Yoga is more of a mind-cleansing activity than it is a form of exercise.
Certified Hatha & Ashtanga Yoga Instructor
Let's dive right in, shall we? The word 'yoga' means 'union' in Sanskrit and refers to the spiritual science of achieving harmony in body and mind. Yoga is simultaneously simple and yet so powerful. It makes us more productive, more engaged, healthier and less stressful.
Over time, I've come across some pretty interesting perceptions about the philosophy and practice of this ancient discipline. Some people believe it should be an exclusive club, for the extremely flexible and double-jointed. Some say it's reserved for hippies and tree-huggers. I've encountered discriminatory remarks such as, "Yoga is for skinny white girls" and my favourite, "take care you get possessed (by a Hindu God)!" I assure you, none of these beliefs have substantial backing and stem from hearsay and overall lack of information.
I've never lost my breath trying to dispel these intriguing and sometimes disturbing myths. While yoga is becoming more and more popular as an avenue for physical fitness, it has been widely praised for its nerve-calming, stress-relieving, zen-inducing effects. You see, for the avid practitioner, yoga is more of a mind-cleansing activity than it is a form of exercise.
For those who have never conjured up the courage or scheduled the time to attend a yoga class, here's a heads up on what to expect.
After greetings and pleasantries, an instructor may ask you to sit comfortably (Sukhasana) with your eyes closed while they walk you through the process of "finding" or connecting to your breath. It must be noted that the synchronization of breath and movement is necessary for the maximum benefit of any pose. The Sanskrit word for pose is called "asana" and you'll find it attached to the end of most yoga pose names.
Depending on your instructor's modus operandi, once you've found your breath, you may be asked to set some sort of intention for your practice, after which, you will be guided through a series of asanas, some flowing almost instinctively from one to the next.
It begins with some light, warm-up stretches and trust me, you don't want to miss this part of the class as it does well in preparing you for the deeper, more demanding postures to come. A warm body also helps in preventing any injury or mishap as you shift your body from pose to pose. A sun salutation is a string of asanas flowing from one to the next in a particular order. This series and hundreds of its variations make up the body of a yoga class.The asanas tend to become more and more demanding as time progresses. Towards the end of the session, you'll enjoy the restorative cool-down stretches that conclude with the renowned Savasana (Corpse Pose), where your instructor's modus operandi kicks in again. This technique aims to bring your mind and body to a state of deep relaxation and ultimately, meditation.
Despite conflicting beliefs, meditation and mantra-chanting are tools used to enhance your Yoga experience, along with the less popular use of mudras (gestures) and bandas (energy locks). The more experienced practitioner would know when and how these techniques are to be incorporated into their practice.
Interested in experiencing yoga and reaping mental, spiritual and physical benefits? Check out Yogastoned TT and let's get started!