Below is our three pillars for establishing yoga foundation, its how we approach our practice and teachings.
Body Mind & Spirit
You have heard people talk about the connection between the mind, body, and spirit. Many people have a hazy interpretation of what it means, but it simply pertains to an individual’s mental, physical, and emotional/spiritual health. The word “yoga” means “to yoke” or “to unite”, as in to unite the body, mind and spirit. Yoga originated in ancient India as physical, mental and spiritual practices.
As yoga teaches us, the mind, body and spirit are all connected; what we think effects our bodies and what our bodies do effects our minds. Yoga postures are just as important as other aspects of yoga, such as meditation, breathing, truth, or compassion, and all of these things lead to a deeper interconnection and unification the mind, body and spirit.
Asana and Pranayama Practices
The Core of Yoga
Whatever level you are at, this page is here to serve you. If you are a beginner this is a great place to start. Below is some information that can help you develop a yoga base so that you can feel emotionally and mentally equipped on your journey.
Of course, we can’t go into a great detail here about meditation because the subject of meditation is so vast and deep. To understand meditation and its relationship to yoga better, you must get yourself familiar with its Hindu roots, which go back to 1500 BCE. During our classes we will certainly touch up yoga history, philosophy, meditation, and all other subjects that are apart of the yoga practice.
Here are a few things you will learn during meditation:
- Turning inward
- Cultivate still and quite mind
- Paying attention to your body
- Focus and awareness
Overall we call it mental hygiene. You can actually start now, by sitting still for next fifteen minutes and letting thoughts flow as you focus on your breath.
Why Yogic breathing is so important and what you can expect during class
Pranayama is made up of two parts, where “prana” means “life breath” and “yama” means “control”. Yoga gives us a chance to learn how to breathe correctly or essentially “control breathing”. Oxygen can be described as one of our most essential needs. We can live without food for about 21 days, without water for 7 days and only 3 minutes without oxygen and breathing. But statistically, not many people know how to breathe for health benefits and with full efficiency.
Most of us haven’t developed a blood stream that is fully oxygenated which means we can’t provide a sufficient amount of energy. One way to stimulate deeper breathing and oxygen, is to do vigorous physical exercise like running. The other way is Pranayma. Practice of pranayama will strengthen respiratory muscles, make lungs more efficient, will increase bodily vitality, will purify the blood and calm the nervous system. On the emotional level breathing exercises will clear the channels and allow for effortless exchange of your personal energy with the energy of the universe.
We will be implementing breathing in all of our practices. If you are reading this now, try Bhasrtrika –Below’s Breath, this is an energizing and cleansing breathing exercise (however, discontinue if you feel light headed during the process): Sit straight on the chair and relax your shoulders. After a few deep breaths, forcefully fully exhale, and then forcefully fully inhale through your nose. Continue at the rate one second per cycle. Start with about ten rounds.
“For breath is life, and you will breathe well you will love long on earth “
– Sanskrit Proverb
Our relationship to the sun and moon, heat and cold, and changing of the season will be factored into the asanas we practice in the class. Also, some poses are energizing, some balancing and some are calming. Energizing poses like Sun Salutations create heat in your body, so we will practice them at room temperature. It is all about creating a balance. If you are brand new to yoga there are certain postures that we will be using in most of our classes. (It is nearly impossible to narrow down asanas as there are over 300 available asanas and variation’s). Here are our top 6 that we will be practicing nearly every class.
Adhra Padmasana – Seated Half Lotus
Adra means “half”; Padma means “lotus”; asana means “pose”
Over the centuries, the lotus symbolized enlightenment, detachment, cosmic renewal and rebirth, purity, beauty, spiritual and material wealth, and much more. Many Hindu and ancient Egypt ditties are depicted sitting in this position. The Seated Lotus was mentioned at the first time in 200CE in the Yoga Sutra. The pose increases circulation in the lumbar spine, tones the abdominal organs, strengthen the ankles and legs, and increases flexibility in the hips (Avoid practicing this pose if you have a recent or chronic injury to the knees, ankles, or hips)
From sitting crossed-legged, take the left foot and draw it into the hip of the opposite leg, and leave it resting on the thigh.
Uttanasana – Standing Forward Bend
Ut means intense; tan means to stretch or extend
Uttanasana is relatively new and there are no mentions of this pose in classic yoga texts. It was first documented in Mysore, India, in the 19th century in the Hindu text titled Shri Tattva Nidhi. The pose is related to “hands to feet pose” per ancient writings. Utanasanna pose relieves stress and mild depression, stimulates abdominal organs including liver and kidney, stretches hamstrings, calves, hips and gluteal muscle, reduces fatigue and increases alertness. (Avoid practicing this pose if you have high or low blood pressure, as it can negatively affect your blood pressure and lead to serious injury. In addition, do not practice this pose if you are pregnant).
Stand and fold your arms loosely in front or you. Exhale and bend forward from the hips.
Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward facing dog
Adhas meaning “down”; Mukha meaning “face”; svana meaning “dog”
Adho Mukha Svansana is one of the foundational yoga asanas and is a part of the Sun Salutation series in yoga. It requires upper body strength and activates a number of chakras. It is a modern yoga pose and not found anywhere before the 1800’s. It builds strength in arms, legs, and shoulders, it helps with respiratory, sinus, allergies, it rejuvenates the spine, and prevents osteoporosis. (Avoid practicing if you are pregnant or if you have serious back and wrist injury).
Sarvangasana – Shoulder stand
Sarva means “supported”; anga mean “limb” or ‘body part”
Sarvangasana, also a modern pose and can be found in Krishnamacharya’s book, Yoga Makaranda in 1934. However it is the same pose at Viparita Karani mentioned in the 15th century Hatha Yoga Pradipika, so it has been around for centuries. It relieves stress, increases flexibility of the spinal cord, treats insomnia, treats hypertension, speeds up metabolism function and promotes weight loss. It also prevents and helps to heal thyroid problems by allowing blood flow to the thyroid gland.
Lay down, bring the elbows closer to the torso, press down with the arms and curl the body upward. Bend the elbows and bring the palms of the hands flat against your back.
Savasana – corpse pose
Literally means corpse; also spelled Shavasana or Shivasana
Savasana is considered the most important and most difficult pose and traditionally lasts for about half an hour. In India, meditating on death is part of a cultural practice and it helps to come to terms with death which is a part of life. The pose represent surrender to the unknown. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika lists savasana as being among “the 15 most important asanas adopted by such great Yogis as Vasistha and Matsyendra”. It relaxes your central nervous system, helps relieve stress, decreases beta brain waves, reduces insomnia and fatigue, helps relive depression, lowers heart rate and evens out the body.
Lay down on your back, arms and legs should be spread at around 45 degrees, the eyes are shut and the breath is long and deep.
Yogapedia (From variety of sources)
Each term below is a massive topic that can be used to write thousands of essays on. Since we use these terms in class all the time, here are a few brief explanations. Unfortunately, what you see below is not a 100 % complete description and we will be talking about it more in class. If you are interested we can always recommend supplemental reading material that may provide more detailed descriptions and terms.
Asana – literally means “to sit and be”. In the ancient times asana referred to the platform used to sit on during meditation. Later, in about CE 200 in the Yoga Sutras, the meaning became “physical posture”. As a result, asana also has spiritual belief- it promotes inner stability and fosters a quiet, reflective mind.
Chakra –In traditional yoga the chakras are believed to be the centers of life force energy (prana) in the body. Chakras are part of your subtle body that you can’t see or touch. The body contains seven major chakras. When chakras are blocked, it triggers physical, mental and emotional imbalances that manifest in the form of poor digestion, anxiety and much more.
Drishti –(view or gaze) is a specific point you choose to concentrate on during mediation or while practicing asanas. It comes from the root drsh which means “to perceive”. Your dristi can be anything from your nose to a dot on your yoga mat. It will help you build your mental muscles and concentration.
Mantra – Mantra’s meaning is a “tool of thought” and it consists of two parts: the root word man, which relates to thought, and the suffix -tra, which refers to tools or instruments. Each mantra has its own sound and vibration and it is believed there are about 70 million mantras. When you chant mantras, your body vibrates within the frequency of that mantra.
Namaste – namah translates to “salutation,” and te translates “to you.” So namaste translates to “salutation to you.” However, some translations say Nama means bow, as means I, and te means you- “I bow to you.” In yoga, the gesture is known as Anjali Mudra. It is practiced by joining the palms and the fingers together (each finger represents different qualities). When you bring your hands together at the center, you are connecting the right and left hemispheres of your brain. This is the yogic process of unification. In yoga, everything is one.
Om – The ancient Hindus believed that “Om” was the first vibration of consciousness. When viewed on a tonoscope, the sound “Om” takes the same shape as one of the most basic geometric forms in our universe, the ellipse. Researchers recorded the sound Om and put it in the computer and found that the frequency of Om is exactly the same as the frequency of earth’s rotation around its own axis. So, Om is more than just a sound – it is the vibration of the universe.
Prana – translated means “vital force” and it moves through your nostrils. The breath is connected to neuro-physiology and it is the first and a last thing we do in our lives. When your left nostril is dominating, the right side of the brain is active (intuition, creativity, left hand control). When the right nostril is dominating, the left side of the brain is active (logic, thinking and right-hand control). To understand prana takes a long time as there are 172,000 prana channels that function in the body.
Pranayama – means controlled breathing. Prana refers to the breath, and yama means to “control” or “hold” something. Breathing techniques should not only be used to introduce more oxygen into the lungs, but to capture outside sources of vital energy and life force. A regular practice of pranayama can supercharge your whole body.
Why is it Important to Study Yoga?
The truth is, there is a hunger inside of us that cannot be satisfied with anything materialistic, through fame, or looks. This can leave us feeling empty. Yoga allows us to become familiar of our essential nature, revealing aspects of our true self.
That’s why we need to study yoga, it helps us connect to what is deeper inside of us, that is not taught in school or by our environment. Whether you are a beginner or you are looking to deepen your understanding, we would love to be a part of your journey.