What is Yoga?
Yoga means union, to yoke together: of the conscious with the unconscious, of the mind, body and spirit with the Divine, of the individual with the world, and while this refers to a certain state of consciousness both individual and Universal, it is also a method to help one reach that goal.
The circular truth through out is that in seeking, we engage the ego and that ultimately all methods must be dropped. But for some people, they are helpful. Yoga is one of the many ways of balancing mind, body and spirit and attuning to existence.
Based in the teachings of Swami Sivananda, Swami Vishnudevananda summarized the yoga philosophy in 5 principles or the Five Points of Yoga which make the complex teachings of yoga easier to understand:
FIVE POINTS OF YOGA
- Proper Exercise (Asanas)– Yoga poses help develop a strong, healthy body by enhancing flexibility and improving circulation.
- Proper Breathing (Pranayama)– Deep, conscious breathing reduces stress and many diseases.
- Proper Relaxation– Helps keep the body from going into overload mode, easing worry and fatigue.
- Proper Diet– Eating simple, local, healthy foods that are easy to digest notably have a positive effect on the mind and body, as well as the environment and other living beings.
- Positive Thinking (Vedanta) and Meditation (Dhyana)– These are the true keys to achieving peace of mind and eliminating negativity in our lives.
FOUR PATHS OF YOGA
There are also many paths of yoga. Four of the most practiced are :
Karma Yoga (also known as the yoga of action) teaches to act without egoist expectations in all endeavours of daily life ~ home, work, school. It is a good path with someone who is outgoing and enjoys a certain sense of spiritual activism to help others.
Bhakti Yoga (also known as the path of devotion) is a good path for someone with an emotional nature and enjoys prayer, worship and seeking God through unconditionally loving others. The rise of kirtan or singing/chanting the names of God is a sure sign that Bhakti Yoga is a growing path around the world.
Raja Yoga (also known as the Science of the mind) is the path that takes us on a comprehensive journey to understanding our mind and thoughts. Through mental control, we are able to gain control of the physical body and the life force energy known as prana. This is a good path for those who are interested in meditation and its effects on the mind.
Jnana Yoga (also known as the yoga of knowledge) is considered a good path for those with strong intellectual tendencies as it requires great strength of will and mind. Using Vedanta as a vehicle, the inquiry into the individual nature is the key to this difficult path. It is best undertaken after some of the lessons of the other paths have been well understood in order to move along towards self-realization or profound spiritual awakening.
My own personal journey with yoga started over ten years ago, over time becoming a consistent part of my life. It has evolved into a personal embodiment practice that is fed through continuing practice and study of yoga itself, but added to by studies in somatics and BCST.
Yoga is one of the many paths that can help reunite us with the health and balance in our mind and body. I feel that the balance and depth gained permits us to both learn and engage more deeply with life and develop compassion and presence.
We will work to develop your yoga practice and lifestyle. I am here to support you to create a life that helps you to feel more in tune with your own personal rhythm and heart’s devotion. This could mean many things from physical asana, meditation and pranayama, creating a more nourishing daily routine, addressing dietary issues, stress reduction through guided visualisation and embodied practices or finding a way to be involved in service work or more in touch with nature or your community. In class we can develop a personal asana and meditation practice that you can do daily, and also look at ways to practice and integrate yoga philosophy and principles into your daily life.
Beginner’s classes are a four to eight week series, gradually building on themselves until you are able to attend a full Sivanada class. We will work towards practicing the standard Sivanada asana sequence, pranayama, meditation and relaxation.
Cost of Yoga Classes
Group sessions (up to ten people): 12-18$ (1 ½ hours).
Individual sessions: 45$ (1 ½ hours).