Your inspiration to practice yoga may be purely physical, such as the increase of flexibility, or reduce stress in the body, aches and pains. Or perhaps you are interested to tune into the part of yourself where you feel at peace. Whatever is your motivation is, yoga is an internal journey.
Your yoga is your own experience. It is a process of exploring, awakening and inquiring. By practicing, we are dedicating and shaping our disciplines. We are beginning to understand ourselves, and ask questions that bring more awareness. Through the observances of physical body, we can be informed about our inner landscape. We start to ask questions such as: How can I move in a way that heals and protects my lower back.
Yoga is an ancient art form for joining the body, mind and heart back into union. Originally the physical postures (asanas) were design to build strength and flexibility in the body for it to sit quietly in seated meditation.
Over the centuries yoga has been organized into many types and forms. There are three main types of yoga.
The way of the heart. It includes practices such as worship ceremonies and chanting. This path includes all artistic expressions of the heart and emotional gifts of the spirit.
The way of the mind. Recognizing our divine nature through discrimination, judgments and refinement of our deepest understanding. This path seeks wisdom that lies within every experience.
The way of the body. This path celebrates our body as a vessel to experience the world, the human embodiment through both joy and dharma.
Classical Yoga can include these three types of yoga in various ways. Classical Yoga generally refers to the ashtanga or eight-limbed, which was written over 2000 years ago by Patanjali. The eight limbs are:
Many people believe that yoga is strictly an exercise from the physical body. However, true yoga practice incorporates all the limbs and basic principles of bhakti, jnana, and karma yoga.
While there are many breathing techniques in yoga practices, the breath that is most commonly used in yoga practice is called the Ujjayi Pranayama (victorious, uprising life force), developing this creates an oceanic sound by constricting the back of the throat. Consciously breathing in postures is what sets yoga apart from other physical exercise. The breath is where the power comes from. In any moment when you realize you have lost connection to your breath, it is a great moment for awareness, to check in, to establish your connection with your breath.
STYLES OF YOGA
There are many different styles of yoga and all of them have their benefits. Some will be very vigorous and challenging to create greater physical strength and stamina; others will move continuously from one posture to the next in a fluid, steady flow. While others will do less poses and focus on the detailed technical precision. Some yoga style emphasizes softer or gentle movements. There is a yoga style that fits everyone and it is important to feel what is right for your body. See below for various of yoga styles.
Yoga can be challenging in the beginning. Yoga only asks us to meet ourselves where we are and to honestly work from that point while never failing to reward out sincere efforts. It is a practice. Enjoy the practice and the process. Above all, have fun!