At the KPJAYI Yoga Shala, Mysore India. Photo Credit: Coni Hörler
By Inna Costantini
With ample choices of teacher training courses branded ‘Ashtanga TTC 200hrs’, it can be difficult for new practitioners to differentiate and navigate the world of yoga qualifications.
The home of Ashtanga Vinyasa is Mysore, India. The practice is often referred to as ‘Mysore style’ because of the way it is taught – as a self-practice (silent, yet guided by a teacher through adjustments and minimal verbal cues), or, with led ‘counted’ classes once a week, for the student to learn the vinyasa count, correct breathing and keep track of the pace. ‘Open level’ or ‘led classes’, which we find in most studios, gyms, and wellness centers around the world are a far cry from the authentic practice of Ashtanga yoga. However, they follow the same sequence and guidelines and make the practice accessible (and often easier) for beginners to follow. (more…)
Comfortable and steady posture. Photo Credit: Coni Hörler
BY SUSHANT PANDEY
Concept of Asana
Asana (posture) and Pranayama are the 3rd and 4th limbs in the text of Patanjali Yoga Sutra. Asana literally means ‘seat’. In the text of Patanjali Yoga Sutra, Asana is described as a seat of meditation. In the second chapter, verse 46; Patanjali defines asana as ‘sthiram sukham asanam’. This verse is translated as ‘posture (should be) steady and comfortable’. While defining posture Patanjali was well aware of the body-mind connection. Therefore he puts asana after Yama (social codes of conduct) and Niyama (personal codes of conduct). He knows that having practised or incorporated the aspects of Yama and Niyama in life, sitting steady is possible. Sthirta (steadiness) of the body is only possible when one has channelled the mental energies. Otherwise sitting still is a big task. (more…)
The Author in Warrior Yoga Pose (Photograph © Jamie Williamson)
BY ANGELA MCHARDY
Becoming diagnosed with PD meant I lost my many skills in multi-tasking, I could no longer keep apace of my demanding job in education. I tried to fulfil the role but couldn’t function with the speed of thought I used to. It became too hard. With a heavy heart, I took retirement and I now think of my job as keeping myself well. I started to research Parkinson’s interventions vociferously, and these are the 2 key findings I have discovered. (more…)
Yamas & Niyamas according to Patanjali. Photo Credit: Coni Hörler
BY SUSHANT PANDEY
Raja yoga is understood as one of the classical branches of the yoga tradition. Literally, the term ‘Raja Yoga’ connotes, the culmination or highest state of yoga. Raja means royal; it is so named because it enables the yogin to reach the illustrious king within oneself, the supreme self or atman. In various texts or scriptures of yoga, this term is used in different context as well. In Hatha Yoga Pradipika; one of the most popular traditional Hatha yoga texts; it is mentioned that ‘the knowledge of Hatha yoga is only for Raja Yoga’. (Verse 2/chapter 1).
The term Raja Yoga used here stands for highest state or culmination of yoga i.e. Samadhi or the state of transcendence. Here most scholars and aspirants get confused that purpose of Hatha Yoga is to prepare one for Patanjali’s Raja Yoga. But here in Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the author (swami Swatmarama) is referring to attaining the state of Samadhi through Hatha yoga. Raja Yoga, therefore, refers to the highest state of yoga practice i.e. practices leading to the state of Samadhi. (more…)
I often get approached by people, who ask for recommendations of ashrams in India where they can study yoga. At some point in time, both beginners in yoga and experienced yoga practitioners long to come closer to the source of knowledge.
Before suggesting a concrete place to go, I always ask, what is the real motivation for them to undertake such a journey. Is it the desire to advance their physical yoga practice, is it the search for spiritual growth, a way to heal from a trauma to detox body and mind, or maybe just an idea to spend a holiday in a useful way? For many, a yoga retreat in a beautiful set up in Goa or a residential stay in a yoga school can be just a much better option.
When you do decide to go to a real ashram to study yoga, there are a few things to consider, that will help you understand if it is the right place for you to stay. (more…)
BY SUSHANT PANDEY
The process of meditation entails centering, mindfulness and internalization of awareness. Traditionally, the process of meditation is seen as a continuous process of an inward journey from the field of sensorial dimension to the innermost state of being. Technically this process begins with the stage of Pratyahara (withdrawal of mind). Pratyahara is the first and foremost stage of meditation which starts with the awareness and acknowledgement of sensorial inputs and simultaneous witnessing awareness. There are many techniques which are employed to help facilitate this process of mind-withdrawal. (more…)