From its ancient roots over 4,000 years ago in the Indus Valley, the West has
embraced this Eastern tradition of Yoga as a union of body-mind-spirit. Yoga
can be called a process of self-development and self-awakening, using these
ancient techniques to improve our physical-emotional-mental health to a place
of integrated harmony and wholeness within oneself and others. The classes
I offer incorporate Yoga + mindfulness practices that help you develop a
greater physical, emotional and mental health, improving our overall
well-being, to promote :
* STRENGTH & FLEXIBILITY
* STRUCTURAL ALIGNMENT & IMPROVED POSTURE
* PROPER FUNCTIONING OF BODY SYSTEMS
* MENTAL WELLNESS
* RELAXATION & REJUVENATION
* BODY-MIND AWARENESS & BALANCE
* EQUANIMITY, INSIGHT & WISDOM
We require all the above to enjoy good health:
Yoga + mindfulness can do this by using the tried & tested techniques and practices of:
Asana (body postures/movements either seated, standing, lying or inverted) done with appropriate breathing; some asana are moving & dynamic stimulating cardiac & skeletal muscle (more Yang); others are held for a longer period of time working at a joint/bone/connective tissues level (more Yin). The goal is not the asana itself but the attributes of the physical fitness that are implied in the ability to assume the body posture. The spine is key to asana. Keeping a strong & flexible back with all the natural curves intact is vital for proper alignment and maintaining a sound body structure.
Breathing naturally and effortlessly for initial centering / awareness, during asana and final relaxation. Pranayama practices (regulated breathing) help to energise or calm the bodymind, steady and improve mental focus, thus deepening the effects of practice.
Relaxation is the antidote to stress - the constant 'over-doing' that makes up our daily lives. To relax is to rest deeply, a state of no movement and no effort, where the brain is quiet and settled. The physiological state of relaxation is characterized by a slower heart rate, metabolism, rate of breathing, brain wave patterns, and lower blood pressure. Through a guided relaxation we provoke the 'relaxation response' and receive all the benefits of the inner healing for bodymind – finding equilibrium and a sense of ease.
Mindfulness Meditation is very simple - but perhaps not easy - it is a
natural unfolding based on 4 foundations of:
Body * Feelings * Thoughts * Things as they are.
It can be broadly defined as:
*Being in the moment;
*Knowing we are in the moment;
*Knowing what is happening in the moment;
*Both around us, within our own mind; and
Through the practices, we cultivate awareness and see thoughts simply as mental events instead of taking them literally. We stop dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, we start living right here in each present moment with an open hearted acceptance of what is. Being more aware of ourselves through our senses, emotions and the mind, we can disengage from the automatic pilot and be more skilful problem-solvers for our inner world. When awareness is cultivated, we are able to recognise at an early stage the times our moods and ruminations takes us into a downward spiral. We open up more to a being mode rather than a constant doing-mode. Mindfulness is intentional, experiential and non-judgemental - as we approach these practices with an attitudinal foundation of:
*Patience *Beginners Mind * Trust * *Non-striving *Acceptance * Letting go
so we can be at peace with our emotions and mental state, reconnect to ourselves and others in a life-affirming way.
How to practice........
Yoga is practised in a non-competitive way, either with others or self. There is usually a varied mix in any one class of: age groups, fitness levels,
yoga experience, male and female. You will be encouraged to work for yourself to your level and pace – no-one is forced to do anything they are
not ready to do, or to keep up with the group. Variations and alternatives can be given to suit individual needs so the practice is more inclusive.
On your part, please work according to how you find yourself, making the right amount of effort – not to much – not too little.
It is more important to be mindful and experience the journey rather than rush to the destination and miss the experience along the way!
So whether you are a complete beginner or more experienced, these classes could be suitable for you - so come along and try for yourself!
The Philosophy & Ethics of Yoga
Yoga philosphy includes writing and commentary from many ancient Indian texts including
the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhavagad Gita, the Yoga Sutras and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Whilst yoga teachers may study these subjects in depth, they are not usually taught in a
regular class. What would influence the yoga teaching are the ethical concepts introduced in
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, which are central to any Hath Yoga practice.
The Sage Patanjali lists 8 stages towards achieiving a higher state of being:
Yama is a set of standards, focusing on how we deal with others: Ahimsa - non-viloence; Satya - truthfulness; Asteya - non-stealing; Brahamacharya - non-profligacy; Aparigraha - non-covetousness
Niyama deals with self-discipline and spiritual observances: Saucha - cleanliness; Samtosa - contentment; Tapas - spiritual discipline; Svadhyaya - inner reflection; Isvara Pranidhana - surrender to a higher being
Asana - through the practice of Asana, we develop control of the limbs and nervous system and the ability to concentrate
Pranayama is generally translated as breath control or breath regulation
Pratyahara is awareness that is shifted away from the five senses, looking inwardly to reach a state of non-attachment
Dharana is concentration upon a single point which helps to deepen a meditational practice
Dhyana is meditation or uninterrupted flow of concentration
Samadhi is when the meditator merges with their point of focus to Oneness, at this stage transcends the Self