The practice of hatha yoga progresses from the gross to the subtle. Awareness deepens from the finite to the infinite. Consciousness moves from the seen to the unseen. Such an undertaking requires a sound foundation, based on principles tried and tested through the ages. Shadow Yoga provides the means for this through a progressive system of prelude forms. The first prelude, the Balakrama (Step to Strength) strengthens the structure of the physical body and increases mental stamina. Once established in this form, the second prelude the Chaya Yoddha Sancalanam (Churning the Shadow Warrior) provides the means for developing a more internal focus on rhythm and breathing through refined coordination of the limbs. Having gained proficiency in the first two preludes, practice of the third prelude, the Kartikkeya Mandalam (Garland of Light) can begin. This form promotes enhanced concentration and awareness through spiralling and turning movements and encourages the release of deeply held tensions.
The role of the preludes is to prepare for the practice of asana (seated postures). Because of their linear nature, the first two preludes lend themselves to the practice of the basic seats like Padmasana, Mandukasana and Vajrasana. By practising these, the beginner prepares for the later practice of yoga-asana by releasing gross stiffness and tension from the body and cultivating the sensitivity and responsiveness of the mind.
The circular nature of the third prelude, prepares the intermediate student for the full practice of the yoga-asana, where each posture is performed with its forwards, backwards, twisting and balancing variations.
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 Shadow Yoga experience. These classes focus on learning the stances and developing the breathing rhythm 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 and introduce the practice of the basic seats
LEVEL 3 – Minimum 2 years’ yoga experience with knowledge of the Balakrama and Chaya Yoddha Sancalanam preludes. These classes focus on the third prelude, Kartikkeya Mandalam and introduce yoga-asana practice.
SELF-PRACTICE – For students to work on developing the rhythm of the preludes with guidance.