How does yoga work?
Yoga is a mind and body practice with a 5,000-year history in ancient Indian philosophy. Various styles of yoga combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation. In more recent years, it has become popular as a form of physical exercise based upon poses that promote improved control of the mind and body and enhance well-being. There are several different types of yoga and many disciplines within the practice. This article explores the history, philosophy, and various branches of yoga.
What is yoga?
Yoga is a combination of exercise, meditation, and spiritual connection, the spiritual side of it connecting to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, or Tantra--depending on the teacher. The goal of taking yoga classes with Universal Transformations™ is to experience physical well-being and an overall oneness of mind, body, and spirit. Given that many people get physical injuries, doing yoga poses too advanced for them, it is important to pick a teacher who has the experience and wisdom on hand to pace the learner properly.
Yoga has a long history of helping people achieve mental and physical balance. There is no written record of the inventor of yoga. Male yoga practitioners are known as yogis, and female yoga practitioners are called yoginis. Both practiced and taught yoga long before any written account of yoga came into existence. Over the next five millennia, yogis passed the discipline down to their students, and many different schools of yoga developed as the practice expanded its global reach and popularity.
The “Yoga Sutra,” a 2,000-year-old treatise on yogic philosophy by the Indian sage Patanjali, is a guidebook on how to master the mind, control the emotions, and grow spiritually. The Yoga Sutra is the earliest written record of yoga and one of the oldest texts in existence and provides the framework for all modern yoga. Yoga is well known for its postures and poses, but they were not a key part of original yoga traditions in India. Fitness was not a primary goal. Practitioners and followers of yogic tradition focused instead on other practices, such as expanding spiritual energy using breathing methods and mental focus. The tradition began to gain popularity in the West at the end of the 19th century. An explosion of interest in postural yoga occurred in the 1920s and 1930s, first in India and later in the West.
To convey its spiritual message and guide sessions, yoga often uses the imagery of a tree with roots, a trunk, branches, blossoms, and fruits. Each “branch” of yoga represents a different focus and set of characteristics.
The six branches are:
- Hatha yoga: This is the physical and mental branch designed to prime the body and mind.
- Raja yoga: This branch involves meditation and strict adherence to a series of disciplinary steps: the “eight limbs” of yoga.
- Karma yoga: This is a path of service that aims to create a future free from negativity and selfishness.
- Bhakti yoga: This aims to establish the path of devotion, a positive way to channel emotions, cultivate acceptance and tolerance.
- Jnana yoga: This branch of yoga is about wisdom, the path of the scholar, and developing the intellect through study.
- Tantra yoga: This is the pathway of ritual, ceremony, or consummation of a relationship.
"Approaching yoga with a specific goal in mind can help a person decide which branch to follow"
The word “chakra” literally means spinning wheel. Yoga maintains that chakras are center points of energy, thoughts, feelings, and the physical body. According to yogic teachers, chakras determine the way people experience reality through emotional reactions, desires or aversions, levels of confidence or fear, and even physical symptoms and effects.
When energy becomes blocked in a chakra, it is said to trigger physical, mental, or emotional imbalances that manifest in symptoms, such as anxiety, lethargy, or poor digestion. Asanas are the many physical positions in Hatha yoga. People who practice yoga use asanas to free energy and stimulate an imbalanced chakra.
There are seven major chakras, each with their own focus:
- Sahasrara: The “thousand-petaled” or “crown” chakra represents the state of pure consciousness. This chakra is located at the crown of the head, and the color white or violet represents it. Sahasrara involves matters of inner wisdom and physical death.
- Ajna: The “command” or “third-eye chakra” is a meeting
point between two important energetic streams in the body. Ajna corresponds to
the colors violet, indigo, or deep blue, though traditional yoga practitioners
describe it as white. The ajna chakra relates to the pituitary gland, which
drives growth and development.
- Vishuddha: The color red or blue represents the “especially pure” or “throat” chakra. Practitioners consider this chakra to be the home of speech, hearing, and metabolism.
- Anahata: The “unstruck” or “heart” chakra relates to the colors green and pink. Key issues involving anahata include complex emotions, compassion, tenderness, unconditional love, equilibrium, rejection, and wellbeing.
- Manipura: Yellow represents the “jewel city” or “navel” chakra. Practitioners connect this chakra with the digestive system, as well as personal power, fear, anxiety, developing opinions, and tendencies towards an introverted personality.
- Svadhishthana: Practitioners claim that the “one’s own base” or “pelvic” chakra is the home of the reproductive organs, the genitourinary system, and the adrenal gland.
- Muladhara: The “root support” or “root chakra” is at the base of the spine in the coccygeal region. It is said to contain our natural urges relating to food, sleep, sex, and survival, as well as the source of avoidance and fear.
Modern yoga has a range of styles to suit everyone, whatever the desired outcome. Modern yoga has evolved with a focus on exercise, strength, flexibility, and breathing. It can help boost physical and mental well-being. There are many styles of yoga, and no style is more authentic or superior to another. The key is to choose a class appropriate for your fitness level.
Types and styles of yoga may include:
- Ashtanga yoga: This type of yoga uses ancient yoga teachings. However, it became popular during the 1970s. Ashtanga applies six established sequences of postures that rapidly link every movement to breath.
- Bikram yoga: Also known as “hot” yoga, Bikram occurs in artificially heated rooms at temperatures of nearly 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity. It consists of 26 poses and a sequence of two breathing exercises.
- Hatha yoga: This is a generic term for any type of yoga that teaches physical postures. “Hatha” classes usually serve as a gentle introduction to the basic yoga postures.
- Iyengar yoga: This type focuses on finding the correct alignment in each pose using a range of props, such as blocks, blankets, straps, chairs, and bolsters.
- Jivamukti yoga: Jivamukti means “liberation while living.” This type emerged in 1984 and incorporates spiritual teachings and practices that focus on the fast-paced flow between poses rather than the poses themselves. This focus is called vinyasa. Each class has a theme, which is explored through yoga scripture, chanting, meditation, asana, pranayama, and music. Jivamukti yoga can be physically intense.
- Kripalu yoga: This type teaches practitioners to know, accept, and learn from the body. A student of Kripalu learns to find their own level of practice by looking inward. The classes usually begin with breathing exercises and gentle stretches, followed by a series of individual poses and final relaxation.
- Kundalini yoga: Kundalini means “coiled, like a snake.” Kundalini yoga is a system of meditation that aims to release pent-up energy. A class typically begins with chanting and ends with singing. In between, it features asana, pranayama, and meditation customized to create a specific outcome.
- Power yoga: In the late 1980s, practitioners developed this active and athletic type of yoga, based on the traditional ashtanga system.
- Sivananda: This is a system based on a five-point philosophy. This philosophy maintains that proper breathing, relaxation, diet, exercise, and positive thinking work together to form a healthy yogic lifestyle. Typically uses the same 12 basic asanas, bookended by sun salutations and savasana poses.
- Viniyoga: Viniyoga can adapt to any person, regardless of physical ability. Viniyoga teachers require in-depth training and tend to be experts on anatomy and yoga therapy. Yin: This is a quiet, meditative yoga practice, also called Taoist yoga. Yin poses are passive, meaning that gravity shoulders most of the force and effort. Yin yoga allows the release of tension in key joints, including:
- the whole back
- Prenatal yoga: Prenatal yoga uses postures that practitioners have designed for people who are pregnant. It can support people in getting back into shape after pregnancy as well as supporting health during pregnancy.
- Restorative yoga: This is a relaxing method of yoga. A person spends a restorative yoga class in four or five simple poses, using props like blankets and bolsters to sink into deep relaxation without exerting any effort in holding the pose.
Risks and side effects
Yoga is low-impact and safe for people when a well-trained instructor is guiding the practice. Injury due to yoga is an infrequent barrier to continued practice, and severe injury due to yoga is rare. However, consider a few factors before starting. Anyone who is pregnant or who has an on-going medical condition, such as high blood pressure, glaucoma, or sciatica, should talk to their healthcare practitioner before practicing yoga. They may need to alter or avoid some yoga poses.
Beginners should avoid extreme poses and difficult techniques, such as headstand, lotus position, and forceful breathing.
When using yoga to manage a condition, do not replace conventional medical care with yoga or postpone seeing a healthcare provider about pain or any other medical problem.
Yoga is a five-millennia-old practice that has changed over time. Modern yoga focuses on stretches and poses designed to stimulate inner peace and physical energy. Ancient yoga was less about fitness and more about mental focus and expanding spiritual energy. The Yoga Sutra, now considered to be the definitive guidebook to practicing yoga, came into the practice 2000 years ago.
There are many different types of yoga depending on what people want from it and a person’s current level of physical fitness. However, some people choose to replace conventional treatment for conditions with yoga and this can prevent a person from receiving the necessary care.
**People with certain conditions, such as sciatica, should approach yoga slowly and with caution** Yoga can help support a balanced, active lifestyle.
What is the safest way to start yoga if I have never done it before?
Discuss with your healthcare provider and your yoga instructor the best way to start practicing yoga. In most cases, a “Yoga for Beginners” class will offer a series of low-intensity positions that will allow you to assess your flexibility and endurance.
How well you tolerate this introductory class can guide what other yoga practices you can investigate. Remember, the goal of modern yoga is to focus on your health, so do what feels most appropriate for your fitness level.
What is Reiki?
Reiki is a spiritual healing art with its roots in Japanese origin. The word Reiki comes from the Japanese word (Rei) which means “Universal Life” and (Ki) which means “Energy”. Reiki is not affiliated with any particular religion or religious practice. It is not massage nor is it based on belief or suggestion. It is a subtle and effective form of energy work using spiritually guided life force energy.
Reiki is the life energy that flows through all living things. Reiki Practitioners understand that everyone has the ability to connect with their own healing energy and use it to strengthen energy in themselves and help others. It is believed that a person’s “ki” or energy should be strong and free flowing. When this is true a person’s body and mind is in a positive state of health. When the energy becomes weak or blocked it could lead to symptoms of physical or emotional imbalance.
A Reiki session can help ease tension and stress and can help support the body to facilitate an environment for healing on all levels – physical, mental, and emotional. A session is pleasant and relaxing and is often utilized for one’s personal wellness.History of Reiki
Reiki is believed to have been associated with Mikao Usui who is credited with rediscovering the root system now called Reiki. His tradition and methods were passed through several grandmasters of Reiki. Today, Reiki takes many forms, however, The Usui System of Natural Healing is still the form most widely practiced. Practitioners and Master Teachers are trained through an initiation process where Masters pass on their knowledge and expertise to their students.Description of a Typical Session
What is a Reiki Session Like?
A session is usually 60 to 90 minutes long. A discussion will usually take place during an initial session with a Reiki Practitioner. They will describe the session to the client, give the client an opportunity to discuss any particular problems or issues they are experiencing and ask them what they are hoping to achieve from their session. For the actual session, the client will rest comfortably on a massage table on their back with their shoes removed. Reiki can be performed with the client sitting comfortably in a chair as well. Unlike massage therapy, no articles of clothing are removed and a client is always fully clothed; loose, comfortable clothing is suggested. A session can either be hands-on, where a Practitioner will apply a light touch during the session, or hands-off where they will hold their hands slightly above your body. If a client prefers not to be touched they can indicate this to the practitioner before they begin.
The session will then proceed with the Reiki Practitioner moving through specific standard Reiki hand positions beginning at the person’s head or feet. A recipient of Reiki might feel a warming sensation or a tingling during the session or nothing at all but sheer relaxation. The session should be very pleasant, relaxing and invigorating.
Reiki is a great tool for stress reduction and relaxation. Many people use Reiki for wellness. Reiki is not a cure for a disease or illness, but it may assist the body in creating an environment to facilitate healing. Reiki is a great tool to use as a complement to traditional medicine and is practiced in many hospitals and medical care settings.
Many times a client, after experiencing Reiki treatments, will wish to learn Reiki to work with this energy themselves by taking a Reiki I course. This can be beneficial as they may then use this stress reduction and relaxation tool anytime they wish when cost would prohibit it otherwise.
The goal of taking yoga classes is to experience physical well-being and an overall oneness of mind, body and spirit.
Yoga Class Length Average Cost
30 minutes $10
45 minutes $15
60 minutes $20
Private Sessions (60M) $50-$75
Reiki Session Pricing:
As with any type of medical treatment, holistic or otherwise, reiki cost averages will depend upon a number of factors, including how many treatments a patient needs, as well as how often the treatments are administered. In addition, discounts are provided to patients who return for a regular series of treatments.
A reiki session typically costs between $60-$90, with special tailored sessions between $70-$75 an hour.
Session length: The cost of a reiki treatment will, first and foremost, depend upon its length. A standard reiki session can last from 45 minutes to an hour-and-a-half, depending upon the practitioner's assessment regarding each individual patient's needs.
"I typically like to have a thorough intake process with new clients reviewing goals, interests and current mobility. Based off of the starting information, I will develop a series of lessons that are tailored to the client's specific information and needs."
-Rev. Bryan Ostaszewski
Universal Transformations Yoga-Reiki Lability Waiver
*The participant acknowledges to the following:
1. I have no psychological, medical, or other condition that would prevent me from safely participating in the Yoga/Reiki classes at Universal Transformations (“Universal”). The yoga classes at Universal entail intensive physical activity conducted sometimes in a heated and cooled rooms (approx. 100 degrees F, or 60 degrees F). I recognize that such intensive physical activity and exertion may be strenuous and may cause or aggravate a physical injury or medical condition.
I also understand that Reiki treatment is a gentle, hands-on energy technique used for stress reduction and relaxation. I understand that Reiki practitioners do not diagnose conditions nor do they prescribe or perform medical treatment, prescribe substances, nor interfere with the treatment of a licensed medical professional. I understand that Reiki does not take the place of medical care. It is recommended that I see a licensed physician or licensed health care professional for any physical or psychological aliment I may have. I understand that Reiki can complement any medical or psychological care I may be receiving. I also understand that the body has the ability to heal itself and to do so, complete relaxation is often beneficial. I acknowledge that long term imbalances in the body sometimes require multiple sessions in order to facilitate the level of relaxation needed by the body to heal itself.
2. It is my responsibility to inform the instructor before any Yoga class or Reiki treatment of any injuries or medical conditions that may impact my ability to participate in classes at Universal.
3. I will follow all yoga instructions given to me by my instructor as to when, where and how to perform/not perform the provided exercises. Even with clear instruction I recognize there is a possibility of injury and it is my responsibility to consult a physician regarding my ability to participate in classes at Universal. Further, any deviation from all Universal instructions is done at my own risk.
4. I release and discharge Universal, its directors, partners, instructors and/or employees from any and all liability, claim, demand, or action that I may have resulting from injury, death or damages arising from my participation in classes at Universal, including loss that may be caused by the negligence of the released party. I assume sole responsibility for my own health and for the results of any sessions provided by Rev. Bryan Ostaszewski, Universal Transformations (Tuff Services Ministries) that may affect my health in any way. Treatment/s will not replace conventional medical diagnosis or treatment. I will continue taking medication prescribed by a licensed medical physician and will continue to follow his/her instructions.
5. I release and discharge Universal, its directors, partners, instructors and/or employees from any and all liability, claim, demand, or action that I may have related to the loss, theft, or damage of any of my personal property from Universal.(Whether services are conducted in a studio, at my home or office)
And I further release Rev. Bryan Ostaszewski, Universal (Tuff Services Ministries) from all legal liability during my participation in the Reiki treatment/s, as well as the locations where Rev. Bryan Ostaszewski, Universal (Tuff Services Ministries) offers Reiki. All information received by me from Rev. Bryan Ostaszewski, Universal (Tuff Services Ministries) is accepted with full knowledge that any action taken by me as a result of the information received is my complete responsibility.
The tuition, membership or registration fees are non-refundable. Refunds, if any, are made entirely within Universal’s discretion. I understand that except for a monetary refund, I have no claims against Universal by reason of their refusal to allow me to participate in yoga classes.
Training and Events Calendar
**Please Note: Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, there are special protocols that have been put into place for your protection. Some classes will be reduced in number for proper social distancing requirements. Please contact our office for any of the upcoming courses to learn about any updated chances to policies and protocols and to ensure availability**
We will soon begin scheduling Yoga and Reiki Therapy Sessions very shortly. If you are interested in scheduling a session, please contact us at: (800) 649-0925 or use the contact form below to receive a quote. We will get back to you shortly.