The 8th and final Yoga Club rule is a request – if this is your first time at yoga club – you have to do yoga. But, what is yoga club ?
Yoga club is one of the best kept secrets ever. Yoga club is a state of mind. It is doing a regular and consistent yoga practice. And by ‘yoga practice’ I mean one of the many tools and techniques in the yoga tool box. Most people opt to simply practice yoga asana – the postures. Others build on that and practice breathing techniques – pranayama. That might be it for some. But for others – there are more techniques: yamas which are how we relate to, and regulate the world around us, and niyamas which a set of principles and practices which help us relate to and regulate ourselves.
Another set of practices is pratyahara – which are an exploration of the withdrawal of our senses, dharana which are concentration practices, dhyana which is meditation, and samadhi which is a practice and experience of integration.
The yamas and niyamas are interesting practices in their own right. There are five yamas – these are : ahimsa which is translated as ‘non violence’, satya, which is truthfulness, asteya, which is non-stealing, bramacharya which is about not living to excess in all things, particularly energy -wise, and finally aparigraha which is about not being greedy or possessive.
The five niyamas ask us to consider, and undertake practices of cleanliness and contentment, to purify ourselves through austerity practices that test us, to continually study, and learn and to observe our self. Finally, the last niyama is a call to surrender to something greater than ourselves – which is usually understood as God, although many consider this to be a higher principle or philosophy or world view.
So, these are the practices and techniques in summary.
Dive in, explore their depths and effects. I started practicing yoga asana. Rapidly I found that moving from one posture to another, or even moving within a posture required good breath control. I investigated further and found a range of breathing techniques. Simple breath observation led to concentration, and from there – contemplation and meditation. The yamas and niyamas drifted in. I found them compelling and philosophically sound. They cross refer to other traditions such as Buddhism and Christianity, and the philosophers, particularly the Stoics. Some practices are down right useful in daily life. Jala neti – nasal irrigation, which is a saucha – or niyama cleansing practice is a godsend in hayfever season, or when it is very hot, dry and dusty.
So there you are! A range of tools and techniques to help you feel physically, and mentally better.
The best thing about Yoga Club ? It’s free, and the tools, techniques, and their benefits are tried and tested over a few thousand years.
There are plenty of yogis in yoga club. Many are online like me, and many more are teaching in communities all over the place. But you don’t have to go to a class, although it helps. You can go online or pick up a book and begin exploring this wonderful pantheon of self care, self development and evolution. And when you want to deepen your practices you can find a teacher and maybe have a 1:1 with them, or turn up at a class.
The beauty of yoga is that it is generally free, and even if you wish to go to a class most decent teachers will offer you a free taster if you are a newbie. But yoga is also portable. You can practice it anywhere. You might be suckered into buying a mat and yoga pants but really try to avoid all of that – you can just get into bare feet and start from there. Last summer I was walking in the Lakes and found a lovely spot in Eskdale. I love cold water, and nature, and swimming. So I dipped in to Tongue Pot in the Eskdale Valley. A bit of yoga before and after really made the whole experience enjoyable. Yoga Club is with me all the time.
Welcome to Yoga Club !