Yoga

 

 

The form of yoga that I teach is Sivananda Yoga, which is a classical form of yoga from India that is based on five basic principles

 

1Proper Exercise
Yoga physical exercises are called ‘asanas’, a term which means steady pose. To start with, the main emphasis is to increase body flexibility. Postures focus first on the strength and flexibility of the spine, which helps to increase circulation and nerve health. Asanas also work on the glands and internal organs, as well as the muscles. When the hormonal system is rejuvenated this helps to balance the emotions and improve the mental outlook on life. When the asanas are performed slowly and with conscious awareness, they also become exercises in concentration and relaxation.

2Proper Breathing
Learning to breathe deeply and fully will allow you to use more of your lung capacity, and give you more energy. A full yogic breath is slow and deep and involves the proper use of the diaphragm muscle. The inhalation starts from the abdominal area and continues through the intercostal (rib) and clavicular (collar bone) areas. You will also learn special breathing exercises called pranayama which will allow you to build up and store energy, known as prana.

3Proper Relaxation
Tension and stress drain us of both physical and mental energy. To counteract this, we must learn how to relax fully. Lying on your back in ‘Savansana’, the relaxation pose, you will learn first how to tense and relax each part of the body in turn, starting with the feet and ending with the head. Then you will continue with auto suggestion, right through the outer and inner parts of the body. Focusing on your breathing will calm your mind, and allow you to release mental tension and worries. As you become more advanced in your yoga practice, you can go on to identify with the all-powerful, all-peaceful and joyful Self or pure Consciousness within, which yogis assert is our true nature.

4Proper Nutrition
The yogic diet is a lacto-vegetarian one, using pure, unprocessed foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Simple meals are easier to digest. Processing, refining and over-cooking destroys a great deal of the nutritional value of the foods we eat. The sun is the source of energy for all life on our planet. The food that is directly nourished by the sun – i.e. fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts and grains – has the greatest life-promoting properties. Food has a subtle effect on the mind and body, and the more seriously you take your yoga practice, the more attention you pay to avoiding substances that are either overly stimulating or create a feeling of lethargy or sluggishness.

5Meditation and Positive thinking
The ability to concentrate is common to all – there is nothing mysterious about it. When we concentrate on something we enjoy, like a game of golf or painting a watercolour picture, other thoughts are slowed down or stilled. Meditation is just taking this a step further by concentrating inwardly instead of on external objects. Happiness achieved through the mind is temporary. To achieve a state of lasting happiness and peace, we must first calm the mind, and then concentrate to go beyond the mind.

 

Yoga is not a religion. However, the guidelines for living are invaluable if you want to live more ethically, and with greater peace and happiness. 

Health is wealth. Peace of mind is happiness. Yoga shows the way.


 

The classes

Classes follow a certain structure, beginning with breathing exercises, a series of flowing postures called the Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) and 12 asanas (postures), which have many variations, particularly as your skill level becomes more advanced. Your first class with be fairly simple and gentle and become increasingly challenging as you continue. If you have musculo-skeletal problems or any other health problem, you may need to modify or replace certain postures.


 

Suggested bibliography

Yoga Mind and Body
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre
Dorling Kindersley, London

The Sivananda Guide to Yoga
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center
Simon and Schuster

Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga
Swami Vishnu-devananda
Harmony Books, Crown Publishers, New York

Diet for a New America
John Robbins
Stillpoint Publishing, Walpole, NH, USA

The Yoga Cook Book
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre
Gaia Books, London

Try www.amazon.co.uk or from one of the boutiques on the sites available on www.sivananda.org. 
I also have a small library of books on health and wellness that you may browse while you are visiting.



 

Frequently asked questions

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What do I need to wear or bring to the classes?

How long are the classes?

What happens if I am running late?

Can I eat right before a class?

What if I have been drinking alcohol?

What if I have a medical condition?

Can I do yoga if I am menstruating?

Do I need to do anything to prepare for the classes?