There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.
Yoga in Sanskrit means UNION ... Union between your body, your mind, your soul and Universal Energy.
Yoga is the best and most time tested path to physical and mental well-being known to mankind. While some people think of yoga simply as physical exercise, it is actually a complete system for overall health and well-being. It includes everything: from physical postures, personal hygiene and a healthy diet to meditation, breathing, and relaxation techniques. With time and dedicated practice a higher level of awareness and well-being is achievable.
Like many forms of exercise, yoga effectively stretches and strengthens the body however yoga's greatest benefits come from its profound effects on the internal systems of the body. By bending, stretching, twisting and flexing in the various postures, we bathe our internal organs with oxygenated blood and vitality. Yoga soothes and tones the nerves and regulates the endocrine system which is responsible for the production of hormones and very important for both physical and mental health. Yoga also improves digestion, the excretion of toxins, strengthens the respiratory system and most importantly, yoga is extremely effective in relieving stress.
Ashtanga Yoga Ashtanga Yoga is a yoga style brought to great prominence through the teachings of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. His teachings have been disseminated to many students and teachers. Ashtanga Yoga literally means 'eight limbed' yoga and adheres to Patanjali's eight limbs of yoga as set out in his Yoga Sutras. These eight limbs are the common basis for all yoga practice:
Pattahi Joy teaches that the first four practices (known as the external cleansing practices) can be improved through teaching but the last four (known as internal cleansing practices) can be brought under control through personal transformation through the proper practice of Yoga.
Another important element in Ashtanga is Tristhana which refers to the union of the three points of attention- posture, breathing and the gazing point. The continuous precise focused gaze (drishti) on one point is the basis of a deep practice.
When a beginner first joins a class they might find the yoga positions quite tricky to master. The vigorous and intense yoga workout routines can be challenging. The routines consist of three series, or levels of work, classically using the sun salutation sequence (Surya Namaskar) as a warm up to these series. Strength, stamina and sweat are the hallmark of Ashtanga Yoga and the objective of the practice is to realise the truth that All are One.
Vinyasa (Flow) Yoga The word Vinyasa means “breath-synchronized movement” and Vinyasa covers a broad range of yoga practice. The teacher will instruct you to move from one pose to the next on an inhale or an exhale. This technique is sometimes also called Vinyasa Flow, or just Flow because of the smooth way that the poses run together and become like a dance.
This style allows for a lot of variety, but will almost certainly include Sun Salutations. You should expect movement and not just static poses at varied paces and intensity and can include pranayama and chanting.
When the teacher says, "Go through the vinyasa at your own pace," he means practice your sun salutation sequence by completing the Chaturanga and Upward Facing Dog poses. This done in a continuous sequence to form a continuous flow connecting one breath movement (inhale or exhale) to each physical movement with the intention of creating a movement meditation which reveals that all forms are impermanent and for this reason should not be held on to.
Ujjayi breathing Ujjayi breathing is a breathing technique which is sometimes called "the ocean breath".
It is a diaphragmatic breath which first fills the lower belly (activating the first and second chakras); rises to the lower rib cage (the third and fourth chakras); and finally moves into the upper chest and throat.The technique is very similar to the three-part Tu-Na breathing found in Taoist Qi Gong practice.
Inhalation and exhalation takes place through the nose only. The "ocean sound" is created by moving the glottis as air passes in and out. Both the throat passage and the airway are narrowed a the passage of air creates a "rushing" sound. The length and speed of the breath is controlled by the diaphragm and in part the purpose of ujjayi is to strengthen the diaphragm. The inhalations and exhalations are equal in duration, and are controlled in a manner that causes no distress to the practitioner.
In Sanskrit Ujjayi means “One who is victorious” and through Ujjayi breathing your breath can control and calm your mind by increasing oxygen levels in your blood, building internal heat and regulate blood pressure. The Hawaiian yoga teacher Wai Lana says Ujjayi Pranayama "tones the lungs and encourages the free and healthy flow of prana", while helping to regulate blood pressure and bringing oxygen to all parts of the lungs."
The practice of continuous ujjayi breathing is frequently used in Ashtanga and Vinyasa Yoga typically as part of Asana practice. This breathing enables the practitioner to maintain a rhythm to their practice, take in enough oxygen and help maintain energy levels, while clearing toxins out of the body. It is especially important during transition into and out of asanas (as it helps practitioners to stay present, self-aware and grounded in the practice.
"Yoga chitta vritti nirodha" - 1.2 Yoga Sutras Yoga is the calming of mental activity to allow self transformation