My mission as a yoga instructor is to give people the tools they need to keep themselves healthy in body, mind and spirit. I strive to challenge my students physically, but always within the limits of their bodies; and to help them experience the stillness within yoga asanas, that they can begin to bring into their daily lives.
As much as possible, I allow individual attention during classes, helping with good posture and alignment and bringing student’s awareness to the subtleties of their bodies.
I bring focus to pranayama, the subtle practice of breath control, throughout. Yoga Nidra, or meditation is of the utmost importance within my classes. The practice of Yoga has been developed to prepare the body perfectly for meditation, leaving it in a state of complete relaxation, and allowing the perfect flow of energy or prana through the body.
I encourage students to bring their practice home with them, to their own private space, allowing them to experience acceptance and stillness of emotions on their own, which brings empowerment beyond compare and, of course, all the health benefits which accompany it.
All levels of experience catered for in the classes
“Health is wealth. Peace of mind is happiness. Yoga shows the way.”
– Swami Vishnudevananda
Hatha-yoga is an ancient system of techniques used to free the body and mind from tension, stress, illness and disease. The practice combines the use of physical postures (yogasanas), breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditation (dyhana) to develop flexibility, strength and balance. There are many different styles of hatha-yoga, each reflecting the teachings of a particular Master (Guru). Various types of hatha-yoga are Sivananda, Kripalu, Iyengar, Bikram, Kundalini and Atma Vikasa and Ashtanga yoga (to name a few). Many people today are under the misconception that hatha-yoga is one form of yoga and ashtanga is another. However, it is more correct to understand that Ashtanga is a form/type of Hatha-yoga.
The Five Points of Yoga
Swami Vishnudevananda condensed the essence of the yoga teachings into five principles for physical and mental health as well as spiritual growth. These are the core teachings of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres and Ashrams.
Proper Exercise (Postures)
Proper Breathing (Pranayama)
Positive thinking and Meditation (Dhyana)
Our physical body is meant to move and exercise. If our lifestyle does not provide natural motion of muscles and joints, then disease and great discomfort will ensue with time. Proper exercise should be pleasant to the practitioner while beneficial to the body, mind and spiritual life.
There are numerous modern physical culture systems designed to develop the muscles through mechanical movements and exercises. As Yoga regards the body as a vehicle for the soul on its journey towards perfection, Yogic physical exercises are designed to develop not only the body. They also broaden the mental faculties and the spiritual capacities.
The Yogic physical exercises are called Asanas, a term which means steady pose. This is because the Yoga Asana (or posture) is meant to be held for some time. However this is quite an advanced practice. Initially, our concern is simply to increase body flexibility.
The body is as young as it is flexible. Yoga exercises focus on the health of the spine, its strength and flexibility. The spinal column houses the all-important nervous system, the telegraphic system of the body. By maintaining the spine’s flexibility and strength through exercise, circulation is increased and the nerves are ensured their supply of nutrients and oxygen.
The Asanas also affect the internal organs and the endocrine system (glands and hormones).
Yoga teaches us how to use the lungs to their maximum capacity and how to control the breath. Proper breathing should be deep, slow and rhythmical. This increases vitality and mental clarity.
Most people use only a fraction of their lung capacity for breathing. They breathe shallowly, barely expanding the ribcage. Their shoulders are hunched, they have painful tension in the upper part of the back and neck, and they suffer from lack of oxygen. Proper Breathing techniques taught through a yogic practice counteract these problems.
When the body and the mind are constantly overworked, their natural efficiency to perform work diminishes. Modern social life, food, work and even the so-called entertainment, such as disco dancing, make it difficult for modern people to relax. Many have even forgotten that rest and relaxation are nature’s way of recharging. Even while trying to rest, the average person expends a lot of physical and mental energy through tension. Much of the body’s energy is wasted uselessly.
The yogic diet is a vegetarian one, consisting of pure, simple, natural foods which are easily digested and promote health. Simple meals aid the digestion and assimilation of foods. Nutritional requirements fall under five categories: protein, carbohydrates, minerals, fats and vitamins.Eating foods first-hand from nature, grown in fertile soil (preferably organic, free from chemicals and pesticides) will help ensure a better supply of these nutritional needs. Processing, refining and overcooking destroy much food value.
A healthy motto is: “Eat to live, not live to eat”. It is best if we understand that the purpose of eating is to supply our being with the lifeforce,or Prana, the vital life energy. So the greatest nutritional plan for the Yoga student is the simple diet of natural fresh foods.
During complete relaxation, there is practically no energy or “Prana” being consumed, althouth a little is keeping the body in normal condition while the remaining portion is being stored and conserved.
In order to achieve perfect relaxation, three methods are used by yogis: “Physical”, “Mental”, and “Spiritual” relaxation. Relaxation is not complete until the person reaches that stage of spiritual relaxation.
Here is the most important point of all, we become what we think. Thus we should aim to entertain positive and creative thoughts as these will contribute to vibrant health and a peaceful, joyful mind. A positive outlook on life can be developed by learning and practicing the teachings of the philosophy of Vedanta. The mind will be brought under control by regular practice of meditation.
When the surface of a lake is still, one can see to the bottom very clearly. This is impossible when the surface is agitated by waves. In the same way, when the mind is still, with no thoughts or desires, you can see the “Self” this is called Yoga.
The mental ability to concentrate is inherent to all; it is not extraordinary or mysterious. Meditation is not something that a Yogi has to teach you; you already have the ability to shut out thoughts
One cannot learn to meditate, anymore than one can learn to sleep. One falls into both states. The practice of breath techniques and mantra repetition are the tools used to evoke the meditative state.