What is Therapeutic Mindful Hatha Yoga?

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Based on a mix of the ancient wisdom of traditional Hatha Yoga and Mindfulness practices, with a healthy dose of the latest research in mind-body science and therapies, Therapeutic Mindful Hatha Yoga invites you to tune into your body and be kind to yourself. It is a path, a journey, not to get somewhere else, but to be where we are, as we are in this very moment, with this very breath, whether the experience is nice, unpleasant or neutral. It is not restorative yoga (sometimes known as Therapeutic Yoga) although we do practice this in week three as part of learning to teach Yoga based Health and Wellness programmes.

 The first foundation of Therapeutic Mindful Hatha Yoga is Ahimsa (do no harm) to yourself and your students, and at its heart we practice the 8 attitudinal foundations of mindfulness - non judging, patience, beginners mind, trust, non striving, acceptance, letting go and self compassion.

Our yoga practice is the perfect time for cultivating the Yama 'do no harm' by stepping out of Automatic Pilot and with a foundation of Ahimsa and Mindfulness, you tune into the experience of what is happening just now – in this moment.

Yoga Sutras II:16 “Heyam Dukham Anagatam - Suffering that has not yet come can, and should be avoided”  really supports our vision of teaching yoga. We often ask "as you practice yoga can you relinquish the goal of physical accomplishment for the intention of cultivating awareness of well-being, peace, joy and happiness?"

It’s not about “doing your yoga practice” it’s about “being in your yoga practice”

So for example in asana we bring awareness to our –
•    Physical sensations to find your middle path of not too tight, not too loose. Is there something you can let go of? Or perhaps your body is asking you to honor or surrender to some limitations, and work with others? Remember the moment (or just before) you lose the balance of effort and ease, if your breath is ragged (the breath is the great teacher of the principle of yoga and should take centre stage in your awareness) or if it just doesn’t feel good then these are cues for you to come out of an asana.
•    Thoughts – Has your mind wandered (it will – that’s what minds do!) Are you caught in your ‘story’ and practicing mindlessly? Are you judging your bodies on the basis of what you can or cannot do? Are these thoughts pushing you towards practicing certain asanas because you think you should be doing them even if you cannot “abide in ease”? Try to put the awareness of your breath as the centre of your practice, you may need to bring your awareness back time and time again – but that’s why it’s called a practice!
•    Emotions – do certain asanas make you feel angry, frustrated or sad? Perhaps you brought these emotions onto the mat with you. What would happen if you changed your breathing? Try gentle Ujjayi to bring calmness and balance, a longer exhale to reduce anger or anxiety, the heart breath (inhale and exhale for the same duration, without force) for sadness

This style of Hatha Yoga taps into the innate potential for healing that we all have. It mobilizes our ability to cultivate embodied wisdom and self-compassion, and by so doing it teaches us to live our life and face whatever arises with awareness, integrity, clarity and an open-hearted presence.

This is why we call it a Therapeutic Mindful Hatha Yoga practice, even so, from time to time, we may need to remind ourselves to just be in our yoga practice, rather than think we are doing the yoga practice.

Learn to let go, that is the key to happiness.
Jack Kornfield.  A Path with Heart.

 

A typical Mindful Yoga class -

Yoga practice smallThe focus of a typical 90 minute general Mindful Hatha Yoga class is to tune into your body, and practice in a way that brings bring balance and harmony. It is based on a 5 stage structure -

 

 

 

 

Stage 1 - Welcome and check in -

    • Theme and intention of the class
    • Centering
    • Education if applicable
    • Guided body awareness practices

Stage 2 - Initial practices -

    • Pranayamas & Mudras

Stage 3 - Warm Ups -

    • Joint and energy freeing series
    • and/or selection of warm ups including Seated, Standing and Sun/Moon Salutations

Stage 4 - The 10 step asana sequence - Sutra II.46 “Shtira Sukkham Asanam – Abiding in ease is asana”

    • Step 1 - Standing poses - Building a foundation of awareness, strength and energy with a beginners mind
    • Step 2 - Balancing poses - Bringing awareness to the anchor of my breath, I develop internal and external balance
    • Step 3 - Stabilization and tranzition to the floor - Stepping out of automatic pilot I develop the ability to stay calm and centered under pressure
    • Step 4 - Hip openers - Opening to kindness, trust and patience
    • Step 5 - Prone back bends - As I open the front of my body and rest in the light of my heart, I allow myself to 'just be'
    • Step 6 - Seated poses - With acceptance I tune into my secret source of health and wellbeing
    • Step 7 - Forward bends - Opening the back of my body, I let go of any need for my experience to be other than it is in this moment
    • Step 8 - Supine poses - Riding the waves of my breath allows me to be kind and compassionate
    • Step 9 - Inversions - By practicing non-striving I am not trying to get anywhere, even when the world is upside down
    • Step 10 - Finishing poses - Taking time to rest in my true self without judging my practice

Stage 5 - Integration in savasana -

    • Progressive Muscle relaxation or Guided imagery
    • Silent relaxation
    • Final pranayamas & mudras
    • Completion and affirmations

 To read more, click the link's in the Hatha Yoga Teacher Training drop down menu box above