Welcome to Athens Yoga!
The path of yoga - as many of you have already experienced and others are likely to discover - is full of surprises. At first we feel physically stronger and healthier, but with consistent practice over time, we begin to sense changes taking place on deeper levels.
We may enter the class tired and drained from various things happening throughout the day, but after the classes our eyes shine with energy, and our hearts are soft and open, as we have remembered our true nature and have felt inner peace.
We begin to take the principles of yoga - such as self-observance, non-violence, kindness and gratitude - off the yoga mat and into our daily life. We begin to observe the mind and the body reactions in ordinary situations. We are becoming more awake and more aware. Ups and downs still come and go, but our approach to them gradually changes. Directly and indirectly, in this way we positively affect the people around us as well.
Whether you have done yoga for years, or have just come aboard I wish you to keep your practice going. Whenever possible, practice at home as well. Establishing your daily routine even if for 20 minutes is incredibly transformative. I also wish you, whenever possible, to devote and surrender your practice to a higher goal. May we all wake up to taking most care of the people around us, of this beautiful planet and all the life she nurtures.
Yoga is above all a spiritual practice, freeing us from various limitations of our conditioned thinking, connecting us with our hearts, and opening us to our spiritual potential, which is no other than the overwhelming feeling of unity, of service and gratitude, of deep pure LOVE.
Please find below some of the suggestions for your yoga practice.
- In all asanas we seek for balance between the muscular-physical effort, and inner expansion, joy and freedom. The poses are not restrictive to the body, there always needs to be some space to breath, and to maintain the feeling of freedom in the posture.
- When performing the asanas (yoga postures) always listen to your body, and listen to your breath. Never try to force yourself into the posture. The proper alignment and attention will lead you to gradually advance in the posture.
- Remember that there is no competition in yoga with fellow students. Observe the competitive tendencies of the mind (without taking them seriously).
- Listen to the alignment principles given by the teacher. These are often repetitive, but they are extremely important for relieving chronic or other pain, avoiding injury, and experiencing freedom in postures.
- It is important to be regular and progress steadily in yoga practice. Practicing infrequently at the advanced levels can be harmful.
- There is a difference between effort and pain, and in yoga we try to become sensitive to our body signals. It is ok to feel the physical effort, but any sharp sudden pain is a clear sign that you are probably not well aligned in the posture and that you need to come out of the posture and rest or assume the posture again well aligned.
- Do not hesitate to tell the instructor if you feel pain in a particular posture so that she helps you address the problem.
- If you are menstruating do not perform inversions or intense back bends. Rather, rest with your legs up the wall.
- Sometimes you may wish to set the intention (sankalpa in Sanskrit) of your yoga practice. This is a short positive sentence about something we wish to awaken more in ourselves. It can be something you aim for in a long run, or something you feel the need for on that day. “I am healthy” or “I am calm” or “I am compassionate towards people around me”, are common resolutions. They can also take the form of one single word, such as “health” “happiness” “awareness”, etc. Alternatively, you may dedicate your practice to a person or being you know that needs support, health or positive energy. You may also dedicate your practice to all beings or to anyone in need.
- In the beginning and at the end of each class we chant the mantra AUM, or OM. When taken letter by letter, A-U-M represents the divine energy (Shakti) united in its three elementary aspects: Bhrahma Shakti (creation), Vishnu Shakti (preservation) and Shiva Shakti (liberation-dissolution). The three portions of AUM relate also to the states of waking, dream and deep sleep. If repeated with the correct intonation, it can resonate throughout the body so that the sound penetrates to the centre of one's being, the atman or soul.
By chanting we connect as a group. Everything that exists in the material world vibrates. Even the object vibrate, though the human ear cannot hear this. This very ground vibration of everything represented by the sound AUM. Therefore AUM is a reminder that we are connected in this vibration - the energy web.
We may feel this connectedness with the whole world while we chant, or we may be looking inwards, centering, connecting our mind with our heart and preparing for the practice. We may chant with a sense of offering, dedicating the inner sound and the inner peace to ones we love or to the divine.
- At the end of each class teacher and students greet each other by salutation “Namaste”, which means “the light within me recognizes and honors the light within you”, or in other words I acknowledge that you and I come from the same source, ie you and I are one.Tips for Yoga Practice
GENERAL Athens Yoga Center GUIDELINES
- Try to come some minutes before the class starts. This will allow you to relax, center, and gain more full benefits from the practice.
- If you are late, come inside as quietly as you can. This will allow your fellow students to stay focused and not be disturbed.
- Have your cell phones switched off when in the studio. Give yourself this gift of disconnecting during the time you practice.
- Sign your name and settle all the financial matters before you enter the class.
- Class packages can start any day of the month and are valid for 30 days starting your first attendance. This period (30 days) cannot be extended. The studio is not responsible if you miss a class due to personal reasons. Please calculate each month the exact number of classes you will be able to attend, having in mind national holidays as well, during which the studio remains closed.
- Avoid wearing any colognes, perfumes or scented crèmes to keep the environment neutral and safe for people with allergies. You can wear neutral deodorants, especially if you know that your sweat has intense odor. Feel free to use the ecological wet wipes available in the bathroom to clean your armpits or other main areas of your body you deem necessary. Everyone needs to feel comfortable in their practice.
- Keep your personal yoga mat clean. It is advisable that you wash/clean your mat regularly after 4 to 8 times you practice on it. If you sweat a lot on the mat, it is better that you leave it to dry for a while before you roll it up.
- Practice on an empty stomach (at least two hours need to have passed after your last meal). You can drink water before class and you are advised to drink LOTS of water after the class, to continue the detoxifying effects of twists and inversions. However, try not to drink during practice.
- Remove gum, candies or anything else from your mouth, as these are a choking hazard. Also, in this way you will be able to relax your jaw, lips mouth and tongue.
- It is advisable that you don’t wear any jewelry during class, because it inhibits the flow of energy within and around your body.
- Wear comfortable clothes.
- Unless you have a particular issue, do not wear socks. Energy moves throughout the body from the head downwards, seeking to ground itself out through our palms and feet. Our connection with the earth is vital for this energy circuit to complete.
- When menstruating, do not perform inversions and intense back bends. During these postures in the class, it is advisable that you rest on your back with your legs up the wall.
Thank you for reading the above and enjoy your practice!