Let’s start from the beginning by answering, What is Yoga?


Let’s start from the beginning by answering, What is yoga?

Raise your hand if you're new to yoga?

Welcome, I'm glad you’re here!

I want to begin by answering the question, what is yoga? I'm sure either you have asked or someone has asked you. When the word ‘Yoga’ is mentioned, most people immediately think of the physical practices (Asanas). This is only one very small part of the practice. The physical Yoga or Hatha Yoga, was primarily designed to facilitate the real practice of yoga - The understanding and complete mastery over the mind. So the actual meaning of yoga is ‘the science of the mind.’

The word asana is commonly translated as 'posture' but the literal meaning is seat, referring to meditation postures, which promote concentration of mind. Since a healthy body is important for meditation, ancient yogis devised many different asanas to make the body strong, and flexible.

In doing asanas the mind is concentrated on the movement of the body, as well as the breath. And that is the union of the body, mind and breath.

When I teach a yoga class we focus on your breath and letting that move you.

Take time to connect with your body before you begin a movement and then as you practice the asana, go slowly enough so that you don't lose the connection.

Breath is life. We can live for days without food or water, but deprive us of breath and we die in minutes. The practice of yoga stresses the importance of breathing correctly through the nose keeping the mouth close which brings the whole of your lungs into play.

Just as there are three stages for an Asana

-coming into the pose

-holding it

-and coming out of it

There are three parts to each breath or Pranayama

-inhalation

-retention

-exhalation

People often think of inhalation has the most essential stage of breathing but in fact it is acceleration that holds the key. For the more stale air you exhale the more fresh air you can inhale.

The yoga breathing exercises teach you how to control prana and thus to control the mind, for the two are interdependent.

By regulating your breathing you are not only increasing your intake of oxygen and prana but preparing yourself for the practice of concentration and meditation.

Let's practice doing a breathing exercise.

With your hands in the Vishnu Mudra

Breathe in through the left nostril closing the right with your thumb.

Breathe out through the right nostril, keeping the left nostril close with your ring and a little finger.

Practice doing that for several breaths.

Focusing on your breathing allows your attention to be in the moment.

Our practice today we are going to make slow, mindful, intended moves connecting our body, mind and breath.

Sit in a comfortable position with your legs crossed, I'm going to begin with a simple hand mudra - Anjali Mudra.

Anjali means - offer

Mudra means - seal

Slowly draw your hands together at the heart center as if to gather all of your resources into your heart. Rest thumbs lightly against your sternum and fingers reaching upwards. The hands are pressed together firmly and evenly.

Gently close your eyes and check in with your body focusing on long deep breathes. Bringing your body present to your mat, that your breath move you today and listen to your inner guidance to what your body needs. After your next inhalation we will exhale to the sacred sound of OM....

Namasté

Thank you for being here!

~Vicki Patterson

Stand Up Paddle Girl