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Yoga Creative Writing Contest

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Here are some of the great entries from our Yoga Creative Writing Contest. Thank you all for sharing with us how yoga has changed your life!

Amy P. “Yoga has improved my health, wellness and spirit. I cannot thank my teachers and friends for sharing their practices with me and guiding me to more spiritual and physical health. ”

Colleen H. “My yoga practice has given me a quiet place to be, both physically and mentally. It is a retreat for me, a time-out; it gives me a sense of calm. After my practice, I am refreshed and renewed.”

Jan P. “Mobility, flexibility and thankfulness are all words that pop up when I think of the benefits of yoga. Having practiced for many years, yoga has afforded me the opportunity to greet each day with a smile and a heart of gratitude for my physical well-being. I am grateful.”

Paula T. “It has taught me how to listen in to my breath for Peace, to sleep better, to gain balance and center myself as a mother, artist and wife.”

Ethel A. “I am now 72 years old. At age 25 I had two heart attacks, compliments of early birth control pills. This was a wake-up call to me, which led me on a quest for a healthy lifestyle. I was fortunate in the early 70’s to attend a hatha yoga seminar by Joel Kramer which totally convinced me that yoga was worthy of a lifetime of study and practice. It has kept me active and allowed me to introduce Yoga concepts to those around me; family, friends and neighbors.”

Heather B. “I was introduced to yoga by my sister in law. I suffer from terrible back pain as well as depression. Once I began taking classes at the sanctuary I noticed the aches and pains in my body went away, and I felt stronger. Due to my depression, I have a hard time enjoying things.   There was nothing that soothed my ever constant mind that would not shut off.   I found that yoga not only have me peace from my ever constant mind, but I enjoyed and looked forward to my next session. Due to my new work schedule I no longer am able to enjoy it like I used to and boy does my mind and body feel it! ”

Pauline K. “Yoga has improved my flexibility, balance and decreased my pain levels.   It has also provided me with a calmness that is most welcome in my life.”

Kimberly A. “One year ago, I had a ruptured brain aneurysm. I spent 10 days in the neuro unit at Jackson Memorial. When I came home from the hospital, I was so weak I could hardly get out of bed and suffered from chronic headaches. I began practicing yoga as part of my healing process. It has been an amazing experience that has helped me gain my life back. The mindfulness has helped ease the headaches along with many other benefits. I wish I could come to The Yoga Sanctuary every day!”

Hedda C. “How wonderful to look forward to an hour to yourself, as often as you like. Yoga continuously provides that opportunity while working on my physical needs. The guided poses and stretching never fail to rejuvenate my psyche and my body; I always feel better after a yoga session. The frosting on the cake is that I finally managed to get my husband interested in yoga and it is a wonderful way to spend time together and share a healthy interest. I have become an ambassador for the practice as has my spouse. ”

Mary B. “After a serious car accident, breaking the top of my tibia off, a knee replacement a year later and finishing my PT, I joined the yoga sanctuary. Working with Bonnie and the other instructors, learning the breath properly and going inside, slowly by slowly, I regained full range of motion. The patience and guidance of these teachers, made all the difference in the world. Thank you so.

Fran W. “It’s been at least 5 years since I took Bonnie’s Basic Yoga Class. She taught me to love Yoga. She also helped me to better like my body and what it does for me. The practice of Yoga is why I have become more flexible. I thank Bonnie and Jen often. I still practice yoga when I can. Yoga is amazing as are Bonnie and Jen. Thank you!”

Ranee T. “Yoga has given me the skills, tools, wellness and discipline to endure 12 years with a chronic and debilitating medical condition and life’s challenges prior to this event and subsequent life modifications. Today it gives me the strength and courage to pursue newly available treatment that will again change every aspect of my life ~ except my yoga practice, spirit and connection. Wishes for wellness for all ~Namaste.”

Martha F. “My Yoga Practice: Stretch and bow, twist and straighten, laugh with a teetering balance suddenly held true. Life’s petals open, quietly release aches and cricks and fear revealing my heart. I am home.”

Rich N. “Breathe, stretch, transform.”

Robin W. “I have learned peace after devastating loss. I have found body and mind strength,that I never knew I had. I have learned breathing practices that help keep my asthma under control. Yoga keeps my mind centered, and my body healthy. Thank you Yoga Sanctuary, for setting me on this path.”

Martha P. “Like a knot at the base of a willow tree…I was bound by stress and anxiety. Now I can feel the wind in the airy branches of life being unbound through yoga. And like that tree I continue to grow.

Don  W. “Looking for some balance, lazy Florida winter, following the breath.”

 

Yogi of the Month—Linda Hissam

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I am a teacher. In May, I will retire after nearly 55 years of teaching secondary and college German classes. I have two sons who were married this past year and now have two granddaughters. I am divorced, but have been in a committed relationship for the last eight years.

I started yoga two years ago at the Yoga Sanctuary. My California son was an enthusiastic practitioner and he encouraged me to enroll in the introductory class at The Yoga Sanctuary because I had been struggling with rheumatoid arthritis. I attempt to attend a class each weekday at the studio, and when I don’t make it, I do some things at home. I am guided mostly by the time of day the class is offered. I prefer the early morning classes and vacillate between Gentle and Yoga I.

Before I began practicing yoga I realized that I was becoming less flexible and active. After two years of practice my arthritis is not as much of an issue. I was able to stop arthritis meds and was told by my rheumatologist recently that I don’t need to return for periodic check-ups as long as my health remains as it currently is. Perhaps the biggest surprise benefit of my practice was gaining an awareness of the physical body. I never really took the time to listen to what it was telling me. I enjoy the quiet peacefulness and the focus on me.

I still find some parts of the practice challenging. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do Tree pose without losing my balance. I dread it when a teacher says that we are going to do that pose, yet I know that I need the practice in order to gain better balance. I tell myself that there are other poses that were once challenging and that now I have come to enjoy—for instance the Downward Facing Dog pose. I find it amazing that my arms struggle to maintain my weight in that pose at the beginning of practice, but by the end of a session I feel like I am floating above my arms. I would have thought that fatigue would set in later in the practice, but I have the opposite experience.

I keep coming back to yoga because of the knowledgeable and helpful instructors, of course. But what really motivates me is the accomplishment of other students—I look around at them and say to myself, “I want some of that.”

Outside of yoga, my favorite pastimes are travel and reading.

My favorite pose is during warm up. I love the Cat/Cow stretching. I can almost hear the unkinking of my spine as it I become unglued.

My favorite quote is a motto that I’ve always subscribed to: “You can do anything that you set your mind to doing.”

Staff Spotlight—Annie Moore

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I came to yoga in a way that is not usual for me—little by little, one piece at a time. Usually, I hit things full force, but with yoga it was a much slower process in the beginning. My first experience with yoga was attending classes with a friend of mine in a large room in a scientific warehouse. My friend and I liked the class, but we didn’t stick with it. We were power-walkers at the time, walking up the mountains of Charleston, West Virginia at break-neck speed. 

I then bought a yoga DVD called “The Firm.” This was so appropriate as I was still a busy practicing attorney. I remember the DVD as being very challenging, which I liked, but to me it was still just exercise.

Then in the middle of a very stressful, life-changing year, I booked myself a retreat in Grass Valley, California at an Ashram. There, I was introduced to the book “Autobiography of a Yogi,” by Paramahansa Yogananda. I began to meditate a little and it seemed to have some impact on my stress. A few months later, I came to my first studio yoga class. It was an Ashtanga class! Little did I know that yoga did not have to be as hard as Ashtanga. My experience with “The Firm” and Ashtanga led me to believe that yoga was a kick-butt kind of exercise, with a calming mental side to it (at least in Savasana).

Now I was hooked. I think I needed all the physicality of Ashtanga because my mind was so fast-moving and cluttered, that the thought of sitting still without first wearing myself out seemed an impossible one. I loved my first teacher, Jeff, who was very kind and more than a little goofy. Jeff was a follower of Swami Vidyadhishananda and so I attended a four day silent retreat led by the Swami at the Hari Krishna Temple in West Virginia. That was the beginning of my quest for more—more spirituality in my yoga, more variety in my yoga (slow as well as vigorous yoga), and more time and energy devoted to my yoga.

Since then I have taken five teacher trainings (200 hour, Yin, Ashtanga, 500 hour, and Pranayama) and have retreated with Yogananda’s disciple, Roy Eugene Davis. I have even started my own type of yoga, wherein I combine the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous with the 8 Limbs of Yoga. It is not a type of asana (posture) class, but more a philosophy/meditation experience. I am writing a book entitled “12 Steps on the 8-Fold Path.” I feel so blessed to have been given the gift of love of yoga. I want to share it with the world!

 

Ashtanga Yoga

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Ashtanga Yoga is a form of Hatha Yoga developed by the late Sri K. Patabbhi Jois in conjunction with his teacher Sri T. Krishnamacharya, the father of Western yoga. The practice is said to be adapted from the 8-limbed Ashtanga yoga system outlined in Yoga Korunta, an ancient yoga text by Vamana Rishi. Pattabhi Jois began studying yoga at the age of 12 and went on to be a great Sanskrit scholar devoted to the practice and teaching of yoga. Today the practice is carried on by Jois’ grandson Sharat and his daughter Saraswati in India, and by his son Manju in California.

The Ashtanga asana practice is centered around vinyasa—the link between breath and movement. Every movement in the practice corresponds to a specific breath. Every pose is linked to the next by a flowing, cohesive breath and movement practice. The vinyasa is designed to heat the body for detoxification via sweat.

Ashtanga yoga utilizes the Trishtana Method—focus of attention or action on three main places: pose (asana), breathing (pranayama), and gaze (dristhi). Asanas purify, strengthen, and give flexibility to the body. Breathing must be steady, with an even inhalation and exhalation, and performed using correct energetic locks (bandhas). And by fixing the gazing point, the mind is stabilized and becomes less distracted.

The practice begins with the primary series—a set sequences of postures, each building on the previous toward the next. Although there are six series in total, most people find the primary and intermediate series challenging enough for a lifetime of practice. The exacting Tristhana Method of the Ashtanga practice creates a reliable container in which the practitioner can surrender. Once the practice is memorized, the mind calms and can more easily go inward. The practice is designed for that

According to the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore, India, “When yoga practice is sustained with great diligence and dedication over a long period of time, the heat generated from it burns away these poisons [desire, anger, delusion, greed, envy, and sloth], and the light of our inner nature shines forth.”