We have attended and enjoyed many Iyengar Yoga classes over several years. To someone who hasn’t tried Iyengar before it can seem a bit daunting. Not to worry – it is a very enjoy style of yoga that can provide amazing benefits if it matches what you need.
To help you get started we have outlined some things that you may find of use.
1. First cab off the rank – we would recommend finding a teacher in your local area who is certified by BKS Iyengar Yoga Association of Australia or Yogacharya BKS Iyengar. The reason for this is because teaching Iyengar Yoga is challenging. There is also the safety element – better teachers are safer teachers. Hence the quality of their teacher training is very high to ensure you are properly instructed in a safe environment.
2. Ask whether the teacher specialises in beginners. We have come to realise that some teachers are great with beginners, while other teachers are better with more experienced yogis. Basically – horses for courses.
3. Discuss with your chosen teacher any medical or fitness related issues they should know about. Your teacher should ask you if you have any medical problems or any other concerns before you start the class. However if the class is busy this can sometimes be shorter or may not happen. So we would recommend you discuss this when you first speak with the teacher about attending their class. It is also a great way to check out whether the teacher is right for you.
Women only: If you are menstruating it is advisable to inform your teacher. They may give you more appropriate postures during the class. Also it is highly recommended to advise your teacher if you are pregnant. Consult you doctor before starting any physical exercise like yoga. Also check with your teacher as to whether they are qualified to teach a pregnant woman.
4. Ask whether the studio runs a beginners course or something similar. This is often a great way to get into Iyengar Yoga as the instructions are aimed for beginners, and you can enjoy learning with classmates who are at your level.
5. Wear loose, comfortable clothing that allows you to stretch in. For example – shorts, t-shirt, track pants. Also it is recommended (and we wholehearted agreed from experience) that you shouldn’t eat 2-3 hours before hand.
These tips should assist you in finding the best class for you. We hope you thoroughly enjoy your Iyengar Yoga experience as much as we have.
For Beginner / Foundation Level – Check out Iyengar Yoga Complete Set (Classes 1 to 7). A great way to introduce yourself to Iyengar yoga with experienced Sydney yoga teacher John Norris. Especially designed with anyone with little or no Iyengar yoga experience.
Practising Ashtanga Yoga on a regular basis is a great way to stay fit, flexible, and healthy. It promotes good physical health through exercises called yoga poses. These poses are done in a flowing sequence which is generally the same wherever you practice.
It is a great workout for your cardio-vascular system – the continual flowing poses coupled with a focus on breathing means you will generate a fair amount of body heat. Regular practice will hence significantly improve your level of ‘active’ fitness.
It is also excellent for improving emotional and mental health. The exercises / poses support improved focus and stability – which are important ingredients in having a balanced emotional and mental state.
Before you start doing Ashtanga Yoga it is worth noting that it is designed for people who have a reasonable level of fitness, or know have some yoga experience. It is not recommended for anyone with an injury or a health condition. It may be better to improve your level of fitness before starting Ashtanga Yoga.
The best way to start Ashtanga Yoga is to visit your local yoga studio that teaches Ashtanga Yoga or check out our downloadable Ashtanga Yoga Beginners Program. The seven class series is the perfect introduction to the fundamental postures and breath-work in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.
When practising these classes, we also recommend that you familiarise yourself with each class as many times as you like before moving on to the next class. Each class is a progression from the previous class, so if you find one of the classes too much then just go back to the previous class.
In terms of equipment – your local yoga studio should have all the equipment you need. That said, you may want to get your own yoga mat.
When practising our downloadable MP3 yoga classes, the only equipment you will need is a clean clear space and a yoga mat!
Tantra is currently and popularly defined and interpreted as a method of sexual practices, and modern Tantra is often not associated with yoga practices at all. However, this is a very limited view of Tantra. The true essence of Tantra is a meta – philosophy , a universal meditative method of being… which integrates the small personal self living its daily life into the larger arena… of spiritual evolve-ment and enlightenment. This aspect of Tantra has been completely missed in the common limited misinterpretation of this ancient body of principles.
The Essence of Tantra Yoga
General Yoga practice, as we’ve generally come to understand it today, involves practising a series of postures, meditations and breathing exercises on your yoga mat. These practices are a part of Tantra, and perfect as preparation for Tantra Yoga. But Tantra yoga is more than this. Tantra yoga is the “mother of all yogas” – leading one to the higher universal principles of “living Yoga.” It is about yoga beyond being in a studio or on a mat – where every aspect of your life becomes yogic or tantric.
A Different Approach or Perspective
Living in yoga, in awareness, in tantra – is a state of being which embodies the feminine energy – known as Shakti. Shakti receives life and celebrates all the pleasures of life, including our sexuality, as a gift. This is in contrast to the current western approach – which is goal-oriented, where the practice of yoga on the mat is generally understood as the “way to” achieve better health, a better body, a better mind, a better spiritual state.
This goal-oriented approach today is predominantly Masculine, goal-driven energy. Tantra acknowledges a balance in both Masculine and Feminine Energy, and hence, introduces Feminine Energy – as a way of receiving life rather than doing life. The feminine receives and the masculines does
Tantra says, ‘Receive every moment as a gift’. Receive the breath, the food, the sounds; receive yourself; receive the gift of another. It is an ‘Allowing’ of Life.
How Does Sex Come into the Picture?
Tantra honours the Feminine and Masculine energy that exists in each person, in everything in the world, and the universe we live in. In sex, one partner embodies the feminine or shakti energy and the other embodies the masculine or shiva energy. Tantric lovemaking is a prolonged meditation in the pre-orgasmic state. It is a way of empowering and nurturing each other, rather than simply being a way of achieving orgasm.
Why the focus on Sex?
In the context of love-making as a meditative practice, one allows the sexual energy to be in continuous never-ending flow – and the partners nurture this eternal and ongoing flow of energy in each other. This is different from the common masculine, logical approach to sex where the couple directs the sexual energy to the achievement of an outcome, that is – an orgasm. So in the practice of tantric sex, the goal is not to orgasm.
There is no finish – the journey of being completely present and “with the other” is celebrated as an ongoing meditation. As a Holistic Practice Yogic practices on the mat, such as– meditation, yoga postures, and breathing – prepare each partner to be a pure vessel for the orgasmic energy – my physical body as strong, flexible and healthy as I can make it, my emotional body as joyful and light as I can make it and my mind as clear, open and receptive as I can make it for sacred love making. By bringing sexuality into our yoga practice, and sacred lovemaking into our relationships, we are moving closer to making our lives truly enlightened.
Live Yoga Life has a wide range of MP3 yoga classes, yoga ebooks and yoga books available for you to download:
Written by GuruJivan Goodman
Kundalini Yoga is a technology to awaken your awareness and bring you in touch with your original Self. It is a process that allows the natural unfolding of your inner-nature.
“Kundalini yoga classes are a dynamic blend of postures, pranayam, mantra, music and meditation, which teach you the art of relaxation, self-healing and elevation. Balancing body and mind enables you to experience the clarity and beauty of your soul. No previous experience in yoga is required for you to achieve results with your very first class.”
– Yogi Bhajan, The Aquarian Teacher
The practice of Kundalini Yoga balances the glandular system, strengthens the nervous system and enables us to harness the energy of the mind and the emotions, so we can be in control of ourselves, rather than being controlled by our thoughts and feelings.
There is nothing more powerful than to awaken your consciousness, confront your ego and drop your fears. There is nothing more elegant than building the strength of your nervous system and character. There is nothing more effective than developing your capacity to be happy in the midst of challenges, grateful for each moment of your life. And there is nothing more profound than getting in touch with the core of your being – listening deeply and hearing the pulse of the creator in all people and all things.
The main difference between kundalini yoga and other forms is a matter of time. Kundalini yoga is yoga for householders, for people who have to cope with the daily challenges and stresses of holding jobs, raising families, managing businesses. It gives results in the shortest possible time. It does not require you to leave your home, become an ascetic or sit in a cave. Kundalini Yoga is for everyone who wants the skills to cope successfully with the challenges of living in this day and age.
Kundalini and the Breath
“The main problem in the world is stress. It is not going to decrease – it is going to increase. If through pranayam the shock can be harnessed, the entire stress and disease can be eliminated.”
– Yogi Bhajan
The breath is a fundamental tool to Kundalini yoga, it:
The quantity, quality and circulation of breath creates the foundation of a vital and creative life.
Most people do not breathe correctly. When we consciously lower the frequency of breaths per minute, we encourage great benefits. Normally we find that men breathe between 16-18 breaths per minute, women generally breathe 18-20 breaths per minute.
8 Breaths per minute
If we can consciously breathe 8 breaths per minute we begin to feel more relaxed. The parasympathetic nervous system begins to be influenced and the healing processes of the body are elevated we also get relief from stress and increased mental awareness.
4 Breaths per minute
At this rate the Pituitary & Pineal glands begin to coordinate at an enhanced level thereby producing a meditative state. Positive shifts in mental function begin; we tend to experience intense feelings of awareness, increased visual clarity and sometimes heightened body sensitivity.
1 Breath per minute (Not recommended for Beginners)
Advanced yogi’s who have had a lot of practice can achieve 1 breath per minute. They experience a stronger connection between brain hemispheres, relief from anxiety and fear, increased intuition and the presence of spirit.
The Natural Breath
Many people have learned to breathe backwards, they inhale pulling the belly in, which makes the space for the breath to enter less instead of more. People who are anxious or smoke tend to breathe in this manner.
A natural breath uses the nose, which filters, warms and humidifies the air. There are many different breathing techniques used in Kundalini Yoga and many of these techniques are incorporated into the Kriya and meditations used while practicing Kundalini yoga.
Kriyas (Asana / Posture) in Kundalini
The word Kriya means complete action, in kundalini yoga it is a sequence of postures, breath and sound that are integrated together to allow the manifestation of a particular state. i.e. to remove blocks, anger or fear, eliminate disease, and create elevation just to name a few.
Postures are used to isolate specific muscles to pressurize specific points or areas in the body that act as reflex triggers to enhance the functions of the glands, organs and to re-direct, flush or increase circulation.
In the beginning you may feel awkward or uncomfortable adjusting to a posture. As you hold it, it starts to feel better. It starts to find a natural place in you. Your body adjusts, your shoulders relax, together with tense muscle groups you didn’t need to use.
You will observe, at some point, a relationship building between you and yourself. There starts to be a bridge of communication between the conscious and the unconscious. This then starts to realign the body and the mind.
Kriya is the spontaneous fulfilment of action by using posture (Asana) that links the infinite Self of you to this finite moment. It tears away at your old attachments and starts to reform you gradually. Postures make you conscious of areas in the body. As you hold the posture you find yourself self-conscious initiall, then you become conscious of Yourself. And if you really put yourself into it you become a conscious self.
There are many Kriyas in Kundalini Yoga that support just about every area of life. Kundalini yoga has many manuals available that focus on Kriyas for a specific purpose, outcome or even, time of day. These manuals contain a wealth of information about the postures sequences, breathing exercises, and types of meditation in each particular kriya.
Kundalini and Relaxation
“Total harmonious relaxation cures the body. To achieve this there must be a coordination between the three facets of ourselves: body, mind and soul.”
– Yoga Bhajan
The ability to relax is essential for physical and mental wellbeing but it something surprisingly difficult for many people to do in today’s world.
After completing a Kriya, the student’s physiological and neural is elevated. At this point, it is then important to relax and allow the physiology of awakening and awareness to begin. During this relaxation phase the following benefits may occur:
Corpse Pose (Shavasana)
Corpse Pose is the best position for deep relaxation, after a Kriya, a hard day or even a stressful situation. Lie on your back, arms by your sides with the palms facing up and the legs uncrossed and relaxed. The feet normally fall to the side for most people and the arms are usually approximately at a 45 degree angle from the body.
Kundalini and Meditation
Meditation is the process of controlling and transcending the waves of the mind. Meditation creates a communion between you and your mind and between your mind and your body. It is beneficial for everyone.
Some of the benefits that you may experience while practicing meditation are:
Meditation is a personal and private experience even when you are meditating in large groups.
When you sit quietly and focus your attention inwards you become very aware of what is going on in your mind and all the thoughts that you are thinking (or even thoughts you didn’t think you were thinking!).
By not reacting to or judging the thoughts, and processing them with mantra, breath or mudra you can create a stillness and calmness that will serve you through your daily life.
There are many types of meditation in Kundalini Yoga that can help you stay focused and quiet. There are actually hundreds of these meditations – ranging from group, healing, couples or children’s mediations through to meditations that work on addictions, increasing vitality, clearing chakras or simply just trying to improve mental clarity.
The term Sadhana means daily practice; it is a practice in self – discipline that enables one to express the infinite within one’s self. It is a self – discipline by which we energise and balance the body and clear the mind and the subconscious. It is generally practiced between the hours of 4am – 7am during the Ambrosial Hours. To exercise before sunrise is important because of the angle of the sun to the earth, which makes it very conducive to meditation.
Sadhana is a test of self – grit and refines and develops the characteristics of our consciousness as human beings.
Sadhana benefits us by:
You can choose a Sadhana that suits you or ask your teacher to choose one for you. Start small if you are just beginning or are new to yoga, even if you just do 3 minutes per day for 40 days. Commit to that, it is good a start and you can slowly increase the time as you feel you are ready.