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Open your heart and enrich your life with dru yoga, which activates the anahata, or heart chakra.

Dru yoga is about classical yoga postures (asanas), pranayama (science of breath), mudras (hand gestures), affirmations, visualisations, and soft flowing sequences that use heart power to engage and heal. Trish Brown, co-director of Dru Australia, says, “Dru has a heart-centred approach that brings people to stillness. The movements and mind/body associations open you up to feelings of compassion and deep peace.”

Dru is derived from the Sanskrit word dhruvam which signifies the north star, a point in the sky that is constant. “It refers to the warm, deep stillness that can be experienced in dru yoga and meditation. It implies the still point within, around which all else revolves. In this stillness we can sit back from everything happening around us, and see and act from a point of clarity and inner calm,” explains Brown.

Dru yoga was first taught in the West by Mansukh Patel and a group of complementary therapists, in the late 1970s at Bangor University in Wales. They were trained in dru yoga by Patel’s parents, who were followers of Gandhi and his beliefs of compassion and non-violence. The Bhagavad Gita was a key element in their teachings, which dru yoga uses as a source book for philosophy and meditation. Dru yoga is now taught in Europe, Asia, North America and Australia, which boasts over 215 registered practitioners. Dru yoga has also been used as a de-traumatisation technique in war-torn areas and with refugees.

Stepped stages

There are nine main stages to dru yoga:
1. Activations: A warm up of joints and muscles that enhances circulation, releases tension in the body, mind and emotions, and increases body awareness.
2. Energy Block Release sequences: Unique flowing sequences that release energy blocks on all levels.
3. Postures: Traditional asanas, often done therapeutically in a flowing style.
4. Sequences: Various flowing sequences designed to take people into new states of consciousness, often with a deep connection to nature.
5. Deep relaxations: The essential end to any dru class, the aim being to bring people to peace and stillness. Relaxation allows greater effects of yoga to unfold.
6. Pranayama: Breath-work, optimising the breath and controlling the flow of prana (energy) through the body.
7. Mudras: Yogic hand and body gestures which direct energy through the body in a specific way.
8. Dharanam (visualisation): Concentration and mind-focusing techniques.
9. Meditation: To still the mind.

One of the hallmarks of dru yoga is point 3, the Energy Block Release sequences. “The concept of ‘energy’ and its application forms one of the pillars of dru yoga,” explains Brown. “Energy flows freely through the body when our lives are harmonious, but may become blocked when the spine and joints are locked. If unattended, the blockage can go deeper, from the joints into the muscles and eventually the organs, causing dis-ease” Energy Block Release sequences are specific sets of movements using breath, movement, hand gestures and visualisation, and have the effect of clearing blockages at the physical and mental level as well as subtle emotional levels. They are the key to allowing the body, mind and soul to experience a sense of peace and calm.”

Another signature of the dru style is the way you flow into and out of the asanas. “Each posture and movement comes from somewhere and goes somewhere – the journey is just as important as the destination,” says Brown. “Each posture has different powerful physical, emotional and energetic effects, and teachers consciously choose particular postures to work therapeutically with an individual or a group.” The mudras are also important to dru yoga. “Mudras create subtle changes within our being and cultivate specific thought patterns or attitudes,” says Brown. “In dru, the ability to perfect a posture or a mudra is not all-important, but the sequence which directs the flow of energy is. Each sequence has a strong focus on alleviating pain and changing old habits.”

How is dru different?

Subtle differences between dru and other forms of yoga include:
* Joints stay relaxed and soft during movements. This creates flexibility and a free flow of subtle energy.
* Energy Block Release sequences, unique to dru, release physical, mental and emotional tension.
* The spine is viewed as a dynamic and vital part of all movements - a flexible, healthy spine supports students’ entire yoga practice. The spinal wave and spinal twist are core features of dru, enhancing spinal health and vitality.
* A deep understanding 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.
* It works on a very deep level with the koshas (layers of awareness). An effective use of the koshas empowers one’s experience of yoga in a profound way.
* Within the flow of movement, dru yoga creates powerful moments of stillness called ‘dru points’.

What is dru good for?

Research shows that dru yoga is particularly effective for improving:
* core stability
* flexibility and strength
* mood and emotion swings
* resilience to stress
* anxiety and fatigue
* back pain
* spinal flexibility
* energy levels
* breathing patterns
* self-confidence and self-empowerment

Dru yoga teacher Amy Jo Barber sums up: “After working long hours in the creative arts industry, a severe case of RSI sent me in search of a career change. Dru yoga teaching not only gave me a new direction in life but eased the pain and anxiety of my condition. Dru yoga has empowered me to live my life to the fullest.”

Need more info?

Trish Brown, co-director and senior tutor of Dru Australia Limited, www.dru.com.au
Amy Jo Barber, dru yoga teacher, http://www.inspiredbyyoga.com.au/