The word yoga has several Sanskrit roots and many meanings. Yoga can be a path to fully realise our nature and integrate that realisation into our lives: Yoga can heal us and then we will be a healing influence on those around us and the environment more generally. A yoga practice will leave the mind clearer, calmer and less scattered. Yoga can mean “whole”, to bring the separate parts of us together in harmony. Yoga can help us to live from the heart; openly; balanced; centred; happy and more at ease. When we are not happy and ill at ease, yoga will help us to be accepting of our feelings in those states. Yoga is an imense support through difficult times. Yoga cultivates gratitude and appreciation of what I have and engagement in the depth of life and the opportunities being alive presents.
I owe what I understand to be yoga and teach as yoga, thanks mainly to the great yogi, Sri Krishnamacharia, via his students: especially his son T.K.V. Desikachar (Viniyoga); who taught my teacher Paul Harvey. Most of what I know of yoga has been given to me by generous teachers from this rich tradition: Sylviane Gianina; Godfrey Devereux, and also students of B.K.S. Iyengar; Pattabhi Joyce (Ashtanga Vinyasa) and Vanda Scaravelli.
“Now yoga is revealed. Yoga is stillness of mind
then awareness of our essential nature is established.”
(Yoga Sutra of Patangali: 1. 1-3)
Doing something to perfection requires that we enter a state of yoga. One classical definition of yoga is “skillfulness in actions” –Bhagavad Gita.
“Yoga is samadhi” –Bhyasa of Vyasa
(“Samadhi” is a technical term, sometimes translated as “meditation”).
A tranformation of mind, body and spirit occurs. In a yoga class we perform exercises that heal the body, calm and focus the mind, and resolve the emotions. Then our true nature can be clearer to us.
In a yoga class attention is given to breath, movement, alignment, energy and stillness. Opening, stabilising, softening, strengthening, and healing mind and body for meditation and self realisation.
Other considerations taken into account include the season, the time of day, the environment, the weather, etc. My job is “viniyoga”: that is to apply yoga appropriately to each person and each situation. Group classes can be dynamic and physically challenging variations are given to those who are strong or flexible enough to make these approapriate. Postures can be modified for beginners and may be done gently until strength and flexibility develop. I will encourage you to practice sensitively, and progress at your own pace. One of the key features of this tradition is “vinyasa” or to progress step by step. Vinyasa also means to move, and in this tradition we coordinate movement with breath. Viniyoga is to develop the right approach, to use the right effort, to progress step by step in the right direction, avoiding pitfalls where we can. I will share what I know of yoga so that you may hold the keys to establishing and maintaining your own yoga practice independently. I will occasionally draw on my experience of martial arts and dance to see yoga freshly in a new light.
One definition is to join, or connect with what is real. According to the heart teaching of yoga, the true ‘I’, our essential self is consciousness, we are the light of pure attention, our being is this, which is present now…
If we can identify our true self as this pure awareness, we will be beyond sufferings. The mind will be happier, and we will see things clearly as they are…