Tuesday night at the Mind and Body Yoga Studio Bury is Gentle Hatha Night.
Gentle Hatha means that you wont end the evening in a pool of sweat! So if you are looking for a "physical yoga workout" the Tuesday night is not the session for you. However, it is can be a workout for the mind.
We start the session in a ten minute Savasana or corpse pose allowing the students to relax and settle the musculature. During this time the students are invited to make a sankalpa or resolve for the session - in other words what they would like the outcome of the session to be for them. This can be physical, psychological or emotional or a mixture of the three. They are invited to come up with a sentence making this resolve and to say it to themselves several times with meaning, and even emotion so it stays with their thinking. They do this without knowing what the postures will be so they can get an emotional spring cleaning if they resolve while at the same time getting a gentle hatha experience.
Once out of the Savasana students spend a little time warming up with a variety of standing movements that gently coach the energies of the body to come alive ready for the ensuing posture practice.
In this gentle session the students practice a number of classic poses but often chunking the intensity down allowing for milder bodily sensations that still command their attention.
In the midst of a gentle pose using the breath in a slow and comfortable way students have a greater opportunity to become more absorbed in their practice leading to a more soothing experience. Yet with this stroking and caressing of the body there comes a greater sense of focus and concentration that makes for a session that is not necessarily passive and pedestrian.
In many ways the challenge becomes more of a mental than a physical one but can be equally satisfying leaving you feeling that you have definitely had a yoga experience.
This kind of session is good to adopt occasionally through the week. In contrast when we have stacks of energy we can practice our yoga with more zest going more deeply into the postures and surfing our working edge even going into unknown territory albeit with care.
On the other hand it is not always a good thing to practice with this intensity all the time. Some students can get addicted to this kind of powerful work and it can lead to a build up of unwanted tensions - the very thing that yoga is trying to eliminate.
Strong practice can be good but in balance.
Remember that gentle deliberate posturing can bring many benefits and has that kind of mental caressing effect on the mind which is what most of us want in the end anyway: peace.
Barry Todd (HathaYoagMan)