Yoga is essentially bodywork. The body is perceived as having 5 layers. They are the physical, energetic, mental (including the 5 senses), wisdom and blissful layers Yoga technology is based on an understanding of how the elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether interact with each layer.
Yoga comprises physical and mental practices which include :
- Conscious Action (personal & social)
- Physical Postures (Asanas)
- Breath & Energy Work (Pranayama)
- Concentration & Awareness Practices (Meditation)
- Developing Compassion (Devotion)
At first we learn physical postures. These are called Asana, a sanskrit word meaning ‘comfortable seat’. Asana’s were first practiced by ascetics in the Himalayan mountains of Northern India. The 15th Century Hatha Yoga Pradipika (Light on Hatha Yoga) written by Svatmarama refers to 35 earlier Hatha Yoga masters called Siddha’so. In this Sanskrit manuel he draws from various classic texts from different systems of yoga. He grouped what he found under the generic term ‘Hatha Yoga’ . Hatha Yoga is commonly used now to describe a yoga practice that is predominantly doing postures. This is misleading because Hatha means ‘force’ implying intense ascetic practices.
Asana and Pranayama are presented as a means for body purification in preparation for higher meditations. There are also information on the bodies energy centres (chakras), sacred hando gestures (mudra), divine energy (shakti) and more. These later psychospiritual techniques are less common in a regular yoga class as they require a strong foundation in Asana.
The Classic Guide to Yoga Asana is ‘Light on Yoga’ written by the formost teacher BKS Iyengar in 1966. It classifies more than 200 postures with over 600 illustrative photographs. This significant resource has informed and inspired many modern approaches to posture work.
The syllabus and methodology of yoga postures taught in an Iyengar yoga class follows the direct guidance of BKS Iyengar.
There are immediate as well as more profound long term benefits of practicing yoga.
develop your strength, flexibility and help to balance the hormonal, immune and nervous systems. The choice of postures and the order that they are practiced in (the sequence) affect how you feel and the benefits.
Breath & Energy Work
is known as Pranayama. Life force energy is known as ‘Prana’, and is present in every breath. ‘Yama’ means to restrain. This refers to specific practices of breath awareness and of influencing the breath flow. The volume, velocity, duration, texture and pattern are all aspects of breathing to discover. Peace of mind, emotional stability and a feeling of openess, even exhilaration, are some of the experiences of pranayama.
In a class or workshop you will learn and experience
- precision, alignment and awareness of how to do each posture
- the affect and benefits of practicing certain groups of postures
- ways of working in postures to suit your physical, mental and emotional needs
- how to practice confidently on your own
When practicing yoga I shift my attention from my thoughts to a felt sense of my body, breath and heart space. According to yogic philosophy the mind resides in the heart. This is the energetic centre located near the physical heart.
Doing yoga postures can be just an athletic exercise. You will have more freedom and strength in your body. For me the real beauty of Yoga is also in the opportunity to connect with our inner self. With this intention transformation happens naturally as we move, breathe, feel and open to the gift of the present moment.
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