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DEREK OSBORN / Swami Shantananda Brahmendra Avadhuta

M Soc Sci, BSc, British Wheel of Yoga Teachers` Diploma, London Univ Teacher`s Certificate,

Register of Exercise Professionals (Level 3), Life Member of The Indian Academy of Yoga


Derek, or Shiv Giri (his given initiated name) has been described as `one of the most experienced yoga teachers in the country`.  His own experience of yoga began in 1952 and since 1969 he has taught almost all styles of yoga from gentle to the most strong and powerful forms, to all levels of ability.  His teaching has included regular weekly classes in Shropshire for over thirty years, in addition to seminars and teacher training workshops over wide areas of England and Wales.  He has worked with residential groups in the Dordogne, south of France, and in an ashram in Tamil Nadu, southern India.

Over the years he has studied and worked with leading teachers and representatives of the principle schools of yoga from around the world, and it is the wisdom and inspiration from these teachers that colours his own teaching approach.  In the 1990s working in conjunction with the American former dancer and choreographer Budd Thompson, he helped to develop the system of Bodylife which uses all styles of yoga but with additional elements from other traditions ancient and modern.

As a former biologist he has brought to his yoga teaching a background knowledge of the physical and physiological workings of the body.  He believes that age per se is no barrier to achievement and encourages students of all ages to explore their own limits.  The miracle of yoga often sees students with apparently incurable conditions literally restored to new health and activity. 

An interest in philosophy and spiritual aspects of the human mind has taken his yoga beyond that of a purely physical workout regime.  Although his teaching is not limited by religion he does acknowledge the Hindu basis of much yoga teaching known as the `sanatan dharma` - the eternal truths.  It was as a result of his searching and travelling in India, the home of yoga, that he met and was initiated by his guru as a baba (monk) of the Giri order of renunciates.

The aim of yoga is to achieve unity or wholeness within the individual and the world beyond.  Derek`s classes cover all aspects of yoga including the lifestyle disciplines, exercises for flexibility, strength and stamina, breath control, relaxation, and mental techniques to bring about a sense of wellbeing and Self awareness. 

With many years of practical involvement in yoga Derek is able to offer students of all levels of ability and experience a chance to develop and further their own journey along the path of yoga.


A Brief Autobiography.  I was born in 1941 in Derbyshire, England. From a very early age (perhaps 2- 3 years old) I was aware of `something else` beyond usual conscious life.  I always felt an affinity to nature, to solitude and peace.

I started my own `yoga sadhana` in or about 1952 when I came across Paul Brunton`s book `In Search of Secret India`, and soon after that `Naked They Pray` by Pearce Gervis.  Yoga has been a central feature of my life ever since. Always there has been the balance between the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of yoga, sanatan dharma.

I began yoga teaching in 1969, in Yorkshire, England, and since then have taught regular weekly classes, as well as workshops in many parts of England, and at the ashram I stay at in India. I have been interviewed on radio several times, appeared on TV teaching yoga, and had numerous articles published in the yoga press.

In the years since my first pilgrimage to India in 2000 I have been increasingly attracted to the spiritual aims of yoga and Hinduism.  As a result of a vision following that pilgrimage to the source of the river Ganges I have realised an aim in life to plant enough trees in the world to green a mountain side before my samadhi. For this reason any fees paid to me for yoga workshops, anywhere in the world, are donated to tree planting charities.  With your help I can do that.  

M.Soc.Sci  Social Research, Birmingham University
B.Sc  Botany and Zoology, London University
Teacher`s Certificate, Goldsmiths College, Uni of London
British Wheel of Yoga: Teacher`s Diploma,
Register of Exercise Professionals Level 3
ITEC Cert (Massage Therapy)  

In 2000 I was initiated into the brotherhood of Naga Babas in Rishikesh, and given the new title of Swami SHIV GIRI Baba by my guru, Mahesh Giri.

In 2011 I was elected a Life Member of The Indian Academy of Yoga,  Varanasi.

New Name? Why?


For many years now I have been increasingly drawn towards the traditions of south India particularly Tamil Nadu, and the Dravidian culture that is still alive there.  Much of the tradition and practice of yoga as we know it in the west is the result of early western students being exposed to north Indian teaching.  While there is a lot of common ground there are certainly some distinct differences.


My original diksha  by my guru in Rishikesh, Guruji Mahesh GIri, has provided me with a basis and guidelines for my life since 2000CE.  At that time by bathing in the river Ganges I washed away my old life, I donned the ochre robe and langouti of the naga baba.  I was given my string and rudraksha seed (my genou), my rudraksha mala and a no-return stone mala, my secret mantra and my new name of Mahesh Giri.  The Giri sect is one of the ancient orders established by Shankaracharya (8thCE).  From there I travelled on to the source of the Ganges receiving darshan (experience and the vision) of Lord Shiva.  For a year or two I maintained contact with Guruji but eventually we lost contact.  He is a wandering sadhu of no fixed address or close contact with a sect or order.

I came into contact with Swami Pranavananda two or three years after my diksha and visited his ashram in 2003 and in 2005.  Before the last visit we had discussed the possibility of him giving my diksha into his parampara (lineage) but circumstances were not conducive to that happening.  However my more recent visit in spring 2013 was the right time, ten long years after the first intention and a good indication of the time which can test intentions.

Like my first guru, Swami Pranavananda is not tightly bound to a strict order of monks.  He is a man who lives and works in the world for the good of others.  As an avadhut and advaitist he is not bound by ritual and conventions, while at the same time recognising their value and appropriateness in the right circumstances and for the right reasons.  He draws his inspiration from another even earlier teacher, Dattatreya, author of the Avadhuta Gita.

The avadhuts are said to be those who have renounced all attachments to the world.  In former times they roamed the subcontinent of India with no material possions and naked.  In more recent times  initiates have been allowed to wear clothes to fit in with the society in which they find themselves; not for convention but rather to avoid distancing themselves from others.

The parampara of which Swami Pranavananda is a link dates back in a direct line to the 16/17th century and Sadashiva who was both a saint and one of the great poet musicians of south India whose compositions are still highly regarded.

The ritual of diksha or initiation takes many forms among the various orders of sannyasins and monks.  The essential features are those of a simple gift to the guru which symbolises the yearning of the shisya for acceptance into his guru`s care.  The role of a guru is not an idle acceptance, he has as much responsibility to his disciples as they have to him.  In my case I Had been waiting for this occasion for just over ten years.  Guruji consulted an astrologer to decide on the most appropriate time during my stay at the kudhil.  In the event it was to be before 10am or after 2.00pm on my last full day- March 9, 2013, and the diksha took place at 2.30pm.  A plate with boiled rice was prepared with offerings of fruit, a leaf etc was used.  Guruji offered my items from the plate which I then returned to him.  He then gave me bananas and coconut .  I wrote my new given name – Shantananda – in the cooked rice, and Guruji completed the ceremony with giving of a clean cloth as I was accepted into his parampara with my new full name of

                                            Swami Shantananda Brahmendra Avadhuta.

The rules of conduct and life for the avadhut - - -

Be in the world

Be independent of the world

Welcome anyone as a guest, as God

Help anyone or anything at whatever level     is possible

Avoid hurting anyone or anything

Avoid lying or stealing

Do not ask for gifts or money

Love your Self, everybody and everything.


In the ochre robes of a baba.

Derek Osborn initiated as Shiv Giri



Lord Dattatreya

Sadashiva Brahmendra Avadhut             Dates:            1560c – 1762c

                                    Mahasamadhi at:   Nerur


Judge Swamigal Shivananda Brahmendra Avadhuta  Dates:

                                    Mahasamadhi at:    Pudukottai

                                    Guru: Sadashiva Brahmendra Avadhut


Swayam Prakash Brahmendra Avadhuta           Dates:             - 1952

                                    Mahasamadhi at:  Sendamangalam (nr Namakar)

                                    Guru: Judge Swamigal Shivananda Brahmendra Avadhut


?         Swami Santhananda Brahmendra Avadhuta                Dates:          - 27 May2002

                                    Mahasamadhi at:   


Swami Sarveswara              Dates:

                                    Mahasamadhi at:    Ullundurpettai


Swami Pranavananda Brahmendra Avadhuta             Dates: 1941

Swami Shantananda Brahmendra Avadutta                   Dates:  1941