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Our thoughts on Yoga, philsophy and living a radiant life here in East London.

By Leyton Yoga, Sep 1 2016 10:45AM

What is Yoga?

The physical, mental and spiritual practice of Yoga has been practiced in Hindu and Buddhist cultures for thousands of years. The Sanskrit term yoga means “to yoke together” and speaks to yoga’s ultimate goal of uniting mind, body and spirit.

The fundamental principle that grounds all yoga practices is this: Our true nature is silent, joyful, peaceful and all-knowing. This essential truth is easily forgotten amidst the chaos and struggle of everyday life. Yoga is not a religion but an opportunity to explore and discover the vibrant, rich stillness that is in us all. As we establish this re-connection to the Self, peacefulness goes from being an occasional experience to being the core of our normal daily life, the grounding of all experience.

Modern science has revealed that yoga practices also move the body towards greater health. Yoga balances hormonal, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, regulates blood pressure, lifts depression, eases anxiety, alleviates asthma, lengthens and strengthens the muscles, reduces chronic pain, improves mobility and promotes better sleep and digestion.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

One of the main texts within the yoga tradition is The Yoga Sutras, compiled by Patanjali around 2000 years ago. In the Sutras, Patanjali defines yoga as a tree-like philosophical system with 8 branches which grow together to form a holistic approach to peaceful, healthy living.

1. Yamas

Ways to treat ourselves and others so we can live in generosity and abundance

• Ahimsa (non-harming, non-violence in action, thought and speech)

• Satya (commitment to truthfulness in thought and speech)

• Asteya (non-coveting and non-stealing)

• Brahmacharya (wise use of sexual energy, seeking spiritual connection to others)

• Aparigraha (non-grasping, non-hoarding, non-possessiveness)

2. Niyamas

Ways to self-nourish so we can strive towards self-improvement and personal growth

• Saucha (purity/cleanliness in body and mind)

• Santosha (contentment)

• Tapas (discipline)

• Swadhyaya (self-study and constant learning)

• Ishvarapranidhana (gratitude for or surrender to higher meaning)

3. Asana

Physical postures to refine inner perception and move the body and mind towards health and balance

4. Pranayama

Control of the prana (life force energy) in the body, including breathing practices

5. Pratyahara

Withdrawal of the senses to focus attention inwards towards silence rather than outwards towards external objects

6. Dharana

Unbroken concentration, to focus attention on a single action, object or thought

7. Dhyana

Sustained meditation under all conditions, a movement towards deep inner awareness

8. Samadhi

Return to original silence, an experience of wholeness and true connection

The Seven Moving Principles of Yoga Asana

Yoga asanas are postures that become vehicles for experiencing one’s own essential nature. Poses present us with an opportunity to listen deeply to our own body’s wisdom and to re-discover the joyfulness and peace that is our true nature. The goal in yoga is not necessarily to physically perfect the postures themselves, but to constantly refine and explore the spirit in which we practice them.

In Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit, Donna Farhi describes 7 principles or lines of self-inquiry to help us refine our concentration in each asana so that we may practice asana safely in a spirit of self-discovery, finding deeper inner meaning every time we come to our mats.

1. Breathe

Let the breath move you

2. Yield

Yield to the Earth, balancing weight and levity

3. Radiate

Move from the naval centre out the limbs and beyond into space

4. Centre

Elongate the spine to maintain its integrity

5. Support

Establish the foundation of the posture from the ground up

6. Align

Create clear lines of force through the body which create ease and comfort within effort

7. Engage

Support each pose with the muscles and breath

∞ Return

Return the mind to the original silence

Further Reading

“Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit” by Donna Farhi

“Light on Yoga” by BKS Iyengar

“Light on Life” by BKS Iyengar

By Leyton Yoga, Jul 18 2016 02:53PM

Pregnancy is a very special time in a woman’s life. Yoga offers a toolkit of physical exercises, breathing practices and philosophies to support and nourish you as you journey towards birth and motherhood.

If you already have an established yoga practice, we encourage you to embrace softness. Pause strong practice. Make adjustments. Listen your body and your baby.

If you are new to yoga, we encourage you to attend only prenatal yoga classes.

Although you should always seek the advice of your doctor and/or midwife, we offer some general tips here on yoga practice and pregnancy.

First Trimester

When you discover you are expecting, we strongly encourage you to pause your yoga practice until your 14th week. Your baby’s central nervous system and brain are developing, and you are growing your placenta. This is a time of great change, a time for rest and acceptance.

Second & Third Trimester

If you have been practicing yoga for over one year and have both your doctor’s and your yoga teacher’s approval, you may rejoin your regular yoga class.

Within those classes, you will need to significantly alter your practice. Take it slow, listen to your body and your baby, and avoid over-heating. In busy group classes, teachers can offer guidance but may not always be able to give you step-by-step separate instruction.

The following practices should be avoided during pregnancy:

- advanced inversions

- deep twists

- deep backbends

- supine positions on your back or belly

- abdominal (“core”) work

- deep stretching

- heating pranayama (ex: Ujjayi, Kapalabhati) and breath retentions

Throughout pregnancy, your yoga practice should focus on:

- Fluid, natural movements

- Joint stability

- Glutes and leg strengthening

- Pelvic floor awareness (softness & strength)

- Calming breath practices

- Visualization-based meditation

- Grounding foot and leg work

- Ankle and wrist mobility to move fluids

- Side stretches to open the ribs

- Very gentle backbends

- Open-legged forward bends

- Very gentle twists

During your second trimester, yoga will help you to find space in your body for breath, get your excess fluids circulating, and relieve your pregnancy-related discomforts as your baby grows.

During your third trimester, we encourage you to take only Prenatal classes. You’ll learn movements, breathing techniques and sounding practices which will soothe you during your final weeks of pregnancy, encourage optimal fetal position and help you feel calm and in control during your birth experience.

Best of all, in Prenatal classes, you’ll meet a community of local like-minded mums, sharing wisdom, friendship and, of course, the odd piece of cake!

Here are Leyton Yoga's prenatal and postnatal classes:

Sunday 9am - Pregnancy Yoga

Monday 11am - Mum & Baby Yoga

We wish you a joyful journey towards motherhood.

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