What is Yoga?

In today's modern world, Hatha Yoga and its many available styles is what most people would associate with the word "Yoga". The Sanskrit word Hatha is derived from two root words - Ha meaning sun and Tha meaning moon. The Sanskrit word Yoga is derived from the root word "yuj" which means to yoke, or to unite.

Yoga has existed for thousands of years in India as a philosophy of life, a science, and an art form. Patanjali is considered to be one of the first scholars to formally document and expound yoga philosophy in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Patanjali's Yoga is known as Raja Yoga and from this developed an "eight limbed path" from which many of our modern yoga's today have stemmed.

What kind of Yoga will I learn in a Hatha class?

The thread in Yoga is simply awareness. You can be doing yoga right now if you are reading this with awareness of how your eyes scan the screen, how your breath flows, the judgements that arise and pass or any sensation that you really feel in this moment. Within a classical Hatha class, traditional postures are used to encourage alignment however, the focus is on how the postures are practiced as opposed to "getting it right". A typical class may include Asana (postures), Pranayama (breath regulation), relaxation and meditation.

The physical yoga postures (Asana) were originally designed to encourage a more comfortable sitting position in preparation for sitting meditation. Today, they also serve as an intermediate between movement and stillness; a way to bring integration to the breath, body and mind. The intention of all classes is to provide you with an experience of Yoga to develop your own expression and understanding.

5 things you may never have known about Yoga

1. Yoga is for everybody. It can be practiced at any age, by any size, shape or religious denomination.

2. Yoga keeps your body, as well as your mind, healthy and active.

3. After a session of yoga, the mind becomes tranquil and passive, and the body feels energised.

4. Yoga releases your creative potential in life.

5. The end of every yoga class concludes with relaxation - the most important pose - Savasana, when the body and mind are quiet and the benefits of the physical practice are integrated into the body.

The Benefits of Yoga

There are so many mind and body benefits, it is impossible to list them all. Here are just a few:

Improves blood circulation
Strengthens your immune system
Balances metabolism
Increases pain tolerance
Improves posture
Energizes you!
Improves sleep patterns
Increases awareness - be attuned to your own body
Over-all enhancement of wellbeing
Reduces anxiety
Better concentration and attention
Supports a positive outlook on life
Encourages self acceptance
Creates calm

The essence of Yoga is very simple; it is about your happiness. Yoga is not just physical fitness training. It is an authentic holistic tradition. Its aim is for you to achieve your fullest potential in life.
H. H. Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda