Hatha Yoga has as its aim the realisation of the potential within the human being. Shadow Yoga is a school of Hatha Yoga founded by Zhander Remete,
which begins this process through the practice of fixed forms or 'preludes'.
The preludes serve to undo habitual patterns of tension which obstruct the movement of the vital breath and the life force. Tension and restriction occur in specific areas of the body known as marma, the vital junctions. Practice of the preludes of Shadow Yoga develops an awareness of marma and provides a means of overcoming these restrictions. This is achieved through the use of warrior-forms (viraparampara) to remove obstructions in the peripheral
body, the hips and shoulders and the limbs, and sun-forms (suryanamaskar)
to energise the spine. As tension is released through the work of the prelude the energy is then directed into the practise of yoga-asana.
The first prelude is the Balakrama, meaning step to
strength. This prelude develops strength and stamina through stance work and it is the first step in cultivating coordination and rhythm through correct positioning and awareness of the vital junctions (marmasthana). The second prelude is Chaya Yoddha Sancalanam or churning the shadow warrior which works with deeper and broader stances. Coordination of movement and breath is refined. The third prelude, Kartikkeya Mandalam or garland of light, consists of spiralling and twisting stance work and requires considerable coordination of the limbs and the spine. This prelude releases deeply held restrictions and develops lightness in the body and mind.
Central to developing the rhythm of movement and breath in the preludes is the use of uddiyana bandha. Working with the breath and uddiyana bandha requires patience and sensitivity. These qualities develop through the refinement of awareness and the cultivation of intelligence in the practice.
Class levels at Islington Yoga reflect the progressive nature of the preludes
BEGINNERS - 0-6 months yoga experience. Taught as 6 week courses to provide a foundation with the basic movements. Classes cover joint warm up sequences, basic stances for strength and flexibility, and coordination with the breath to develop mental focus.
LEVEL 1 - 6 months to 1 year of general yoga experience. These classes introduce the stances of the first prelude, the Balakrama .
LEVEL 2 - 1-2 years Shadow yoga experience. These classes focus on either the Balakrama or Chaya Yoddha Sancalanam, the second Shadow Yoga prelude.
LEVEL 3 – Minimum 2 years’ yoga experience with knowledge of the Balakrama and Chaya Yoddha Sancalanam preludes. These classes cover the practice of these first two preludes with basic asana and work on the third prelude, Kartikkeya Mandalam.
SELF-PRACTICE – For students to work on developing the rhythm of the preludes with guidance.