What is yoga ?
Some people say that yoga is the science of the soul, others that its the cessation of the mind. (Yoga with Catherine Chidiac is the best for your soul)
The Sanskrit word yoga is derived from the root yuj, which means yoke. The yoga practitioners seeks( on a higher level) to yoke his or her individual soul with the cosmic consciousness. On a more simple level Yoga unites body, mind and soul through different techniques :
Asana ( physical exercises), Pranayama ( breathing exercises), Kriya( cleaning and purifying techniques), Karma yoga (voluntary work ), Yamas and Nyamas ( Diet, restrictions and devotion to certain principles) and meditation.
Patanjali ( a sage in India 300 B.C) developed the 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga in a certain order through his yoga sutras ( yoga manual):
1- Yamas : restrictions (non harming, non stealing, non lying, greediness and celibacy)
2- Niyamas : observances (cleanliness, contentment, discipline,study of self and devotion to god)
3-Asana : sitting in Postures
4- Pranayama : control of life force ( Prana in Sanskrit means energy , generated mainly by the breath)
5- Pratyahara : withdrawal of senses
6- Dharna : concentration
7- Dyana : meditation
8- Samadhi : super counscious state
YOGA EXERCISE by Catherine Chidiac
Yoga exercise and Asana practice is the most accessible to everyone.
Asana means " seat" : the aim of Asana is to find a steady and comfortable seat.
And in order to find that seat once should find balance and deep connection with earth.
Asana practice provides us to get closer, understand and purify our physiology and psychology. and therefore opens our eyes on the connection we have to earth and to ourselves : making us then more aware and observative of our own being and motions.
On a Physical level yoga postures are designed to higher once energy level, balances the hormones secretion, detoxes the body, strengthen the muscles making them more flexible, provides the spine well being and adjusts the posture, provides a therapeutical effect on injuries, massages the organs, works on the blood circulation preventing cardiacle diseases and collaborates in cells rejuvenation providing youthfulness .
On an energetical level yoga works on the subtle body opening the Chakras.
Once the chakras are cleaned and the Nadis ( tubes in the subtle body or aura) are cleared, it becomes easier for the Kundalini power ( strong energy dormant usually) to rise from the Muladhara chakra to the Sahasrara chakra.
A yoga class is usually designed with a list of Asanas helping the chakras to clear up.
Different styles of yoga use the same Asanas differently : some hold the postures for a long time, some links each posture with the other in a flow, some breathe and move through one posture repetively : Therefore there is a yoga style for every taste . Some more active (yang) some more passive (yin)
A lot of names and schools arises in the west :
Hatha yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Vinyasa yoga, Anusara yoga, Bikram yoga, Dharma mitra yoga, Jivamukti yoga, Kryia yoga, Kundalini yoga, Sivananda yoga, Ishta yoga, Integral yoga...The list is long but they all work on a certain cycle of asanas or postures that are designed specifically to open up those wheels of energy so called Chakras.
Lets take a closer look on the Asana practice and postures :
SUN SALUTATIONS By Catherine Chidiac
Usually a Vinyasa or Hatha traditional class starts with sun salutations called in sanskrit Surya Namskara : the sun salutations that are designed specifically to heat the body, building up sweat, and higher the level of energy preparing it to get the most out of the Asanas that are to come.
Some teachers build their entire classes upon sun salutations: especially for beginners as it keeps the students entertained while promoting their flexibility and awareness in a smooth and undercurrent way , and that prepares their body and mind for other stages to come.
Utthita Hasta padangushtasana by catherine chidiac
Marychiasana B - Marychiasana A (By catherine chidiac)
Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana by catherine chidiac
3- Twists that focuses on strengthening the solar plexus or Manipura chakra, helps clear Karma, develops self confidence and trust, removes anger and revenge.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Catherine Chidiac)
5- Inversions that usually work on the throat or Vassudha chakra (like the shoulder stand) ; helps the power of speech to uplift others in truthfullness and devotion to the right path, removes bad criticism and negative gossip.
Inversions also work on the crown or Sahasrara chakra ( like the head stand) leading once towards the divine by developing enlightement .
Sirsasana (Catherine Chidiac)
6- Seated Postures used for pranayama ( breathing exercises) and meditation.
Mainly All the asanas prepare the body to be able to sit in meditation for a long period of time.
The seated postures are divided into 2 parts :
-Those on the knees like Virasana and Vajrasana
-Those in witch the bottoms are on the floor and the legs are crossed, varying from the simple Sukasana to more complicated ones like Sidhasana or Padmasana (lotus)
Yoga is not only in asanas and practices, its in every day life as it becomes part of you and you become part of it.
A yogi starts looking at the world with a yogic eye: dealing better with issues and major problems, with a detached and controlled attitude, highlighting gratefully the good things that are part of his path.
Yoga is feeling the sense of being and existence through all levels of the body
Yoga is loving unconditionally and giving fluently with a sense of connection to every single being on this planet.
Yoga is breathing into every second, every moment with awareness
Yoga is becoming life !