Vijnana Yoga - practicing from inside

What is Vijnana Yoga?

Vijnana Yoga

Vijnana means wisdom and knowledge, which has been achieved by personal experience. Vijnana Yoga has been developed by Orit Sen-Gupta. It comes out of the two Hatha Yoga streams Iyengar Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga. Unique about Vijnana Yoga is that meditation, breathing, postural practice (singular postures and flow) and the study of texts (experience into words, words into experience) are equally important and continuously inform each other in the yoga practice.

Practicing from inside means that in addition to copying the pose from looking at the teacher or at others we perform the pose while listening to our own sensations, bodily feedback and the quality of mind. We pay attention to HOW the pose is done. By this we can start to develop personal insight and true knowledge by experience (Vijnana). The vital principles and the vayus (ten vital winds) help us to develop and refine this skill.

The vital principles in short:

Relaxing the body: By exhaling deeply we release tension and tiredness, we observe our body with a friendly and caring mind.
Quieting the mind: We observe ourselves and our practice from an inner silence, whatever the mood or degree of concentration. The quieting intesifies in the practice.
Intent: When body and mind are quiet and stable we can direct our mind, body and heart towards the pose and the movement we are going to do. We envision ourselves doing the pose. This sense of direction influences our physical body, and the way we move.
Rooting: Where the body touches the earth we sink with the weight down into it. The impact of this downward movement flows back up into the body, making it light and agile.
Connecting: All parts of the body are connected with each other and movement affects every place in the body. We can let the body move as one unity. The body as a whole supports the pose.
Breathing: Breathe out and root, breathe in and widen, breathe out and release, breathe in deeply into the body. Breath is always there. It allows transformation of body, mind and heart.
Expanding: Rooting on the exhalation allows expanding on the inhalation: we elongate and widen the body. There is no sagging into the joints, and no effort in the muscles. The body moves as one, relaxed and connected.

All the principles happen at the same time. To learn to master them we can work with one or two principles for a while. Finally we apply all of them to make the practice whole. The vital principles are described in the book "Dancing the Body of Light" by Dona Holleman and Orit Sen-Gupta.

The ten vayus:

The vayus help us to find the alignment from inside.
Vayu means wind, space or air. We can imagine the vayu practice like airing through and vitalizing the different rooms and spaces in our body. The vayus can be found in the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali and several Hatha yoga texts. Through many years of thorough and sensitive research, Orit Sen Gupta has deepened her understanding of the ancient techniques of vayu practice. She reports that by using the vayus the body starts "tuning itself towards a gentle, yet precise alignment." It feels as if "the skeletal spine is reinforced by a vertical column of air. This transforms the posture, simplifies and deepens pranayama breathing practices and quietens the mind." (Vayu's Gate - Yoga and the Ten Vital Winds by Orit Sen Gupta)

Annika Luschin is a certified Vijnana Yoga teacher.

Annika Luschin is a certified Vijnana Yoga teacher.

See the schedule for ongoing courses.

Calling our way of practicing Vijnana Yoga is but giving recognition to something that has always been there, something that is at the core of our discipline: practicing, feeling, understanding - from inside.
Orit Sen Gupta