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Author: liveyoga

Why are Yoga Asanas so important in our Yoga Practice?

What is a Yoga Asana and why is it of such importance in Yoga? In almost every yoga class, at least to some extent, we practice asanas, otherwise known as the yoga poses. On a physical level, they provide us with strength, endurance, flexibility, openness and a healthier posture. However, after an asana class, we often feel that it also had a profound effect on our state of mind. We can safely assume that the effects of yoga poses go way beyond just a physical result.

Read more about what Yoga is and where it comes from

 

What is a Yoga Asana and why do we practice them?

The word asana means pose in Sanskrit. Yoga poses were created thousands of years ago in India by the first yogis. According to Hindu theology, Shiva was the first yogi and granted humanity the incredible gift of Yoga. Whichever it was a divine gift or a human invention, we can assume that the first yogis had a deep insight into the workings of the body. Yoga poses have positive effects on the grossest parts of the body; our muscles, connecting tissues and skeleton, as well as our organs and more subtle parts like our nervous system. However, the most prominent goal of yoga poses was to prepare the body to sit uninterrupted in meditation. It was believed that one who could sit in meditation for a long time, had a chance to reach enlightenment; the ultimate purpose of any Yoga practice.

However, asanas are so much more than just preparation for seated meditation. They offer a safe environment where we can investigate the ever-present dance between control and surrender within us. In their microcosm, we can experience the whole spectrum of our inner world. Through extensive practise, we start to understand, on an experimental level, how we can reconcile the opposing energies within the system. Once this understanding matures, we can apply it on a physical, mental, emotional and energetic level. The body, with all its layers, has truly become a temple, fit to receive the light of the Soul.

 

Effortless Effort in a Yoga Pose

There is something that is considered to be a perfect Asana. Although this is a tricky subject in which our striving ego easily can be entangled, still it is an important goal to work on. We need to fully prepare our outer body, our mental understanding as well as our inner experience of the pose. At the point the openness and strength of the body, the intellectual understanding as well as our energies have reached a specific point, we start to experience a deep sense of wholeness while performing a pose. Only through prolonged practice can we slowly grow towards this perfect awareness.

This sense of perfection goes well beyond how the pose looks like from the outside. It consists of a subtle balance where the external form and internal experience flow together. In other words, the object of experience (the physical asana)  and the experience itself become one. This is called Asana Siddhi. We can stay in poses without effort, even while the body working very hard. This is a state of effortless effort where the duality between the pose and the practitioner has vanished completely.

 

The real-life reality of our Yoga Asana Practice

There is often a big difference between the ultimate goal of perfection in asana, and our practical day to day lives. In reality, our bodies are ageing, stiff or we suffer from injuries. All this can prevent us from reaching what a perfect pose is considered to look like. What an asana practice does for us in this reality, aside from keeping us as fit as possible, is letting us fully accept the current state of our body. Even more so, it lets us get to know the limitations of our physical body and work with that. Still, it also teaches us not to become stale or lazy. Even within the limitations our body sets up for us, we still can improve every time we come to the mat. It teaches us where we need to be hard on ourselves, and where we need to be soft. Often, we turn these two aspects around in our lives. Asana is teaching is to fully accept where we are, while also inviting us to evolve further. When we start to experience that these two things can happen simultaneously, we can start to apply this wisdom to all aspects of life.

 

How do we practice Yoga Asana at LiveYoga Amsterdam?

At LiveYoga Amsterdam we highly value the correct alignment in yoga poses. We are forever inspired by BKS Iyengar and his deep insight on how to use the body in our asana practice. Our team of experienced teachers has a profound insight in the workings of the body. We will help you to start understanding your own body and its current state more profoundly. We regard safety as essential and therefore will always make our instructions personal and applying to your body specifically. Never will you find us push you further. Rather do we give you tips and tricks that can help you in the long run to create more openness. From here, bit by bit we can start to experience the more subtle and profound effects of Yoga Asanas. We want to offer a glimpse of what the ultimate goal of perfecting an asana looks like, while never losing sight of the current state of your body and what is needed today.

Read more about BKS Iyengar and who he was

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Why do Yoga Studios in Amsterdam offer so many styles of Yoga?

Yoga studios in Amsterdam offer a lot of different yoga styles. To discover the origin of all these styles of Yoga, we need to take a look at the past. Yoga originated in India thousands of years ago. And, although different styles of Yoga already existed also back then, these different forms were mainly focussed on either the body (Hatha), the mind (Jnana), the heart (Bhakti) or a combination of all these paths (Raja). The vast amount of different physical styles of Yoga was not yet so cultivated as it is today.

Over the last 150 years, Yoga made its way from India into the rest of the world. To make Yoga easier to access for Western people, the physical aspect of Yoga (Hatha Yoga) was the main aspect that was adapted. In the West, we are schooled differently than in India. Our world view today is based on a scientific and objective way of reviewing the world. That is why, for us, entering a subjective practice like Yoga is easier through something relatable like the body. From this starting point, slowly we can start to experience the deeper, holistic benefits Yoga has to offer.

Read more about what Yoga and the realization of Yoga really means! 

 

How did so many styles of Yoga came into existence?

There is a vast amount of different people in the world, all with different constitutions and preferences. To make the practice of Yoga more accessible for a wider audience, there was a need for different, more specific branches. That is why certain aspects of Hatha Yoga were split off into different styles of Yoga. For instance, to satisfy people with active minds, the flow aspect of Hatha Yoga was adapted into different Vinyasa Flow and Power Yoga classes. For the more introspective types of people, Yin Yoga was distilled from the Restorative aspect of Hatha Yoga.

It is good to realize we all need different styles at different times in our lives. The one day, Vinyasa Yoga serves us and the other day Yin Yoga will help us enormously. This only shows the wide range the whole teaching of Hatha Yoga encompasses. All these paths are as beautiful and important as the other. They can all equally serve as a path towards the realization of Yoga. We can choose one path and stick to it religiously, or combine different styles in our practice next to each other. Both can learn and teach us a lot. There is no right or wrong in this matter.

Check our class page for all the different styles of Yoga we currently offer.

 

What is Iyengar Yoga?

We, as LiveYoga Amsterdam, started out with being purely an Iyengar Yoga Studio. B.K.S Iyengar was a Hatha Yoga teacher from India who, in particular, emphasized the importance of aligning the body properly in poses (asanas). To do so, he invented the use of Yoga props to help students align in poses that, otherwise, their body could not perform. During his 60 years of teaching Yoga, he developed a methodical system in which his teaching was preserved. This is what is called Iyengar Yoga today. Iyengar self did not agree with that name by the way. He claimed that he simply was teaching Hatha Yoga like it was described in the ancient scriptures.

 

What styles of Yoga do we teach at LiveYoga Amsterdam?

We recognize that different students are served with different styles and not just Iyengar Yoga. Even students that love the style of Iyengar, are sometimes served by a different approach. Because we do not want to be dogmatic, we move with the changes of the time while also maintaining true to the core principles that Iyengar shared with us. Just like Yoga teaches us, the inner core is unchanging but the outer layers change constantly. We honour that cosmic dance between the permanent and the transient and try to keep it alive.

Because of this, our schedule has changed accordingly while staying grounded in our core principles. You will see that nowadays, next to Iyengar Yoga, we offer Yin Yoga, Yoga Nidra, Pilates, Iyengar Flow, Restorative Yoga, Sun Salutations, Meditation and different kinds of Breathing classes. Still, in all our classes, you will find that inner and outer alignment is a very important part of our teachings. The wisdom Iyengar shared with us during his life is still very much alive, even years after he left his body.

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The Fifth/ Throat Chakra and what you need to know about it

The Fifth / Throat Chakra governs our energies of truth, expression, healing and creativity. Part of our self-development journey is knowing and accepting who we are. Being able to watch our inner world, and accept it, allows us to live and express it with an authentic voice – to show our true colors. This process requires some distance from our inner personal-dynamics. Such an objective, non-judgmental space of awareness is the birthplace of true expression, healing and creativity. The name of the Throat Chakra in Sanskrit is Vishuddhi Chakra. Here is what you should know about it and its associated gemstones and crystals.

 

WHAT IS THE FIFTH THROAT CHAKRA AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT US?

The fifth chakra is referred to as the Throat Chakra. It is located in the V of the collarbone at the lower neck and is our center of communication, sound, and expression of creativity via thought, speech, and writing. It represents our connection to our innermost truth and our ability to express it in our own unique way. The potential for change, transformation and healing are all located here. The throat chakra is associated with the element Space and its primary color is Blue. Physically it governs the organs located around the Throat and Neck region such as the vocal cords, the entire mouth, and the thyroid gland.

Our Voice and Hearing are the primary active aspects of the Fifth Chakra and their balance is essential to it. The sound vibrations of our voice convey to the world around us what is going on within us on all levels (mental, emotional, spiritual). Our ability to truly listen to the world is our primary source of spiritual learning. When both aspects are in tune we learn not only the integrity that comes from living our true colors, but also develop an objective, non-judgmental perspective of the world (outer and inner) as well as true creativity.

 

HOW DOES IT FEEL WHEN THE THROAT CHAKRA IS IN BALANCE?

 

In life, we experience ourselves as individuals separated from the world around us. We have our own body, Sensations, and thoughts which are ours alone and which we need to take care of. We also know, however, that there is a non-personal aspect to life. There are people around us, a culture, a society, animals and other living beings, as well as a historical context, and ultimately god. A balanced life according to the chakra system represents an evolution from the personal to the spiritual, from the subjective to the Objective. It’s a spiritual journey of perspective and ultimately – Identity.

 

Read the full article on ManipuraMala.com 

The Fourth/ Hearth Chakra and what you need to know about it

The Fourth/ Heart Chakra (Anahata Chakra in Sanskrit) is the loving center of our being. Positioned at the very center of all the chakras, it naturally balances the physical energy of our body and the intellectual energy of our mind. People refer to as the ‘hidden city’ or the ‘cave of the heart’. Our Fourth / Heart Chakra is the doorway to our deepest self. With its qualities of Love, Compassion, Gratitude, and Courage its the connection between our personal desires and our higher wisdom, between our emotions and thoughts.

A Simple Guide to the Root chakra.
A Simple Guide to the Sacral Chakra
A Simple Guide to the Solar Plexus Chakra.

 

What is The Fourth/ Heart Chakra and how does it affect us?

The Fourth/ Heart Chakra is located behind the breast bone, in front of the spine, and between the shoulder blades. Relevant organs include the heart, lungs, circulatory system, shoulders, and upper back. It is the center of love, compassion, and spirituality. It is associated with the Air Element and its primary color is Green.  Since the heart chakra is connecting both body and mind with Spirit (consciousness).

The heart chakra is the center of Love which governs our ability to relate to the world, outwardly and inwardly, from an objective place. While it’s often described as our ability to give and receive love, In essence, it’s a bit wider than that. Seeing the world, and ourselves, objectively allows us to step outside of our personality/individuality. This is a necessary step in our development which allows us to experience love, care, acceptance, compassion, etc.

The three lower chakras deal with our individual self, its primal needsemotions, and even personal growth. The three highest chakras, on the other hand, are less personal as they deal with our spiritual essence and our connection to Spirit. The Heart Chakra is right in the middle. It acts as the bridge between our lower and higher energies. It recognizes both as important and when in balance it harmonizes them into a greater whole. This alchemy between our Earthy and Spiritual essence happens through the Heart Chakra and its qualities of Love, Insight, Courage, and Compassion.

 

How does it feel when the Heart is in Balance?

 

Read full article on ManipuraMala 

The Third/ Solar Plexus Chakra and what you need to know about it

The Third/ Solar Plexus Chakra deals with our personal growth and development. A prominent part of our development is to discover our place and purpose in the world. When our primal survival needs are met, and we build a healthy emotional relation to pleasure through our body, we begin to investigate what it is we further want from life. To feel fulfilled and happy, we want to claim our unique place in the circle of life. From this natural urge to define ourselves, we begin to explore what it is that makes us unique and how we can use that to find our purpose. The energies that govern this personal sense of I-ness are located in our Third/Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura in Sanskrit). It is associated with the element of fire.  The third Chakra is the home of our power, self-esteem, self-image, energy, will, responsibility, and life purpose.

A Simple Guide to the Root chakra.
A Simple Guide to the Sacral Chakra

 

What is The Third/ Solar Plexus Chakra and how it affects us

The Third Chakra is located just below the solar plexus (our diaphragm). It is in the centre of what is often described as the gut-brain. Since our guts are lined up with many nerve cells, it forms a direct connection with the brain. The constant dialogue between the gut (emotions) and the brain (thoughts) results in a personal sense of I that is unique and authentic and wishes to apply itself onto the world.

These energies of personal will, power, self-esteem, digestion and assertiveness are part of the Solar Plexus Chakra, which is associated with the element Fire. This Fire quality pushes us to develop, discover and to expand our life all the time from inside out. From here our authentic personality grows as we begin to touch the world in our own meaningful and unique way.

 

How does it feel when we have a healthy sense of Self?

Read full article on ManipuraMala

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The Second/ Sacral Chakra and what you need to know about it

The Second/ Sacral Chakra is about our senses and emotions. As children, we begin to know the world through our senses. They tell us which things cause pleasure or pain. Naturally, we start longing for pleasure and avoiding pain by trying to control the things we come in touch with. This dialogue with the world affects much of our sensuality, libido, and passion for anything we do. These energies are located at our Second/ Sacral Chakra (Swadhisthana in Sanskrit). which governs the ‘pleasure seeker’ inside us. Here is what you should know about it and the way to balance it.

A Simple Guide to the Root chakra.
A Simple Guide to the Solar Plexus Chakra.

What is The Second/ Sacral Chakra and how it affects us

The Second/ Sacral Chakra is located at the roof of the pelvis, just below the navel. Together with the first chakra, it governs the primal energies of our body. But while the First/ Root Chakra mostly deals with our primal need for survival, the Sacral Chakra is about the body’s interaction with the external world. It governs our emotional reaction to its sensations.

When our roots are firmly planted (being physically safe and grounded), we want to experience the world. As we grow, our emotional landscape develops through interaction with the world. The nourishment we receive on this level is not only physical but mostly sensory and emotional. We discover the pleasure in things and develop cravings to the positive sensations that some bring us. Since we are not in control over our sensations or their duration, we begin to develop emotional reactions towards them. We crave pleasant things and fear their unavoidable end. On the other hand, we fear other things and long for their end.

The emotional energy in our Sacral Chakra (which is associated with the Water Element) is forever in motion. It keeps flowing and changing throughout our lives. Like water, our push and pull game with the world is in constant flux and never rest. Our sexuality, creativity, and passions all arise from here. So too most of our addictions and fixations. In many cases, this energy is the silent driving force behind what we do (or avoid) in the world as adults.

How our emotional and sexual energies become balanced?

 

Read the full article on ManipuraMala

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The First/ Root Chakra and what you need to know about it

The First/ Root Chakra governs our primal needs to survive, to be safe, and to belong. To survive we need food, shelter, and protection from danger. It is difficult for us to live a balanced and happy life when these basic needs are not taken care off. We need to feel connected to the Earth by being an integral part of it. These primal energies are centred in our Root Chakra (Muladhara in Sanskrit). Here is what you should know about it!

A Simple Guide to the Sacral Chakra

A Simple Guide to the Solar Plexus Chakra.

 

What is The First/ Root Chakra and how it affects us

The Root chakra locates at the base of our spine, just below the tailbone. It is all about security, safety and a sense of belonging. In simple words – Grounding.  It takes care of our primal needs, physically, mentally and emotionally. Only after this happens, we have a solid foundation to evolve as human beings. Just like plants; first the roots arise, then the stem grows, the leaves, and finally, flowers appear. In other words; without a proper foundation of safety and belonging, it is difficult to speak of happiness and fulfilment on higher levels.

 

How do we plant our Roots firmly?

Read the full article on ManipuraMala 

 

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Menstruation Yoga sequences for self practice

During menstruation, quiet practice of sitting postures, supine supported postures and supported forward extensions is best for the physical conditions. The find suitable classes for you, visit our Class Page.

Menstruation sequence – beginners

This menstruation sequence is suitable for beginners but not limited, all levels can benefit from this sequence. Students are encouraged to stay in the pose according to their capacity; repetitions are recommended over timings, to avoid strain.

Menstrual Yoga Sequence

 

More Sequences

Here you will find level 1 sequences!
Here you will find level 2 sequences!

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Level 2 yoga sequences for self practice

On this page, you can find various yoga sequences suitable for level II. To know more about our Level 2 Iyengar classes, visit our Class Page.

Four general sequences

These level II sequences include poses including Salamba Sirsasana (head stand). Timings are given for some poses; students are encouraged to do others according to their capacity; repetitions are recommended over timings, to avoid strain.

level 2 sequences

Grounding sequence

This Grounding sequence uses many seated asanas including the basic sitting asanas, seated twists, seated forward extensions and meditation asana as Siddhasana. Students are encouraged to stay in the pose according to their capacity; repetitions are recommended over timings, to avoid strain.

Grounding Yoga Sequence

More Sequences

Here you will find level 1 sequences!
Here you will find Special yoga sequences for menstruation!

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Level 1 yoga sequences for self practice

On this page, you can find various yoga sequences suitable for level I.

Four general sequences

These Iyengar Yoga Level 1 Sequences include foundation poses from the Teacher-in-Training certification including Salamba Sarvangasana (shoulder stand). Timings are given for some poses; students are encouraged to do others according to their capacity; repetitions are recommended over timings, to avoid strain.

Iyengar-sequences-1

Basic standing sequence

This Basic standing sequence includes the basic standing poses with restorative supine poses towards the end of the practice. Students are encouraged to stay in the pose according to their capacity; repetitions are recommended over timings, to avoid strain.

Standing Poses Sequence

20 min ‘yoga fix’ sequence

This 20-Minute-Yoga-Fix-Sequence is ideal for ‘on the go’ or if you are short of time. The sequence includes 10 asanas only and is designed to energise the body and calm the mind. Students are encouraged to stay in the pose according to their capacity; repetitions are recommended over timings, to avoid strain.

20-Minute-Yoga-Fix-Sequence

More Sequences

Here you will find level 2 sequences!
Here you will find Special yoga sequences for menstruation!

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