Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years, originating in North India in ancient times, becoming one of the most popularphysical and spiritual exercises across the world in the last 50 years. A yogic lifestyle is a way of living that follows yoga philosophy, bringing you towards sattva, inner peace.
There are many different activities in yoga, the most obvious one is the practice of asana, the yoga postures and poses. Asanas help the body strengthen with movement, improving flexibility and balance. Asanas are synonymous with yoga, to the practicing yogi it is just one part of yoga. Asana is meditation on the body, pranayama is yoga’s meditation on the breath and energy. In Sanskrit, “prana” means life energy and “yama” means control. Pranayama involves breathing exercises and patterns.
Yoga is a mind and body practice. Asana sequences can often be a movement meditation. It is often after the asana practice the class will focus on meditation, to calm the body and nervous system after movement. Meditation can be studied as a separate discipline, not just as pranayama in yoga.
There are many different types of meditation, guided and unguided/silent forms. Not everybody focuses on meditation although the physical and mental wellness benefits are incredible, just like yoga. Once the student has spent some time practicing and encorporating yoga and meditation into their lives it is a natural progression to want to learn more and immersemore in this rewarding practice.
This is where Yoga Alliance comes in. It is the community-led organization in the USA which provides standards and curriculum for yoga courses for students to complete to receive a certificate as a yoga teacher. More important than the certificate is the experience, and a deeper understanding of yoga, a yogic lifestyle and yoga philosophy.
The course can be a significant event in your life, a time to let go of expectations and ego, to let awareness and growth flow inside and out. To meditate on yourself and your practice.Yoga teacher training programs typically include study of the following – yoga traditions, the history of yoga, yoga philosophy, asanas, pranayama & meditation, yoga anatomy and learning to teach yoga.
All courses have a focus on deepening your practice of yoga and meditation, at the same time as expanding your knowledge of yoga and it’s true meaning and values.
Yovada has prepared a comprehensive retreat guide of the 25 best yoga teacher training around the world to help you review and choose from. Spending an extended period of time on only yoga and meditation can be a life-changing experience.
Mindfulness is a big part of this – mindfulness is the awareness of thoughts and feelings, of where you are and what you are doing.
Mindfulness is meditative practices that help you live and act in the present moment.
The experience of a yoga teacher training brings this into focus.
Yoga involves the goal of mindfulness in your living moments and learning this can be supported by sessions and workshops on your course.
Yoga schools will run group sessions to support your immersion and meditation on the experience – activities can include yoga nidra, kirtan, mantra and sound bath meditation, chakra meditation, Qigong and Vipassana meditation and more.
Sound baths are healing with sound in pitches, tones and volumes. Bowls and gongs are used to create vibrations that focus the mind to a relaxed state.
Singing is a strong meditation practice, with mantras and affirmations. Kirtan is singing with a group, usually accompanied with musical instruments. The sankirtana chants are mostly in call-and-response style from religious ceremonies.
Chanting kirtan is devotional, it’s practice opens the heart to inner peace.
Mantras are more personal chants, these resonate with our chakras, a form of healing through positive energy removing negative energy. With mantras the subtle vibrations encourage this change and can support a deeper state of meditation.
Mantras may well be one of the earliest forms of meditation, the most well known being Om or Aum. Often the start of a longer chant with Intention and meaning.
Positive affirmations are intentions, also a meditative practice in mindfulness.
To learn and develop using these skills along with intensive yoga classes on a teacher training makes for an incredible journey of self-exploration.
All of these practices have the power to change you and your life direction and behaviors.
The overarching objective of yoga is good health, mindfulness and peace.
Whenever is the right time for you there are yoga courses everywhere to join and take part in these experiences. There are even programs which will focus on forms of meditation more than yoga asanas.