Physical yoga influences the whole body beneficially. The blood circulation increases, glands are stimulated which balances the hormonal system. Joints and muscles become supple and strong, inner organs are massaged. Physical yoga is very good for our health.
When the body relaxes, we feel better. So the exercises are great for our mental well-being too. Doing yoga regularly is moving towards harmony.
In our classes we do gentle movements to warm the body up, more dynamic movements, such as sun salutation, and the classical poses where you hold the body still – in advanced yoga maybe up to 10 minutes in the pose!
The breathing and the nervous system are closely connected – physio-therapists say the breath is the key to the nervous system.
If the breath is shallow and irregular, it will influence the way we feel. The yogic breathing exercises allow us to gradually and naturally release tensions and inhibitions in the breathing rhythm.
This manifests in daily life as clarity, energy and a feeling of release -“everything's all right”.
Identifying with heavy mental states and sluggishness stops us moving forward in life and doing what we want. Breathing exercises help us let go of these states, without struggling, or repressing them, and move into our natural, clear and bright state.
Relaxation - “Yoga Nidra”
This technique gives a profound relaxation on many levels. Deeper muscular tension is released, the immune system is strengthened, the quality of sleep improved – and it lowers the level of stress. A very good exercise for busy London!
Stress is natural – it happens to all of us, but the important thing is to let go and relax regularly, so that stress doesn't become chronic. Yoga Nidra is a perfect technique to help us with this. Swami Satyananda said that half an hour of Yoga Nidra corresponds to four hours of sleep.
Meditation is a method to increase awareness. Awareness of the present moment, and awareness of the contents of your own mind; the thoughts, what you identify with, your reactions etc. - and ultimately the stillness behind all this.
The process of meditation isn't about judging or analyzing yourself or your surroundings - it involves relaxed attention.
With practise, meditation becomes easy and enjoyable. If you do it regularly you'll soon notice the benefits. When you know yourself better, a lot of confusion falls away - you start to feel a lightness of heart.
In the form of yoga that I teach, these four aspects – physical poses, breathing exercises, relaxation and meditation – are used in every class. This gives a thorough, comprehensive and harmonious effect: mental and physical rejuvenation.
Yoga is a spiritual practice – but that doesn't mean that you need to have particular beliefs, or behave in a particular way. As you relax, you will rest more in yourself, and your response to life and the people around you will come less from fear, or confusion, and more from your inner centre.