What is Yoga?
Yoga is so ancient that it can be traced back over 5,000 years while some researchers believe it to be even older. Traditionally, it was orally passed down from teacher to student; and when the oral teachings were first transferred to palm leaves, they became easily damaged and lost. The first systematic presentation of yoga was through Patanjali’s writing of the Yoga Sutras around 200 AD, where he lays out the different stages towards living life with an elevated consciousness or in other words, how to obtain enlightenment. Think of it as a guide book to happiness, joy and bliss.
While Patanjali primarily focused on framing a moral code, and purifications for the mind, a few centuries later, other yoga masters turned the focus onto the body. They highlighted the purification of the physical bodies as the main pathway to achieving enlightenment. These are the practices that have been brought to the West, and what we are exposed to now – Hatha Yoga. Ha-tha simply means ‘sun,’ and ‘moon’, and is the integration of the masculine and feminine energies in the body.
As yoga has evolved over the centuries, and was introduced into the West in the late 1800s, there has been differing schools of thought. However, one thing is for sure: the aim of yoga is to return us into a balanced harmonious state. For some, the easiest entry point is the mind, for some the body, some the emotions, and others a combination of all of them depending on where they are in their lives.
At Sagehouse, we see the physical body as a storehouse for all the imprints of the mind and emotions. For example, if you had undergone thyroid surgery, your neck may be prone to tightening every time you inhale. Even though you were anaesthetized and didn’t feel the pain, the body still has the memory of trauma and then adopted a defensive mechanism of tightening the neck. Because the body did not get a chance to release the trauma, it instead created a chronic habit of tension that inevitably affects the neck and shoulders. Everyone has physical, mental and emotional trauma in varying degrees of severity stored in their body. A private yoga class has the ability to use the consciousness to heal the storehouse of tensions and traumas in the body.
Why are there so many different styles of Yoga?
In the north of India near the Himalayas, the yoga poses are called different names from in the South. Just like martial arts, there are so many different schools and styles of practices. Ashtanga yoga created by Pattabhi Jois is known for its set series of postures that feature a quicker and more athletic style of movement. While Iyengar is known for very slow, precise alignment cuing. Then there is kundalini yoga that focuses on repetitive breathing techniques and mantras to align activate the energy body. There are numerous styles of yoga that would take pages to fill. The most important thing to remember when selecting a style that works for you, is try it, and see if it increases or decreases your level of joy when you are practicing it.
What is Sage Yoga?
Sage Yoga is a vinyasa based style which highlights the free flowing nature of how one pose moves seamlessly into the next like a dance. The durations of each pose can be held from 5 to 10 breaths. In a private yoga class, the tempo and difficulty are modified according to the student, and are executed with the intention of helping to purify the mind and body. We emphasize approaching the practice without strain or forcing, which is counterproductive when we are trying to connect with our inner sage who reflects our inner wisdom.
What are the health benefits of yoga?
Harvard Medical studies have also linked yoga to reducing cardiovascular risks and lower blood pressure in people who have hypertension to the point that it is now being included into cardiac rehabilitation programs due to its stress-relieving benefits. Harvard Medical also reports that yoga can have positive effects with depression, arthritis and improving one’s survival of cancer.
- Increased overall flexibility in the spine, shoulders, hips and legs.
- Boost of energy, life force and vitality.
- Restores the equilibrium of the metabolism.
- Regular practice of 4-5 times a week promotes weight loss.
- Cardio and circulatory health.
- Improved elasticity of the connective tissue.
- Conditions the entire body.
- Beneficial for those with pulmonary disorders like asthma.
- Reinforces the joints and connective tissue.
- Safe rehabilitation of joint and spinal injuries.
- Improves the entire postural structure.
- Reduces the chance of injuries or re-injuries.
- Enhances physical, mental, spiritual coordination & balance.
- Entrains deeper focus and concentration.
- Expands overall mental and physical awareness.
- Eliminates stress and anxiety while promoting relaxation.