What is Yoga?
'Yoga' is a Sanskrit word and it means union.
The union of mind, body and breath.
The Indian Sage Patanjali compiled the Yoga Sutras 2000 years ago. The Sutras serve as a philosophical quidebook for most of the Yoga that is practiced today.
The Sutras outline the 8 limbs of Yoga:
1. Yamas (ethical standards) 2. Niyamas (self-disciplines) 3. Asana (postures)
4. Pranayama (breathing techniques) 5. Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses) 6. Dharana (concentration techniques) 7. Dhyana (meditation) and 8. Samadhi (liberation, bliss)
Today most people practice Hatha Yoga in the west, which is focusing on the 3. limb, Asana (postures). The word Hatha in Sanskrit means Ha-sun and Tha-moon. Hatha yoga is a path toward creating balance and uniting the opposites. Balancing the left and right side of the brain hemisphere, the qualities of the sun (heat/activity/masculinity/logic/sympathetic nervous system/strength/right nostril) with the moon (cool/calm/feminity/creativity/parasympathetic nervous system/flexibility/left nostril).
The continuity of deep, even breathing is the heart of the Yoga practice. When breath feeds action, and action feeds posture, each movement becomes gentle, precise and perfectly steady. Yoga is unique because we connect the movement of the body and the fluctuations of the mind to the rhythm of our breath. Connecting the mind, body and breath helps us to direct our attention inward.
Each pose or breathing exercise has specific purposes and benefits ranging from improving circulation, regulating digestion, enhancing metabolism, improving mood, calming the mind, opening up the chest, increase flexibility/strength, improving range of motion, balance and more.
Yoga becomes truly useful when you can translate this attention and observation into all areas
of your life. Learning this will not only equip you on the yoga mat but in other areas of your life and with all forms of exercise to practice safely and with optimum benefits for you.
Within Hatha Yoga (posture based style Yoga) there are several popular styles, just naming the main ones here, there are many more styles evolving yearly as Yoga's popularity rises:
- Hatha - gentle introduction to poses
- Restorative - slow, healing seguence
- Ashtanga Vinyasa - fast paced, dynamic, physically demanding, set series of postures
- Yin - fewer postures in the class held for longer period of time
- Iyengar - focus is detailed alignment, using several props like blocks, belts, blankets
- Vinyasa - fluid, dynamic, poses held for a short time, we are flowing from one pose to the other
- Hot - postures are practiced in a heated room
- Bikram - series of 26 poses practiced in a heated room
- Power - Ashtanga Vinyasa based, dynamic, but not following the sets exactly
- Kundalini - based on Yogi Bhajan's teachings, most spiritual practice, using Mantras
My personal teaching style
I have studied comprehensive Ayurveda, Yoga Teacher Training & Yoga Therapy courses, including all 8 limbs of Yoga. Within the Hatha Yoga styles I studied and practice Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Vinyasa Flow, Hatha Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Yin Yoga and Kundalini Yoga.
I teach all of these Hatha Yoga styles, depending on what the person I am teaching requires to find balance, and include other branches of the 8 limbs as well like breathing techniques, sense withdrawal, concentration techniques and meditation.
I include the subtle practices of Mantras (a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation), Mudras (healing hand positions 'the Yoga of the hands') and Chakras (energy centers in the body) balancing in my classes.
I also incorporate Ayurveda, the sister science of Yoga into my classes. Ayurveda is a a comprehensive health system dedicated to the longevity and quality of life.