What is Yoga?
What is Yoga?
Yoga’s literal meaning is “to yoke” or “Union” and refers in the context of philosophy, or theology, as a practice or method used to create union of our physical mind and body to the spiritual. It has its origins in the East, following the ancient texts of the Vedas and Upanishads of India, which laid the foundation for Hinduism, Buddhism, & Jainism. There are many variations of the yoga practice. Some of the first, described in the text the Bhagavad Gita, include Jnana Yoga (the yoga of wisdom), Bhakti Yoga (the yoga of devotion), & Karma Yoga (the yoga of action). Over time the concepts of Tantra Yoga, Hatha Yoga, & from the Yoga Sutra attributed to Patanjali, Raja Yoga, and more specifically within that system, Ashtanga Yoga would come into the scene. Ashtanga Yoga, or the practice of 8 limbs, or areas, deal with self regulation, and preparation for entering the stages of meditation, which lead up to a state described as pure consciousness or “samadhi”. Within these 8 limbs, Patanjali mentions in the 3rd limb, poses or “Asana”, & 4th limb, breath regulation or “pranayama”. This can be compared with the practices of Hatha yoga, which were developed during medieval India, combining popular ideas of alchemy and methods dealing with subtle energy in the body, or “raising “Kundalini Shakti”, and from these practices the array of postures and breathing we see more commonly in modern postural yoga come from. Hatha yoga has evolved quite a bit from where it started. Today in the west we seem to have created systems which take from Patanjali (Raja Yoga), Hatha Yoga, and some of the many other forms that have been taught over time. Asana, or postural Yoga, is the most popular type we see in the west, with heavy influence from the systems developed by Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, his students B.K.S Iyengar & K. Pattabhi Jois, as well as some others. Today sports medicine, western science, and exercise methodologies all played a role in shaping the forms of Vinyasa Yoga such as what we offer at our studio today.
We could talk/write for hours about this subject but if you’re interested here are some links to YouTube videos with explanations form the philosopher Alan Watts which we find to be interesting, if you’re interested:
No particular yoga is better than another, and if the physical side of it is all one wants to explore that’s totally fine. They are quite good for you. Whatever type of yoga works for you and how ever it may serve you is totally fine, as long as it does serve you and doesn’t harm others. Although the Yoga offered at this studio primarily deal with the postural side, the elements of Raja, Jnana, Bhakti, & Karma are not ignored.
What is Vinyasa Yoga?
Vinyasa yoga is a more modern evolution of the physical techniques of Hatha yoga. It is also referred to or similar to “Ashtanga Vinyasa”, “Power Yoga”, & even “Flow Yoga”. It involves sequences of poses which link together in harmony with one’s balanced cadence of breath. Each sequence typically works the right side and left side of body and is linked together with a “Vinyasa” or “flow”, which incorporates certain transitions learned in the Sun Salutations, Surya Namaskar A & B. A typical Vinyasa session can be in a hot or non hot setting and touches seated poses, standing poses, balancing poses, inversions, back bends, supine movements, core movements, and of course Savasana (the corpse pose), often said to be the most important part of the practice where after the physical work of action and force we provide equanimity through quiet, release of force, & acceptance.
Benefits of Yoga
Some of the said benefits of Yoga & Hot Yoga consist of:
Hot yoga may burn, on average, 500 calories per 75 minute class.
Sweating can serve to detox one’s body.
Heat may allow the body to be loser quicker so to help us take poses further than normal & avoid injury
Yoga in general is said to improve focus and awareness as well as improve strength, flexibility, balance, cell function, endurance, cardiovascular function, breathing, and can relax both mind and body at the same time.
Disciplines such as yoga may improve awareness of ones inside and outside environments. In turn allowing us to to act in ways that promote living in balance & more equanimous states.
Postural yoga (Asana) may often be said to be the pre-requisite to prepare the body for dynamic breathing exercises as performed in Pranayama. Both Pranayama and Asana can be said to be pre-requisites to prepare our bodies to go deeper into states of meditation.
**Note if you have any pre-existing medical conditions you should always consult with a licensed physician before practicing in physical disciplines like yoga**