What is Yoga?
The word yoga is often translated as union. However, it is to unity rather than union that the word yoga most deeply points. For union implies a separation which is not intrinsic to being human, but is dynamic in nature.
Yoga is a comprehensive system of well being on all levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. According to Patanjali (The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the classical text), yoga has eight limbs as described below.
Yoga has many cultural differences or presentations, yet yoga is and should always be about self enquiry, rather than self development or self improvement. Therefore yoga is not just shape making, breath or mind control, yoga is always a process of self enquiry.
How to approach the practice of yoga?
Yoga is open to anyone regardless of age, ability, experience or beliefs. It is beneficial for all be it for those with ailments/conditions, sporty people, etc… and is especially beneficial for anyone experiencing stress.
Though yoga should be accessible to everyone, there are many different “types” of yoga and it is important that you choose the type of yoga that most resonates with you.
It is recommended that no matter how much experience in any field you may have, you come to the mat with a beginner’s mind.
8 limbs of yoga
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali were thought to have been written between 2,000 and 5,000 years and have 196 sutras (brief pithy statements), which describe the philosophy and practices of yoga. Eight limbs are outlined, which are steps towards Samadhi, defined as enlightenment, oneness or bliss.
In the west yoga has often become synonymous with asana and pranayama, the physical and breath practices, however these are only one small component of traditional yoga.
Making Yoga accessible to all
Accessible Yoga is an international non-profit organisation, dedicated to sharing yoga with everyone. The mission being to share the benefits of Yoga with anyone, who currently do not have access to yoga practices, especially communities that have been excluded or underserved. These communities may include people of all shapes, sizes or colors. They include people with physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, or invisible disabilities such as chronic illness, emotional challenge or PTSD. They include people with vision or hearing impairments, canes, walkers and wheelchairs. They are young, middle-aged and senior. They live in homes, juvenile halls, jails, or on the street. Our goal is to make any of these people feel welcome in a yoga class, so they can experience the benefits of yoga.
Accessible Yoga believes that all people, regardless of ability or background, deserve equal access to the ancient teachings of yoga, which offer individual empowerment and spiritual awakening. By building a strong network and advocating for a diverse Yoga culture that is inclusive and welcoming, we are sharing Yoga with all.
Styles of yoga offered by MYA teachers
Hatha Yoga is the most widely practiced form of yoga in the West. It is the branch of yoga that concentrates on physical health and mental well-being. Hatha yoga uses bodily postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation (dyana) with the goal of bringing about a sound, healthy body and a clear, peaceful mind. There are many postures and sequences designed to make the spine supple and to promote circulation in all the organs, glands, and tissues. Hatha yoga postures also stretch and align the body, promoting balance and flexibility.
Hatha can be taught as a very gentle practice or could be more challenging depending on the style.
A yoga class described as ‘Hatha’ will typically involve a set of physical postures (yoga poses) and breathing techniques, practised more slowly and with more static posture holds than perhaps a Vinyasa flow or Ashtanga class.
A gentle hatha yoga practice which will take you from movement into stillness. You will begin by mobilising the major joints in your body with soft rhythmic movements, and breath-based slow flows. Warming up creates an opportunity to shed some of your body and mind’s restlessness, so that it will be easier to settle into a place of stillness. Restorative yoga postures are held for a few minutes and are supported by props to allow you to completely relax.
Restorative yoga helps you discover where you are holding tension and cultivating the skill of conscious relaxation.
Vinyasa flow yoga is a creative form of yoga. Yoga poses are linked together with the breath in a flowing sequence.
Vinyasa yoga is usually very varied. There is no standard sequence in Vinyasa yoga, so the style, pace and intensity will all vary depending on the teacher. Classes may be sequenced around a peak pose such as a backbend, or they might focus on a particular theme or an aspect of yoga philosophy. The class may be dynamic and focus on strengthening postures, or it may be a slower flow with an emphasis on mobility and flexibility in the spine or the hips.
Vinyasa Yoga is not to be confused with Power Yoga. Baptiste Power Yoga is a powerful practice that allows you to grow and discover your inner strength and tone your body.
Somatic Awareness (Dynamic Yoga)
Relying on the inherent intelligence of the body, rather than flexibility, skill or strength, Somatic Awareness allows anyone to enjoy a seamless transition from separateness to integration, without losing touch with what makes each one of us distinct and unique.
Somatic Awareness teaches you to release tension to “soften” completely in any yoga posture while still maintaining the necessary muscular effort to maintain flow, good posture and good alignment.
The practice is clearly grounded in vinyasakrama (step-by-step instruction) which deeply supports the body within the postures and invites each person to become more intimate with their personal experience,
Somatic Awareness Training is based directly on the simplicity and power of Dynamic Yoga and Somatic Meditation. It is a complete somatic training methodology based directly on the intelligent nature of the body, it recalibrates body and mind through repetetive systematic movements.
Although Embodied Resilience may resemble yoga it is not yoga.
Embodied Resilience is an invitation to know and be yourself more deeply. It is not an exercise or a yoga class. It is not a strength or flexibility programme. It is simply a way of means to learn how to feel, and it is accessible to everyone.
During these session you will be invited to experience the deep connection between your mind, your body and your life.
We do that by way of feeling sensations deeply within our bodies, we invite our minds to quieten down and we discover the deep strength and profound wisdom that we are.
The focus in Yin yoga is in stillness and the fascia. It is not intended as a complete practice in itself, but as a complement to more active forms of yoga.
Poses are often held for two to five minutes or longer, with the use of props to help the body relax. The stillness of our bodies allows our breath and mind to settle and we can enter a more meditative state.
Yin Yoga poses apply moderate stress to the connective tissue of the body with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility.