What is Yoga?
No doubt you have all heard about the wonderful health benefits of yoga and how good it makes you feel and how wonderful the stretches are, but yoga is so much more than just stretches and the latest fitness craze.
Yoga is a science of life and dates back some
6-7000 years. It is not a religion but a spiritual tradition from India that deals with universal truths. The word Yoga translated from Sanskrit means “Union” or “Discipline”. Yoga is a system of physical, mental and spiritual development that asks for us to unite the body, mind and spirit through its practices bringing balance to all aspects of our being in order to achieve a state of oneness with the universe. A lifestyle choice by many, the timeless philosophies of yoga can be incorporated into any belief system and can be learnt by anyone irrespective of age, sex, culture or religion.
The word asana is translated as posture. Each class incorporates classical yoga postures and fluid movement to enable the body to move through both a static and dynamic form all of which are properly co-ordinated with the breath. You will be invited to move your spine into forward, backward, lateral and twisting movements and encouraged to work with great awareness of your body together with encouragement to challenge yourselves safely.
Pranayama is the foundation of a Hatha Yoga practice, providing a valuable instrument for releasing tension, reducing stress and moving into tranquility. It is the singular most important aspect of yoga as these breathing practices purify the subtle energies flowing through the body and are an effective tool to calm, energise, harmonise and tranquilise the body and mind, improving mental clarity and concentration. All of the asanas practiced are co-ordinated with the breath and time is given in class to purely focus on developing a variety of pranayama practices.
Meditation and Relaxation
The ancient yogis practiced meditation to join their inner spirit with the spirit of the universe. If they achieved this unity, often after many years of practice, they became enlightened. All of the yoga postures that we carry out today were originally devised to prepare the body to sit perfectly still for long periods in meditation. At the end of each class there is quiet time to allow the body to let go of everything and simply rest in the natural state of the breath, this state being unforced, relaxed and slowly rhythmic.
Yoga is so much more than moving your body into seemingly contortionist shapes and acrobatic positions. The yoga postures do strengthen, build stamina, tone and bring flexibility to the body but by combining the postures with breath work, relaxation and meditation there are many, many more benefits of yoga including:
- Stress reduction
- Improved posture
- Strength from the larger skeletal to the finest intrinsic muscles within the body
- Flexibility and openness
- Improved concentration, clarity of mind
- Improved energy and an enhanced sense of well-being
The list goes on, the practice of yoga can be a transformation, and as you practice Yoga, you start to feel better not only on the outside but on the inside too. You begin to trust your own judgement, to cope with life’s troubles much more easily and gradually you develop your own unique potential. The inspiration and enjoyment of learning about your body will grow and grow and you will start to observe changes in yourself after just one lesson.