Beginners courses at Islington Yoga provide a sound foundation for the practice of yoga. The introductory movements are accessible for all levels of ability and for all ages. The teaching is progressive, however each student can develop at their own pace, working through the different levels of the prelude forms of Shadow Yoga and subsequent seated postures and yoga-asanas. With mastery of the preludes, the student can begin to learn Nrtta Sadhana, a practice that serves as a preparation for the more internal practices of yoga. All teachers at Islington Yoga undergo at least three years teacher training in Shadow Yoga and are approved Shadow Yoga teachers.
Shadow Yoga offers a methodical approach to the learning and practice of Hatha Yoga. Success, in any endeavour, requires a sound foundation and a clear direction towards the intended goal. The foundation of the Shadow Yoga practice is developed through the three preludes, the Balakrama (Stepping to Strength), Churning of the Shadow Warrrior (Chaya Yoddha Sancalanam), and Garland of Light (Kartikkeya Mandalam). The practices develop coordination of bodily movements with the rhythm of the breath in progressive stages.
The first stage, the Balakrama builds strength, develops resilience and cultivates flexibility. Here, the practice of uddiyana bandha is introduced. The second prelude, Chaya Yoddha Sancalanam, develops a deeper coordination of movement and breath through both static positions and dynamic turning movements.
These first two preludes lend themselves to the practice of the seated postures which are suitable for beginners to remove stiffness and tension from the gross parts of the body.
The third prelude, Kartikkeya Mandalam, introduces more spiralling movements to further refine the level of coordination and release more deeply held restrictions, allowing the student to progress towards more complex asana practice and preparatory work for the inverted postures.
The complete practice is termed full practice format and includes prelude, seated activity and conclusion. Through all these stages the Shadow Yoga practice develops a rhythm of movement and breathing that leads towards the goal of yoga which is to suspend the breathing process and hold the awareness without imposition. This is a process that requires patience and sensitivity. The preparatory stage of the preludes leads to the next stage of practice, Nrtta Sadhana.
Class levels at Islington Yoga reflect the progressive nature of the preludes.
Please click here to see the timetable page for more information on class levels.
“Nrtta is that Sadhana through which the sadhaka (aspirant) rediscovers the rhythmic life currents hidden in the body’s folds and limbs by means of unimposed natural positioning” – Shandor Remete
Nrtta Sadhana employs the karanas described in the Natya Shastra, a treatise on the performing arts attributed to the Sage Bharata between 200BC and 200AD. Karana is described as the simultaneous movements of the hands and feet. According to Bharata, Karana consists of Sthana – a posture of the body, Nrttahasta – a hand pose, and Kāri – the movement of the feet.
Of the 108 karanas described, no more than 36 are said to be appropriate for the cultivation of inner energy or yogic practices, making a clear distinction between the way the karanas are used for different activities.
The rhythm of the Nrtta Sadhana practice arises from the coordination of these parts and prepares one for the deeper practices of Hatha Yoga.
The preparation for the practice of Nrtta Sadhana lies in the 3 prelude forms of Shadow Yoga which cultivate coordination of the body and its limbs. The aspirant should have a thorough grounding in this practice before attempting Nrtta Sadhana. The Shadow Yoga preludes employ broader stances, while the karanas are narrower and more restrictive in nature. By working within a more restricted space one dissolves the deeper layers of conditioning and learns to access the inner energy through unimposed activity. Only with such an attitude is one able to progress to the deeper practices of Hatha Yoga.
Pregnancy Yoga courses at Islington Yoga focus on developing the strength required to carry the child during pregnancy, coordination of movement and breath to give mental focus and clarity, and relaxation.
Beginning on a physical level, tension is first released through the joints. This is followed by stance work, where the movement of the arms and legs are coordinated with the breath. The stance work strengthens the back and supports the weight of the growing child.
Deepening awareness of the breath is then developed through specific patterns of arm movements (prana mudra) which slow down the mind and draw the attention inwards. These arm movements are also practiced to develop strength in the arms for nursing and carrying the newborn child. They are also very effective in reducing tension around the neck and shoulders when breast-feeding.
This deeper focus on the breath brings more clarity to the pelvic floor exercises while other breathing and relaxation practices are more profound. Women gain more confidence in their bodies and a stronger intuitive connection with the child. This promotes a more joyful experience during the pregnancy and childbirth.