Dharma Yoga is a fluid yet demanding style, created by the school of Sri Dharma Mittra, which is based on the traditional yoga practice of this master with more than 50 years of experience and who continues to share the practice at his center in New York.
The foundations of this practice are the Yamas and Niyamas, especially Ahimsa (compassion towards all beings, avoid creating neither physical violence, nor verbal or mental), as the root of everything else, and its meaning is highly devotional (devotion to that which is supreme in ourselves).
It promotes a meditative and spiritual practice, even and especially in the practice of asanas, because they are approached as an offering. Sri Dharma Mitrra always highlights the ultimate purpose of yoga as the goal of his practice: the supreme self-realization of the Self or the supreme self-knowledge. As the Dharma Yoga Center website says, Dharma Yoga incorporates “the nine forms of yoga, including Hatha, Raja, Karma, Kriya, Bhakti, Japa, Laya and Jnana”, although in essence it is a classic Hatha Raja practice. “A devotional practice that focuses on good health, a clear mind and a kind heart.”
Dharma Yoga allows the student to progress through four sequences of movements that are linked to each other. It also has a very high degree of freedom on the part of the teacher, who ends up constructing the practice based on the collective energy that is breathed at every moment in the room.
Sri Dharma Mittra always talks about the six mother postures of yoga, which are the foundations on which the balanced practice of Hatha Yoga is based, asanas that you will find with different variants in all the Dharma classes: Padmasana, Paschimotanasana, Bhujangasana, Sirsasana, Sarvangasana and Ardha Matsyendrasana.
A practice of Dharma Yoga is also usually identified by the Shiva Namaskara opening sequence and because inverted postures or headstands are done half way in the practice. Backbending and chest opening asanas are predominant in the practice.
It provides many benefits on a physical level and also helps to control thoughts and increase concentration. In fact, when moving into the postures one thinks more about offering the practice towards the absolute, like a prayer in movement, which is why it is considered one of the most devotional styles. The heart opening asanas also serve to unblock emotions and feelings that are locked inside.