Yoga, fusion and purpose

Welcome to this Spring issue of the Inner Sanctum Yoga Newsletter. I am sure we all are looking forward to daylight saving and the approach of warmer weather. Well done to everyone who came to class during our coldest and wettest time of the year.

This term we had fun exploring a few new ways to practice yoga. We had a look at Yin, Yang and Somatic yoga, all intertwined with some regular hatha vinyasas. I am constantly surprised at the never ending supply of new poses, and also at the new styles of yoga that keep on popping up. Some are more attractive than others, but despite all the fancy new words for ‘so-called’ NEW YOGA, I would like to think that each type of yoga has the same OLD central focus.

My interest in everything yoga has led me to reflecting on the purpose of our practice. Yoga is gaining more and more momentum in our society and is often mistakenly viewed as a new mainstream exercise option.

However, we need to remind ourselves every so often that yoga is not just about exercise. Practicing the yoga poses or asanas, is to enhance the flow of energy through the body and  to focus the mind on the body’s sensations. We use the breath to gain inner stillness and to activate our body’s relaxation response. Meditation, mindfulness or awareness is always an essential part of a complete yoga practice.

The purpose of Yoga  as I see it, is to learn about ourselves, physically, mentally and spiritually. With that knowledge we become better equipped to take responsibility for our own health. This leads us to becoming more balanced, healthy and compassionate people who are able to contribute to society in a positive way.

Another wonderful idea to ponder is this: Through awareness and contemplation, we get a clearer picture of the true essence of all things. This insight leads to understanding, understanding leads to wisdom and wisdom to peace.

I like to think of yoga styles in the same way as we think of cooking styles. To cook a healthy and nutritious meal, you can do this with a French, Asian, Indian or any other worldly flavour. You can be a purist or a fan of fusion cooking and I guess we all find what serves us best. It doesn’t really matter what flavour you eat, as long as the food is clean, tastes good and contributes to our health.

You may have gathered that I lean towards a ‘fusion yoga practice’. I like the creative and explorative approach, without losing the central philosophy. Next  term I am looking forward touch on the traditional ‘eight limbs of yoga’ while we continue to have fun with our practice.

Finally, I like to alert you to the fact that I am organizing another Sunday Yoga Bliss Out at the Yoga Hut on the 5th of October from 4-6 pm. The last one was booked out, so make sure to book early to get a guaranteed spot.


Dance with the Dragon

The last few weeks we experimented with a type of flow yoga, which is a fusion of Tai Chi and Yoga. Last week we completed the first part of the dragon dance, the Yang Dragon. The characteristics of Yang movements are flowing and quite fast. Yang is ruled by the Sun and the male side of us. It works a great deal with the physical energy in and surrounding our bodies. The playing around with the ball of energy as a prelude to the dance, may be perceived as a little ‘airy fairy’, but it allows us to work on keeping an open mind to other possible perceptions of energy than the ones we are used to. Not only that, the visualisation and movement makes for a great warm up and the wonderful sensation of imaginary child’s play. The continuous movement  works our bodies aerobically, stimulating the heart and lung systems and at the same time we create inner heat, strength and flexibility. Our mind is completely occupied with the dancing movement and the breath, so there is no room for inner chatter. Personally I very much enjoyed the palpable energy that was created by the rhythmic flow of bodies and breaths moving in unison throughout the class. From the feedback I received, I have a feeling that the Yang dragon will definitely return from time to time.In the next couple of weeks we continue to dance with the dragon, but now we’ll experience the Yin component of the yin-yang balance. Yin is ruled by the moon and the female side of us. The Yin dance is characterised by slow, mentally charged movements as opposed to the physically charged energy of the Yang dance. This practice is mentally, but I think also physically, more confronting and demanding than the yang dance, as we will remain in the poses for a longer period of time – about 10 breaths. The Yin practice builds strength of body and strength of mind. To remain focused and balanced is at the core of this practice. It will be interesting to see who prefers Yin and who prefers Yang. It will also be interesting to explore if the type of movement we prefer, is the one we need or, whether the opposite is better to create balance in our lives. Because we live in a yang dominant society of being busy, busy, busy and are subject to constant movement, my prediction is that most would prefer the Yang dance and also because we tend to prefer those things that are familiar to us. We’ll see what happens.I hope you all enjoyed this little side-track into ‘fusion yoga’ as much as I have.

For those who would like to practice a little yoga nidra at home, I have now recorded and posted a 10 minute yoga nidra practice on my website. You will find it underyoga/meditation time table and then you will see yoga nidra in the drop-down menu.

I will be on holidays, visiting my family in Europe, from 3rd September to 22nd September. Di and I are looking for a replacement teacher, so yoga will be on as usual in Hawthorn. However, the Malvern yoga classes will stop over this period. Also no meditation classes will be held.

May the benefits of your practice stay with you and extend beyond you,