“If life is a kind of university, then yoga can be understood to be the gifted program because it asks us to go deeper into the core issues at hand. On the yoga mat, lessons are magnified until we find the courageous heart to face them.”~Kino MacGregor
What is Yoga?
Yoga is more than just poses practiced on a mat. It is a way of life. What you practice on the mat has benefits that continue even when you roll up your mat at the end of class. We focus on breathing which will help to reduce stress and can calm a cluttered mind. We explore poses that loosen stiff muscles and joints. We challenge ourselves with poses that build strength throughout the body and mind. We play our edge with poses that might seem scary at first but teach us to trust in ourselves, to keep trying, and not to predetermine what we can or cannot do. We don’t force our body into poses, but rather, adjust the pose to fit out body. We push when we are ready and we pull back when we need to. We try to keep our practice playful and not take ourselves too serious. But we are serious about a consistent practice. The studio is a safe place to come and explore the art of yoga. It is like a journey without an end. There are always new things to learn about the practice and ourselves. Some days the practice might make us cry on our mat as we release something that is no longer serving us like stress, tension, or blocked energy. Other times we might realize something and a light bulb goes on.
So when someone asks ‘what is yoga’ I usually tell them they should experience a class as words can’t really describe what yoga is or shall I say what yoga does for you. You will gain much more from your yoga practice than you ever imagined you would.
WHAT IS THE UNIVERSAL YOGA SYSTEM?
Universal Yoga is a multi-faceted system of methods that represent all the essential rules and laws of authentic yoga. Is it not about the creator of the system (Andrey Lappa), nor is it about a particular, specialized direction in yoga. It is about unifying all the methods and disciplines in authentic yoga that can be used for any and all individuals, and for any broad or specific goal.
Universal Yoga is a system based on the idea of the mayakoshas (sheaths of the self) that the physical, energetic, emotional, psychological, intellectual, bliss and karmic layers. The Universal Yoga System teaches the yogic methods that enable any practitioner to create control and balance on each sheath, between the sheaths themselves and between the sheaths of the practitioner and surrounding space (world, environment, other people). There are distinct practices related to each sheath/shell that can be specialized and individuated for any level or practice or any purpose of development.
A typical UY asana class will be oriented around the idea of creating balance on all the layers of self (physical, energetic, emotional and mental) using the three main threads of yoga practice: body, breath, and mind. The asanas, vinyasas, breathing techniques and turns on the mat, are creatively integrated while using all major ranges of mobility for arms, legs and spine. The primary goal of practice is not to target the body, but to target one’s concentration, focus and attention; to turn it all inward, creating a serenely stable inner-atmosphere conducive for awareness & personal development.
WHAT ARE THE FEATURES OF UNIVERSAL YOGA?
There are four main features:
1) FIRST FEATURE:
There are four aspects of practice in Universal Yoga that never change:
• To be karmically free (7th chakra)
• To be conscious and responsible for all aspects of practice and life
• To be creative in practice (5th chakra)
• To be compassionate, always (4th chakra)
Each of these aspects relate to the higher centers of the astral body (chakras), endowed to each human being.
2) SECOND FEATURE
Practitioners of Universal Yoga must use the ideas of unification, balance & control to create balance on each sheath (mayakosha), between the sheaths, and between themselves and surrounding space (others). In Universal Yoga there are practices for each sheath that can be individualized according to the needs of each practitioner.
3) THIRD FEATURE
UY practitioners must remember to BE TRUE TO THE ULTIMATE GOAL of YOGA. If the ultimate goal is preserved then yogic knowledge will not be contaminated by personal interpretations, ego-oriented goals or yoga as a business. Each practice on any layer should bring the practitioner to an experience of the next layer.
4) FOURTH FEATURE
Practitioners of UY must follow the traditional concept of the mayakoshas in their teaching and practice. This will prevent any individual approaches from becoming too narrow or too specialized. It will keep the practitioner on the path of TRUE balance in yoga. Once we get to the deepest layers of practice, all individual practices will be different because the karma of each person is different.
What are the benefits from a consistent practice?
Obvious physical benefits include:
- natural weight loss
- greater flexibility
- increased strength
- toned muscles
Beyond the physical some of the more subtle benefits include:
- reduced stress
- improved focus and concentration
- inner peace and serenity
- wanting to become a better person
- respecting your body and whatever your fitness level, shape, size or age
- being grateful for what you already have
Who can practice yoga?
Yoga can be practiced by all ages and fitness levels. Participants who are in good health and do not have any physical limitations can participate in group classes. Individuals with health concerns and major physical limitations are encouraged to participate in private sessions.