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Asana

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Asana

Asana is primarily an approach which evokes an open and dynamic

way of practice where the postures express the nature of our own bodies.

The basics of practice are explored through three set series which provide the basis to then explore advanced practice.

Ideally practice is an expression of each individuals nature so after completing the series it is

recommended to then focus on a personal practice which balances and compliments the body and temperament.

 
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Sukhashanti Roots

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Sukhashanti Roots

In the beginning we must come to relate to gravity and the earth,

not merely standing on the ground but relating to it.

For the beginners placements of hands and feet are essential elements and then understanding how we cooperate with gravity for balance. 

The essential concepts of what is required to complete forward bend, backbend, side-bend, twist and inversion are explored and will connect us to the advanced stages with primary principles of movement and posture. Linking the static postures we will become embedded in Vinyasa, the incorporation of measure, drishti, breathing and counter pose.

Strength and stability are the qualities we will emphasise as we touch the fundament.

 
 
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Sukhashanti Ascension

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Sukhashanti Ascension

With our feet on the ground we can reach for the sky without falling over.

Having a firm hold of the basics it is possible to extend the practice safely and begin to explore the limits.

The cardinal directions are mapped out with asana which progress in sequences and allow for gradual realistic progression without setbacks. 

Asana like mountain climbing requires a planned and supported approach avoiding dangers and securing the ground covered.

The way is steep and sometimes obscured but by focussing on forward movement the obstacles are overcome.

 
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Sukhashanti Peak

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Sukhashanti Peak

At the summit we can see where we have been and where we are going.

now is the time for celebration and expression of joy.

The poses reflect the exhilaration and bliss of feeling at home in a special place.

The peculiarity of existence is reflected in the many and various possibilities.

Having used a map and formula to find our path we now see that there are other ways.

Yet the end is just another beginning as here we see the introduction to advanced Asana.

Beyond this the individual must travel alone but now not merely equipped with a map we can learn to make our own maps.

 
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Back-bending

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Back-bending

One of the most challenging aspects of asana is to stretch the spine into extension known as back-bending.

I've spent a year with Acarya Venkatesh of Mysore who is well known internationally for his approach to Back-bending.

The Sukhashanti approach is presented as a safe and systematic approach, breaking things down into digestible pieces and then putting it all together to see whats possible.

When the lower back unlocks then movement in all directions becomes deeper and more substantial.

Back-bending is exhilarating and very rewarding, the alignment of the lower back and pelvis has an effect on the whole bodies symmetry.

 
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Hip Opening

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Hip Opening

Anyone who takes asana seriously and intends to make it a part of their life

should seriously consider spending a year or two on opening the hip joints.

 

The protection from injury for the knees that open hips provide makes it worth it alone but then flexible hips can prevent back strain as well. Many of the standing poses become easy and will not require so much attention.

In fact opening the hips and the lower back is pretty much a definition of the preparation needed for advanced asana practice. Hip opening will improve both forward and back-bending.

Most relevant for yogis is the seated position and with flexible hips it is possible to sit comfortably and firmly without pain or numbness in the legs.

 
 
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Anatomy & Kinesiology

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Anatomy & Kinesiology

Understanding anatomy is probably the most useful information available to a yoga teacher.

In our own practice we develop a keen intuitive understanding of our bodies, yet without the language to communicate this knowledge teaching can be frustrating. In Sukhashanti Yoga verbal communication is the key to sharing an intelligent process of human movement. The basic terms of Anatomy describe the positioning and movement of the human form in three dimensional space. With clarity and consistency teachers will develop confidence that comes from knowing rather than guessing.

The limitations of the body must be respected for progress in asana. To understand the basis of these physical limitations Anatomy provides the answers. Bones, muscles and tissues have various inherent properties relevant to physical strength and flexibility. In fact the riddle of the many and varied asana can be comprehended by knowing what areas of the body are being targeted. By understanding the articulations of the body movement is clarified.

With his background as a chiropractor Noah presents this subject with a therapeutic view in mind.

Drawing from years of teaching experience coupled with a bachelors degree in anatomy, physiology and neurology and his clinical experience Noah has distilled the essentials into an interesting and interactive experience. He presents an explanation of kinesiology which meshes perfectly with the definition of vinyasa to describe how asana works therapeutically.

This is original work that has come from years of personal practice and a discriminating analysis of the practice from years of study.

 
 
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Pranayama

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Pranayama

Pranayama: On a physical level, these breathing exercises tone and co-ordinate the muscles of respiration.

Physiologically however there are some very interesting things happening. In the blood Co2 and O2 levels have a direct effect on two important factors. The state of consciousness is effected, and the stress response may be invoked. Pranayama requires conscious dampening of the stress response and this is its profound effect, to induce a calm state of mind in stressful circumstances. The Yogis believe it to be 10 times as effective as Asana to this end. Also it allows the body to conserve energy. On the mental level Pranayama is a concentration exercise which prepares for meditation. It is believed to be effective in balancing the function of the two sides of the brain.

Noah has studied Pranayam in three different schools of teaching, he then practiced alone and modified the practice to suit. The Sukhashanti approach to pranayama is designed to suit an individuals needs and builds from there. The basic breathing exercises are required as is a solid seated position. Then systematically the ratios of inhalation and exhalation are introduced until the basic level is reached. Breath retention and bandhas are then given and a method for advancing in the practice. The whole process should take around three years of practice to reach the advanced level safely.

 
 
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Pratyahara

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Pratyahara

Pratyahara is a process of retaining the sense awareness within the field of the body.

This maybe practiced with either or all the faculties including principally the visual, audio and kinesthetic. 

These exercises are deeply relaxing and lead to a meditative state of mind.

In the field of Yoga most of the Pratyahara techniques come from Tantric meditations and are collectively known as Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep).

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Meditation

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Meditation

Meditation: The jewel in the crown.

For this most important practice we will take the seated position developed in asana and bring about steadiness of the body. Then use the pranayama techniques to make the breath even and minimal and begin to calm and soothe the mind. From this base we will begin to learn Dharuna (concentration) using Sukhashanti Method of taking many points of focus for short periods. Lengthening the period of concentration and keeping the point of focus fixed brings us to Dhyana (absorption). Samadhi arises out of awareness which focuses in on itself, it is a natural consequence of practice.

Meditation can be difficult and is commonly misunderstood. Most yoga teachers either embellish or avoid this most vital and fundamental aspect of yoga.

To clarify and lay the path we will study Patanjali’s yoga sutra. Without philosophy yoga can be misguided and even dangerous. Without practice philosophy can be dry and theoretical. Through meditation liberation is possible in a way that asana and pranayama rarely achieve.

The process will begin with fully guided practice and gradually develop to self practice. The Sukhashanti approach uses shifting points of focus, gradually covering the layers of manifest consciousness. Eventually we identify consciousness it self as the source.