We are frequently asked about the yoga system that we teach at Sa Garrofa. In order to understand what Integral Yoga consists of, it is important to share a short history of the origins of Yoga in India.
Traditionally, there were two different types of yoga that originated in Southern and Northern India. The styles of Southern India believed that «the highest perfection could be achieved through total physical perfection». Therefore, yoga systems that come from Southern India tend to be the most physical styles of Hatha Yoga, such as Ashtanga and Iyengar, or Vinyasa and Power Yoga, which are the most recognised ones.
At yoga schools derived from Northern India there is less emphasis on the physical aspects of Hatha Yoga. Due to its closer proximity to Tibet, its practices originated from the most meditative and mindfulness yoga styles, and are based on the sutras of Patanjali, which focus on techniques to guide the mind.
Integration of ancient traditions
In the 1940s, Swami Sivananda (1887 – 1963) of Rishikesh instructed his disciples to integrate practical yoga aspects just as they were found in ancient writings that combine concepts from Northern and Southern India.
The «integral yoga» that we teach at Sa Garrofa is influenced by this yoga system that was founded by Swami Sivananda. It integrates practices derived from Tantra and Vedanta philosophies.
One of his direct disciples, Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati (1923-2009), was entrusted with the mission of “spreading yoga from door to door and from shore to shore”.
Bihar Yoga / Satyananda Yoga
Sri Swami Satyananda was a pioneer in bringing these ancient yoga practices and making them more accessible to the modern practitioners. He simplified and systematised practices so that they could benefit everyone and in 1963 he founded the Bihar School of Yoga.
The Bihar yoga system, also known as Satyananda Yoga, continued developing this integral yoga approach by encompassing all the major branches of yoga, including Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Gyan Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga. In the Asana, Pranayama, Mudra Bandha text, which is used as the standard textbook in many different yoga schools around the world, Sri Swami Satyananda classified practices according to their positions and sequences.
He also introduced the Pawanmuktasana Series, a practice that makes yoga accessible to everybody, regardless of age, ability or experience. The deep relaxation practice of Yoga Nidra provided a «great stress relief and a tool for transforming personality». Pranayama was also shown to be a complete system for the first time.
The following paragraphs are directly taken from the Bihar School of Yoga website, which explains more about the Yoga Bihar System:
“It has evolved into a complete and integrated yoga system with its practices and philosophy culled from the Vedic and tantric traditions, in conjunction with physical and contemporary health sciences.”
The Bihar Yoga system is a complete science of harmonious living, suitable for everyone, regardless of age, gender, nationality, religion, mental condition or fitness level.
It is a holistic system that addresses all aspects of human life in the areas of physical health, mental well-being, emotional behaviour and work environment.
What to expect from a class?
Traditionally, a 75-minute class comprises of approximately 55 minutes of Asana (body postures) and 20 minutes of Pranayama combining breathing and meditation/relaxation exercises. What defines this yoga style is that the master will rarely demonstrate or practice with the student.
There is no physical contact nor posture adjustments during the class. Instructions are given verbally and demonstrations are generally only made when it´s a new practice or when verbal instructions are not helpful.
This to help students to keep their internalised perspective and to avoid them making comparisons between or judgements about the way the teacher demonstrates a pose and they way that they do the same pose. It is also important that the master observes the students during the class.
Our classes are mainly focused on cultivating consciousness and full attention. For example, when practicing postures, students are encouraged to practice (when possible) with their eyes closed so that they can really feel their own bodies and listen to the information their bodies are giving them. It´s not a question of getting a specific physical or aesthetic result. We discourage competition and students are pushed beyond their abilities.
Specialising any area
All our classes will include Pranayama (breathing practices) and meditation/Yoga Nidra. These components, and the way we practice Asana, make this yoga system perfect for managing stress and anxiety symptoms.
Since our classes are focused on cultivating consciousness, we can easily adapt our practices to students of all ages and abilities, including those who are recovering from an illness.