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Sarah Finger Discusses the Origin and Twofold Meaning of ISHTA

ISHTA Yoga / Journal  / Sarah Finger Discusses the Origin and Twofold Meaning of ISHTA

Sarah Finger Discusses the Origin and Twofold Meaning of ISHTA

Yogiraj Sarah Finger will join Yogiraj Master Teachers Mona Anand, Ulrica Norberg, and Katrina Repka, and other ISHTA Senior Teachers to lead the upcoming 200-hour ISHTA Teacher Training at Hi Yoga in Oslo.


One of the greatest gifts of teaching yoga is being able to share the teachings with others in a Training format. At ISHTA, our Teacher Training program is about so much more than just learning how to teach Yoga: it is about understanding how to integrate the practice into your living. I have been lucky enough to witness the growth and connection of many different Training groups over the years. Even though each person is unique, the shared experience is commonly one of evolution and self-discovery.

ISHTA has a twofold meaning. One is an acronym which stands for The Integrated Science of Hatha Tantra and Ayurveda. The second is from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Sutra 2.44 which states: “ISHTA devata sampra yogaha.” The translation that I like to use for that is: “The study of the self leads to the authentication of the Self.” At the heart of ISHTA is the Tantric premise that the divine exists within all things, that all beings are connected, and that liberation comes when we accept the true nature of ourselves.

I just came back from a trip to South Africa, where my husband Alan (ISHTA Founder + Figurehead) and I visited Johannesburg and the community of ISHTA yogis there. Johannesburg is where ISHTA was conceived over 50 years ago. There, Alan and his father Mani learned ancient Kriya, Pranayama, and meditation techniques directly from swamis of India who came down to South Africa for several months at a time. This direct transmission of knowledge and energy by these sages is what eventually culminated into the ISHTA system. The ancient techniques plus the masterful art of modern sequencing and individualization of Asana are what make the ISHTA practice so profound. Our intention is not to force our students to become something else but to empower them to return to the divine essence that they already are.

The best way to understand the richness of the ISHTA style is to understand its logo, which is a drop of water. If you look at a drop from the ocean, it has its own unique shape, form, and individuality. It appears to be separate from the ocean, yet it has all of the qualities of the ocean within it. At our source, we are like those drops. We have within us the quality of universal intelligence, yet we are all seemingly separate with our own unique form, shape, and identity. When we experience yoga, or union, it is like the drop merging back into the ocean. We become no longer separate and we merge with that ocean of awareness that is all around us.

I am very excited to be a part of the upcoming 200-hour Training at Hi Yoga in Oslo. It is the first time ISHTA will come to Norway and I will be joined with my fellow Yogiraj Master Teachers Mona Anand, Ulrica Norberg, and Katrina Repka, not to mention several other ISHTA Senior Teachers. Combined, our experience in teaching yoga makes up over 50 years. We have each studied extensively and directly with Alan, and we are privileged to be able to share the wisdom of this practice with others. I hope you’ll join us!