The first thing people notice about yoga is it's not like any other form of exercise. That's because yoga is a holistic form of exercise that deals with body, breath, mind and soul. Most people come to yoga to relax, get fit and develop flexibility (all good things that happen), but traditionally yoga is more than just 'yoga poses'. It's a way of life. That's why living and breathing yoga is the foundation of everything we do at Western Wellness.
Our style of yoga originates from Hatha yoga ‘Ha’ meaning the sun and ‘Tha’ meaning the moon. We practice a dynamic style of hatha yoga which is an effective way to stretch, strengthen, tone and detoxify the entire body. All classes are practiced at room temperature and focus on integrating the breath as we move through a series of ‘vinyasas’, which means to connect breath with movement. This style of yoga can become very meditative and helps to bring balance to the physical, mental and emotional body.
There are many styles and approaches to yoga, however most forms of yoga practiced in the West today are all forms of Hatha yoga with a modern interpretation.
The Sun & The Moon
Each week we practice either a sun sequence or a moon sequence. On a sun week, our sequence is focused on strength and stamina, which increases the heart rate and promotes detoxification, therefore we sweat more. Whereas on a moon week you’re more likely to notice a light layer of perspiration on the skin as the sequence is focused on flexibility, deeper openings, and longer holds. This approach helps to restore balance and equilibrium back to the body (think yin and yang) and connects our body back to the cycles of nature.
What Happens in Class
Each class commences with a brief relaxation and breathing exercise. Classes flow through several rounds of Sun Salutations referred to as the Namaskar series or Surya Namasakar A & B. This flowing and rhythmic movement is directly integrated with the breath. Surya Namaskar warms up the body by building internal heat and increasing the body’s core temperature naturally, while also increasing the body’s muscle temperature. The Namaskar series is an important part of the class to warm up the body and avoid injury, it’s normal to work up a light perspiration. Once the body is warmed up from the Namaskar series the muscles start to become loose and supple in preparation for a deeper yoga practice of static poses developing balance, flexibility, concentration and greater body awareness.
Classes conclude with a longer relaxation exercise also known as 'Savasana' (sha-VAH-suh-nuh). Relaxation practices are an important part of yogic practice to help focus the mind, release stress and encourage deeper breathing. Spiritually savasana is a practice of deep surrender to bring the mind, body and spirit into a state of union called ‘Samadhi’ or enlightenment, the ultimate goal of all yogic practice.
History & Philosophy of Yoga
The practice of yoga is over 5000 years old, originating in India. Traditionally, the practice of Yoga is a science (not just exercise) that deals with body, breath, mind, soul and the universe. Yoga has a rich history that is both practical and theoretical.
The foundations of yoga philosophy were written down in the Yoga Sutra of Patañjali in approximately 200 AD. This text talks about the 8 limbs of yoga, which are actually a set of guidelines on how to live and practice yoga. The objective of the 8 limbs of yoga is to enable you to become aware of your ‘self’ as part of the ‘whole’. It's all about creating balance and equanimity so you can live in peace, good health and harmony with the universe.
You can read more about yoga philosophy on our blog Yoga Philosophy 101 - The 8 Limbs of Yoga