Yoga Synergy is a Sydney based yoga school with a set of distinctive approaches and principles towards yoga and its practice. Many of these approaches and principles are unique and at times controversial especially when compared with the general ideas associated with yoga practice in our modern era. In reality, these principles serve as links between Yoga—its physiological benefits promised in the classical texts such as Hatha Pradipika and its spiritual dimension described in texts such as Yoga Sutra—and our daily practice on the mat.
Yoga Synergy was established by Bianca Machliss and Simon Borg-Olivier in the early 1980s, who had both studied under some of the greatest yoga masters of the 20th century: Sri B.K.S. Iyengar, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and Sri T.K.V. Desikachar, to name a few. Perhaps realizing what has been passed on to them was a lineage of much greater significance, they did not wish to claim Yoga Synergy a system. but preferred to call it a “method”. It is important to note that, Yoga Synergy method is based on not only their years of yoga practice but also on their learning and practice as physiotherapists. Few in the yoga world today seriously consider the issues of “a western modern body doing asana originated from a very different culture and lifestyle” as thoroughly as Yoga Synergy, at the same time without losing sight of what yoga is about and what is meant to deliver.
Relaxation: Relaxation is a natural state of being but many of us have forgotten how to relax. Even the activities we engage in that are supposed to relieve our stress actually put us more in stress as if we don’t want to disturb the momentum of our stress. In Yoga Synergy practice, relaxation is not a posture such as Shavasana or a restorative type of practice, but a skill one continues to improve and an underlying principle throughout one’s yoga practice, whatever that practice is. Such relaxation is related to the mode of our nervous system and allows us to keep our physiology such as breath and heart rates in check and thus makes healing and rejuvenation possible through Yoga. On a higher dimension, relaxation is a constant reminder to integrate the body and mind and continuous learning of non–attachment.
Focus on spine: One of Yoga Synergy’s signature practices is spinal movements, which is a set of movements that aim to mobilize the spine in its purest form, that is, one direction at a time. This set of spinal movements provides great insights to our so-called “yoga injury” and through spinal movements, one begins to develop a sensitivity towards the spine and its associated movements with its nearby joints: shoulders and hips. Furthermore, through spinal movements and its specific guidelines, we can get unique insights into many classical and common asana. With only seven movements, Yoga Synergy’s spinal movements are compact and portable even without a yoga mat. These movements are simple and accessible yet full of care in their execution, they not only effectively bring our spine “back to life” but strengthens the internal organs along the way, and establish a yoga practice that is sustainable
Natural breathing: Natural breathing is a type of breathing manner associated with relaxation and to a certain extent, meditation. Natural breathing naturally occurs when one is relaxed and not under stress. However many people are under stress all the time to such an extent that this natural way of breathing must be re-learned. Simon Borg-Olivier has observed that calling breathing during asana practice, which is fairly common in Ashtanga vinyasa as well as most vinyasa flow classes, often result in over-breathing and causing the increase of heart rate and over-stimulate the nervous system, therefore he recommends natural breathing to accompany asana practice. As the practice becomes more active, oxygen burns out much quicker, this natural breathing then turns into a substantial effort to not breathe more, thus results in hypoventilation and a slight acidosis in the body tissues, which in turn calms the nervous system and improves oxygenation on the cellular level. At this stage, the natural breathing has become a practice of pranayama.
For more information about Yoga Synergy and its workshops and teacher training, as well as the incredible blogs and videos, please visit: https: //yogasynergy.com/
Photo courtesy: Yoga Synergy