april 2008

Yes I did spend two months in India and now have been back on the Island for longer than that. It was an extraordinary time and I will share that with you as I integrate and fully digest the experience.

I am reading a book by Mukunda Stiles called Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy, thats what I am, an Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist, I am finding it interesting. Often people ask what ‘kind’ of Yoga I am teaching, mostly because they want to talk about it with their friends, so I thought this would be a good forum to put my answer in print. Mukunda has a section on ‘The varieties of Yoga’ in his book and he explains this so well that I am going to be paraphrasing him, read the book if you want more explanation or please come and talk to me in person or call or email. .

With all these different forms of yoga being promoted it is difficult for a beginner when searching for a class. Some of the brand names come from creative teachers names like Sivananda, Iyengar, Kripalu and Bikram. Others are based on a method like Ashtanga Yoga, Power Yoga, Jivamukti , Anusara,and Vjnana. All of these forms are varieties of Hatha Yoga, they all have wonderful health benefits.

Considered from an Ayurvedic perspective these major teaching styles would be viewed in light of their tendancy to balance a certain constitutional type, or Dosha, which refers to the fundamental elements or principles that govern the function of our bodies. The five elements are Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether and refer to the three Doshas, Kapha, Pitta and Vata.

Popular teaching styles promoted as Kripalu, Integral and Sivananda Yoga or Satyananda Yoga are similar in that they emphasize rhythmical breathing and mindful meditation while doing the asanas and are generally a preparation for the deeper practices of yoga, like meditation. They create a supple body and alert mind and appeal to students who want to relax and are looking to develop their own intuitive guidance. Those with a Vata constitution(Ether,Air) will be most drawn to these practices though they would also be beneficial for anyone wanting to balance the air/ether elements or just relax,change the pace of their lifestyle and manage stress.

Ashtanga Yoga, Power Yoga and Bikram Yoga emphasize fast paced practices that are vigorous and promote sweating as a form of purification. The practices develop lustrous skin tone, tremendous vitality and a passion for life awakens. It is ideal for those of a Pitta or fire constitution so long as they use their discrimination and do not get over heated.These methods of practising Yoga would be beneficial for anyone needing to add more fire to their lives, overcoming lethargy or depression. These styles build the most athletic body.

Iyengar Yoga and its off spring Anusara and Vjnana Yoga focus on physical alignment and develop physical and mental strength and stamina. Once the basics are learned the postures are held for longer periods of time, practitioners become strong with moderately developed physiques. The emphasis is on becoming firm and steadfast in the practice and faith and perseverance are developed.. These styles are most appealing to those with a Kapha constitution (water/earth) or those in need of more grounding and stability in their lives.

In Classical Yoga and Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy the emphasis is on adapting the yoga to meet the individuals needs and therefore is often taught individually, though in a class situation the teacher would adapt the practice according to the changing seasons as well as the unique constitutions of the students. A Yoga Therapist is trained in a variety of ‘styles’ of practice so that they have the tools to adapt the Yoga to the individuals ever changing needs. The goal is to balance the Doshas(elements) rather than focus on any particular school of yoga. Basically that is what this book is about and it descibes well my own endeavours in teaching Yoga with an emphasis on Ayurvedic understanding, thank you Mukunda.

I will be back soon to share with you my experiences from India, please see the gallery for a few pictures, we will have a slideshow at the studio in August.

My gratitude as always for your support and presence,
In the Light

Sandra (Sannyasin Sagarmurti)