Yoga 101

In’s and Out’s of a Healthy Life Endeavor

Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, Kundalini, Iyengar, Vinyasa, Sivananda; You’ve all heard these terms right? So many yoga styles have spread around and become popular worldwide, from Bali to New York City!

Although it is mainly seen as just a trendy physical exercise, related to handstand and leg-behind-the-head figures type of images, yoga aims at a much loftier purpose. We won’t go saying yoga is the ultimate healing for your soul, but that’s pretty much it and we’ll show you how.

Yoga opens a door to a deeper connection of the body, mind and soul in a holistic approach of self-consciousness. In Sanskrit, yoga translates as “yoke” or “union”, describing the communion of mind, body and soul in order to reach one’s own nature.

But let’s not over-rush. It’s important to know that all yoga practices are not necessarily meant for everyone. In learning about yoga, one needs to understand the style that suits them best in order to fully benefit from its regular practice. Here’s our special introduction to help you find your style and thrive through yoga.

The ins and outs of yoga styles

Asanas (postures) and Pranayama (breathing techniques) are at the core of all of the yoga styles. Asanas aim at eliminating all unnecessary tensions. Pranayama is essentially regulating and controlling the breathing. Breathe in, breathe out! It’s sound so straightforward, yet so many of us do simply not know how to do it effectively!

Among the vigorous vinyasa-style yoga practices, the most practiced today are undeniably hatha, ashtanga and power yoga.

While hatha yoga largely focuses on those postures and breath-work, just like its hot-style version bikram, ideally practiced in a room heated to 35-42°, ashtanga is a method that relies upon eight limbs.

But what the blip do we know know about limbs? We’ll tell you more. Among limbs, four external pillars are yama, niyama, asana and pranayama and the four other limbs are internal practices that are pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. The first four limbs can be practiced while the last four result of this diligent practice. But it’s only when all combined together that those eight limbs help purifying your system in order to reach the state of yoga. Tadaaa!

Now if we want to go a bit deeper, five Yamas stem from social observances: ahimsa, which refers to non-violence, satya, which refers to honesty and truthfulness, asteya, which means not stealing, brahmacarya, the control of sexual energy and aparigraha which means non-grasping. See those principles are at the heart of the practice. Getting healthy and spreading the good intentions, that’s what it’s all about! Almost …

There are also five niyamas that are personal observances: sauca, which refers to external and internal purification, santosa, being content with one’s situation, tapas, the effort applied to yoga practices, svadhyaya, self-study and isvarapranidhana, the understanding there is a higher power.

But we won’t stop there at giving you Sanskrit words of wisdom! Pratyahara stems from purifying the sense organs. Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi refer to the ability of the mind to focus entirely in a single direction. Altogether they form a process referred to as samyama, the perfect control of the mind.

Ashtanga yoga, based on all of the above and combined with highly meditative teachings has given birth to the Jivamukti practice, very popular in the United States.

Other forms of yoga focus on other primary aims than physical intensity. For instance, iyengar is a form of hatha yoga that concentrates on the correct alignment of the body. It includes the use of benches, cushions, sand bags, wooden instruments, foam blocks among other things to reach precise muscular and skeletal alignment. For the digital nomads out there, upper body tilted over the computer, we strongly recommend this practice!

And last but so not least, Kundalini Yoga, stemming from the tantra yoga path. It aims at helping spiritual seekers from all religious background to tap into their greater potential. We tend to think it’s one of the finest practice that you can find and a great way to start exploring the spirituality of yoga.

The countless benefits of yoga

Yoga is everywhere now, and specific yoga practices have been developed for powerful healing purposes. The integrative yoga therapy for instance has been specifically designed for medical and mainstream wellness settings. Viniyoga was also developed to answer our constantly evolving needs from supporting the balanced growth of our development as children to maintaining health and inspire a deeper quest for self-realization.

But all in all, yoga and all of its ramifications aims at the same goal: raising a deeper mind-body awareness to bring clarity. Woaaaaw! Clarity … let’s make it a bit clearer…

To fully enjoy the benefits of yoga, discipline and perseverance are required. Getting to the mat every day to practice asanas, maintaining focus and equanimity at each breath, regardless of what the posture may look like participate in making your practice impactful in the short and long run, resetting the whole system so that the serotonin-melatonin dynamic gets stable.

Yoga is a balance quest and has repercussions in all aspects of your health management: it also teaches discipline and measurement in sleeping, eating habits, that are actively participating in your “tapas”. Tapas in Sanskrit means how you dedicate and sets your life compared to your body’s rhythm. Setting regular healthy habits is key for yogis seeking balance and better focus to their energies.

We hope this little immersion into the vast world of yoga will help you find your match to take on this healthy and meaningful life endeavour we’re promoting at Samadi Bali!

Don’t hesitate to come and talk to us about it!