Yoga Foundation Course Content
The yoga foundation course provides a good grounding of knowledge on the teachings, philosophy and practice of yoga.
An introduction to Yoga
What is Yoga?
A Brief History of Yoga
The Many Paths of yoga
The Contemporary Schools of Yoga
The Foundations of Yoga Practice
An introduction to human anatomy, physiology and nutrition in relation to the practice of yoga
The relevance of modern anatomy & physiology to yoga
Our subtle anatomy and physiology
The importance of good nutrition for an aspiring yogi!
The practice of asana
How should we practice asana?
What are the similarities between different asana?
Establishing your own daily asana practice
Studying specific asana
Creating your own asana sequences for personal practice
The breathing practices of yoga
Establishing a natural effortless breath
Your practice of pranayama
Introducing the bandhas
The art of relaxation
The importance of relaxation for everyone
Yoga Theory & Philosophy
The Theory and Philosophy of Classical Yoga
An introduction to Vedanta
The Inner Practices of Classical Yoga
The Theory of Moving into Meditation
Your Meditation Practice
An introduction to Mantra
Course review and looking to the future
Designing your own personal practice
Progressing in your studies
Full contents with learning outcomes:
Within this introduction to yoga we shall take a good overview of what constitutes yoga and briefly examine its historical background. We shall go on to explore the different paths of yoga and compare how yoga is taught in different schools of yoga today. You will also be introduced to some of the central concepts of yoga which should hopefully make interesting reading. Enjoy!
By the end of Unit One you will have/be able to:
- Read several chapters within the heart of yoga as an introduction to some of the concepts within classical yoga
- Studied two verses of the yoga sutras of patanjali outlining the meaning of yoga
- Examined the four different eras of yoga
- Read some inspirational quotes from the bhagavad gita
- State several ways in which the term yoga can be explained, to include yoga as both the practice and the goal
- Describe how yoga is one of the astika darshanas or six philosophical viewpoints of indian philosophy
- Compare the four main paths of yoga
- List the eight limbs of classical yoga
- Briefly explain the terms, citta, purusha, avidya, guna and duhkha
- Compare the approach of hatha yoga as compared to raja yoga
- Distinquish between some of the contemporary styles of yoga
- Been surprised that yoga possesses such a long, rich historical tradition
- Be enthusiastic to learn more!
Within this unit we shall briefly examine the different systems of modern anatomy and physiology and also the pancha koshas or five sheaths in which yoga recognizes four additional bodies beyond the physical body. We shall continue to examine the subtle body in more depth where you will be introduced to the nadis and the chakras.
Finally we shall take a look at the yogic view of nutrition and how it is believed that our diet is the foundation of our body, building its tissues, as well as the foundation of the mind, altering the qualities of our thoughts, emotions and actions.
By the end of Unit Two you will have/be able to:
- Read brief accounts of the different systems of the body
- Practiced ‘playing the edges’ in asana to become more attuned to the musculoskeletal system
- Visualized the endocrine organs whilst performing several different asana
- Practiced asana whilst linking specific organs with different movements in order to connect the inner experience of asana with an outer experience
- Reflected upon quotes on nutrition from the bhagavad gita
- Completed a food diary
- Outline why it is important to observe inwardly when practising yoga
- List the pancha koshas or five sheaths
- Briefly describe the nadis and chakras
- Relate the three gunas to diet, realizing the importance of good nutrition for both the body and the mind
- Wish to know more about human anatomy and physiology
- Be inspired to introduce a more sattvic diet
Within this unit you will learn about asana, the physical postures of yoga. And by the end of this unit hopefully you will be confident and motivated to establish your own regular asana practice at home!
By the end of Unit Three you will have/be able to:
- Read several chapters in the heart of yoga, pertaining to yoga asana
- Incorporated the qualities of sukha and sthira into to your asana practice
- Practised linking the breath with movement
- Become familiar with ujjayi breathing
- Worked with the yogic breath to experience the full three-part breath
- Distinguished between several correct and incorrect asana
- Examined different exercises and simple asana to warm specific areas of the body
- Have studied a number of asana profiles where teaching points, good preparation, benefits, contraindications and possible modifications are given
- Explain the meaning of verse 46, chapter 2, of patanjali’s yoga sutras
- State the main principles for the six main types of yoga asana, with reference to course notes, to include forward bends, backward bends, twists, side bends, balances and inversions, knowing that these will apply to all asana where these movements occur
- Give the meaning of the term vinyasa krama
- Outline why warming exercises and asana, counterposes and rest periods are so important within our practice
- Explain why we should move smoothly between different bases, i.e. between lying, kneeling, sitting, standing etc.
- Been introduced to the concepts of langhana and brmhana being able to state a couple of ways in which we can emphasize these qualities in an asana practice
- Realized the practice of yoga is an internal practice
- Be motivated to establish your own regular home practice of asana
Within this unit you will be introduced to basic breathing, which will help you to establish a natural easy breath. Whilst you may think you already breathe well, these techniques always help us to ensure that we are breathing using the correct respiratory muscles and remaining relaxed and self-aware as we focus upon our breath. You will also begin to work with pranayama where you will learn several different pranayama techniques and how to work with ratios. And finally there will be time devoted to learning the bandhas and how to incorporate them within your pranayama practice.
In these ways we are moving into the fourth limb of the eight-limbed path of Classical Yoga where we are now working with more subtle aspects of ourselves, i.e. prana, the breath and the mind.
By the end of Unit Four you will have/be able to:
- Read several chapters in The Heart of Yoga, pertaining to pranayama
- Practiced three different basic breathing techniques to include the complete yogic breath, dynamic yogic breath and the vedic salute
- Determined how many counts there would be for a number of simple ratios
- Used finger counting to count the number of rounds of pranayama practiced
- Tried several different focal points to be used in pranayama as an anchor of the mind
- Adopted mrgi, chin, jnana and dhyana mudras
- Practiced several different forms of pranayama to include ujjayi, anuloma ujjayi, viloma ujjayi, nadi Sodhana, shitali/sitkari, kapalabhati and bhastrika
- Practiced the three bandhas
- Incorporated jalandhara bandha and mula bandha into asana and pranayama
- Been reminded why we need to monitor our internal experience of asana, developing our powers of observation, presence and sensitivity
- Explain why basic breathing techniques are practiced for a period of time before working with pranayama techniques
- Give a definition of what constitues pranayama
- State the sanskrit names of the four parts of the breath, giving their main qualities
- Highlight why we always need to take a few natural easy breaths before embarking upon pranayama
- Considered which seated position would be most suitable for pranayama practice
- Enjoyed experiencing the different effects of each type of pranayama
- Felt you are progressing at just the right pace in your use of pranayama and the bandhas
- Be motivated to establish your own regular home practice of pranayama
In unit five you will spend some time exploring relaxation, looking at the ways in which relaxation is important for all of us in this modern world. You will be asked to consider your own level of stress - hopefully it is not too great! We shall go on to examine different poses to be used for relaxation and you will find several different kinds of relaxation practices to try.
By the end of Unit Five you will have/be able to:
- Read a quote regarding the deeper relevance of the corpse pose
- Determined faulty posture points for savasana, corpse pose
- Completed a questionnaire to determine current levels of stress
- Tried three different relaxation techniques to include progressive muscular relaxation, autogenic relaxation and a short yoga nidra
- Explain the relationship between relaxation and the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system
- Identify how to modify savasana, corpse pose, according to your needs
- Set up a suitable environment for the practice of relaxation
- Been introduced to the concept of pratyahara and be able to give a definition of this limb of classical yoga
- Realized how our perception is often the root cause of stress
- Be motivated to practice relaxation .
Within this unit we shall enter the world of yoga theory and philosophy. Initially we shall focus upon Classical Yoga, where you will be introduced to many important concepts and you will have the opportunity to work more practically with the yamas and niyamas. We shall then go on to look at Vedanta, which gives us valuable information on the different practices of yoga as well as giving us inspirational information on the nature of reality, as perceived in a transcendental state.
By the end of Unit Six you will have/be able to:
- Read a brief account of samkhyan philosophy
- Worked with the yamas and niyamas by observing how they relate to the circumstances of everyday life
- Read a brief introduction to the upanishads and the bhagavad Gita
- Examined several excerpts from the upanishads and the bhagavad Gita
- Been reminded of the concepts of avidya, the kleshas, samskaras and the gunas
- Been introduced to the idea of viveka, i.e. discrimmination, being able to state how our yoga practices lead us to develop viveka and sattva
- Give a definition of monism
- Give a definition for turiya, rta, brahman, dharma and kama
- Be enthusiastic to study more yoga philosophy!!
Within unit seven you will explore the final four limbs of classical yoga, looking at both the practices and some of the theory behind them. We shall look at pratyahara, i.e. the practice of directing the senses, learn the difference between concentration and meditation and see what samadhi or absorption means. This is a very interesting area of yoga to practice and study!
Finally, we shall spend a little time examining mantra, knowing that we can practice mantra with all of the other different elements of yoga or practice mantra alone.
By the end of Unit Seven you will have/be able to:
- Read several chapters in The Heart of Yoga pertaining to meditation
- Practiced several meditation techniques
- Practiced keeping the mind relaxed and alert without trying to stop thinking
- Performed chakra bija mantras and worked with the mantra om
- Performed the gayatri mantra
- Referred to the list of antarayas to better understand the obstacles to practice
- List the four inner limbs
- Give the meaning of pratyahara, the fifth limb of classical yoga
- Explain the difference between concentration and meditation
- Reiterate the four principles to aid the process of meditation
- Outline how it is best to work in a vinyasa krama style, moving from gross focal points to more subtle focal points, slowly building up time spent in practice.
- Appreciated we are also learning pratyahara and dharana whilst practicing asana and pranayama
- Recognized the process of samyama realizing we can only set up the situation for meditation
In this final unit we shall bring together all the different elements that we have studied so far, with the aim that you will be able to develop your own home practices with confidence. You will also hopefully be able to demonstrate to yourself just how much your own knowledge and practical skills have grown! We shall also briefly look at how you might like to continue in your study of yoga, perhaps one day making yoga an amazing career choice.
By the end of Unit Eight you will have/be able to:
- Answered all the questions in your quiz, proving you have an excellent foundation of knowledge in yoga
- Examined different practice schedules
- Created several short asana flows
- Checked your answers to the quiz against those in appendix 3
- Consolidated your knowledge of yoga theory and philosophy
- Develop your own personal practice over time with confidence
- Be very pleased to see just how much yoga knowledge you now possess!
- Appreciate that the regularity of practice is the key!
- Been motivated to continue developing your own knowledge and practice of yoga!!