Feb 8 2012

There are all forms of yoga these days here in the west & here in Melbourne one can try many different styles, to find the one that best suits their needs, their wants & their level of experience.

Yoga has many guises & branches.  And in the west we have fallen victim to the commercial use of the word ‘Yoga’ as merely describing the physical postures we do in a class.  The correct term for this branch is Hatha Yoga which uses the Physical Postures (asanas) & Pranayama (breathing techniques) originally taught to prepare the body for Meditation.  In the west however, ‘Hatha Yoga’ has been used commercially to describe a more gentler ‘yoga’ class.

Other forms of Yoga include;

Raja Yoga – meaning royal yoga/ royal union, considered as the complete yoga.  Referred to traditionally as Aṣṭānga (eight-limbed) yoga because there are eight aspects to the path to which one must attend.  In this form of yoga, the mind is the instrument used for looking inwards and uncovering the inner self.  Due to the connection of mind & body – the body must first be purified by various means, including Hatha Yoga.

Bhakti Yoga – or devotional Yoga – whereby one devotes oneself to the divine/ god & to service.  A form of Yoga that the Hare Krisnas follow.

Jnana Yoga – or path of knowledge – looks into the truth about who we are and what we are experiencing – the Absolute.

There are many other schools such as Karma Yoga & in modern day times schools that have branched off from original ones.

Yoga is many thousands of years old.  Yoga itself comes from the Sanskrit word ‘To yoke or to join’… Connecting Body & Mind, Personality & Soul, Uniting the positive & negative poles that separated at birth when we incarnated, creating the energy centres/ chakras that are present in our energetic blueprint.

It is this constant yearning to reunite these poles that push us on to self-development, asking the question ‘Why am I here’, seeking a life-partner or for some seeking out a moment of sexual gratification…for it is within the sexual act itself that one can experience a reflection or imitation of this divine unity -the reuniting of the poles, if only for a few moments.  However this can cause many more problems then it seems to solve, if the act is not born from a loving respectful relationship…. But more about that in another blog.

If you decide you’d like to try ‘Yoga’ which I will now call ‘Hatha Yoga’-physical postures, breathing exercises, meditation, relaxation – get online, ring around or visit schools or classes & do some research on the style you wish to undertake.  Or simply try a whole plethora of different styles.  My journey begun when I was 10 years old & training in Gymnastic Tumbling – our warm-ups included Yoga Poses & the famous Salute to the Sun series.  I continued to do these ‘warm-ups’ throughout my teens, unbeknown to me, that I was actually ‘doing’ Hatha Yoga.  In my early 20’s I joined my first gym in London, UK whilst on a Working Holiday Visa- I was working as a Nanny so after dropping the kids off at school, I’d drive to the gym & from Monday-Friday would attend a different yoga class everyday… Some classes I loved, some I disliked… Some teachers I was drawn too, some irritated me (personality clashes)… But I persisted & found that in each class I still learnt something invaluable for ME!

Inevitably your decision will rest not just on the style, but on the teacher as well.  Find someone who resonates with you (whether that resonation is harmonious or challenging… sometimes the challenging teacher can teach us more about ourselves personally, rather than the actual Yoga Poses themselves…)  Growth in any form is great.

The Yoga I teach is a true holistic practice incorporating not only the postures, breathing exercises, visualisations, relaxation & self-reflection but it also includes spiritual wisdom teachings, modern philosophy, scientific understandings of the body & more within the class.

You will find styles of yoga that are purely using the physical postures to build strength & detox the body with no spiritual content.  You may also find yoga’s that are focussed on therapeutic healing of certain conditions.

Whichever you choose, choose the one that inspires you, that motivates you, in the way you wish to be motivated….

And I sincerely hope that it gives you a great entre into the world of ‘Hatha Yoga.’