What is Yoga and what do we do on a Yoga Retreat?

Yoga is a vast subject. There are different traditions, systems and practices in yoga. Just as in medical science there are many different branches and forms of specialisation, it is the same with yoga. "Some people have become experts in the area of the physical body with its physical postures only, others might have become experts in meditation only. In today’s yoga world we find people from different paths who teach what they know as yoga. But real yoga deals with the integrated development of the human personality" (as Swami Niranjananda from the Bihar School of Yoga tells us)

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"Yoga aims at controlling the mind and its modifications. The path of yoga is an inner path whose gateway is your heart. Yoga is the discipline of the mind, the senses and the physical body. It helps to control and coordinate the subtle forces within the body." (swami Sivananda)

Having had my training in the Satyananda tradition (his master was Swami Sivananda and his successor is Swami Niranjananda Saraswati), these quotes above are very relevant to the the way I conduct the Aishani Yoga Retreats. 

If we want to get to the point of being able to be in charge of the modifications of our mind we have to awaken our awareness on the physical emotional and mental level. So on a yoga retreat we practice asanas to become aware of the body and harmonise the emerges of the body, we practise pranayama to become aware of the subtle forces of the breath and we practice relaxation and meditation to become aware of the thoughts and mind. In a 7-day yoga retreat we start introducing specific practices that make it easier for us to develop positive habits that change our experience of life in a way that is less restricted. Most people say that they had the first time the experience of being a "human being" and not a "human doing". 

Tuscany is a beautiful place and it invites to take the leap and explore yoga and what it can do for us beyond a "nice" holiday. So here is what it can do for you.

Yoga Under The Tuscan Sun 26 May - 2 June 2018. email me to book on shaktirpem@icloud.com

Balance between Sleep and Wakefulness

"Setting a foundation of balance" was the topic of our yoga day in January. First we experienced the balance between activity and stillness with specific yoga asanas and other practices during a special yoga session before the theory part of the day where I presented what the yoga scripts say about balance. The importance of a healthy balance between a "good night's sleep" and wakefulness came to the foreground. 

"So why do we want to attain balance in our life?" Answer: "Balance gives us a quality of life"

Let's look at sleep and wakefulness. and what the WHO came up with in their WHO technical meeting on sleep and health in Bonn, Germany 22-24 Jan 2004. "Sleep is a physiological state occurring in alternation with wakefulness, and its duration and quality are equally important for the quality of life. Indeed, waking and sleeping are not at all independent from each other and they cannot be separated. Our sleeping patterns have a direct influence on our waking behaviour and our daytime activities influence our sleep."

The consequences of insomnia can be behavioural manifesting in poor performance at work, fatigue, memory difficulties, concentration problems, car accidents, psychiatric problems - depression, anxiety conditions, alcohol and other substance abuse, medical - cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal disorders, impaired immune system function and an increased risk of mortality. (according to the WHO paper on sleep and health)

The answers that yoga give are in two fields: pranayama and yoga nidra.

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With Nadi Shodan (alternate nostril breathing) we bring balance into both hemispheres of our brain, which can bring us into a more harmonious, balanced inner state that allows us to slow down and get some rest if we need the countered balance to our active daily life and during our daily activities it assists us to see things less one-sided and more objective which means we have more a choice of how to act in certain situations rather than "spontaneously" react. And yoga nidra allows us to relax the body and mind either during the day in a break to continue the day refreshed and with clarity of mind or before falling asleep to get a deeper restful sleep than when we take all events and emotions we had attached to the events of the day with us into our sleep.