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Learn from the amazing Yoga Synergy Training in Australia

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I participated in a one-week yoga retreat in Byron Bay, Australia, led by Simon from Yoga Synergy in October 2023.

Although I had only experienced Yoga Synergy through online classes and had limited understanding, the retreat with Simon turned out to be a week of impactful experiences and learning.

Every day was filled with shocking moments, prompting me to reconsider my approach to yoga and my perception of this world.

 I felt the need to change how I engage with yoga and perceive this world. Eager to preserve the fantastic learnings and experiences from this Yoga Synergy retreat, I decided to record them on Note.

①What is Yoga Synergy?

Firstly, let me introduce what Yoga Synergy is.

Yoga Synergy is a new generation flow-style yoga that incorporates elements of traditional yoga, qigong, functional anatomy, and physiology. 

Developed by Simon and Bianca, both physiotherapists with over 40 years of yoga experience in Australia, it focuses on thoughtful movements that are gentle on the joints, promoting safe and comfortable execution of asanas.

Through techniques such as asanas, movement, bandhas, mudras, and pranayama (breathing exercises), it cultivates posture-supporting muscles and inner muscles, leading to a resilient body resistant to everyday fatigue. Additionally, it contributes to the stability of the autonomic nervous system, enhanced immune function, and hormonal balance essential for a healthy mind. 

The class involves forming a circle around the teacher, flowing through a sequence with music.

Source: https://www.kotakawasakiyoga.com/yoga-synergy

Kota, well-known for Yoga Synergy in Japan, has also written about it on his blog. 

My impression of Yoga Synergy includes a blend of traditional yoga teachings from India, Eastern medical concepts like Chinese Qi (energy), and Western medical insights from physiotherapists.

What astonished me the most was the sensation of warmth between my hands during a pose where I brought my palms closer together. When I asked Simon about it, he explained, “That’s energy . Having never experienced energy  before, I was deeply shocked the first time I felt it.

 As I continued practicing Yoga Synergy daily, I noticed that the quantity and quality of energy I felt varied based on my mood and concentration level each day, making it a fascinating experience.

I also learned that many people in Australia who practice yoga end up with injuries.

 It reminded me of the atmosphere at Naoya Nakamura’s Asana School in Japan, where people come to learn yoga from Simon despite the risk of injury.

②Learning Notes from Yoga Synergy Retreat

There was a wealth of learning during the Yoga Synergy retreat, and I’ll summarize the key takeaways in bullet points.

1:Continuous Energy Flow without Stopping Movement is Vital

Simon emphasized the importance of creating a continuous flow of energy without stopping movement in yoga. 

This was a stark contrast to my usual practice, where I tend to hold traditional yoga poses for around three minutes. 

In Yoga Synergy, stopping a pose interrupts the flow of energy, so it is crucial to keep moving. 

This applies not only to asanas but also to pranayama (breathing exercises) and dhyana (meditation), where the image of continuous energy flow without interruption is essential.
Experiencing it firsthand, I realized that energy does indeed stop when movement ceases. 

While I appreciate the traditional yoga style of holding poses and observing the body and mind’s state, I now aim to incorporate the best of both worlds. I’ll maintain the appearance of stillness but keep the energy flowing within.

2:About Energy

As mentioned earlier, the most shocking aspect of Simon’s Yoga Synergy class was the ability to feel energy .

 When bringing my hands together, I sensed something warm, which I hadn’t experienced before. When asking what constitutes energy, Simon explained that sensations vary among individuals, including warmth, electric-like feelings, coldness, itching, etc. He emphasized that it’s not about the size or strength of the energy but idealizing a calm and peaceful energy. 

Importantly, one should not become attached to the energy but instead appreciate and nurture it without adding comments or analysis.

3:Maintaining a Flat Back and Relaxed Abdomen at All Times

Simon emphasized the importance of envisioning a flat spine rather than the S-curve during various asanas and meditation. 

This was a significant departure from my physiotherapy-influenced understanding of maintaining proper posture. Simon prioritizes the flow of energy in the spine and keeping the abdomen relaxed, considering the hara area as the source of energy generation.
In classes with a diverse range of participants, Simon mentioned tailoring the class to the lowest level. While avoiding forcing an S-curve in the back due to potential discomfort, he stressed the importance of keeping the spine flat and feeling an elongation in the body.

4:Minimal Verbal Instructions in Yoga Teaching

Simon, aware that our group wasn’t fluent in English, conducted most of the class guidance using non-verbal cues like clicking sounds and pointing. 

He consciously limits verbal instructions to prevent the language center of students’ brains from hindering deep concentration. While clarity in communication is essential, striking a balance is crucial. Simon suggested that eventually, practicing without overthinking becomes crucial.

5:Relaxation’s Significance in Yoga and Athletes

Simon stressed the importance of starting the retreat with a relaxed mindset. In a world where people often experience excessive tension, he encouraged adopting a more relaxed approach, similar to top athletes at the Olympics. 

According to Simon, elite athletes are about 90% relaxed during their play. Initially, this seemed excessive to me, but as someone who easily becomes tense, I found this level of awareness appropriate.

6:Handling Thoughts During Yoga

Simon provided techniques for dealing with intrusive thoughts during yoga. Two main approaches were highlighted:

Directing Attention with Subtle Body Movements

 Focusing on subtle body movements while ensuring relaxation helps diminish thought processes. Bringing delicate attention to the body helps halt thoughts, reducing mental chatter.

Powerful and Forceful Movements:

Engaging in powerful movements intentionally curbs thought processes.

However, caution is advised not to overdo it, as excessive force may harm the body. Increasing breath volume is another method. 

It enhances blood flow, reduces blood flow to the brain, and suppresses thoughts. 

Like forceful movements, this approach should be used judiciously to prevent potential damage to the brain.

③Key Learnings from Yoga Synergy Retreat: Especially Important Insights

1:The Five Key Aspects Emphasized by Simon in Yoga Synergy

Simon places particular importance on five aspects in Yoga Synergy:

Mind Synergy 

 Recognizing the crucial connection between the gut and the brain, Simon emphasizes the importance of keeping the abdomen soft. 

A supple abdomen leads to a flexible mind, creating a calm mental state. He compares it to maintaining a soft belly like a baby.

Joint Synergy 

Simon values curved movements over straight lines, as they are more energy-efficient and avoid killing energy.

 To demonstrate, after a regular class, Simon had us feel the energy between our hands and then do ten push-ups (a linear and tense movement).

Upon reassessing the energy, it had disappeared, emphasizing the impact of linear movements on energy flow.

Spine Synergy

Recognizing the spine as a pathway for chakras and energy flow, Simon advocates for a straight and flexible spine.

 Pain interrupts energy flow, so maintaining a pain-free posture is crucial.

④Breath Synergy

Simon’s approach to breathing in Yoga Synergy is based on the idea that efficient body movements reduce unnecessary breath volume.

Unlike the common emphasis on deep breaths in traditional yoga, Simon believes that the ideal form is achieved when yoga practice naturally decreases excess breath volume.

He checks breath patterns during Shavasana and interprets different patterns in terms of ideal states.

Core Synergy 

The core, analogous to the Japanese concept of the hara, is considered the source of energy. 

Simon emphasizes moving from the core, using five patterns: up-down, left-right, forward-backward, rotation, and expansion-contraction. 

This approach connects the mind synergy and helps activate the mind’s workings.

Simon highlights that envisioning these five synergies simultaneously, rather than as separate entities, is the ideal approach.

2:Checkpoints in Yoga Synergy Classes

Throughout the class and at its conclusion, Simon focuses on specific checkpoints.

Regularly, he checks hands, shoulders, abdomen, throat, and face to ensure students are relaxed and in a peaceful state. Particularly during challenging asanas, he pays attention to signs of tension as excessive tension disrupts the flow of energy.

After a Yoga Synergy class, Simon checks for:

Sensation of Warmth: Ensuring a comfortable warmth without excessive sweating.

Increased Range of Motion: Verifying a broader range of motion without forceful stretching.

Sense of Strength: Confirming a strength that doesn’t come from muscle exertion or excessive tension.

④Calm Breathing: Ensuring a settled breath pattern, indicating improved energy efficiency.

Heightened Sensory Awareness: Ensuring a focus on bodily sensations rather than thoughts, making one more attuned to energy.

3:Direction of Yoga Synergy

Simon envisions the goal of Yoga Synergy as achieving a state of Samadhi (enlightenment), where one connects with people, nature, and the universe. Acting with love for others is considered crucial. 

The focus is on enhancing personal energy, creating positive energy, and sharing that energy with others. This interconnectedness leads to collective happiness.

Closing Thoughts

Yoga Synergy, as taught by Simon, combines the wisdom of traditional Indian yoga, Eastern energy concepts , and evidence-based knowledge from physiotherapy. 

The blend of tradition and innovation is a defining characteristic. Simon’s warm and loving personality adds to the charm of Yoga Synergy, making it a truly inspiring practice.

Personally, I feel a deep respect for Simon, and I look forward to continuing my journey with Yoga Synergy.