No Need to Fear Dharma Yoga
Dharma Yoga use to intimidate me because I thought it was only for true yoga warriors. Yogis who could already bend themselves into pretzels, immediately rise up into a headstand then hold arm balance poses for minutes on end.
After attending my first Dharma Flow class, I fell almost instantly in love with this liberating and fun yoga practice. My previous intimidation was replaced by a new sense of freedom and trust for graceful exploration.
If you’re wondering about Dharma Yoga then don’t be afraid to try it. Feel free to attend one of our Dharma inspired classes! Maybe join us for one of Yoga District’s annual Dharma Day with international teacher, Sri Dharma Mittra!
Emily and Christina, Yoga District teachers, highlight the practices of Dharma Yoga and it’s personal impact.
Origin & Principles of Dharma Yoga
Dharma yoga is based on the teachings of Sri Dharma Mittra (1). Sri Dharma Mittra is a humble yet humorous teacher and a true yoga master. He has been teaching yoga in New York City and internationally for over 50 years. You may recognize him from the Master Yoga Chart of 908 poses or from his framed photograph, which hangs in Yoga District studios.
Dharma yoga is derived from various practices with a focus on the Eight Limbs of Yoga (2). The principles of Dharma yoga are rooted in the classical system of hatha-raja yoga. It emphasizes a clear mind, vibrant health, and a kind heart. Sri Dharma Mittra often reminds his students that yoga without the ethical guidelines of Yamas (restraints) and Niyamas (observances) is like spaghetti without the sauce. Compassion towards all beings is at the heart of Dharma Yoga. Dharma Yoga should move the practitioner closer to the goal of self-realization.
Christina’s Introduction to Dharma Yoga
In 2008, I discovered Sri Dharma Mittra when I saw a photograph of him doing a hands-free headstand on a manhole in the middle of the street. I was drawn to attempt the pose and was curious about the man in the picture and soon discovered that he taught in New York City.
I found out Dharma taught a special three-hour class one Saturday a month. I traveled to New York City for his Maha Sadhana (The Great Practice). I didn’t know anything about Dharma or his lineage but I was blown away by the packed studio and the palpable excitement. I’ll never forget him opening the class, walking around the room and past my mat, and saying, “Imagine God is standing in front of your mat.” His class and teachings brought me to a new depth of yoga practice, beyond asana, that I didn’t realize I was missing.
Christina’s Experience with Sri Dharma Mittra
Attending Dharma’s 200- and 500-hour teacher trainings in New York City was an amazing opportunity for me to learn from a living master and his dedicated staff.
It helped me develop the benefits of consistent breathing and concentration during my yoga practice. Dharma says to do ten minutes of savasana, or deep relaxation, every day to experience wonderful physical and mental benefits.
Above all else, Sri Dharma’s priority and passion is to teach about the ethical rules of yoga, with the foundational step of Ahimsa, or non-violence. He suggests we let our compassion extend beyond our immediate family and to all living creatures.
A Dharma Yoga Class
Dharma Yoga is classic Hatha-Raja yoga. Classes are well balanced, beginning with a vinyasa then a hatha style of practice with standing balancing postures, and floor postures.
Classes start with a warm-up sequence called Shiva Namaskara (vinyasa in style) (3). This is followed by a series of main poses held for longer periods of time and they are more hatha in style. In Dharma yoga, the breath is not cued and students are encouraged to allow the breath to be natural. Dharma classes are notable for efforts by the teacher to fit in breathing exercises, guided deep relaxation, bit of concentration or meditation, and maybe even chanting.
Come explore Dharma Yoga Class at Yoga District. Instructors keep it approachable and will help modify the sequence and poses to fit each student’s body and level of experience.
Dharma Yoga Readings, References & Resources:
- 1.Interviews with Sri Dharma Mittra & videos of his classes: Dharma Yoga Center YouTube Channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/TheDharmaTube
- 2. Sri Dharma Mittra & Dharma Yoga information, quotes, and photographs: Dharma Yoga Center’s website, https://www.dharmayogacenter.com
- 3. Practice with the yoga master at Sri Dharma Mittra in NYC at weekly classes, https://www.dharmayogacenter.com/classes-and-workshops/register-online-2/
If you are interested in exploring Dharma Yoga then come to Yoga District’s annual Dharma Day with teacher, Sri Dharma Mittra! You will have the option to sign up for individual classes or to attend all day. Dharma Day will hopefully resume when it is safe health wise.
Typical Dharma Day schedule:
- 9:30-10:00 Community Mantra & Chanting: Kirtan (Donations class)
- 10:00-12:00 Master Class
- 12:00-1:00 Yoga Nidra
- 2:30-5:00 All-Levels Practice
The workshop will include: Asana, Guided Meditation, Pranayama, Chanting, Lecture and Guided Relaxation. Sri Dharma Mittra will provide profound sacred teachings on the ethical rules, nature of being, yogic diet, ancient varied breathing practices, and sound techniques.
This guided restorative session helps you break free from the stress of the noisy and restless world that maintains its presence in our bodies and minds at all times.
This workshop includes Asana, Guided Meditation, Pranayama, Chanting, Lecture on Purification, Guided Relaxation, and a “Devotional Dharma Asana Satsang Jam”
- Sri Dharma, https://www.dharmayogacenter.com/about/about-dharma-mittra/
- Eight Limbs of Yoga, https://www.yogajournal.com/practice/the-eight-limbs
- Shiva Namaskara, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0skdIDSSzQ