What is Yoga?

When I first started yoga, my excellent teacher Derina Newell from the Dharma School of Yoga introduced me to the idea that yoga is a holistic practice done with awareness and not just a physical workout.  That doesn’t mean it is a new age fad incorporating a lot of mumbo jumbo, but it is an ancient practice with a rich heritage.  Anyone who wants to do yoga can reap the rewards by practising with a knowledgeable teacher who is passionate about yoga and who allows people  to develop their practice gradually and begin to discover elements other than the purely physical.

Originally yoga developed from and within Indian philosophy and archaeologists unearthed seals showing figures seated in yoga postures and dating from 2700 BC.  The word ‘yoga’ appears in the earliest Indian literature the Vedas and there are other ancient texts on yoga such as the Baghavad Gita and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

Over the years yoga and its postures have developed and taken ideas from a range of  influences.

How does Yoga differ to regular exercise?

If taught well by a qualified teacher:

There is a low risk of injuring yourself as effort is minimised and relaxed.

Movements are slow, dynamic and static, whereas in regular exercise movements can be rapid and forceful with an increase in muscle tension.

The parasympathetic nervous system/relaxation response dominates in yoga- the opposite to regular exercise in which the sympathetic nervous system dominates.

Breathing is always unstrained, whereas in regular exercise breathing can be laboured.

Yoga is non competitive and ‘process oriented’ rather than competitive and goal oriented.

Yoga is richly creative and never repetitive.

Awareness is internal rather than external and there are limitless possibilities for growth,  whereas in regular exercise there is a strong possibility of becoming bored.

“The primary aim of yoga is to restore the mind to simplicity and peace, to free it from confusion and distress. …………. yoga frees the mind from the negative feelings caused by the fast pace of modern life. The practice of yoga fills up the reservoirs of hope and optimism within you.”  B.K.S. Iyengar

Different types of Yoga:

There are many forms of yoga  -from strong, active and energetic posture work to a more spiritual and contemplative practice. Because yoga has many different variations, before you attend  a class try to find out more about the sort of yoga which is being taught and the teacher’s background, training and experience. A properly qualified teacher is essential for a safe practice and to really benefit.

What I really love about yoga  is that it is suitable for people of all ages and abilities – male or female. You do not need to be super flexible to come to a class.

In my classes everyone develops an individual practice and there is no question of anyone being pushed or pulled into position.  Posture work is a mixture of movement and stability – stretching and strengthening- and everyone  works at their own level, listening to the body.

I try to make my classes ‘multi layered’ suggesting modifications and ways of making practices more or less challenging.

Relaxation and meditation are key elements and help you ‘turn off’ the stress response and quieten the mind.

Contact me for Yoga around Ipswich and Suffolk.

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