Practicing yoga without studying yoga philosophy is like sailing without much wind.
In a world that praises speed and busyness, we see a counterculture of SLOW on the rise, bringing along with it ideas like slow cooking, down shifting, and Restorative and Mindfulness Yoga.
Quite often stress builds up because we have not allowed ourselves the nurturing space to relax and BE, on a regular weekly basis. When you create stillness within yourself, something starts to shift and you can see your way in the darkness, because you start to create the light in your own life.
One of the signs that your yoga practice is working is that you are drawn to a different way of being. That might be more self-understanding, more calm and happiness, more letting go or simply accepting what is in your life.
Take your yoga to the next level with yoga philosophy
Around 200BC, the sage Patanjali described Classical Yoga as a systematic approach to self-realisation. His text describes the nature of the mind and ways to control its restlessness.
Yogas chitta vritti nirodah tadadrastuh svarupe avasthanam
Yoga is experienced in that mind which has ceased to identify itself with its
vacillating waves of perception. When this happens, then the seer is revealed resting in its own essential nature, and one realises the true self.
While there are many paths of yoga, they all have a common thread: to be true to yourself in thoughts, words and actions, which ultimately produces more joy and wellbeing.
Yoga is not a religion. People of all faiths practice yoga. Most of the time we do not realise the joy we seek is experienced within. We are led to believe our joy comes from external pleasures and sensory gratification.
Yoga is a continuous process of self-discovery. Yoga, as a stilling of the mind, occurs momentarily for most people without training. The breathing becomes unnoticeable and they lose all sense of time. During these periods of active meditation, access to intuitive insights is available and we understand how to manage ourselves in situations that previously produced difficulties. This natural process is what Patanjali defines as yoga.
Patanjali’s practical means of knowing the inner self is categorised into eight limbs, also known as Raja Yoga. Raja, simply put, means to be radiantly happy and share compassionate affection for all creation.
Patanjali laid out a recipe, one that suggests not just asanas (postures) and meditation but also ethical principles and core values, to help you move on your own journey towards contentment. These are called Yama and Niyama. They are an essential starting place, designed to be practiced before you start your yoga postures, and integrated into your daily approach to living.
The eight limbs of yoga
1. Yama – external attitudes for guiding conduct within society
Ahimsa: a compassion and love for all or non-violence
Satyam: truthfulness or not lying
Brahmacharya: moderation in all things (senses) or losing control
Asteya: feeling abundance or non-stealing
Aparigraha: non-attachment or non-greed
2. Niyama – internal attitudes for personal discipline
Saucha: purity, internal and external cleanliness
Tapas: right effort
Ishwara Pranidhana: dedication to the highest
3. Asana – yoga posture
When practiced regularly, results in movements that end in a steady and comfortable pose that is performed by relaxation of effort and results in no longer being disturbed by duality, praise and criticism.
4. Pranayama – regulation of the flow of prana
When perfected, one feels the lifeforce (prana) permeating everywhere, transcending the attention given to either external or internal objects.
5. Pratyahara – withdrawal of the senses
The senses become detached from external objects of the mind’s desire, and the mind sees its source as pure consciousness.
6. Dharana – contemplation on one’s true nature
When mastered, the mind is confined to one place of attention/concentration.
7. Dhyana – meditation
When mastered, a continuous flow of awareness to a single point of attention is maintained.
8. Samadhi – absorption in the self
When achieved, it is the meditation that results in only the essential light of the object remaining. The spiritual light prevails and is experienced as the essence of all creation.
Hatha Yoga RELAX Classes
Yoga RELAX, a gentle and deeply aware restorative practice, weaves much of the fourth, fifth and seventh limbs into the asanas, as a more one-pointed awareness of prana flow is emphasised and gross body sensations are removed. In times of busyness, stress and change, Yoga RELAX gives you permission to remove the striving and effort from your daily life to restore your body and mind.
Yoga MINDBODY Classes
Mindfulness Yoga (Yoga MINDBODY) extends this awareness into a moving meditation that defines a more feminine practice. Progress into Yoga MINDBODY comes as the body is free from illness and disease, stiffness and imbalance, and is prepared to sit for longer periods in the seventh limb, meditation. By embracing the balance of movement, breath and attention, we have the potential to achieve mindfulness and wellbeing.
For more inspiration check out:
The Secret Power of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi
Structural Yoga Therapy by Mukunda Stiles
The Tree of Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar