Asana is just one small part of what Yoga can really give us – but it’s an important part. It provides a stable support on our journey to greater freedom.
Freedom from restrictions, obstacles, addictions, disease, unconscious conditionings and limiting self-beliefs.
YOGA AND ASANA
The physical practice has to be a balanced approach of movement and stillness, flexibility and strength, inhale and exhale. It needs to be both linear and non-linear, masculine and feminine, internal and external, to be truly healing and transformative.
In our practice, we integrate the philosophies of the Vedas, using the system of Patanjali’s eight-limbed practice – Ashtanga Yoga.
In this system, Asana is only one of eight parts of the practice – but it is the one we most often start with. Through our Asana practice, we use our body to dive into the deep ocean of our Self, with the steady waves of our breath as guidance. When we emerge again in the end, we feel blissful and whole.
And with steady practice, this feeling of bliss and wholeness can spread out into our daily lives.
True happiness sometimes simply begins on a Yoga mat.
The Sanskrit word “Vinyasa” means “to place in a special way”. It is often translated with “ritual”. It refers the the “ritualised” practice of synchronisation between movement and breath. A vinyasa class consists of a sequence of postures that flow gracefully into one another, creating a harmonious play between movement and stillness, inhale and exhale, strength and flexibility, contraction and expansion, dynamic effort and relaxation. It provides a harmonious relationship of breath, body and mind, which, with steady repetition, becomes an innate pattern that can be helpful in finding harmony and grace in daily life.
In the uniting of opposing forces (Yoga = Union), we will ultimately experience the blissful state that results from being in complete harmony with our authentic self.
Sequences are practiced steadily for a long time, while changes are made gradually and according to the needs of the practitioner. Even in a group class setting, postures may be chosen according to common, contemporary issues caused by an increasingly seated lifestyle. The aim is always for Yoga to unfold its true potential as a deeply healing and transformational practice.
Ashtanga (Ashtanga = eight, Ansa = limb) refers to the eight step program to achieving absolute peace of mind as described by the ancient sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra.
In our practice, we try to maintain a mindful, present moment awareness while we work on postures and breath control. Although the physical practice can be challenging, it is the state of moving meditation we aim to enter into, that makes it “Ashtanga Yoga”.
The eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga are
1. Yama (mindfully living in harmony with our surroundings)
2. Niyama (mindfully living in harmony with one’s self)
3. Asana (Posture practice)
4. Pranayama (Breath control)
5. Pratyahara (cultivating an interal awareness)
6. Dharana (Concentration)
7. Dhyana (Meditation)
8. Samadhi (being at complete, blissful peace with one’s self and the world)
All styles of Yoga typically offered these days are based on the methods of Hatha Yoga. It means “forceful” Yoga, or the “Union of Sun and Moon”, which refers mostly to the physiological energies flowing through our Nadis, or energy channels. We can think of it as a practice for the nervous system – balancing the right and left side of the brain, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, although it is much more than that. It is a strongly physical discipline that optimises the functions of our body and mind. Through its practice, we experience greater physical fitness, balance and health. It is the underlying method for most other styles of Posture (Asana) based Yoga.
A class purely based on Hatha Yoga typically focuses on single postures and how to perform them.
Yin Yoga is a very slow and meditative style of Yoga infuenced by eastern concepts on Yin/Yang theories and the Meridians of the body. It gives great benefits on different levels:
Physically, it strengthens and releases tight or scarred connective tissue and benefits people with mobility/flexibility issues, joint stiffness, arthritis and tightness from old injuries or sports.
Energetically, it works on the meridians of the body in a similar way as Shiatsu or Acupuncture would.
And because each posture is held for a long time (using gravity and props), the practice is deeply meditative, using traditional techniques of mindfulness of body, breath and mind.
WHAT IS YOGA AND HOW CAN IT TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE?
The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word Yuj, meaning “to yolk” or “to unite”. Yoga refers to the union between body, mind and our innermost self.
If we can bring harmony and balance into all of our layers of being, we can optimise the functioning of our bodies and minds and align ourselves with the natural flow of the universe, thus bringing ease and abundance into our lives.
Through Yoga practice, we can achieve a state of equilibrium by re-setting our energy centres, nervous and circulatory system, musculoskeletal system and bring peace and wellbeing to our mind.
It all starts with some simple postures and breath-work. But in the end, it will transform your life.