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What is Yoga?

The word Yoga comes from Sanskrit, the scriptural language of ancient India. Its root is the verb yuj, meaning to yoke or unite. Yoga unites us with ourselves, our surroundings and the Divine. According to Georg Feuerstein, "Yoga is first and foremost the discipline of conscious living."

The yoga practiced by most Westerners is Hatha yoga, or the physical yoga. Yoga postures when applied consciously, encourage concentration, inner stillness, perseverance, patience, self-acceptance, objective self-observation and a sense of humor, all of which benefit the mind and overall health. Hatha yoga is described as the "doorway" to our inner world.

Hatha Yoga, however, focuses mainly on one of the eight limbs of yoga described by Patanjali. The path of yoga is made up of the following eight limbs: restraints (yamas), observances (niyamas), posture (asanas), breath control (pranayama), sensory inhibition (pratyahara), concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana) and absorption (samadhi). A consistent practice of these eight elements leads to deeper experiences of awareness until consciousness is transcended in the bliss state of ecstasy.

What yoga is right for you? Click onto this article by Therese Droste: article

Kripalu Yoga is a modern school of Yoga that reflects a synthesis of traditional approaches. It is based on the teachings of Swami Kripalvanandji. For a history of Kripalu click here. Kripalu Yoga incorporates into one system the physical and purification practices of Hatha Yoga; the mental disciplines of Raja Yoga; the prana awakening principles of Kundalini Yoga; the devotion of Bhakti Yoga; and the emphasis on service of Karma Yoga.

More than a spiritual practice on the Yoga mat, Kripalu Yoga is a holistic lifestyle in which the principles of Yoga are applied off the mat in daily life. The key to the practice of Kripalu Yoga lies in understanding prana (universal life-force) as a link between body, mind, and spirit. The regular practice of Kripalu Yoga will result in the awakening of prana, which allows the deeper aspects of Yoga and meditation to manifest spontaneously and effortlessly.

Throughout Kripaluís three-stage approach, you are guided to move at your own pace, honoring your bodyís needs in each moment. Kripalu Yoga develops the body, mind and spirit in a compassionate and non-judgmental way. You leave the class feeling uplifted and centered.

Stage 1
Willful Practice (Body and Breath Awareness) begins with an experiential approach to understanding the details of alignment and the coordination of breath while moving into and out of postures.

Stage 2
Holding the Posture (Inner Focus and Concentration) guides you to focus your attention on inner sensations, thoughts and emotions. You learn to hold postures for longer periods of time while cultivating compassion and awareness.

Stage 3
Meditation in Motion (Absorption) is a unique and personal expression of Kripalu Yoga. You practice the art of moving in response to your bodyís wisdom, with postures flowing from one into the next. This experience is often described as a state of prayer expressed in movement.

"Kripalu is the first traditional yoga ashram founded on the guru-disciple model to transition to a new paradigm of spiritual education. This paradigm is designed to provide tools that help individuals access their inner wisdom and find support for their ongoing process of growth and spiritual development. Kripalu honors all traditional and contemporary spiritual teachings that support the individual's direct experience of Spirit." -Kripalu

Other types of yoga include:

Karma Yoga: selfless service

Bhakti Yoga: devotion to God, including chanting, and prayers

Raja Yoga: meditation

Kundalini Yoga: arousal of the psychospiritual energy

Jnana Yoga: knowledge and wisdom through study and self-observation.


General Structure of Class

1) Centering. Taking the time to settle into your space and connect with the breath. You may hear poetry or readings that create a theme for the practice.

2) Warm-ups. Depending on the postures we will practice in class, movements will help to warm muscles and joints for more effective and safe movement.

3) Postures. Also known as asanas, these are poses that will teach us alignment as well as strengthen and cleanse the body.

4) Cool Down. Stretches to further improve flexibility, create space for more breath.

5) Deep Relaxation. Also known as yoga nidra or savasana (corpse pose). A time to practice withdrawal of the senses by focusing on the breath and releasing tension. Very important in closing our yoga practice and transitioning to external activities.

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