Yoga is generally translated as meaning 'to yoke' or 'join together', and is generally seen as meaning the creation of union between body and mind as a means to self realisation.
It actually incorporates a number of paths of which Hatha Yoga – the yoga of physical asanas, is probably the most widely known and practised in the West. Within Hatha yoga can also be found the practices of pranayama – breathing disciplines, and Kriyas; practices that work directly with the subtle energy body – perhaps better known in the West in relation to the Chinese system of Acupuncture. Another way of interpreting this is the creation of harmony (Union) between the individual self and Universal Consciousness.
My approach to yoga is straightforward – yoga is a bridge to a deeper understanding of yourself. That understanding can be experienced on a purely physical level (health & fitness); on an emotional level; and also – as was the original intention – on a spiritual level. The classes I give allow you to choose how much of the latter two aspects you bring into your experience of the yoga you do. Yoga is also a journey; one where the journey itself is as important as the destination – although the nature of that journey is a matter of personal choice.
My initial training in hatha yoga was a softened version of the yoga of Iyengar – so I mostly (but not always) utilise Iyengar's approach to alignment in a posture. However, I have also studied – and greatly admire, the yoga of Iyengar's teacher – Shri Krishnamacharya. He stated that hatha yoga without the breath being synchronised with the movement into and out of asana was "dead yoga".
My yoga is not 'dead yoga'! I have also adopted Shri Krishnamacharya's philosophy of Vinyasa in hatha yoga – so the yoga I present is about movement and flow; both in relation to the movement into and out of a posture, and also between several postures combined as a sequence. Iyengar pioneered the use of props to assist people having difficulties with asanas; Shri Krishnamacharya taught that every body is unique and that the posture needs to be adapted to the individual where necessary. I utilise both options – the use of props on occasion, but also the modification of the posture according to the capability of the body attempting it. Finally, hatha yoga acts on the movement of subtle energy around the body – even though you might not be aware of it.
My own experience of this factor was initially spontaneous but I subsequently discovered the yoga of the late Swami Satyananda and began to follow much of his teaching on this aspect of hatha yoga. More recently I have been studying Dru Yoga which also incorporates an awareness of the way postures can affect the subtle energy body and which incorporates a beautiful emotional heart centred approach to the practice of hatha yoga. So I guess my yoga is hard to pigeon hole! It can be quite dynamic or quite 'soft' – a lot depends on the energy of the class participants on the day.
However, a dynamic class can be done in a relatively 'soft' manner, while a 'soft' class can be performed quite dynamically - the difference being internal and a matter of choice.
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