The word ‘HATHA’, comes from the two bija mantras, (seed syllables that enable transformation) ‘HA’ which means ‘sun’, and ‘THA’ which means moon. Within these two mantras are contained the essences of traditional Yoga. The images of the sun and moon represent the dual aspects of life; the cool and the hot, the energetic and the passive, strength v. stretch, dynamic v. static, logical v. intuitive, extrovert v. introvert, objective v. subjective, conscious v. subconscious, matter v. mind, Shiva v. Shakti, and so on.

One of the many aims of Yoga is to bring about balance and harmony within the body and mind. Yoga means ‘yoke’ or ‘unite’. When these different aspects of ourselves are balanced and united we may experience great peace, calm, tranquility, bliss within our present moment awareness. Here there is no sense of identifying with our ego. We become our ‘true self’, identifying with the soul. With continuous and dedicated practice, we may reach a state of unification with the universe beyond time and space. The sages and gurus call this ‘liberation’. They believe this state to be eternal where consciousness continues and re-birth ends. Awareness of one-consciousness throughout eternity. Immortality.

The Yogis use to sit for many hours in meditation to achieve this state. They found that their joints and muscles became stiff. It became important to look after the physical body. In order to sit for longer periods, they needed to keep the body as fit and healthy as possible. They developed the asanas (postures) that kept the joints and muscles strong, toned and flexible. The asanas arose as a method of stretching and strengthening every joint and muscle in the body. Our modern Western Style practice often concentrates on the body but it was meditation that came first. Yoga is meditation. The postures are practiced with deep mindfulness. Some of the movements are dynamic, others are static.

Their nervous system became cleansed and strengthened, enabling huge amounts of energy to be channeled. Their awareness of the bodies ‘subtle systems’ became heightened. They were able to go deeply inward to discover how the mind and body operated. These practices ensured they remained healthy and well into old age. The original Yogis were scientists. Their insight into the way that we work came through inner experience. Their observation of the mind and the different layers of consciousness gave them experience of cosmic consciousness. Yoga is an ancient practice, perhaps it began with the first conscious breath.

 

The Benefits

The Benefits of Yoga are endless as is the journey. There is always more to know and experience. Once you have found for yourself how much better you feel from practicing Yoga, it is only natural to keep practicing.

Physical Benefits

All the joints and muscles of the body become both strong and flexible. We work by taking the joints through their full pain free range of movement. We are all the same but at the same time we are all different. Some people are hyper-flexible and therefore their joints are unstable and they need to work with strength. Others have short muscle ratio to bone length, and they need to work more with stretching the muscles. Muscles have a good ability to stretch but everyone will have their personal limit. Through the practice of the asanas you will become much more aware of your own body and it’s uniqueness. You will learn what asanas are most beneficial to your type.

Mental Benefits

Through mental focus and concentration exercises, we can begin to understand how thoughts are always occupying the consciousness and can be powerfully in control of us. We can learn to control these thoughts and therefore use them as our tool to achieve transformation. Addiction, depression, lack of confidence, desire, fear, etc., can be transformed through meditation and mental training exercises.

Benefits of Deep Breathing

The breath is always with us. It changes moment by moment as we change moment by moment. It is intrinsically linked to how we feel. It is a wonderful thing that we can direct and change our breath. Learning to breathe deeply detoxifies the cells. Calms the nervous system. Slows the heart rate. Energizes the muscles. As we progress into Pranayama techniques we find the mind becomes clear. The world around us sparkles as we take in fully the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feel of all that surrounds us. It connects with life. Prana.

The stresses of modern civilization are a strain on the nerves for which savasana is the best antidote. Iyengar.

The Stress Reduction Benefits

For so many people the stresses of busy lives can build and accumulate and the essential balance between stress and relaxation can be disrupted. Emotionally we can become tense, irritable, anxious or depressed. There are many stress related diseases which tend to be linked with the hormonal system. A general feeling of un-wellness may be frequent headaches, IBS, muscular aches and pains. Every Yoga session begins and ends with the activation of the relaxation response. We try as best we can to stay in this relaxed state throughout the practice. The benefits of this can be profound. On a physiological level the heart rate and respiration are reduced, and the metabolism is increased. On an emotional level we are able to let go of our troubles and feel a moment of softness, openness, and lightness. The body and mind have a chance to restore, rejuvenate, re-balance, and de-stress. This can often be the main reason for people attending their class. Yoga is unlike any other form of physical exercise and there are few other formal ways of achieving this state.