What is Yoga?
Yoga means union/ intergration/connection and comes from from the Sanskrit word yuj, means to yoke or bind.
Originating in India over 2000 years ago, the practice of yoga is a philosophical and practical path to self-realisation. It's influences are culminated from ancient texts from the Indian Vedas, Upanishads (vedanta) and Tantra.
Raja yoga is the classical system of yoga and is said to have been collated into a series of 196 aphorsims known as the Yoga Sutras, by the Indian sage Patanjali .
Within these, the 8-limbed (astanga) path is descibed as:
Yama - social retraints or ethical values
Niyama - personal observance
Asana - posture (seat)
Pranayama - extention of life-force (breath control)
Pratyahara - withdrawal of the senses (moving attention inwards)
Dharana - concentration
Dhyana - meditation
Samadhi - absorption, liberation
Most yoga classes are based around the asana form of the practice known as Modern Postural Yoga (MPY) and there are many physical benefits to be felt.
However, without incorporating the essence of the 8 Limbed Yogic Path, much of the subtle inter-connected benefits in the emotional, mental and spiritual bodies are lost. The practice could then be seen as just 'stretching'.
To embody the fullest holistic intention of yoga, we must engage in the practice through the whole of ourselves, integrating body, breath, and mind. Over time with practice, this enhances our health and well-being on all level and provides a path to greater awareness to the Truth of our Being.
Benefits of Yoga
Flexibility, joint mobility and strength
Improved respiration, energy and vitality
Greater body awareness
Self - connection and confidence
Strengthens the immune system
Reduces stress and promotes relaxation
Creates mental clarity and calmness
Centres a busy mind
Enhances spiritual connection
Realisation of the body, mind and spirit as one
Vrksasana or Tree Posture
Great for strengthening the ankles and legs & by balancing on one foot, the feet themselves have to work to stabilise and provide support upwards. This benefits daily life movement such as walking.
Balancing postures draw forth a focusing attitude to maintain the balance, however, if the mind gets involved, getting frustrated or impatient, we often find we 'loose balance'. Interesting how this applies to daily life!
The Yogi draws forth relaxed attention. If one loses balance, that's ok, just breathe, steady your gaze(dristhi), let go of the future outcome & return to the ever present, present moment.
Connect with your hips - release tension and bring awareness
1. Standing pigeon, with added focus of balancing (steady, soft gaze ahead)
2. Lying pigeon (put a blanket or block under your head if you feel it tipping back)
3. Cobblers posture (baddhakonasana) bringing the soles of the feet together. Sit up on a blanket or block if you feel lower back collapsing.
Go easy & mindfully, shift your awareness inwards (pratyahara), focus on your breath (relaxes body & mind). Allow any intuitive movements within the postures to arise (listening & responding) that help absorb your body mind & spirit into the felt sensations.
Purvottanasana means 'Intense East Stretch'
Opens the front body, strengthens the back body, shoulders and wrists.
A strong posture.
Don't forget to breathe 💗