In Vijñana Yoga, the practice of 'just sitting' meditation is at least as important as pranayama and asana. The ten Vayus and the Seven Principles - cornerstones of Vijñana - teach us to feel, see and understand ourselves from within. Hence 'practicing from inside'. We do not blindly follow pictures of asanas or an instruction or experience cast in stone by a teacher. We ourselves examine our body, our breath and our mind. Vijñana Yoga is therefore unique to each individual, although the principles of our yoga practice are uniform and simple.
As our practice progresses, we become clearer and we come to an understanding that comes from within and that we have never seen and heard before, let alone understood before. That's 'vijnana' or 'vijñana'.
To phrase Orit, the mother of Vijñana Yoga: 'Inner clarity that flows forth from personal experience is central to the practice of Vijñãna Yoga. It is a practice of mind and body, which strives for simplicity while seeking precision in posture and breath from a deep inner listening and a clear, wide view.' You can watch this video in which Orit answers some interesting questions to this subject. The name Vijñana Yoga was invented as a name by Orit at some point because everyone keeps asking practitioners about the type of yoga and this name best fits what it is (and I honestly think also a bit because we need discernment, and therefore we have to separate the wheat from the chaff).
Orit studied yoga with well known yogis in the 1980s, like BKS Iyengar in Pune and Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, students of Sri T. Krishnamacharya. She went on to study and teach with Dona Holleman for 12 years, and together they wrote the book, 'Dancing the Body of Light'. Since 1996 she has trained yoga teachers and taught retreats in Israel and internationally. I learned Vijñãna Yoga from my teacher Shirley Woods, who has studied with Orit for many many years, and I have also, of course, attended retreats with Orit.
Vijñana Yoga is therefore not new (although the name is relatively new), but in this day and age (of 'just doing asanas for an hour') it is radical. Thanks to the work of Orit (and the teachers before her) we can continue a very old tradition - of Raja Yoga (Patanjali Yoga) and Hatha Yoga - in our modern times and put into practice the teachings of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and other classical yoga texts.
First of all a Vijñãna Yoga class is unlike many mainstream yoga forms more than only asana (which are the physical yoga postures). Vijñana Yoga has four equally important pillars: sitting meditation ('just sitting'), pranayama ('breathing exercises'), asana (physical postures), and the study of ancient texts. The first three you'll find on the menu of every Vijñana class, for the study of texts you may follow a special course or do self-study.
Secondly, we often work for a longer period of time (weeks or months) with one of the Seven Principles to arrive at our yoga practice: relaxing the body, calming the mind, focus through intention, grounding/grounding, connecting, breathing and lengthening/broadening. This gives a whole new, enriching dimension to asana.
Thirdly, we work with the Vayus, inner and outer "winds of life" that move in the body and are mentioned in the Shiva Samhita. You will have to experience yourself over time. They bring relaxation, they recharge us and they provide entrances to execute the various parts of our yoga practice precisely resulting in alignment, centering, deep concentration and stillness. The use of these vayus is unique to the practice of Vijñana Yoga and is the work of Orit-Sen Gupta.
Furthermore this deep exploration from within demands a Vijñãna yogaclass to be at a lower pace than other mainstream yogaclasses.
Finally, to be able to enjoy all parts of our yogapractice a regular group class has a longer duration (a regular class mostly lasts 1 hour and 45 minutes, but a yoga morning of almost 4 hours can be easily filled in too).
Vijñana Yoga Teachers have followed a 800-hours Teacher Training and have been personally evaluated by Orit Sen-Gupta and the accompanying teacher trainer (for me this was Shirley Woods) upon accomplishment of their education.
Practical: The studio 'Vijñana Yogaspace' is located in the attic of the parkvilla in the new residential Gouwpark area by the Burgermeester in 't Veldpark in Zaandam (bus 391 from Amsterdam CS takes 15 mins from North, 30 mins from CS and bus 395 from Amsterdam Sloterdijk takes 15 mins, all to the 'Zaans Medisch Centrum' stop at a few minutes walking distance, full address here). The light and quiet attic with high ceilings and the birds that can be heard, make it a special place to practice yoga.
The name: yoga creates space within us, in which there is a certain distance from our thoughts and feelings. At the same time, yoga stills the mind and that gives us the space to experience peace and freedom. Our breathing reveals our being, often limited, and by learning to breathe more widely we come closer to our potential, a calm spacious stable mind and a relaxed grounded body.
If you are new to yoga, you can find comfort in the idea of having a yoga class regularly for a year at a fixed time. This course is for complete beginners in Vijñana Yoga. But people with some yoga experience who like basics, have a beginner's mind or come from other yoga traditions are also very welcome. After this year you will at least have a good first impression of what Vijñana Yoga entails and you will be able to perform certain asanas in a flow. You will learn to be in touch with your body, breath and mind and will learn to feel more consciously from within and see what is needed for your yoga practice, and you will be invited to listen to it. You learn to meditate in the 'just sitting' approach and learn how to use pranayama to turn your gaze inwards and to improve your focus. You will also get introduced to the practice of the vayus.
Saturdays from 1 September to 31 May from 11 am to 12.45 pm.
(with a short break in the fall, during Christmas and New Year's Eve and in the spring, a total of ±34 lessons, you can join in the meantime)
€499 early bird (registration and payment before September 1).
Or sign up and buy a 10x lesson card for the remaining lessons of this course for €170 each time. You can also spend your 10x class card on other classes that are on the weekly schedule. Do sign up for those classes before you decide to join.
A yoga class (Vijñana Yoga) of 1 hour and 45 minutes in a small group (max. 5 participants): we meditate ('just sit' approach), work with vayus, 'do' pranayama ('breathing exercises') and asana (yoga postures), which ends with a good shavasana. There is an alternation of flow (vinyasa) and technique. After intake and trial lesson (see below) accessible to all levels, unless another level is explicitly indicated in the schedule. There are 5 places per group lesson and pre-registration is required.
A 1 hour 30 minute private yoga class in the Vijñana tradition: just sitting, vayus, pranayama and asana, tailored to your needs 1:1 with your teacher. If (1) you don't feel at home in a group class or just don't like groups, (2) you want extra guidance for your personal yoga practice at home that just doesn't get off the ground or gets watered down (3) you want to work more on certain parts of your yoga practice (e.g. meditation, pranayama or asana), or (4) you have issues that deserve extra attention or privacy (e.g. yoga during or after a burnout or depression or anxiety, etc.), then this is the right teaching format for you. All levels and ages can reap the benefits of a private lesson and are welcome. Time in mutual consultation.
Before you decide whether you want to follow one of the group lessons, you can take a one-off trial lesson in a group for €16.00. You can however also consider a private trial lesson. Although this is slightly more expensive, it has various advantages: you do not feel any group pressure and all the attention is for you, so that more and better information can be explained to you than if you immediately joined a group.
For private lessons you can take a one-off trial private lesson for €40.00 (normal price of a separate private lesson is €90). An intake interview is part of this. In total you will lose about 2 hours. You are not obliged to do anything and after the trial lesson you decide whether, and if so, when you want to come to class and whether you want private lessons or group lessons. This has the advantage: (1) that when you come to group lessons, not everything that comes to you is completely new, while the teacher then has to divide the attention among all students, (2) that we can go through everything calmly and practice while you get full attention (3) that the teacher can get to know you in this way in terms of moving, breathing and 'being' and can take this better into account when you return for your next class.
A special yoga class of 3 hours and 45 minutes! Every first Sunday of the month (from September to May from 9.30 am - 1.15 pm). This morning we consciously choose to withdraw completely from the busy city life. We keep silence during our practice and deepen our practice of meditation ('just sitting'), vayus, kriyas, pranayama & asana. We have a 15 minute break in silence (tea included) after pranayama before moving on to asana. After this 'mini retreat' you will feel reborn. It is recommended that you have attended previous Vijñana Yoga classes before participating in this morning. There are max. 5 places so pre-registration is required.
Single group lesson €19,-
10x lesson card €170, valid for 12 weeks
5x lesson card €85, valid for 8 weeks
Trial lesson group class (once): €16,-
(NB: the special prices stated below apply to the monthly yoga morning)
Single private yoga class €90,-
5 x lesson card €400, valid for 10 weeks
Trial lesson and intake (once, 1:1 individual): €40,-
Single price yoga morning €50,-
5x yoga morning lesson card €225, valid for 8 months
You can pay in cash or by Tikkie. You can indicate after class whether you will come again the following week. If so, I'll take that into account. Are you going on holiday or do you have to skip a week for another reason, please send me a message when you come back to class. Class cards have a generous period of validity that is intended to allow you to commit to the yoga classes during that time while leaving some room for vacation and unexpected circumstances. Also, I don't look at a week. If the studio is closed or I have to cancel a lesson due to illness, for example, the validity period of your lesson card will be extended anyway.
Although Corona seems to be behind us, personal hygiene is still very important. Please bring your own mat and cushion and other props that you might need. Come to class clean and be considerate of others if you have to sneeze or cough. Dirty feet leave stains on walls that we sometimes use and that is undesirable. Never enter the yoga room with shoes or alike. Cell phones off or on silent. Be on time. It is nice if you are present 5-10 minutes earlier, so that you can quietly arrange your place and we can start the lesson in silence and peace.
You come to class in good health. If you do have physical or psychological complaints, it is your responsibility to discuss this with your doctor or therapist. It is also important that you discuss any complaints and limitations with me before you come to class. There is no room for that in the lesson itself. This is also your own responsibility. I cannot take into account what I cannot know. What I do know, I take into account as best I can. Ladies should bear in mind that they are not allowed to do certain asanas when they are menstruating. You can also report this to me prior to class. Please don't send messages at the last minute before class because I won't read them. Part of my own yoga practice is to limit the use of electronics to a minimum.
Yoga works in all layers of our being: on a mental, physical and energetic level yoga gets you moving. I am talking about 'real' yoga and not the yoga that in some studios is limited to doing asanas for an hour (which often turns out not to be yoga, but is in fact a form of fitness, and there's a serious risk that you will exceed your limits).
Real yoga is personally passed on from teacher to student and consists of meditation, pranayama (often abbreviated as 'breathing exercises', not a completely correct translation, by the way) and asana (yogic physical postures). My role as a teacher is to guide you in seeing, listening and understanding from the inside. The goal of yoga is to get a calm and clear stable mind and to achieve that we practice meditation, pranayama and asana, slowly, gently, mindfully. When it comes to yoga for recovery after illness, we first do an intake to discuss your background confidentially. The intake is followed by a trial lesson in which your background is taken into account. The trial lesson is an introduction to my teaching method and what private yoga lessons can do for you. For me, the trial lesson is the moment in which I observe and get to know you when it comes to breathing, movement and meditation and I guide you calmly, professionally and with compassion in these parts of a yoga practice. I cannot and do not want to say much more about it, because you have to experience yoga firsthand. You have to experience it yourself. You cannot learn yoga from a book or alike.
I myself experienced a burnout and I also experienced how severe depression and complex PTSD destroyed my life: little remained of my work, my energy, my sense of things, my hobbies, and also my social contacts and relationship have suffered. My yoga practice has also suffered for a while. For those who are in the same boat of mental illness: I know, I understand. In addition to therapy, I started working with yoga myself at some point to recover and I still do the necessary maintenance every day. I use my experience to help others. I want to emphasize that if you are in or going into therapy, it is my intention to provide private yoga classes as a valuable addition to that, not instead. Private yoga lessons are therefore not intended to replace therapy. However, there are countless scientific studies that show that meditation and yoga also have positive mental health effects. But private yoga lessons are not therapy. With private yoga lessons aimed at recovery or prevention, you can fill the vacuum in our healthcare system. Simply put, I mean the following: if something happens to you physically (for example, you break your back or get a cerebral hemorrhage), there is a care shell that will work with you in terms of rehabilitation, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and perhaps also a psychologist. But if something happens to you mentally, then you are dependent on therapy and/or medication and that is where it ends. This while psychological complaints certainly also damage physical health, but physiotherapists are not equipped for it, the general practitioner, therapist or psychiatrist will not pay attention to it either. In the Netherlands, 'mentally' ill means that you are really in a psychological care cocoon that assumes that you yourself find out how to get moving again in a responsible way. But conversely, physical illness is also approached purely physically, while it can have such an impact on you that you can be mentally weighed down by worries or depressed feelings or things no longer dare. There may also be a need not to be constantly confronted with the body in a negative way or to escape the tension that illness has caused in your body or breathing. With that I come back to what yoga can bring to you in this situation.
Our brain is a mischievous monkey and always invents something to jump back and forth. In particular, thought patterns that are negative and destructive, fueled by past events and learned, predominate in depression, ptsd, anxiety, trauma and burnout. They have become a normal mode for our brain. That mode makes us helpless, hopeless and fearful. It also results in tension building in your body and that body in turn strengthens the brain and so the circle is complete: we are constantly alert. It also works the other way around: during trauma, tension that is fixed in the body puts the brain in the wrong position. Meditation can improve this condition. Meditation on a regular basis creates peace and space in your head. That does not happen automatically. You have to make time for it every day. At some point there will be a distance from your thoughts, so that you no longer have to be so carried away by them. Over time, the tranquility becomes deeper and more stable. This gives a new sense of freedom and makes most people happy. Meditation is therefore not a quick fix, but should be built up gradually. I can guide you in that and we meditate together during class.
Moving your body, if you do at all, can improve your situation if you don't do it in a way that exhausts you even more. Going to the gym or doing any other physical exercise that gets your heart rate above "zone 2" (which is the goal of just about any mainstream fitness-focused gym or app and can be overlooked in yoga as well) will work against you because it activates the stress hormones in your body and depletes your mitochondria in your cells (which are already in a deplorable state if you are chronically tired due to burnout, depression or anxiety, for example). And then you go backwards instead of forwards, you feel discouraged and you feel that you are incapable of anything and you may spend your days (again) exhausted in bed or on the couch. Having said that, you should always keep in mind that recovery comes with ups and downs, but this is completely different from going beyond your limits without knowing it.
First thing is to befriend our body. And in order to do sp, we have to befriend ourselves and find gentle ways of getting in touch with ourselves and dealing with ourselves in a new way.
Learning to befriend your body and to move gently and mindfully is especially important for traumatized bodies, as this opens and relaxes these bodies so that the it can stop sending these continued panic messages to the brain and 'unfreeze' this unhealthy state of constant alertness.
In the asana practice (asanas are the physical yoga postures) we move in a way that matches where you are now in your process. It is important that you realize that you do not have to do extreme or physically demanding postures to experience yoga. But doing nothing at all is the other extreme and not an option if you want to recover. By moving in a gentle way and also doing enough relaxing postures, we change the energy that makes you feel tired and unable to do anything.
By learning to breathe softly but broadly, the body relaxes and the mind comes to rest. This creates a better cooperation between body and mind (body and mind). In yoga, we call the field in which we work with the breath, pranayama. There are certain pranayama exercises that are healing, but there are also pranayama exercises that you should not do if you have psychic concerns. Here too, right guidance is essential. Pranayama can lead to deep focus and relaxation, which you can take into whatever you do next. The exercises can also be used in daily life.
Are you interested after the foregoing? You can fill in the contact form below so that we can arrange an intake and trial lesson. Please also include your phone number in your message. Prefer contact via WhatsApp? Send me a message at 06-47663548.
Hopefully see you soon.
Rene Ferreira de Souza
Zaandam, June 2023