Zenyoga is a specific type of yoga based on the principles of the Chinese school of Buddhism called Chan, or Zen in Japan. It applies three aspects of the Chan practice that represent a model for a wholesome approach to life:
1. Harmonizing the body
2. Harmonizing the breath
3. Harmonizing the mind
Harmonizing the body
In Zenyoga, bringing the body in order is a very dynamic process. This includes the development of endurance, flexibility, relaxation, strength, balance and improvement of the vital energy flow through the body.
The actual training starts with breathing and preparatory exercises. The introduction is followed by the dynamic and static performance of the postures, and then followed by a certain sequence of postures. Every sequence, whether it comes from the Indian or Chinese tradition, represent the set group of postures or exercises which has to be perfumed in a certain rhythm of movement and breathing. The rhythm can be very energetic or very slow, depending on the aspects of ones training (endurance, flexibility, relaxation, strength or balance) which are emphasized. The sequences, as well as individual asanas, are practiced in a progressive order – from simple ones to more complicated and demanding ones.
The other important aspect of the training is relaxation. It can be done in two ways: in movement and in stillness. It is much easier to relax in a still position. To relax in an active state requires more practice and experience, but it is a very important type of relaxation as it can be more easily applied into daily life and has a more lasting effect. An equally important aspect of ones training is the joy of practicing and happiness which arises as a consequence of the physical and mental relaxation as well as the mindfulness of the present moment.
Zenyoga also has a range of special therapeutical methods which are not a part of a regular training. They are employed from time to time and during seminars. They consist of postural diagnosis, corrective exercises, massage and acquiring certain eating habits.
Harmonizing the breath
To bring the breath in order in the Zenyoga context means to deepen the breathing, to breathe abdominally and to connect the breathing with the movement. The way we breathe indicates the state of our body and mind. Shallow, fast and unrefined breathing indicates the restless, dispersed and confused mind, as well as a tense, unbalanced and unhealthy body. Influencing the breathing through practice and changing the quality of the breath directly affects the state of the body and the mind.
Harmonizing the mind
The third aspect of Zenyoga training is bringing the mind in order. Although the mind and the body are deeply interconnected, the mere physical practice doesn’t usually bring deep insights and thorough changes in the way we approach ourselves, others and life in general. Obviously, pure physical training, without the clear knowledge on how to simultaneously train the mind, is not sufficient. The mind, as well as relaxation, can be trained in stillness and in movement. To train the mind in stillness is the practice of sitting meditation – tso chan or zazen. It is considered easier to train the mind when there is no physical activity and the mind can be focused on only one object – the object of meditation. It is harder, but not impossible, to practice the mind in movement. If the method is clear and one is willing to follow it, there is a whole new experience waiting to be discovered. The process develops in stages, from unrefined to refined, from external to internal, from body to mind. That is the practice that leads to the attainment of a Zenyoga ideal: the complete union of body, breath and mind. It represents the deep meditational experience of Samadhi and has the power to change the way we perceive ourselves and the world. It is also the point of departure from Zenyoga and the gate into a wider and deeper path of Chan Buddhism.
How to practice?
In order to bring the body, breathing and mind in balance, Zenyoga uses a wide range of physical postures (asanas), breathing exercises, corrective exercises, massage and meditation. It incorporates hatha yoga elements, but also many Chinese daoyin exercises.
Our groups are mostly mixed levels, consisting of beginners and advanced students alike. That mixture might seem like an obstacle for serious work, but it is important to keep in mind that each exercise can be performed on several levels. A good teacher, who knows how to conduct the student’s awareness in the right direction, can teach a mixed group the same set of exercises, with students gaining a similar benefit from it. Some groups offer separate beginners and advanced level classes, as well. There are special classes for the students of the Zenyoga teacher’s school, as well as for the instructors and teachers.
Zenyoga is practiced barefoot, in clothes from natural materials that allow freedom of movement. We don’t use mats, but you are free to bring one if you feel like you need it. Silence is an important element of practice. We don’t use background music and we don’t burn incense. The outer atmosphere of peace provides a condition for the attention to turn inward.
If you want to try it out, join a group in your area for a trial class. Direct experience will tell you more than any elaborate explanation of it. One class usually lasts around 90 minutes. First class is free – take a chance and start!
In most venues classes are paid monthly. There is no standard fee in all groups; call your local teacher to find out their fee. There is a discount rate for pupils, students, retired and unemployed persons. More members of the same family usually get significant discount.
Chan centar Hartovski vrh will open applications for the 6th generation of Zenyoga teacher’s school in the autumn of 2021. Projected beginning of this two year long program is in February 2022.
The school is registered with Yoga Alliance on the level RYS 500. The program consists of a total of 650 teaching hours, plus individual studies. Curriculum is by all standards quite demanding and it requires a serious commitment. So far 120 people have attended our school, and 50 people have completed it.
Entrance requirements are a minimum of 2 years regular practice and class attendance, and a keen interest in the deeper aspects of Zenyoga, established through the participation on workshops and certain activities in the Chan Center. There has to be a satisfactory level of posture performance, and last but not the least, enthusiasm for becoming a teacher and being actively involved in a noble practice of helping yourself and others. The program consists of six different fields of study: history and philosophy of yoga, Zenyoga principles and training, the nature of the body and the body – mind relationship, teaching methodology and professional development.
Our in-depth approach in the education of new teachers expresses our attitude of quality over quantity. Each one of the Zenyoga teachers who acquired a license has worked hard and invested a lot of effort and knowledge in it. We believe that it assures high quality instruction and guidance for those who want to practice Zenyoga, and allows students to progress safely.
For more details contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teachers and instructors in the Zenyoga Association are educated and qualified for the job, practicing yoga for a long time. Having experienced personal transformations through the practice, they are capable to transmit it to the others. Each teacher developed their own style of teaching grounded on the firm knowledge of the principles of Zenyoga; of postures, sequencing and alignment; of breathing and relaxation, of the human anatomy and the nature of mind.
Education of Zenyoga teachers starts with the two-year program of the Zenyoga teacher’s school, but it doesn’t end there. It is continued through special meetings, workshops and retreats. In Zenyoga, we believe that the teacher’s status in not acquired once and for all, but needs to be constantly refreshed with personal practice and through working with others. That is why we re-evaluate the list of licensed teachers every year.