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These are the most often asked questions. If your question is not answered here or on any other page, please feel free to email the question directly to Christine. She will get back to you as soon as she can. We will periodically update this page with additional questions.
Q: What is Svaroopa® Yoga?
A: Yoga is an ancient spiritual discipline that originated in India several
thousand years ago. It is the science of consciousness and includes many
practices. The two most familiar to Westerners are Hatha Yoga (yoga of the
body) and Raja Yoga (meditation). Historically, they were meant to go together.
Hatha Yoga quiets the mind and prepares the body to sit for meditation.
However, in the West Hatha Yoga is often practiced as a form of exercise that
may or may not include meditation. Many different styles are practiced in the United States,
all of which strengthen and stretch the body in a variety of ways.
Svaroopa® Yoga was developed by Swami Nirmalananda of the Master Yoga Teaching Institute, following her years of study in many
yogic traditions in the United States and India.
The emphasis of this style of yoga is removing the spinal compression that
blocks our experience of consciousness and creates illness and injury in the
body. The practice is profoundly healing on physical, mental/emotional, and
spiritual levels. It is easy to learn and accessible for almost any fitness
level. Repeated practice results in increased physical health and vitality,
clarity and peace of mind, and personal experiences of svaroopa, which
in Sanskrit means “the bliss of your own being.” -back to top
Q: Who should NOT practice Svaroopa® Yoga?
A: Those who have organ transplants or are taking immunosuppressant
medication should not practice Svaroopa® yoga. It dramatically
improves the condition of the immune system and may compromise the organ
transplant. This does not include individuals with hip and knee replacements,
who can safely practice Svaroopa® yoga with modifications and receive many benefits from doing so. It also does not include those who have autoimmuneconditions such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis. People
with these illnesses can safely practice and receive many benefits from the
balancing effects of the yoga on the immune system and the strengthening of the
Women undergoing high-risk
pregnancy should not practice Svaroopa® yoga, nor should a woman begin a Svaroopa® practice in her first trimester of pregnancy. The changes in the spine are so significant that they may
compromise the pregnancy. Women who have an established Svaroopa® practice before becoming pregnant can safely practice
throughout their pregnancy and receive many benefits from doing so. -back to top
Q: How do I know if Svaroopa® Yoga is right for me?
A: Almost anyone can benefit from Svaroopa® Yoga. The practice is very accessible to newcomers because it supports the
body fully with propping and pose modifications so that the deep tensions in
the spine begin to release. So you never have to worry about not being able to
do a pose because there are always options available to accommodate your body.
And as you practice more, your body opens up in new ways, so that you can extend your range of motion and explore poses on a deeper level, all without
forcing or straining. Thus the same practice is suitable for both newcomers and
long-standing students, but experienced very differently.
Svaroopa® yoga sessions are organized by
theme so that you get a variety of different releases in the body and learn
how to keep your spine open in your daily life. Some themes, such as standing
poses and vinyasa (flowing sequences), are active and some are more
meditative (neck and shoulders, forward bends, and lower spinal release). All
classes help you to release deep tensions in the spine, increase your strength,
flexibility and balance and quiet your mind. Svaroopa® yoga will particularly appeal to those who are looking to
relieve physical discomfort, improve overall health and well-being, experience
more ease in the body and become more comfortable with stillness. It is also of
particular interest to those who have a yearning for something more from their
yoga practice than just the physical postures - an experience of inner clarity,
self-knowledge, and bliss. -back to top
Q: What is a typical class like?
A: A typical class begins and ends in Shavasana, yoga’s pose of deep
relaxation. The body is fully supported so that the deeply held tensions
in the spine can begin to dissolve. From there, we move on to Ujjayi
Pranayama, the primary breathing practice of Svaroopa® Yoga. This breathing
practice increases prana, the body’s life force, which speeds recovery
from injury or illness, increases vitality and stamina and reduces
Ujjayi pranayama also balances the immune system, helping students with
autoimmune conditions, allergies and colds or flu. Following the
breathing practice, we explore a series of asanas (or poses) related to
a particular theme. Themes include Daily Practice, Lower Spinal Release, Upper
Spinal Release, Abdominals, Backbends, Standing Poses, Forward Bends, Neck and
Shoulders, Balance, Inversions, Classical Poses, Vinyasa (flowing
sequences), Warrior Poses, Seated Poses, and Twists.
A typical class includes between 9
and 16 poses, which are held for 45 seconds to a couple of minutes, to allow for softening. Propping and pose
modifications are used for every student so that the practice is individualized
to accommodate each person’s needs. -back to top
Q: What should I bring/wear to class?
A: Clothing that you can move freely in is appropriate for class. An
elastic waistband is especially helpful. Often during a practice, your body
temperature will change in response to the poses, so consider dressing in layers so that you can accommodate these fluctuations. You do not need to bring mats or props to class, as these are all supplied. If you have an eye
pillow of your own, you are welcome to bring it. We have some available for
your use, as well. Many people like to bring a water bottle to class to stay
hydrated, although the nature of this class is such that it is not
necessary. Please avoid wearing heavy perfumes. -back to top
Q: How does Svaroopa® Yoga compare with other styles?
A: Svaroopa® yoga's distinction lies in the intention of the practice: To create core opening by
releasing tension in the deepest layers of the body. This release deliberately
begins at the tailbone - the pivot point of the body - and is carried up the
spine, through the sacrum, waist, ribcage, and beyond. As this release is
continually reinforced, the whole body begins to realign itself from the inside
outward. This is the foundation of every Svaroopa yoga class, upon which all
other aspects of the asana (pose) practice are built.
In the words of Swami Nirmalananda, founder and Master Teacher of Svaroopa yoga, "Dissolving these [core]
tensions allows you to live with ease, both in your body and in your deeper
self. That ease is your birthright. This all happens without sweat or strain
because Svaroopa Yoga is not exercise, but a scientific maximization of the
body's natural capacities. When practicing Svaroopa yoga, we delve into our
body as if opening a precious gift carefully wrapped in many layers."
Support Equals Release
One of the key
"sutras" in Svaroopa yoga is support equals release. This is
the underlying thread that is woven throughout the practice. From the very
beginning of each class, as students rest in shavasana, yoga's
relaxation pose, props are used to allow more softening and release. As the
body surrenders to this support, settling down into the blankets, settling back
into the floor, a deep release of both physical and mental tension occurs.
This premise is carried
throughout each series of carefully crafted poses. Along with precise
alignment, students are taught the most effective propping for ease and
relaxation. There is no need for self-effort in an attempt to make the pose
happen. As students learn to let go and allow themselves to be supported, they
discover a sense of internal support - physically, mentally, and spiritually.
The Svaroopa yoga repertoire
includes standing poses, classical poses, and vinyasa (flow) in addition to
foundational poses practiced on the floor or a chair. The underlying sutra
"support equals release" still permeates this level of
practice, even in the more challenging poses, as students further develop an
internal sense of support. The core opening that was cultivated while
practicing foundational poses carries forward into standing and moving, and
students are able to find a sense of ease and deep release. -back to top