Yoga is a psycho-physical discipline developed in India with roots going back about 5,000 years. The direct translation of the Sanskrit word "yoga" is "to yoke"-or create union. Traditionally the goal of yoga is to create union with the true self, though many schools in the U.S. tend to focus on the physical union between breath, body, and movement.
These days, and most especially in the U.S., the focus is often on improved physical fitness, mental clarity, greater self-understanding, stress control and general well-being. Spirituality, however, is a strong underlying theme to most practices. The beauty of Yoga is in its versatility. Practitioners may chose to focus only on the physical, the psychological, the spiritual, or all of the above.
Over time, yoga truly becomes more than just a practice, but a healthy, integrated, lifestyle choice focused on finding happiness and contentment through self-awareness.
"Yoga allows you to rediscover a sense of wholeness in your life, where you do not feel like you are constantly trying to fit the broken pieces together. Yoga allows you to find inner peace that is not ruffled and riled by the endless stresses and struggles of life. Yoga allows you to find a new kind of freedom that you may not have known even existed. To a yogi, freedom implies not being battered by the dualities of life, its ups and downs, its pleasures and its suffering. It implies equanimity and ultimately that there is an inner serene core of ones being that is never out of touch with the unchanging, eternal infinite."
-- B.K.S. Iyengar
Hatha yoga is a general term for the physical side of yoga, i.e.: doing postures. Vinyasa is a style of hatha yoga, and is literally translated as "to place in a special way".
In the Vinyasa flow style of yoga the movement between postures is deliberate, and flowing from one posture to the next.
There is a balanced focus on building strength and flexibility, so classes can often be quite challenging and/or vigorous - though can always be modified for a variety of practitioners.
The word Namaste is literally translated as "I bow to you." More generally, it is an ancient Sanskrit understanding of interconnectedness. The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra. The gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another.
"Nama" means bow, "as" means I, and "te" means you.
Therefore, Namaste literally means, "bow me you" or "I bow to you."
It is believed to be the basic sound of the world and to contain all other sounds. It is said to be the sound of the universe.
Chanting Aum allows us to recognize our experience as a reflection of how the whole universe moves - the setting sun, the rising moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, the beating of our hearts. As we chant Aum, it takes us for a ride on this universal movement, through our breath, our awareness, and our physical energy, and we begin to sense a bigger connection that is both uplifting and soothing.
As a Mantra repeating the word "om" is a great way to slow down the breathing, calms the nervous system and gives the glands and organs of the body a vibrational massage.
Ujjayi is a breathing technique ( a type of pranayama) that makes a continuous whispering sound in the throat. The throat is slightly constricted, which slows the inhale and exhale and allows more time for the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange process - cleansing the body more thoroughly.
Increased oxygen and exchange flushes out environmental toxins and debris from prior injuries, such as scar tissue, and carries nutrients in. Oxygen-rich blood also creates healthy blood cells and cellular regeneration, nourishing the vital organs.
Practicing this technique also generates internal heat while the audible breath gives the mind and the ears something to focus on. It is our constant reminder to breathe, energize and cleanse the body in every moment and be present.
Any yoga is better than no yoga and a little bit everyday is better than a lot every once in a while. To see and /or feel significant physical and mental changes, however you should practice for 1-1.5 hours AT LEAST three times/week.
Because yoga does not break down the muscle tissue as happens in other fitness activities such as weight-lifting or running, it is not necessary to take a day off from practice. You can practice everyday as long as you feel healthy.
You should be conscious of modifying your practice when needed due to energy level and/or physical fatigue.
At Yoga Centered students are given the space to make that choice for themselves. Most of our classes focus on the physical aspects of breathing and moving through yoga postures. However, we hope to provide the freedom and the space for the more personal or spiritual aspects of yoga to unfold naturally on an individual level.
Our bodies can hold on to every physical and emotional experience we've had throughout our lives, which physically creates blocks and barriers even on a nonphysical level. As we work through these barriers physically, using heat, movement and breath to internally open, reshape and cleanse the body, it makes sense that we are doing the same on many levels- emotionally, spiritually, etc. We encourage you to recognize your yoga practice as a way of life.
As you practice patience, acceptance, awareness, as your mind and body open and release physical and emotional tensions, as you become more in-tune and aware of your physical and emotional reactions in challenging postures, allow what you learn, these effects /elements and practices to be a part of your entire life- with strangers, friends, family, partners and yourself.