The term “Yoga” is derived from two Sanskrit roots, one is « union » , the other « contemplation « or absorption. Yoga is aimed as reconnecting with our true nature, allowing us to see that we are free. Going through the process of knowing ourselves deeply so we can take out our layers of conditioning and leave the state of ignorance from which suffering arises.
There are several Yoga schools and systems drawing upon different influences that offer guidance on this path of self introspection and inquiry. Yogic practices show us the way to union with our inner selves, this deep sense of consciousness that is in all of us, already there and awaiting to be unveiled. This feeling of unity or union can be experienced through both physical, mental and spiritual (body, mind and soul) practices.
The Asana practices (physical Yoga) that you will find at Agora represent only a small portion of yogic practices , yet they are often the most accessible to us when we first come into Yoga, and a wonderful healing tool for your body.
Pranayama (breathing exercices) and Meditation are some of the other tools that one can explore on his path of self discovery and acceptance.
If you are new to Yoga and Meditation, you can ask us for advice as of which Yoga form would fit you best, or simply try them all and see for yourself. As an indication as what to expect and how to pick the right Yoga form for you, you should feel good after your practice, pain- free and you might experience a sense of peace and calm.
About Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
The physical dimension of the Ashtanga Yoga system (that encompasses many other dimensions) was developed in Mysore, India, and is practiced as a predefined set of postures linked together with the breath. Intended to be a daily practice (6 days a week and 1 day rest) this powerful, healing practice is a specific sequence of postures (asanas) linking breath (pranayama) and movement (vinyasa) Ashtanga is an dynamic flow that combines strength, flexibility and stamina and the sequence is designed carefully to both open and strengthen every part of the body for a complete evolutive practice.
How is Ashtanga Yoga taught at Agora?
Our Yoga practice should support our life and make us feel better, healthier and happier in our everyday life. Each student is unique. Therefore, we believe the practice should serve the student’s needs and be adapted to her/his body’s limitations. We wish to share a mindful approach to the practice of Ashtanga where the emphasis is placed on the breath and the individual’s own way of learning the poses and moving through the predefined sequences.
Ashtanga Mysore style
In Mysore (India) it is the way that Ashtanga is practiced. The student develops a personal practice, moving at his own pace (his breathing pace) and the teacher guides her/him along posture by posture. Each posture is built upon the preceding one and the teacher is there to help the student move safely from one posture to the next one when the student is ready. The teacher can give the students verbal advices and, if the student wish to, hands-on adjustments or assists in poses to support the health of the body and enhance the experience of the posture. By making the student autonomous in his practice as soon as possible, memorizing the sequences and knowing how to work with his own breath and body, Mysore practice encourages self practice and an individual empowerment. The Mysore room is set to create a safe space filled with the energy of each practitioner practicing together, so each is given all what is needed for the development of a lifelong Yoga personal practice.
Ashtanga Led Classes
When you first come to Ashtanga, you might feel intimidated to jump in a Mysore room filled with students who seem to already know what they are doing…You can start by joining our Ashtanga Beginners sessions. They are one hour long guided classes designed to introduce you to the practice of Ashtanga and acquiring the basics to make you feel more confortable to join the Mysore.
During the led 1,5 hours classes, the students are guided through the postures of the primary series in unison and given several options to do some poses that may be more challenging. The led classes are designed both for Mysore students who wish to work on endurance and concentration by following the flow of breath under the voice of a teacher, and for those do not wish or cannot join the Mysore classes but still want to practice the Ashtanga sequence in a group class.
About Yin & Restorative Yoga
In most of our “Yin” classes, we blend Yin and Restorative Yoga together
At the foundation of Yin yoga is the Taoist concept of yin and yang: opposite and complementary principles such as soft and strong. The Yin symbolises the dark, calm, and stable aspects of nature, and is also associated with a contemplative, meditative energy while Yang embodies light, energetic, and dynamic and active aspects.
Accordingly, Yin yoga is a slow-paced practice focusing on poses that stretch the hips, thighs, and lower back with the use of conscious breathing and an emphasis on physical awareness. In a yin yoga sequence, poses are held for three to five minutes or more. Yin yoga poses stretch the subtle, more stable connective tissues of the body rather than the large, dynamic muscle groups that are worked in fast-paced yoga classes (as Ashtanga or Vinyasa classes) which could be considered “Yang” yoga.
In a pure Yin Yoga class, stretches can be intense and there is still effort being done in the poses, the use of gravity in passive stretching bringing deep stretches. On the other hand, Restorative yoga is a practice that aims at stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system by taking all notion of effort out of the poses. The Restorative poses are designed to allow for complete relaxation of the body thanks to the use of blankets, blocks, belts and bolsters as a central part of the practice. They are held for a longer time (5 to 10 minutes or sometimes more) in order to allow for real deep relaxation and an opportunity to restore your energy.
In our classes, we mix Yin and Restorative Yoga in order to ally possibility to stretch our connective tissues while still allowing space for « unplugging » and total relaxation that will make you feel your energy renewed at the end of the class.
If you are looking for a soft, relaxing and gentle practice, or wanting to take it easy some days while still practicing Yoga, these classes are made for you. If you have already a more « Yang » Yoga practice, it is vital to balance your practice with some of the Yin/Restorative classes so that you can keep your body healthy and a strong vitality along the years, avoiding to burn yourself up by too intense workouts.
Mentally, Yin yoga is a great way to grow your meditation practice. Without the constant distraction of movement that we can come to rely on in a more yang practice, Yin forces us – gently – to slow down and go inward. Learning to be comfortable in stillness and to accept the things as they are in the present moment are great tools for happier lives, especially in the world of constant stimulation and distraction that we live in.