Posts Tagged With: T.K.V. Desikachar

What is your religion?

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Recently, I spoke to a middle aged woman who was genuinely interested in yoga as a health practice. Though, she felt that yoga was interfering with her religion, since she was raised as a Roman Catholic. I felt it was better not to start a discussion about yoga and religion, instead I suggested trying Pilates or Yogalates, a fusion of yoga and Pilates. Some religious leaders actually forbid practicing yoga, but allow their followers to do a stretch class (not mentioning the word yoga); a class focused on the physical practice of yoga or asanas and the lack of any Sanskrit words or links to (other) God(s).

Most yogis would agree with me that yoga is not a religion. I would classify it more as a holistic ancient health practice. T.K.V. Desikachar stated: “Yoga was rejected by Hinduism, because yoga would not insist that God exists. It didn’t say there was no God, but just wouldn’t insist there was.”

Though, yoga has similarities with a religion; for example it involves spiritual experiences and includes a moral code (the yamas and niyamas). So maybe we should classify yoga as a spiritual practice? Honestly, If I’ve to fill in a questionnaire which includes asking for my religion, most of the time I’m hesitating. Am I Buddhist? Or a Hindu? No, I am not. I’m yogi, but that is not a religion. But for me it is my lifestyle and my personal practice. My belief system is based on my inner guru and ‘outside gurus’ who remind me of the universal wisdom. Some bhakti yogis consider ‘Love’ as their religion. At the same time religious people can experience God as Love.

According to Wikipedia; “Religion is an organized collection of belief systems, cultural systems and world views that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the Universe. From their ideas about the cosmos and human nature, they tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle”

What do you think? Is yoga your religion? Or are you a Catholic/Hindu/Muslim/Atheist/Jew practicing yoga? Or do you think it doesn’t matter at all?

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Viniyoga – Personalized Gentle Yoga Style

Personalized Yoga

Personalized Yoga

Viniyoga is an individual approach to yoga which is all about adaptation. Viniyoga is an ancient Sanskrit word with multiple meanings including ‘separation’, ‘use’ and ‘application’. This yoga style is based on a teacher-student relationship and is designed to meet the specific needs of the individual by giving tools to individualize and actualize the process of self-discovery and personal transformation. The goal is to enhance wellness, healing, flexibility and strength of joints. Viniyoga includes asana, pranayama, bandha, chanting, meditation, personal rituals and study of texts. The emphasis of viniyoga is on coordinating breath and movement, in fact each movement is led by the breath. Viniyoga is usually taught privately, one on one or in small groups, since poses and flows are chosen to suit the student’s abilities.

Origin

Viniyoga is created by T.K.V. Desikachar, the son of Sri T. Krishnamacharya in the 1970s. Krishnamacharya prominent students include Pattabhi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the most prominent figures in yoga’s dissemination to the West. His son Desikachar carries on the guru’s legacy as the world’s foremost Viniyoga authority. His conviction is that yoga practice should be adapted to fit the individuality and particular situation of each practitioner. He later distanced himself from the term.

What to Expect

The yoga poses are synchronized with the breath in sequences determined by the individual needs of the practitioner. Since Viniyoga is so adaptable, it makes yoga available to those with physical limitations, whether through injury, illness or age. The postures are modified to meet the needs of the individual student. It can be very gentle, but not necessarily or exclusively so. If a student is more adept, then so will the yoga practice. This adaptable approach requires an understanding of a person’s present condition, personal potential, appropriate goals and the means available. Because of this personal and adaptable approach, viniyoga teachers have had extensive training to create a personal practice for every student based on factors as health, age, physical condition and past or current injuries. Therefore teachers tend to be experts on anatomy and yoga therapy. In addition, they are well trained in creating a practice which addresses every level of your being – not just the body – but also on a spiritual or religious level through for example praying, music, chanting, rituals and intentions. This may also include emotional challenges managed by for example breathing practices.

Compared to other styles of yoga

The flowing movement seen in Viniyoga is similar to Ashtanga Vinyasa’s dynamic series, but it has a much less vigorous pace. There is a strong focus on alignment and poses are held for a consistent number of breaths with rest in between. Though compared to Iyengar Yoga, Viniyoga has a more relaxed approach to placement of the body, the emphasis is placed on lengthening the spine. A standardized program as seen in Bikram or Sivananda Yoga is not used, since the yoga practice is made suitable for the individual. The teacher will usually inquire about your condition, injuries and needs and then create your yoga practice based on your information. For the same reason, a viniyoga teacher will never push you into a posture nor encourage you to use force. The overall aim is to feel energized, strengthened and relaxed after your yoga practice. A yoga practice which is perfectly designed for you and includes the right challenges. How wonderful is that?

Vini Yoga Therapy

Vini Yoga Therapy

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