Moksha is an innovative type of yoga developed in 2003. Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois lived by the words that “Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory.” This statement holds true for the practitioners of Moksha Yoga who place their bodies in a warm environment to develop their body, minds and souls on an entirely different level. The only way to reach the highest virtues in Yoga practice is through constant practice. Yoga is one of the few activities that can be practiced all throughout one’s lifetime. Therefore, practitioners should take advantage of this notion. Every Yoga session should be used as a way to continually reflect upon oneself and improve his or her being. But one should not lose focus of the bigger picture where that one percent of theory comes in. As you will notice throughout your Yoga studies, the body, breath, positions, philosophy and teachings all roll up into one neat package where practicing these elements is necessary to expand your knowledge and message to others.
The History Behind Moksha Yoga
Moksha Yoga is an interesting Yoga practice. The word, Moksha, means “release,” and practitioners ultimate goal is to experience a release from the cycle of birth and rebirth (reincarnation). The actual practice of warm Moksha Yoga was created by Ted Grant and Jessica Robertson, who are the directors of Moksha Yoga, Inc., and Natalia Brajak. They have been successful in dispersing their particular teaching methods of Yoga throughout the world in countries such as China, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Austria, Australia, Switzerland, Trinidad and New Zealand. Grant and Robertson are environmentalists who used Yoga in a manner to create social awareness and environmental awareness while also promoting healthy living and personal growth. Many studios that teach Moksha Yoga concentrate on the physical benefits of this method of Yoga, but do not be mistaken. Moksha Yoga does seek for personal development of the body, mind and soul, as well as personal enlightenment.
The Distinguishing Characteristics of Moksha Yoga
While most types of Yoga practices preach about compassion, enlightenment and meditation, few actually require certain environmental aspects. Moksha Yoga is practiced in a heated room where multiple asanas or yoga postures are performed to relax the body and mind. By practicing in a heated room, less injury comes to those who practice yoga and this helps to detoxify the body of toxins and stress in a quicker manner. Classes are generally 90 minutes long and have a set routine of beginning with Savasana, then moving into the intention setting followed by the standing and floor series, and finishing the class with the final Savasana.
One of the most interesting facts about Moksha Yoga is how it has been able to transform their causes and make a difference in the world, which is essentially what Yoga seeks. Every studio that teaches Moksha Yoga is required to meet certain environmental needs such as using nontoxic paints to paint the studio, reused materials such as bamboo, cork or other recycled products to use as the floor, environmentally conscious yoga mats, cleaners and any other products used in the studio, low flow shower heads for water conservation, promotional items such as brochures and flyers must be made out of carbon offset materials and most importantly, the heating used to heat the studios must be low energy radiant heating which was created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Breath Control in Moksha Yoga
Just like in all other types of Yoga, breath control is extremely important for the mind and body. With the breath, one is able to concentrate more on the self, to relax, to lengthen the body and stretch, to calm the mind and meditate and as well as to study the relationship between movement and breath. Moksha Yoga also promotes the relaxation of the nervous system or peristalsis through breathing techniques. These techniques will also help the digestive system to flow better by removing toxins and impurities from the food digested. The breathing may also release serotonin which will help the body to continue to relax and elevate one’s energy and happiness.
Postures of Moksha Yoga
Moksha Yoga was designed with everyone in mind. By performing Yoga in a heated room, one is able to release themselves from the aches and pains of aging to releasing their joints and relaxing the muscles for an enlightening and soothing stretch. The postures used in this form of Yoga along with the heated room are excellent for people who are looking to lose weight. There are 26 main positions in Moksha Yoga, or Hot Yoga, which are used to open one’s energy circulation, create more blood oxygenation and oxygenation of the muscles, organs and entire system. These postures or asanas are excellent to relieve conditions such as pain in the joints, poor digestion and constipation, knee pain, back pain, tension and stress, headaches and even insomnia.
As previously mentioned, Moksha classes average 90 minutes per session and are planned the same, with a beginning and ending meditation salutation and exercises in intention, standing and on the ground. The class begins with the Savasana or Corpse pose (pictured) which is when one lies flat on his or her back with the legs relaxed, the feet slightly apart, and the palms facing towards the ceiling. This is to release the body of any emotions or stress that has been brought into the class and a chance to bring the mind and body together. The next phase of Moksha Yoga is the intention setting where the instructor sets the mood of the class. He or she will explain the focus of the class, whether it be on breath control, flexibility or focusing on core strength moves.
The next part of the class deals with cardiovascular health. These positions are all performed between ten seconds and one minute, while in a standing position which will help to increase strength, endurance and balance. Once this portion has been completed, the class will move down to the floor and work on increasing their strength in the upper body, abdomen and back. These exercises are ideal for treating medical conditions like stress, tension, lower back pain and knee pain. These asanas will also improve one’s overall posture.
To end the class, the final savasana is performed. To complete the energetic circle, the class ends how it began by lying flat back onto the mat with the palms facing upwards. This will be your final chance to relieve your body and mind of any remaining tension and to bring yourself back to reality after a short meditative period.
Meditation and Enlightenment in Moksha Yoga
Meditation and enlightenment are facilitated by the warmth that comes from the heated room. As soon as one begins to move his or her body, complete relaxation will flow over the entire body. This will help to open one’s mind to concentrate on connecting their mind to body. Through constant practice, meditation and enlightenment can be achieved. Just as Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois stated that Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory, the only way to reach the highest level of enlightenment is through continual practice. With the body and mind heated and softened, Moksha Yoga makes it very easy to join the body and mind to achieve one’s goals.
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