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Exploring Sahaj Yoga

Sahaj yoga is not forceful

There is a philosophy around the concept of sahaj. This is not a discussion on sahaj philosophy. Why? Because I am not a scholar, expert, or philosopher of anything including sahaj, or yang, or tao, or other things. The focus here is not on concepts but rather on how to relax.

There are different approaches to yoga. Sahaj yoga is one approach to yoga and is thus no exception; it is distinct from other kinds of yoga for its non-forcefulness, quietude, and longer periods of holding postures. There is no muscular effort required in sahaj yoga—instead, easing into a pose happens effortlessly and naturally. If a rigorous approach to yoga or exercise is being sought, sahaj yoga will probably not meet that requirement. Giving it a try and seeing for oneself can be a useful way to explore before deciding one way or the other about sahaj or any approach to yoga or exercise in general.

Sahaj yoga could be described as having a slower pace and a non-rigid approach to yoga that resonates with people who are seeking ways of how to relax and feel more peaceful and calm in the daily flow of life. Or, sahaj yoga may resonate as a different and new yet complementary style of yoga or movement practice compared to things done in the past such as intense, flowing styles of yoga or various aerobic styles of exercises.

Sahaj yoga is not competitive

Sahaj yoga being taught in a class setting or being practiced independently happens, but involvement is reduced. We aren’t competing with others or ourselves in sahaj yoga because we are each focused inwardly. Consciousness is turned inward. 

Here are a few tips to share from personal experience with both sahaj yoga classes and independent practice over time. Please feel free to keep them in mind if they resonate and disregard what doesn’t.

Using props is not shameful

Sahaj yoga is not a space for feeling uncomfortable—it’s a space created for feeling supported in turning inward and accepting reality. Props are not a marker of any kind of weakness; props are there to help depersonalize the posture so the muscles can just relax. Poses are held for up to five minutes, and sometimes longer, in sahaj yoga. It depends on the person how long each posture is held. There are variation options for each sahaj pose and props to use as well, whenever desired to lighten the load and add ease instead of force.

Competing with others or with ourselves is not happening in sahaj yoga, and using props as helpful tools to reduce tension while holding a posture is not shameful. Props are there to be used if needed to support relaxation into a deeper calm while holding postures. They can take the edge off, eliminate pain or strain when holding a posture, and gently allow a practitioner’s focus to turn away from distractions and back towards the inner self.

Breathing happens naturally, not forcefully

There are yoga classes that take a faster-paced approach. Sahaj is different. In sahaj yoga, the focus is on breathing naturally in a non-systematic way and fully releasing into each posture. Releasing includes not contracting the body’s muscles beyond what is necessary in a held posture but also turning our awareness inwards. Another way to say this could be that sahaj is about letting go of what isn’t useful and focusing on what is happening here and now, like breathing at one’s own natural pace and slowly relaxing the body into postures for holding in silence.

Sahaj yoga uses gravity as its friend

There is not trying to find the edge of discomfort in sahaj yoga. Pushing the body into painful positions does not happen in sahaj yoga approaches. Instead, there is easing into a posture slowly and using the natural gravity of the body’s own weight to find a relaxed stopping point as each posture is slowly relaxed into.

Sahaj yoga doesn’t have a lot of talking 

There is not a lot of talking or instructions provided in sahaj yoga beyond the initial essentials of describing a pose. As the posture is being held, there is not a lot of speaking or verbal pointers given. This creates space for inner stillness, not distractions. There is, however, the sahaj yoga teacher’s guidance by showing what a posture looks like, including modifications and different options for variations that practitioners can choose from for themselves.

Simple Relaxation Sahaj Yoga Session with Jackie