Yoga, Ayurveda and Sanskrit – part 1

At first these three terms may seem vaguely related but I will try to connect them in a meaningful way as well as show their importance to anyone trying to learn more on any of these three terms. To not make the blog too lengthy, I have divided it into 3 parts. This first one discusses yoga as practiced and applicable in USA.

My knowledge as an Indian is not very deep. I hope to make it deeper and richer by learning about them. This post is one such attempt at that. However every time I visit a place connected to yoga or spirituality, I end up finding myself at the giving side of knowledge on topics related to India, hinduism, and all related matters. This is possibly by sole virtue of my being Indian. I therefore thought, “I better learn more than the rudimentary basics.”

Recently, end of August with just over a week to spare from work and between semesters, I decided to go to CA to visit my friend as well as take a true vacation..away from people, phones, computers and malls. I found myself being dropped by my friend at the Sivananda Yoga farm in Grass Valley, CA. I almost got a panic attack and wanted to run away from what at first seemed to both of us as an idyllic and somewhat too idealistic place. The place seemed peaceful, with hammocks spread around, everyone walking around with a smile and often an accompanying yoga mat. No one was sending or checking texts..Fighting all my fear instincts I decided to stay for the four days and ended up having a really good time.

Most people these days now know and practice yoga. It took me a while to differentiate the different forms and also to pick one I could see myself practicing for years to come. Yes, for most of us city dwellers and westerners, it is a form of exercise and stretching. But those lucky few who can and do take it seriously, it offers and gives back a lot more. It’s a way of living your life. To practice yoga you have to be in the moment focused on the exercise, focused on the breath and it almost always calms you down and benefits both the body and mind.

These are the most common forms or styles of  yoga. For sure this is not an exhaustive list

Vinyasas- combines a series of flowing postures with rhythmic breathing. Also referred to as power yoga or Ashtanga yoga

Iyengar- students are encouraged to focus on the subtleties of each posture (especially standing postures).

Bikram- This school of yoga believes in sweating it out. Each studio is designed with temperatures on or around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The reasoning being “sweat helps move the toxins out of your body,”

Sivananda: Each center is run based on five main principles: proper exercise (asanas); proper breathing (pranayama); proper relaxation (Savasana); proper diet (vegetarian); and positive thinking (Vedanta) and meditation (dhyana).

Image
(source: http://www.sivanandayogafarm.org/virtualtour)

Integral- It is based on the philosophy of: gentle asana practice, guided relaxation, breathing practices, sound vibration (repetition of mantra or chant), and silent meditation.

Kundalini- Practitioners concentrate on awakening the energy at the base of the spine and drawing it upward through each of the seven chakras.

Hatha- It’s not really a type or style of yoga but more a blend of two or more of the styles described above.

Below is a link to the rest of the pictures taken at the Sivananda Yoga farm in Grass Valley, CA

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