Yoga is an holistic system which gives us the tools to work on the many layers of our being – it is not just a physical approach but it teaches us how to develop our self-awareness and understanding of our physical, emotional and mental states so that we can take over mastery and control of our mind and body rather than being a slave to all external suggestion and stimuli. By learning to reconnect with what is going on inside we begin to understand and recognise what it actually is that we need in each moment rather than waiting for something outside to instruct us. The physical benefits of strength, flexibility and balance are really just a wonderful by-product of the whole. As we move deeper into the practice we become more mindful and we are more able to deal with every day experiences – we realise how “reactive” we are when we are not focused on the present moment. Yoga works on restoring balance and harmony through movement of the body and breath and meditation.
There are many different types of yoga from the more dynamic Ashtanga and Vinyasa to the slower, gentle Yin and Restorative. Each type has its place in the current world. One must explore and be curious to find out what their body needs. It is important to remember that we are constantly changing and evolving, so what suits us today may not be what we need tomorrow…
Vinyasa Flow is the synchronisation of breath and movement in a sequence which flows from one asana/posture into the next. A vinyasa sequence may be strong and dynamic or it may be gentle and mindful. The sequences are creative and often have a theme - this may be a physical theme or more etheric theme. It teaches us to become more aware of how we move and align ourselves – to move with purpose and focus. As yoga’s popularity has grown in the West so too has the understanding that not all bodies are the same and trying to force one’s body in to a specific shape can often result in injury and so yoga has begun to evolve into a more embodied practice of knowing one’s own body and how to move it safely and mindfully. Dynamic yoga is a yang form of yoga.
Yin yoga is a softer more contemplative system which invites us to look within – to explore with curiosity while resting in stillness. Though the postures may be considered easy this is a challenging practice where we allow the deeper-seated aspects of ourselves to rise to the surface and be seen so that if necessary, they may be released and new pathways may be created restoring balance. In Yin yoga we work on the appropriate stretching and releasing of connective tissue.
It is important to remember that Yin and Yang are balancing aspects of the same whole – we cannot have one without the other… In any yoga practice, there is always yin and yang but we must remember the need to balance the two so we shouldn’t always do yang dynamic practices or slow yin practices, but rather listen to what our body needs and follow accordingly.