For us Yoga is an important spiritual practice that teaches us to cultivate a state of connectedness: connection with the breath, with our highest Self and with the fullness of Being. Through ”Yoga”, which means union, we connect with the Source within, the divine spark which burns in every living being.
In our modern times where the world seems to be in a state of continual change and rotating faster every day it is especially important to turn inwards and allow the mind to quiet so that we are able to perceive what is truly important – only then can we become instruments of peaceful change on this planet. The revolution must start within. The word ”asana”, which is most commonly used in Yoga to describe a physical posture, is often translated as seat. The traditional seat that the Yogi took was on the ground, in direct contact with the Earth. In this sense, through asana we connect with the earth. Many thousands of years ago the first yogis also realized that our connection to the Earth nourishes and grounds us as well as being a powerful source of vitality and joy. In Sharon Gannon’s (Creator of Jivamukti Yoga) beautiful words “asana, or the establishment of the seat, means the practice of connecting to the Earth. By Earth we mean all things, all manifestations of reality. Earth not only means the ground we walk on, the air we breathe, or the water we drink, but also all the beings – animals, plants, and minerals – that we come into contact with daily. Through asana practice we consciously connect to a touchable, tangible, sense-able level of reality.” We connect with and bow before the Entirety of Being. In Patanjali‘s Yoga sutra sthira sukham asanam (Y.S.II:46) it is further explained that this seat and connection to the Earth should be strong and steady (sthira), and light and joyful (sukham) at once. As an AcroYogi, I would like to add playful 🙂 The most important thing in Yoga is not the form, but the feeling.
Wir live in an age in which this several-thousand-year old ancient practice is experiencing a fresh blossoming. Never before was yoga so alive, diverse and present in the world. Over the last decades many new styles of yoga have come forth that are tailored to the different needs of modern people. We bow down to the beauty in all these different faces of yoga and ourselves enjoy to benefit from a wide range of different styles. Depending on our inner mood, the weather or season we will find ourselves called to anything from restorative Yin Yoga to empowering and creative Prana Flow. Our appreciation for the diversity in yoga is mirrored in our way of teaching.
The true strength of Yoga only comes to fruition when we practice from a space of unconditional love and acceptance – only then will the full positive effects reveal themselves. Yoga can be a powerful tool in learning to accept ourselves and others just as we are and bring this positive attitude with us from the mat into our daily lives.
Here are the yoga styles we most enjoy sharing:
Vinyasa Flow Yoga
Vinyasa Flow is a dynamic form of yoga in which asanas are connected through the breath into a flowing dance. ”Vi” means in a special way, ”Nyasa” means to place and ”flow”refers to the wave-like continuation of movement following in- and outbreath. In Vinyasa Flow, individual asanas are intelligently placed together like beads on a mala, connected by the thread of the breath. We progressivly open the and strengthen the body while honing our ability to relax, concentrate and be deeply present. Attention to the breath aids us in bringing our focus inwards so that the practice works on all levels: body, mind and spirit. In this way the practice can be used as a transformational tool. We learn to curiously tune in to what our body is telling us and invite pure presence and freshness into every cell of our being. Besides practicing asana we also devote a part of our time together to meditation, balancing Pranayamas (breath excercises) and Mantra (singing).
Yoga Slow Flow
Yoga Slow Flow is a gentle and meditative yoga style which is perfect for cultivating a peaceful state of mind and body. We practice mostly in the sitting and supine positions, which allows us to hold the poses for longer stretches of time. This allows us to fully arrive in and relax into the postures, progressivly softening the muscles and thereby accessing the deep connective tissues and fascia of the body. The energetic qualities of the asanas have the opportunity to unfold and the waves of our breath carry us into a deep state of relaxation. In a Yoga Slow Flow class students are able to slow down – physically and mentally. This is a very valuable experience in our modern, often hectic and stressful times. Since this style of yoga is very gentle, it is also especially optimal for beginners, the elderly and anyone who may have physical limitations.
A mantra is a sacred sound, syllable, word or verse that possesses an especially potent resonance body. Mantra-singing is a technique used to smooth the waves of our consciousness and focus our mind. Each mantra has it’s own individual strength, quality and rythym and will evoke a unique state of consciousness. Sanskrit mantras are very old, some say even older than 40,000 years old. Their vibrations and freqeuncy carry a wisdom which is available for us to tune into at any time. Sanskrit, also called Devangari (which literally translates as ”language of the gods”), is the oldest known language of mankind and consists of seed sounds that are connected to the different energy centers and layers of our being. The naad (flow of sound) consists of vibrations that reach deep into our psyche and can replace negative emotions such as anger, greed or fear with positive and useful qualities such as love, joy and compassion. Even on the physical level a positive effect may be observed – the vibration of sound which is carried into the organs and cells of our body has a simultaneously relaxing and energizing effect.
In the past, yoga asanas were often traditionally accompanied by the singing or toning of mantras or seed sounds. Sound and movement melted into a moving prayer. This is beautifully witnessed in the Surya Namaskar, which literally means Sun Salutation. Even when we practice the Surya Namaskar today, with the intention of greeting the divine life-giving force of light, instead of reducing the series of movements to a means for warming-up, we are able to tap into a well of strength and auspiciousness. Toning seed sounds (called bijas) while moving through the sun salutation activates the inner intelligence of the body and allows Prana (life-energy) to flow more freely through the body. In this style of yoga we come closer to the original meanign of yoga as a spiritual practice, while simultaneously benefiting from the harmonizing and energizing effect for our body.
In Sophia’s Mantra Yoga classes, she especially enjoys sharing her passion for the stories, legends and philosophical works from the yogic and Hindu traditions, as well as singing classical and modern mantras with the group.
In this class a special emphasis on the physical and energetic alignment in the asanas is placed. Alignment refers not only to the outer but most importantly the inner form – feeling from the inside out. We learn to perceive the subtler energetic effects of the asana, thereby feeling where the Prana (life energy) is flowing. We practice bringing our utmost awareness into each movement, cultivating a “mindful awareness of how various parts of ourselves are integrated and interconnected” (in the words of John Friend, founder of Anusara Yoga). We allow our physical alignment to be an expression of the alignment with our heart. Attunement to the breath is an essential key in this practice. Partner excercises, as well as using props, help us to aquire new insights into the asanas, thereby deepening our understanding.
Yoga during pregnancy is a beautiful tool for expectant mothers to tap into their inner well of abundance while connecting with their own center and the new life within. Breath exercises, such as deep belly breathing help pregnant goddesses to relax, let go of stress, and tune into their body and their own needs. Learning to use the power of the breath is also a wonderful preparation for breathing through contractions during labour. Practicing gentle as well as strengthening asanas helps to cultivate a healthy body awareness and posture and gifts us with the strength and energy needed for birth and motherhood. They also strengthen our self-confidence and remind us of the powerful creative potential and inherent ability to bring forth life within. It is immensely valuable for soon-to-be-mothers to give them selves this time – self love, trust and devotion are essential qualities for lovingly welcoming a baby to this world. All expectant mothers are welcome to join this course, regardless if experienced yogini or an absolute beginner.
Handstand & co
Turn your world upside down with handstands and other inversions such as headstand, forearm-stand and arm-balances. Progressive training techniques make inversions accessible – we don’t have to be a superyogi to smile upside down, even beginners ca have a try at their first inversions. It doesn’t matter if you’re standing on your hands for the first time, or already practicing a pike-press – the AcroYoga inversion toolbox will provide you the tips and tricks to make fast progress regardless of your level while having lots of fun 🙂 All you need is a pinch of self-trust and the courage to dive into the unknown!