Frequently Asked Questions
Why combine Yoga and Mindfulness?
Yoga and Mindfulness practices complement each other spendidly. Both Yoga and Mindfulness incorporate breathing, visualisation, meditation and sensory perception exercises. They both improve concentration and focus, and contribute significantly to general wellbeing and the capacity for resilience.
There is significant evidence of the efficacy of Mindfulness based practices with new research regularly contributing to the growing body of research on the subject.
The most obvious difference between Mindfulness and Yoga practice is the physical component. Hatha Yoga (the Yoga of postures) is particularly popular in Western culture but there is so much more to traditional Yoga than Asana (postures). Ashtanga Yoga teaches there are 8 limbs of Yoga – Asana (postures) comprise only 12½%.
There is a particular collection of Asana (postures) that affect subtle energy channels, thus creating a sense of calm. These are termed the ‘basic cultural poses’. Taking the spine gently through the complete range of motion has a calming effect on the central nervous system. Specifically, the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the ‘rest & digest’ or ‘feed and breed’ activities.
Sometimes, when you are finding it difficult to focus or be seated for Mindfulness practices, it can be useful to bring some movement into your body, through therapeutic Asana’s such as these.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient Eastern Science used to promote health, well-being and achieve spiritual enlightenment. Yoga means Union and According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, is an exercise of the mind.
Sutra 1.2: Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah – The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga. (Sri Swami Satchidananda interpretation).
In the West, Yoga is often considered a form of exercise, which of course it can be, but it is also so much more than that. Even the physical component of Yoga (Asana) is more than simply physical exercise. Yoga delivers postures that not only increase physical strength and balance but also nourish and balance the endocrine glands and bring balance to the central nervous system.
Yoga starts by establishing a connection with the physical body and graduates to the energetic body through breath control practices. From this point, it is much easier to still the constant mind chatter (citta vrtti) that can distracts us from performing our best work. Essentially, Yoga teaches postures to prepare the body for the stillness of meditation and breathing and sensory exercises to prepare the mind for the focus and concentration required to meditate If you find it difficult to sit for Mindfulness practices, a full Yoga program may help you achieve the focus you lack.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is essentially the practice of remaining in the present moment and practice is precisely what is required , in order to live Mindfully.
There is significant evidence of the efficacy of Mindfulness based practices, with new research regularly contributing to the growing body of research on the subject. Just as we have been taught various planning and goal setting techniques in order to influence future events, it is equally important we are taught to be present. If we don’t, our brains revert to auto-pilot as the basal ganglia (the part of our brain responsible for habitual patterns) takes over.
Consequences of allowing habit to drive your life can be;
- Aversion to change, thus you may not notice opportunities when they are presented, Gound-hog day sound familiar?
- Finding yourself not knowing why you are doing something (how many times have you found yourself in front of the fridge or in a particular room and you can’t remember why you went there?)
- Not listening or anticipating what is about to be said. When we are in this mode, it’s virtually impossible to achieve the best result. If you create your own future in your mind, you are not focussed on the task in front of you and cannot possibly give your best advice in any given situation. Mindfulness practices allow us to hear the continual ‘self talk’ arising from our subconscious mind. Once heard, we can make a choice as to whether this mind chatter is beneficial or not, and take action accordingly.
- Our internal mind chatter is often stuck in the past, or maybe it’s concerned too much about the future. Regretting past actions can lead to depression and worrying about what may occur in the future fuels anxiety. Whilst learning from past experiences and planning for the future are important considerations, we can only learn from the past if we accept that the past cannot be changed and cease punishing ourselves for so called ‘mistakes.’ To successfully plan for the future, we require the clarity that comes from learning to exist in the now.
What are the benefits of practicing Yoga and Mindfulness?
Yoga and Mindfulness practices can deliver many benefits, including;
- Improved concentration & focus
- Balance mood swings and emotional reactivity
- Enhanced feeling of well being
- Reduced feelings of anxiety
- Increased resilience
- Improved clarity of thought
- Improved creativity
Positive impacts can be seen by devoting as little as a 10 mins, twice a day to appropriate practices.
What is Ashtanga Yoga?
Ashtanga (as taught in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s) translates to English as Eight Limbs.
- Ashta = eight
- Anga = limb
The 8 limbs consist of;
- Yama (ethics)
- Niyama (personal observances)
- Asana (postures)
- Pranayama (breath control)
- Pratyahara (withdrawal of sensory fascination)
- Dharara (concentration)
- Dhyana (meditation)
- Samadhi (bliss. connection to the Universe)
The ethics and personal observances both provide an ethic framework to the practice, and support continued personal development of any Yogi or Yogini.
Asana is the most common form of Yoga practiced in the West and a powerful component of a balanced Yoga practice. To fully appreciate the array of benefits Yoga has to offer, it is advisable to extend beyond Asana to explore multiple aspects of Yoga. The breath is the link to the mind, hence exploring Yogic Pranayama exercises can be revealing. Pratyahara provides great insight and In Meditation is where the magic happens.
What is Flow Arts?
Flow Arts is a term used to describe the artistic manipulation of props, usually to music. Props can range from ribbons, poi, hula hoops (all sizes), crystal balls, juggling balls, wands, staff and anything you care to invent. New props are being developed regularly. Flow Arts is so named for it’s meditative, or flowing quality. Many people find Flow Arts to be a form of therapy as well as a method of getting fit and a great way to meet new people.
Fire twirling and Flow Arts are often combined with spectacular results. Creativity abounds amongst Flow Arts tribes.