“Yoga scittia vritti nirodhah” 

Yoga is the control and cessation of thought waves in the mind

YOGA

Yoga comes from a wide range of ancient Indian tradition and is a practical method of bringing connectedness back into our lives. The concept of Yoga, according to the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, states that the goal of Yoga is to still the mind. Through learning how to control and cease the activities of the mind the practitioner is freed from mental attachments and can truly experience the fullness of the present moment. There are different types of Yoga that offer slightly different methods, goals and results.

 

I currently teach Ashtanga, Flow Style classes, Hatha, Restorative Yoga and Yoga Nidra. I specialise in Ashtanga and Flow Style Yoga classes where breath is synchronised with movements and the practice is more dynamic than static, encouraging a raise in the heart rate and a thorough physical workout amongst the many other physiological and therapeutic benefits.

 

Yoga postures can be used remedially to relieve tight muscles and associated aches and tensions; increase mobility, flexibility and circulation; and realign the body. The breathing exercises or Pranayama are also a very important part of any Yogic practice and calm and relax the practitioner.

HATHA YOGA

Hatha simply refers to the practice of physical yoga postures (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama) which help to align and bring peace to the body, mind and spirit and prepare your body for deeper spiritual practices such as meditation. 

The first substantial writing on Hatha yoga was written in the 14th century, in a well-known text called Hatha Yoga Pradipika. It looks in detail at the various elements of this yoga: asana (pose), shatkarma (6 yogic purification techniques for the body), pranayama (breathing techniques), mudra (gesture of the body), bandha (internal body locks), and Samadhi (a deep state of meditative consciousness where the mind becomes still).  The Hatha Yoga Pradipika includes fifteen primary postures, seven of which are seated and eight non-seated, as well as an amalgamation of additional postures, totalling eighty four asanas. This is the first time an asana is being reimagined as something other than a seated position for meditation. There can be hundreds of derived postures from this eighty four asanas. 

According to the original texts, there are three purposes of Hatha yoga:

  1. The total purification of the body

  2. The complete balancing of the physical, mental and energetic fields

  3. The awakening of purer consciousness through which one ultimately connects with the divine by engaging in practices rooted in the physical body.

Hatha yoga, in its origins, is very much tied to tantric practices, seeking spiritual development in the ordinary experiences of life and using the sensuous experience of the body to cultivate the balanced integration of body, mind and spirit. Hatha yoga offers a way to experience this integration along a path involving the specific practices that purify the body, calm the mind, and open the heart.

 

You will probably not build up a sweat in hatha yoga but you will end up leaving the class feeling longer, looser and more relaxed. Unlike other forms of yoga like Ashtanga yoga, Hatha yoga does not focus on the flow of the movement from one pose to the other. Rather, it focuses on each pose independently.

BENEFITS OF HATHA YOGA:

  • Maintaining a healthy body

  • Stress reliever

  • Flow of energy or prana

  • Improves flexibility

  • Builds muscle strength and improves balance

  • Helps you focus

  • Increases blood flow

  • Makes you happier

ASHTANGA YOGA 

Ashtanga yoga is a dynamic and vigorous form of Hatha yoga that was passed down through ancient gurus to Sri Krishnamacharya. He later passed it onto Sri K. Pattabhi Jois who taught and popularized it to thousands of students in Mysore, India. Ashtanga yoga can be recognised to an observer by its use of 'vinyasa', the synchronisation of breath with movement and its energetic, dynamic form. It is more strenuous than other systems of yoga, such as Classical Hatha yoga, however, as already stated, the postures used in Ashtanga yoga originate from Hatha yoga. An Ashtanga class is effective in flushing away non-constructive self-practice habits, such as a wandering mind, losing the connection with the breath, or fidgeting between postures.

PRIMARY SERIES

Ashtanga yoga is a system of yoga that has 6 series of pre-defined sequences of asanas starting with the Primary series. The Primary series is usually challenging for the newcomer. Practitioners can also progress to learn the Secondary series and so forth, where the postures become more advanced and challenging. But the Primary series is a yoga system practitioners can stick with and use for many years or a lifetime.

 

The Primary Series of Ashtanga yoga is known in Old Indian Sanskrit as “Yoga Chikitsa” which means yoga therapy. It is a healing process of cleansing and toning for your body, mind and the senses. The understanding in yoga is that there exists within the body a complex network of energy pathways known as “nadis”. The energy that flows through these nadis is an unseen life force called “prana”. When the nadis get blocked prana cannot flow freely through them and the body, mind and senses become blocked, unbalanced and unhealthy. This yoga practice cleans and clears the nadis allowing prana to flow and energise all of the body. With fewer obstacles to confront, the body, mind and senses are allowed a more fertile environment in which to function thereby operating at the utmost level of efficiency. The postures are arranged in a time-tested sequence designed to specifically align the body and strengthen the nervous system. Many practitioners of Ashtanga yoga have found the Primary Series to be an invaluable tool to assist them in their healing process, whether it is mental or physical. With any healing process you must be patient; allow your practice time to mature and you will see the results!

 

THE FIVE ELEMENTS

Ashtanga yoga combines just five elements: vinyasa (movement and breath), asanas (postures), drishtis (gaze points), bandhas (locks) and ujjayi breath (a breathing technique). Ashtanga yoga begins to lead the practitioner towards enlightenment through starting the eight-fold path through its initial stages of purifying the practitioner.

​BENEFITS OF ASHTANGA YOGA:

        BODY

  • Facilitates faster physical results than other system of yoga: transforms the physical body to become strong, flexible, toned and elongated

  • Creates physical lightness, increasing lean muscle mass and reducing body weight

  • Helps to regulate weight because it maintains a balanced metabolism

  • Stretches muscles lengthways causing fat to be eliminated around the cells, reducing cellulite

  • Increases muscle strength

  • Helps maintain good posture

  • Improves joint movements

  • Increases the health of the spine and the whole nervous system

  • Improves blood circulation and cardio health and improves the productivity of all the bodily organs

  • Improves respiration, energy and vitality releasing energy blockages throughout the body making you look more youthful  

  • Causes the student to physically heat up and sweat out toxins, purifying and re-energising their body

MIND

  • The practitioner learns to control the mind and cease the chatter 

  • The synchronised breathing with movement calms the mind dissolving anxiety 

  • Depression, anxiety and stress are relieved

  • Mental balance, contentment and happiness develop

  • It induces a high level of concentration and mental clarity

SPIRIT

  • Yoga becomes a spiritual practice when there is focus on the breath and mental attachments are forgotten

  • Self-realisation transpires

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