The style of yoga that I teach is called Dru Yoga, a gentle, flowing style of yoga with the power to positively transform body, mind and emotions. These are powerful claims, but I do not make them lightly. Whilst yoga had been part of my life for many years, it wasn’t until I started a 4-year part-time diploma course in Dru Yoga in 2002 that I discovered a valuable tool-kit for life’s challenges. I had found “my thing”… “come home”, so to speak. I passionately believe in Dru Yoga’s therapeutic benefits and, since I qualified as a Dru Yoga teacher in 2006, I have enjoyed sharing them with others and being part of the Dru Yoga “family”.
So, what is Dru Yoga?
Dru Yoga is a graceful and potent form of yoga, based on flowing movements, directed breathing and visualisation. With its foundations set firmly in ancient yogic tradition, Dru works on body, mind and spirit, improving strength and flexibility, creating core stability, building a heightened feeling of positivity, and deeply relaxing and rejuvenating your whole being.
Designed to be practised by people of all abilities, all fitness levels and all age groups, Dru is a style of yoga that can be quickly dipped into or learnt in more depth over a lifetime.
Dru Yoga has its roots in hatha yoga, and includes classical yoga postures (asanas), pranayama (the science of breath), mudras (hand gestures), positive affirmations, empowering visualisations and powerful sequences performed in a flowing and dynamic style. Dru Yoga classes are tailored to the level of the individuals within the class and usually contain Energy Block Release Sequences (EBRs), graceful flowing yoga sequences, pranayama, relaxation and Dru Meditation.
What is unique about Dru Yoga?
- Joints are kept relaxed and soft during movement (as in Tai Chi). This creates flexibility and a free flow of subtle energy.
- Energy Block Release sequences are easy-to-practise, flowing movements that help to release tension physically, mentally and emotionally.
- In Dru Yoga all movements originate from the spine because a flexible, healthy spine supports your entire yoga practice.
- The spinal wave and spinal twist are core features of Dru, enhancing spinal health and vitality.
- A deep undertanding of core stability is a major focus.
- Dru Yoga works to balance the chakras (energy centres of the body) and access the powerful energy of the heart.
- Within the flow of movement, Dru Yoga creates powerful moments of stillness which we call ‘Dru points’.
What does ‘Dru’ Mean?
Dru comes from the Sanskrit word dhruva, which refers to the stillness that can be experienced in Dru Yoga and Dru Meditation. In this stillness we are able to sit back from anything that may be happening around us, and see and act from a point of clarity and inner calm.
What to Expect in a Dru Yoga Class
Your class will be a combination of five therapeutic techniques:
- Gentle movements
- Hand gestures (mudras)
- Sound (mantras) and affirmations
- Breathing (prana)
A feature of Dru yoga is its emphasis on a soft gentle approach to the physical movements. They are performed slowly and with awareness, often with many repetitions of each movement. At first it may appear that you are not working your body deeply enough to impact on your physical health, especially if you are familiar with more dynamic exercise programmes. With experience however you will come to know you are working the body at deeper levels. As we soften and enter a deeper awareness we find strength, both of mind and body, which we may not have previously believed possible.
These gentle movements are specifically designed to stretch and detoxify stressed muscles and organs, realign the skeletal system, relax the nervous system, boost the immune system, replenish vitality and assist efficient energy management.
Hand gestures (mudras)
These gestures act on the body’s subtle energy systems to recreate a balance of energies, hormones and nerve impulses. Hand holds have been used in the Indian subcontinent for centuries to transform the hormonal changes that produce emotions.
This skill develops mind strength and allows us to use the power of the mind to direct energy towards healing and regenerating and replacing old, unwanted thought patterns.
Many people today believe that our children are in danger of losing this skill of visualisation – instead of reading books and having to ‘imagine’ the characters and story line or playing ‘make believe’ with friends, many children prefer to watch dvd’s or television where the visual image is provided to us directly so as we no longer need to use our imagination to ‘see’ the ideas. As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” Maintaining our ability to visualise is an important life skill.
Affirmations and sound
Are keys to transforming the way we feel, by altering the way we think. The sounds we make and the words we speak to ourselves and others, powerfully affect the way we feel on every level and the way our relationships develop. In Dru yoga we utilise the power of positive language and healing sounds to bring about healing at all levels.
Many of us spend hours hunched over a computer or desk, constricting our chest and heart area and restricting our breathing. Life it is said, happens between breaths and if we are only half breathing then we’re probably only half living. When we learn to breath consciously we calm the emotions and energize the mind. Conscious breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system which in turn reduces stress and anxiety and creates a sense of calmness and control.
The Six Stages of a Dru Yoga Class
Your Dru Yoga class will typically following these five stages.
- Energy Block Release
- Flowing Sequences
The first stage of activation has five main benefits:
- stimulation of the energy pathways or nadis – many of which are specifically connected with organs in the body, while others are related to functions and systems of the body. Activation improves and regulates the energy flow within the whole body
- if you have been more mentally than physically active through the day activations help you to re-connect with your body
- loosens and warms up the body –particularly important before stretching because soft tissues relax and stretch more easily when they are warm
- helps access our vital energy or prana which may be lying dormant in our organs, soft tissues and joints
- fun and easy ways to awaken the whole energy system prior to energy block release sequences
2. Energy Block Release Sequences
EBR’s are unique to Dru Yoga and are designed to assist us release any ‘negative’ emotional energy or thought patterns, which if not released may move inwards to the vital organs causing dis- ease. For example if someone is angry with us the energy of their anger not only finds a niche in our minds but may also percolate to how we feel physically and emotionally. This ‘negative’ energy may lodge in our joint, causing stiffness and aching (he/she’s giving me a pain in the neck). From the joints, if the energy is not released from our body it will transfer to the muscles and from there to the internal organs. Once this happens the energy block becomes deep seated and if it continues over a long period of time it creates dis – ease. The gentle movements of EBR’s work with the joints and muscles releasing energy and allowing it to flow back out to the external world.
EBR’s when practiced over time also help soften the ‘emotional and energy’ body so as we become less rigid in our thoughts and actions. Any impenetrable barriers and defences which may in the past have limited our ability to give and receive love and joy soften and are melted away. We begin to ‘feel’ again.
EBR’s initially release energy at a physical level and then gradually at deeper levels. When we add visualization and affirmations as well the whole process is accelerated.
EBR’s allow us to detoxify from the inside out and at every level of our being.
3. Movement Sequences
Sequences are one of the hallmarks of Dru Yoga. They are beneficial in many ways, because anyone can do them and partly because they focus on building and directing energy flow. Each sequence has a powerful focus aimed at helping to alleviate physical conditions and to change old habit patterns – (those unhealthy mind-sets we tend to hold on to and act out every day).
While each sequence has a specific health focus, all sequences help to relate to the constant flow of life. Nothing in nature exists in a state of rigidity, everything is in a state of flux, and yet habitually most of us resist change rather than embrace it as a source of new opportunity. These sequences allow us to tune into this aspect of our mind and in particular give us tools to change long-standing mind-sets, which hold us back from experiencing our full potential.
Many people experience less resistance to gentle flowing sequences than to stronger more demanding postures. Sequences of movements practiced in synchrony with the breath and with special emphasis on softness of the joints, directs our body’s own natural healing and empowering responses to where they are needed.
Dru yoga sequences are like a ‘lifestyle counter posture’ – the more we are able to relax and find inner quite, the more we can counteract the demands of constantly busy and challenging lifestyles.
4. Therapeutic Posture Work
Dru yoga incorporates many of the traditional Hatha yoga postures but presents them in stages and with modifications so that they are achievable by everyone. A feeling of fulfillment and success can be experienced by everyone, regardless of your level of flexibility or physical ability.
5. The Art of Deep Relaxation
In Dru Yoga, relaxation sessions are given plenty of time in order to allow the energy that has been activated to settle in the right way and place, so that maximum healing takes place. We know the body is designed to heal and repair itself given the right conditions. This time of relaxation is the perfect opportunity.
Your Dru yoga class may end with a short meditation. The heightened awareness and clarity gained from meditation allows you to unfold your personal power. You may have noticed that often when you sit for meditation, your mind and body is too unsettled. After practising the first six steps of Dru yoga you will find meditation so much easier and effortless, because we have cleared away all those internal agitations and discomforts.
Experience Dru Yoga for Yourself
I would love you to experience the magic of a Dru Yoga class for yourself. Unfortunately there are very few videos of full-length Dru Yoga classes available on YouTube, but this is one of my favourites. It should give you an idea of Dru Yoga’s unique style.
If you enjoyed that class and would like to practice Dru Yoga at home, then there are a couple of DVDs that I can wholeheartedly recommend. The first DVD, Total Body Workout, takes you through a 1-hour Dru Yoga class designed to regulate your metabolism, give you an aerobic workout, clear your stress and create deep relaxation. The second DVD is called Feel Great Look Radiant. It includes two Dru Yoga classes – one 48-minute class to cleanse your body from the inside out and one 27-minute class to create a feeling of high vitality and immunity. Both DVDs are truly excellent.