”The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind & the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.”
“Yoga is not a religion. It is a science, science of well-being, science of youthfulness, science
of integrating body, mind and soul.”
Amit Ray, Yoga and Vipassana: An Integrated Life Style
A standard vinyasa example
Yoga is a science of evolution. It can be practised by all irrespective of caste, creed, colour and religion. The practises transcend the place, time and environment. The only requirement needed is constant and continued practise and the spirit of detachment.
Today in the 21st century yoga for most people is simply a means of maintaining health and well being in an increasingly stressful society. Asanas (postures) remove the physical discomfort accumulated during a day at the office sitting in a chair. Relaxation techniques help maximise the effectiveness of ever diminishing time off.
Yoga for the mind
Beyond the needs of individuals, the underlying practices if yoga provide a real tool to combat social discomfort, and encourage people to start being kind to themselves as well as others. In this respect, yoga is far from simply a physical exercise, but an aid to establishing a new way of life which embraces both inner and outer realities. Yoga, pranayama and meditation practices are great antidotes to stress, anxiety and depression. Yoga, which is a way of life, brings balance, health, harmony and bliss for the restless mind.
The word 'yoga' has been derived from the Sanskrit root 'yujir-yoge'- to join or unite. Another Sanskrit root 'yuj' gives two meanings- to control and to resolve.
Yoga provides a means of joining the mind and the self. It describes various tools and disciplines for purifying the mind which helps us to appreciate the true self.
The Maitreyi Upanishad (VI-25) says that yoga is the unity of three aspects of personality, namely the senses, the mind and the life force, The Prana, in which one ceases to be under the influence of conflicting thought and cravings.
The term vinyāsa refers to the alignment of movement and breath, a method which turns static asanas into a dynamic flow. The length of one inhale or one exhale dictates the length of time spent transitioning between asanas. Asanas are then held for a predefined number of breaths. In effect, attention is placed on the breath and the journey between the asanas rather than solely on achieving perfect body alignment in an asana, as is emphasized in Hatha yoga.
The term vinyasa also refers to a specific series of movements that are frequently done between each asana in a series. This viṅyāsa 'flow' is a variant of Sūrya namaskāra, the Sun Salutation, and is used in other styles of yoga beside Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.
A standard vinyāsa consists (for example) of the flow from caturaṅga, or plank, to caturaṅga daṇḍāsana, or low plank, to ūrdhva mukha śvānāsana or upward-facing dog, to Adho Mukha Svanasana, or downward-facing dog.
The breathing style used in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is Ujjayi which is a relaxed diaphragmatic style of breathing, characterized by an ocean sound which resonates in the practitioner's throat. Throughout a practice, this specific breathing style is maintained in alignment with movements. The steady cycle of inhales and exhales provides the practitioner with a calming, mental focal point. Additionally, viṅyāsa and Ujjayi together create internal heat, which leads to purification of the body through increased circulation and sweating.
Another major principle of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is the bandha, or muscle locking/contraction, which focuses energy in the body and is closely tied to the breath.