Practicing from the inside: Vijnana Yoga

by Shirley Woods, 25-Aug-2016

Practicing from the inside: Vijnana Yoga 

We asked expert Shirley Woods to explain a bit more about the principles of vijnana yoga. What is it exactly, how does practicing from the inside work?

Vijnana Yoga is based in the traditions of yoga, The practice includes Just Sitting (meditation), Pranayama (and vayu and kriyas), Asana and study of traditional text.  

Flow is an important, integral part of our practice, as is technique of alignment.  The principles guide the practice and vayus align posture pranically.  Movement is from the center which encourages balance and well-being, diminishes tension.   We move with the whole body, connected and relaxed. There are several series according to the day of the week.  This gives structure to practice and ensures variety as well as repetition.  There is the flexibility to create a more vigorous practice or more gentle according to one's needs.

Based on "practicing from inside", each student creates their own form, according to their perception, sensation and personal needs.  The practice is both gentle and powerful.

We study the traditional yogic texts to help us give meaning to, to inspire and deepen our practice.

From the Taittiriya Upanisad we have the description of the panca maya kosa - the five levels or layers of the person.  They are Anamaya, Pranamaya, Manomaya, Vijnanamaya and Anandamaya.

Anamaya kosa is the layer of the physical, the body.  Pranamaya kosa is the layer of prana, energy, breath or life breath.  It animates the physical.  Manomaya is the layer of the mind - where we use words and thinking.  Vijnanamaya kosa is the layer of understanding, perception.  It is as if beyond or behind or inside the mind. It witnesses without intent or desire.  Ananda means joy.  

In the practice of yoga, we wish to access all of these layers.  Each kosa is important to be actualized.  

Vijnana Yoga permeates our whole life.  Every day we go on and off the mat. From "daily life" to "daily practice" and back again. Although Vijnana Yoga is a complete practice in itself, many aspects of it can be integrated in other forms of practice.

Vijnana Yoga "practicing from inside" comes from the dedicated practice and study of Orit Sen-Gupta, who is based in Jerusalem. 


Join Shirley Woods in the elective ‘Yogic Philosophy & Practice: Patanjali (50 Hours)' and learn more about Vijnana yoga.


"If you like to understand the yoga sutra's, the yoga philosophy, Shirley is the perfect teacher. She has a lot of knowledge, explains it very well and with so much joy.  Now I’m really able to translate it into my life!" 
​- Tieneke, Yoga & Philosophy participant

This training is really revealing for body, soul and mind. If you think you know how to move in and through the asanas, after this course you really know. Shirley explains how you can move yourself, by only using your breath and your attention on a certain body part (which is Vijnana yoga). I loved the mix of studying the yoga sutra's, practicing 'just being', pranayama and asana practice. I learned to connect with my body on a deeper level and I learned more about the wisdom of life. Very interesting!
- Dolores, Yoga & Philosophy participant 

About Shirley Woods

Shirley bestudeert en beoefent Yoga in haar studio Innerspace in Amsterdam, waar ze ook les geeft.