What is Yoga?

Yoga’s literal meaning is “to yoke” or “Union” but throughout history has been a set of heterogenous practices, methods, and philosophical view points all aiming towards “Moksha Shastra” or liberating one from suffering. It can also be defined on the internet as “the science of freedom,” and by cultivating our self-awareness we can work towards higher awareness that can provide separation from suffering and “union” to “Ananda” or bliss. 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. Though not much expansion on yoga as a practice comes from the poetic texts of the Vedas & Upanishads, in the post Upanishad period known as the “Vedanta” some of the first detailed explanations of yoga emerge, such as the epic text the Bhagavad Gita, which introduces three forms of yoga including Jnana Yoga (the yoga of wisdom), Bhakti Yoga (the yoga of devotion), & Karma Yoga (the yoga of action). This teaching considered today as the more active yoga path whereas another canonical text that immerged from the Vedanta, the Yoga Sutra attributed to Patanjali, which may be considered as inactive yoga, introduced a more systematized, scholastic, and technical teaching which prepares and eventually leads practitioner into meditation towards a most pure state of contemplation, or “samadhi,” through a system of 8 limbs, or stages of what is essentially a renunciative practice. Most today don’t use Patanjali in its original direct form but mainly work within the first 4 of the 8 limbs which work with control of our selves in relation to the outer world, work on finding awareness of our inner world, or even spiritual connection, and in the 3rd limb, “Asana” or seat and the 4th limb “pranayama” Patanjali validates that work to make us comfortable and aware in a still seat or posture and to work with our body energy is essential in the broader process. Over time with the emergence Hatha yoga, which were developed during medieval India, combining popular ideas of alchemy, and tantric methods dealing with subtle energy in the body, or “raising “Kundalini Shakti”, and from these practices the array of body locks, breathing exercises, and postures 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.

No particular yoga is better than another, and if the physical side of it is all one wants to explore that’s totally fine. The postural forms of yoga can be quite good for us to do. 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 Jnana, Bhakti, Karma, & the Raja yoga teachings 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. Vinyasa today can be more fluid than other types of postural yoga as some teachers are more mobile VS static in the postural sequencing and some may teach in a more traditional way VS incorporate modern elements. This is really subjective to the teacher who is guiding the practice and the environment the practice is offered. Nevertheless the common denominators of what makes Vinyasa-Vinyasa and not another method are that which are mentioned above.

 

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**