Purna is a Sanskrit word meaning “complete.” Purna Yoga utilizes a wide variety of inspiring and effective techniques to address our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. Purna yoga is based primarily on the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and B.K.S. Iyengar. In addition it integrates the systems of Ayurvedic, Chinese and Western nutrition, as it emphasizes lifestyle & nutrition, applied philosophy, asana, pranayama & meditation. It was popularized by Aadil Palkhivala, Co-Director of the Alive and Shine Center in Bellevue, Washington and founder of The College of Purna Yoga, an internationally acclaimed, advanced teacher training program. Aadil began studying with Iyengar (who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1943 and the Nobel Prize in Peace in 1950) at the age of 7, and studied with Aurobindo at the age of 11.
First and foremost, Purna yoga is a safety and alignment-based yoga, that emphasizes developing a sense of balance and harmony.
Asana are the poses, or positions, used in yoga. There are three general types of asana: sustained, flowing, and therapeutic.
- In sustained asanas, practitioners discover refined movements and alignments and are able to open and channel their inner energy.
- Flowing asanas generate heat, flush out toxins, and develop external form and strength.
- Therapeutic asanas are those designed for individuals, each student receiving a unique practice. The normal rules may not apply; for example, knees may be kept bent, and movements may be done more slowly.
Pranayama is the formal practice of controlling the breath, and lies at the heart of yoga. It has the power to soothe and revitalize a tired body, a flagging spirit or a wild mind. The mind is calmed, rejuvenated and uplifted. Pranayama serves as an important bridge between the outward, active practices of yoga—like asana—and the internal practices that lead us into deeper states of meditation.
Purna yoga offers a unique form of guided meditation. It teaches students how to be still and quiet their mind. Meditation is the process by which we connect with the heart center (the psychic being) and receive guidance from within.
Ayurveda means the “science of life.” Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing that has its origins in the Vedic culture of India. We draw on the best of Ayurveda and modern medicine to support the health of the body beyond just the physical practice of asana. Providing guidelines on ideal daily and seasonal routines, diet and behavior, as well as the proper use of our senses, Ayurveda reminds us that health is the balanced and dynamic integration between our environment, body, mind and spirit.
Nutrition & Lifestyle
Nutrition is as important to the health and development of a student as asana. The general principals are the reduction (and possible elimination) of artificial chemicals, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and refined sugar, and the movement towards whole foods that are as natural and close to their virgin state as possible. There is no “perfect” diet, though, only the ideal food for an individual.
Aadil Palkivala speaking about nutrition at Yoga Journal Conference