Hatha yoga means movements, positions, breathing and meditation. The number of schools in the western world is growing. While practices in different yoga schools are essentially similar, some emphasize acrobatic positions, others focus on breathing and some add a meditative touch.
In Manipura, our emphasis is twofold: on breathing and on movement of the spine. Deep breathing is the key to wellbeing, and a flexible spine makes all movements easier.
The inspiration for yoga instruction in the Manipura studio comes from two prominent yoga teachers, Swami Satyananda Saraswati from India and Vanda Scaravelli from Italy.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati founded an ashram in Bihar in India in the 1960s. His followers have founded yoga centres in America, Australia and Europe (southern Sweden, South Wales). Satyananda yoga uses asanas, pranayama (breathing) and cleansing techniques. One of the main techniques is yoga nidra (deep relaxation). For more advanced practitioners, Satyananda yoga offers kriyas (mental cleansing practices).
Vanda Scaravelli began exploring the strict tradition of Hatha yoga using her own, meditative approach. Extreme positions are not a particular focus. For Vanda, most important is undoing everyday repetitive, harmful movements and tensions and making space inside one’s body. Key concepts are breath, gravity, undoing and wave-like body movements. Practising yoga becomes an open, forever-changing process, renewing the practitioner, the teacher, the student. Vanda Scaravelli died in 1999 at the age of 91. One of her closest students, Sandra Sabatini, also from Italy, visits Helsinki every year. Her most recent seminar was in December 2014.
The primary focus in Manipura yoga is on breathing. All movements are gentle and inspired by the breath. Breathing can also be used to touch and explore your body’s inner space.
Practicing yoga builds awareness. Practitioners progressively activate areas of their bodies previously unknown to them.
While stiffness can usually be reduced through practice, advanced students are best recognized not by their flexibility but by their breathing. In Scaravelli yoga, the most important goal is deep, calm breathing and wellbeing of the spine.
This type of yoga is suitable for people of all ages regardless of their physical condition. In many stress-related conditions such as high blood pressure, headache, sleeplessness, tiredness, burnout and worry, yoga works as both a preventative and a method of healing. It aids recovery from injuries and disease and can alleviate the symptoms of many chronic diseases including asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic back pain and poor balance.
Exploring yourself with help from yoga requires nothing but curiosity. Each movement and every breath offers an opportunity to pause and become aware of your body and its vitality. Every breath also provides space to become aware of a unique moment.