The practice of Yoga purifies the body and the mind for the purpose of developing concentration.
Concentration leads to a mind where thought has been stilled and to super consciousness. This higher consciousness brings knowledge of reality and peace. With Yoga, we can extend our healthy, productive years far beyond the accepted norm and, at the same time, improve the quality of our lives.
- Increase flexibility of the body and free all the energy blocks.
- Help in losing excess flab and weight.
- Massage the internal organs of the body and the rarely stimulated parts such as the thyroid gland.
- Treat several health disorders–from common ones such as backaches and arthritis to uncommon ones.
All Yoga styles are universal in their communication. The “Namaste” – a symbol of respect and humility, is the hallmark of the ancient Indian yogic philosophy.
Place the palms of your hand at chest level and press them firmly together. This hand position is known as the universal peace mudra. It helps direct attention to your heart space, and cultivates positive emotional energy.
Reverse Namaste (a variation)
This is the same namaste position but practised with hands behind. This helps maintain good posture, keeping the shoulders back and the spine erect. It also improves breathing capacity and lung strength. “Yoga is for all of us. To limit yoga to national or cultural boundaries is the denial of universal consciousness.”
“Yoga is the union of the individual self with the universal self.”
“Classic poses, when practised with discretion and awareness, bring the body, mind and consciousness into a single, harmonious whole.”
“An asana is not a posture you assume mechanically. It involves intelligent thought, at the end of which a balance is achieved between movement and resistance.” – B K S Iyengar.
The philosophy of Power Yoga
Power yoga, traditionally known as Ashtanga Yoga is a specific branch of the classical Hatha Yoga. Ashtanga, which means “Eight limbs”, involves movement to develop these “Limbs” or principles. The eight principles we should aspire for are: Yama (social conduct), Niyama (individual conduct), Asana (posture), Pranayama (breath control), Pratihara (sense withdrawal), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), Samadhi (self–realization). Ashtanga Yoga is described in a 2000–year–old Sanskrit text, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjal. K. Pattabhi Jois is the guru who dedicated his life to studying, practising and teaching the techniques to Yoga students all over the world.
The universality of Power Yoga
People from all walks of life–from film stars to city brokers – today, swear about the magical and Zen–like benefits of Power Yoga. The uniqueness of this system is that it teaches you to be hard with yourself as well as gentle. Working hard into a sweat and then relaxing completely calms and refreshes the entire being. It works on the body, mind and the whole self.
Understanding Power Yoga
Power Yoga is a dynamic movement form, designed to achieve total fitness. The structure of Power Yoga involves performing an entire spectrum of postures, some of which are quite challenging. The series work like a combination lock. If you do the right postures in the right order, the mind and body are cleansed of toxins and the channels of energy unlock. Deveeloping a strong and lean body is a positive by–product of this practice, but yoga, which means, “To unite” is interconnectedness, encompassing every aspect of the being– physical, mental and spiritual.
A Yoga with a difference
The method of connecting postures with flowing movement and breathing creates a high–heat, high–energy workout. This is what sets this practice apart from every other form of yoga. Have you ever watched yoga experts practice Power Yoga? It is like viewing a synchronized form of gymnastics. The body glistens with sweat, which is poured off continuously throughout the challenging, non–stop series of postures. And all the movements seem so effortless and completely awesome! Most people think of yoga as soft and relaxing. What most of people don’t realize is that it can also be a powerful, intense and energizing workout.
The primary ingredient of the Power Yoga practice is heat. Think of what a glassblower can do with a piece of glass tubing when it is heated. He can remold it into the desired form. So also, when our body’s connective tissues are heated, they become pliable for reshaping and realignment. Tight, “Dead” spaces begin to open creating less rigidity in our bodies along with increased circulation. This not only improves realignment, but also works to detoxify and revitalize the entire system.
Mastery of the breath
Power Yoga works on synchronizing the breath with a set sequence of postures. Practice of conscious breathing invigorates the body and relaxes the mind. Constant worries and stress result in shallow breathing. Anxiety blocks the breath and deprives our system of a powerful energy source.
The Energy Centers
In yoga tradition there are seven main chakras, or energy centres in the body. Without sufficient prana or life force these centres get blocked and become inefficient. Yogic postures awaken and cleanse these energy channels which help develop harmony and balance of the whole self.
Benefits at a glance
- Improved posture.
- Improved flexibility, strength and stamina.
- Weight loss.
- Improved blood circulation.
- Enhanced emotional well–being.
- Mind–body awareness.
- Therapeutic benefits.
Power Yoga: The Series
Power Yoga begins with the sun salutations as the warm–up, followed by a primary series of asanas and a finishing sequence. Over 60 postures are practised in the classical Ashtanga routine.
The series is divided into four parts
- The first part: This comprises Sun salutations, which form the core of the practice.
- The second part: This comprises standing postures, which develop stamina and stability.
- The third part: This comprises seated postures, which fine tunes the body and the mind.
- The fourth part: This comprises the finishing sequence, which restores balance and harmony.
This is a simple practical introduction to Power Yoga that you can incorporate into your daily routine. All you need is a rug, carpet or yoga mat. Make sure the room is well ventilated and your clothes are comfortable. Never perform yoga exercises immediately after eating food, there must be a three–hour gap between practice sessions and your meal.
The standing postures stretch the entire body by flexing, extending, laterally stretching and twisting the spine. The develop alignment and improve balance.
The Lord of Dance
Stand tall with hands in the namaste position. Inhale, extend your left arm in front of you, parallel to the floor. Exhale and look at your fingertips. Inhale and lift your right leg off the floor holding your ankle. Exhale, arch your back and move your torso forward while raising the right leg behind you. Create a smooth arch through the right side of your body, balancing on the left leg. Hold for 5 breaths. Inhale, and exhale while you gently ease out of the posture. Repeat with the other leg.
Stand with your feet wide apart and hands extended at shoulder level parallel to the floor. Inhale, then exhale and extend your left hand up and place your right hand on your right ankle. Face turned upwards, look towards the left hand. Hold for 5 breaths. Inhale, return to upright position with legs apart and hands extended out. Exhale, bring feet and hands together. Repeat on the other side.
Stand tall with the right leg against the left inner thigh. Inhale, place your hands in the namaste position. Exhale and raise your hands up. Hold for 5 breaths. Inhale, and exhale while you gently ease out of the posture. Repeat with the other leg.
The combination of back bends and forward bends free the hips, lower back, hip flexors and groin of stiffness and tension.
Sit in a kneeling position. Inhale, place your hands on your hips. Exhale, and tighten your hips as you slowly go into a backward bend bringing your palms onto your ankles. Hold for 5 breaths. Inhale and then exhale as you slowly return to starting position.
Seated forward bend
Sit upright with feet together. Inhale deeply as you stretch both arms straight up. Then exhale, stretching your arms forward towards the toes. Hold for 5 breaths. Inhale, and then exhale as you slowly return to starting position.
The boat pose
Sit upright with feet together. Inhale and then exhale as you lift your legs, chest arms off the floor creating a “V” shape with the body. Hold for 5 breaths. Inhale and then exhale as you slowly, return to starting position.
The inverted postures rejuvenate both body and mind and restore energy by refreshing the internal organs and brain with oxygenated blood. It is because of this reason that the shoulder stand is called the queen of all asanas. The relaxation practice in the end cleanses and de–stresses the body and the mind.
Lie down and take 5 breaths. Then exhale into the shoulder stand pose. Hold for another 5 breaths. Inhale, prepare to change position to plough posture.
Exhale, while you go into the plough pose. While you hold this position fix your gaze on the heart chakra or the center of your chest. Take 5 breaths. Inhale; prepare to change position to the Fish pose.
Exhale, place arms down on the floor by your side. Then slowly roll down out of the posture. Inhale, move into fish pose. Exhale, and fix your gaze on the center between the eyebrows.
Take 5 breaths. Inhale, prepare to change position to the corpse.
This is a position of complete relaxation. The arms are slightly away from the body and the feet are slightly apart. The eyes are closed and the mind is relaxed. The bodies senses are withdrawn from the surroundings resulting in a feeling of complete stillness and peace.
The purpose of this pose is to give the body an opportunity to rest and cool–down after the practice, and to allow the tension, tightness and toxins dislodged by the practice to be carried off by the systems of elimination.