Henley Practice runs regular yoga classes in the studio at The Oast House, Henley-on-Thames. One of yoga’s major influences was a great sage, Patanjali. His writings are recorded in what are called the “Sutras of Patanjali”. Yoga is much more than just a set of physical postures and breathing exercises. In fact, that is only a small part of it. His main aim was to find a way for people to reach higher stages of consciousness and understand the nature of the world, and so he developed his system. Others followed his system over the centuries and adapted it slightly and so various schools of yoga developed, each emphasising a particular aspect of yoga as the most important.
The two systems of yoga practiced and taught at Henley Practice are Ashtanga Yoga and Vinyasa Flow
What is Ashtanga Yoga?
Ashtanga Yoga is a system of yoga devised by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009). This method of yoga involves synchronising the breath with a progressive series of postures—a process producing intense internal heat that detoxifies muscles and organs. The result is improved circulation, a light and strong body, and a calm mind.
It is one of the most challenging forms of yoga. All newcomers begin with the Primary Series or Yoga Chikitsa (Yoga Therapy) and gradually develop and deepen their practice. There are six “levels” in total, each level is to be fully developed before proceeding to the next, and the sequential order of asana (postures) should be meticulously followed. Each posture is a preparation for the next, developing the strength and balance required to move further.
What are the benefits of practising Ashtanga Yoga?
Physically, it will make you stronger and more toned. Flexibility, stamina and endurance will also come in time. It helps build muscle, but gives you toned, longer muscles rather than bulky ones, so ideal for strengthening the body while remaining lean. Practice purifies the nervous system. Mentally, it calms and focuses the mind and also disciplines it. The mind becomes lucid, clear and precise.
What is Vinyasa (Vin-ya-sa) Flow Yoga?
The word vinyasa translates to ‘synchronised breathing movements’. Vinyasa flow is a series of movements and postures that are synchronised to ones breathing, focusing on the power of inhalation and exhalation. The movements are smooth so that they almost become dance like in rhythm. The classes at Henley Practice are done to varying tempos of music to help you feel the rhythm.
Origins of Vinyasa
Vinyasa Flow began as Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga by a Yogi named Sri Tirumala Krishnamacharya. He was given a place to teach yoga and eventually taught a young boy named Parrabhi Jois his learnings on the power of breathing. Jois then established an institute for practicing the specific form of Vinyasa yoga.
Benefits of Yoga
Yoga has both mental and physical benefits. Physically, sweat expels toxins and re-energizes your body, increased heart rate helps drive circulation in turn improving your aerobic and cardiovascular system, the energy used burns calories which helps develop and maintain a healthy body, and finally the movements and postures develop vital stability, strength and flexibility. Mentally, yoga develops patience and a deeper connection between mind and body, helping to bring perspective and calm to everyday life.
Good for beginners?
Definitely! A yoga class is both welcoming and friendly; it is a place to start and to continue challenging yourself as you learn a new discipline. If you don’t love yoga after your first few classes then it is always worth trying a different form due to the alternate focuses and styles of each.
What to wear
Yoga involves a lot of movement, so wear something you are comfortable in to move from one pose to another without feeling restricted. You will likely be working up a sweat so wear something breathable and moisture-wicking.
What to bring
Here at Henley Practice we have yoga mats but is advisable to bring your own once you have decided you love it! Also bring a towel, and a water bottle to stay hydrated.