What is Hatha yoga?
Yoga originated as an ancient philosophy from India dating back thousands of years. In its current modern form, yoga is now widely recognized all over the world for its physical, mental, and emotional benefits.
Yoga presents us with a guide for self realization, and introduces us to tools and techniques to use on and off the mat. Through regular practice our bodies become stronger and more supple, and our minds calmer and clearer. Yoga is a personal journey, ones initial reason for beginning the practice can develop into a life enhancing experience, bringing a new awareness and awakening to everyday life.
There are many translations of the word yoga; to unite, to yoke, to join, to connect.
It is a practice that encompasses the whole being, bringing balance and consciousness into our perception and experiences.
Each class will vary but will include asana (physical poses), pranayama (breath awareness), and savasana (relaxation). Meditation will also integrate into the class. Monthly workshops also run to allow a deeper practice of the above principles, and will usually be centred around a theme.
Yoga is accessible to everyone, and all are very welcome whether new to the practice or not.
What are the benefits?
- Relieve stress & tension
- Increase strength & flexibility
- Can help ease aches and pains including backache
- As an aid to promote sound sleep
- Improve breathing & concentration
- Improve general sense of well being
History & Philosophy of yoga
There is no exact date of the beginnings of yoga, however there are ancient sacred texts which date back thousands of years, and the history & philosophy of yoga is a vast and deep subject. I have highlighted some of the main points.
Yoga has 4 main paths;
Karma yoga - the path of action without expectation of reward, selfless service (seva)
Bhakti yoga - the path of devotion and love
Jnana yoga - the path of wisdom and knowledge through study
Raja yoga - the royal path, stilling of the body and mind
All four paths, and their many derivitives, constitute yoga. Although one may be drawn to one path more than another, they overlap and join to become one yoga.
Raja Yoga is the path from which modern practice derives from. The yoga we practice today is far removed from the ancient texts, but they are still very relevant to today's teachings.
Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras nearly 2000 years ago, they are 196 verses guiding the practitioner through the path of yoga. Within the yoga sutras he created the 8 limbs of yoga which are:
- The yamas: 5 ethical rules ~ Ahimsa: non-violence ~ Satya: truthfullness ~ Asteya: non-stealing ~ Brahmacarya: right use of energy ~ Aparigraha: non-possessiveness
- The niyamas: 5 virtous habits ~ Sauca: clearness of mind speech & body ~ Santosa: contentment, acceptance ~ Tapas: persistence, austerity ~ Svadhyaya: study of self, study of Vedas ~ Isvarapranidhana: contemplation of the True Self
- Asana: posture, steady & comfortable
- Pranayama: breathing techniques
- Pratyahara: withdrawl of the senses
- Dharana: focused concentration
- Dhyana: meditative absorption
- Samadhi: bliss or enlightenment
Sutra can be translated as 'thread', and these threads can help us to live with more meaning, and with better health.