A Holistic Teaching Approach
In Sanskrit, Yoga means to yoke, union of the mind, body and spirit. Akhanda Yoga means whole, indivisible, unified. The hallmark of this approach is balance, harmony and self understanding. We think of the yoga system as being a vast, whole tradition that evolved into many different streams, like Vedanta, Tantra, and Samkhya; different paths, like Bhakti, Karma and Jnana; and aspects of practice like asana, pranayama and mantra. In a holistic class we use themes to weave various aspect of yoga theory and practice together into a tapestry that offers students a powerful experience and an experiential toolkit for their journey.
- A class that balances all of the directional movements of the spine ~ flexion, extension, lateral flexion, rotation, grounding and levitating.
- In all of the stations ~ standing, crouching, sitting, laying on the belly, laying on the back, arm balances and inversions.
- A balance between yang and yin ~ effort and allowing, in postures, meditation and life.
- A teaching that offers studies in the diverse toolkit of yoga techniques: asana, pranayama, mantra, visualisation, relaxation and meditation.
- A teaching that uses themes to bring the philosophies of the wider yoga tradition into classes as a thread that also helps guide the sequencing and dialogue for that class.
- A balance between cueing checkpoints for safety and allowing for inner inquiry. Some element of body mechanics is needed for safety and increased body awareness; however, if we over mechanise the postures, we limit the students’ freedom to explore the micro-movements they can make within the normal range, as well as to explore the subtle prana, and their own inner experience in any given moment.
Akhanda (holistic) Yoga
Akhanda is a holistic yoga teaching approach
In this class you will explore:
- A balance of yin/yang postures, and other diverse aspects of yoga such as pranayama, mantra, relaxation, visualisation and meditation.
- A theme which ties yogic wisdom in to the sequence of the day and/or to the progression towards a peak pose. For example, open hips ~ open heart; or forward bends and releasing outmoded ways of being.
- A balance between structural cues and inner inquiry, so that participants can explore their own breath, body and experience within that range of safe movement.
Basic Principles of Breath, Movement & Relaxation
- Akhanda 1 is intended to teach basic principles of breath, movement, alignment and relaxation to beginning students. This class presents the most common postures that can be practiced by anyone in the standard or modified form. Students also learn three-part yogic breathing, ocean-sounding breath and some practical concentration and meditation techniques. In this level, students become aware of tightness they carry in the body, and into the asana practice, and begin to breathe and move from a state of relaxation. They are guided to move with the breath and let the breath initiate movement. This level aims to balance flexibility and strength, cleanse the body and help the practitioner attain a natural state of health. Through the physical practice, students also learn to listen to the messages of the body that may manifest in stiffness (rigidity in the body mirrors rigidity in the mind), symptoms in a particular organ etc.
Akhanda 1 evokes the physical and energetic levels of awareness
Intermediate Study: A Journey into the Mind/Body Connection
- Akhanda 2 is intended to inspire intermediate students to journey further into their exploration of the mind/body connection through more complex balancing, strengthening and inverted postures, as well as additional pranayama techniques (such as anuloma viloma and kapalabhati) and slightly longer meditations. In this level, we direct breath and prana into different parts of the body according to the focus of the posture or breathing technique. Students are guided to become aware of the expansion and stimulation of the chakras that are brought about through the techniques. This practice aims to expand the Pranic body evenly, and to heighten the practitioners’ awareness of the flow of prana. In this level students are also encouraged to witness how mantra, asana and pranayama help to release any blockages, and to cleanse the mind of negative or compulsive thought patters, or thoughts/emotions which are no longer needed.
Akhanda 2 evokes the energetic, mental and emotional level of awareness
Deeper Awareness: Dynamic & Meditative
Akhanda 3 comprises three classes: Akhanda Flow, Hatha-Raja and Classical Kundalini. Akhanda Flow is intended to inspire those who are flexible and/or enjoy a dynamic and physically challenging class to use their bodies to their full potential through poorna (full) variations of standard poses, and/or holding postures, as well as exploring the Pranic and Mental/Emotional levels of awareness. This class may use the sun salutation and variations as a thread through the middle portion of the class. Remembering that the hallmark of our approach is balance, the intensity of strong uplifting asanas toward the beginning of the program will match the intensity of the surrendering postures in the resolution of the class. This gives what is often called a yang/yin effect. In this level, students will explore further the bandhas and breath retention for the direction and expansion of prana and to aid concentration.
Akhanda 3 the assumption here is not that the class is more advanced if it is more physically demanding, but rather that in terms of asanas, the classes can be practiced at different levels of physical intensity from moderate to dynamic. A practice becomes advanced as the practitioner experiences it on deeper levels of awareness.