Yoga is a thorough system for maintaining health and slowing down the aging process. Your yoga practice will help you develop greater flexibility and balance, tone and strengthen muscles, boost your immune system, increase physical energy and mental focus, improve digestion, and soothe the nervous system. The poses and breathing exercises also give a massage to your internal organs and glands. Consistent practice at home as well as in class will bring the maximum benefit, and help you reduce the damaging effects of stress. It is never too late to begin. Yoga is a gentle and gradual way to gain flexibility, strength and stamina at any age.
What is yoga?
The word yoga, from the Sanskrit word yuj means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as “union” or a method of discipline. A male who practices yoga is called a yogi, a female practitioner, a yogini.
The Indian sage Patanjali is believed to have collated the practice of yoga into the Yoga Sutra an estimated 2,000 years ago. The Sutra is a collection of 195 statements that serves as a philosophical guidebook for most of the yoga that is practiced today. It also outlines eight limbs of yoga: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption). As we explore these eight limbs, we begin by refining our behavior in the outer world, and then we focus inwardly until we reach samadhi (liberation, enlightenment).
Today most people practicing yoga are engaged in the third limb, asana, which is a program of physical postures designed to purify the body and provide the physical strength and stamina required for long periods of meditation.
Ultimately, yoga is the art of remembering our goodness. It is an art in which each person can creatively and uniquely participate in the process of aligning with the flow of life using postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. The practice of yoga brings more awareness and integration of body and mind so that we can remember our spirit. Our lives begin to flow with more vitality and joy. Yoga means union of body, mind and spirit. At Lake Center Yoga, themes are interwoven through each class in a way that unites students to the deeper purpose of yoga.
What do I need to begin?
All you really need to begin practicing yoga is your body, your mind, and a bit of curiosity. But it is also helpful to have a pair of sweat pants, leggings, or shorts, and a t-shirt that’s not too baggy. Although Lake Center Yoga has mats for use, we recommend, for your personal hygiene, that you purchase your own mat. Also, your own mat becomes your sacred space for your yoga practice. Owning your own mat is a commitment to your practice.
What does OM mean?
Om is a mantra, or vibration, that is traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of yoga sessions. It is said to be the sound of the universe. What does that mean?
Somehow the ancient yogis knew what scientists today are telling us-that the entire universe is moving. Nothing is ever solid or still. Everything that exists pulsates, creating a rhythmic vibration that the ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound of Om. We may not always be aware of this sound in our daily lives, but we can hear it in the rustling of the autumn leaves, the waves on the shore, the inside of a seashell.
Chanting Om allows us to recognize our experience as a reflection of how the whole universe moves—the setting sun, the rising moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, the beating of our hearts. As we chant Om, it takes us for a ride on this universal movement, through our breath, our awareness, and our physical energy, and we begin to sense a bigger connection that is both uplifting and soothing.
We follow the tradition of beginning our classes chanting Om and the Anusara Opening Invocation to create a sense of harmony and unity among the students in a powerful way.
What does Namasté mean?
The Divine in me salutes the Divine in you. I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the place in you of Love, of Light, of Truth, of Peace. I honor the place in you where if you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me we are One. We end class with this mantra which signifies union with all life.