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Yoga is accessible to everyone, working with the whole person – body, breath, mind and the deeper, more intuitive aspects of our makeup.
Yoga is about the balance between the unchanging, essential aspect of ourselves and our evolution as human beings. It is meditation in action.
As we evolve, our practice will need to change with us – it’s an exciting time to be working with yoga.
There are many different aspects to yoga, but it is essentially an ancient teaching for living fully in the present moment.
The practice and techniques of yoga are the means to find this present moment space – like opening a window inside.
After a satisfying yoga practice there is space to breathe freely, to be exactly where we are, in this moment. Peter Hersnack called this ‘uncomplicated wholeness’.
‘The practice of yoga only requires us to act, and to be attentive to our actions’
‘To meditate, is to get out of our own way, so that LIFE can be at home, at home in us and in the world.’
We work with many familiar yoga postures (āsana) adapting them to suit the context of the practice. Putting our bodies into different ‘shapes’ changes our perspective, so we are able to release unhelpful habit-patterns. As this happens, physical tension is naturally released. It is feeling the essential quality of the posture, not the external physical form, that is important.
Breath is what makes us living beings. According to yoga, the life-force, prāṇa, is carried by the breath. In āsana we work towards a free ‘dance’ of body and breath in the postures, which brings a sense of spaciousness and overall well-being. We also practice seated breathing, prāṇāyāma, which requires more refined, open focus, and helps to settle mental ‘chatter’.
It can be challenging to use your voice if you’re not used to it, and I only use sound or chant in general classes where I feel it’s appropriate. Bringing simple vocal sounds into a practice is a powerful way of mobilising energy. Sound is as much about listening as doing. If you prefer not to make sounds, listening will contribute your presence.
It is the nature of the mind to be active, and we need appropriate mental activity just to perform the simplest actions. As human beings, our thinking mind has a habit of interfering with simply ‘knowing’. The capacity for discernment and increasing mental clarity which comes from practising postures, breathwork or seated meditative practice enables us to act from that place of knowing. That is yoga in action.