Originating in India over 5000 years ago, yoga is Sanskrit for “union”. While there are a variety of schools of yoga, all aspire to help students achieve unity of body, mind and spirit. Full expression of yoga is a state of wholeness that is grounded in a discipline known as the eight-limbed path:
1. yamas (codes of conduct)
2. niyamas (self observations)
3. asanas (postures)
4. pranayama (breathing)
5. pratyahara (withdrawing the senses)
6. dharana (concentration)
7. dhyana (meditation)
8. samadie (self realization).
Kripalu yoga, the yoga of consciousness, was inspired by Swami Kripalvananda (Babuji). Kripalu has three stages, which students can move through at their own pace while honoring the body’s needs.
Stage 1 – body and breath awareness – is a gentle form of yoga for beginners. At this level, students learn how to properly align the body in yogic postures (asanas) and coordinate these with conscious and deliberate breathing techniques (pranayama).
In Stage 2 – inner focus and concentration – more experienced students learn to hold asanas for longer periods of time and cultivate the art of mindfulness. It is at this level that awareness and compassion is developed as students learn to pay attention to the subtleties of bodily sensations, breath, thoughts and emotions.
In Stage 3 – absorption – advanced students are encouraged to use their intuition and inner wisdom to enter a spontaneous flow of postures known as “meditation in motion”.
All Kripalu yoga classes begin with centering. Seated in a comfortable seated position with eyes closed, students practice pranayamas, which is a vehicle used to focus inward, slow the breath and ease restless thoughts. Pranayamas allow students to become more sensitive to how they feel, which in turn enables them to practice with greater awareness and respect for their bodies. Centering is followed by a series of asanas designed to stretch and strengthen the entire body. The last 20 minutes of each class is devoted to guided relaxation and meditation, which helps students develop a sense of inner peace that can be carried throughout the day.
The physical and psychological benefits of yoga are many. Asanas are designed to stimulate the body externally and internally. The body becomes toned and defined as we strengthen and stretch our muscles, and increased flexibility and improved posture are common. Together these can help prevent and treat muscular-skeletal conditions, such as arthritis and osteoporosis. Moreover, asanas stimulate the digestive, circulatory, immune and respiratory systems, which contributes to improved physiological conditioning and overall health. Learning to breathe through challenging postures encourages self awareness, respect and compassion, and this, together with relaxation techniques, can help students breath more easily and remain calm through life’s difficult times. In fact, stress, anxiety and depression are often relieved as clarity and peace of mind are restored.
Whether you aspire to improve or maintain your physical well being, develop a higher state of awareness and/or attain a sense of peace and compassion, the Joy of Yoga Studio provides a open and respectful space where all are welcome to gather in practice.
Visit the classes page for the full Joy of Yoga Studio class schedule and rates.