Who Can Practice Yoga?
Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means both union and concentration. Its practice aims at harmonizing our bodies, breath, nervous system and mind in a coherent direction to create a state of health, vitality, calmness, clarity and insight in the practitioner. This is accomplished through practicing yoga postures in conjunction with regulated breathing and concentration, in a technique called vinyasa.
The practice of yoga can be learned by anyone who wishes to learn it. There is no barrier to age, health, sex, sexual preference, religion or race. Yoga addresses the common drive that all humans have: to be happy, to know one’s self, and to fulfill one’s purpose here on this planet during the short span of our lives.
People come to yoga for different reasons. Some are looking to get in shape and to improve their flexibility, strength and balance; some to learn to relax and reduce stress; others to re-focus their minds, or as a spiritual quest. Yoga does not view any of these endeavors as mutually exclusive, and with regular practice, you might find that the practice helps you on all of those levels. This is because it is a holistic, comprehensive approach. Yoga does not view the body and mind as distinct, but as an intertwined expression of consciousness. It may be hard work, but it is not a work out.
Yoga In Practicum
Ashtanga Yoga views each student as unique. Postures have to be adapted to the individual. While there are particular sequences of postures that we teach, they are taught according to the level of the student. Some students are fit, and can learn more quickly, in a vigorous manner. Some are less fit, or have health conditions, and need to move more slowly. For each student that comes to our school, we take this same approach. Our teachers will work with you, guiding you along posture by posture, at a pace suitable for you. Each posture builds upon the preceding pose, so that when you get to a pose that is challenging, we help you until you can do it, and after that, move you on to the next one. The goal of the Mysore class is to help you build a personal practice, and provide you with a conducive setting to practice in.
During the led classes, the students are guided in unison through the postures of the primary series sequence, and provided with options of how to do particular poses that may prove challenging. Introductory classes will help improve your endurance, stamina and concentration, and are an excellent way to be introduced to Ashtanga Yoga. Full primary led classes are suggested for all students to attend at least once per week to reinforce the proper practice of the various vinyasas.
Yoga As A Contemplative Practice
The first presentations of Yoga in India ancient originated in its contemplative traditions. These traditions held, in one form or another, that self-knowledge was the best and most lasting cure for the suffering and pains that life brings. The transcendence of the mind, our faculty of thought, which hold the structures of our limited identity, such as our likes, dislikes, fears, ambitions, ideas and judgements – is crucial to this process. Beyond the mind – or perhaps deeper than the mind – is awareness, sometimes called consciousness, which is the source of knowing, larger than the troubled realm of the mind.
The mind is a field that holds thought; awareness is an unlimited potential that the mind rests upon. The saying that the mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master, is apt for the yogis, and sums up the essential purpose of practicing the different limbs of yoga. Is there a way that I can master my mind, and engage it to help answer these basic questions of existence: Who am I? What am I doing here, or, what is my purpose? And last, what do I do next, or, how can I live my life according to my purpose? A contemplative practice seeks to allow answers to these questions to rise up from the depths of awareness, into the quieted field of the mind, so that our thoughts, words and actions become expressions of our purpose. This is where, according to the yogis, fulfillment in life comes from – living in alignment with our inner purpose.