partners, Julie Wilcox, Sarah Platt, and Bruce Wilcox, opened the first ISHTA Yoga studio in Manhattan on May 1st, 2008, at 56 East 11th Street in Manhattan. For the first time, all elements of the ISHTA tradition had a dedicated home. In February 2011, ISHTA opened the doors to its uptown studio, located at 1026 Third Avenue in Manhattan.
Paramahansa Yogananda: Author of Autobiography of a Yogi. Yogananda was Mani Finger’s introduction into yoga, his foremost teacher and his initiator into kriya yoga.
Swami Venkatesananda: A friend of T. Krishnamacharya and a leading student of Sivananda’s. Venkatesananda wrote many books on yoga, and with co-author Kavi Yogiraj Mani Finger, wrote a book on Laya yoga. Venkatesananda, along with Mani, initiated Alan into Yogiraj. Venkates stayed with Mani and Alan for several weeks each year.
Swami Nishraisananda: A scientist/engineer turned yogi and disciple of the Ramakrishna Mission. Nishraisananda’s understanding of the links between spiritual yogic concepts and modern science is the foundation of ISHTA’s conviction that we are only now beginning to understand in a ‘scientific’ perspective the physical and energetic effects of yoga, which ancient yogis intuitively understood thousands of years ago.
Shuddhanand Bharati: A Tantric master. Bharati initiated both Alan and Mani into Tantra and was the driving force behind the systematization of ISHTA as a system of yoga.
Meet Alan Finger here: