Yoga is an ancient Indian practice. It is most commonly seen as stretching, twisting and contorting the body into different shapes. However it is more than that.
As far as the physical practice of yoga is concerned, yes, there is stretching and twisting and contorting the body into different shapes. However, this is achieved over time through slow and attentive practice. You do not need to be fit, young, rich or flexible to practice yoga!
The path of yoga is eight fold. This was designed by the Sage Patanjali approximately 2000 years ago. Its aim is to lead us to enlightenment by refining our external behaviour so that our inner world is more peaceful. The eight stages, worked progressively are:
Chanting is an integral part of yoga. It allows us to connect to the other limbs of yoga. The chants are not religious, they are a portal into the understanding of yoga philosophy and bring the group together to work in harmony.
Phonetically – Lo-Kha Sam-As-Tha Su-Khi-No Bha-Van-Too
Translation - May all beings be happy and free. May my words, deeds and thoughts contribute to the happiness and freedom for all beings.
Why - We chant this to allow our practice to extend out to others.
Phonetically – Aauuu Oooo Mmmmnn
Translation - This is the base sound of the universe. The vibration of energy and pulsation of life within each atom vibrates at the same frequency of Aum.
Why - We connect ourselves to every other atom, and thereby connect ourselves to each other, promoting empathy, peace and unity.
Phonetically - Aaaauuu Oooo Mmmmnn, Shan-Teeh Shan-Teeh Shan-Teeh
Translation - Aum, the sound of the universe, Peace, Peace, Everlasting Peace
Why - We connect to every other being in the universe and send it everlasting peace.
Aum saha nav avatu
saha nau bhunaktu
saha viryaam karavavahai
tejasvi nav adhitam astu
Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti
We chant this line by line in class, I say a line, and then the class repeats it back. The sentiment is truly beautiful.
May we be safe and protected together.
May we enjoy the fruits of our study and practice together.
May we become strong and courageous together.
May our learning be full of light.
May we never feel division, discord or enmity for one another.
Aum peace, peace, peace.
Translation from Bill Mahony
Download a self practice guide here for some top tips on how to build your practice at home.
An introductory meditation through the chakras. 20ish minutes
A meditation on SoHam, the sound of the universe, the sound of you. 10 minutes
A balancing meditation - to bring you equanimity. 10 minutes