Zen Yoga refers to a Japanese yogic practice stemming from the Zen Buddhist tradition. Zen and Yoga master, Masahiro Oki, first coined the term Zen Yoga in the 20th century. The underlying philosophy, however, dates back to the Yoga Chara in 4th Century India. Yoga Chara means “yoke” or “union” practice. This translates into bringing all aspects of your being back into union and therefore into balance.
Zen yoga specifically focuses on the combination of three interlaced pillars, which together can help prepare the body and mind for sitting meditation (zazen) and to begin awakening our non-dual awareness which is central to Zen practice.
The Three Pillars:
- Alignment: Physical aspects of posture, flexibility and mobility
- Energy Flow: Our unblocked free flowing energy (ki or Qi) of the meridian system.
- Mindfullness: non-judgemental awareness (nen).
~ Along with this is the recognition of the qualities of being: ~
The Three Qualities of Being:
- Everything undergoes change. Everything is temporary.
- There is no fixed self – a process, rather than a thing
- Holding on to something brings disappointment because inevitably it will change.
The key is to learn to flow with change rather than resist or hold on. Zen Yoga helps with this as we align our body, mind and open our energy to flow with the seasons.
Meridians and the Seasons
The second pillar of practice, our energy (ki), refers to the free flowing energy channels of our meridian system.
When these channels become blocked or stagnant, they can lead to personality attributes that mirror this and are generally considered undesirable. When we allow these channels to release and open then we shift to attributes that help us feel more in flow, more positive, energetic and more at home in the world.
The Merdian System is one based on both seasons and times of day. As nature transitions through seasons, so do people. Every season has a greater emphasis on a pair of organ systems and their related meridian channels. With each season also comes a particular set of attributes:
Your Zenways Yoga Instructor – Heidi Bamford
Heidi became active in practicing yoga in 2000. She started practicing in Hatha Yoga and went on to explore different styles including Bikram, Vinyasa flow and Ashtanga. In grad school, Heidi was the president of the yoga club for two years.
When Heidi became unwell with CFS in 2011, she found it very difficult to continue with yoga. She found it both too strenuous and also left her feeling unwell and often in pain after class. Listening to her body, Heidi stopped her beloved yoga. Occasionally over the years of being unwell Heidi would try a class now and then hoping, she was recovered enough to start her practice again, but always with the same result.
Until 2016, when Heidi discovered Zen Yoga. Heidi fell in love with this gentle yet powerful style of yoga. Heidi credits Zen Yoga for both overcoming her final hurdle to full recovery and for bringing her back to her yoga practice.
“Zen yoga was not only integral in my full recovery from CFS, but also in helping me maintain balance, open meridian channels and maintain my full recovery.”