One of the things that characterises Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is how it create a deeply cleansing heat the purifies the body. As we fold, twist and balance our way through the challenging Asanas (postures) of the series, using deep Ujjayi Pranayama, we create a powerful internal fire that raises the core temperature of the body. The result is that we start to feel VERY HOT…
How you do anything is how you do everything. Take a moment to read that sentence again, and fully absorb the meaning in these words, for it is one of the truest statements I have found.
A while back I decided to measure my height for the first time since starting yoga more than 10 years ago.I was shocked at the result. In 2002 when I was last measured as an adult I was a shade over 5'11" tall. TODAY after 10 years of Ashtanga Yoga practice I am 6'1".
A few days ago we explored some of the physical effects that practicing yoga has upon the body and perhaps some of the reasons that we feel so good afterwards. However, to credit the feel-good factor of yoga to its measurable physical effects would be to reduce this practice to a superficial stretching exercise, immediately robbing it of thousands of years of spiritual wisdom and tradition.
In my opinion the greatest challenge facing the modern yogi is the eternal wrestle of attending classes to improve your yoga poses, whilst at the same time being told they need to be detached from the need to achieve the external form of these postures...
Over the past few days we’ve been exploring the first four limbs of Patanjali’s ASHTANGA YOGA. These limbs are considered EXTERNAL YOGA, which means these are practices you can actually sink your teeth into and ‘do’. The next two limbs deepen the internal focus of the practices towards the eventual experience of mediation.
The THIRD LIMB of Patanjali’s ASHTANGA YOGA is a where most people enter the practice of yoga. This is where we encounter those ubiquitous yoga classes where you sweat your a*** off for an hour, get stretched to within an inch of you life and then do your best corpse impression! So, what has being folded into a pretzel got to do with YOGA?
Yama, the first limb of Ashtanga Yoga, is based in the practice of relationship and can be translated as ethical principles. The practice of Yama begins with AHIMSA or nonviolence. Another way to view this is that all yoga begins from, and is practiced with, ‘love’ or ‘kindness’. Our lives are made up of relationships; from our close personal relationships to the never-ending relationship we have with our environment (including what we eat), what we do and how we do it impacts other aspects of life. Ahimsa lays the basis of any yoga practice, and indicates that the yogis approach to sadhana (practice) should cultivate a desire not to harm – or in some cases to do least harm to – other beings.
In Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga there are 6 Series of asana, commonly referred to as Primary Series, Intermediate Series and Advanced A-D. Each Series provides a foundation for the asanas of the subsequent series. Everybody starts with the Primary Series (called Yoga Chikitsa – Yoga Therapy) and works through these poses one-by-one until some level of proficiently is maintained.
In all honesty you cannot learn yoga from a DVD or book. These resources are great to deepen your practice, but you must first learn the fundamentals directly from an experienced teacher. Your relationship with this teacher is VITAL. He/she will help you negotiate the inevitable physical and mental resistance that WILL arise and they’ll keep you grounded and honest when your EGO will be desperate to stop you destroying it.
I love cooking. I love cooking almost as much as I love Yoga. I can safely say that cooking and Yoga keep me sane every day. When my daughter was born, I lost the luxury of long sessions on the mat and I barely had time to eat (let alone cook!). In many attempts to negotiate adequate rest, nourishment and yoga I discovered a beautiful way to be in the kitchen and practice without a mat or sweating involved. Through a friend I discovered how to meditate whilst making yogi tea. If you are not convinced that this constitutes Yoga (or cooking!), try it out anyway. You may discover that it is very healing to take time and make something from scratch, plus it makes a perfect drink for this cold winter season. Trust me, it is very relaxing and can be a natural meditation if you allow it to be.