Yoga is a Sanskrit word, and it means Union. The practice of Yoga is simply the practice of union. Union of body and mind, big mind (consciousness) and little mind (ego), or union of the human being and universe, any type of union that aligns one’s internal and external realities could be considered Yoga.
Yoga is a state of being, and developing a strong practice leads us to a state of Yoga. In Yoga, we find wholeness, and wholeness is pretty much all we need. To achieve wholeness, we try different Yoga styles and techniques, and in due time we find a practice that suits us.
Breath work – we start with breathing techniques, which we use to control the breath, and focus our awareness. Starting with breath work sets us up for a session. The practice is grounding and opens up the internal energy flow.
Movement – we stretch the whole body and work on untying knots to release tension and stress. We use both body and breath to fine-tune our awareness, and gently shift to a state of presence. Asanas, or Yogic postures, improve our focus, flexibility, muscle strength, and blood flow, amongst other things. To deepen our practice, our bodies must be healthy.
Meditation - this is what Yoga is all about. Through meditation, we comprehend the true power of Yoga. We must understand that in traditional Yoga, we practice breath-work and movement/asana’s because they set us up for meditation.
In meditation, we sit, upright, in silence, and focus on the breath, or a mantra that follows the breath. There are many different types of meditation, and each individual will have their own method. By trying different meditation techniques, we find one that fits our current state of being, and phase in life.
Chanting – we use different chanting techniques, and different mantras. The only way to truly understand the power of chanting is to practice it for some time. Different styles of chanting engage different parts of the body, and require different breathing techniques. In due time, we learn how to focus our sound vibrations, and as a consequence release tension and flow.
Most of us breathe, and use our voices, with no second thought. Through breath work we realize we need to develop the breathing process, and with chanting we realize that our voices/sound vibrations are multidimensional and can be used in different ways to achieve many different things.
As taught by Yogi Bhajan. A Kundalini session consists of breath work/pranayama, movement, chanting and meditation. Kundalini Yoga is also known as the Yoga of Awareness. The power of Kundalini Yoga lies in activating the subtle/energetic body, and to activate the subtle body, we work the spine through movement (Kriya's) and breath.
Kundalini is a powerful and energizing practice, and must be practiced with caution as it can overload the nervous system. It’s probably best to start with a simpler style like Hatha, and then delve into the world of Kundalini.
It’s also worth mentioning that with a strong Kundalini practice, some people experience a Kundalini Awakening, or get a glimpse of it. A Kundalini Awakening is a powerful experience that expands one's awareness into subtle realms. Scientists have studied these experiences for decades, and are still scratching their heads in awe. That said, and as is true with all forms of Yoga, it's not really about the awakening, it's about cultivating presence and freedom from the mind. Presence is one's key to a peaceful and fulfilling life.
As taught by Paramahansa Yogananda, is focused on meditation techniques. Like Kundalini Yoga, Kriya focuses on the spine and on the energy centers found along the spine. We use breathing and meditation techniques to increase our awareness on all levels. Connection to the subtle body is a major aspect of this practice. Kriya Yoga is a soft and well-structured practice that has gained wide appeal. If you find yourself attracted to the meditation and metaphysical aspects of Yoga, I'd recommend giving Kriya a go.
A system of movement/asana’s that balances both body and mind. The flow, as always, is breath based, and is relatively slow. The sequence of postures differs with each session, depending on the current state of the body and mind. Hatha is soft, soothing, and a great place to start practicing Yoga. Many people develop a Hatha practice and that's all they do for the rest of their lives.
A restorative sequence of movement/asana’s that is designed to deeply relax all aspects of our being. Minimum effort is needed as most of the session is spent lying down. The breath is deep, stretches are soft, and we hold each stretch for two to three minutes. If total relaxation is the end goal, Yin/Restorative Yoga is unparalleled.
Yoga therapy is a mix of everything I’ve learnt over the years. I’ve worked with both psychological and physical ailments, and with each individual the practice is always unique.
We start by trying different styles and techniques until we find what works for both body and mind. Once we find the right formula, we begin to fine tune the practice.
We also have a chat before and after each session, because understanding what’s happening within the psyche is key to working things out.
The approach is holistic, and the options are endless. Within Yoga Therapy, we can integrate Zen, Sufism and Jungian Depth Psychology. Once again, the practice is tailored to each person, and the opportunities are endless.
These days, a greater proportion of my sessions are focused on Yoga Therapy.
As shown above, there are many different styles and techniques of Yoga. During a session, we work together to find what is needed at that particular moment. We try different styles and techniques, and we fine tune our practice until we’ve found the right formula. The beauty of Yoga is its flexibility; it can be tailored to anyone, and it always works – so long as we develop a disciplined practice.
The way I teach is intuitive, and I always focus on awareness. My end goal is for you to learn how to control your mind, and by doing so, cultivate a state of presence and flow.
The mind is active all day, and that is usually the cause of most of our challenges. It can feel like the mind is in autopilot, wandering freely with no restraint, and we’re either caught up in our past/memories, or in our future/imagination.
I’m not saying its wrong to think about our past or future, what’s wrong, and in fact unhealthy, is unconsciously dwelling in that space, getting lost in it, and creating narratives that are far from reality.
In Yoga, we take back control, the mind begins to work for us, and we gently shift to a wider and subtler state of consciousness.