Definition of ISHTA Yoga
ISHTA Yoga is a style of yoga that combines different types of yoga practices, blending ancient and contemporary teachings to meet the individual needs of each yogi. ISHTA is an acronym for Integrated Science of Hatha, Tantra and Ayurveda. The name of this style of yoga also has deeper meaning. Ishta is a Sanskrit word that means “that which resonates with the individual spirit,” a concept that is the key element in ISHTA Yoga. Each yogi must follow his/her own path, and it is this very personal journey that ISHTA Yoga seeks to encourage. Integrating different teachings and lineages within one ashram ISHTA Yoga was created. 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 addition to the physical practice of yoga, ISHTA offers yogis a background in the spiritual and philosophical aspects of yoga, including kriya, pranayama, Tantric philosophy, the healing practice of Ayurveda and meditation, among others.
History of ISHTA Yoga
The concept of ISHTA Yoga began in South Africa in the late 1960s from Kavi Yogi Swarananda Mani Finger and his son, Yogiraj Alan Finger 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, Ramakrishna Mission, Swami Nishraisananda, and Tantric master Shuddhand Bharati, who initiated both Alan and Mani into Tantra. 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-Finger, and Bruce Wilcox, opened the first ISHTA Yoga studio in Manhattan in 2008 in Manhattan. For the first time, all elements of the ISHTA tradition had a dedicated home. Then, in 2011, ISHTA opened the doors to its uptown studio, located in Manhattan.