'Yoga' is an umbrella term for the Indian health and self-development arts based on stretching, breathing, and meditation. It is capable of profoundly improving ones' health and well being, of alleviating our fears and anxieties, of allowing us to develop to a higher potential and lead a more fulfilling life.
At the Meikai Dojo we study the Eastern Healing Arts from therapeutic and scientific perspectives, not engaging in cultism or religion in any way. However, meditative healing states are used in all of the arts, (which can lead to a sense of spirituality), and different theologies and spiritual beliefs, evolution, and procreation may all be discussed in order to better understand complex psychological and social phenomena in a humanistic and subjective way.
Bodywork is a potent tool, and like all such implements, used wrongly it can be dangerous, so it is essential to learn from an experienced and bona-fide teacher who fully appreciates the risks, and is able to teach responsibly. Nevertheless, it is studied at the dojo entirely at the students own risk, and the student has a duty of care to themselves and fellow trainees. So pay attention to your teacher's advise.
What to expect in a class
Classes are small and friendly, and aim to introduce people to robust healthy practice. All work is taken at a steady pace and focuses on student health and safety first. Effective technique comes only through time and experience - as the practitioners body and mind develop and 'open'.
Classes are varied, each includes a blend of the following study areas as appropriate for the group:
- Centring down/loosening out
- Warming exercises
- Demonstration, explanation, and guidance through techniques
- Solo practice; yoga, te footwork/rolling and self-shiatsu
- Paired practice; yoga, te footwork/paired stretching and shiatsu.
- Centring down & Meditation
Meikai Yoga classes also incorporate the study of shiatsu massage and relevant footwork and extension exercises derived from Te. This is to give a fully rounded 'bodywork' experience, open horizons, and develop a robust, healthy and integrated approach to bodywork in general. The main theme of the training however is still yoga.
For more detailed info' on the auxiliary subjects please visit the relevant subject pages on the menu.
‘Hatha’ means ‘the Sun and the Moon’ (the most powerful sources of illumination in the ancient world), implying that we shine a light on, or ‘illuminate and explore’ ourselves. Initially we do this using the physical component of Yoga, the bodywork.
‘Yoga’ means ‘to unite’ or ‘to yoke’, implying the mind, body and spirit - or in modern terms; uniting the conscious and the subconscious mind, via the body - using the vehicle of good bodywork. As we progress and our body sheds tension and stress we are able to develop deeper 'internal' awareness, this then leads to a new round of bodywork, and so on.
Yoga practice and theory has been developed over many thousands of years, and will doubtless continue to be so as new generations bring new knowledge and new problems to be addressed. Knowledge and practices become lost over time, or fall out of fashion, later to be rediscovered and adapted. Yoga is a continually evolving process.
Although there are many mainstream styles of yoga, there are arguably as many styles as there are teachers - or even individuals, as we each bring our own unique experience to the yoga table. It’s more important to find a teacher that we connect with, than to aim for a particular style. It's also important when starting a new class, if not enjoying it, to decide if that's caused by the style, a personality clash, or the fact that all good yoga confronts us with our own true state - in which case the problem will re-emerge in any yoga class until we settle and work through it. This is often a problem for sports people, or those who are highly stressed, because there is a high level of (negative) adrenaline addiction involved which is not being satisfied by Yoga, however if this is worked-through the addiction will be replaced by 'positive' endorphins (yes, there are healthy addictions), and all those chronic niggling pains and bad moods will disappear with time and perseverance.
Yoga promotes good health by encouraging deep strong breathing (which oxygenates the body), and focus (which calms the mind). The stretches and movements lengthen and strengthen the muscles, whilst releasing habituated tensions.
Releasing muscular tension encourages our joints to open, and increases fluid circulation through them. This allows our self-repair mechanisms to work better, at the same time as directly lessening more wear-and-tear.
By stretching and compressing the soft tissues we also flush out toxins so that the liver can process them, which can greatly enhance our our mood and sense of wellbeing.
The resulting effects of the above allow the posture to realign, nervous and glandular systems to calm down, and the organs to communicate and work more efficiently together. The lessening of physical tensions and the calming of the central nervous system allows our spinal cord to function more efficiently, bringing greater self-awareness. Over time this allows our character to more fully integrate, and emotional intelligence to develop. This means that our intellect is better guided in our decision making, and we are less prone to emotional see-sawing, anxiety, and making stupid mistakes in our relations with others.
Yoga is largely experiential learning, and patience and repetition are necessary to achieve the desired results. Students are encouraged to understand what their bodies need, and little by little to slow down ‘neurologically speaking’, enough to develop an internal awareness of self.
The videos below show some Yoga Sequencing, this is used both as exercise and to warm the body thoroughly by ramping up the metabolism before stretching more deeply.
A Salute to the Sun
The Hero Series