What is Yoga
Since the beginning of times we humans have believed that we are spiritual as well as physical beings. We wondered what is the purpose of life and why is the eternal spirit housed in a temporal body. Yoga, over 5000 years old practice that originated in India, deals with these questions. In old times this group of spiritual practices was past down through master to disciple. Yogic knowledge was held sacred and kept secret from the masses. In the past century the manner of yogic transmittance has changed and today the teachings are openly presented, many say because today we need yoga more than ever before. The idea of yogic philosophy is that the physical and the spiritual aspects of our being cannot be separated. Yoga first deals with “the tangible” – it makes a healthier body, through which more peaceful mind and a deeper understanding of the nature of life is attained. With yoga we learn how to withdraw from the chaos of the world when needed and find a quiet space within. Yoga is a path of self-discovery.
Why do we do Yoga
Yoga is an experience rather than just a philosophy. Most people begin yoga to improve the health of the physical body. Improved health comes about through increased awareness of bodily functions. Strength, focus, balance, mobility and flexibility are achieved through yogic postures (asana) and poisonous substances and waste products are eliminated from the body. Increased circulation of blood, oxygen and nerve energy make the muscular, respiratory, circulatory, digestive, eliminative, reproductive, endocrine, and nervous systems become more efficient. We also begin to understand how breath and posture affect our mental process. This brings us to the second most important reason people become involved in yoga practice, and that is to calm the mind. Mental and emotional tension is stored in a body resulting in muscular tension, pain, and disease. Mental anxiety and negative emotions must somehow find a channel of release if we want to feel peaceful. Through the postures (asana) and breathing techniques of yoga (pranayama) mental and emotional tension can be discharged, thus peace of mind becomes more attainable. The third reason for yoga involvement is to increase spiritual awareness. With a disciplined and tactical meditation practice the expansion of consciousness is achieved and we can go beyond the limited perspective and reach direct awareness of universal laws, archetypal imagery, and cosmic truths. Yoga should not be, however, confused with religion. Yoga is a system of thought and has no religious tradition. Yoga is practiced as a means to achieve physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual alignment with the cosmic harmony of life.
Different styles of Hatha Yoga
Founded by John Friend in 1997, Anusara Yoga is a powerful hatha yoga system that unifies a life-affirming Tantric philosophy of intrinsic Goodness with Universal Principles of Alignment™ that underlie all postures. Anusara embodies an uplifting philosophy, epitomized by a "celebration of the heart," that looks for the good in all people and all things. Students of all levels of ability and yoga experience are honored for their unique differences. Anusara class starts with the invocation and a theme that sets the intention for the class. Dynamic asana practice follows with emphasis on alignment and opening of the heart. Anusara Yoga is an elegant system of alignment principles and non-dual philosophy and a community of highly trained teachers and fun-loving students.
‘Vinyasa Krama Yoga' is the art of sequencing and the skill of moving in and out of postures while connecting movement to breath. It is a creative, fluid and physically challenging practice. There is no single philosophy or sequence that is followed and the poses can be arranged differently depending on the need or mood of the class. This style allows for a lot of variety, but will almost certainly include Sun Salutations. The whole class is done in a breath-synchronized movement, which is why it is often referred to as "flow" yoga. Ujjayi pranayama (victory breath) is the breathing method used in Vinyasa Yoga classes, and even though other forms of pranayama might be used, ujjayi is the continuous rhythmic breath that builds heat and provides a mantra of ocean sound to enhance the fluid nature of the practice. Flowing yoga practice is often referred to as moving meditation because of the continuous awareness of the breath that develops focus and concentration, drawing us deeper into our internal sensations.
This ancient form of yoga had not previously been taught to the public, until Yogi Bhajan in 1969 introduced it to a broader population as he felt that time had come for everyone to enjoy its benefits. Kundalini Yoga is the yoga of the soul. It offers the tools we need to be present in every moment and live a balanced life, with creative power and health. It is ideal for busy people in need of increased vitality, emotional balance, mental clarity and effectiveness in everyday life. The term kundalini is refered to intact energy (prana) at the base of the spine that can be drawn up through the body to awaken each of the seven chakras. A Kundalini Yoga class includes breathing techniques (pranayama) that intensify the effects of the poses, bodily exercise (kriya) done in a rapid repetitive movement in a particular way to awaken the energy in the lower body and meditations with mantras. The class is accompanied by music specifically designed for uplifting the soul and realigning the body’s systems.
Sivananda Yoga is a classical form of yoga developed by Swami Vishnu Devananda, after his teacher Swami Sivananda. Swami Sivananda was one of the greatest yogis and sages of our time who dedicated his life to the service of humanity and self-realization. Sivananda Yoga focuses on the classic Asana, Pranayama, Relaxation, Proper Diet and positive thinking and Meditation. The practice consists of breathing exercises; twelve basic Yoga poses that increase strength, flexibility, and optimum flow of energy; and deep relaxation or meditation. Sivananda Yoga is recognized internationally as an authority on Hatha and Raja Yoga and it is one of the largest Yoga schools in the world.