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What is Dharma Yoga?

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

A brief history of Dharma Yoga

Dharma is a key concept in Indian religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. It means 'duty', 'virtue', 'morality', and even 'right way of living’ and it refers to the power which upholds the universe and society. Dharma is an important term in Indian philosophies and religions, and it refers to the power that upholds the natural order of things. It is also used to refer to the teachings and practices which help one to live in harmony with the universe.

Dharma Yoga is a traditional yet contemporary form of yoga developed and created in 1975 by Sri Dharma Mittra.

sri dharma mittra doing a handsfree headstand

Sri Dharma Mittra was born in Brazil and began practicing yoga at a young age. He later traveled to India to study with his guru, Sri Swami Kailashananda (also known as Yogi Gupta), and spent many years in intense training and study. He has taught yoga for more than 50 years, and his teachings are influenced by the classical yoga traditions of Hatha, Raja, and Jnana Yoga. He has published several books on yoga and is famous for his "Master Yoga Chart of 908 Postures," which is a comprehensive guide to asanas (yoga poses) and their benefits.

Dharma Yoga is a combination of traditional Hatha and Raja Yoga. It is a modern interpretation of the eight limbs system deeply rooted in the ethical precepts of Dharma. This form of yoga is focused on opening the heart physically and spiritually and is designed to cultivate empathy and compassion through challenging and invigorating postures, deep backbends, creative asanas sequencing, breathwork, and meditation.

The healing benefits of Dharma Yoga

Dharma Yoga is a style of yoga that emphasizes the spiritual aspects of the practice and encourages students to follow the path of righteousness and self-realization.

Some of the potential healing benefits of practicing Dharma Yoga include:

  • Improved flexibility: Dharma Yoga includes a variety of physical postures (asanas) that can improve flexibility, strength, and balance. It also includes pranayama (breathing exercises) that can help regulate the breath and improve respiratory function. Compared to other forms of yoga, Dharma focuses more on backbends and heart opening asanas, to improve spine flexibility and back strength.

  • Cognitive benefits: The focus on spiritual growth and self-inquiry in Dharma Yoga can help practitioners develop a more peaceful and clear mind. The practice can also help reduce stress and anxiety. Researchers found that long-term yoga practitioners had greater brain volume in the hippocampus, a region of the brain involved in learning and memory, compared to people who did not practice yoga. It is also suggested that yoga may increase the density of gray matter in the brain, which is important for processing sensory information, controlling movement, and making decisions.

  • Emotional Intelligence: Dharma Yoga emphasizes the importance of cultivating love, compassion, and forgiveness in the practice. This can help practitioners develop greater emotional intelligence and resilience.

  • Spiritual benefits: Dharma Yoga encourages practitioners to cultivate a deep connection with their higher self and develop a deeper understanding of their place in the world. It can also help practitioners connect with their inner wisdom and find a sense of purpose and meaning in life.

Is Dharma Yoga suitable for beginners?

Have you ever wondered if beginners can do Dharma Yoga? In short, Yes! You don't have to master the hands-free headstand before joining a class! Dharma Yoga includes a variety of physical postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation practices, and every class offers variations for each posture, from beginner to advanced.

However, it's important to note that dharma yoga is a physical and mental practice that requires focus, concentration, and breath control, and it can be physically demanding.

If you are a beginner, it's always a good idea to start with an introductory class and progress gradually as you become more comfortable with the practice. It's also important to listen to your body and respect your own limits.

If you are new to yoga and are considering trying Dharma Yoga, it's a good idea to speak with the instructor or studio staff to determine if the class is appropriate for your skill level and any physical limitations you may have. You may also want to consider starting with a private lesson or a beginner's class before joining a more advanced class.

If you wish to start your Dharma Yoga practice, or if you wish to improve and get deeper into your backbends, and happen to be in Mexico, we are the only ones teaching Dharma yoga in Playa Del Carmen, and in the whole Riviera Maya. We will be more than grateful to help you achieve any goals you might have!

So please do not hesitate to reach out!

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