atha – y o g a n u s a s a n a m   “Now the practice of Yoga begins.”

 

Yoga means to joke or unite bringing together the mind, body, and breath. Yoga is a system of physical, mental, and spiritual development that originated in India over 5000 years ago. Yoga teaches us to quiet the mind and how to live harmoniously within our lives.  The postures  (asanas), breathing (pranayama), and relaxation enhanced the physical and mental well-being.  The Yoga tradition encourages us to live our lives responsibly and with devotion to the divine of our choice. Yoga is not a religion but it can help deepen and expand your spiritual journey.  Yoga does not require you to have a spiritual path; however, Yoga asks us to live with awareness, integrity, and compassion for all creation.

 

All physical yoga is known as Hatha yoga. Yoga is a healing tool that helps us bring the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects back into balance so that we can feel whole rather than unsettled and fragmented. Hatha (ha-tha) Yoga is about committing to a daily practice that involves ethics/moral behavior, physical postures/asanas, breathing exercises/pranayama along with the 8 limbs of Yoga. The physical postures of Hatha Yoga assist us to become aware, observe, explore, balance, and bring together the body and mind with the breath. With the practice of the physical postures, health is reclaimed and maintained, the emotions are stabilized and the mind becomes more peaceful. Yoga gives us the opportunity to express ourselves from the inside out. Yoga is a journey of self-discovery.

 

In the Yoga Sutras it is said, “We are not here to change ourselves. We are here to meet ourselves where we are.”   So we start from where you are and go from there!

 

Questions:

Do I have to be flexible to do Yoga?

No. Yoga creates flexibility. It is not required that you already be limber in order to participate. Yoga is a science of mind as well as body.

 

What should I wear?

Wear comfortable workout clothes as shorts, footless tights, leggings, sweatpants, sleeveless tank, tee shirt, no shoes or socks.  Yoga is done in bare feet!

 

What type of physical condition do I need to be in to practice Yoga?

Anyone can practice the physical aspects (asanas) of yoga. There is a beginning posture (asana) for everyone. Always check with your physician before beginning an exercise program, especially if you have any condition or injury. Talk to your teacher to see what classes maybe the best fit for you. We want your practice to be appropriate and healing for your body.

 

How often do I need to practice yoga?

If you work consistently with a balanced set of postures, progress will be realized on many fronts; mentally, physically, spiritually, some of them unexpected. All you need is commitment plus a playful sense of observation and experimentation.

 

Do I need a Yoga Mat?

Yoga is done on a mat using props as: blocks, belts, and bolsters for assistance.  The Anjali Yoga Room supplies all props for classes except Hot Yoga; however, the more you do Yoga you may want to have your own props!

 

Benefits of Yoga:

The physiological benefits of yoga are numerous! Researchers have concluded that Yoga can be more beneficial than regular exercise.  The many benefits may include:

  • Increased stamina and endurance
  • Increased energy
  • Increased immunity
  • Improvement in sleep patterns
  • Improved balance
  • Decrease in pain levels
  • Improves physical strength
  • Decrease pulse and respiratory rate
  • Decrease in blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular improvement
  • Improves respiratory
  • Improves gastrointestinal
  • Endocrinal improvement
  • Increase in flexibility and joint efficiency
  • Improvement in eye-hand co-ordination
  • Improved reactive responses

 

The psychological benefits to yoga include:

  • Mood improvement
  • Improvement in overall well being
  • Decrease in anxiety and depression
  • Improved concentration levels
  • Improved attention span
  • Improved memory
  • Improved cognition
  • Improved perception

 

Yoga even provides a wide range of bio-chemical improvements, which can help with all round physical and mental health. These include:

  • Decrease in glucose levels
  • Decrease in sodium levels
  • Decrease in cholesterol levels
  • Increase ion thyroxin
  • Increase on vitamin C levels
  • Decrease in white cell count
  • Increase in Hemoglobin
  • Decrease in triglycerides

There are so many benefits to yoga that you could find yourself enjoying improvement on many levels.  It’s possible that the physical, mental and biochemical improvements could affect one another.  The biochemical improvement can help to improve a physiological issue, which in turn can help with a psychological problem.

Yoga is thought to be very beneficial to those suffering with everyday stress, anxiety, and depression, which may show vast improvements in focus, outlook, and attitude. Yoga may bring a sense of balance and calm the mind, helping us to better handle emotions. Sleeplessness may also be a side effect of stress, and Yoga may assist with improving sleep. This may itself help to start reducing stress levels.

Yoga maybe appropriate for those who are not used to exercise as well as those who are fit. Everyone can enjoy the physical and emotional benefits of yoga. You will find that you can focus much better, feel calmer and more collected, and may adopt a new mental attitude that allows you to handle stress rather than become consumed by it. You will also find that stress related problems such as sleep problems or headaches can be alleviated.

Yoga enables you to focus your mind on relaxation and attitude. After a yoga session, you may find more energized, calmer, and generally you’ll feel good about yourself. Both research and testimony prove that Yoga can help those suffering with stress as we’ll as many other ailments, and many of these benefits can far exceed those of standard exercise.

It is said in Yoga philosophy, “Yoga is not taught it is remembered.”

 

Eight Limbs of Yoga

Represent the path towards the “Quest of the Soul”

Yama – commitment to universal social/moral restraints, practices for the living harmoniously in Society
Niyama – self-purification through discipline, practices of the heart,  qualities to be cultivated individually to live a happy joyful life,  personal internal observations
Asana – posture
Pranayama – mindful – rhythmic control of the breath
Pratyahara – turning inward, withdrawal of the senses, withdrawal and emancipation of the mind from the domination of the senses and exterior objects
Dharana – concentration
Dhyana – meditation
Samadhi – blissful union of self w the Divine, a state of super-consciousness
 –
Yama and Niyama control the Yogi’s passions and emotions and keep in harmony with others.  Asanas keep the body healthy and strong and in harmony with nature.  Finally, the Yogi becomes free of body consciousness.  Conquering the body and renders it a fit vehicle for the soul.  These three limbs represent bahiranga sadhana, the outward quests.  These limbs are also considered the physical pursuits.
The next two stages, Pranayama and Pratyahara, teach the Yogi to regulate the breathing, and control the mind.  This helps to free the senses from attachments and objects of desire.  These two limbs represent the antaranga sadhana, the inner quests.  These limbs are
considered the mental pursuits.
Dharana , Dhyana, and Samadhi take the yogi to the innermost corners of the soul.  The Yogi does not look towards heaven to find God.  The yogi knows that God is within, known as the Antaratma, the Inner Self.  The last three stages keep the Yogi find harmony and the True Self. These three limbs are called antaratma sadhana, the quest of the soul.  These limbs are  considered the spiritual pursuits.

Five Yamas:

Ahimsa  – non-violence
Satya – honesty and truthfulness
Asteya – non-stealing
Brahmacharya – moderation and dedication to the understanding of Divinity -consistent responsibility, moderation self control, self respiect and love regarding ones creative/procreative energies
Aparigraha –  non hoarding, non greed, non-covetousness

Five Niyamas :

Saucha – purity internally and externally
Santosa – contentment, reducing desires, becoming cheerful and creating balance of mind
Tapas – zeal, fire-self discipline,  discipline in the mind and body and directing the mind towards the self within
Svadhyaya – self-study the source of our actions, learn and search for truth and self-realization
Isvara Pranidhana – devotion, surrendering to God, the Divine of your choice, and/or the powers that be and abiding to the greater will
References:  Light on Yoga and  Light on the Yoga Sutras , BKS  Iyengar

The  8  Limbs of  Yoga  &  the  Chakras:  (simply said) 

1st Limb of Yoga – Yama-roots/ ethical standards and how we conduct ourselves in life
1st Chakra-tailbone/foundation/red

2nd Limb of Yoga – Niyama-trunk- Self-discipline and spiritual observances

2nd Chakra-sacrum/sexual-orange

3rd Limb of Yoga – Asana/postures-branches
3rd Chakra-solar plexus/emotions/yellow
4th Limb of Yoga – Pranayama/breath-leaves
4th Chakra-heart/love/green
5th Limb of Yoga – Pratyahara/senses-bark
5th Chakra-throat/communication/blue
6th Limb of Yoga  – Dharana/focus-concentration
6th Chakra-3rd eye/intuition/indigo
7th Limb of Yoga – Dhyana/meditation-fruit
7th Chakra- crown/spiritual/purple

8th Limb of Yoga –  Samadhi/ Bliss-universal union-Divine-fruit

8th Chakra-cosmic connection/white-crystal

 

Gunas: 

What are Gunas?  Three different energies found in all nature.

Rajastic: – Rajas – active force, overstimulation, determination, overwhelming, passion, desire, violence

Tamastic: – Tamas – passive, dull, muddy,  lazy,  inertia, sleep

Satvic:  – Sattva  – quality of love, light, peace, balance.