Wednesday 6 – 7 Satnam Yoga Studio, 24a Gt Northern Road DE1 1LR
To book either of these classes follow the link.
Hatha yoga style which emphasises postures performed in-time with controlled breath to moderate muscular length, strengthen the whole body, untangle connective tissues, and still the busy mind. It is suitable for you if you are a beginner or someone who is building a yoga practice.
Expect in your class to be lead into postures and know when to inhale and exhale, and how to relax your body and mind. An exhalation that is longer than the inhalation stimulates the Vagus Nerve, (Cranial Nerve #10), to shift the body away from Sympathetic nervous arousal, (fight or flight) into parasympathetic arousal (rest & digest). This exhalation then relaxes the whole body and allows a more softened yoga practice. Breath held creates extra stability but can allow muscular spasm.
Alex as your instructor will support your needs by encouraging you to practice at your pace and adapt your yoga to challenge but not harm your body. This means options and little moments of pause will be built-in.
Hatha yoga is a moving meditative practice that was first seriously recognised in the 11th Century when Goraksha Samhita a legendary author, wrote the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (yoga illumination), as a polemic response to the original Patanjali Yoga Sutras.
Some people talk about the asana / postures being a means of detoxifying your body and preparing your body for the ultimate meditative connection. Both of these ends are found by performing the postures with suitable intention, however other great benefits can be overlooked:
A. Simon Thakur in Neuroscience and The True Purpose of Yoga discusses how performing the postures increases your bodies self awareness, and in particular around the spine and organs. Exploring postures increases the gross shapes that your body can move into, which stimulates your motor cortex to be more intricate and therefore helps you feel more!
B. By exploring greater body sensitivity we explore feeling our bodies further and are able to empathetically experience the needs of other people more. (One goal of yoga is to remove ‘Maya’ or the illusion of our individual separation from other people.)
C. Neuroplasticity is where our brains can rewire, by encouraging further neural connections, thus we move our bodies into new positions and with increasing degrees of awareness and finesse. Hatha yoga then helps us to re-write our brains operating programme so that we can sense and feel more.
D. Mirror neurons help us copy people. As we observe someone performing a complex task or asana these neurons allow us to quickly learn the same movements. As we watch others in yoga it stimulates these mirror neutrons which helps us connect with other people off the mat.
The yoga breath is often over looked as a take-it-or-leave-it element of the yoga system. Pranayama or yogic breathing benefits your body by balancing the Ph or acid level in your tissues, where over breathing can result in hyperventilation and insufficient CO2. This gas in high concentrations can be harmful, but if maintained at appropriate saturations helps the body regulate acid! (Medics call this the buffering system). Yoga breathing balances the O2 and CO2.
Satyananda Saraswati in the Introduction of the 2013 Hatha Yoga Pradipika discusses the central importance of breath work, where, pranayama serves as a direct and practical means of stilling the busy mind, where the action of practicing yoga breathing in its many forms occupies the mind and holds the yogi in the moment.
That’s a big claim to make, but it has a ring of truth to it. People talk of active meditation, an activity that holds you in the here-and-now, like rock climbing or skiing. Such experiences are reminiscent of Tantra, the old Indian philosophy of finding the Divine in everyday activities. Hatha yoga draws from Tantra’s heritage of Tantra rather than the classical yoga approach.
In essence Hatha emphasises more the physical body that when working properly will allow meditation to occur.
What is Yoga?
Yoga come from the sanskrit “yug”, to yoke. This sounds like a burden but really it means to reconnect the self (the person behind the personality and mind) to the greater universe. It links us to the fact that we are not discrete entities, rather part of a massive energetic community. In essence we are all connected.
Yoga and Alex
Alex has been practicing Hatha yoga since 2005, initially at David Lloyd and Fitness First and more recently at Virgin Active.
He originally started attending yoga classes to improve his flexibility for Tae Kwon Do. Over time the mental clarity and the feeling of being grounded that comes with practice began to take priority. Now Alex at 48 and is as flexible as he was when he was doing martial arts in his 20s and 30s!
Yoga and Pain
Like many people one of the motivations for Alex to practice yoga was the slow physical unwinding that the postures and controlled breathing allow.
It seems that moving slowly in-time with the breath allows the body to relax into the movement, rather than the opposite where we gasp for or hold the breath, which can put the body into fight or flight mode.
Initially Alex attended two weekly classes and within three months he noticed the tight pain in-between his shoulder blades had eased.
Yoga helps people with the alignment of their body, muscles are activated and their length is moderated. The overall affect here is the physical person regularly focuses internally and exercises their body gently in-time with a steady breath.