love doing yoga and sharing it!
Yoga and belly dance are
great compliments for each other: Both use movements anyone can do (sometimes
with modifications) to strengthen the body while also deepening the
spirit. The posture is very similar in both, and this concentration
on good posture allows energy channels to open and flow within the body.
While not quite a panacea,
practicing yoga can provide great benefits to your body, mind and spirit,
regardless of your size or level of experience.
More than just practicing
postures, it can open you up to a more fit physical body, a more open
and flexible mind, and, by practicing Pranayama and Meditation, quench
your spirit and give you so much energy and enthusiasm for living.
If you’re interested
in consultations or private lessons, please contact
The Yoga Process
Below is a brief synopsis
of the Eight Limbs of yoga, written for the yoga teacher training program
I did a few years ago. The Eight Limbs are the traditional way that
yoga is taught, beginning with the most outward part of the self: Our
interactions and relationships with others. You might be surprised to
learn that Asana practice, that which is generally referred to as “Yoga”
in the west, the third Limb, not the first!
Thankfully, at least from
my experience, you will benefit from any of these practices, regardless
of where you start (although I’m sure some purists would shutter
to read this). Still, I feel it’s best to practice them all, and
in the order given.
At a minimum, this is
good food for self-reflection:
- The Yamas
(self-restraints on behavior):
a. Ahimsa – “harmlessness”: nonviolence,
compassion. This includes having compassion for oneself.
b. Satya – “truthfulness”: living
your truth in congruity with the 8 Limbs. Learning to listen to your
c. Asteya – “nonstealing”: not
appropriating the material, time or wishes of others, without their
d. Brahmacharya – “self-restraint”,
“right use of vital force”. This Yama has historically
been translated as “sexual restraint” or “abstinence”.
This could also be translated as “seeing the divine in everything”,
and therefore not exerting manipulative behavior over people and things.
Manipulative behavior can take the form of sexual manipulation; social
expectations; peer- pressure; power-pressure – taking advantage
of those less fortunate; etc. (With thanks to yogini Julianne Rice
for this definition.)
e. Aparigraha – “not hoarding or collecting”,
non-attachment. The realization that change is the only constant in
the universe. In accepting this, we can let go of the obsolete physical,
emotional, mental and spiritual items in our life, and make room for
a. Saucha – purity, cleanliness. Respecting
yourself and personal surroundings.
b. Santosa – contentment. Being satisfied with
what you have.
c. Tapas – self-discipline, purification. Burning
away doubt, laziness, etc.
d. Svadhyaya – self-study. Observing and being
honest with yourself. self-improvement.
e. Isvara Pranidhana - surrender of separation, surrender
to the divine.
- Hatha Yoga
- Physical poses or asanas, which tone and strengthen the body and
therefore strengthen our connection and deepen our understanding of
- Breath/Vital Force Control, which increases our conscious use of
Prana (the vital energy of the universe)
- Removing one’s consciousness from the sensate world; taking
refuge in the self
– Concentration on one point; one-pointed awareness of an object
outside of the self
– furthering Dharana: awareness of the relationship/connection
between the object and self
–furthering Dhyana: No difference between self/Object. Union.
The synopsis above is
merely a drop in the bucket. I am always happy to learn more, and teach,
about anything related to yoga.
Some good websites for
you to explore:
- my favorite yoga studio
- my mentor Tom Abrehamson’s website – he’s an excellent
teacher! I substitute for him fairly regularly at Yoga is Youthfulness
- the website and the magazine are great resources
- Wikipedia site on Yoga Nidra, a sleep/healing yogic technique
- Joyce Anue’s website. She is a great teacher. My yoga teacher
training was through her organization, Yoga Educational Seminars.
Please remember that nothing
replaces an actual yoga teacher. It’s best to take classes with
someone you enjoy, and extend your practices at home. Like dance, yoga
is a physical activity that involves some risk. Please make sure you
work with a qualified person.