Hatha Flow Yoga
The word Hatha means willful or forceful. Hatha yoga refers to a set of physical exercises (known as asanas or postures), and sequences of asanas, designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones. The postures are also designed to open the many channels of the body especially the main channel, the spine so that energy can flow freely.
Hatha is also translated as ha meaning “sun” and the meaning “moon.” This refers to the balance of masculine aspects active, hot, sun and feminine aspects receptive, cool, moon with in all of us. Hatha yoga is a path toward creating balance and uniting opposites. In our physical bodies we develop a balance of strength and flexibility. We also learn to balance our effort and surrender in each pose.
Hatha yoga is a powerful tool for self-transformation. It asks us to bring our attention to our breath, which helps us to still the fluctuations of the mind and be more present in the unfolding of each moment.
Our Hatha Flow is the yoga of spiritual practice based on Sivananda classis yoga tradition. Each pose holds for a long period of time, typically 15-20 breathes, so that each pose become a pose of meditation. This tradition starts working from the top chakra to the bottom chakra. It is the only unique style of yoga has such as design. Healing practice of each pose are associated with your chakras.
Hatha Chakra Yoga
Our Hatha Chakra Flow Yoga is the yoga of spiritual practice based on Sivananda Classic Yoga Tradition. Each posture holds for a long period of time up to 15 minutes so that each pose become a pose of meditation. This tradition starts working from the top chakras to the bottom chakras which is the only unique style of yoga has such a design. After the warm-up, sun salutation, and leg raises, practice headstand or modified headstand to channel the energy into the crown (Sahasrara) chakra, then move down to child pose (Ajna Chakra), to shoulder stand (Vishuda Chakra), to Bridge or Wheel and Fish poses (Anahata Chakra), to sited forward bend (Manipura Chakra), to cobra, locus, and reverse wheel poses (Svadisthana Chakra), and to standing poses (Muladhana Chakara) in the end to finish the sequence.
Hip Opener Yoga
Our hip opening class is a yin style class leaving the yogi in posture for longer periods of time. This is a class for all level yogis. We will spend time in the beginning of class to warm the core body temperature and then delve into the progress of opening those hips. This is a great class for those looking to release emotions and baggage from all our dramas. This is a very therapeutic class for those with hip problems including people with hip replacements. The majority of the class is done from the floor and some props (yoga blocks) may be necessary for some. Runners, bikers, people sitting all day are some of the other people who can benefit greatly from this class. The hips are the biggest group of joints in your body. Give them the right amount of attention and you will walk and feel more rejuvenated.
Yoga Chi Yoga
David Chi and Ira Schneider combined both of their foundations to make a system known as “Yoga Chi”. This system combines yoga with interjected movements of tai chi and qi gong focusing on the chakra channels. Combining both systems gives the practitioner a chance not only to enhance their current practice but to enhance their yoga abilities to new heights. Videos, Â trainings and classes coming soon.
Vinyasa Flow Yoga
Vinyasa Sanskrit: , vinyasa (pron. vi-nyaah-sa) is a Sanskrit term often employed in relation to certain styles of yoga. The term vinyasa may be broken down into its Sanskritic roots to assist in decoding its meaning. Nyasa denotes “to place” and vi denotes “in a special way.” Like many Sanskrit words, vinyasa is a term that has many meanings.
Our Vinyasa Flow Yoga is the yoga of spiritual practice based on Ashtanga Vinyasa tradition. Each posture is linked and connected with an inhalation or exhalation of breath and a vinyasa sequence. Each pose typically is held between 5 to 10 breaths and is followed by a breath-connected vinyasa as a transition to the next pose. Move with breath and grace. This sequence is detailed later in this section.
Lori Gaspar states:
There are four basic definitions of vinyasa: 1) the linking of body movement with breath; 2) a specific sequence of breath-synchronized movements used to transition between sustained postures; 3) setting an intention for one’s personal yoga practice and taking the necessary steps toward reaching that goal; and 4) a type of yoga class.
Maehle defines vinyasa as:
Sequential movements, which interlink postures to form a continuous flow. It creates a movement meditation that reveals all forms as being impermanent and for this reason are not held on to.
It denotes a flowing, dynamic form of yoga, connected to breath or pranayama in which yoga and mudra transitions are embodied as linkages within and between asana. Indeed, this process entrains the mind stream with the body mind of the aspirant, and fuels the samadhi of Mystery in the adept; in affirmation that no value judgment between the importance or ascendancy of the asana or the transitions between asana is held. This view of non-judgment is grounded, founded and based in the Shunyata Doctrine which informed the development of vinyasa styles.
Vinyasa is also employed as a noun to describe the sequence of poses that are performed between Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog as part of a Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutation sequence. Though this is more correctly termed half-vinyasa, as full-vinyasa returns to complete standing asana or positions. Srivasta Ramaswami, author of The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga and the direct disciple of the legendary Yoga teacher Krishnamacharya, brings forth the essence of Vinyasa in asana practice in the following way,
“My guru believed that the correct vinyasa method is essential in order to receive the full benefits from yoga practice. This style allows for a lot of variety, but will almost certainly include Sun Salutations. If your yoga class schedule lists a Vinyasa class, expect movement, not just stretching.
What is Yin Yoga?
What is Yin Yoga? This question is asked a lot by students who have been practicing yoga for a while but have never come across this particular challenging style. Simple answers such as “It is the balancing practice for your yang style of yoga” or “It is yoga for the joints, not the muscles” are not overly satisfying. If students haven’t heard of Yin Yoga, they won’t know what a yang style of yoga is. And isn’t all yoga good for the whole body, including our joints? To really answer the question and get to know Yin Yoga requires a fuller explanation. This part of our journey provides a deeper look into Yin Yoga and begins with an explanation of what it is, how it evolved, and its benefits for the whole body mind.
Yin Yoga has the same goals and objectives as any other school of yoga; however, it directs the stimulation normally created in the asana portion of the practice deeper than the superficial or muscular tissues (which we are calling the yang tissues). Yin Yoga targets the connective tissues, such as the ligaments, bones, and even the joints of the body that normally are not exercised very much in a more active style of asana practice.
Suitable for almost all levels of students, Yin Yoga is a perfect complement to the dynamic and muscular (yang) styles of yoga that emphasize internal heat, and the lengthening and contracting of our muscles. Yin Yoga generally targets the connective tissues of the hips, pelvis, and lower spine.
While initially this style of yoga can seem quite boring, passive, or soft, yin practice can be quite challenging due to the long duration of the poses. We can remain in the postures anywhere from one to twenty minutes! Yin and yang tissues respond quite differently to being exercised. You need to experience this to really know what Yin Yoga is all about. After you have experienced it, even just once, you will realize that you have been doing only half of the asana practice.
Please note: Yin Yoga is not restorative yoga. Like all yoga practices, if the tissues you are targeting for exercise are damaged in some way, please give yourself a chance to heal before resuming your regular practice.
The Three Tattvas of Yin Yoga Practice
A tattva is the reality of a thing, or its category or principal nature. Sarah Powers offers us three very simple and very effective principles for the yin practice.
Come into the pose to an appropriate depth
Resolve to remain still
Hold the pose for time
Remembering these three principles as you practice will simplify everything. We will look at each step of how to practice in more detail in a moment. Knowing when to practice is a different matter.
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika lists only sixteen postures. Of these, half are seated positions. Those postures are meant to be held for a long period of time. They are yin postures. In Paul Grilley’s book Yin Yoga, he lists eighteen yin poses, along with five yang poses to be used in between the yin poses. If you are planning to hold each pose for five minutes, and if you allow a one-minute rest between postures, a five-minute meditation at the beginning of the practice, and a five-minute Shavasana at the end, in a ninety-minute class you will have time for only thirteen poses. There will be even fewer if you are doing two sides or other variations in each posture.
There is not a great need for a lot of postures in the Yin Yoga practice. The more yin you practice the less variety is needed and the emphasis is placed on a few basic postures.
Contraindications should always be checked out before trying a posture for the first time. Remember, not all poses are for every body; know and respect your limits. If a certain pose is not right for you, don’t worry about it; there are lots of other ways to work the same tissues. Choose another posture that is more appropriate for you. You will find some suggestions offered in the alternatives and options.
The recommended time to hold a pose is very subjective. There are guidelines offered, which you should completely ignore if they are not appropriate for you. Some students can remain in the asanas much longer than indicated; others must come out much earlier. Listen to your inner teacher and respect your body’s unique needs. When coming out of a pose there will be a natural sense of fragility – we have been deliberately pulling the body apart and holding it apart. The sense of relief is to be expected, and even enjoyed. Yes, despite some myths to the contrary, you are allowed to enjoy your practice! Smile when you come out of the pose! Laugh – cry even. Thank the Buddha, Jesus, Allah, shout “Om Namah Shivaya!” Enjoy this moment.
One of the benefits of Yin Yoga is this experience of coming out of the asana. We learn what it will be like when we are ninety years old! We gain a new respect for our grandmother, and what she is going through, and we resolve to put off that inevitable day of decrepitude as long as possible. After a deep, long-held hip opener, it may feel like we will never be able to walk again – but be assured â€¦ the fragility will pass. Sometimes, however, a movement in the opposite direction will help. This is a counter pose, a balancing posture that brings us back to neutral. Many of these asanas will be familiar to experienced yoga students. However, these students will notice that the name is different in the yin tradition – this is deliberate. The pose may look the same, but the intention is different. The yin pose of Swan looks identical to the yang pose of Pigeon, but in Pigeon, as in most yang poses, the muscles are the targets. In a yang pose, we engage the muscles and stretch them. In the yin practice, we relax the muscles; we aim our intention into the joints and the deep tissues wrapping them, not the more superficial tissues of the muscles or skin. There is no consensus in the world of yoga on naming asanas. Even in the yang tradition you will come across different names for the same postures and different postures sharing the same names. This is also true in the yin tradition; different names abound. The ones shown here are the names more commonly used but they are not universal. Where two names are common, both names are given, but we have not attempted to be exhaustive.
Caution: The performance of pranayama is not a practice to be undertaken casually. There have been many reports of adverse reactions to the practice, and it is always recommended that pranayama be studied only under the guidance of a knowledgeable teacher. For example, people suffering physical ailments, such as high blood pressure, should never forcefully hold their breath. People with psychological problems are similarly advised to avoid the practice, unless being taught by an expert. Hopefully, it is obvious that pranayama is not something that can be learned from a book, or a Web page. Seek personal instruction wherever possible Energy, as we defined it in Western terms, is the ability to do work. In Eastern terms, energy is that which provides breath and life. That which provides life is pretty important – without life, the practice of Yin Yoga would not be of too much interest to anybody, and Yin Yoga teachers would be out of work.  How to nurture and enhance this life giving energy is worthy of study.
Pranayama is the term often used to describe the practice of regulating our life force. However, pranayama is often used to describe regulating the prana flow by working with the breath. There are other ways to extend, and enhance, the flow of energy. Asana work itself stimulates energy flow. The Daoists invented similar movements as shown in Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and other practices. Massage does the same thing. In Thailand, a combined form of massage and yoga was developed out of the teachings of the Buddha. Thai Yoga Massage includes both practices in a very therapeutic way. In China, acupuncture and acupressure (which is also a form of massage) have been used for over two thousand years to stimulate Chi flow and remove blockages to its movement. Just being with certain people can be beneficial for our energy body, while other people can be harmful to your energy health. Unfortunately, we have all experienced people who leave us feeling drained. Ancient masters have warned us to avoid those who are not good for us, and seek out enlightened company to benefit our energies. There are even ways to use our mind, our awareness, to enhance our energy body. It is beyond the scope of our journey to visit all the myriad ways to free up, stimulate, and enhance energy. We will restrict our investigation to those methodologies most related to a Yin Yoga practice. Specifically we will cover:
Vinyasa â€¦ gentle physical movement to regulate energy
Pranayama â€¦ regulating energy through the breath
Meditation â€¦ harnessing the mind to regulate energy
There is no best time to do energy work. Even though pranayama follows asana in the eight-limbed (ashtanga) methodology of the Yoga Sutra, this was not meant to say that we must do asana before pranayama, nor that we must do pranayama before meditation. These were called limbs (angas) for a reason. Just as limbs of a tree are not ordered in any sequence, it is possible to do any of these limbs at any time. It is always a question of what your objective is.
In the Yin Yoga practice, you may choose to stimulate the flow of energy at the beginning of a class, so that when we remove blockages to the flow, the energy can move right away. However, in this case, we may want to choose a way to free up the flow that will not overly warm up the muscles. Mild vinyasa work, or some forms of pranayama, would be good ways to move energy prior to the asana practice. We can equally attempt to move the energy while we are in the poses, or between poses. We could use other pranayama techniques, meditation, or brief yang vinyasas at these times. At the end of an asana practice, meditation is wonderful, but again some forms of pranayama are also excellent for bringing balance back to the body after the long yin emphasis. There are many options – be creative. Try different ways to move energy and try at different times. See what works best for your body, but please respect the caution at the beginning of this section. Remember that you can do too much of anything. You can overdo a yin practice and become lethargic; you can overdo a yang practice and become exhausted; you can overdo energy development and suffer burnout and other traumas. If you plan to experiment with some of the procedures, go slowly and observe the results carefully. If you start to feel uncomfortable for any reason, stop. If you have any health concerns, do see your health care professional before beginning any energy work.
Yin Yoga Asanas
In this section we are going to explore a couple of dozen asanas (an exact count depends upon whether or not one wishes to include variations and options). This selection will suffice to work all the yin areas of the body normally targeted in a yin practice.
Anahatasana (aka Melting Heart)
Prenatal Restorative Yoga
Prenatal Yoga provides pregnant women with the opportunity to continue exercises throughout the entire pregnancy while connecting with the baby and their bodies. All pregnant women who attend must have approval from their OBGYNs to attend a prenatal yoga class.
In traditional yoga classes students are encouraged to work at their edge. This is not the case with prenatal yoga. A pregnant woman produces relaxin, a hormone released by the body during pregnancy to prepare the body for growth and birth. Because of this hormone, a pregnant woman must be cautious of overstretching.
Restorative yoga focuses on relaxing the body into poses rather than pushing through them. It uses props such as bolsters, blocks, straps, and sandbags to assist in helping the body relax.
Tai Chi Qi Yoga
1. Are there a lot of similarities between tai chi and qigong?
Yes. Both practices are very beneficial for relieving stress, strengthening the body, and improving general health. Also, the foundation of each practice is embedded in the same principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that date back 4,000 years ago. Both practices increase the life force within, strengthen the immune system, and improve concentration. Both practices are appropriate for people of varying ages and abilities.
2. What are the difference between Tai Chi and Qi Gong?
There are many styles of both long and short forms of Tai Chi and Qi Gong. In general Tai Chi demonstrates the martial art application of qi gong principles. Qi Gong, however, is not a martial art. Qi Gong is a healthcare practice. The flowing Qi Gong movements are designed to move, exchange, and cultivate energy in systematic ways that balance the body, mind, and spirit. They can be done from either a sitting or standing position, therefore they are well suited for people of all ages and abilities.
Tai Chi and Qi Gong can be done standing or sitting. This system is totally adaptable without any pressure on the hips or knees from the traditional wide stances of other systems. All positions are natural and comfortable. The system is described as meditation in motion with particular breathing techniques that flow with the movements. If you can move one finger, you can do Tai Chi and Qi Gong!
Well-Being Tai Chi and Qi Qong is only done from the sitting position.Â This system is designed to focus on the breath and meditative techniques to allow the practioner to fully relax with ease while building energy to new heights.
Tai Chi can be defined as a dance while Qi Qong is a series of energy exercises, both of these arts give you ultimate health benefits whether performed standing or sitting. No matter what your health condition is, you can do both systems! Both of these systems have no martial art techniques and therefore are gentler on the body.
3. How many styles of Qi Gong and Tai Chi are there?
To say that there are many styles of Qi Gong and Tai Chi is quite an understatement. There are actually too many styles to count. So it is important for newcomers to investigate the history and healthcare focus of any qigong practice thoroughly before beginning. All styles are versions of their creators.
4. What are the health benefits of Tai Chi and Qi Gong?
Because of the gentle nature of Tai Chi and Qi Gong, researchers are particularly interested in the potential they have in providing benefits for older adults as well as the disabled. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and other agencies are funding a variety of Tai Chi and Qi Gong research. Some of the findings from these studies suggest a wide range of benefits. Many health care professionals recommend Tai Chi and Qi Gong as an important form of alternative complementary medicine.
Tai Chi and Qi Gong create an awareness and influence dimensions of our being that are not part of traditional exercise programs. The gentle, rhythmic movements of Qi Gong reduce stress, build stamina, increase vitality, and enhance the immune system. It has also been found to improve cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic and digestive functions. Qi Gong’s great appeal is that everyone can benefit, regardless of ability, age, belief system, or life circumstances. There are Tai Chi and Qi Gong classes for children, senior citizens, and every age group in between. Since Tai Chi and Qi Gong can be practiced anywhere or at any time, there is no need to buy special clothing or equipment.
Anyone can enrich their lives by adding Qi Gong to their daily routine. Children learn to channel their energy and increase concentration; office workers learn how to reduce stress; seniors participating in gentle movements begin to feel stronger and more substantial. Many say that Qi Gong improves their quality of life. Caregivers practice to develop their ability to help others. Prisons instituting Qi Gong programs help to restore balance in inmateâ€™s lives, and midwives use qi gong techniques to ease child birth.
5. Why are there so many kinds of Qi Gong practices?
Many families in China learned Qi Gong practices embedded as part of their everyday healthcare routines. But for many centuries the bulk of qi gong knowledge was protected in secret through a tightly orchestrated master-to-apprentice lineage.
Remember that Qi Gong simply means to practice (move or cultivate) life force. So it is important to learn some basic information about the teaching lineage of the particular Qi Gong practice you are considering, what the benefits are, and what specific systems of the body that the particular practice emphasizes. Every teacher has a dance. Find the dance that suites you the best.
6. What is psychoneuroimmunology (PNI)?
A field of medicine in the United States that deals the emotional states (stress) and nervous system activity on the immune function of the body, especially in relation to their role in affecting the onset and progression of disease. This is a fairly recent medical research term referring to the mind/body connection and studies investigating the effectiveness of many internal arts and self healing techniques (various forms of Tai Chi, Qi Gong, yoga, relaxation, meditation, and guided imagery, etc.)
7. Are we supposed to synchronize our breathing to these movements in any way?
Some styles of Tai Chi and Qi Gong do not require specific breathing techniques.
Our Tai Chi and Qi Qong requires a specific but adaptable breath count.Â The overall count is from 3 to 10 seconds. This means you strive to have your inhale and exhale last for 3-10 seconds. The longer your inhale and exhale while taking a breath, the more your lungs expand, the stronger you become. More oxygen is flooded into your lungs giving your body the required oxygen.
Most people do not stretch their lungs. You can run 3 miles a day but the movements are fast and shallow. The only time you stretch your lungs is when you take a yawn. Our Tai Chi and Qi Qong have the same breathing techniques that stretch your lungs to allow more oxygen in all while creating a relaxing energy.
8. I donâ€™t always feel stable on my feet. If balance is an issue, can I still do Tai Chi and Qi Qong?
Everyone can do Tai Chi and Qi Qong. They can be performed either standing or sitting. Taking steps with the movements is optional. You can stand still in one place until you feel comfortable enough to take steps. As with any exercise, always make sure you have safe surroundings if you do not have proper balance to begin with.
Seated Tai Chi and Qi Qong is only done from the sitting position. This was designed for the disabled in mind but also to take away all the stress from the healthiest individual. Stress does not just come from emotions but also food, surroundings and environment.
9. Are these systems of health a religious practice?
ABSOLUTELY NOT!! These systems were designed for all people whether you are religious or not. Faith is a beautiful thing and we teach you to have faith in yourself while practicing the systems on a daily basis. Religion is never mentioned during classes or trainings. We encourage all to find themselves, and in return you will find the right approach, if any, towards a higher power.
10. How long do I have to do Tai Chi or Qi Qong for?
The minimum recommendation is only 10 minutes a day. The longer you practice, the more energy you will gain. Try to find a quiet place so it will be easy to focus. Many people like the beach, a lake or any body of water. Others prefer nature. Doing it by a tree, flowers or even animals will increase the energy especially when you have gratitude for life in general.
What is Energy, Chi and Qi?
This is electromagnetic energy or life force present in all living things.
In traditional Chinese culture, qÃ¬ (also chi or ch’i) is an active principle forming part of any living thing. Qi is frequently translated as “life-force” or “energy flow”, and is comparable to the Hindu yogic science of prana, meaning “life force” in Sanskrit. Notions in the west of energies, Ã©lan vital, or vitalism are purported to be similar. Qi is the central underlying principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine, as prana is in ayurveda. The literal translation of “qi” is air, breath, or gas.
Qi taken to be the life-process or flow of energy that sustains living beings are found in many belief systems, especially in Asia. Philosophical conceptions of qi from the earliest records of Chinese philosophy (5th century BC) correspond to Western notions of humours and the ancient Indian concept of Prana. The earliest description of qi in the current sense of vital energy is found in the Vedas of ancient India (circa 1500-1000BC)
The ancient Chinese described it as “life-force”. They believed qi permeated everything and linked their surroundings together. They likened it to the flow of energy around and through the body, forming a cohesive and functioning unit. By understanding its rhythm and flow they believed they could guide exercises and treatments to provide stability and longevity.
Although the concept of qi has been important within many Chinese philosophies, over the centuries the descriptions of qi have varied and have sometimes been in conflict. Until China came into contact with Western scientific and philosophical ideas, they would not have categorized all things in terms of matter and energy. Qi and li (, li, pattern) were ‘fundamental’ categories similar to matter and energy.
Fairly early on, some Chinese thinkers began to believe that there were different fractions of qi and that the coarsest and heaviest fractions of qi formed solids, lighter fractions formed liquids and the most ethereal fractions were the “life breath” that animates living beings. YuÃ¡n qÃ¬ is a notion of innate or pre-natal qi to distinguish it from acquired qi that a person may develop over the course of their lifetime.
Central to Taoist world-view and practice is qi (chi). Qi is life-force — that which animates the forms of the world. It is the vibratory nature of phenomena — the flow and tremoring that is happening continuously at molecular, atomic and sub-atomic levels. In Japan it is called ki, and in India, prana or Shakti. The ancient Egyptians referred to it as ka, and the ancient Greeks as pneuma. For Native Americans it is the Great Spirit and for Christians, the Holy Spirit. In Africa itâ€™s known as ashe and in Hawaii as ha or mana.
In China, the understanding of qi is inherent in the very language. For instance: The literal translation of the Chinese character meaning health is original qi. The literal translation of the character for vitality is high quality qi. The literal translation of the character meaning friendly is peaceful qi.”
The capacity to perceive the flow of qi directly — to actually see or feel it — is something that can be cultivated through training in qigong or acupuncture. Like any skill, some people are better at it than others: for some it seems to come naturally, for others itâ€™s more of a challenge. Even if itâ€™s not consciously cultivated or acknowledged, most of us can tell the difference between someone who has great energy and someone from whom we feel a bad vibe. And most of us are able to notice, when we enter a room, whether the atmosphere seems relaxed and uplifted, or tense and heavy. To the extent that we notice such things, we are tuning into the level of qi.
We might be in the habit of perceiving our world in terms of solid shapes and forms. What Taoism teaches is that we can train ourselves to perceive in other ways; and a good place to start is with our own human body. Though we may now experience our body as being rather solid, at a molecular level it is comprised mostly of water a very fluid substance! And at an atomic level it is 99.99% space a vast (and infinitely intelligent) emptiness.
As we practice Tai Chi and Qi Gong, we cultivate the capacity to perceive at all of these different levels to feel ourselves and our world as fluid, and as spacious; as well as being filled with apparently-solid forms. As we become more adept in this way, we become aware, directly, of the vibratory nature of all-that-is. Not only do we experience our bodies as being comprised of patterns and flows of qi, but also come to understand that emotions and thoughts are also forms of energy.Â Most importantly, we realize that we are made up of these beautiful vibrations. We can pass that form to others in which we can help, heal and create positive environments for all.