Sadhana: classes are ritual sadhanas (a groove to one's self). Blessed Yoga classes are breath inspired journeys that offer a complete spectrum (ha-tha) of rhythms from meditative and rejuvenating to the challenging and empowering. The wave of a class is created through cycles of effective and creative sequences (vinyasas) linked together through the breath. Every class is well-rounded : following the mandala of the body and asanas - to create whole body transformation of strength and fluidity, circulation and centering.
The Emphasis During Blessed Yoga Sadhana is on:
Bhava or feeling mind: Bhava is a deep yogic concept that extends to all of life as the feeling state of being sometimes translated as mood that forms the inner soil from which all yoga experience arises. Bhava is a whole body experience that athletes, artists, gardeners : anyone who is bringing the power of inner unification with the state they are experiencing into action. Technique without bhava is like food without taste : it is the inner state that brings transformation and satisfaction to the flow of yoga.
Evolution: Through vinyasa, peak asanas are cultivated as pathways of evolution on all levels. Classes are sequenced around the function and energy of the asana in a way that allows every student to find their developmental and emotional current that is appropriate for them that day in relation to the flow of the life. There is no hierarchy between child's pose and scorpion, reclining meditation and seated meditation.
Integration: Through multi-dimensional sequencing, the mandala (wholeness) of the body, is cultivated through an integration of intelligently sequenced asanas where all of the major groups of asanas - standing poses, arm balances, twists, back-bends, hip openers, forwards bends and inversions - and all the major structures of the body are chosen for their relationship to a peak asana, the state of transformation (rasa) or particular exploration, and then integrated through a system of sequencing, and always through the sutra of the breath consciousness. Chanting, visualization, chakras, marmas, and pranayama are also often integrated within asana.
Energetic Alignment: is an experiential approach to conscious inner and outer alignment that invites you to discover the natural relationships, actions and energetic flow from within your body. This approach involves accessing alignment during the flow of practice through a three-part vinyasa method that brings awareness to key actions, the movements of prana, the union of opposites, and lines of energy as it relates to the awakening the inherent function and benefit of a pose. The emphasis in on the unbroken stream of internal meditation and alignment within the flow.
Collective Flow: Our orientation to a daily group vinyasa flow is not so much a class or workshop as a collective journey along the river of prana that flows within us and all around us. When I go to the boundary waters in northern Minnesota, I love to canoe in the pristine lakes and watch the locals float by in their canoes, each person in sync with their own breath-energy, with each other, and most importantly the currents of the lakes that ultimately lead out into the open wilderness.
Common Elements of a Blessed Yoga Class:
Chanting and Music
We always begin with universal and natural chanting of 'Om' with movement that is related to the intention of the class. Yogic chants and mantras are also integrated for experienced practitioners during the flow of the class. Music as a universal tool for cultivating the flow is invoked, creating the experience of vinyasa as a dance of breath and rhythm.
Yoga and aromatherapy are holistic and ancient practices, both offering physical, mental and spiritual benefits for the practitioner. The use of aromatherapy blends while practicing yoga can enhance the practitioner's experience and benefits from both therapeutic areas. Not only are the senses enthralled by the beautiful aromas during your practice, but the focus and effects of your practice are intensified by the use of carefully chosen essential oil blends. The practitioner can use specially chosen aromatherapy blends to enhance a particular aspects of their practice, whether it's physical, spiritual or mental. Anointing – essential oils are used in applications of massage to enhance body stretching and recovery or worn as a scent to support visualization, meditation and focus.
We offer dozens of movement meditations rooted within kriya (rhythmic movement for an energetic effect). The moving meditation introduces the direction of the class through invoking movement patterns within asanas and specific energy awakenings that initiate the state of flow.
Namaskaras: Sun Salutation Variation
We explore over 25 namaskars or : salutations as the consummate vinyasas with their own complete energy and effect. The state of namaskar is to bow, to realize the essence whether it is the energy of the sun as in sun salutations (surya namaskar) or the moon as in moon salutations (chandra namaskar). From a base of 5 classical namaskars, Ashley offers 20 different namaskars that she has developed over the past seven years of practicing. Once beginners have integrated the basics, students have experienced the wonderful effect of the opening of new pathways within their being.
In the main body of the class, multi-dimensional sequencing is offered to integrate standing poses, arm balances, back bends, forward bends, twists, and hip openers in an effective, creative, dynamic method based upon vinyasa krama (stages of evolution), pratikriyasana (counterpose), fluid body cultivation, kosha and chakra models of integrating the body. The effect: whole being vitality cultivated with creativity and exploration that never habituates or dulls living the power of yoga.
Savasana is the great return to home base, the source within yourself. Within a Blessed Yoga Savasana, you can expect to be treated to gentle massage and aromatherapy treatments as well as sound healing via mantra. It sometimes includes a yoga nidra based visualization for deep relaxation and healing. The class will end with Pranayama and guided meditation.
Mudra Meditation and Pranayama
Mudra meditation is offered as a way to enter into the natural, inherent state of meditation and to cultivate bhavanas (healing states of consciousness) that are related to the focus of the class. Pranayama is cultivated throughout the class as the continuous flow of the breath and specifically at the end of class to balance and pranify the whole being.
Love is the essence of our life. I have written this blog with love, and I offer it to you, dear reader, with the hope that the suggestions offered here will become a vital part of your self-healing and continued well-being. ~ Ashley
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