WHAT IS YOGA?
Yoga means union of the mind, body and spirit with the Divine and while this refers to a certain state of consciousness both individual and Universal, it is also a method to help one reach that goal.
As a Yoga Acharya in the Sivananda Lineage, Shonna teaches a traditional, exact and easy-to-learn system that aims at naturally achieving the goal through creating a healthy body and mind that leads to spiritual evolvement.
YOGA PHILOSOPHY SIMPLIFIED ~ THE FIVE POINTS OF YOGA
Based in the teachings of Swami Sivananda, Swami Vishnudevananda summarized the yoga philosophy in 5 principles or the Five Points of Yoga which make the complex teachings of yoga easier to understand:
1. Proper Exercise (Asanas) – Yoga poses help develop a strong, healthy body by enhancing flexibility and improving circulation.
2. Proper Breathing (Pranayama) – Deep, conscious breathing reduces stress and many diseases.
3. Proper Relaxation (Savasana) – Helps keep the body from going into overload mode, easing worry and fatigue.
4. Proper Diet (Sattvic)– Eating simple, healthy and vegetarian foods that are easy to digest notably have a positive effect on the mind and body, as well as the environment and other living beings.
5. Positive Thinking (Vedanta) and Meditation (Dhyana) – These are the true keys to achieving peace of mind and eliminating negativity in our lives.
THE FOUR PATHS OF YOGA
Along with the Five Points of Yoga, a look at the Four Paths of Yoga completes the picture to give individuals a clear sense of direction for not only a healthier and stronger body but also a way of living that promotes peace and mindfulness to counteract day-to-day trials and tribulations. The Four Paths of Yoga all lead to the same place – union with the Divine – but help in getting there by giving options that fit different human temperaments and approaches to life. Which one fits you best?
Karma Yoga (yoga of action) teaches to act without egoist expectations in all endeavours of daily life ~ home, work, school. It is a good path for someone who is outgoing and enjoys a certain sense of spiritual activism to help others.
Bhakti Yoga (the path of devotion or divine love) is a good path for someone with an emotional nature and consists of concentrating one’s mind, emotions, and senses on the Divine. Bhakti softens the heart, removes impurities, and infuses the devotee with joy, divine ecstasy, bliss and knowledge. The rise of kirtan or singing/chanting the names of the Divine is a sure sign that Bhakti Yoga is a growing path around the world.
Raja Yoga (the science of physical and mental control) is the path that takes us on a comprehensive journey to understanding our mind and thoughts. Through mental control, we are able to gain control of the physical body and the life force energy known as prana. This is a good path for those who are interested in meditation and its effects on the mind.
Jnana Yoga (the yoga of knowledge or wisdom) is considered a good path for those with strong intellectual tendencies as it requires great strength of will and mind. Using Vedanta as a vehicle, the inquiry into the individual nature is the key to this difficult path. It is best undertaken after some of the lessons of the other paths have been well understood in order to move along towards Self-realization or profound spiritual awakening.
WHAT IS CLASSICAL HATHA YOGA?
Hatha Yoga (a sub path of raja yoga) offers a systematic approach for balancing mind and body. Experience the power of sound (mantra), breathing exercises (pranayama), yoga postures (asana), meditation (dhyana) and deep relaxation (savasana). Discover simple ancient scientific practices that stimulate every major part of the body from the inside out in a balanced way enhancing prana (life force or energy) while quieting the mind. A regular Hatha yoga practice yields many benefits including a more youthful and flexible body, better overall physical health, increased calmness, and sharpness of mind.
The express purpose of meditation is to create new, positive channels in the mind, and to eradicate those that are destructive. Meditation unleashes immense potential. We gain mastery of the mind by bringing a halt to it’s incessant chatter, and teaching it to focus in a concentrated manner. Through regular meditation, the mind becomes clearer and motives more pure. As meditation brings about a prolonged positive state of mind, it rejuvenates body cells and retards decay. Establishing a regular daily meditation practice will help keep you calm, centered and balanced. As you think, so you become!