WELCOME! Give yourself a chance to fit something new into your life. Allow your body to explore new motions, new sensations. Expect changes, but not necessarily the ones you are seeking. Expect frustrations. Keep with it and be patient; it takes time to create new habits. Adding Yoga to your life means restructuring your day, your body and your mind. Attending classes will help you along the way, but practising at home will instill the benefits more completely. Begin slowly......five minutes a day of conscious breathing, 15 - 20 minutes of postures (asanas) and 5 - 10 minutes of relaxation will change your life!
What is Yoga?
Yoga is the oldest self-improvement system in the world. It originated in India about five thousand years ago as a path to spiritual enlightenment. It has evolved into a path to revitalize the body, mind and spirit. Although it is more than physical activity most North Americans think of yoga as exercise. As a physical practice it is a non-competitive way to move the body, a way to create positive body image and to increase flexibility and strength. The asanas or postures work the whole person. They increase the flexibility of the muscles and joints; lengthen the spine; tone the internal organs, nerves and glands; release stress; and to ease physical and emotional blocks held within the body and mind.
Complete Yoga practice includes Pranayama, which has come to mean Yogic breathing but is really the expansion and also harnessing of the Prana or the life force. Pranayama is a powerful practice as it can intensify all other aspects of the Yoga practice as it moves through the body.
Mindful breathing and other focusing aids during asana practice and meditation help instill the powerful benefits of yoga.
Yoga is more than a good stretch! With the practice of Yoga day-to-day life becomes easier; energy increases and at the same time the busy-ness of the mind eases.
Asana – yoga posture
Prana – life force
Pranayama – moving the energy, life force, prana, Qi, Chi etc. through the body using intentional breath work
Yoga – yoke or unite
Who Should Practice Yoga?
Anybody and Everybody can begin a Yoga practice with a combination of mindful breathing, physical postures and intention.
Yoga accepts you just the way you are. It is probably more open and inviting to your True Self than any other aspect of your life.
No matter what physical age you are Yoga will help ease any un-ease, ill-ease and even many dis-ease.
It has been scientifically proven that even five minutes a day will change your life….helping to reduce stress, moderate blood pressure, and rejuvenate the body.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga
Many people think the asanas or postures are all there is to Yoga. According to Patanjali, considered to be the father of Yoga, there are eight limbs to complete Yoga practice with the physical aspect being the third limb. In his Yoga Sutras, the eight limbs are not laid out as a ladder one step leading to the next. They are more like the limbs of a strong oak tree, intertwined and always reaching.
Yoga is a flexible and accepting practice; if asana is all you want to do now that is okay. For those that want to explore all eight limbs there are thousands of books and articles on the subject. One very accessible book is Beyond Power Yoga by Beryl Bender Birch (published by Simon and Schuster, 2000 ISBN 0-684-85526-7).
The Eight Limbs of Yoga are:
Yamas - the five moral restraints of yoga:
Ahimsa - non-violence – this means bringing peace and compassion to all aspects of your life including your Yoga practice.
Satya - truth – speak your truth and live your truth
Asteya - non-stealing – is a short definition for an idea that encompasses the gross: your neighbour’s wife or purse, using too many of the earth’s resources, to the more subtle of not holding yourself back from having the best life possible
Aparigraha - non-greediness – check in with your REAL needs.
Brahmacharya – some say abstinance - watching what you give your energy to
Niyamas - the five observances of yoga:
Saucha - purity
Santosa - contentment
Tapas - purification
Svadhyaya - self-study
Ishvara Pranidhana - surrender to the infinite reservoir of universal knowledge; devotion to a higher being
Asana - posture practice
Pranayama - breath
Pratyahara - withdrawal of the senses; beginning to turn inward
Dharana - concentration; mindfulness – the next level of meditation
Dhyana - meditation
Samadhi - bliss; contemplation - where the meditator becomes the focus of the meditation…where the true self melds with the source