I was first drawn to Sivananda yoga because of the simple and clear structure of the classes. I was competing in a lot of sport at the time and didn’t fancy sweating and doing complicated and exhausting movements. With Sivananda, I felt light and recharged at the end of a class instead of confused and inadequate.
A Sivananda class starts with relaxation to bring awareness to the body and any areas of tension. Breathing exercises energise the body and clear the mind. Asanas or postures promote flexibility of the joints, tendons and skeletal system and gently massage internal organs while relaxation at the end of the session allows the body to melt and let go.
The ultimate goal of Yoga is meditation – a state of mind untroubled by thoughts and the senses. But real success in meditation requires a rigorous form of introspection and if the body is stiff and can’t even sit still for more than a few seconds, there is no way the mind will even begin to settle.
So the science of calming the mind begins with moving the body through different postures with the breath initially acting as an anchor for the mind. As the breath becomes deeper, stress levels decrease and the mind becomes more peaceful as the flow of thoughts slows down. Breathing exercises become easier to do and with regular practice, we recharge our energy levels. With more mental energy, we have greater clarity and purpose to choose and stick to a healthier lifestyle. A Yoga retreat is great way to experience the benefits of yoga in a short space of time.
If you suffer from back-pain…or any joint and muscle pain, Pilates can really help your Yoga practice. During a Pilates session, slow precise movements fatigue different muscle groups and promote a stronger, leaner more flexible body. I am a big fan of adding props like Pilates balls, foam rollers and bands to make an exercise more challenging. I always include Pilates sessions on my retreats.