WHAT IS YOGA?
Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “Yuj” meaning to yoke, join or unite. It is a both an art and science dedicated to creating union between body, mind and spirit originating in India dating back more than 5000 years ago. Its purpose is to help each one of us achieve our highest potential, experience enduring health and happiness as well as creating a balanced and useful life. Spiritually it can unite the individual with the supreme whatever that meaning holds for the individual. This desire for greater personal freedom, health, long life, and heightened self-understanding gave birth to this system of physical and mental exercises which has since spread throughout the world.
The main objective of Yoga is to assist the practitioner in using the breath and body to create an awareness of ourselves as individual beings that intimately connect to the unified whole of creation. In short it is about making balance and creating equanimity so as to live in peace, good health and harmony with the greater whole. This art of right living was perfected and practiced in India thousands of years ago and the foundations of Yoga philosophy were written down in The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, approximately 200 AD. This sacred text describes the inner workings of the mind and provides an eight-step blueprint for controlling its restlessness so as to enjoying lasting peace.
The core of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is an eight-limbed path that forms the structural framework for Yoga practice. Upon practicing all eight limbs of the path it becomes self-evident that no one element is more important over another and that each is part of a holistic focus which eventually brings completeness to the individual as they find their connectivity to the divine. The most common limbs of Yoga that people are drawn to when starting a Yoga practice is exercise (Asana), breathing (Pranayama), and meditation (Dhyana). Because we are all uniquely individual a person can focus on one branch or more to begin with then move onto other branches as their understanding and practice increases. Union with the Divine (Samadhi) is the ultimate goal that we seek as it brings long lasting inner peace and happiness.
In brief the eight limbs, or steps to Yoga, are as follows:
- Yama : Universal morality
- Niyama : Personal observances
- Asanas : Body postures
- Pranayama : Breathing exercises, and control of prana
- Pratyahara : Control of the senses
- Dharana : Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
- Dhyana : Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
- Samadhi : Union with the Divine
Yoga has been recommended as an adjunct to psychotherapy and standard medical treatments for a number of reasons. Its integration of the mental, physical, and spiritual dimensions of human life is helpful to patients struggling with distorted cognitions or pain syndromes.
The stretching, bending, and balancing involved in the exercises (Asanas) help to align the head and spinal column; stimulate the circulatory system, endocrine glands, and other organs; and keep muscles and joints strong and flexible.
Yoga programs have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and anxiety levels. The breath control exercises (Pranayama) emphasise slow and deep abdominal breathing. They benefit the respiratory system, help to induce a sense of relaxation, and are useful in pain management. Meditation (Dhyana) is an integral part of classical Yoga practice has been shown to strengthen the human immune system.
Although Western medical researchers have been studying Yoga only since the 1970s, clinical trials have demonstrated its effectiveness in treating asthma, osteoarthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, stress-related illnesses including post- traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, mood disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression.
Yoga can also assist in the overall treatment of other diseases (when the body is at a dis-ease) such as cancer, alcohol and drug addiction, infertility, sexual dysfunction, migraines and headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and many many more.
FURTHER BENEFITS INCLUDE:
* Reduced stress/stress management
* Relaxation skills
* Concentration and clarity of mind
* Clear perception and decision-making
* Build strength/tone body
* Improve posture and flexibility
* Create longer, leaner muscles
* Speed up metabolism/lose weight
* Enhance your balance and co-ordination
* Recover from injury and chronic pain
* Improve self-confidence
* Personal productivity
* Have more energy and passion
* Experience a new level of emotional calm and mental clarity
* Open yourself to the process of transformation
* Enjoy life more/increased happiness
USING TECHNIQUES SUCH AS:
* Exercise and stretching (Asana)
* Breathing exercises (Pranayama)
* Relaxation (Yoga Nidra)
* Concentration and meditation (Dhyana)
* Mindfulness and awareness
* Diet and lifestyle
* Self-awareness and introspection
* Positive thinking
* Compassion and opening the heart
* Chakra healing (energy centres of the body)
PRECAUTIONS OF YOGA
Please consult your physician if you have a history of heart disease, severe back injuries, inner ear problems or other difficulties with balance, recent surgery or pregnancy. Generally speaking pregnant women are usually advised to modify their Yoga practice during the first trimester or wait until second trimester.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF YOGA
There are many different types of Yoga but the main forms that Natural Magic teaches are as follows:
Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning “union with God.” The type of Yoga we are most familiar with in the West is undoubtedly Hatha Yoga: ‘Ha’ is Sanskrit for sun and ‘tha’ is moon. Hatha therefore is the bringing together of all existence into a wholeness and unity. Hatha Yoga begins with physical postures–asanas–designed to strengthen the physical body and nervous system.
The spine is strengthened and all internal organs and functions are enhanced. Once these postures, or ‘asanas,’ are mastered (and this can easily require years of daily, regular practice), we begin the practice of pranayama. Pranayama is the practice of regulating one’s breathing. The mind is affected by our breathing and our breathing is affected by our mind. When we are fearful or nervous we take shallow, short breaths. When we are calm and relaxed, we breathe deeply and fully. By recognising this interconnection we can devise ways to make our minds calm and peaceful by slowing down our breathing patterns. This is the essence of pranayama.
The breathing process is lengthened and slowed by a conscious filling of the lungs as fully as possible. This involves a conscious contraction of the stomach muscles, a lengthening of the spine and diaphragm, and a determined effort to opening the lungs to as much air as possible which involves the muscles of the ribs, shoulders and spine.
Once pranayama is mastered (and this, it is said, should never even be attempted without the guidance of a genuine spiritual master) the seeker has gained immense awareness of the wondrous powers within the human frame. The seeker comes to know the universe by knowing the individual’s universe: the body. The same force which guides the galaxies courses through the human frame.
As we breathe in we can feel all of existence coursing through our veins. It is now that the seeker awakens the potentiality of existence, consciousness and delight-bliss lying in un-manifested seed form in the base of the spine. This energy embodies creation, preservation and transformation and is the essence of all.
As this energy rises through the spinal column the psychic energy centers awaken and the human being awakens from finite consciousness into infinite consciousness. There are other paths of Yoga that lead to the same result though through different means
IYENGAR YOGA ( B.K.S IYENGAR – 14/12/1918 – 20/8/2014)
The Iyengar method of Yoga is initially learnt through the in-depth study of asana (posture) and pranayama (breath control).
Iyengar Yoga, named after and developed by B. K. S. Iyengar, is a form of Hatha Yoga that has an emphasis on detail, precision and alignment in the performance of posture (asana) and breath control (pranayama). The development of strength, mobility and stability is gained through the asanas. Mr. Iyengar systematised over 200 classical Yoga Asanas and 14 different types of Pranayamas (with variations of many of them) from the simple to the incredibly difficult. These have been structured and categorised so as to allow a beginner to progress surely and safely from basic postures to the most advanced as they gain flexibility, strength and sensitivity in mind, body and spirit.
Iyengar Yoga often, but not always, made use of props, such as belts, blocks, and blankets, as aids in performing asanas (postures). The props enable students to perform the asanas correctly, minimising the risk of injury or strain, and making the postures accessible to both young and old. Iyengar Yoga is firmly based on the traditional eight limbs of yoga as expounded by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras.
Vinyasa is a Sanskrit term often employed in relation to certain styles of yoga. The term Vinyasa may be broken down into its Sanskritic roots to assist in decoding its meaning. Nyasa denotes “to place” and vi denotes “in a special way. …
You are correct in your observation. Vinyasa has a much broader meaning than just doing Chaturanga-Up Dog-Down Dog. In fact, the classical definition of the word Vinyasa is an important one to know and understand. Vinyasa means a gradual progression or a step-by-step approach that systematically and appropriately takes a student from one point and safely lands them at the next point. It is sometimes described as the “breathing system,” or the union of breath and movement that make up the steps. The word Vinyasa has been popularised and is now used in many Yoga classes to describe the connection of one pose to the next, as in the Sun Salutation which is commonly used in many flow classes.