An Integral Yoga
What is a Sivananda Yoga class?
A Sivananda yoga class is a traditional class which encourages proper breathing, flexibility, strength and vitality in the body while calming the mind. Because Yoga is a spiritual system with a physical component, this non-competitive approach helps the practitioner gain much more than just a healthy body.
A typical yoga class includes pranayama (breathing exercises), warm-ups including Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar), 12 basic asanas (postures) and deep relaxation. The focus is on mastering the basic asanas from which variations are then added to further deepen the practice. The asanas follow an exact order that allows for the systematic movement of every major part of the body in a balanced way that enhances prana or life force energy, keeping the mind quiet and without the need to think beyond each individual pose. Additional variations may also be taught.
Asana is one of the eight limbs of classical Yoga and states that poses should be steady and comfortable, firm yet relaxed. The yoga asanas gently encourage us to become more aware of our body, mind, and environment.
The 12 basic poses or asanas are much more than just stretching. They open the energy and psychic channels - chakras - of the body while increasing flexibility of the spine, strengthening bones and stimulating the circulatory and immune systems. Along with proper breathing or pranayama, asanas also calm the mind and reduce stress.
With regular practice one can increase overall physical and mental health and the aid in the prevention of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and arthritis. In time, the poses consciously becomes a mental exercise in concentration and meditation.
For more information on the 12 basic postures, click here.
After arriving in the West, Swami Vishnudevananda observed the habits and lifestyles of the modern life and condensed the traditional yoga teachings into 5 points:
- Proper Exercise
- Proper Breathing
- Proper Relaxation
- Proper Diet
- Positive Thinking and Meditation
Yoga is not merely a physical exercise but a systematic holistic lifestyle and habits that brings about the evolution of the soul.
You can read more about the 5 points of yoga here.