Zen Yoga

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What is Zen Yoga?

Zen Garden Resort YOGA 13 July 2018 103125B Lo Res


My yoga program is a blend of adapted therapeutic yoga that meets the person where they are and teaches them to build a personal practice that is appropriate for their individual needs. It also offers them the opportunity to explore their own spiritual connection within the context of yoga. 

It offers spiritual insights based in the Zen Buddhist and Tibetan traditions of healing yoga, that combine gentle physical yoga, breath awareness, and mindfulness meditation techniques.

Zen Yoga is where ancient Indian, Tibetan and Chinese traditions meet.        It embodies the wisdom and intentions of Zen Meditative consciousness - quiet, contemplative spirit, and the qualities of peace, calmness, mental clarity, self-discipline (Tapas), and self-study (Svadhyaya) found in all Yogic traditions.

The Zen Yoga Program is an informed blending of the Ayurvedic Tri-dosha system of diet and health according to an individual’s body constitution, Traditional Chinese herbs and herbal teas, and the complete health system of Indian (Hatha) and Tibetan (Zen) Yoga, which includes asana (postures and movement), pranayama (breath / energy vitality management), and bhavana meditation (Mindful focus of consciousness / visualisation meditation techniques). Tibetan (Zen) Yoga focuses on alignment, as well as gentle movement, breathing techniques and relaxation meditation.

As well as the mindfulness contemplative aspects of Zen Yoga, this program is also moderately strong and physically challenging - with movement and stretches designed to invigorate and restore strength and energy, while bringing attention to alignment.

Zen Garden Resort YOGA 13 July 2018 104100A Lo Res

Zen Yoga at the Zen Garden Resort, Yangshuo, Guilin, China

Our "Zen Yoga" program harnesses ancient Eastern philosophical principles in the one practice, as a form of mental and physical discipline. The practice helps to focus mind energy in the following ways:

Mindfulness in every Action                                                                     Mental Agility / Clarity of the Thought Process                                     Physical Fitness & Conscious Awareness of our Physicality                   Breath Centred Movement & Awareness in every Posture and Sequence Cleansing Body and Mind                                                             Reconnecting with Mind, Body and Spirit

Though the term Zen cannot truly be explained in words - as it refers to both an experience, and to everything around that experience - Zen can generally be described as a transformation; a blissful state of being, where one is transcending above the self and able to experience reality fully. It is the transformation where one enjoys the miracle of creation and the connection with everything around it. Zen also refers to one's understanding and lifestyle, fuelled by moments of deep realization of oneself. 

Zen is a celebration of the beautiful elements and simple forms of nature; it is the ever changing world around us. It can be a celebration of nature, and our own nature (Buddha-self). The concept of physically and mentally removing oneself from daily distractions has been the basis of many meditative practices for centuries. 

In this way, we can stay vigilant, aware and present in every moment, posture, breath and action – observing our being, as “Zen Warriors”, avoiding obstacles and forces that would otherwise hinder our progress as we move forward on our life path. Becoming Yoga in the moment, realising each moment, each breath, each thought – is the practice of Zen!

The "Zen Yoga” program will be offered at special event sessions, workshops and retreats in Perth. 

Zen Approach – Combining classical Indian Hatha, Vedic and Tibetan Yoga, with Zen and Dhamma philosophy of the Buddha, and gentle mindful breath-centred movement inspired by Chinese Taoist Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Kung Fu, Sri Shanthi Bhavana designs Yoga wellness programs to suit the individual.  His classes are small and intimate so that each person receives the attention they need to develop a personal Yoga practice with the intention of cultivating self-awareness and self-management of their own health and wellness.

 “Zen” philosophy is an approach to life in which every single thing is done with full mindfulness – residing in the present moment. Yoga is the act of unifying one’s mind, physical body and energy body in balance (Sattva), and connecting this with universal spiritual energy (life-force, vital energy / Prana or Qi). “Zen” means, “being present”.

Zen philosophy developed around 2,600 years ago, as a method to bring calmness to the mind, and thus solve the problem of human suffering. The meditating “Rishis” (sages or seers) of northern India sought the same answers over 3,000 years ago, as did Lord Buddha Shakyamuni, over 2,500 years ago… “What is the meaning of life… what is the cause of suffering, and how can it can alleviated?” The union of Yoga brings harmony to the physical and energy body, creating a sense of balance that promotes good health, and relief from suffering. The practice of Yoga dates back to between 5,000 and 25,000 years, the “Classical Yoga” tradition of Patanjali, as taught by Sri T. Krishnamacharya, dates back 2,000 years, and the Dharma teachings of the Buddha, over 2,500 years. These are wonderfully rich and ancient living knowledge systems, as useful today as they have been for millennia. Our “Zen Hatha Yoga Programs” are inspired by, and celebrate, these health and self-wellness management systems, that we call, “Ancient Healing Therapies for Modern Times!”

“Zen Yoga” incorporates asanas (physical postures and movement) to first restore, then strengthen, and ultimately expand a person’s physical anatomy – “a flexible body cultivates a flexible mind”. Zen Yoga is all about using the lessons of “Zen” to quiet the mind, balancing optimal circulation of energy around the physical body’s space, producing mental clarity and a pathway to higher consciousness (a higher self).

Zen encourages one to step back and view a wider perspective and to explore their true nature – the bigger Self.

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“Zen Garden Resort” - Yangshuo, Guangxi, China - July 13, 2018

Shanthi Launches new “Zen Yoga” Program in China!

Sri Shanthi Bhavana launches new     "ZenYoga Program" in China

Sri Shanthi Bhavana Yoga Wellness 
July 13, 2018 Yangshuo, Guangxi province, China

Shanthi now has new students in China following the successful launch of his “Zen Yoga Program" for strength and rejuvenation.

While recently staying in Yangshuo, China, Shanthi was invited by the prestigious "Zen Garden Resort" to present his newly designed "Zen Warrior Yoga Program" for a private morning session with selected hotel resort staff and guests. All 35 rooms enjoy breathtaking views of Karst Dragon’s Back mountains, beautiful countryside fields and overlook the Yu-Long river. Ancient 200-million year old limestone monoliths are the distinguishing feature in this region. The resort offers sumptuous 5-star luxury accommodation and delicious, healthy vegetarian cuisine (vegetables are cultivated onsite), and many guest activities, including Yoga and Tai Chi.  (www.zengardenyangshuo.com)

The staff are lovely people and Shanthi felt honored to be asked to present a rejuvenation Yoga session in this relaxing, natural environment. In so doing, it became the launch for his latest program, the “Zen Yoga Program", appropriately named given its location among the hauntingly picturesque Dragon's Back Mountains. 

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Zen Garden Resort, Yangshuo, Guilin, China

Shanthi: "You can feel the vibrational energy and power of these ancient mountains. Their presence is all pervading... it just resonates everywhere. We were able to tap into this energy in our chanting exercises, using Nada meditation yoga... the room filled with the beautifully energizing sounds of "Om" (the auspicious sound of the universe; that which connects everything - past, present and future), and thus resonated with the natural frequencies of this incredibly awesome environment. It was deeply moving, grounding, transcendent".

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The core of this rejuvenation program combines essential ancient themes:  
"Warrior"-style core strengthening postures, sequences and energising breath exercises, along with rejuvenating restorative postures and sequences, combined with dynamic flowing Vinyasa-style movement influenced by Tai Chi and Kung Fu martial arts and classical Indian dance. Inspired by the twin cultures of India and China, the program is a mindful exploration of these complementary ancient practices, cultures, arts and spiritual philosophies that centre around appropriate breathing techniques and deeply rooted in the cool, timeless strength of the grounding mountains, combined with the energizing fire and movement of the mythical dragon: "Sthira sukham asanam" – strength and flexibility in the posture, the fundamental core of all classical Yoga that is also central to healing, therapeutic and rejuvenative Yoga.

Despite the sweltering 36 degree C heat (96.8 F), and 88% humidity outside, the class enthusiastically engaged in all aspects of the morning session in the beautiful dedicated activity space – yogasana, breath exercises, chanting, and breath-centred mindfulness meditation. Afterwards, the students stayed behind to ask many questions, request further demonstrations and to gain insights and tips for their own personal practice. It was a very successful Yoga session that took up most of the morning.

Shanthi: "Though most of the students had not previously tried Yoga, or had a little experience, I was impressed with the way they quickly picked up this practice, I believe due to its inherent warrior, dragon, fire, water, air elements which are of course central to many Asian Zen-based practices. They were all naturals! "

"I could not have imagined in my youth, when I undertook some basic Kung Fu training, and through my many journeys throughout Asia over the last 40 years, that all this life experience combined with my studies in Buddhist philosophies and interest in Zen art, thought and philosophy, along with my many years studying yoga, would form the basis of my new Yoga program, "Zen Yoga".

It all makes sense now, of course, the seeds were sown so long ago... the roots have been established over time. Everything has a purpose, everything is related".

"The Buddha and Patanjali and all the great yogis have taught us that our practice should be experiential – that it be grounded in first hand experience, to be present and to actually do the work. I think for me, all this is now evident. If you sow the seeds, and water and nurture them ("Right Effort") they will propagate into something useful ("Right Path"). Every action leads to future action".

Our "Zen Yoga" program harnesses these ancient philosophical principles in the one practice, as a form of mental and physical discipline. The practice helps to focus mind energy in the following ways:

Mindfulness in every Action                                                                     Mental Agility / Clarity of the Thought Process                                     Physical Fitness & Conscious Awareness of our Physicality                   Breath Centred Movement & Awareness in every Posture and Sequence Cleansing Body and Mind                                                             Reconnecting with Mind, Body and Spirit

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Zen Garden Resort YOGA 13 July 2018 111519 Lo Res


In this way, we can stay vigilant, aware and present in every movement, posture, breath and action – observing our being, and as 'Warriors' avoid obstacles and forces that would otherwise hinder our progress as we move forward on our life path. Becoming Yoga in the moment, realizing each moment, each breath, each thought is the practice of “Zen”!

(“Zen” means, staying present)

Zen Garden Resort YOGA 13 July 2018 101350 Lo Res


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Become a Zen Yogi!
This new program, encompassing these diverse yet similar related practices heralds a new addition to Shanthi's busy roster of Yoga programs, or as the Buddha might have put it better, perhaps a 'new return' ("everything returns").

Shanthi is grateful to the following Zen Garden Resort management and staff for this opportunity to launch his new “ Zen Yoga Program": Hotel Manager, Ms Lihua for her invitation and enthusiastic support; Ms Angel for her help; and Ms Wendy Liang for her valuable work as coordinator, interpreter, and in assisting Shanthi.

Future Yoga classes and retreats are now being planned around this "Yoga Warrior" program, and Shanthi now has new students in China which is very exciting - some have requested private online video tutorial sessions with him, so the teacher/student relationship can continue.

Om shanti, shanti, shanthi... Om Namaskar!

Sri Shanthi Bhavana 

Zen Yoga Wellness 
July, 2018 Yangshuo, Guangxi Province, China
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Sri Shanthi Bhavana is a certified international Yoga Teacher, specialist in applied therapeutic Yoga for healing and rehabilitation; creator of specialist music and sound programs for "Optimal State Yoga Therapy Teacher Training Program" (California).
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“Zen Yoga Program”

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90-minutes                                                                                                         Level of difficulty:  Moderately Strong practice

Description:  Hatha Yoga based in the tradition of legendary Indian Yoga master Krishnamacharya, with dynamic movement influenced from Asian martial and cultural arts.

What is "Zen Yoga”?                                                                       Developed by international Yoga Teacher, Sri Shanthi Bhavana, “Zen Yoga" is a creative balance and careful blending of Restorative and core strengthening and energising Hatha Yoga, influenced by the diverse, yet similar cultures of Asia - elements of Tai Chi, Kung Fu, and Classical Indian Dance movement, combined with the Classical Yoga of Patanjali, and inspired by Krishnamacharya and Iyenger, including energizing breath exercises (pranayama), chanting, and meditation.

Zen:                                                                                                              Zen is an ancient Buddhist meditation practice, found throughout most of Asia and predominantly in Japan. It is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition rather than ritual worship or study of scriptures.It originated in China during the Tang Dynasty as Chan Buddhism. It was strongly influenced by Taoism, and developed as a distinct school of Chinese Buddhism. From China, Chan Buddhism spread south to Vietnam, northeast to Korea and east to Japan, where it became known as Seon Buddhism and Japanese Zen, respectively.

One of the world's foremost Zen Buddhist Meditation teachers is Thich Nhat Hanh (originally from Vietnam). Zen Master Hanh is a global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist, revered throughout the world for his powerful teachings and bestselling writings on mindfulness and peace. His key teaching is that, through mindfulness, we can learn to live happily in the present moment—the only way to truly develop peace, both in one’s self and in the world. 

The term Zen is derived from the Japanese of the Middle China word 禪 (Chan) which traces its roots to the Indian practice of Dhyana (meditation"). Zen emphasizes rigorous self-control, meditation-practice, insight into Buddha-nature, and the personal expression of this insight in daily life, especially for the benefit of others.As such, it de-emphasizes mere knowledge of sutras and doctrine and favors direct understanding through zazen and interaction with an accomplished teacher.The teachings of Zen include various sources of Mahayana thought, especially Yogachara, the Tathagatagarbha sutras and the Huayan school, with their emphasis on Buddha-nature, totality, and the Bodhisattva-ideal.The Pranjnaparamita  literature and, to a lesser extent, Madhyamaka  have also been influential in the shaping of the "paradoxical language" of the Zen-tradition.

Observing the breath, observing the mind and chanting are all central to Zen practice, which also emphasises alignment and meditation.

Zen yoga refers to a variety of physical and energetic practices that can be found within the Zen Buddhist tradition, and increasingly taught in the West. Some Zen temples include a taiso (exercise) period, often early in the morning, including yoga-like postures, quick repetitive exercises, and/or more flowing exercises reminiscent of Tai Chi? These exercises are designed to open and unblock the body in preparation for sitting meditation, develop a deeper awareness of the body, and as an opportunity to practice "becoming one” with what’s happening in the moment (expressed in Japanese through the terms narikiru – become one – or ima-koko – now-here).

Zen practice in general, and Zen Yoga in particular, emphasize three intertwined areas – physical alignment, the flow of energy in the body and awareness or mindfulness (Japanese “nen” 念).

In the Satipatthana Sutta, the Buddha described four foundations (or bases) of mindfulness – mindfulness of the body, of sensations, of the mind, and of dharmas (i.e. phenomena, thoughts, arisings), and is recorded as saying, "There is one thing that leads to happiness in the present and liberation in the future; and what is this one thing? It is mindfulness of the body." (Anguttara Nikaya, sutta I, 21.) Thus mindfulness of the body is the direct way to liberation and the end of suffering. Zen yoga practice is primarily concerned with the body and sensations, and observing life as a process in a constant state of change, so is in direct line with the Buddha's method of awakening.

The word 'hatha' in Sanskrit literally means 'force', so Hatha Yoga is the “Discipline of Force”. It stresses mastery of the body as a way of attaining a state of spiritual perfection in which the mind is withdrawn from external objects.

“Warrior" Influence:                                                                                                          All ancient culture has is roots in the warrior class. In classic Indian spiritual philosophy, the three deities of Krishna, Shiva and Ganesha are shown to be strong warriors of protection and compassion.In the battlefield of Kurukshetra scenes of the epic Mahabharata sacred Indian Hindu text, Lord Krishna (God of compassion, tenderness and love, and known as a Devine hero), as a charioteer gives friendly counsel to Arjuna who aims his arrows on how to proceed in the symbolic supreme battle - that of our consciousness (good versus evil). In similar holy Hindu texts from ancient India, Lord Shiva is known as "The Destroyer of Evil”, and the "Transformer". In his fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons.

Shiva is also known as Adiyogi Shiva, regarded as the patron god of yoga, meditation and arts. Shiva is considered the Great Yogi who is totally absorbed in himself – the transcendental reality. He is the Lord of Yogis, and the teacher of Yoga to sages (and influenced Hatha Yoga, integrated monistic (Advaita Vedanta) ideas with Yoga philosophy and inspired the theoretical development of Indian classical dance.  Shiva typically carries a trident called Trishul - a weapon or a symbol in different Hindu texts. As a symbol, the Trishul represents Shiva's three aspects of "creator, preserver and destroyer", or alternatively it represents the equilibrium of three Gunas of "sattva, rajas and tamas”. According to kundalini yoga, Ganesha resides in the first chakra, called Muladhara (mūlādhāra). Mula means "original, main"; adhara means "base, foundation". The muladhara chakra is the principle on which the manifestation or outward expansion of primordial Divine Force rests. This association is also attested to in the Gan and Ganesha "The Remover of Obstacles".

Before his enlightenment and becoming Lord Buddha, Indian Prince Siddhartha was a noted athlete: a champion archer and wrestler, the revered sign of the noble Brahmin class - a warrior Prince. Lord Buddha also counseled against evil in the form of Mara (the Tempter), teaching his disciples that they needed to become strong warriors in the mind and to guard against weakness of the flesh.

Throughout history man has needed warriors for protection and in the Asian cultures this warrior class has often taken the form of martial arts (sometimes as part of a training monks) - a philosophy that teaches humans to protect themselves - physically and mentally. Therefore mental agility and awareness as well as physical fitness is of supreme importance in both martial arts and Yoga. Many of the Yoga postures were used to train warriors in ancient India, and in later times to train young adolescent males as a form of fitness discipline, to engage their minds away from sexual distraction. 

"Zen Yoga" harnesses these ancient philosophical principles in the one practice, as a form of mental and physical discipline (as with warriors). The practice helps to focus mind energy in the following ways:

Mindfulness in every Action                                                                     Mental Agility / Clarity of the Thought Process                                     Physical Fitness & Conscious Awareness of our Physicality                   Breath Centred Movement & Awareness in every Posture and Sequence Cleansing Body and Mind                                                             Reconnecting with Mind, Body and Spirit

Though Zen cannot truly be explained in words as it refers to both an experience, and to everything around that experience. Zen can generally be described as a transformation, a blissful state of being, where one is transcending above the self and experience reality fully. It is the transformation where one enjoys the miracle of creation and the connection with everything around it. Zen also refers to ones understanding & lifestyle, fueled by moments of deep realization of oneself. Zen is a celebration of the beautiful elements & simple forms of nature, it is the ever changing world around you. It can be a celebration of nature, and our own nature (Buddha-self).The concept of physically removing yourself from daily distractions has been the base of many meditative practices for centuries. 

In this way, we can stay vigilant, aware and present in every movement, posture, breath and action - observing our being, and as 'Warriors' avoid obstacles and forces that would otherwise hinder our process as we move forward on our life path. Becoming Yoga in the moment, realizing each moment, each breath, each thought is the practice of Zen!

Become a Zen Yogi!

***************************************************************************************
Sri Shanthi Bhavana is a certified international Yoga Teacher, specialist in applied therapeutic Yoga for healing and rehabilitation; creator of specialist music and sound programs for "Optimal State Yoga Therapy Teacher Training Program" (California).
***************************************************************************************

Zen Yoga Wellness

“Ancient Healing Therapy for Modern Times!” 


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© Shanthi Bhavana 2016