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Yoga instructor, Thomas Spring at Wellness Movement shares his story on his recent trip to Bihar School of Yoga

Last month I had the privilege to participate in a Hatha Yoga course at the Bihar School of Yoga. The first Yoga university in the world. It was established by Swami Satyananda who was one of the major forces who brought the traditional knowledge of Yoga to the west. It was a unique opportunity to deepen my understanding about the various aspects of yoga.

Traveling in India is always a unique experience and adventure. It is quite common for a train to be delayed by several hours. These days, everybody seems to have a mobile phone and I found that people were very supportive, guiding me into the right direction.

Yoga is a science and philosophy which evolved over thousands of years. There is evidence that yoga was practiced in South America, Egypt and Scandinavian countries. In those countries the science and philosophy of Yoga got lost whereas India was able to keep it alive.

There are different types of music, ranging from hard rock to classical, each with its unique flavour and expression.  In a similar way, there are different types or branches of yoga, each with a different focus, benefits and outcomes. 

In the west Hatha Yoga is best known. A typical Hatha Yoga session consists mainly of asanas (postures) and breathing practices called pranayama. Other branches of Yoga focus more on the mind and emotions.  Nada Yoga, Yoga of sound uses vibrations by chanting specific mantras to create a certain effect. Some mantras aim to enhance health where others aim to enhance the function of the mind and develop intuition. 

From a traditional point of view Hatha Yoga begins with various cleansing practices to purify the body and mind, followed by practices which enhance flexibility and enhance the function of the digestive system. In 1996 I got lead poisoning which effected my digestive system and I found the cleansing very beneficial in improving my overall health and wellbeing.

Yoga offers a wide range of practices that have the potential to enhance the quality of your life by introducing relaxation, concentration, learning to reflect and develop mindfulness.

In the 1960 Swami Satyananda developed the relaxation practice of Yoga Nidra. It has been proven to be effective in supporting people with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as enhancing learning, both in children and adults.

We live in a world in which we get bombarded with sensory stimulation.

Yoga Nidra is one of my favourite practices as it allows a deep relaxation on a physical, mental and emotional level. When I feel tired and need a boost of energy, I practice Yoga Nidra. Afterwards I feel refreshed and have clarity of mind and can tackle the tasks in front of me more easily.

Yoga Nidra prepares the mind to internalise as is a stepping stone towards meditation. There are various types of practices which help the mind to become focused.

For me, Yoga is not only a practice of postures, it has become a lifestyle. Through Yoga you can develop various skills that enhance your life and allow yourself to express more of your potential. It is an exciting time as more of this ancient wisdom is shared, providing practical tools that you can incorporated  into your daily life.

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Author: Thomas Spring

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