Friday, 30 November 2018

Yoga for Life

When I began my yoga journey nearly 20 years ago, I was searching – searching for meaning and for that which is greater than our individual selves.  I read plenty of books on yoga and spirituality and I was naturally led to the practice of asana.  Over the years as a student and, more recently, as a teacher trainee, I have come to understand that yoga is a path that we embark on for life.  There are several ways that “life” is central to the yoga journey:

1. Prana – otherwise known as energy or life force – is an important part of the practice of yoga.  Moving the body into poses and focusing on the breath opens up blocked pathways so energy can flow freely.  Breath is life and bringing our attention to our breath allows us to feel this energy in the body and to be in the present moment, which is where life happens.

2. Quality of life – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  There are countless benefits of moving the body into yoga poses and using the breath to move energy – a key one is to deepen body awareness.  We spend so much time swept up in our thoughts and yoga helps us to move out of the mind and into the body.  Through asana, we also learn about our own bodies and where the habits, tightness or weakness and energy blocks exist.  We also increase our capacity for strength and flexibility and finding balance between the two.  In addition, asana practice is a form of moving meditation.  Training in noticing what the mind is doing and focusing on the present moment can improve mental and emotional health.  Further, yoga is a journey inward toward the wise Self.  Over time, we learn about our mental habits including reactivity and where we grip or resist. Opening ourselves to this awareness helps to cultivate the four limitless qualities – compassion, loving-kindness, equanimity and joy – for others and ourselves. 

3. Yoga over the life course – yoga is a path that can be enjoyed from early childhood to old age. Children love moving their bodies – I see the joy in my toddler’s face when she moves into a pose. Children and adolescents can benefit from increased body awareness (and acceptance) and cultivate mindfulness and self-regulation.  Throughout adulthood, we keep moving our bodies (and appreciating the benefit of props!), deepening our awareness and undoing the habits we have developed over the decades. It is never too late to start. In addition, yoga is beneficial through all phases of life.  I have personally found yoga to be very helpful through grief, pregnancy and other periods of transition.

4. Student for life – we are always a student of yoga on our journey – there is always more to learn!  As a new yoga teacher, I find my own practice is greatly enhanced by going through teacher training.  In addition, I take my experiences as a student into my role as a teacher and find that sharing my journey helps to connect with students as they travel their own path.

The Teacher Training Program at Yoga Centre Winnipeg is a wonderful way to prepare for teaching others yoga and to deepen your own practice.  As Jan said in class recently, rather than thinking of yoga as a practice, we do yoga and we live yoga. Yoga is for life.  

Brenda C.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

“Within the harmony of body and mind lies the secret of health.”

      “ Very  few people know what real health is because most are occupied with killing themselves slowly… the body must be an intimate relationship with the mind”     Albert  Szent –Gyogi.

“ Yoga for Health” – a book that caught my attention as I was walking around a bookstore back home 25 years ago. I kept that book  and always carry it with me wherever I go.

     Year 1997, I signed up for 10 classes of  Beginner level  when it was offered at my workplace. My experience was great and  I loved it since then. The  results were positive and noticeable physically, emotionally and mentally.

     It was an on and off relationship with my mat until the morning of 2013. I woke up realizing that my vision was impaired on my right eye. All that I could see was an intense white light, as if the sun was reflecting the snow falling from the sky. I was referred to an eye specialist immediately and was diagnosed with acute central serous retinopathy. There was a chance of retinal detachment which can cause blindness and surgery was a possibility. The cause is believed to be exacerbated by STRESS. His advice was to avoid stress. I almost laughed.  How did it happen? I thought I was doing well- regular exercise, hot yoga, work, family, chores, etc.. What did I miss?

     I started to attend yoga classes as often as I could. I was followed for a year and my vision started to get better, thank God. The scar is still there and there’s a chance of re occurrence especially in stressful situations.

     Year 2016, I registered for Teacher Training. My goal is mainly for health reasons.  I want to learn the techniques so I can impart them on to my children. Teacher Training definitely deepens my practice. I begin to understand that yoga is not just doing and perfecting those poses, it is an integration of mind and body.  I believe that giving our body at least a 15 minute break daily from everyday stressors will lower the risk of contracting a disease. Allowing our body to relax and rejuvenate regularly will keep our immune system strong. Being mindful of what and how we feed our body will make a significant effect on how we feel. Although our head is anatomically attached to our body, there are times that we lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling.  Being aware of how the body feels during yoga class as well as outside of the class is necessary to achieve a better understanding of ourselves. Paying more attention to our own thoughts and feelings will improve our wellbeing , mentally and physically.

     I am so thankful for this wonderful experience at the Yoga Centre Winnipeg Teacher Training Program. The encouragement, advice, and support that were given to us by our instructors at the Yoga Centre were amazing. The people I have met at the centre are all incredible and awesome.    
                                                               Marites L.
     “Within the harmony of body and mind lies the secret of health.”