Yoga is perhaps the world’s first system to recognize the connection and interaction between the mind, body and spirit. The word yoga means "union" in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India where yoga originated.
References to Yoga can be seen in many Indian ancient texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharatha, the Vedas etc. The most distinguished and noted propagator of Yoga was the great sage Patanjali, the author of the treatise “Yoga Sutras.” He was perhaps the first to record the principles of Yoga handed over from generations to generations orally.
The main purpose of Yoga is to isolate the mind from all thoughts, worries and anxiety and increase the strength and flexibility of the body. The regular practice of Yoga can help to keep stress and tension at bay and alleviate the mind to a state of well-being and peace.
What is commonly referred to as "yoga" can be more accurately described by the Sanskrit word asana, which refers to the practice of physical postures or poses.
Asana is only one of the eight "limbs" of yoga, the majority of which are more concerned with mental and spiritual well being than physical activity. In the West, however, the words asana and yoga are often used interchangeably.
Many people think that yoga is just stretching. But while stretching is certainly involved, yoga is really about creating balance in the body through developing both strength and flexibility. This is done through the performance of poses or postures, each of which has specific physical benefits. The poses can be done quickly in succession, creating heat in the body through movement (vinyasa-style yoga) or more slowly to increase stamina and perfect the alignment of the pose. The poses are a constant, but the approach to them varies depending on the tradition in which the teacher has trained.
There are many different styles of yoga being taught and practiced today. Although all of the styles are based on the same physical postures (called poses), each has a particular emphasis. Here is a quick guide to the most popular types of yoga.
Hatha is a very general term that can encompass many of the physical types of yoga. If a class is described as Hatha style, it is probably going to be slow-paced and gentle and provide a good introduction to the basic yoga poses.
Like Hatha, Vinyasa is a general term that is used to describe many different types of classes. Vinyasa, which means breath-synchronized movement, tends to be a more
vigorous style based on the performance of a series of poses called Sun Salutations, in which movement is matched to the breath. A Vinyasa class will typically start with a number of Sun Salutations to warm up the body for more intense stretching that's done at the end of class.
ASHTANGA & POWER YOGA
Ashtanga, which means "eight limbs" in Sanskrit, is a fast-paced, intense style of yoga. A set series of poses is performed, always in the same order. Ashtanga practice is very physically demanding because of the constant movement from one pose to the next. In yoga terminology, this movement is called flow. Ashtanga is also the inspiration for what is often called Power Yoga. If a class is described as Power Yoga, it will be based on the flowing style of Ashtanga, but not necessarily keep strictly to the set Ashtanga
series of poses.
Based on the teachings of the yogi B.K.S Iyengar, this style of practice is most concerned with bodily alignment. In yoga, the word alignment is used to describe the precise way in which your body should be positioned in each pose in order to obtain the maximum benefits and avoid injury. Iyengar practice usually emphasizes holding poses over long periods versus moving quickly from one pose to the next (flow). Also, Iyengar practice encourages the use of props, such as yoga blankets, blocks and straps, in order to bring the body into alignment.
The emphasis in Kundalini is on the breath in conjunction with physical movement, with the purpose of freeing energy in the lower body and allowing it to move upwards. All asana practices make use of controlling the breath. But in Kundalini, the exploration of the effects of the breath (also called prana, meaning energy) on the postures is essential.
Pioneered by Bikram Choudhury, this style is more generally referred to as Hot Yoga. It is practiced in a 35-38o C (95-100o F) degree room, which allows for a loosening of tight muscles and profuse sweating, which is thought to be cleansing. The Bikram method is a set series of 26 poses, but not all hot classes make use of this series.
Founded in 1997 by John Friend, Anusara combines a strong emphasis on physical alignment with a positive philosophy derived from Tantra. The philosophy’s premise is belief
in the intrinsic goodness of all beings. Anusara classes are usually light-hearted and accessible to students of differing abilities. Poses are taught in a way that opens the heart,
both physically and mentally, and props are often used.
Arka Dhyana is a deep intuitive meditation that takes place in the heart region, the centre of the body. It reduces mind yet expands consciousness. This brings profound insights about one's Self, including body awareness, and leads to the experience of different components of our existence. Eventually, one gains an experience of wholeness, after which many positive changes occur.
Dharma yoga was established with a vision to share yoga knowledge. At Dharma we utilize the inspiration of the Himalayan yoga tradition as the foundation of our teaching.Each Dharma Hatha yoga class incorporates breathing techniques, yoga stretches, yoga postures, progressive relaxation and/or meditation in a comfortable rhythmical flow to stimulate and balance the entire mind and body.
Meditation is the attainment of a high level of concentration and reaching out to the inner depths of mind.
The path to meditation consists of three stages- Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (enlightenment). By concentrating on any particular object for a long time, attention is fixed and Dhyana or meditation is achieved.
Prolonged meditation leads to Samadhi or enlightenment.
Most of the Retrat Centers we have selected include Yoga as part of their treatment programs or as a disciplined complementary part to balance out body and soul. However, for the true Yoga fans and those who are intrested in indulging into the world of Yoga our recommendation is Ulpotha.