Seane Corn —
Yoga, Meditation in Action

Yoga has infiltrated law schools and strip malls, churches and hospitals. This 5,000-year-old spiritual technology is converging with 21st-century medical science and with many religious and philosophical perspectives. Seane Corn takes us inside the practicalities and power of yoga. She describes how it helps her face the darkness in herself and the world, and how she’s come to see yoga as a form of body prayer.

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is the National Yoga Ambassador for YouthAIDS and cofounder of “Off the Mat, Into the World.”

Pertinent Posts

When I moved to Jerusalem two years ago, I thought for sure that I would continue my yoga practice, especially after having yoga present in my life in so many ways for so many years. And I thought that I would even find others in this holy city to practice with. A sangha, a space, a teacher.

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Seane Corn Demonstrates "Body Prayer"

Watch Seane Corn demonstrate her graceful and athletic form of "body prayer" in a video excerpted from Yoga from the Heart.

About the Image

While in India for a YouthAIDS trip with actress Ashley Judd, Seane Corn poses in the Eka Pada Koundiyanasana position in front of the Taj Mahal.

(Photo courtesy of Seane Corn)

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173Reflections

Reflections

Yoga is a great form of medication. Seane Corn uses yoga to go above and beyond the basic usage of it. She is using it to not only help herself, but she is even trying to help others that are in a terrible position in their life. Yoga is difficult to do, but done properly it is very relaxing and calming for a difficult exercise.

She chose not to go to college and began work as a waitress. Nineteen was a big changer to her life though. She learned about her having OCD, and then she began therapy and started doing yoga. Her OCD made yoga hard for her to do at first, since she had to be sure everything was being done perfectly. She would have a problem with even a slightly messed up hand alignment.

Her yoga instructor told her to just "breathe and everything changes." After that statement from her instructor, she began to fix her OCD problem and realized not everything must be absolutely perfect. Breathing actually is a major part of yoga, and helps to relax a person while they do the difficult exercise.

Yoga is a great form of meditation, and by using yoga, she helped both herself, and others in slowly fixing their life and making things right. She is helping kids the most, which is likely a very difficult thing to do, but it is likely equally rewarding to turn a child's life around before it becomes even worse.

Yoga was something I never gave much thought about. To me it was simply an exercise that I found odd and knew virtually nothing about. After listening to Seane Corn's interview, I cannot wait to have my first opportunity to try Yoga!

I connected with Seane on the level of her anxiety and obsessive compulsiveness. Though I wouldn't say that I deal with obsessions at the level Seane did, I believe I deal with it to a degree. Yoga could be what I have needed all along.

Seane described Yoga as a physical activity that detoxifies your body coupled with deep breathing to mentally ground you. Yoga gave her a sense that she was part of something larger than she could define and it helped her mind to be settled. Seane believes, as well as other Yoga instructors, that there is no separation between mind and body. Your body remembers everything and if we hold onto things it can be stressful on our physique.

Every breath and movement is full of intention and if you fall out of a pose, you should not to let yourself get angry. Stay away from the negative energy.

Seane Corn seems like a very real and wonderful person. She came into a better lifestyle because of Yoga and in turn is helping others who need guidance from someone like her.

"Life happens, what are we going to do about it?" This is a quote from the interview with Seane Corn from Yoga. Meditation in Action. Having been born and raised in the Lutheran religion, I haven't explored yoga and the benefits of yoga. I can honestly say that I know very little about it. However, after listening to the wisdom of Seane Corn, I find myself very interested.

I especially connect with what Seane Corn says is the definition of yoga, "we are all one." She says that yoga is bigger than any one religion. Although many may differ in that opinion, I find myself encouraged by that meaning. I believe that most religions share a common ground in the understanding of love, forgiveness, and serving others.

What happens during yoga? The one aspect that I was aware of is the physical aspect of increasing respiration and circulation, as well as flexibility. Until listening to this broadcast, I didn't understand the meditation or mental aspect of yoga. I always thought it was just another form of a religion that I did not understand.

However, I now find that yoga is not that different than what I've been taught throughout my life. The concepts of love, peace, and forgiveness have been areas in my life that I have focused on in my 43 years. Love is the heart of yoga and you get to God through the heart. The Lutheran religion teaches to love yourself, your neighbor, and God. An offering is collected at each service at my church. Seane Corn's body prayer involves making every movement an offering to God. The thing to focus on is your intention when making those movements. This was very refreshing for me to learn that the two are not so very different.

An emotional part of yoga is to be able to identify those shadows in your life that may be holding you back from living a happy life. I believe this requires forgiveness of those who may have hurt you in the past. The inability to forgive results in a disconnect from God. A step in the direction of healing is finding the strength to perceive those life experiences differently. All life experiences, good and bad, play a part in the person we are today. Seane Corn says that we can continue to point our finger at those in our life who have hurt us or we can acknowledge what happened, move forward, and use that knowledge to better the world we live in.

Yoga is prayer from your heart and not from your head. I think this concept is one that some Christians tend to forget. We find ourselves in church reciting the same verses in unison without even thinking about them. When doing yoga, there is no separation between mind, body and spirit. I plan to check into some yoga classes in the future. The physical benefits are important but I am most intrigued by the mental benefits of achieving peace and a deeper closeness to God.

I've always found yoga to be a little too slow. Somehow the art of holding poses was just beyond my patience level. I much prefer a walking meditation. I understand its importance and certainly I can appreciate all the benefits derived from the daily practice, but I just never was able to get into it.

And then I found the series of poses called Sun Salutation (which Seane Corn demonstrated in the video, but she called it a yoga prayer). This is the yoga I practice. It gives me energy, insight, and generally makes me feel good.

I combine this with a series of Tai Chi poses which claim to be good as a stress detox. These, too, are a series of poses which can be done once or twice or many times repeated.

The bottom line is we each have to find what works for us as individuals. And while I probably won't get into a more lengthy practice, I absolutely loved many things Seane Corn said in the On Being interview and will make that a part of my daily practice.

PS: The image I've included is of Pug at The Beach. While I don't care for a daily yoga practice, Pug, my little island dog philosopher creation, does. Here he is doing The Bridge.

Genetically, I'm a lumberjack. I might not look it at first — female, 5'8' and 120-ish. But my shoulders. They're a size 42 men's suit coat. When I raise my hands overhead in tadasana they go wide just in case I happen to have an axe in one of them (it's best to swing an axe outboard of one's body).

My dad was a very part-time lumberjack, but a lumberjack nonetheless. He worked stumpage with his dad in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as a boy. (Stumpage is not an unfortunate placement of an axe, but the ownership of the timber on someone else's land.) My great grandpa worked the lumber camps, felling white pine for months at a time. I've always found a simple beauty in the clear sense of purpose that comes from the work my great grandpa did.

Action: whack the tree.

Purpose: make the tree fall down.

Action directly connected to its purpose. Clear, simple, not aggrandized. Growing up, I was always looking for clear purpose. And I didn't see the purpose in a lot of things. I told my first date, "I don't know why people even date if they're not old enough to marry each other." (I did not hear from him again.) I went to an engineering college because I got a scholarship. I got an engineering degree because I went to an engineering college. And I got an engineering job because I got an engineering degree. Purpose continued to elude me.

After college, I worked for an automotive company in suburban Detroit. I designed little bits that do little bits in your car you'd never even think a little bit about. Then I got a job hobnobbing with tattooed guys on the line. It was the mid-90's, though, when union-management tensions were escalating, and in the five years I was there, there were three shootings in the plant. I quit.

My husband and I moved to Iowa to work for an agricultural equipment company. There, I witnessed a union-management relationship that was remarkably respectful. I saw people working at whatever they did with a strong sense of purpose that I hadn't seen in the Motor City.

I worked a couple years, had a couple kids, then I resigned from my job. I wanted as much time with my kids as I could stand. I applied myself to raising my kids mindfully and writing about it irreverently, publishing a few pieces here and there.

Then, my part-time lumberjack dad, with his deceiving full-time lumberjack physique, was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. He was given a six month prognosis. I was devastated. Staying at home at the time with my two preschool kids, I had nowhere to go for support. Mornings were no different just because my dad was dying — my kids still went all Oliver Twist on me, "Gruel again?" Hell, their world wasn't crumbling. They didn't understand, they couldn't, and clearly they weren't going to let up on me. So sometimes I'd come out swinging the proverbial axe. Roaring. Then regretting.

After an acquaintance witnessed one such incident, she suggested I might want to get my a** to yoga. So I did.

Once a week for six months: "Hey, where'd my 15 post-baby pounds go?"

Twice a week for six more months: "Hey, where'd my flash temper go?"

Then traveling for weekend workshops, trainings and conferences for six years: "Hey, where'd my huge ego go?"

Soon, I began teaching yoga. Periodically, I'd run into engineers I had worked with, and they'd often react in a "wtf?" kind of way to my new occupation. In our culture, the status of an engineering manager exceeds that of a yoga teacher. Or any teacher, for that matter, but we won't go there. I'm no engineering flunkie. That's not it. It's that I knew that my purpose was deeper than what could be realized within the corporate engineering framework.

I could have re-entered the engineering field, beholden to my ego and nothing more, and basked in that status. Or, I could find my real purpose. Purpose is found at the intersection of aptitude and passion. This is akin to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's flow theory, just substitute the word flow for purpose. For each of us, that intersection occurs at a different place — some in a testing lab, others in front of a canvas, in a garden, in a white pine forest, on a yoga mat. It is completely focused motivation. When you are in the zone.

I met my guru, Devi Das (the name she was given when she was initiated into the tradition) Karina Ayn Mirsky, in 2007. It was clear to me that she, for lack of a better word, rocked. After my first day of formal training with her, I told her how much I appreciated her teachings, how very purposeful she was. Purpose-full. Full of purpose. She set me down a path inside myself that didn't stop at the body or the mind. I couldn't impress her with my lumberjack strength. I couldn't impress her with all the little bits I figured out.

She required me to stop trying so hard to be strong or to figure things out. To let go of some of the Paul Bunyan and the Dilbert. To look inside to a place deeper than the body, a wisdom deeper than the mind, for answers that had always been there if I'd been able to listen. Yoga continues to teach me this — to listen.

In January, 2010, I opened the doors of my community's first yoga studio. And the funny thing is, I didn't want it. Or, in more yogic terms, I had no attachment to opening a yoga studio. A few years before, I had fantasized about it. Then, through studying with my teacher, I let go of that attachment, and focused on action in the present. Action like caring for myself and each student as best I could. And so, it was an incremental birth, formed by an accumulation of simple actions. In the process, I found action directly connected to its purpose.

Action: nurture the person.

Purpose: the person gets up.

Both in contrast to and in harmony with:

Action: whack the tree.

Purpose: make the tree fall down.

Nurturing myself, not whacking myself anymore, was essential to my finding balance in life. It is, truly, essential to wellbeing. And so I taught my students to stop beating themselves up. "Don't put your energy there, into that thing, feeding it. Put it in the 90-99% of yourself that is on the right track. Have gratitude for this. Then this will grow, and that thing will fade."

The Bhagavad Gita takes place 3,000 years ago on a battlefield called Dharmakshetra. This literally means field of dharma. The place where one's life purpose can be sorted out. Although there may be axes on that field, we don't come out swinging them at whatever habits and patterns we may be locked into that keep us from connecting with our life's purpose.

Yes, we have to clear some timber to make space for what we were born to do. Yoga helps us do this systematically, no axes required. And when we are in the zone of our purpose, no matter what it is, its effect is beneficial to our community. Humanity benefits. And life comes into balance.

The purpose of yoga is to quiet the so called "fluctuations" of the mind. Reading about your journey shows how you were guided to the practice and continue to follow the path. And how being in the zone you describe feels so right, so balanced. A quiet mind is a balanced one. You found peace. Thank you for sharing this.

Thank you!

Amongst many of your wonderful programs, my husband and I were/am very happy to hear the interview with Seane Corn. We have her videos and love her whole being. Due to the woes of our times, we have gotten away from yoga. We'd like to thank you for having this program air. It reminded us what we have gotten away from and why we were not feeling right. Thank you so much! Namaste.

It was with some hesitation that I approached the door to the Be In Awe yoga studio. I was fifteen minutes late to my first yoga class. I had left my place on the west side of town in what I thought was plenty of time, only to discover what most new-comers to Ann Arbor no doubt must learn, that one-way streets can turn a simple cross-town drive into a twisting and maddening adventure. I was tempted to turn back and try again next Saturday, but with so much effort already invested, I decided to press on and hope for the best. I stomped the snow off my shoes and opened the door.

I was greeted by the welcoming smile of Jody, the organizer of Ann Arbor Outdoor Yoga. I later learned that during the warmer months the classes where held outside on a large deck surrounded by the natural beauty which Ann Arbor is so blessed. For now, classes were being held, warm and cozy, in an unassuming house set back from the noise and bustle of the road. Spread out around the comfortable room were eight other aspiring yogis well along in their class.

Quietly, I slipped off my shoes and hung up my coat. Jody pointed to an open spot on the floor where I could unroll my mat. She asked me to spend a few minutes in Savasana, the asana of complete relaxation also known as the corpse pose, before joining the class. I rolled out my mat and laid flat on my back, my feet turned out, my arms at my sides, palms turned up in a gesture of receiving. I waited for my heart rate to slow and my breathing to deepen. One's thoughts are also supposed to slow, but mine couldn't help but wander.

Over the past two months, like many others in these difficult economic times, I had experienced some major changes in my life. I had been laid-off from my job. Fortunately, I had found a new one relatively quickly, one that required that I move. I was thankful to be moving to Ann Arbor, a city I have always admired for its creative spirit and emphasis on active healthy living. As fortunate as I felt, these were still major changes and they were taking their toll on my state of mind. I tried to relax my mind and bring it back to the present moment.

"One, two, One-two," Becky, today's teacher, was saying over and over. Her voice, strong and encouraging, was leading the class through a rigorous breathing exercise. As she said "one," I could hear the entire class forcefully pushing air out of their lungs. On "Two," I could just barely hear the air flowing back in through their noses. "Push the air out and with it all the toxins, all the things you don't need any more," she told the class. "Then, just relax and feel the healing oxygen flow back in."

Sivananda Yoga, the type of yoga practiced at Outdoor Yoga, places breathing at the center of all its practices. From what I have come to understand, by paying attention to our breathing we become more in sync with the natural world through this very basic rhythm of taking in what we need and discharging what we no longer need. Breathing activates what yoga masters call prana, the vital life force. Through breathing exercises, called pranayamas, we can make active this vital force and enhance its healing influence in our lives.

After finishing my Savasana, I raised myself up to a cross-legged sitting position and joined the class. Becky's voice was now calm and gentle,"Inhale, exhale," as she guided the class into calm inhales, and long relaxing exhales. "Feel the white light flowing up and down your spine," she said.

Despite my efforts to stay with the class, my mind continued to wander. I thought about how the events of the past two months had forced me to expel many things from my life. Things that at one time had served me well, but were now no longer needed. I had moved from a two bedroom house into a small one bedroom apartment with all of two very small closets. I repeated to myself the standard mover's lament, "How had I accumulated so much stuff?"

Some of it was easy to be rid of. I filled large black plastic garbage bags with stuff that I should have thrown out long ago and marched them to the curb. That overstuffed chair that I never used could go. I had two beds, I was pretty sure I only needed one. I kept my favorite desk and took the other one to Salvation Army. This isn't so bad, I thought.

After breathing exercises, we went back into Savasana. We put our arms over our heads. "Stretch," we were told,"now relax." There is a lot of relaxing in Sivananda Yoga, I like that. "Feel the benefits of our breathing in your entire body." Next we were standing and doing Sun Salutations. I looked over at the others to learn the steps to this intricate set of poses. At the end of each one we stood with our hands at our chests, palms pressed together. I could feel my heart working, pumping blood through my arteries and veins, then on to the next set.

After the Sun Salutations came the Shoulder Stand, an advanced asana. "Does everyone know this pose?" Becky asked. Looking over at me. I shook my head. As she talked the class through the pose, she came over and showed me how to place my hands at the small of my back for support, then told me to stretch high with my feet pointing to the ceiling. My chin was firmly pressed into my chest and I could feel the blood rushing to my head. More challenging still, she asked us to try to move our legs back, keeping them straight, and see if we could touch the floor behind our heads. I was rethinking my earlier decision not to turn back. "Relax into the resistance," Becky told us.

There was resistance, no doubt about that. I had borrowed a friend's pick-up and through several back-straining trips over one weekend managed to transfer my things to my new place. That Sunday night I collapsed into my comfortable recliner. I looked about me in dismay. My beautiful hardwood floor was visible only in small patches. The rest of it was obscured by the over-abundance of stuff piled all around me. The message was clear — more things would have to go!
The next weekend I took a fresh look at my crowded space. "Relax into the resistance," Becky had echoed what my circumstances were commanding me to do.

I liked a lot of these things. I had at one time paid good money to have them. I questioned my decision to rent such a small place. Well, too late for that, I told myself, look forward not back. I rolled up my sleeves and re-evaluated what I considered essential. I went through my clothes first. I folded and hung up all the clothes that I had actually worn in the past year, the rest I bagged up for donation. I went through every scrap of paper in my four drawer filing cabinet tossing out every article I thought I might want to read someday, tearing up all the warranties for things I no longer had; until I got all my paperwork into a two drawer filing cabinet that fit under my desk. I looked over at my large bulbous golf bag, stuffed with a full set of clubs. Clubs that had not hit a golf ball in over two years. Was it time to say goodbye to them? No! I had my limits. I stuffed it into the back of my tiny front closet. I boxed up a number of books and set them next to the door.

With not a few misgivings, I drove to the Re-Use Store, my car crammed with the latest round of my discarded things. The attendant helped me unload. I drove away, my things sitting along the side of the large industrial building with all the other donated items from that day. On the way back, I became pleasantly surprised to find myself feeling lighter. A smile spread across my face. I realized that for each thing that I had left behind, I had also left behind an old, no longer needed, idea about myself, about who I was, and what I needed to live a happy and healthy life. The thought that someone might come across one of my things and be happy to get a good deal on something they needed, added to my good mood. As did the receipt in my pocket, tax time was right around the corner.

We were finishing up with a final Savasana. In a bright, clear voice, Jody concluded the class in a beautiful chant. She explained that it was given for the safety, strength and courage of the students as they go back into the world. I appreciated that.

Back in my apartment, I sat for a long time admiring the warm hues of my oak floor. The move had forced me to make space, to get rid of things that I no longer needed. It had been difficult, but I had done it. Now, I was ready for the next phase. Relax, and let the prana flow in.

Namaste.

I have practiced yoga sporadically over the past 5 or so years, trying Hatha yoga first. I returned to yoga in early winter this year, taking up a more committed practice in a Vinyasa flow class. In Vinyasa flow, I'm able to have moments when there is a complete feeling of mind/body as one. When that happens, I understand what it is to be grounded in peace. There is nothing I have to tell myself to get to that place. In my practice, I've begun to have the sensation that for an hour, I am doing one long movement rather than simply a series of poses. Breath and movement, within the flow, are one. It is like a prayer.

I fell into yoga as a gym rat when my local gym offered a general Hatha class in the aerobics studio. It was like a breath of fresh air and I knew I had found a place for me. Rather than being exhausted from my normal cardio routine I had been doing to reduce stress, my first yoga class offered me deep relaxation, physical challenge and a clear mind, like the top of a still lake. I was immediately hooked. I've practiced yoga since 1997 — and have taught for the past 6 years at my local recreation center. I primarily practice and teach Iyengar yoga, but take classes of all styles. Sometimes I dabble with a hot or Vinyasa class, but I like the precision and alignment teaching of Iyengar. I also like a good Anusara class as well; the joy and spirit of yoga radiates strongly from John Friend.

As for what it has done for me, it has changed my life. Changed the way I think about my breath and body, changed the way I approach life and has literally been a touchstone to help me through both struggles and exuberant times in my life. My yoga practice was instrumental in the natural birth of my daughter (my doula about passed out when she saw me sit in Virasana for 30 minutes between contractions) and it's something I see myself doing for the rest of my life. Oh to be Mr. Iyengar with those poses and vitality over 90 years of age!

All in all yoga is about balance — about finding the action in the pose without tension. About finding the shadowy parts of consciousness in your body, your spirit, your psyche and bringing it to a non judgmental and curious light. About creating space, compassion and joy in your physical body, which translates to space, compassion and joy in life. I love it and I love sharing it with others.

When I have first timers come to class and do not return, I think it is like cooking pasta and the pasta doesn't stick to the wall; that person is just not ready yet. I don't take it personally and yoga is not something that can be forced on anyone. But like a gong or a sound that finds the right vibration and frequency for those that are ready to hear, those who are drawn to the art and science find it transforming.

Yoga for me, is like a fast ticket home. When ever I am feeling tired, overwhelmed, tight, or just not quite right, I know that this magical combination of breath and conscious movement will center and nourish me.

I first found the practice as a physical form of stretching and exercise, but soon realized the multi-layered gifts available in the mental and spiritual cultivation and refinement it offers.

I have made it my life-work to teach and share yoga with others, especially children. I now have a studio for private and group classes, and lead a teacher's training program for children's yoga teachers. I chose this career to ensure that this beautiful balance and sacred discipline are part of my daily world.

I came to yoga for the first time last spring. My job as an elementary school teacher brings demands on my time and my energy — both physical and emotional. Over the years, I have felt myself struggling to meet my own life, to really join in it fully, and unable to be capably interactive and loving in its aspects: work, family, self, the world. Since beginning my practice, I feel myself coming into my life in a more accepting way; with less judgment of myself and of others, and so much more peacefully than I ever have before. The bonus for me is that, like life, yoga is a process of opening and learning. So it will always be there for me, helping me nurture and support myself; it's faith.

Thank you very much for your repeat of the piece on Seane Corn. I hadn't heard it the first time. She is an inspirational personal representation of karma. Her discussion of intention in particular is something I want to bring into my practice more consciously.

Also as my husband and I listened this morning, a recurring question came up once more when we heard statements about groups who object to Christian language in yoga, or want to "take yoga back." It amazes us that there are people who would like to own — in a proprietary way — religion or aspects of spirituality.

My first trip to the mat was without preconceived notions. I had no idea that I would release the Yoga genie through the mat. I sensed deep peace and was hooked. I started classes 3 times a week and found that when I came home in the evening I was serene. My mind had slowed and my sleep was deep and peaceful.

After several months of practice I entered teacher training, not necessarily to teach, but to delve deeper into yogic philosophy and the ancient origins of this intriguing practice. As I travelled the training road I came to know myself. My stress level lessened as well as my anxiety. I discovered what it is like in the yoga bubble.

In the midst of training I had shoulder repair. This did not stop my journey, quite the opposite, it gave me the opportunity to expand my yoga horizon. I travelled the path through an alternate map; modification, modification, just sit. It was and is all good; I discovered my own well-being through different colored lenses. I feel that I was fortunate to have this opportunity to really explore yoga and deepen my practice.

Pranayam has become an integral part of my day; at work, at home, in the car, everywhere. Recently I had my other shoulder repaired. Pranayam was instrumental in my pain control; nothing like focusing on the breath to reduce pain medication intake. My breath is my friend; at home, at work, in all situations.

So, how does Yoga fuel my sense of well-being? It gives me the ability to live like the lotus, at home in the muddy water. I am comfortable in the present moment. When at work, if I feel like the muddy water is bothering me, I practice a few Yoga postures to bring myself back, relax, and restore myself. Yoga is my well-being.

I listened to the broadcast about Yoga. Yoga is a form a prayer but with your body. Yoga is a science of life, it brings mind body and soul together. It is time to yourself when you can meditate and become closer to yourself, and to your prayer if you wish.

Yoga was first formed around the 3rd century in India. It was seen as a was to gain ethical and spiritual balance. Many religions use yoga to become closer to their God. Hindu philosophy believes that yoga embraces the notion of God, and Budism use related practices. Seane Corn is a yoga teacher and trainer. Before she was a yoga instructor she had obsessive compulsive disorder. She then realized how bad it was when she was doing yoga in the position known as downward dog. She looked down on the mat and noticed that her hands were not exactly in line. This bothered her because her shoulders were straight but she could not get her hands straight. Then she says that her teacher said something life changing. He said "breathe and everything changes." She breathed and felt realized.

She wanted to find a way to bring this into her everyday life. Yoga helped her get off drugs. Yoga gave her a body high that was better than drugs. She says that the first time yoga really impacted her life was when she lived in New York. She was walking home from a class and all of a sudden had a very weird feeling. She stopped and had to find out what this feeling was. She found out that she was happy.

She had a sense that everything was unfolding, she was part of something bigger than she could control. Yoga had planted a seed in her life and she wanted to embrace it. I go to yoga classes a few times every month. I find it very relaxing, its time for yourself. You can put away everything else that is going on in your daily life, and grasp you inner self. It a way to let go of stress and tension. Next time I go to a yoga class I am going to remember the things she has said about yoga. I will embrace it more, and hopefully get more out of it than I have in the past.

Yoga to me is about being completely pleased and completely relaxed with yourself. It is about being and noticing myself, not beating myself up, total acceptance of my significance, and that I have a place in the world, like on my yoga mat. Just because of my being, there is nothing I have to prove. I am just being aware, starting with breath. To realize that I am doing the best that I can every moment of my life.
I practice hot yoga. It allows me to let go and not struggle. In class a have a safe place to be self. The heat opens and softens the heart. My mind and body can relax and let go. Going to hot yoga, I am reminded that I have a good life. The connection with self and others is what it is all about; it is easier to love others if you love self.

For this On Being assignment I found a broadcast from September of 2009 on Yoga. Krista Tippett interviewed Seane Corn, a woman who found her way spiritually through yoga. Yoga is becoming very popular and an estimated 20 million people in the U.S. practiced yoga as of the time of this broadcast.

"Yoga is aligning with medical research and culture," Krista said, which is a very true statement. Nowadays, yoga is incredibly well known for its benefits to the body. Seane suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Her obsessions were even numbers like 4 and 8, and she also had an obsession with balance. She felt that if she balanced the right way she would protect someone she knew from dying. Seane couldn't deal with her emotions and tried using lots of things to self-regulate her obsessions. She liked to use drugs, especially hallucinogens.
Yoga eventually became her way of healing, although it took several years before she would realize this. In Seane's first yoga class, she started becoming very anxious because she felt that she was not balanced correctly, when her teacher said something that would mean a lot to her for the rest of her life. Her teacher said "breathe and everything changes." This helped Seane with her yoga, because she felt that as her anxiety rose she simply could just keep breathing deeply and the anxiety would pass. Seane says that the heart of the practice of yoga is love.
She also uses spiritual words. For example, when she says spirit she is meaning that which exists inside of you. This was a very interesting broadcast. I chose to listen to this one because I am about to start my very first yoga class on Monday. This broadcast really shows how yoga is just as much spiritual as it is physical.

Yoga helps me in my daily life. I feel more body-mind connection. I started to deepen my yoga practice in the last 5 years. The reason I started yoga in my 40s was from my Sciatic and chronic lower back pain from pregnancy. I told myself let's give it a try to learn this ancient practice. I practiced yoga forms everyday. In the first 3 months, I really felt the difference. People around me noticed in my body and my energy.

I used deep breath work to guide me when I wake up every morning. Any problems in daily life, yoga helps me survive. I got deeper into yoga study and got certified as a yoga teacher in 2009. I know that yoga can travel to anyone by allowing the mind over the body. Yoga makes me become more compassionate to the world. I studied different forms of yoga, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Hatha, and Anusara yoga and Pranayama practice under the principle of believing that I would adapt goods from each yoga into myself and the world.

They are helpful to my life, I can connect to my mind and physical body. I am not vegetarian. I focus more inwardly so I adapted to situation to place the space I go. The forms and lineages study are only outside, but what important is how you can bring yoga into daily life for healthy balance body and mind. The world get easier and lighter. I meet people and feel grace. Now, I expand my yoga practice to family and friends. I teach and practice yoga with my friends weekly.

Mine is informal stretches to heal my sore heel, my sole, and to let my soul soar. Amazing, eh? I have been healing for four years with dedicated daily stretches, which, for lack of a better word, my body has become addicted to, craving the stretches until performed. My practice is at home and occasionally one more formally trained will remark how similar to a yoga pose.

I'd done haphazard, sporadic yoga over the years but did not maintain a regular program. A very health-minded individual who takes responsibility for maintaining my health and eschews medical interference, I found myself quite ill over the Christmas/New Year holidays into January of 2000.

It was a type of influenza combined with a hacking chronic congestion, something I had never had before, and I seemed to be making no progress. Out of desperation, I went to a doctor whose prescription of drugs only seemed to add to my discomfort.

With this illness I had been down for over two weeks. One morning, in that twilight space between sleeping and awakening, the word "yoga" breathed itself into my mind. I'd received an earlier birthday gift of a CD/lesson booklet called "OM Yoga in A Box." I put it on and within the 90 minutes it took to work through the sessions, I was well. No coughing. No fever. All gone.

From that day forward yoga has been a regular discipline. At 65, my body is flexible, limber, and healthy, with none of the "normal" health challenges afflicting others my age and younger. A session of yoga brings me back to my sense of self, and the realization that — no matter the situation I am facing — I am enough.

After 10 years, I still classify myself as a beginner, as my body changes every day to where a pose that was mastered two weeks earlier can often seem new and difficult again. As I've moved recently, I hope to find classes in my locale to really take me further.

I often wonder how these poses came about, who studied these intricacies and took the time to develop them. What a gift to humanity, this study.

I discovered yoga at 56 while recovering from six rounds of chemotherapy and a month of radiation. Yoga let me move at my own pace and to be forgiving of my own body's limitations.

After I got some of my strength and flexibility back, I tried several types of yoga — vinyasa flow, Bikram, kundalini, restorative, and hatha yoga. Five years later, I teach hatha yoga, as well as practice daily.

The spiritual aspect of yoga, linking breath with movement and meditation, helps me focus on what is most important — acceptance of whatever life has to offer at this moment. Karma yoga — freely offering my practice to those who don't have access to yoga — that's actually my favorite form.

I started with power yoga about 4 or 5 years ago and sporadically took classes. I sensed there was a great deal in it for me but lost sight of it as time went by.

About two years ago I started again, primarily because, as I got older, I wanted additional flexibility in my body.

Over time I sensed there was a "more" behind the physical exercises and benefits. This is now what I am focused on. I am at heart a spiritual person but not a church person, and I know yoga right now is the finest, most meaningful way for me to connect spiritually with whatever is beyond temporal existence.

Seane Corn's program this past Sunday also focused on what is really at work when life presents itself. I have a lot of anger and hostility towards socially and politically conservative people. And I am beginning to understand that I will not be whole until and unless I can offer forgiveness to them and truly accept it within myself.

This is a journey I am not sure will be successful. But it is one I make anyway.

For over two decades I was a leader in the field of information and communications technology (ICT) for development and managed the World Bank's largest ICT portfolio of projects in public sector management, education and health in every region of the world. My first yoga classes were with Beryl Bender Birch and Thom Birch and I am grateful I was introduced to this age-old practice, which I then taught to international development professionals like myself to help balance our over-stressed work lives.

I saw how this practice can move from the physical to the emotional and can have an impact on the lives of under-served and unserved communities. With Beryl Bender Birch, Lori Klein, we founded The Give Back Yoga Foundation to support certified yoga teachers to give back to those in their communities who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience the transformational benefits of this powerful practice, in all its aspects — from asana and stress reduction, through breath work and meditation, to general service to others.

I am in love with yoga not only because I love practicing but because in just 8 months it has saved my life. I began practicing in Jan. of 2009 at a local studio with a very young teacher that I now consider my "reverse mentor." I am 53, and have had insomnia for 17 years, yes that long, which contributed to constant stress. Last year I found I out I have a severe case of scoliosis which I did not know I had even though it caused me to walk around in constant pain limiting my activity, & forget getting a good workout anymore. This, all while thinking I was living a normal life.

BUT in just 8 short months of practicing, I now sleep like a baby! This is unbelievable to me. I smile. I can think again, the fogginess is gone. If I don't miss my yoga my back muscles don't spasm and so my back pain is almost nonexistent! I have tried EVERYTHING, all the sleep remedies out there, mental & physical. I have tried all the pain relieving remedies like chiropractic therapy, physical therapy, etc.

Yoga absolutely is the answer to all my troubles. I am a person again, mentally, physically, emotionally, mind, body & soul! I am now training to be a yoga teacher. I will practice yoga for the rest of my life!

Don't Serve Them — Meet Them
The guest on Speaking of Faith was Yoga expert Seane Corn. She had been talking about her own journey and discovering through Yoga the essential need to reach out to others — to serve. She discovered an organization, Children of the Night, which deals with helping teenage prostitutes. She went and decided to teach them Yoga as a way of helping them and their self-esteem, body-esteem, etc. It was a disaster. Ms. Corn said:

"… You could just see the darkness on these kids, and they seemed to me in that moment as hopeless. … I went into my car and I was really emotional and I was just thinking these kids are messed up. They're never going to get better. They're going to go back out into the world, you know, as criminals, and going on and on in my head. It always takes me a while to kind of, you know, where I always think spirit's saying, like, 'You done yet? You going to wake up to this yet?' Because I realized that I had just met the part of myself that I had denied, that I called into my experience the child in me that had been, that is, defiant and angry and scared to death and has absolutely zero tools for healing."

That's where she began to describe for me what mission is really all about, what happens so often on short-term mission trips, and the problem with mission as we have almost always described it.

"And, honestly, God is hysterical, and I get the joke really, really late always. Because I got exactly God was saying, 'It's time. It's time. You can't deny this. If you really want to heal and open your heart to love, then you've got to find the places within you that's disconnected from God. And I'm giving you an opportunity. Go back. And don't serve these girls; meet them. Go and meet you.'"

I was literally taken up short, that insight was so on-target. So many different thoughts came to mind. One was Jesus saying to his disciples, in essence, you are no longer servants, you are my friends. To serve others can set up hierarchy and position and, in these types of situations, a better-than-them attitude.

Second, if we are open to the Spirit saying "You done yet? You going to wake up to this yet?" we will turn and see ourselves and something about ourselves that needs to be healed. The places we go to work and serve, the mission we seek, is always one that is inward and outward, two-ways: me to you and you to me. Healing is found for our own needs that we didn't even know we had from those we thought were the ones in need. No wonder people always come home from short-term mission trips and say they got more than they gave. They discovered the mutuality of the faith and of love.

It doesn't matter whether we are talking about a faith-based service, a deep felt-need to help others, or some drive to do something. That drive comes from someplace where we may need healing or growth ourselves. That's what Seane Corn taught me in one short but powerful moment.

Under it all was the awareness that when we do mission we are not, repeat, not going as the ones with the answers to give to those who are less fortunate. We are going to meet others with whom we learn to live and work.

If it were Christmas, we would call that Incarnation.

I have experienced several miracles. One, at age 19, when Yoga came to me. I'd been programmed to over-achieve, but the end of the first freshman semester found me sitting on the floor watching people stroll by and wondering, "who am I and why am I here?" These questions led me to read a lot of books pointing to answers, e.g. by Buber, Tillich, etc. Two of these were the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. Immersed in these, one day I awoke and found my body performing postures and movements I'd never seen before. All I knew was that they felt perfectly right, totally both energizing and relaxing. I learned soon that the day simply can't begin for this human being without about an hour of this practice.

This happened 42 years ago. Since then, this Self-moved yoga has been daily practice. When truest, the movements emerge from within. This practice opened me to answer "why am I here": to help others on their path; to help others work together; to help others find their way to live in peace; and to serve the muse. (When I am not on the road as an organizational consultant, I play a lot of jazz.)

You ask below about "faith," and I suppose this sums it up. This is the code I live by, and how I wish to be remembered. I am sure the yoga that came to me is integral to this way of being.

I have been practicing yoga (privately) for 10 years. I find it brings me a sense of well-being, balance and peace and/or harmony to my daily life. I feel more patience and humor to those around me — a spiritual grounding, if you will. It grounds me.

I have stepped away from traditional religion, as I find true spirituality comes from within and from surrounding nature. Living in Jacksonville, Fl., I find this is not the what most people practice.

I feel so strongly about the physical and emotional balancing and healing of yoga that I volunteer to share this with children. I believe in giving children permission to stretch and breath. Sports are beneficial, but yoga offers benefits that differ from sports. At end of each "session" I do give the children time to meditate. I bring them through this using creative visualization to help calm their senses and to go inward. I also give positive affirmations to them while they are relaxed. I truly enjoy working with children to help them gain some sense of peace in this crazy, loud world.

Namaste

In 1971 a dear friend of mine entered the novitiate of a community of cloistered nuns. One of the first things she told me that they had to do was take a course in yoga, there at the novitiate. She recommended it to me. When I got back home my dear spiritual director told me he was glad to know of my interest and recommended that I follow the method of Fr. Jean Marie DeChanet, OSB, founder of the first Christian ashram in India.

Over the years I have waited for the gurus to come into my life, not seek them. And many very holy men and women, have come to teach me, mostly hatha yoga. It has changed my life. I have slowed down. Most of these wonderful teachers have come from Mexico, some from Belgium, India and Italy. Prayer in movement is as old as the first humans that danced for joy to their God, and marveled in the beauty of nature, cats and trees, the wind and the little flower. The Church was founded by an Asian, Judaism relies on writings written in Asia. Most people I encounter in California apparently forget that historical fact!

Hello, SOF folk-

I was very recently profiled in the August 12th edition of The Wall Street Journal, in the "What's Your Workout?" column. The piece, entitled "Staying Sane and in Shape, Thanks to a Strict Yoga Regime," chronicles how I took up vinyasa yoga after moving to New York City to relieve stress & stay in shape. As part of the piece, I also gave props to the #1 New York Times bestselling book, "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. After meeting Gilbert, I was inspired to try yoga. My comments: "She [Gilbert] was so down to earth & was really changed by yoga. Even though we had different struggles I thought if it worked for Liz it could work for me." Here's the link to the piece, which includes video: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121823015603825485.html

What didn't make the final edit for the column was my deep feeling that my daily practice is a daily Sabbath, a sacred time -- what Rabbi Heschel called "a cathedral in time." And in that time I have a dialogue with my concept of the divine.

I attended graduate school at Harvard University in 2001 and 2002. By January of 2002, with the stress of the 9/11 attacks added on to everything else, I was experiencing a debilitating anxiety disorder, an which has now been diagnosed as Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

For the first few months, before the therapy started to really kick in, the only thing that kept me from flying apart at the seams was yoga. The 30 seconds between waking up in the morning to getting into a yoga posture felt like an hour. I don't even know what form I was doing - it was whatever form was taught in the book from the 1970s that I grabbed off my mom's shelf when things started getting ugly over winter break - but it saved my sanity. I had to read the book and study the pictures. I had to think "Where am I supposed to put my leg now?" And then I had to breathe deeply. And count. And then consult the book again. The focus and breathing it required were the only thing that could keep me from focusing on the crazy thoughts in my head. I was virtually non-functional during this period - couldn't do 20 minutes of schoolwork in a day without dissolving into hysteria - but I was ok if I was doing yoga.

I don't do it as much as I should now that the anxiety is under control, but I sincerely don't know how I could have coped with the levels of anxiety I was suffering during that time without this practice.

Early this morning (4AM or therabouts), I woke in anticiaption of the coming storm (Hannah). I was uncomfortable and began to practice the "happy baby" position which I usually find soothing. But after another half hour of sleeplessness and a change of beds, I began a series of more stringent poses. Keep in mind, it was early in the morning and my ultimate goal was to return to bed. Eventually I fell asleep and had a strange and wonderful dream which concerned saying goodbye to a childhood nieghbor (four years my senior), who has terminal, brain cancer. In the dream I met with him (which I was denied several weeks ago because of his precarious state and the fact that I have not been in touch with him for many years). But the need to say goodbye to him was critical to me. In my dream he quietly turned away from me and headed into an underground train station, without saying anything or acknowledging my presence. Today I will call his younger brother (my friend with whom I have remained in touch), to offer words of comfort.

I haven't found the restoration and balance through yoga, My daughter has. She has been practicing yoga for a number of years and now is taking classes to become an instructor. She has told me that yoga has been helpful to her and that I might want to try it to help with my osteoarthritis. All I have to do is act on that advice.

I expect that I would find any form yoga to be helpful. The pain from the osteoarthritis is enough to annoy and even when I start some fom of exercise, the joint pain gets more "annoying"

Can the conversation talk about this aspect?

Thank you,

Mark L. Dallner

When I was a child I became enchanted with dance. My mother resisted, but eventually I convinced her for ballet lessons and quickly excelled in the technique. I grew into normal, tall, healthy body that happened to not be perfect for an aspiring ballerina. I soon began a cycle of purging and starvation.
Luckily I found the healing form of movement called Yoga. I started my practice while at college in New Mexico and continued until I eventually became a Vinyasa Teacher. This path of practice has also changed recently as I explore more styles in my current home of NYC.
I also have the pleasure of still having dance in my life, now Modern Dance, through teaching at a last chance alternative public high school in downtown Brooklyn. My student's are more likely to be gang members than ever be exposed to a downward dog but I am amazed to have the honor of not only spending half my day practicing dance with my students but the other half is dedicated to yoga. Not only am I able to keep myself healthy I get to expose what I have found through Yoga to the next generation.

Yes. I am not a true yogi, but aspire to be. Ultimeately, I think a yogi develops a personal and unique practice. I practice alone. I have developed to the point that "I get it": the intergration of mind, body and spirit for healing and awareness of what is. Learning yogic techniques has made my life better and probably longer.

I was introduced to yoga 30 years ago with a pre-natal class. I began with Hatha, and learned over the years many styles from many teachers. Now I try to master Kundalini. Yoga is incredibley simple and incredibly complex at the same time. There is always more to learn and master.

I practice and teach yoga in the Kripalu tradition.

My yoga practice is a daily tonic that grounds my body, settles my mind and invites an openness to spirit. After many years, yoga has become similar to a best friend, welcoming me to the practice each time to continue exploring our relationship.

I am not sure it brings me restoration so much as it gives me a strong affirmation of the "spirit source" within me.

I practiced prenatal Yoga during my entire pregnancy. I dont have enough words to explain how it helped me.
It made me aware and involved in my birthing process, it made me connect with my inner self and with my baby as well, it keept me in excellent shape and it gave me the strengt I needed to understand the changes that my body and soul were expeeriencing.
Yoga for me is my mother nature.
Maria Jose

I tried practicing yoga alone in my home, but found I needed a partner. I was lucky to have a great yoga teacher and he arranged for me to partner with a man who is now a friend named DeNiro. Both of us were stressed completely as we are in finance here but miss our homes - his is in Germany, in Lobbachtal, and mine is in Russia although I was born and raised in America. The yoga proved a wonderful relief, but not immediately. We had to go through our steps one at a time and often before a feeling of calm came over me, and later for DeNiro. I would recommend it for anyone living a stress-filled life. The most unusual thing however is that my dogs at least try to do Yoga with us. This is the amazing and most facinating
thing. The dogs, who are giant schnauzers are normally very active and noisy, but when they see us roll out out mats the lie down and seem almost to copy our movements as much as they can.

Thanks for your wonderful program

Bela

Dear Speaking of Faith:

Today's program, 9/07, and your upcoming one could not be more timely for me.

I'm currently taking care of a parent with Alzheimers and developed arthritis in the process.

And I also recently completed a book on yoga called An American Yoga: The Kripalu Story.

What I'd like to add the dialgoue about yoga is the subtext of The Kripalu Story. That it is the esoteric practice of shaktipat-diksha that has allowed yoga to become so profoundly influential in the world today.

Up until the birth of the nuclear age, following world war II, India did not allow the export of this powerful form of spiritual transmission.

In the case of Kripalu Yoga, it was Shrii Kripalvanandji, an acknowledged Kundalini yoga master, who tweaked the fate and direction of Amrit Desai's life by initiating him with shaktipat diksha and giving him the ways and means to transfer it to his disciples in America and the West.

The result is The Kripalu Story.

Most discussions of yoga don't offer an inclusion of this practice or acknowledge how it is the esential ingredient that allows yoga to be a spiritually transformative process rather than just a very sopisticed form of exercise and meditation.

I know that I am being more general here than you are probably looking for, but if you'd like more specifics I can provide them. One of the reasons I wrote the kripalu Story is that I don't think up until now that this process has not been accurately described and acknowledged.

I worked with Yogi Amrit Desai as his book editor during the 1980's and also stayed with him following the crisis that led him to resign as spritual director of the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health.

And last year I travelled with him to India for a 'lineage tour' of the places where he had his spiritual awakening expereinces. My descriptions of shakti (the evolutionary energy received through shaktipat diksha) are first hand.

I was diagnosed with ms in 1997 at UPenn and Jefferson hospitals. By 1999 I was consumed by debilitating symptoms. Out of desperation, I plunged back to nature with raw foods, proper breath, prayer, fasting, and kundalini and hatha yogas.
In 2003 my dog and I hiked from Maine to the Tenn border on the A.T.. We passed virtually every other hiker and even moved 25 miles/day, 6 days a week our last month out.
I practice yoga everyday, in the sun, and on the ground when the weather permits.
My body is so sensitive, I work fulltime doing State contracted socialwork, and I'm not always strong enough to run up mountains. In fact, I am often reminded that I could be in a wheelchair very easily. However, when I am in the delicate rhythm, there are virtually no limits to my abilities.
Since the hike, my wife has worked by my side in the laborious tree service industry. Either way, I love yoga and what opened up to me because of the practice.
I've always been very restless, but the practice allows my body to relax for meditation. It has helped my posture, dealing with stress, and I'm certain has opened me to countless blessings.
Matt

Soon after the birth of my son, I happened to "win" a free yoga class through a work health promotion. I entered the first evening class with knots of stress from working and getting accustomed to parenting, including a lack of sleep. However, with each of the introductory class' basic movements and positions, the stress rapidly eroded away. As I left the class, I found myself pausing in the dark parking lot, looking up into the star-filled sky and feeling nearly overwhelmed by the sensation of 50 pounds (of stress) being removed from my shoulders. From that moment, I believed in the healing power of yoga.

As an artist, I have found a deep & creative "centering" from my yoga practice. Vinyasa & Hatha are my regular classes, but when I travel I always seek out an alternative, and have found them to add to my understanding of what yoga can do. Seane Corn's dvd's have been a big part of my beginning practices.

In 1974, at the age of 20, I was diagnosed with a stomach ulcer. Intuitively, I KNEW it was stress related and a doctor put me on tranquilizers to “solve my problem.” I realized I didn’t want to live my life taking pills and began to explore other ways I could manage my overactive mind. I was then living in a conservative, semi-rural community and didn’t know how to find alternatives to the traditional medicine that was practiced here, but I did find a paperback book: "Yoga, Youth and Reincarnation." I read it cover to cover, and began to practice asanas through study of photos and text descriptions. I loved the changes this new practice began in me, got rid of the pills AND the stomach ulcer, and was hooked on this new possibility. A few years later, I also began to practice vegetarianism, which I also continue to this day. Over the past 34 years, living many different places around the States, I’ve had the good fortune to find an important handful of hadtha yoga teachers and came to embrace the Iyengar tradition, in particular. I continue to take classes 2 x per week to this day and am firmly convinced it helps me physically, mentally and spiritually. In October, I will go on a retreat with one of my teachers in order to immerse myself in my annual “booster.” I also practice alone but I find working with a teacher helps me to go “further” as lazy me will basically just coast without external input—plus I love to “touch base” with the community of other yogis and yoginnis that meet for these classes. I’m convinced that yoga isn’t just a central part of my life and how I’m living it, but as a practicing fine artist, it has in real, but subtle, ways, influenced my entire career path and body of work.

Those challenging lessons in life. The ones that can really take the wind out of your sail. Bringing every emotion to the surface. Intensely. My head felt like it was on fire, my body tense and exhausted during my Sister's 18 month illness and eventual death from breast cancer. My Father died 5 months prior to Sister's passing. My Mom, now at home with me suffering from Altzheimer's and a brand new baby grandson born on the day of Dad's funeral! These were bitter-sweet moments of celebration and grieving for my loved ones. I didn't know if I was coming or going at times!
Homeopathic remedies, Bach flowers and BREATH DEEP were a few of my tools to keep it together. I knew I needed Yoga for balance and peace of mind. Also dance.
I quit my job in the state super-max prison library. Got to Yoga class and began my recuperation and restoration. My wonderful teacher one day said to me "Debbie, you can teach Yoga if you want." Today I am teaching and practicing Vinyasa with love, playfulness, and joy in my heart!

I always felt that I needed to learn to breathe more fully and more easily. I didn't really learn know how to breathe until I started doing Yoga. I was told to breathe from here or from there; and I was told "don't do this or that", but none of it made sense and it did not help. I even asked a singer and an actor for help, even though I am not a singer or an actor, but I did not get the help I was searching for.

One day while watching public television, I learned about Peggy Cappy's "Yoga for the Rest of Us". I bought her DVDs, and I finally felt the ease of breathing. Without my daily simple yoga exercises which consist of stretching, balancing and breathing, I cannot imagine feeling good physically or mentally.

A huge bonus was the Spiritual Connection I felt with the breath that I had never felt before. That spiritual connection led to my reading about Buddhism and to my daily meditation practice. Meditation focusing on the breath helps me to live more peacefully, and with more kindness and compassion.

All of this from simple Yoga exercises which stretch and balance the body. -Judith Brook

sutra 1: Yoga is the cessation of the fluxtuation of the mind. Our teacher reminds us of this Sutra in each and every Hatha class. We are told to leave our hurts and stresses on the floor during svathasana. I come to yoga class carrying the day with me - my mind swirling in different directions my body tight. There is always talk and energy and pragmatic movement before hatha class begins. At the end I am in a quiet energy - my mind is at peace - my body feeling delicious - that is the restoration- coming in connected and part of those stresses that are self inflicted and leaving yoga class as the observer. There is no competition in Yoga - we are told that were ever you are is okay - to not judge yourself. I thank my teacher always.
When I first started Yoga three years ago I was a complete neophyte. Over and over I listened to the repetition of the words - felt the flight and gravity of the asanas , the chanting, pranyanma, the music, the hush light of the candle. I have felt my body anew - my mind opening and have smiled over and over again.
Yoga has calmed the mind, opened my body and gradually the sutras have become part of my day to day experience. To be here and now is restorative.

I started doing yoga 32 years ago, when I turned 30 and was trying to give up smoking. After I started doing yoga, I was able to stop smoking in one day and never, ever looked back. I realized then that there was something pretty amazing about the practice. After 5 years I became a yoga teacher and have been teaching now for 27 years.

In addition to teaching yoga, I have also been a visual artist for about the same amount of time. I began to notice, early on in my teaching and yoga practice, that many of the people I was encountering in yoga classes and as students, were also artists of all kinds. Since artists tend to be a bit outside the mainstream culture and more experimental, it seemed logical that they would be willing to try esoteric practices. But what attracted them specifically to yoga?

Over time I realized that artists were attracted to yoga because they were intuiting its potential to expand their creativity. Practicing yoga opens up creative capacity and unblocks regressive mental attitudes. This aspect of yoga is not talked about much but it is very profound. On a biological level, creative work increases blood flow to the brain and triggers the same sort of positive changes in brain chemistry found from doing meditation. Yoga is like a moving meditation, so the relationship between the two became very clear to me.

Many times, while I was trying to solve a problem I was having with a painting or something I was writing, or a life issue, the answer would come to me walking home from taking a yoga class. I've heard this same thing from many others as well. An answer pops up during or after a yoga practice. Yoga stiumlates the unconscious and creativity.

Creativity is a very broad force in all human life. It is not the specialzed "talent" or "skill" that most people think it is. Rather, it is much more a habit of mind and affects every area of our lives.
It gives people a way of reimagining their circumstances, relationships, situation in life, and emotional state. It is a source of optimism and hope. You don't have to be an "artist" to appreciate the advantages of being a creative person. Being creative is a way of staying in tune with change and of being able to adapt successfully to life’s curve balls.

So, in addition to the physical health and relaxation benefits you hear so much about, yoga has a powerful benefit, maybe it's most important benefit, in it's ability to enhance creativity. This has been one of my greatest realizations about what yoga does for me.

I practice a form of yoga known as Astanga yoga. It is the most difficult form physically and I find that the physical challange keeps my mind focused on my breath and my attention firmly fixed in the moment, so it is like a moving meditation practice. For me, yoga forms that are too slow and easy allow my mind to wander and become unfocused. Since it is not appropriate for most people, it's just too hard, I do not teach Astanga. I teach an excerpted form but one that is challanging enough to keep students focused and in the present moment.

Yoga is a non-verbal experience that stimulates one's intuitive nature, opens the mind, increases awareness and composure. In addition yoga provides a myriad of health benefits, such as: stabilizes blood pressure, builds lean muscle mass, enhances balance,increases range of motion, strength and flexibility. It also increases concentration, calmness and feelings of contentment at the same time that it teaches self-awareness, self-knowledge and compassion.

SHOULD YOGA TEACHING AND PRACTISE EVOLVE RADICALLY TO FIT MODERN LIFE? After practising for more than twenty years, I started teaching yoga through a local city recreation center, where I design each course to try to fit the needs of the attendees. Continually gathering student input, I've felt called to use the traditional canon of hatha and astanga yoga practise as a springboard for "new" asanas. I am a retired paramedic who taught emergency medicine, including anatomy, and I base whatever I do on principles of anatomy as well as the ancient traditions.
For example, I've observed that we are evolving towards round-shoulderedness (from sedentary occupation) something the ancients who gave us the traditional science did not build in to the design. I rarely see students who have adequate enough shoulder flexibilty and strength to get the full potential benefits from a pose like Downward-Facing Dog, which relies in part on creating a straight, strong extension of the arms. Breezing through a Sun Salutation without the intended form can make yoga into an awkward calisthenic rather than a powerful physical transformative force.
So, this fall, I've been inspired to rely on intuition and creativity to design a course called Yoga for Women, which focuses on balance, core strength, and mental poise. I rely on Patanjali's precepts and draw from the wealth of yoga tradtion, but I also add my own asanas and exercises.
I can't help but wonder if, in this time of accerated change in human consciousness, there are other yoga teachers (including your guest) and practitioners who feel drawn to an expansion of the traditions?
Best wishes,
Susan Sherman
Charlottesville, VA

as a public high school biology teacher who is a catholic (and perhaps more importantly a spiritual person), i'm continually looking for ways to make the connection between science and religion and present it in the classroom in a careful NON-religious way.

as a practitioner of yoga with only 3 years of formal practice a decade or so ago, i like to start my days with a yoga routine, though it often changes and thus reflects my inner stress. essentially, i do four sun salutations, one each to the four cardinal directions (a bit of feng shui, if you will), each direction symbolizing something that works for me: (these are not my own ideas but i cannot remember which 'workshop' introduced these ideas to me...). to the EAST, while doing the sun salutation and breathing carefully, i will meditate on DETAILS i'm dealing w/in my life at that time; SOUTH meditating on PEOPLE LESS FORTUNATE; WEST meditating on the BIG PICTURE/PERSPECTIVE; and finally NORTH meditating on JUST DO IT!/ACT NOW. it's nice because i can change the order in which i do the four directions or the number of them, depending on the need at the moment.

here's to balance.

charlie

Yoga has helped me to learn the connection between breath and thought. I attend Yoga classes at a local YMCA. I suppose they are in the hatha yoga form. The last 10 minutes of class are spent in the shavasana pose. In this relaxation pose I have felt a glimpse of what it might be like to truly let thoughts go and meditate. Near the end of the 10 minutes a feeling washes over me. It is similar to a rushing feeling of falling asleep while trying to read a good book, but I remain awake and somewhere between conscious and unconscious. Then I hear the instructor's voice telling us to return our thoughts to our breath and I have a sense of wonder over the feeling that I just experienced.
For me, it is an intuitive process to work my muscles and focus my mind on body alignment before attempting meditation. The yoga sessions provide a process for releasing tensions.

I have been practicing hatha yoga since 1994, most of my teachers are Anusaura inspired, recently I began practicing Shadow Yoga.
I begin each day with a home practice of sun salutations and standing poses.
In the beginning the first benefit was mountian pose, just standing balanced like a mountian, no matter the weather, wind, snow, heat the mountian is standing strong- I used this pose as I waited in line at the grocery store, instead of being anxious, in a hurry, upset at the person using all the coupons I could just be the mountain.
Balance, feeling calm, knowing you can just breathe, being centered.
Thich Nhat Hanh talks about a boat of Vietnamese refugees who are very scared and says if one person on the boat can remain calm by just breathing they may be able to save everyone on the boat.
I heard a story about a woman in a bank robbery situation and she said she just tried to breathe and remain calm to somehow transfer this to the people holding the guns and she believed this helped the situation and no one was harmed.
There are also the physical aspects, flexibility, strength, benefits for the internal organs, but in the end the practice is to prepare one to be able to sit comfortably to meditate.

I have been practicing hatha yoga since 1994, most of my teachers are Anusaura inspired, recently I began practicing Shadow Yoga.
I begin each day with a home practice of sun salutations and standing poses.
In the beginning the first benefit was mountian pose, just standing balanced like a mountian, no matter the weather, wind, snow, heat the mountian is standing strong- I used this pose as I waited in line at the grocery store, instead of being anxious, in a hurry, upset at the person using all the coupons I could just be the mountain.
Balance, feeling calm, knowing you can just breathe, being centered.
Thich Nhat Hanh talks about a boat of Vietnamese refugees who are very scared and says if one person on the boat can remain calm by just breathing they may be able to save everyone on the boat.
I heard a story about a woman in a bank robbery situation and she said she just tried to breathe and remain calm to somehow transfer this to the people holding the guns and she believed this helped the situation and no one was harmed.
There are also the physical aspects, flexibility, strength, benefits for the internal organs, but in the end the practice is to prepare one to be able to sit comfortably to meditate.

Having gone through cancer treatments for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma two times before the age of 40, there has been much to make sense out of, particularly since my second experience with cancer began when I was without health insurance. Needless to say, life became grossly out of balance very quickly. Within three months of the diagnosis of my recurrence with NHL, I became poor and disabled in order to get help from state and federal assistance programs; I incurred significant medical bills before I started receiving any assistance; and I stopped working and started chemotherapy and lost much of my physical and emotional self to the process. As most of our language and way of making sense reinforces, I became entangled in a war I could not escape. If I wanted to live, I had to fight.

When I emerged from treatment about eight months after the diagnosis there was much to regain in the way of balance in my life, although I did not yet understand that. I discovered that the world of surviving cancer is as fraught with metaphorical war making as the active battles I had to endure in treatment. While I attended a conference on cancer survivorship and several Lance Armstrong Foundation events, I still felt resistant to becoming too involved with the "Livestrong Army" and accepting congratulations for beating cancer. Although I was mad at the lost time, money, physicality, as well as other setbacks, and I wanted to see changes in policy with regards to cancer survivorship, I no longer wanted war to be my major metaphorical sense making strategy. Instead, I turned to a practice of incorporating balance back into my life.

It started by going to a Bikram yoga class almost everyday for two weeks while visiting a friend in Denver, CO that fall after treatment and it continued that winter when I decided I would put in over 100 days on my skis. While I continued practicing yoga at home, skiing brought a dynamic aspect to the practice of balance. I had to stay in balance while moving sometimes at great speed under difficult conditions. After the ski season ended I began traipsing around the forest and getting in tune with the balance of nature. With each new season I seek out ways to enhance my balance practice by riding my bike, or learning about the ocean for example.

Throughout this past summer and now as fall rains down on us fast and furiously up here in the northern temperate rainforest, I go to yoga class regularly, usually two or three times a week. Since Bikram is not taught here, I now study Ashtanga. Each class brings me a deeper sense of balance, strength and freedom from the chaos that war leaves in its path. I find new connections with my core and breath that I look forward to exploring when I once again click into my skis this winter. I also believe that my balance practices inform my thinking as to how we should proceed as cancer survivors. If we are inspire and move towards real change in how we deal with cancer then moving while in balance seems so much more sustainable than trying to sustain another 35 years of warring with ourselves, our government and the medical community.

I arrived on my yoga mat at the age of 36 pregnant with my 3rd child. I had run the fitness gamut, from cheerleader in high school to aerobics class queen in the 80s. At the time (early 90s) I was the ultimate gym-rat and over-volunteered mom of three children under the age of 6. I ran at 5 am nearly everyday so I could get my exercise in before the kids woke. We lived in Singapore at the time and my husband traveled all the time.I felt like a hamster on wheel that never, ever stopped. It is clear to me now I was longing for a new sense of purpose and a deeper, clearer perspective of myself in this world. All the exercise I had performed in the past was just that -- physical exercise. Nearing 40 and a busy mother, I was craving a spiritual practice that nutured both body and soul. It probably was not coincidental that just prior to my first exposure to yoga, I had a "born-again" experience in my Christian faith. Perhaps it was this renewal of faith that complelled me to seek yoga. I felt a closeness to God during my early morning prayer time that I had never before experienced. I began to feel the need to extend the time I spent on my knees silencing my mind so as to listen to His plan for my life. I did this on my altar-turned yoga mat by practicing with faith, devotion, awareness, discipline, joy and love by offering my body as a living sacrifice to God.

It was hard work yet I knew there had to be more to life than being a wife, mother, advertising executive or freelance journalist. Why had He brought me to this place? It took 3 years of steady practice to discover His plan. I now know my first teacher was a gift from God. A Buddhist of Chinese descent, she had a deep cultural understanding and awareness of how yoga transcends all religion. I was, after all, a devout Christian and protective of my faith. In my first class she asked that we focus on our supreme being, whether it was God, Jesus Christ, Allah, Buddah -- it didn't matter -- simply focus on "your" one true God. At that instant, all the mysticism that veiled my mind about yoga vanished but more important what was revealed was infinitely more vital to me as a Christian. My Christianity could co-exist with my yoga practice. In fact, I was to discover much to my delight, I would eventually be led to witness to others about God's love right on my yoga mat. But just how yoga restored me, instead of draining me like all the other exercise I had done in the past, was an unexpected and completely exhilerating benefit.
I began teaching one class a week after a 10-week training instructor's course. I had so much more to learn but I was so happy sharing my love of yoga with others. It was as Stephen Cope describes in his book Yoga and the Quest for the True Self, "a deep opening of the heart in this state of bliss and unutterable sense of well being."
One thing led to another and now 15 years later, I find myself a certified Iyengar yoga teacher teaching 9 classes a week. It has been a spiritual journey whose destination, had I been aware, probably would have scared me away. Instead, I have this awake mind and heart that has come to the realization that when we surrender to His plan for us, we realize our true Self. It's hard work, this yoga mat turned altar thing, but I love letting go of the life of desire, the world of materialism, the "craving, clinging and grasping" part of life. There is sweet freedom in relinquishing and learning to live life fully present in the moment. This is when I realize my true Self, the one who was meant to devote her passion to teaching others how yoga can restore us and improve the quality of our lives.

The practice of yoga has helped me find my best self. I was introduced to yoga thirty-five years ago and have practiced daily for twenty-five years. I earned my classical hatha yoga teacher certification four years ago and have been teaching yoga since then.
I believe that everyone can benefit from yoga.
Practicing yoga causes you to slow down, pay attention to your breath and your body You learn to accept yourself as you are and thus become more compassionate to yourself and others. The changes that yoga brings are very subtle and occur slowly over time, therefore some people are disappointed in yoga because they are expecting quick results. However if one stays with the practice for a series of months, changes occur not only in ones' body, but also in one's mind set and attitudes towards life.
Thank you for asking.
The picture I am attaching is my daughter and I doing the wheel pose with a little assitance from my cat, Woody.
The website for my yoga studio is
http://www.dancingheartsstudio.com

My first experience with yoga was way back in 1986, at my undergrad college, at a small, student center class. From that experience on, I knew that I had found a form of expression that suited me deeply. However, it was a long search to find the right teacher, to truly show me how powerful a devoted practice can be.
The Iyengar tradition has been a perfect path for me, in that it approaches yoga not as a thing that you do, but as a way of practicing life. Time on the mat is a time of play, meditation, exercise, research, and devotion. Hence, I view my mat as a playground, a laboratory, and a temple, all at the same time. I am so grateful for this gift of yoga, and the wonderful teachers who have devoted their lives to sharing it with all.

I became interested in yoga through the tapes by Jon Kabat-Zinn and his work at University of Massachusetts. I had seen him on a Bill Moyers PBS special on body-mind interaction. I sporadically tried doing the exercises at home. Then, our director of nursing (I'm a chaplain at a general hospital) offered a weekly yoga class. At the end of those sessions I found myself so relaxed that I often fell asleep as we finished in the "corpse pose." My sense of balance and of flexibility improved. One "aha!" moment came when I had both arms stretched above my head and my teacher told me to relax. I was amazed that I could be in the pose and hold it without the tension I usually had.
One of my teacher's major "mantras" for me was "Let your shoulders drop down from your ears." I heard those words so often that they became a part of my life and I would check, find the tension, and then relax, throughout the day. It also helped make me aware of other places where I stored tension in my body.
Seven years ago I suffered from a ruptured disk and to my surprise, the physical therapist had me doing "exercises" to help my back which I already knew as yoga poses.
I do not follow a regular practice of yoga, but the awareness remains and there are stretches I utilize to help relieve tension and discomfort. I remain aware of my posture, coaching myself to stand straight, shoulder blades back, and shoulders down from my ears.
I enjoy reading about yoga, particularly Yoga Journal and the Kripalu newsletter.

I have found that yoga is a wholistic practice which allows me to connect spiritually, mentally and phisically in ways that enrich and restore my life. I find that yoga has opened links to spirit that I was not able to aceess while growing up in the Episcopal church. Through meditation and pranayama, i have connected with source, quieted the mind stuff (chitta vritti), and it's challenging and fun! I practice anusara, iyengar, vinyassa, & asthanga. I'm trying to figure out which one is best for me. I am leaning towards anusara which incorporates the vinyasa flow but maintains alignment principals.

OM Shanti, Kathy

I was introduced to yoga (hatha) at my local YMCA and have practiced (increasingly) for 6 years. I am going to be 60 in November, and I wish I had found yoga much earlier in my life - it has definitely been life-changing for me. I am attracted to all aspects - mind, body and spirit. Physically I am stronger, more flexible and more aware of my body and its parts. Mentally, I have learned to slow down, to focus, to breathe, to have perspective. Spiritually I am learning to connect to something greater than myself and beyond the confines of my physical life. I am so interested in reading and learning all about yoga. I keep a book about the anatomy of yoga in the bathroom to read about each pose. I have learned some chants in sanskrit and am fascinated by that language. Currently I am a school librarian, but I plan to become a certified yoga instructor when I retire and would like to do yoga with senior citizens who are limited in their movement, as I truly believe yoga can be beneficial to ANYONE. My mother has emphysema and I have shown her some breathing techniques that might help her. After work, when my energy is at its lowest, I have started doing 5 basic sun salutations and standing on my head for a few minutes and I am amazed by the energy I gain from this simple routine. I have found that the benefits of doing yoga are sometimes immediate - especially from the relaxation poses - but others become evident after a long time of practice, when I one day realize that I can actually feel a certain set of muscles, or that I can easily twist around as I back my car! I think savasana as a "practice" for dying is very interesting - letting go. I love yoga.

I started Hatha yoga six years ago. I was grieving the death of my 85 year old mother, and family and friends prevailed upon me to try yoga. I had never been very athletic, but from the very first session, yoga meshed with my artistic personality! Through all the guided stretching and strengthening movements, I have found inner and outer strength. The meditation practice helps me to quiet the constant chatter and inner critic, and aids in concentration and creativity for my work in drawing and painting.

As an unexpected bonus, I have met wonderful women in my classes, some of whom have become friends. We are all of different physical ages but are all youthful seekers. One woman next to me turned out to be a Unity minister, and now I am an active member her church. Others share their life experiences before class and we all feel this connection to one another and to a force within us due to our practice of yoga. (Instructor is Kit Spahr at Delaware Arts Castle in Delaware, Ohio).

I'd like to share my story about yoga's most fundamental aspect: breathing. Recovering from a back injury sustained during a "frisbee accident" on the Fourth of July (but I made the catch!), there was so much that I couldn't do. Weeks after the injury, I could still go into spasm without warning, and most stretching and yoga poses were beyond me.

Lying in bed one morning, I decided to just breathe as deeply as I could, to see if that would help my back muscles loosen their death-grip on my life. I inhaled deeply through my nose, allowing my belly to "fill up" first, and then letting the remainder of the inhalation move up into a full expansion of my chest. Then I exhaled completely, letting the air out in "one fell swoop."

What I discovered was that my body immediately responded to this "letting go" of my breath. I followed the first breath with another deep, full breath, and I began to feel random tiny little knots in various parts of my body -- arms, back, calves -- release. I realized that I had switched my body into relaxation response, the opposite of fight-or-flight mode. I also instinctively realized that relaxation response was the body's healing mode.

More than the physical relaxation, I also had the realization that oxygen itself is our body's most basic food. Of course we drink water and eat food to survive, but oxygen is even more elemental. We cannot be deprived of it even for more than a few moments without the direst of effects. Yet, I found myself thinking, most of us drink very shallowly from the immense store of oxygen all around us. I envisioned an "oxygen patch" like a berry patch, all around us, and just waiting for us to "eat" our fill.

The longer I lay there, breathing in great "bunches" of oxygen, the better I felt -- more relaxed and more filled, literally, with life. I also realized that I had been breathing without distraction for a long period of time -- in a sense, meditating more successfully than I ever had in my life, all without any explicit intention of doing so. I was just trying to breathe deeply. Then I thought: Is this what the wise, spiritual teachers of the world are trying to teach us -- just breathe? Of course, the word "spirit" means breath. Maybe the great spiritual teachers are our "breath" teachers -- the ones who show what happens when you center your life not in the shallow breathing of fight-or-flight mode, but in the healing mode of deep, full, oxygen-rich breaths.

Yes, I kept going to the chiropractor, and yes, I tried to be sensible in my bodily movements, but I really do date my recovery from that moment -- when I learned how to push my body's healing button. I am now almost fully recovered, but am keeping my "breathing exercises" as part of my daily routine that I can call upon whenever I realize I'm in a stress mode, but don't really need to be.

“Yoga? You’re kidding, right?” My response to the suggestion that yoga would be a good way to reinforce the 10 weeks of Rolfing (structural integration) I had just completed was automatic and defensive. A former swimmer with Olympic aspirations, I tended to approach all kinds of physical activity as training. Though I didn’t know much about yoga, my impression was that it was for non-athletes – people who liked to meditate and tie their bodies into unnatural, pretzel-like postures. On the other hand, the main reason I needed Rolfing was because of damage to my spine caused by years of over-training. As a bodyworker and healer myself, I knew something had to change.

In the end, I was intrigued enough by my Rolfer’s experiences with yoga (she’s no pretzel) to do some research. What I found left me marveling (yet again) at the way each new lesson appears in my life just as I’m ready to learn it.

Far from being a namby-pamby, watered down version of exercise, yoga is a powerful tool for integrating mind, body, and spirit. The word “yoga” means union, and the combination of postures and breathing not only quiet the mind and strengthen the body, but open energetic channels as well. Moreover, in the hands of a skilled yoga therapist (a yoga teacher who has been trained in how to adapt traditional techniques to the specific needs of individuals with health problems or injuries) yoga becomes a healing art.

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that exactly the right yoga therapist appeared in my life, nor that the first thing out of her mouth was, “Now this is not a competition to see who can get on the cover of Yoga Journal. It’s about breathing and listening to what the body needs.”

Since entering Kate Hillman’s studio (www.kateyoga.com) approximately six months ago, I have forged a new and more compassionate relationship with my body. Moreover, I am stronger, more flexible, and able to integrate my own work (www.conversationswithessentiallight.com) more easily.

Equally important, however, has been the formation of a community of healing professionals known as the Transcendent Healing Collective. The collective includes everything from mainstream western doctors - such as an osteopath, psychotherapist, and dentist - to those working in more integrative fields such as yoga therapy, naturopathy, and ayurvedic counseling. Together we explore how our various disciplines dovetail, and share our perspectives on particular health topics (stress, interpersonal relationships, aging, playing for health, etc.) with the world at large. This takes the form of a weekly blog called Transcendent Healing (www.transcendenthealing.com) to which we all contribute on a rotating basis.

Needless to say I had to smile when Krista asked for stories of how yoga has affected your life. I can’t think of any aspect of my life that hasn’t been positively affected by yoga. It is one of the few disciplines that addresses all aspects of being - offering tools for positive, life-affirming change.

I am not disciplined enough to do this on myown, so I practice whatever the teacher stresses. I live in a university commuity and attend the classes that the Physical therapy faculty and students attend, so that I havemore faith in the teacher.

I have learned to breathe through stress.
I have learned to breathe to relax, and take myself to another place.
I have learned that I can challenge by crippled body (several knee surgeries) and grow.

Yoga is the hub around which the wheel of my life revolves. Yoga not only keeps my body well and whole, but my practice keeps my emotions and my spirit balanced. Yoga has led me to a wholeness of life that I've never had before. Yoga has led me to the deep understanding that I am God's beloved creation -- just right right now. The greatest gift that yoga has given me is that peaceful with my life; I feel I am living as God intends me to in all areas of my life.

Years ago, as I navigated between the different areas of my life and the various roles I play, I would feel jarring shifts. My yoga practice has smoothed those transitions. I feel a new fluidity as I move from teaching in my yoga studio, to caring for my husband and children, to listening to a friend, to worshipping God.

It's common knowledge that yoga integrates body, mind and spirit. The profound truth for those of us living and practicing within busy, ordinary, daily lives, is that yoga integrates all the dimensions and areas of our lives. As much as we love being these things, we are not "mom," or "teacher," or "wife," or "parishioner," or "friend." We are simply who we are when we are still and quiet. We are God's creations trying our best to let His love and His light shine through us as we live our lives.

Yoga is a spiritual tool designed to help each of us -- regular people living regular lives -- draw closer to God. For me, yoga intersects beautifully with my Christian faith, but yoga works with any faith. Yoga helps us draw our faith out of weekly worship and into my everyday life. This is my greatest message to my students. This is my passion.

I practice and teach ashtanga yoga. The physical movement of ashtanga yoga required my mental focus. This helps me quiet my mind. Ashtanga's focus on breath serves to deepen my focus even more. I think of my practice as a moving meditation. I open with an intention (a prayer if you use that language), the practice itself is a quieting process, savasana at the end is a time of attentive openness, receptivity and listening.

I have found much more than restoration and balance through practicing Purna Yoga, though I have received those as well. Purna Yoga includes nutritional instruction, meditation, philosophy and alignment based asana classes. It has helped me change my ordinary life style to one of health and wellness; the meditation has helped me to connect increasingly with my source, and my body is strong, flexible and balanced through practicing asana. Purna Yoga has transformed me from a runner, swimmer, bicyclist,to a believer that Purna Yoga is the best form of exercise as well as a tool for transformation of my body and mind so that they can join with my soul.

I have practiced yoga off and on for much of my life; I am 73 years old. But it was not until I found Purna Yoga and Yoga Centers in Bellevue, WA that I learned the other aspects of yoga listed above. Purna means complete and it has given me the tools to change my life into a deeply meaningful, extraordinary experience.

Aadil Palkhivala and Mirra, his wife, are the co-owners of Yoga Centers and have developed this style of yoga, Purna Yoga, over the last 25 years. They are people who live in integrity with their belief system and are great role models for those of us who are practicing Purna Yoga.

I am a Certified Purna Yoga teacher and a meditation teacher at Yoga Centers. It is a great privilege to be a part of Purna Yoga.

Yoga Centers also has a college for training yoga teachers. It is the only state certified yoga college in the country. It is a demanding and strenuous and deeply rewarding certification process though there are also 200 and 500 hour programs with more limited training than the Purna Yoga 2000 hour certification process. There is more information at the website, www.yogacenters.com, www.purnayoga.com.

Thanks for this opportunity to share my wonderful experience with Purna yoga with you.

Mana Iluna

Starting out was a challenge. I couldn't walk well, recently being discharged from the hospital for steroid treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS). Lacking balance, strength, vision in the right eye (due to optic neuritis) made yoga a challenge in the beginning. Yet I decided to attend a special yoga class for those with MS. The class was hatha yoga, and slowly over the course of time, I began to acquire strength, increase my sense of balance, regain my vision and above all, build hope for a brighter future. The different poses (asanas) increase my strength and balance. The breathing techniques and meditation combine to help me relax and simultaneously gain energy. I now start each day with a series of sun salutations and am very grateful for yoga's assistance in my life.

Iyengar. I had felt my life was out of my control due to a series of events. Through the practice of yoga I began to feel empowered. I broke the cycle of addiction and bad dangerous thoughts. I was able to realize I was master of my own self and my future.
I practice everyday no matter what. I used to reach for other things to help copy, now I do yoga. I am in charge. I live in the moment now.
Peace,
Kathryn

I began studying yoga through the Bikram method and I suspect that the incredible proliferation of Bikram's studios, due to the combination of repeated poses, evident physical 'results', and the sense of 'cleansing' that comes from sweating for 90 minutes, has served to bring an enormous number of Americans to yoga.

I practiced Bikram for about 5 years before I was brave enough to try other types of yoga. I have since practiced Vinyasa Flow, Power Yoga, Anusara, Astanga and bits of pieces of other types of yoga.

Without a doubt, yoga is now a channel for my energy and emotions. The original purpose of yoga: to prepare the physical body for meditation, resonates with me at every class. I now find that the physical exercise component of yoga practice is the side benefit - the primary benefits include stilling my mind and allowing me to put all the 'issues' of every day life into their appropriate context; and refocusing my concerns on things that are most important, such as how to better love my husband, children and those around me.

I believe that many physical 'practices' can provide these opportunities for restoration and balance. In my experience, many professional athletes find this result in their daily practice as well. I know I did when I studied ballet for 12 years. I suspect Tiger Woods and Michael Phelps find the same thing in the practice of their sports.

The incredible beauty of yoga is its accessibility. As I have heard many say, "if you can breathe, you can do yoga". It's available to everyone. And unlike any other available form of exercise, yoga expands the physical body in a way that opens skeleton, muscles and cells to positions that are completely foreign to most of us in our every day lives; and then, by its very nature, it redirects our brains in ways that almost no other practice, physical or otherwise, does. This, I believe, is why it is helpful for so many.

My name is Hannah and like many people, I lead a life of duality. Be they mothers/daughters, wives/workplace warriors, or caretakers/lovers, women all over our country are constantly being challenged to fulfill somewhat opposing roles. It is my experience that the practice of yoga radically affirms the greatness of a person (read: a woman!), and therefore helps carve out a space between our sense of responsibility and our desire for freedom.

I both teach and practice Anusara Yoga, created 11 years ago by John Friend of The Woodlands, Texas. I had the great privilege of studying with John this summer in Paris, London and Berlin, where I was once again reminded of this duality in life. In yoga, it is called Spanda, or the divine pulsation of the universe.

Spanda can be found around every corner of this fabulous world in the forms of light/darkness; contraction/expansion; giving/taking. So it is that during the day I give... I teach people how to delight in discovering their own hearts and say "YES!" to the challenge of trying something new. And at night, I perform Musical Theater in the DC-area.

I strongly believe that my yoga practice has been taken "off the mat" - as Ms. Corn might say - in that it has dropped me back into my own heart in my acting and singing. My regular, challenging yoga practice has improved my ability to use my breath resourcefully, and maintain the physical stamina needed as a singer/dancer. When those facets of performing are in “good alignment,” I am once again able to focus on communicating the story to the audience – the paramount priority in theatre. When successful, it is that energetic vibration that inspires my ability to find myself through song and dance. That empowerment is then fed back into my yoga teaching, having tapped into and challenged my own sense of creativity.

Many people know that the word "yoga" comes from the Sanskrit meaning "to join." It is this joining of my two sides: practical teaching and rockin' theatre that keep me centered. Like a cyclist's wheel that is called "true" when it is in alignment, and "out of true" when it is slightly off, the beauty of Anusara Yoga always brings me back to center.

The Spanda remains, as is the nature of our amazing universe, but I am able to rest in the promise that - through the practice of yoga - I am balanced in the sweetness of my own heart.

Yoga entered my life at a time of high anxiety and stress. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Uganda, living and working in a rural community with teachers and communities. I lived alone, spoke only halting Luganda and basically had to make my way through the community every day as the only white person, "mzungu", most people had ever seen in person. I was the object of intense curiosity and scrutiny--and for an introvert, this caused a good deal anxiety.
One of my fellow volunteers introduced us to yoga and meditation during our in-country orientation trainings. She gave us a simple hatha practice and some basic guidelines for meditation. All this was completely new to me at the time. I didn't realize it then, but this simple yoga practiced probably saved me from some sort of breakdown.
Since then, yoga has been a leading spiritual force in my life. I've practiced many styles, but currently find a home in vinyasa and yin styles. Yoga has kept me sane through the illness and loss of both parents over the last few years. Yoga helped me immensely when I was providing hospice care for my mother, who died in 2006.
What I've learned over the years about myself and the practice of yoga is that yoga allows me to touch a greater degree of connection--to myself and to all others. Bulding an awareness of the body and accepting its' present state and limitations has helped me to cultivate a compassionate response to myself and to the world. The connection to the breath allows me to truly drop into the present moment and to relax into a bigger perspective. There aren't many other opportunities for building such awareness in our everyday lives. Yoga makes my heart, mind, and soul bigger, stronger, and softer--able to hold the greatest joys and the deepest sorrows with some type of tenderness.

My experience of yoga began in the early 90s, trying different kinds, schools, falling in and out of practice.
It wasn't until October of 2001, a few weeks after seeing the World Trade Center Towers fall from my roof in downtown NYC that I would wake up panicked and so sore all over, I thought, 'If this is stress, and growing old, I'm going to fight it'. That was how I discovered Ashtanga Yoga, a vinyassa or flow practice. It is practiced in a shared space, but not in a class. There is not a teacher at the front of the room telling you what asana to do next or when to breathe. Each person is taught individually and memorizes the series. It is optimally practiced 6 days a week, with the exception of full or new moon or during the first three days of a woman's period.

It changed my life and continues to, I say that at the risk of sounding cliché.This form of yoga is physically demanding as well as disciplined. It is meditation in action. It has led me to finding peace within myself, given me peace in my life, taken me all the way to India (which if anyone has ever been there, challenges internal and external peace like no other. She is a demanding mother, India is) as well as creating art that is informed by Indian spirituality and culture.

Why would a NYC native western minded woman ever reach this point of devoted interest? Maybe it starts with being able to relax (not an easy thing in urban centers such as this one) and then to be able to eventually realize and relax in the oneness of life, the universe.
Reading this over it seems to me filled again with cliches. So much time here in the west is about defining, explaining, categorizing. It is only the surface. The things that swim below that are beyond the grasp of words and concepts, that travel beyond our hearts or mind, through our prana, deep in our cells. Yoga has helped me to believe in the world that swims below the surface. I would wish that for everyone, to touch that realm.

Om Shanti!
Deborah Seidman aka Ganesha Girl

PS attached is a Ganesh sculpture that I made in porcelain

I have practiced yoga for about 10 years and become more serious about it in the last few years. I belong to the Marsh Fitness Center in Minnetonka and take a range of classes there: Iyengar, Vinyasa, Hatha, etc. Below is an article I wrote about how yoga has influenced my work as a history professor at the College of St. Catherine. It originally appeared in the on-campus publication, COLLEAGUES,(February 2008).
Making History More like Yoga Class

For the past year or so, I have begun to approach my work in the classroom more as a yogi and less as an academician. This technique evolved partly out of desperation as I contracted to teach three courses a year in Weekend College. The WEC format takes a standard semester-long class and condenses it into eight lessons that each last three and a half hours. The old school model of history education would dictate a lecture-based course that would be deadly long and tiring for professor and students alike.

I do not ask the class members to balance on one leg and to assume the “tree” posture or stick their backsides in the air with “downward dog.” Yoga enhances my teaching style more in terms of the meaning behind the class activities and the attitude that I bring to the lesson.

These days, I attend two to five yoga classes a week, which help me function in the rest of my life as a professor, as a parent, as a person. I have studied yoga –intermittently-- for the past ten years, and gradually I have become more serious and meditative in my practice. Nonetheless, when it comes to yoga I am, first and foremost, a student. This experience reminds me regularly what it is like to learn something difficult and worthwhile in a classroom setting. This is especially true now that I am more than ten years out of graduate school and have become accustomed to enjoying some expertise in my field.

I appreciate that my yoga instructors are engaged in teaching and consider them in collegial terms. While the subject matter is different, their example offers me lessons on pedagogy which I now consciously appropriate and adapt for my history classes. Instead of a series of physical postures and breathing exercises, I take my students through a multi-sensory exploration of a given class topic. The technique invites them to engage, actively and passively, with the past through consideration of demographic data, visual and literary records, music, court cases, and whatever other means I find to add flesh and blood to history’s names and dates.

A typical yoga class leads students through a process that involves four main elements: 1) a period of meditation to quiet the mind; 2) a series of sun salutations, a sequence of movements to warm up the body and loosen the muscles and joints; 3) a few asana (special postures) that are the focal point for that specific lesson; and 4) a final meditation. This way of guiding the class along a series of experiences and sensations leaves me and my classmates energized rather than spent. Feeling renewed after the class is something I treasure about yoga and part of what I seek for my students.

So, when my Twentieth Century U.S. history course studied the Great Depression, for example, the above elements from yoga translated into the following. For the opening exercise (meditation), students are shown a half dozen Dorothea Lange photographs documenting the Dust Bowl migration from Oklahoma to California. Quietly, they study the black and white images and write informally about what they reveal about this time period (1930s) and the people who experienced it (migrant farm laborers). The exercise offers an entry point into the topic that is visual and emotional and unfiltered by historians. It asks students to settle in for class and to focus on the topic at hand. After about ten minutes, I ask if anyone wants to share their observations. Several volunteer eloquent, poignant remarks about the desolation and abject poverty depicted.

The second element (sun salutations) is the lecture. This is the callisthenic part of the class, which provides a coherent context of what took place during this time. The lecture explains why the stock market crashed in 1929 and offers statistics on bank closures, unemployment figures, information on FDR and the New Deal. There are moving quotations from Meridel LeSueur and Studs Terkel interviews. The lecture tells of the hardships and the resourcefulness and resiliency of the Greatest Generation. I offer the class the case my great aunt who forever saved string and would never waste food, habits she wore as scars from her experiences in the Depression. After the lecture, there is a short break.

The third element, (the asanas), provide a deeper look at some aspects of the lesson’s topic and takes the form of class discussion on readings and upcoming writing assignments. In the above example, students read the relevant chapter from their Howard Zinn text and the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, which is set during the 1930s. We talk about the novel, which the American Library Association voted as the best of the twentieth century. We consider especially how the issues of the Great Depression played out in Harper Lee’s story. Students explain how fiction can be a powerful tool for learning about the past. By this time, we are three-quarters the way into class period; we downshift into the final segment (meditation), an episode of the PBS documentary series on the Depression entitled “Arsenal for Democracy.” With extensive archival footage, news reels and oral history interviews, the film offers a view of how the era of economic crisis was resolved ultimately by the start of World War II and the full employment it brought Americans.

The Sanskrit word “yoga” means unity; yoga practice is about unifying the mind, body and spirit through attention to breathing and the present moment. In my class, the unity is in created through a textured and nuanced understanding of a lesson topic by investigating it from various perspectives. Part of the alchemy of this technique is to harness students’ interests and diverse learning styles. There are multiple points of entry --aesthetic, quantitative, and emotional-- into the lesson topic.

Much as I believe that my teaching is enhanced by this approach, if a passerby looked through my classroom window a few years ago and again today, both would appear to be taught in the same format. Even before yoga, my background as a liberal, feminist social historian went against the traditional model of a top-down learning that revolved around lectures. My courses emphasized a mix of activities to foster “active learning.”

Now, instead of tossing the class elements (lecture, discussion, exercises with primary sources, films) into the air and juggling them to keep things lively and interesting, I approach my teaching with greater intentionality. I choose the order and tone and progression of activities to shepherd the class through the complexities of the day’s lesson topic. What is called “mindfulness” in yoga, a heightened awareness of one’s priorities is incorporated into the structure of the lesson. Also, I am now more attuned to the classroom environment: the lighting, the ventilation, the tone of my voice, and other outside factors that affect the learning process.

Judging from course evaluations, students are responding favorably to my more yogic teaching style. Time and again, they say that they appreciate the way in which we study the past, and some confess that they never before enjoyed studying history.

Trying to make my history class more like yoga has given a new life to my work in the classroom. I am newly excited and engaged in my teaching. And this enthusiasm may be contagious; I have talked about the technique with friends who teach their own lengthy courses in fields as diverse as International Marketing and 3-D Animation. They are intrigued by the method and are willing to try what one referred to as “Zen and the art of teaching” in their classes.

Namaste.

I describe myself as spiritual in a variety of ways. In a simple text-book, demographic way, I'd be labeled as a "non-practicing, liberal Christian." But to me, I think of God, Jesus, goodness, purity, beauty and truth are all very related.

What does this have to do with my yoga? In a text-book, demographic way, I'd be labeled as a "semi-practicing yoga enthusiast." I do a little bit of it almost every day, and I've enjoyed Seane Corn's videos with Gaiam immensely. Her dedication to love and empathy is something I this is essential to spread in our modern world.

The solitude and peace I find through yoga is healing, powerful, gorgeous and pure. The alignment between breath and movement creates a nice hum within the body and mind. I enjoy it very much and find that it allows me to live more aligned with truth and harmony. To put it simply, yoga (and other solitary exercising) enables me to cope with the stresses of life a lot better than without it.

Five years ago, when my marriage was falling apart and I felt genuinely suicidal, I met an emergency room physician in a bar (where I had gone to drown my sorrows), and he asked me to come to a yoga class with him the next day.

I dragged myself out of bed the next day and met him at a local studio for an hour and a half Level I/II class with a former ballerina turned yoga instructor who had actually gone to India to study with Iyengar. Judith Lyons' style of teaching was compassionate but demanding. She warmed us up with some poses I knew from tapes, then asked us to partner up to help each other with some warrior poses. In a former life, I had been a dancer. She liked something about the way I tried with my partner to choreograph a little dance or vinyasa out of the warrior poses and asked me to demonstrate a down dog sequence for everyone else. I was flabbergasted, but did my best.

After class, Judith asked me how long I had been practicing. The answer was 10 years, with tapes, although in my depression, my practice had fallen off. She asked if I would be interested in learning to teach. Again, I was amazed yet, within weeks, found myself in a teacher training program where, by steadily practicing breathing, meditation, and yoga poses in order to teach them to others, I began to feel calmer and more centered. By stepping outside myself and my problems through steady practice and through growing responsibilities as a junior teacher, I found myself able to gradually shed my depression. I felt brand new and strong.

Today, I have found my peace, my place, living in the country and teaching yoga primarily to seniors and teen agers. Hatha yoga, particularly its emphasis on quieting the mind through breath work and meditation, and teaching--being of service to others--has literally saved my life. At age 57, I feel and look much younger than my age. I am in the best mental, emotional, and physical condition I have ever been.

Having struggled for nearly 2 decades with a tenacious, insufferable eating disorder that included adherence to a rigid fitness regimen and strict control of my activities, I had nearly lost all sense of spontaneity, joy, and inner peace. A good friend suggested that yoga might complement the various physical activities I was pursuing, though I suspect that she -- a seasoned teacher -- also knew that the deeper aspects of the practice would address the internal and external freneticism that characterized my days.

At first, I skipped out of class before Svasana, unable to still my mind and quiet my body for that precious 5 minutes of rest and relaxed awareness. I found a class that exhausted me to the extent that I had to take Svasana and, in time, began to reinhabit the body I had left behind at age 18. In Svasana, I began to feel the very molecules of my being zinging around within me, offering not only a new, more pure energy, but also a lightness and sense of being bathed in a protective peace. My practice grew to 3 - 4 classes weekly. In July of 2006, I committed to a residential Teacher Training program and nearby Mount Madonna Center. I had the opportunity to study and practice all 8 limbs of the classical yogic system put forth by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. I came to a very embodied understanding of the effects of the practice on my own body-mind. In the same way that Matthew Sanford had to journey back into his body, passing through all of the layers of pain and grief, I, too, have been able to use my yoga practice as a means of reintegration. This reintegration involves not only my small self -- my own mind, body, and heart -- but also a sort of more real, tangible sense of union with the Divine.

As the guru at Mount Madonna, Baba Hari Dass, is given to say: "If you work on yoga, yoga works on you." I feel richly blessed to be able to practice and teach this extraordinary system aimed to bring transformation of suffering into profound experiences of peace, well-being, and Union. In my very privileged role of teacher to elders in their 70's and 80's, I have also seen the power of the practice to breathe a sense of new life and greater ease during the sometimes arduous, painful process of aging. I've found that in "coming home" to one's body and greeting the home that one finds with a heartful of compassion, one taps into an unlimited reservoir of love and generosity and kindness. In celebration of all of these gifts, I cannot say enough about the rich blessing inherent in this ancient art.

I have been priveleged over the past 25 years to attend regular yoga classes, weekends and conferences which allowed me to experience and practice many forms of yoga. It was during my introduction and education with Integral Yoga that I learned to quiet my mind--and make space for spirit to enter. It was Vinyasa flow yoga where I experienced the movement of energy throughout my body and chakras--actually able to feel the places where the energy was stuck and learned how to release. It was in Siddha Yoga that I fell in love with chanting and the ease in which it brought me into deep meditation. Yin Yoga showed me how holding a pose for minutes at a time allowed my body to slowly open up and relax fully. Iyeanger Yoga taught me the beauty of perfection that led to the ease of flow. Ashtanga yoga taught me discipline and the awesome strength of the human body. Overall, for me yoga is the practice of letting go of mind and allowing spirit to emerge---healing and balancing mind, body and spirit. Never do I feel more beautiful then after my yoga practice. Not the perfect physical beauty our society futilely chases---but the type of beauty that emerges from a deep sense of well being and the truth that we are all one.

A special thank you to Seane Corn--I have been honored to spend a few weekends with her during her wonderful workshops. She continues to reach new levels of awareness through her dedicated practice and teachings. I will always admire and respect her ability to bring her practice to real life and real people--where she is a true force of healing in our world. Not to mention just she makes the workshops so much fun with her wonderful sense of humor and down to earth attitude!
Namaste-
Annette Stinson

Rugger turned yogini Upon the recommendation of my teammate, I took my first yoga class at an all women’s gym to stretch and recover from a knee injury I sustained during a rugby game. Oh, my dear friend said, "you don't have to chant if you don’t want to." Chant! What? While living in LA, I decided to become a certified teacher. Concerned that at 27, what life experience did I have to give my future students (I was the youngest in my teacher training class), yoga helped me swallow my fear of teaching the discipline. Over the past 10 years, I have experimented with various types of yoga (Iyengar, Anusara, Astanga, Hatha blend), meditation, classes, ropes, props, home practice, and different parts of the country. As one of my teachers, Carl Dawson quotes his teacher as saying, “When you walk east, what is in front of you? When you walk further east, what is in front of you? East. Yoga is like walking east; no matter how much you walk there is always more." You benchmark your practice with a smaller and smaller measuring stick. Instead of measuring in feet your measure in centimeters. Instead of judging you pose from what you look like in the mirror, you transform your posture from an internal sense of what is right for your body. My spiritual life once conflicted with my Catholic roots. After studying the yogic meditations and the Catholic meditations of St. Ignatius and St Theresa of Avila, I found that these centuries old practices were one in the same; they only completements my prayer life and relationship with my God and my. The practice has saved me. It keeps me more balanced during my bouts of the blues/depression; it draws me into the “perfection that absorbs all” (not sure where that wisdom came from-Gilbert who wrote “Eat, Pray, Love” said it once); it keeps my body healthy; it makes me a more patient lover, daughter, human being. I am able to take the lessons I learn in my practice, off my mat, and into the world, patience, compassion, purity, the nyamas and yamas, yoga’s code of ethics. Yoga, taking one step in the long journey to fuse with the perfection that absorbs all, is union.

From my mother's suicide in 1999 through my divorce in 2005, yoga has continued to teach me that "this too I can breathe through" (I can't remember where or from who I first heard that phrase).

My yoga mat has become a metaphor for life: you can have to show up (be present) and breathe.

I've learned to approach each class and life as a question, a question to be explored through breathing and moving. Sometimes it's a general question like I wonder what emotions will come up in class today? Other times, I start by asking a specific question about something that's happening in my life and listen to what body reveals about how that's making me feel? In life, I've learned to look at everything that happens to me, not as "Why?" but as "What?". "What is the universe trying to show me?" and "What does the universe want me to learn?"

To me, yoga is above breathing and movement, the essence of living.

So yoga is not just a life practice, it's about practicing living.

MY FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH YOGA WAS IN AUGUST OF 1971. A DEAR FRIEND HAD JUST ENTERED A CONTEMPLATIVE COMMUNITY OF CATHOLIC NUNS, AND THE NOVICE DIRECTOR STARTED THEM OFF WITH YOGA CLASSES. WHEN I ASKED MY SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR ABOUT IT HE GOT ME A COPY OF FR. JEAN MARIE, OSB, FOUNDER OF INDIA'S FIRST CHRISTIAN ASHRAM: "YOGA CRISTIANO EN 10 LECCIONES". I HAVE BEEN USING THAT BOOK EVER SINCE. IT IS A FORM OF HATHA YOGA, FOLLOWING THE BENEDICTINE METHOD OF "LECTIO, MEDITATIO, ORATIO, CONTEMPLATIO". IT HAS CHANGED MY LIFE. OVER THE YEARS I HAVE LEARNED, FROM SIDARTA'S WORDS, DO NOT SEEK THE MASTER, THE MASTER WILL COME TO YOU WHEN IT IS THE RIGHT TIME. GREAT MASTERS HAVE COME INTO MY LIFE. THE PRACTICE OF YOGA HAS TAUGHT ME TO BETTER UNDERSTAND MYSELF, A PREREQUISITE TO PRAYER, DEEP CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER - TO SLOW DOWN IN ALL I DO, AND TO ALWAYS PROCURE A BALANCE BETWEEN THE SOUL AND THE BODY. LIFE JUST SEEMS PRETTIER! BEAUTIFUL!
GOD IS LOVE, THEREFORE GOD IS HAPPY AND BEAUTIFUL!

I am a mother of two, Registered Yoga teacher with my own growing yoga business. For the last 15 years, I was a very successful sales Director building satellite networks all over the world I found yoga about 8 years ago, and slowly but surely the peace, awareness and reality set in. I was meant for more...more for me, more for my family and more was needed from me to give to the world. Three years ago, I quit it all, and started my own business, Bendy Yoga. I remember the exact day when I started this process. Despitethe neverending pull from so many directions, with huge expectations and negative influences, I began to work on the marketing; the name of the company, the logo, even the brochure copy; all of it flowed out of me like a river. My creativity,enlivened with a new focus, had been awakened. I finished my full 200 hours this last srping, but have already been teaching fro over 3 years; from the day that I went for my first job interview as a yoga teacher. I have found that yoga has restored what I had lost, me. I have found my inner child, my energy, my love for my family, and my focus on living for the present moment. My body and mind are stronger despite decades of negligence from travel, stress and pain. I find more satisfaction in seeing my students in shivasana at the end of a 1 hour grueling but restorative class, than I ever have in the closing of any multi-million dolalr communications network continents away. My family is better for this gift and I find daily that hatha yoga has made it all worth it, the miniscule income, the small demands on my time, it all works, like a well-tuned musical instrument that has found its beautiful melody again, and will never, ever lose it again.

At 51 years old I'd been smoking cigarettes since childhood and all attempts to quit were in vain. On a lark I bought a yoga video. Each day I proceeded to pop in the video, light up a cigarette and watch Tracey Rich do Total Yoga. About the 4th day I realized, it wasn't doing me much good to smoke my brains out while watching someone else do asanas. As I tried to follow along, two things became apparent, first it was impossible for me to go 60 minutes without a cigarette and two, I could not touch my toes. Slowly I began to practice this basic hatha yoga. Cigarettes had kept me so hyped up that the deep relaxation and gentle ways of yoga turned my life around. After 38 years of smoking, I put down the smokes and have been learning yoga these past 9 years. In an effort to share the many benefits of yoga, I taught frail and elderly seniors in a nursing home for two years. This proved even people in walkers or wheelchairs can perform yoga. To see these oldsters fill their lungs with air and open their hearts was such a joy and great incentive to continue practicing. At times I seem to abandon my practice, but will then pick up books and read yoga philosophy which inevitably brings me back to my mat. Yoga has helped me to become more tolerant of myself, my body and others. It led me towards meditation and adopting a Buddhist philosophy of life which continues to constantly shed Light along my path. The moments of deep peace have made every effort worthwhile. As I nurture myself with asana, pranayama, meditation etc., I find myself better able to nurture others in my life. I hope to always be a beginner in this beautiful process.

Restoration begins when I step over the threshold into The Studio, where my friend and I opened a yoga studio at the beginning of this year. It begins with the space because when the space functions as a "container" as the Jungians call it, it allows you to step out of your running around self for 90 minutes and sink into a restorative experience. We opened the yoga studio after my co-owner, Paulette had created a fairly die-hard group of yoga students who followed her around from church basements, a former empty restaurant space and a third floor walk-up with no fire exit. We had a community and needed an aesthetic, safe space (with a bathroom). We invited other teachers to join us and have created a schedule that offers hatha yoga, Svaroopa yoga, Kundalini yoga workshops, Yin/Yang yoga workshops, dance, movement, t'ai chi and breathing meditation classes. The restoration comes from the teachers sharing their knowledge, enthusiasm and experience with us and the 90 minutes we get to experience their teachings. The balance comes from the physical and spiritual feeling that even though our poses are not ready for Yoga Journal, that the practice itself can inoculate us against the worst effects of stress. I get comments all the time from people (men and women) who come to take classes like "you have no idea, you're saving my life" or "our community really needed a place like this, thanks so much." It's simple, drop-in, inexpensive and adds a sense of well-being and friendship for anyone who want the experience. That's restoration and balance.

I have begun practicing Ashtanga yoga this year. I haven't practiced any other forms of yoga, so I don't know how this particular form compares with others. I love the balance of strength and flexibility work. It's good for my body (an incredible experience of harmony)and good to carry out that work in the other parts of my life.

I've been experiencing the truth that it is "practice" that shapes our thinking, rather that our thinking that shapes our practices in the world. The physical manifestation of balance and being in the present moment is the act of faith for me. To have the commitment to put myself here, now, and accept whatever is going on in my practice (yoga and meditation) gets carried into my thinking and interactions with myself, my family, my friends and neighbors, and everyone I meet, pass in the streets, those I think about as I vote, and as I do the work I can do in the world.

I have also begun breath meditation on the Tibetan Shambala Warrior's Path. The words that I learned from these teachings that I say before I begin my breath meditation and/or yoga are, "I will now work with my mind(body) to develop peace." The work with my body and mind to develop peace truly, then, begins to happen in my life.

I discovered yoga in the late 90's in an attempt to heal severe tendonitis from years of swimming (and surfing). This was back in the day when the only class I could find was at the senior center. I was hooked immediately. Not only did my shoulder heal, but my surfing improved dramatically! I started looking for a yoga program specifically for surfing, but there weren't any, so I became certified as a yoga instructor myself and produced a (very well-received!) instructional DVD series called Yoga for Surfers. I was determined to share my passion for yoga and surfing! I ended up quitting my long-time job as an administrator at the University of California and plunged full-time into health and wellness. Now I teach my own style of yoga (an eclectic hatha blend, informed from my studies and practice of Kundalini, Asthanga, Iyengar and Vinyasa styles) at Yoga Works in Laguna Beach, CA. I also write frequently on yoga, health and wellness in various national and international publications. I'm also a contributing editor for Clean Eating Magazine, focusing on mind-body topics. One of my epiphanies was applying the priniciples of mindfulness to the act of eating! Now I teach people how to make peace with food through my Yoga of Eating programs. For more information, please visit www.PeggyHall.com and www.yogaforsurfers.com

I have taught prenatal yoga for 20 years.
It is a great way for pregnant women to relax, rejuvenate and de-stress.
Yoga allows them to come into the present, focus on their breath and their babies.
I consider teaching this class one of the most important things that I do because it benefits both mother and baby. Pregnant women look so relaxed at the end of class.
Prenatal Yoga also is an excellent preparation for labor. It teaches you to surrender and let go.

I began the practice of astangha yoga with Christine Hoar as my teacher in the mountain village of Bristol, Vermont about nine years ago. At the time I was unaware of the melanoma cells mitgrating to lymphs nodes most pronounced in the lower left flank. I had been officially declared free of a level 4 melanoma after one year of interferon and seven years of follow up scans and onocologist appointments.

Although I am vital teacher in our arts community and a happy mother of adult children and wife to an excellent man, my late forties and early fifties were highly stressful. I believed I wanted to leave our marriage. My mother was becoming less of a companion and more of a dependent. I deeply feared for one of my children. Producing five shows a year with a high school ensemble produced so much joy and depleted so much energy. For awhile I believed I could do little else.

More and more drawn to the practice of yoga I began to claim a calm center, a center explaining there is time in a life for everything. To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose. As I settled into the order of life's events, joys and sorrows, my body began to explain something was going on.

When sleeping on my stomach became difficult, I thought it was my hips opening. When the lower intestine tract reacted, I went through an aryevedic cleanse. I had never had problems with my lower back before, so I breathed into the slight curve. I learned pranayama and went to aryvedic physicians in order to be convinced of my healthy path. They, however, both saw something on my tongue, "parasites" maybe one suggested. Yet I was strong, increasing upper body strength, talking now again to the love of my life, and dealing with my mother and son. Life was creative, more and more holistic under Christine's expert guidance.

But there was still a stitch in my side. Almost apologetically I went to my doctor. "Can you figure this out? I live a good life style. Eat right. Exercise. Love and am loved." He felt something in my lower left flank, x-rays and blood tests showed nothing. The pain persisted and I looked on the internet and choose kidney stones of diverticulitis. I definitely rejected the cancer I had had twenty years ago. I veered away from the thought my father died of colon cancer at the age I now was. However, I did insist on a cat scan. And that cat scan showed distinctly I had a dangerously enlarged lymph node. It must be cancer. I chose lymphoma, but the biopsy revealed that melanoma had returned. A more complete scan showed the cancer to be in five lymph areas.

Now I faced an utterly dangerous disease. I suppose one could say stage 4, though I try to keep away from that kind of language. I had been so sure my lifestyle and yoga protected me from such an event. I was terrified.

I believe yogis can walk over hot coals without getting burned and that Thich Nat Hahn cured himself through learning how to breathe. But fifty year old Paul Birch died on a yoga mat from a heart attach and Beveraly Sills died of lung cancer although she never smoked. Who I am to say what will happen to me?

In my most terrified state I had a waking dream. I talked to my Aunt Aline, one of the most centered persons I know, recently dead from cancer. She said, "You will die, but not now. You have some work to do... And by the way being dead isn't all that bad."

In truth I wasn't afraid of death itself. The pain convinced me there are worse conditions to be in, I was deathly afraid of pain. Western medicines-- prednisone, oxycoton, tylenal, percaset and even eventually chemotheraphy stopped the growing tumor and the accompanying pain from its toxic qualities. Though ten pounds weaker my yoga body was still evident. As soon as I could I began to do yoga again. Now with a new intensity. A different focus.

But the focus is not fighting my cancer. The focus is living with my cancer, and working hard to understand what kind of "work" my Aunt Aline meant. I have had more support from my husband, my yoga teacher, my friends, my colleagues and even strangers than one small person can understand. Prayers and love float through me mysteriously and I am reduced to helpless tears trying to respond. It is my yoga practice teaching me how not to respond but to accept and channel.

For the first time in a fifty-six-year old life I understand what it is to pray, even though I can't exactly explain prayer. I pray through the breathing and movement of yoga and related meditation and pranayama practices. This prayer is merely a transformation of the energy given to me and a way for me to offer this energy back to my students, my family, my friends, my passions---and,yes, to a connected great BEING. I have not stopped what I am doing. I sweat out toxins. I teach kids. I play. I work. I write. I sew. I swim. I do Thai YOga Massage for other people. Each moment I start what I am doing. Each breath and stretch create room. I can do postures I've never dreamed of---and though I am inordinately proud of this new physical prowess--- each posture accomplishment gives me more and more grace. And grace dies on the vine unless it is offered again to the sources from whence it came.

Over a year now from my diagnosis, I am alive. The last scans showed no apparent cancer. I am now in a 2% category of people still. I have a smart and compassionate onocologist, a whiz-kid brilliant yoga teacher, a darling husband, great kids, fascinating invigorating students. I have very dear colleagues. Most likely I will die one of these days, and the immeidate cause will be cancer. But now I am living, and I chose to believe the immediate cause is yoga, but I know the long-term cause is there is yet something to be done.

I was blessed to be introduced to Yoga forty years ago, by one of the first gurus to bring the Eastern teachers to the West. I met Swami Satchidananda when I was 15 years old. I started teaching Hatha classes at the Integral Yoga Institute in NY a year later.

I began the practice as a way of controlling my body--I had been taking a lot of modern dance classes. But while I was in Yoga class, I had a profound experience of peace during the Deep Relaxation. I realized that this was unlike anything I had been taught and that it would profoundly change my outlook on life and the lives of others. It was a prophetic notion.

I started attending talks by Swami Satchidananda and found that he directly addressed issues with which I had been struggling as an adolescent. He clearly expressed answers to my questions: Who am I? Why am I here? Is there a God? What is life about? How can I find peace?

I learned that the physical practices of Hatha Yoga was like the tip of an iceberg. Yoga was so much more. Integral Yoga, as taught by Swami Satchidananda, could be approached through many paths: For someone of who was intellectual in nature, there is Jnana Yoga (the study of self-analysis and scripture); for someone of action there is Karma Yoga (doing selfless service as a way of righting wrong action); for someone drawn to self discipline there is Raja Yoga (which contains Hatha Yoga, meditation and breathing techniques), and for the person with an emotional pursuasion there is Bhakti Yoga (a devotional practice, which encompases all religions). I enjoyed learning a blend of all these paths, but found that I leaned toward Bhakti, for it helped me to direct my emotional nature in a positive direction.

Yoga helped me cope with a life-long tendency toward depression. It taught me that happiness is my true nature and that it is the mind that mis-identifies with my thoughts and with material possessions that causes distress and stress.

I had been born in a Jewish family that was minimally observant and that approached religion as a tradition more than a faith. I never found spiritual balm from religion--until I learned a Yoga. Swami Satchidananda taught that "truth is one, paths are many." Through Yoga, I was introduced to other religions: Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and more--and I found a deeply spiritual balance that sustains me to this day. His teachings of interfaith are epitomized in a temple he designed called LOTUS. This stands for the Light Of Truth Universal Shrine. See www.lotus.org (a website I built).

The story of Yoga, how it was popularized in the West and the impact is has had on many lives, is told an hour-long documentary film, "Living Yoga: The life and teachings of Swami Satchidananda." See www.livingyogamovie.org to watch the trailer and learn more about the film.

(The image I am attaching is of me driving Swami Satchidananda in my car.)

I began studying Iyengar yoga later in life and have been taking classes now for 12 years. For years our teachers encouraged us to consider adding pranayama to our studies. Finally I registered for pranayama breathing classes that happened to begin in September, 2001. The timing of that initiation could not have been more fortuitous. I'd struggled for years with panic attacks and anxiety. The practice helped me cope with anxiety about taking the metro daily to downtown D.C. after 9/11 and many subsequent events in my life. It has brought a focus and sense of calm and peace that has been immeasurably helpful in both my professional and private life. My teacher, John Schumacher, founder and director of Unity Woods Yoga Center in Bethesda, has described pranayama as a gateway to meditation, as well as a form of meditation. i find it is a wonderful way to start the day and I would highly recommend the practice to those who are studying yoga of any kind.

I am 66 years old and began practising yoga about 15 years ago. I moved on to Pilates, but have continued to incorporate asanas into my morning ritual along with meditation.

Just finished Deepak Chopra' "The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga, in which discusses the yoga way to a more spiritual life.

Daily practice to the mind-body-spirit connection is my way to balance and optimism.

Was inspired to check in here after hearing Seane's interview on "Speaking of Faith" today (Sept. 14).

Yes, I have found restoration and balance through the practice of yoga. I practice a synthesis of vinyasa, Iyengar, and restorative yoga depending on what I need day to day; mostly, I have a vinyasa practice. Yoga is helpful for all the reasons Seane talked about on the program: flexibility, stress reduction, fitness, strength, balance, mindfulness, connection with the devine, or infinite, or whatever you want to call it, and more. Yoga is an excellent way to connect with other people and to form community. I met my wife through yoga and many excellent friends. After, five years of practicing yoga, I got certifed to teach and have been teaching yoga for six years. I could relate to a lot of what Seane talked about, especially how as a teacher, her students taught her.

Sharing with SoF -

I was first introduced to Yoga and Meditation soon after undergraduate completion in 1982. These ancient practices were recommended to me as a means of managing my high level of anxiety. This anxiety seemed to be was amplified during my first professional job , due in part to a life long stuttering challenge.

I found the practices to be very effective in teaching me to accept my weakness and focus on my strengths. I found both Yoga and Meditation to be well aligned with my Catholic tradition and devotion. I find myself using them as an effective means of prayer.

As with many other practices and a natural human tendency, I started to use it less over time, as I needed it less. I have continued to use some aspect of what I learned during prayer time. I recently signed up for a Yoga class offered at work. The timing of the Speaking-of-Faith show was perfect. Thank you.

Cheers,
Helder
Member WBUR Boston

== ps
I enjoy and always look forward to the diversity of faith awakening topic of Speakikng of Faith. Well done.

The website and access to details is awesome. This was my first follow up to the show via your site.

The SoF show host is awesome. Her open, unbiased and receptive approach to the interviews of the different views and perpective of the same Human Spirit helps the audience do likewise.

Best wishes,
Helder

In 1985,I began teaching basic Hatha Yoga in my home town after working with a teacher for several years. I have a MS in Nursing and have been a wellness educator since 1982. Yoga has been a great way for me to help people reintegrate their mind and body with their spirit - and with the Spirit that informs and infuses us ALL.

I actualy approach Hatha Yoga as a form of body prayer, and I do my best to integrate it with our relationship with God. While I am deeply Christian, and DO have a personal relationship with Jesus,I feel a relatedness to ALL faith traditions. It is NATURAL to me to engage the mental, emotional and spiritual component in all my classes.

TODAY's program was WONDERFUL!! It came at a really good time for me (no accident). I'd been feeling a sense of weariness in my practice and in my teaching over the last few months. Since I'll soon be 69. I wondered if its time to let go, since there are more fitness-oriented and Power Yoga folks now. Today's SOF program and Seane Corn's story helps me see that maybe its time, not to let go, but to go yet deeper. THank you for having Seane Corn on!

I've often wanted to 'come out of the closet', and offer a Christian Yoga class at our Presbyterian church. I approached our pastor a couple of weeks ago, and he sounded quite interested. So we'll see.

I tried yoga several times before 'getting it.' I believe it was the instructor that made a difference when I tried my first vinyassa yoga of the himalayan institute. Although my teacher, Kate, has moved to St. Louis, she guided me through several critical years of life. She helped me begin my practice, adapt my practice throughout my pregnancy and continue through my abusive relationship and subsequent divorce.
Once I became in touch with my body, my mind and spirit followed in line. My whole life 'fell into place' after I achieved that alignment. Yoga has made me open to all ideas, all people; everything comes easier when you are open to all of those opportunities. Love attracts love, and the light in you created by practicing yoga attracts the light in others.
namaste,
megan

I have been practicing yoga for about 13 years, and it is the word "practice" that stands out for me. When I first stepped on a mat, I knew that I had found a physical practice that I loved.
But it took many years for it to become a spiritual practice. I believe that I had to open myself physically to accept the spiritual teachings.

Yes, I have healed my body and my mind can be balanced most of the time. It is easier to get myself quiet by finding my breath when I feel out of control or a person or situation around me is not how I think it should be.

SInce I practice in a health club, I am exposed to many different kinds of yoga, I am currently studying with a teacher who is teaching us Anusara yoga. This particular type of yoga is appealing to me as it focuses upon heart-opening and body alignment.

I practice in a community of yoga people, and that's important to me as I am a retired teacher and I miss the energy of my fellow teachers and students. Before I retired four years ago, I used what I learned in yoga to calm my students bodies and minds so that I could get them focused and teach them my lesson on any given day.

I can't imagine my life before yoga, and am grateful everyday for what it has brought into my life.

I actually took yoga many years ago, but only for a short time. I have always exercised almost daily, but by running, biking or walking. I am starting a yoga class next week with several of my friends. I heard the show today and loved the spiritual perspective. My oldest daughter is a junior in college and I want her to listen to this show. I think she would get a lot out of it. She is religious, but struggles with anxiety and stress issues. Can you tell me how she can hear the show.

Thanks, Lynn Benz

When I discovered Yoga, I was not sure what I had found. I have largely practiced ashtanga, though some instructors are inclined to fuse ashtanga with elements of tai-chi or elements of vinyassa flow or possibly anything. Whether it was intensity of focus and concentration conjoined with ujjayi breathing, or the suprisng usefulness of the array of drishtis- - - I always detected an energy or a subtle spirit essence or something, that to this day draws me in. I tend to have a wide range of interests that may come/go, be taken or left; yoga's attraction has remained. That yoga requires peace, calm and concentration of me, is one source of balance and restoration. The flexibility of mind and body that comes with the practice is another. Behind the front, street-facing windows of yoga, should one dare to look inside, one can find an attractively enticing philosophy. I am happy to have discovered yoga.

I don't have a story, and I don't do yoga. I am interested in how people practice their personal faith outside of faith as political action committee, and have enjoyed your choice of topics and speakers.

I first became acquainted with yoga about 25 years ago, mainly as a way to get back into shape after my first child was born. Over the next several years I practiced it "fitfully," taking a few classes, but mainly relying on TV shows and videos. Even though I knew it was something "special," it really did not stick with me. (Possibly because I didn't have a personal teacher and guide.)

Then about two years ago, my husband and I began taking a Sat. morning class at a local church. It was definitely a deeper, more meaningful experience. Alas, again, life intervened and we stopped after several months.

In the late spring of '08, suffering from middle age aches and pains and recently diagnosed high blood pressure, I determined I was going to do get back into yoga--this time seriously and for the long haul.
In late May I began attending classes 2/3 times a week at a local studio. I also have daily home practice. I can report that this regular routine has enabled me to develop physically, mentally, and emotionally. The physical strength and conditioning, while very welcome, is secondary to the sense of peace I feel. Never in my life have I experienced such a sense of calmness and balance. My dr. tells me if I continue to do so well, I may be able to cut back on my medication.

My husband and I are both Catholics. He and I discuss the fact that many religious groups frown on yoga. Our feeling is that it is a very personal practice and anything that brings you into such a state of peace and closeness to the Diving is okay. I would never view yoga as a religion--I know some do. It is a way of life that helps me to be a better Christian.

Thank you for your program. We listen whenever we can.

I have dabbled in yoga off and on since I was a teenager, but it was not until I went through a divorce at age 40 that I discovered its saving grace. I attended classes at a local yoga school for an hour and a half, five days a week, for a couple of years. The peaceful surroundings, supportive teachers and fellow students, the physical challenge and subsequent change in my body/mind got me through the darkest days I'd ever known.

Hearing this story on your program has inspired me to return to yoga and its benefits. As an artist, I am constantly seeking creative energy. Sometimes I forget that it may just be an asana away. Thanks for reminding me.

I practice a mix of yoga styles and find great benefit from Vinyasa Flow and a variety of Kundalini breathing techniques. The practice of Yoga has changed my life in so many ways. I sustained a spinal cord injury some years ago and have recovered very well. The practice of Yoga has provided my body a level of integration I have never known in my life, pre or post injury. When doing sustained Yoga flow and/or Sun Salutation flow the most complete and "at one" experience that I can only compare to a religious experience. Yoga is the only things in my life I have ever been involved with that teaches me about unconditional acceptance of myself and others while allowing me to move through my life as strong as I am soft.

As a person of Jewish faith, I can only compare peak Yoga experiences I have had to what I feel when I hear Ancient Hebrew Melodies.

Thank you for doing this program on Yoga with Sean Corn. Heartfelt thanks to Krista Tippett and staff for producing extraordinary programming and for sharing this most wide perspective on faith.

For four decades I studied the public-broadcasting-and-ink-on-wood-pulp forms of yoga and meditation. Started in 1972 at age 19 with Lilias Folan on KQED in San Francisco. Later there were the odd paperbacks of varying quality and rare snippets from other TV broadcasts, podcasts and unplanned face-to-face encounters with formally trained people.

Sean Corns broadcast was another wholly accidental catch, and a strangely irritating one for its brevity. Never ever have I heard the benefits of yoga so efficiently,powerfully and humbly explained. Almost the first words out of her mouth were "I am not an educated woman."

I fell in love with her humility and was a total gonner after that.

As a classic born-again Christian, I always kept a vigilant eye cocked for signs of the satanic during these questionable explorations into mysticism. This focused attention produced (and continues to produce) its own unexpected rewards in the yoga/meditation realms. I am wholly confident that there is zero conflict between the two practices.

This Christian-Yoga issue is one of vocabulary only. The only dissonent note I heard from Sean was that her attempts to speak in the language of the Bible Belt ,when she works there, was viewed as controversial by some of her narrower(?) non-Christian peers.

I had a near-fatal motorcycle accident 5 years ago. My goals thereafater were to be able to walk, run, kayak and do my yoga poses again. Recovery came, with compound interest, through the gentle discipline of yoga; and especially through those soft, decades-old admonishments from Lilias to persist, but not to over-do.

The rewards of yoga and meditation are great and thoroughgoing. They are also far more that restorative.

Sean Corn has it right. She is clear. She does not over-state the case for yoga and meditation. Her bona fides are the hard knocks she so honestly revealled about her life & limitations during the braodcast. Her humbling experiences of trying to teach before she reached some troubled youth resonates strongly with my own experiences in that field.

This woman is remarkable and balanced. I hope to accidentally encounter her again.

Thanks to Speaking of Faith for this interview.

If you want to use this story in any way, please omit my last name.

I started practicing ashtanga yoga occasionally 1 1/2 years ago, primarily because it made me feel better physically. This spring I committed to more regular practice to help with healing from child sexual abuse. This spring, at age 49, I finally came to understand that what I had considered my grand romance, was really sexual abuse. When my married "lover" started grooming me, I was 10 and he was 55. He started kissing me inappropriately when I was 14 and our relationship continued in different ways until he died an ugly death of Shy-Drager Syndrome when I was 28. Shifting my perception of the relationship and understanding it damaged me has been a painful process. Yoga, along with the support of a great therapist, has helped me immensely! I start most yoga sessions with the intention of seeking healing, and have found it to be both a calming and strengthening experience. As a result of yoga, therapy, and hard work, I am reclaiming peace and joy in my life! I am re-committing to my Christian faith, and re-claiming the "New Age" philosophies shared with me by my abuser throughout our relationship. It is wonderful to have found some balance in my feelings about my abuser -- I can now see him as damaged and acknowledge how he hurt me, yet still love the good things about him and incorporate them into my life.

Now I look forward to turning 50,to strengthening my marriage, and discovering what comes next in my life! I will be sticking with my yoga practice!

For a long time I shied away from yoga. I had decided that I was a miserable athlete, and convinced that yoga looked a little bit too much like the gymnastics I had briefly suffered through at age eight, I was not eager to subject myself to that again. Eventually, I tried it, influenced by some older girls. My first yoga experience came hand in hand with my first formal meditation experience (an hour of yoga followed by an hour of meditation). It was hard, it was rough, it was challenging, and when it was over, I can honestly say that I may never have felt quite as renewed as I did then (except, of course, subsequent yoga-meditation experiences). I still do a yoga-meditation practice. Sometimes I'm a faithful observer, sometimes I falter, sometimes the practice is obsolete, but it is my spiritual backbone. I always go back, because ultimately, for me, it is the only path that has ever worked.

Yoga found me when I needed it most. I was recovering from a broken relationship and moved in with a friend who was in a teacher training program. She convinced me to go to a class with her and I immediately felt my heart and spirit open up. While it challenges me physically, it's Yoga's ability to quiet my mind through "moving meditation" that puts me in a place where I can grow spiritually. Yoga gave me perspective on my ability to heal myself.
I was lucky to have a terrific instructor at the Yoga Center of Minneapolis named Tanya Boigenzahn Sowards. She turned me on to ashtanga. I have also done weekend retreats there with Rod Stryker and Seane Corne. Seane's detoxification retreat involved asanas but her talk on forgiveness as "the greatest detoxifier" was particularly insightful for me. She encouraged me to look at those who appeared in my life, those who left an indelible mark especially those who brought suffering were really angels who came to help me unite with "spirit." That perspective has been life changing. After the class she took time to encourage me. The picture is just after our conversation. Thank you for your wonderful conversation with Seane.
People who are tuned in to this spiritual practice seem to magically appear since I've been practicing. Your show is one of those instances. Thank you. I love your program!

I started practicing about 7 years ago, while I was a 43 year old pregnant woman. I was so worried about the health of my baby, I could barely sleep some nights. I was a very anxious and controlling person back then. I thought I could handle, and should handle, everything and everyone in my life. The absurdity of that mind pattern caught up with me. I started Yoga then because I thought it was physically gentle enough to handle and that it might help me to relax. I had no idea how Yoga would lead me on a spiritual journey that I am still on.

Yoga has led me into a new phase of life. It has helped me to awaken and it has brought me closer to my true nature. There were times when I would just start crying in the middle of a pose. I believe it was the release of some repressed emotion that I was holding inside. There were plenty of those and there probably still are.

I could go on and on, but let me just say that I feel like a more humble and grateful person than I was before I started my practice. Yoga has led me to read spiritual books, listen to calming sacred music and to sound meditation. It all helps me feel more alive and comforable in my own body. I can experience the wonder of life that I remember having as a small child. It is amazing.

I practice both Vinyassa and Kundalini yoga. I know that this will be a part of my life for the duration.

Love,

Donna

What I love about yoga is its ability to open the heart and mind. After practicing yoga for about two years, I was led to start reading the Bible. It wasn't until I truly opened my heart and my mind and rid myself of ALL prejudice, including my preconceived notions of Christianity, that I found Jesus. Now that I understand His plan for salvation, my 'yoga' comes by reading His Word.
Anyone seeking enlightenment should read the Bible. There is nothing like the peace that comes from knowing that through Jesus, God sees you as a saint. I don't have to do anything to earn His favor...all I have to do is believe. My soul has been set free!
In my practice, I like to share the gospel message of Jesus Christ. But when I've shared this with others in the yoga community I don't seem to receive the same gentle openness that is preached. Why is that?

My first yoga experience was the first week of August, 2008 when I joined some friends for a daily "beginner's yoga" session as part of a week-long retreat with church friends at the YMCA camp in Estes Park, CO. Through the windows, I could see Ypsilon Mountain as I first learned of "mountain pose." Learning to breathing deeply in the late summer air of the Rocky Mountains was a spiritual experience.

Within the week, I discovered that I could get out of bed in the morning without back pain. I could stand on one foot for the first time in years. (I'm 61 years old.) I could bend over to tie my shoes without thinking about it first. All this in six days!

Then I heard your podcast (which I download every week because no station in Kansas City carries your show --- yet). What Seane Corn shared makes SO much sense. I took the podcast to my weekly Yoga class and shared it with everyone there. Now even my wife is interested in trying Yoga to improve flexibility. Thank you so much!

Although I started doing fitness-style yoga 10 years ago, I started practicing in a viniyoga studio in January 2007. The differences in these two types of yoga have been very striking for me.

I have never been an athletic person and found yoga helpful because I was just too clumsy to keep up with Pilates, Jazzercise or other fitness classes. I consider myself a spiritual person but the spiritual aspect was not a factor in my decision to pursue yoga. I started taking classes at a viniyoga studio to get back in shape after my 2nd child was born. Because I have small children I try to fit yoga in to my regular routine both at home and in classes, but sometimes only practice 1-2 times per week. I did not expect that combining yoga, meditation and a focus on balance would have such a dramatic impact on my physical and mental well being. Now I am in much better shape than I ever expected to be and can feel the impact of a focus on balance in my own sense of well-being. Some of the things that I have learned fall into the following categories.

Trust - trusting my body to learn what I am asking, and trusting that sometimes my body doesn't do what I want it to - even if a pose came easily the day before. That doesn't mean failure, but rather that each day is different. Tomorrow is different too.

Confidence - that I can be strong and that through practice I will learn what I need to learn. That I have the power to help myself and do not need to be a victim of circumstances, people or my own body.

Humility - that I am an eternal student and it doesn't really matter to anyone (including myself) how good I am at yoga.

Community - that the community of like-minded people has an energy and healing power valuable in itself.

When described in this way, yoga seems very spiritual and like religion. Thank you for giving me the chance to share my views. Namaste.

Thirty seven years ago (at the age of 18) I tried two things for the first time – I attended my first Yoga class and that Fall helped to lead High Holiday services at a synagogue. I have continued with my Yoga practice sporadically over the years. I have led High Holiday services every single year since 1971. I was ordained as a rabbi in 1979. Twenty one years ago I founded my own congregation in Jerusalem (Kehilat Kol HaNeshama). In October 2006, as the holiday season was ending (after Simchat Torah) I was aware that I felt I had given more than I had gotten. As someone involved in training (reform and conservative) rabbis studying in Israel I heard my own voice cautioning my students to be aware of the dangers of spiritual burn out. I was also aware that my congregation could handle my absence for one High Holiday season. I felt determined to go on a spiritual retreat for the High Holidays. I arrived at Kripalu Sept 1, 2007. The month I spent there was filled with contrasts. On the one hand – paradise! I was in a spectacular natural setting (every day the panorama from the mountain changed slightly as the leaves turned). The program offered two Yoga classes a day, organized hiking, biking and kayaking and endless amounts of wonderful vegetarian food. I went swimming in Lake Makeenac every single day. There was poor cell phone reception. There were hundreds of people in and out for various weekend or week long programs (meditation, health, wellness…). I ate all meals in the small silent dining room. Yet it was an unbelievably challenging month. I had absolutely no responsibilities. Amazing how I managed to generate anxiety even though there was nothing to be anxious about! I was determined to get the most out of every single day. I wanted to do Yoga, meditate, pray, study and enjoy all the activities offered by Kripalu. When I had to choose between a bike ride, a lecture or private study – I freaked! Besides the two Yoga classes a day, my only other agenda was an hour a day of Koran and an hour a day of Talmud. I reacted as if I was going to get a grade at the end of the month! Letting go of "achieving" was not easy. The other great challenge was "who am I?" I was pretty resolute in not telling people I was a rabbi from Jerusalem. To spend the month of the High Holidays NOT as a rabbi was a new and disorienting experience. (For the first few days I kept my cell phone with me AS IF someone might call me and I had to be available.) While staff and lay people back in Jerusalem were in the whirl of the High Holidays- I took my tallit (prayer shawl), a machzor (prayer book)and a shofar into the woods to pray on my own. What a strange experience to lead services just for me! Every page of the prayer book made me homesick for my community – the prayer book was designed for communal prayer not personal prayer. Instead of reading, chanting or singing all the words of the service, my prayer was mostly meditation in the woods, lots of trees and no Jews. The "not being a rabbi" was terrifying. It was a month without leading, teaching, explaining, guiding and worrying about others. What a gift, to discover there is a "me" who doesn't always have to be a rabbi. Every morning I did my own praying and meditating. There was a group meditation after the afternoon Yoga class. The focus was on breathing. (There was also "kirtan" – Hindu chanting a few evenings a week – but I was not interested in another devotional system.) There were some meditation sessions when I wept from struggling to let go. I had waves of homesickness – missing "home", missing my family…By the end of the month I felt pretty emptied, clean, and clear. I really expected that after some fifty Yoga classes I would be physically transformed. No such luck! I found I was still struggling though most of the poses. I did four private Yoga classes and that was brilliant. The gifted teachers helped me put together my own personalized flow that I could take home. As the retreat came to an end I felt relaxed and renewed and ready to get home. A flight, train and bus ride later I was in the middle of France at the ecumenical Christian monastery Taize (Tay- zay) fro another few weeks of retreat. But that is a whole other story. A whole year later and I have been pretty discplined about my practice - I meditate for half an hour every morning and do a 30 -45 minute Yoga flow most every day (and I attend two classes a week).
This year at High Holiday services I will introduce some of my Ypga practice to the congregation.

I began yoga practice in 1990. It was a time when I was at one of those crossroads in life. I was nearly 40 and not terribly satisfied with my life. I now realize my soul knew something was missing. Now after 18 years of practice and and two teaching certifications - in Kripalu yoga (the yoga of compassion) and Svaroopa Yoga (the yoga of consciousness) I can honestly tell you that I truly live according to my innermost urgings. It has been, as you can imagine, a remarkable journey with many twists and turns. It has led me to end an 18 year marriage, to lose a career, and to establish myself as one of a new emerging genre of artists combining ecology, theology and activism in my work.

Here is my current artist statement - which I feel speaks volumes abotu what I do. I can honestly tell you that without my daily yoga practice I could not paint. Yoga harmonizes me with a grander scale of life.

Artist Statement
HUMAN/NATURE

SHAKTI (life moves through beauty)
The tracings of the narrative of art are scribbled in the realm of transcendence. And from these faint tracings art becomes the pragmatic idealism which makes visible concepts of compassion, love, goodness and truth. The persistent miracle is when this aesthetic reveals an understanding not previously exposed by any other means or at any other time. In our reach to grasp these tracings we encounter beauty and we touch hope.

ANEMONES Pacem in Maribus (Peace in the Oceans)
Today there are untold extraordinary phenomenon happening around us at exceptional speed. Before we can absorb these events new images arrive from around the globe. We exist in constant flux. The speed of experiences recalling knowledge, evoking new awareness which modifies perception, creating one conscious experience. Our ideas, our cultures, our societies, even our own identities become connected and influenced. We are creating a new world. Through this we come in turn to understand how consciousness pervades every part of the planet. We’ve come to understand the sentience of Gaia is not in doubt and that we are vibrantly connected.

CARYATIDS (harmony and co-creation)
In as much as we are a part of nature, we now can be consciously involved in our co–evolution, which is to say in our own self definition and reconstruction. Nature is no longer something ‘over there’ to be viewed in the middle distance with a dispassionate disinterest, or conquered as a hostile alien, or trivialize with romantic sentimentality. We can recreate ourselves in beauty because the world mirrors us. Beauty exists through this harmony, it is in us and we are surrounded by it. Beauty is a greater sense of grace that calls us to lean down close and hear the earth breathing in synchronicity with us while at the same time experiencing the speed of life.

the medium - moistmedia
As we enter the 21st century not only does our choice of medium contribute to the conversation between the work and the viewer but it’s an essential element of the work’s vitality. A symbiotic relationship is formed by the union of the dry silicon virtual medium with the wet animate medium of paint resulting in a new medium: “moistmedia.”

In combining the virtual and the natural worlds and integrating the personal and global, the natural process is reconstructed and with it our direct intimate experience of life. We are now part of each and we are called to redefine our selves and the environment. The medium is redefined with the knowledge that it imbeds itself in the narrative and anchors spaces that otherwise would be enveloped by images formed from an apparent world. Beauty, by its mere presence, creates an environment which offers a subtle connection to the tracings of transcendence. We can call beauty into play and beauty calls us to remember our compassionate ethos. In remembering our direct connection to the earth and self reconstruction we reclaim our intimacy with the mystery and perhaps reach the harmony of co-creation.

I love your program! You are making a difference. Thank you.

Namasté,

Michelle

ps I'll attach my latest fusion drawing Zimbabwe Caryatid. It just won an award at a regional open competition in Concord MA. I was isnpired by the terrible fact that the life expectancy of women in Zimbabwe has now dropped to 35 years of age.

www.michelledemarco.com

Yoga saved my life and my health physically, mentally and spiritually. I started to practice after a back injury weight lifting and after a traumatic breakup of a relationship. I began teaching almost 7 years ago and I have felt like I have gotten younger every year from my practice. Three and a half years ago I opened my own studio which employs 12 teachers and has 25 classes a week.

I have taken workshops with Seane Corn and she is amazing, inspiring and challenging. Thank you for the program!

I started practicing yoga back in early may with my husband. My husband was returning to yoga practice after a nearly 10-year hiatus. My goals, at first were purely physical in nature: get increased flexibility for my competitive sports training. The spiritual and mind aspects of yoga sort of just crept up on me, a serendipitous surprise: i've always been impatient, quick to react, quick to anger, quick to worry and become anxious, always busy, always in movement, never still, hyperactive.

Yoga has somehow 'quieted the beast within', so to speak. It is the only time, i've noticed, when i am 'mostly' quiet inside, body still, but mind alert. i've come to realize how 'loud' my interior is in the eveery-day hectic day-to-day.

I find myself needing less sleep, i'm less inclined to anger, more relaxed and more forgiving of others, but more importantly, more forgiving of myself.

an additional bonus: doing it with my husband has brought us together on a very deep, spiritual level.

i really came at yoga with a bit of skepticism, and now i find that if i miss a day, i feel like i'm missing my 'candy' for the day.

ps: we BOTH love krista and sof!
:)

Started yogas late in life . enjoy doing everyday. like more and more people practice. There are several yoga magazines briginning in advances yoga postures and insights. Though started in India, looks like more people outside practice. Yoga is not something done according to schedule but it is life. If not now, never

I think the one thing that my ashtanga practice has taught me, very recently, is I can only do things breath by breath. Every part matters, not just the pose and how I get into it and how it looks. The same thing is true in my life. I am hoping to finish my dissertation next year and writing has been very challenging. I have to remember to do it breath by breath. It takes as long as it takes, but what do I learn about, what do I have faith in, what do I learn while I write it. That lesson has been invaluable.

I loved the interview with Seane Corn. I knew about her, but had not heard anything about her thinking about yoga as prayer. I am Catholic and I pray before every practice - I set my intention, not to make sure that the poses are right, but to open my heart, open my mind, to be more giving from my heart, more loving. What a blessing to hear her interview. Thank you.

As a public school teacher, for years I lived in my head, giving little thought to the rest of my body. When I discovered yoga, and began practicing it regularly, it brought me a restoring sense of connectedness and balance. The way I must be aware of my breath passing in and through me, and commune with every muscle to lengthen and bring it mindfully into position, brings me, in the end, to a silent, meditative place that is nothing less than spiritual---a deeply satisfying connection of body, mind and spirit that is wholeness.

I practice Hatha Yoga with a Svaroopa influence, which was developed at the Master Yoga Academy in LaJolla, California. This was a good connect for me, as I have a larger body type, and it's gentleness and the props that it uses, such as blankets and blocks, made yoga more accessible to me.

My First Handstand at 51

I had always lived in my head, a book in my hand, and my heart, on my sleeve, but rarely in my body. In my teens and twenties, I discovered yoga at UCLA but lacked the discipline to stick to a practice. If I made it twice monthly to the large auditorium at UCLA where a beautiful blonde lotus of a teacher taught, I considered that I was doing well. But some kind of impression was made. The teacher had some kind of special energy; she was indeed like a flower, blossoming into one asana after the next, her radiant smile filling the room with white light. I felt superb after each session, limber and lithe; opened. I loved the practice. Eventually, however, I stopped going, earmarking the experience as something I would do later on in life.

Meantime, a certain swami, Muktananda by name, moved next door to my beachhouse in Santa Monica. My small room faced his ashram and I used to watch him and even wave to him sometimes as he stood beaming on the balcony far above me. I would sometimes share the blue bus into Westwood with devotees of his who reported to me wonderful experiences of shakti. I decided to check it out, wandering over one day to have a peacock feather floated over my face. Nothing out of the ordinary happened, so I headed for the ashram's bakery for a goodie, a daily stop for me. The ashram made the best desserts in town.

I didn't disbelieve the Shakti maidens I met, frequenting my busline, or strolling about the beach, but I was not really interested either. I was very involved at the time with my studies at UCLA, an esoteric buffet of literature in which I was thoroughly enmeshed, the poetry of Stephan Mallarme and Wallace Stevens, the prose of Virginia Woolf.

The years went by, early motherhood came and went. I considered a season of yoga during my pregnancies but never found the moment to do it. There was a table of books to be read and a job to go to.

Then a string of personal tragedies hit centering around the loss of a pregnancy. I became depressed. I was now in my early 40s. That period was remarkably similar to the wild rebellion of my also depressed adolescence. I would refer to that period in my 40s as my second adolescence, only instead of rebelling against my parents, I rebelled against my husband.

To perk myself up, my friend Jeanette suggested I accompany her on a trip to India. Needless to say, India jolted me out of my depression like no drug or doctor could have, sweeping me away into her waves of color, her ocean of vibrations, her shimmerings of gold and silver. I was completely knocked out of my shell of grief. I felt transported in this vast, romantic land where magic still took place on a regular basis or at least events beyond my Western comprehension. In India, I was East of the sun and West of the moon, and my imagination was afire, picturing my own poem, my own fairytale.

The contrasts, the vivid alternations, were startling as we drove around visiting both palaces and slums, witnessing the glittering riches of the wealthy and the brilliant rags of the truly poor whose real suffering was mind boggling. Face to face with such suffering, I seemed to transcend out of my ego for good. These encounters with the people and landscapes of India changed me and I do not believe I have ever gone back to the person I was or how I used to feel.

During the trip, I became impressed with how Jeanette kept up her yoga, practicing her postures in our hotel rooms. The idea of doing yoga, especially as I was in the birthplace of yoga, entered my imagination again. By this time, I was in my mid forties. I started to take a yoga class here and there. After about a year of on-again off-again yoga, I wandered down the street to where a new yoga studio was opening and fell into the hands of Jim and Ruthie Bernhaert. Here were hands that insisted and assisted that I adjust my clumsy asanas into proper alignment, and hands that showed me how to fold my fingers against my heart into anjali (I like to say angelic) mudras.

Soon I couldn't stop. My fingers spread like rays of the sun, my feet flexed, my spine straightened. Energy flowed. Yoga took my older body that could have gone downhill and made it go uphill, made it young again. Simple as that. What better antidote to midlife and menopause. I never even felt menopause in the flurry of headstands and backbends I was doing on a regular basis. I wasn't hardcore; I only did yoga every two days. But I was regular. Soon I was accomplishing postures that I hadn't even been able to do as a child. The last to come was the handstand. I had been cautioned by yoga teachers that headstands could damage the neck so I was eager to take my head off the floor. But for some reason I couldn't kick my legs up like I did in headstand.

I started to do a few stretches in my hallway. One day I discovered that I could kickstart an upward posture by moving a leg up across the opposite wall. Add to that a slight push with the help of the wall and voila I was in handstand. I discovered this trick by practicing on my own in much the same way as I had discovered how to give myself an orgasm many moons before. It was a personal approach and a great feeling.

Since I started yoga four years ago, I have moved through several teachers and a few types of yoga. For instance, I initially practiced Anusara Vinyasa through the Bernaerts, but have recently discovered the beauties and benefits of Restorative yoga. Incidentally, Anusara Yoga derives from the Sidhe yoga tradition brought to America by Muktananda, the swami I used to wave to so many years ago. Perhaps that peacock feather waved across my forehead like a magic wand (indeed, “sidhe” means “faery” in Celtic) did have some kind of effect that 20 years later led me to this gift of a yoga practice that has empowered mind and body, and transformed my heart.

i know i am in balance psychically and physically when i am consistently practicing yoga, be it a few poses a night or a full sequence in an hour long session.

i am an alcoholic and when i drink i, obviously, cannot practice. however, when i am in a better place and am able to say no to a drink (or 10) consistently for long periods, my practice becomes an in important part of maintaining that flow. i can feel so much better in my mind and body when i do asanas rather than downing a couple of bottles of wine.
i believe deep down, that yoga will save me by forcing me to save myself.

I am a Mother and Yoga teacher. Yoga has helped tremendously to transform my life in many ways. Mostly with the way I am a mother. Like many, my childhood was far from perfect. My mother always seemed to not be fully there as a parent. My father the same. Both I feel were very selfish at times. However, Yoga helped me to see that everyone is where they need to be. Even if where they are isn't always where you would like them to be. Though cliche, Yoga has taught me that I can learn from my parents on how not to be with my children. That parenting itself is a form of Yoga. Don't get me wrong I still get frustrated from time to time, but along with my husband (who is also a Yoga teacher) we have brought Yoga into our lives and parenting by way of compassion. Compassion for everyone and all faiths. That is how Yoga helps to keep the balance in our lives. It has taught us to be mindful and present. Or at least to come back and remember to be present. It is a continual journey for both of us. As I believe it should be. And in the future, when the kids are teenagers, Yoga will also help keep the peace by reminding us that each one of us is where we need to be, including our children.

I practice Hatha Yoga in the Sivananda Style.

Many people think of yoga as a physical practice. Originally yoga was a spiritual practice, then the other aspects were added. I practice Bhakti Yoga, devotional yoga through prayer, meditation, and chanting/music/speech. It helps me to deal with life's stress and calms me down. It empowers me to focus on what I can do to change the situation. It brings an aspect of self control to my life. I learn to think about the consequences of what I do. I also have learned to live in the moment. I have developed myself more as a person through this practice of yoga. I learned that I needed help with things in my life because of being unemployed. That's okay. Self-reliance is a myth because everyone needs support and help in acheiving anything. God is a big support, but God's likes to act through a compassionate person, compassionate animal, or the creation/nature itself. I have experienced miracles like being able to do public speaking and helping to bring a different perspective to different spiritual groups I have been involved with. Chant and music is so important in helping me center my life. Yoga is union with God.

In 1971 a dear friend of mine entered the novitiate of a community of cloistered nuns. One of the first things she told me that they had to do was take a course in yoga, there at the novitiate. She recommended it to me. When I got back home my dear spiritual director told me he was glad to know of my interest and recommended that I follow the method of Fr. Jean Marie DeChanet, OSB, founder of the first Christian ashram in India. Over the years I have waited for the gurus to come into my life, not seek them. And many very holy men and women, have come to teach me, mostly hatha yoga. It has changed my life. I have slowed down. Most of these wonderful teachers have come from Mexico, some from Belgium, India and Italy. Prayer in movement is as old as the first humans that danced for joy to their God, and marvelled in the beauty of nature, cats and trees, the wind and the little flower. The Church was founded by an Asian, Judaism relies on writings written in Asia. Most people I encounter in California apparently forget that historical fact!

I was most disgusted with this program. It was near the end of the program that the guest was discussing her attempt to work with street kids. These were kids who provided sex for money in order to survive. She was extremely sympathetic to the female kids as we all should be. Unfortunately, she showed great disgust about the males. She rudely dismissed them as homosexuals and hustlers. Well, both boys and girls are on the street for the same reasons -- one of which is being thrown out by parents for their sexuality. Another is conflicts with their parents. This is blatant and unacceptable discrimination based on sex and sexuality which does not have any place on a program such as your. The host, Krista Tippett should have responded to this as inappropriate.

I have been practicing yoga (privately) for 10 years. I find it brings me a sense of wellbeing, balance and peace and/or harmony to my daily life. I feel more patience and humor to those around me...a spiritual grounding, if you will. It grounds me.

I have stepped away from traditional religion, as I find true spirituality comes from within and from surrounding nature. Living in Jacksonville, Fl., I find this is not the what most people practice.

I feel so strongly about the physical and emotional balancing and healing of yoga that I volunteer to share this with children. I believe in giving children permission to stretch and breath. Sports are beneficial, but yoga offers benefits that differ from sports. At end of each "session" I do give the children time to meditate. I bring them through this using creative visualization to help calm their senses and to go inward. I also give positive affirmations to them while they are relaxed. I truly enjoy working with children to help them gain some sense of peace in this crazy, loud world.
Namaste

I have experienced several miracles. One, at age 19, when Yoga came to me. I'd been programmed to over-achieve, but the end of the first freshman semester found me sitting on the floor watching people stroll by and wondering, "who am I and why am I here?" These questions led me to read a lot of books pointing to answers, e.g. by Buber, Tillich, etc. Two of these were the Upanishads and the Bahagva-Gita. Immersed in these, one day I awoke and found my body performing postures and movements I'd never seen before. All I knew was that they felt perfectly right, totally both energizing and relaxing. I learned soon that the day simply can't begin for this human being without about an hour of this practice.This happened 42 years ago. Since then, this Self-moved yoga has been daily practice. When truest, the movements emerge from within. This practice opened me to answer "why am I here: to help others on their path; to help others work together; to help others find their way to live in peace; and to serve the muse." (When I am not on the road as an organizational consultant, I play a lot of jazz.) You ask below about "faith," and I suppose this sums it up. This is the code I live by, and how I wish to be remembered. I am sure the “yoga” that came to me is integral to this way of being.

I am in love with yoga not only because I love practicing but because in just 8 months it has saved my life. I began practicing in Jan. of 2009 at a local studio with a very young teacher that I now consider my "reverse mentor". I am 53, and have had insomnia for 17 years, yes that long, which contributed to constant stress. Last year I found I out I have a severe case of scoliosis which I did not know I had even though it caused me to walk around in constant pain limiting my activity, & forget getting a good workout anymore. This, all while thinking I was living a normal life. BUT in just 8 short months of practicing, I now sleep like a baby! This is unbelievable to me. I smile. I can think again, the foggeyness is gone. If I don't miss my yoga my back muscles don't spasm and so my back pain is almost non-existant! I have tried EVERYTHING, all the sleep remedies out there, mental & physical. I have tried all the pain relieving remedies like Chriopractic, physical therapy, etc.
Yoga absolutely is the answer to all my troubles. I am a person again, mentally, physically, emotionally, mind, body & soul!!! I am now training to be a yoga teacher. I will practice yoga for the rest of my life!!!

For over two decades I was a leader in the field of information and communications technology (ICT) for development and managed the World Bank's largest ICT portfolio of projects in public sector management, education and health in every region of the world. My first yoga classes were with Beryl Bender Birch and Thom Birch and I am grateful I was introduced to this age-old practice, which I then taught to international development professionals like myself to help balance our over-stressed work lives. I saw how this practice can move from the physical to the emotional and can have an impact on the lives of underserved and unserved communities. With Beryl Bender Birch, Lori Klein, we founded The Give Back Yoga Foundation (www.givebackyoga.org) to support certified yoga teachers to give back to those in their communities who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience the transformational benefits of this powerful practice, in all its aspects-- from asana and stress reduction, through breath work and meditation, to general service to others.

I started with power yoga about 4 or 5 years ago and sporadically took classes. I sensed there was a great deal in it for me but lost sight of it as time went by.

About two years ago I started again, primarily because, as I got older, I wanted additional flexibility in my body.

Over time I sensed there was a "more" behind the physical exercises and benefits. This is now what I am focused on. I am at heart a spiritual person but not a church person, and I know yoga right now is the finest, most meaningful way for me to connect spiritually with whatever is beyond temporal existence.

Seane Corn's program this past Sunday also focused on what is really at work when life presents itself. I have a lot of anger and hostility towards socially and politically conservative people. And I am beginning to understand that I will not be whole until and unless I can offer forgiveness to them and truly accept it within myself.

This is a journey I am not sure will be successful. But it is one I make anyway.

I discovered yoga at 56, while recovering from six rounds of chemotherapy and a month of radiation. Yoga let me move at my own pace and to be forgiving of my own body's limitations. After I got some of my strength and flexibility back, I tried several types of yoga--vinyasa flow, Bikram, kundalini, restorative, and hatha yoga. Five years later, I teach hatha yoga, as well as practice daily. The spiritual aspect of yoga, linking breath with movement and meditation, helps me focus on what is most important--acceptance of whatever life has to offer at this moment. Karma yoga--freely offering my practice to those who don't have access to yoga--that's actually my favorite form.

Attached to this is an image file of one of the yoga classes I teach for preschoolers and their moms.

Mine is informal, stretches, to heal my sore heel, my sole, and to let my soul soar. Amazing, eh? I have been healing for 4 years with dedicated daily stretches which for lack of a better word, my body has become addicted to, craving the stretches until performed. My practice is at home and occasionally one more formally trained will remark how similar to a yoga pose.

I'd done haphazard, sporadic yoga over the years, but did not maintain a regular program. A very health-minded individual who takes responsibility for maintaining my health and eschews medical interference, I found myself quite ill over the Christmas/New Year holidays into January of 2000.

It was a type of influenze combined with a hacking chronic congestion, something I had never had before, and I seemed to be making no progress. Out of desperation I went to a doctor whose prescription of drugs only seemed to add to my discomfot.

With this illness I had been down for over two weeks. One morning, in that twilight space between sleeping and awakening, the word 'yoga' breathed itself into my mind.

As it was I'd rec'd an earlier birthday gift of a cd/lesson booklet called OM Yoga in A Box. I put it on and within the 90 minutes it took to work through the sessions, I was well. No coughing. No fever. All gone.

From that day forward yoga has been a regular discipline. At 65, my body is flexible, limber and healthy, with none of the 'normal' heatlh challenges afflicting others my age and younger.

A session of yoga brings me back to my sense of self, and the realization that--no matter the situation I am facing--I am enough.

After 10 years, I still classify myself as a beginner, as my body changes every day to where a pose that was mastered two weeks earlier can often seem new and difficult again. As I've moved recently, I hope to find classes in my locale to really take me further.

I often wonder how these poses came about, who studied these intricacies and took the time to develop them. What a gift to humanity, this study.

I listened to the broadcast about Yoga. Yoga is a form a prayer but with your body. Yoga is a science of life, it brings mind body and soul together. It is time to yourself when you can meditate and become closer to yourself, and to your prayer if you wish. Yoga was first formed around the 3rd century in India. It was seen as a was to gain ethical and spiritual balance. Many religions use yoga to become closer to their God. Hindu philosophy believes that yoga embraces the notion of God, and Budism use related practices. Shawn Koran is a yoga teacher and trainer. Before she was a yoga instructor she had obsessive compulsive disorder. She then realized how bad it was when she was doing yoga in the position known as downward dog. She looked down on the mat and noticed that her hands were not exactly in line. This bothered her because her shoulders were straight but she could not get her hands straight. Then she says that her teacher said something life changing. He said "breath and everything changes". She breathed and felt realized. She wanted to find a way to bring this into her everyday life. Yoga helped her get off drugs. Yoga gave her a body high that was better than drugs. She says that the first time yoga really impacted her life was when she lived in New York. She was walking home from a class and all of a sudden had a very weird feeling. She stopped and had to find out what this feeling was. She found out that she was happy. She had a sense that everything was unfolding, she was part of something bigger than she could control. Yoga had planted a seed in her life and she wanted to embrace it. I go to yoga classes a few times every month. I find it very relaxing, its time for yourself. You can put away everything else that is going on in your daily life, and grasp you inner self. It a way to let go of stress and tension. Next time I go to a yoga class I am going to remember the things she has said about yoga. I will embrace it more and hopefully get more out of it than I have in the past.

For this SOF assignment I found a broadcast from September of 2009 on Yoga. Krista Tippett interviewed Seane Corn, a woman who found her way spiritually through yoga. Yoga is becoming very popular and an estimated 20 million people in the U.S. practiced yoga as of the time of this broadcast."Yoga is aligning with medical research and culture," Krista said, which is a very true statement. Nowadays, yoga is incredibly well known for its benefits to the body. Seane suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).Her obsessions were even numbers like 4 and 8, and she also had an obsession with balance. She felt that if she balanced the right way she would protect someone she knew from dying. Seane couldn't deal with her emotions and tried using lots of things to self-regulate her obsessions. She liked to use drugs, especially hallucinogens. Yoga eventually became her way of healing, although it took several years before she would realize this. In Seane's first yoga class, she started becoming very anxious because she felt that she was not balanced correctly, when her teacher said something that would mean a lot to her for the rest of her life. Her teacher said "breath and everything changes." This helped Seane with her yog, because she felt that as her anxiety rose she simply could just keep breathing deeply and the anxiety would pass. Seane says thatt the heart of the practice of yoga is love. She also uses spirtual words. For example, when she says spirit she is meaning that which exists inside of you. This was a very interesting broadcast. I chose to listen to this one because I am about to start my very first yoga class on monday. This broadcast really shows how yoga is just as much spirtual as it is physical.

Yoga helps me in my daily life. I feel more body mind connection. I stated deepen my yoga practice in last 5 years, the reason I started yoga in my 40s from my sciatic and chronic lower back pain from pregnancy. I told myself let give it a try to learn this ancient practice. I practiced yoga forms everyday. In the first 3 months, I really felt the different. People around me noticed in my body and my energy.

I used deep breath work to guide me when I wake up every morning. Any problems in daily life, yoga help me survive. I got deeper in yoga study and got certified as a yoga teacher in 2009. I know that yoga can travel to any one by allowing in mind over the body. Yoga makes me become more compassionate to the world. I studied different forms of yoga, iyengar, ashtanga, hatha, and anusara yoga and pranayama practice under the principle of believe that how I would adapted too goods from each yoga into myself and the world. They are helpful to my life, I can connect to my mind and physical body. I am not vegetarian. I focus more inwardly so I adapted to situation to place the space I go. The forms and lineages study are only outside, but what important is how you can bring yoga into daily life for healthy balance body and mind. The world get more easier and lighter. I meet people and feel grace. Now, I expand my yoga practice to family and friends. I teach and practice yoga with my friends weekly.

Yoga to me is about being completely pleased and completedly relaxed with yourself. It is about being and noticing myself, not beating myself up. Total acceptance of my significance, and that I have a place in the world, like on my yoga mat, just because of my being, nothing I have to prove. Just being aware , starting with breath. To realize that I am doing the best that I can every moment of my life.
I practice hot yoga. It allows me to let go and not struggle. In class a have a safe place to be self. The Heat opens and softens the heart. My mind and body can relax and let go. Going to hot yoga, I am reminded that I have a good life! The connection with self and others is what it is all about,it is easier to love others, if you love self.

Yoga to me is about being completely pleased and completedly relaxed with yourself. It is about being and noticing myself, not beating myself up. Total acceptance of my significance, and that I have a place in the world, like on my yoga mat, just because of my being, nothing I have to prove. Just being aware , starting with breath. To realize that I am doing the best that I can every moment of my life.
I practice hot yoga. It allows me to let go and not struggle. In class a have a safe place to be self. The Heat opens and softens the heart. My mind and body can relax and let go. Going to hot yoga, I am reminded that I have a good life! The connection with self and others is what it is all about,it is easier to love others, if you love self.

I fell into yoga as a gym rat when my local gym offered a general hatha class in the aerobic studio. It was like a breath of fresh air and I knew I had found a place for me. Rather than being exhausted from my normal cardio routine I had been doing to reduce stress, my first yoga class offered me deep relaxation, physical challenge and a clear mind, like the top of a still lake. I was immediately hooked. I've practiced yoga since 1997 - and have taught for the past 6 years at my local recreation center. I primarily practice and teach Iyengar yoga - but take classes of all styles. Sometimes I dabble with a hot or vinyasa class - but I like the precision and alignment teaching of Iyengar. I also like a good Anusara class as well - the joy and spirit of yoga radiates strongly from John Friend.

As for what it has done for me, it has changed my life. Changed the way I think about my breath and body, changed the way I approach life and has literally been a touchstone to help me through both struggles and exuberant times in my life. My yoga practice was instrumental in the natural birth of my daughter (my doula about passed out when she saw me sit in virasana for 30 minutes between contractions) and it something I see myself doing for the rest of my life. Oh to be Mr. Iyengar with those poses and vitality over 90 years of age!
All in all yoga is about balance - about finding the action in the pose without tension. About finding the shadowy parts of consciousness in your body, your spirit, your psyche and bringing it to a non judgmental and curious light. About creating space, compassion and joy in your physical body - which translates to space, compassion and joy in life. I love it and I love sharing it with others.

When I have first timers come to class and do not return, I think it is like cooking pasta and the pasta doesn’t stick to the wall – that person is just not ready yet. I don’t take it personally and yoga is not something that can be forced on anyone. But like a gong or a sound that finds the right vibration and frequency for those that are ready to hear – those that are drawn to the art and science find it transforming.

My first trip to the mat was without preconceived notions. I had no idea that I would release the Yoga genie through the mat. I sensed deep peace and was hooked. I started classes 3 times a week and found that when I came home in the evening I was serene. My mind had slowed and my sleep was deep and peaceful.

After several months of practice I entered Teacher Training, not necessarily to teach, but to delve deeper into yogic philosophy and the ancient origins of this intriguing practice. As I travelled the training road I came to know myself. My stress level lessened as well as my anxiety. I discovered what it is like in the “Yoga bubble”.

In the midst of training I had shoulder repair. This did not stop my journey, quite the opposite, it gave me the opportunity to expand my yoga horizon. I travelled the path through an alternate map; modification, modification, just sit. It was and is all good; I discovered my own “well-being” through different colored lenses. I feel that I was fortunate to have this opportunity to really explore yoga and deepen my practice.

Pranayam has become an integral part of my day; at work, at home, in the car, everywhere. Recently I had my other shoulder repaired. Pranayam was instrumental in my pain control; nothing like focusing on the breath to reduce pain medication intake. My breath is my friend; at home, at work, in all situations.

So, how does Yoga fuel my sense of well-being? It gives me the ability to live like the Lotus, at home in the muddy water. I am comfortable in the present moment. When at work, if I feel like the muddy water is bothering me, I practice a few Yoga postures to bring myself back, relax, and restore myself. Yoga is my well-being.

Yoga for me, is like a fast ticket home. When ever I am feeling tired, overwhelmed, tight, or just not quite right, I know that this magical combination of breath and conscious movement will center and nourish me. I first found the practice as a physical form of stretching and exercise, but soon realized the multi-layered gifts available in the mental and Spiritual cultivation and refinement it offers. I have made it my life-work to teach and share yoga with others, especially children. I now have a studio for private and group classes, and lead a teachers training program for children's yoga teachers. I choose this career to ensure that this beautiful balance and sacred discipline are part of my daily world.

I came to yoga for the first time last spring. my job as an elementary school teacher brings demands on my time and my energy - both physical and emotional. over the years, I have felt myself struggling to meet my own life - to really join in it fully - and unable to be capably interactive and loving in its aspects - work, family, self, the world. since beginning my practice, I feel myself coming into my life in a more accepting way - with less judgment of myself and of others - and so much more peacefully than I ever have before. the bonus for me is that, like life, yoga is a process of opening and learning, so it will always be there for me, helping me nurture and support myself. it's faith.

thank you very much for your repeat of the piece on Seane Corn - I hadn't heard it the first time. she is an inspirational personal representation of karma. her discussion of intention, in particular, is something I want to bring into my practice more consciously.

***

as my husband and I listened this morning, a recurring question came up once more when we heard statements about groups who object to Christian language in yoga, or want to"take yoga back": it amazes us that there are people who would like to own - in a proprietary way - religion or aspects of spirituality.

Making Space - A Yoga Story

It was with some hesitation that I approached the door to the Be In Awe yoga studio. I was fifteen minutes late to my first yoga class. I had left my place on the west side of town in what I thought was plenty of time, only to discover what most new-comers to Ann Arbor no doubt must learn, that one-way streets can turn a simple cross-town drive into a twisting and maddening adventure. I was tempted to turn back and try again next Saturday, but with so much effort already invested, I decided to press on and hope for the best. I stomped the snow off my shoes and opened the door.
I was greeted by the welcoming smile of Jody, the organizer of Ann Arbor Outdoor Yoga. I later learned that during the warmer months the classes where held outside on a large deck surrounded by the natural beauty which Ann Arbor is so blessed. For now, classes were being held, warm and cozy, in an unassuming house set back from the noise and bustle of the road. Spread out around the comfortable room were eight other aspiring yogis well along in their class. Quietly, I slipped off my shoes and hung up my coat. Jody pointed to an open spot on the floor where I could unroll my mat. She asked me to spend a few minutes in Savasana, the asana of complete relaxation also known as the corpse pose, before joining the class. I rolled out my mat and laid flat on my back, my feet turned out, my arms at my sides, palms turned up in a gesture of receiving. I waited for my heart rate to slow and my breathing to deepen. One’s thoughts are also supposed to slow, but mine couldn’t help but wander.
Over the past two months, like many others in these difficult economic times, I had experienced some major changes in my life. I had been laid-off from my job. Fortunately, I had found a new one relatively quickly, one that required that I move. I was thankful to be moving to Ann Arbor, a city I have always admired for its creative spirit and emphasis on active healthy living. As fortunate as I felt, these were still major changes and they were taking their toll on my state of mind. I tried to relax my mind and bring it back to the present moment.
“One –two, One-two,” Becky, today’s teacher, was saying over and over. Her voice, strong and encouraging, was leading the class through a rigorous breathing exercise. As she said One, I could hear the entire class forcefully pushing air out of their lungs. On Two, I could just barely hear the air flowing back in through their noses. “Push the air out and with it all the toxins, all the things you don’t need any more,” she told the class. “Then, just relax and feel the healing oxygen flow back in.”
Sivananda Yoga, the type of yoga practiced at Outdoor Yoga, places breathing at the center of all its practices. From what I have come to understand, by paying attention to our breathing we become more in sync with the natural world through this very basic rhythm of taking in what we need and discharging what we no longer need. Breathing activates what yoga masters call prana – the vital life force. Through breathing exercises, called pranayamas, we can make active this vital force and enhance its healing influence in our lives.
After finishing my Savasana, I raised myself up to a cross-legged sitting position and joined the class. Becky’s voice was now calm and gentle, “Inhale---, exhale---,” she said, guiding the class into calm inhales, and long relaxing exhales. “Feel the white light flowing up and down your spine,” she said.
Despite my efforts to stay with the class, my mind continued to wander. I thought about how the events of the past two months had forced me to expel many things from my life. Things that at one time had served me well, but were now no longer needed. I had moved from a two bedroom house into a small one bedroom apartment with all of two very small closets. I repeated to myself the standard mover’s lament, “How had I accumulated so much stuff?”
Some of it was easy to be rid of. I filled large black plastic garbage bags with stuff that I should have thrown out long ago and marched them to the curb. That overstuffed chair that I never used could go. I had two beds, I was pretty sure I only needed one. I kept my favorite desk and took the other one to Salvation Army. This isn’t so bad, I thought.
After breathing exercises, we went back into Savasana. We put our arms over our heads. “Stretch,” we were told, “Now relax…” There is a lot of relaxing in Sivananda Yoga, I like that. “…feel the benefits of our breathing in your entire body.” Next we were standing and doing Sun Salutations. I looked over at the others to learn the steps to this intricate set of poses. At the end of each one we stood with our hands at our chests, palms pressed together. I could feel my heart working, pumping blood through my arteries and veins, then on to the next set. After the Sun Salutations came the Shoulder Stand, an advanced asana. “Does everyone know this pose,” Becky asked, looking over at me. I shook my head. As she talked the class through the pose, she came over and showed me how to place my hands at the small of my back for support, then told me to stretch high with my feet pointing to the ceiling. My chin was firmly pressed into my chest and I could feel the blood rushing to my head. More challenging still, she asked us to try to move our legs back, keeping them straight, and see if we could touch the floor behind our heads. I was rethinking my earlier decision not to turn back. “Relax into the resistance,” Becky told us.
There was resistance, no doubt about that. I had borrowed a friend’s pick-up and through several back-straining trips over one weekend managed to transfer my things to my new place. That Sunday night I collapsed into my comfortable recliner. I looked about me in dismay. My beautiful hardwood floor was visible only in small patches. The rest of it was obscured by the over-abundance of stuff piled all around me. The message was clear; more things would have to go!
The next weekend I took a fresh look at my crowded space. “Relax into the resistance,” Becky had echoed what my circumstances were commanding me to do. I liked a lot of these things. I had at one time paid good money to have them. I questioned my decision to rent such a small place. Well, too late for that, I told myself, look forward not back. I rolled up my sleeves and re-evaluated what I considered essential. I went through my clothes first. I folded and hung up all the clothes that I had actually worn in the past year, the rest I bagged up for donation. I went through every scrap of paper in my four drawer filing cabinet tossing out every article I thought I might want to read someday, tearing up all the warranties for things I no longer had; until I got all my paperwork into a two drawer filing cabinet that fit under my desk. I looked over at my large bulbous golf bag, stuffed with a full set of clubs. Clubs that had not hit a golf ball in over two years. Was it time to say goodbye to them? No! I had my limits. I stuffed it into the back of my tiny front closet. I boxed up a number of books and set them next to the door.
With not a few misgivings, I drove to the Re-Use Store, my car crammed with the latest round of my discarded things. The attendant helped me unload. I drove away, my things sitting along the side of the large industrial building with all the other donated items from that day.
On the way back, I became pleasantly surprised to find myself feeling lighter. A smile spread across my face. I realized that for each thing that I had left behind, I had also left behind an old, no longer needed, idea about myself, about who I was, and what I needed to live a happy and healthy life. The thought that someone might come across one of my things and be happy to get a good deal on something they needed, added to my good mood. As did the receipt in my pocket, tax time was right around the corner.
We were finishing up with a final Savasana. In a bright, clear voice, Jody concluded the class in a beautiful chant. She explained that it was given for the safety, strength and courage of the students as they go back into the world. I appreciated that.
Back in my apartment, I sat for a long time admiring the warm hues of my oak floor. The move had forced me to make space, to get rid of things that I no longer needed. It had been difficult, but I had done it. Now, I was ready for the next phase. Relax, and let the prana flow in.

Namaste

David Trombley

Christianity and Yoga
I am a Christian who teaches Yoga several days a week. I have thought at length about how these two practices intertwine. To me, being a good Christian means to be Christ Like, embracing the faith in the spirit, mind and body.
Spirit - By spirit, I mean daily prayer (talking to God, or for anyone, whatever their perception of a higher power is for them); and meditation (listening). I believe God talks to us if listen with the mind of a child. Based on my personal experiences, those who fear meditation as inviting voices other than God into our minds have not really meditated, and only listened to those who want to control their faith for their own purposes.
Mind - By mind, I mean reading the bible and other spiritual texts so that one’s intellect can grasp the concepts the spirit and body come to embrace as real and healthy and positive.
Body - By body, I mean taking care of this temporary vessel God has given us; but even more than that, opening up the vast potential of the body and the energy therein, so we may fully understand and appreciate the power of our faith. Our faith and our energy (chi or ki) and our mind are meant to be one, as demonstrated by Christ himself, who not only embodied a perfect theological mind and pure spirit, but performed physical miracles because his body was one with his mind and spirit.
I believe God means for us to unite spirit, mind and body into one.” Yoga” means Union - uniting spirit, mind and body. It is easy to pick at the differences among various faiths, but more valuable to look at their similarities and shared beliefs.
I have difficulty believing the teaching of a Christian preacher who has only developed his or her mind in theological study of the bible, but has let their body and real spirituality fall to the side. I know some very scholarly preachers who seem very spiritual, but have let their bodies become obese. One has to wonder about their self indulgent, and not God focused, behavior, when their health is so poor.
I believe we must acknowledge that the Hindu and Taoist faiths have wisely included a physical practice to help unite the body with the spirit and the mind, in a way that Christianity has not. The Hindu practice of Yoga, and the Taoist practice of Sun Do (Korean Taoist Yoga), have helped many Christians, including myself, become much closer to Christ by increasing our faith and by letting the energy of God flow through us.
Fear is the opposite of Faith. I believe that those who fear that practicing Yoga or Sun Do or meditation are actually betraying their faith, just because it is something new, or different, or outside of their traditional Christian practices. They are denying some the many blessings God has given us, namely our diversity and an open mind . I have seen many physical miracles performed by Christians, Hindus and Taoists in my 50 years on this earth, and it inspires and fulfills me to teach the physical practice of Yoga or Sun Do to Christians and let this enhance their faith.
My name is Roy Bushman. I am a practicing Christian raised in the Baptist Church and attend church regularly. I started Tae Kwon Do in 1972 and am a 7th dan black belt with I K Kim Tae Kwon Do Centers (www.ikkimtkd.com) in Cincinnati, Ohio. I teach Tae Kwon Do several evenings each week as a volunteer, seeing the amazing benefits the practice of Tae Kwon Do has on children and parents of all faiths. I am also a volunteer instructor several days a week of Sun Do, a Taoist Yoga practice, and the Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky contact for the International Sun Do Association (www.sundo.org)
“An open mind is like an open mouth, eventually it should bite down on something fulfilling,” and for me Sun Do has provided a Yoga practice for my body that enhances my Christian Spirit and engages my open mind. Thank you, rb

I have practiced yoga sporadically over the past five or so years, trying hatha yoga first. I returned to yoga in early winter this year, taking up a more committed practice in a vinyassa flow class; in vinyassa flow, I'm able to have moments when there is a complete feeling of mind/body as one. When that happens, I understand what it is to be grounded in peace - there is nothing I have to tell myself to get to that place. In my practice, I've begun to have the sensation that for an hour, I am doing one, long movement rather than simply a series of poses. Breath and movement, within the flow, are one. It IS like a prayer.

Amongst many of your wonderful programs, my husband and I were/am very happy to hear the interview with Seanne Corn. We have her videos and love her whole being. Due to the woes of our times, we have gotten away from yoga. We'd like to thank you for having this program air. It reminded us what we have gotten away from and why we were not feeling right. Thank you so much! Namaste, Bonnie Jo and Jason.

Genetically, I’m a lumberjack. I might not look it at first – female, 5’8” and 120-ish. But my shoulders. They’re a size 42 men’s suit coat. When I raise my hands overhead in tadasana they go wide just in case I happen to have an axe in one of them (it’s best to swing an axe outboard of one’s body).
My dad was a very part-time lumberjack, but a lumberjack nonetheless. He worked stumpage with his dad in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as a boy. (Stumpage is not an unfortunate placement of an axe, but the ownership of the timber on someone else’s land.) My great grandpa worked the lumber camps, felling white pine for months at a time. I’ve always found a simple beauty in the clear sense of purpose that comes from the work my great grandpa did.
Action: whack the tree.
Purpose: make the tree fall down.
Action directly connected to its purpose. Clear, simple, not aggrandized.
Growing up, I was always looking for clear purpose. And I didn’t see the purpose in a lot of things. I told my first date, “I don’t know why people even date if they’re not old enough to marry each other.” (I did not hear from him again.)
I went to an engineering college because I got a scholarship. I got an engineering degree because I went to an engineering college. And I got an engineering job because I got an engineering degree. Purpose continued to elude me.
After college, I worked for an automotive company in suburban Detroit. I designed little bits that do little bits in your car you’d never even think a little bit about. Then I got a job hobnobbing with tattooed guys on the line. It was the mid-90’s, though, when union-management tensions were escalating, and in the five years I was there, there were three shootings in the plant. I quit. My husband and I moved to Iowa to work for an agricultural equipment company. There, I witnessed a union-management relationship that was remarkably respectful. I saw people working at whatever they did with a strong sense of purpose that I hadn’t seen in the Motor City.
I worked a couple years, had a couple kids, then I resigned from my job. I wanted as much time with my kids as I could… stand. I applied myself to raising my kids mindfully and writing about it irreverently, publishing a few pieces here and there.
Then, my part-time lumberjack dad, with his deceiving full-time lumberjack physique, was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. He was given a six month prognosis. I was devastated. Staying at home at the time with my two preschool-kids, I had nowhere to go for support. Mornings were no different just because my dad was dying – my kids still went all Oliver Twist on me – “Gruel again?!?” Hell, their world wasn’t crumbling. They didn’t understand, they couldn’t, and clearly they weren’t going to let up on me. So sometimes I’d come out swinging the proverbial axe. Roaring. Then regretting.
After an acquaintance witnessed one such incident, she suggested I might want to get my ass to yoga. So I did. Once a week for six months: Hey, where’d my 15 post-baby pounds go? Twice a week for six more months: Hey, where’d my flash temper go? Then traveling for weekend workshops, trainings and conferences for six years: Hey, where’d my huge ego go?
Soon, I began teaching yoga. Periodically, I’d run into engineers I had worked with, and they’d often react in a “wtf?” kind of way to my new occupation. In our culture, the status of an engineering manager exceeds that of a yoga teacher. Or any teacher, for that matter, but we won’t go there. I’m no engineering flunkie. That’s not it. It’s that I knew that my purpose was deeper than what could be realized within the corporate engineering framework.
I could have re-entered the engineering field, beholden to my ego and nothing more, and basked in that status. Or, I could find my real purpose. Purpose is found at the intersection of aptitude and passion. This is akin to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s flow theory, just substitute the word flow for purpose. For each of us, that intersection occurs at a different place – some in a testing lab, others in front of a canvas, in a garden, in a white pine forest, on a yoga mat. It is completely focused motivation. When you are in the zone.
I met my guru, Devi Das (the name she was given when she was initiated into the tradition) Karina Ayn Mirsky, in 2007. It was clear to me that she, for lack of a better word, rocked. After my first day of formal training with her, I told her how much I appreciated her teachings, how very purposeful she was. Purpose – full. Full of purpose. She set me down a path inside myself that didn’t stop at the body or the mind. I couldn’t impress her with my lumberjack strength. I couldn’t impress her with all the little bits I figured out. She required me to stop trying so hard to be strong or to figure things out. To let go of some of the Paul Bunyan and the Dilbert. To look inside to a place deeper than the body, a wisdom deeper than the mind, for answers that had always been there if I’d been able to listen. Yoga continues to teach me this – to listen.
In January, 2010, I opened the doors of my community’s first yoga studio. And the funny thing is, I didn’t want it. Or, in more yogic terms, I had no attachment to opening a yoga studio. A few years before, I had fantasized about it. Then, through studying with my teacher, I let go of that attachment, and focused on action in the present. Action like caring for myself and each student as best I could. And so, it was an incremental birth, formed by an accumulation of simple actions. In the process, I found action directly connected to its purpose.
Action: nurture the person.
Purpose: the person gets up.
Both in contrast to and in harmony with:
Action: whack the tree.
Purpose: make the tree fall down.
Nurturing myself, not whacking myself anymore, was essential to my finding balance in life. It is, truly, essential to wellbeing. And so I taught my students to stop beating themselves up. “Don’t put your energy there, into that thing, feeding it. Put it in the 90-99% of yourself that is on the right track. Have gratitude for this. Then this will grow, and that thing will fade.”
The Bhagavad Gita takes place 3,000 years ago on a battlefield called dharmakshetra. This literally means “field of dharma.” The place where one’s life purpose can be sorted out. Although there may be axes on that field, we don’t come out swinging them at whatever habits and patterns we may be locked into that keep us from connecting with our life’s purpose. Yes, we have to clear some timber to make space for what we were born to do. Yoga helps us do this systematically, no axes required. And when we are in the zone of our purpose, no matter what it is, its effect is beneficial to our community. Humanity benefits. And life comes into balance.

I've always found yoga to be a little too slow. Somehow the art of holding poses was just beyond my patience level. (I much prefer a walking meditation.) I understand its importance and certainly I can appreciate all the benefits derived from the daily practice, but I just never was able to get into it. And then I found the series of poses called Sun Salutation (which Seane Corn demonstrated in the video, but she called it a yoga prayer.) This is the yoga I practice. It gives me energy, insight, and generally makes me feel good.

I combine this with a series of Tai Chi poses which claim to be good as a stress detox. These, too, are a series of poses which can be done once or twice or many times repeated.

The bottom line is we each have to find what works for us as individuals. And while I probably won't get into a more lengthy practice, I absolutely loved many things Seane Corn said in the Being interview and will make that a part of my daily practice.

PS: The image I've included is of Pug (At The Beach). While I don't care for a daily yoga practice, Pug, my little island dog philosopher creation, does. Here he is doing The Bridge.

“Life happens...what are we going to do about it?” This is a quote from the interview with Seane Corn, Yoga, Meditation in Action. Having been born and raised in the Lutheran religion, I haven't explored yoga and the benefits of yoga. I can honestly say that I know very little about it. However, after listening to the wisdom of Seane Corn, I find myself very interested. I especially connect with what Seane Corn says is the definition of yoga, “we are all one”. She says that yoga is bigger than any one religion. Although many may differ in that opinion, I find myself encouraged by that meaning. I believe that most religions share a common ground in the understanding of love, forgiveness, and serving others.
What happens during yoga? The one aspect that I was aware of is the physical aspect of increasing respiration and circulation, as well as flexibility. Until listening to this broadcast, I didn't understand the meditation or mental aspect of yoga. I always thought it was just another form of a religion that I did not understand. However, I now find that yoga is not that different than what I've been taught throughout my life. The concepts of love, peace, and forgiveness have been areas in my life that I have focused on in my 43 years. Love is the heart of yoga and you get to God through the heart. The Lutheran religion teaches to love yourself, your neighbor, and God. An offering is collected at each service at my church. Seane Corn's body prayer involves making every movement an offering to God. The thing to focus on is your intention when making those movements. This was very refreshing for me to learn that the two are not so very different.
An emotional part of yoga is to be able to identify those shadows in your life that may be holding you back from living a happy life. I believe this requires forgiveness of those who may have hurt you in the past. The inability to forgive results in a disconnect from God. A step in the direction of healing is finding the strength to perceive those life experiences differently. All life experiences, good and bad, play a part in the person we are today. Seane Corn says that we can continue to point our finger at those in our life who have hurt us or we can acknowledge what happened, move forward, and use that knowledge to better the world we live in.
Yoga is prayer from your heart and not from your head. I think this concept is one that some Christians tend to forget. We find ourselves in church reciting the same verses in unison without even thinking about them. When doing yoga, there is no separation between mind, body and spirit. I plan to check into some yoga classes in the future. The physical benefits are important but I am most intrigued by the mental benefits of achieving peace and a deeper closeness to God.

The other day I listened to Krista Tippett’s interview with Yoga Instructor Seane Corne titled “Yoga. Meditation in Action” and I am so glad I did! It was a great interview that taught me a lot about yoga.
Yoga was something I never gave much thought. To me it was simply an exercise that I found odd and knew virtually nothing about. After listening to Seane Corn’s interview, I cannot wait to have my first opportunity to try Yoga! I connected with Seane on the level of anxiety and obsessive compulsiveness. Though I wouldn’t say that I deal with obsessions at the level Seane did, I believe I deal with it to a degree. Yoga could be what I have needed all along.
Seane described Yoga as a physical activity that detoxifies your body coupled with deep breathing to mentally ground you. Yoga gave her a sense that she was part of something larger than she could define and it helped her mind to be settled. Seane believes, as well as other Yoga instructors, that there is no seperation between mind and body. Your body remembers everything and if we hold onto things it can be stressful on our physic. Every breath and movement is full of intention and if you fall out of a pose, not to let yourself get angry. Stay away from the negative energy.
Seane Corn seems like a very real and wonderful person. She came into a better lifestyle because of Yoga and in turn is helping others who need guidance from someone like her.

Yoga is a great form of medication. Seane Corn uses yoga to go above and beyond the basic usage of it. She is using it to not only help herself, but she is even trying to help others that are in a terrible position in their life. Yoga is difficult to do, but done properly it is very relaxing and calming for a difficult exercise. She chose not to go to college and began work as a waitress. Nineteen was a big changer to her life though. She learned about her having OCD, and then she began therapy and started doing yoga. Her OCD made yoga hard for her to do at first, since she had to be sure everything was being done perfectly. Even a slightly messed up hand alignment she would have a problem with. Her yoga instructor told her to just "breathe and everything changes". After that statement from her instructor, she began to fix her OCD problem and realized not everything must be absolutely perfect. Breathing actually is a major part of yoga, and helps to relax a person while they do the difficult exercise. Yoga is a great form of meditation, and by using yoga, she helped both herself, and others in slowly fixing their life and making things right. She is helping kids the most, which is likely a very difficult thing to do, but it is likely equally rewarding to turn a child's life around before it becomes even worse.

I listened to the broadcast about Yoga. Yoga is a form a prayer but with your body. Yoga is a science of life, it brings mind body and soul together. It is time to yourself when you can meditate and become closer to yourself, and to your prayer if you wish. Yoga was first formed around the 3rd century in India. It was seen as a was to gain ethical and spiritual balance. Many religions use yoga to become closer to their God. Hindu philosophy believes that yoga embraces the notion of God, and Budism use related practices. Shawn Koran is a yoga teacher and trainer. Before she was a yoga instructor she had obsessive compulsive disorder. She then realized how bad it was when she was doing yoga in the position known as downward dog. She looked down on the mat and noticed that her hands were not exactly in line. This bothered her because her shoulders were straight but she could not get her hands straight. Then she says that her teacher said something life changing. He said "breath and everything changes". She breathed and felt realized. She wanted to find a way to bring this into her everyday life. Yoga helped her get off drugs. Yoga gave her a body high that was better than drugs. She says that the first time yoga really impacted her life was when she lived in New York. She was walking home from a class and all of a sudden had a very weird feeling. She stopped and had to find out what this feeling was. She found out that she was happy. She had a sense that everything was unfolding, she was part of something bigger than she could control. Yoga had planted a seed in her life and she wanted to embrace it. I go to yoga classes a few times every month. I find it very relaxing, its time for yourself. You can put away everything else that is going on in your daily life, and grasp you inner self. It a way to let go of stress and tension. Next time I go to a yoga class I am going to remember the things she has said about yoga. I will embrace it more and hopefully get more out of it than I have in the past.

For this SOF assignment I found a broadcast from September of 2009 on Yoga. Krista Tippett interviewed Seane Corn, a woman who found her way spiritually through yoga. Yoga is becoming very popular and an estimated 20 million people in the U.S. practiced yoga as of the time of this broadcast."Yoga is aligning with medical research and culture," Krista said, which is a very true statement. Nowadays, yoga is incredibly well known for its benefits to the body. Seane suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).Her obsessions were even numbers like 4 and 8, and she also had an obsession with balance. She felt that if she balanced the right way she would protect someone she knew from dying. Seane couldn't deal with her emotions and tried using lots of things to self-regulate her obsessions. She liked to use drugs, especially hallucinogens. Yoga eventually became her way of healing, although it took several years before she would realize this. In Seane's first yoga class, she started becoming very anxious because she felt that she was not balanced correctly, when her teacher said something that would mean a lot to her for the rest of her life. Her teacher said "breath and everything changes." This helped Seane with her yog, because she felt that as her anxiety rose she simply could just keep breathing deeply and the anxiety would pass. Seane says thatt the heart of the practice of yoga is love. She also uses spirtual words. For example, when she says spirit she is meaning that which exists inside of you. This was a very interesting broadcast. I chose to listen to this one because I am about to start my very first yoga class on monday. This broadcast really shows how yoga is just as much spirtual as it is physical.

Yoga helps me in my daily life. I feel more body mind connection. I stated deepen my yoga practice in last 5 years, the reason I started yoga in my 40s from my sciatic and chronic lower back pain from pregnancy. I told myself let give it a try to learn this ancient practice. I practiced yoga forms everyday. In the first 3 months, I really felt the different. People around me noticed in my body and my energy.

I used deep breath work to guide me when I wake up every morning. Any problems in daily life, yoga help me survive. I got deeper in yoga study and got certified as a yoga teacher in 2009. I know that yoga can travel to any one by allowing in mind over the body. Yoga makes me become more compassionate to the world. I studied different forms of yoga, iyengar, ashtanga, hatha, and anusara yoga and pranayama practice under the principle of believe that how I would adapted too goods from each yoga into myself and the world. They are helpful to my life, I can connect to my mind and physical body. I am not vegetarian. I focus more inwardly so I adapted to situation to place the space I go. The forms and lineages study are only outside, but what important is how you can bring yoga into daily life for healthy balance body and mind. The world get more easier and lighter. I meet people and feel grace. Now, I expand my yoga practice to family and friends. I teach and practice yoga with my friends weekly.

Yoga to me is about being completely pleased and completedly relaxed with yourself. It is about being and noticing myself, not beating myself up. Total acceptance of my significance, and that I have a place in the world, like on my yoga mat, just because of my being, nothing I have to prove. Just being aware , starting with breath. To realize that I am doing the best that I can every moment of my life.
I practice hot yoga. It allows me to let go and not struggle. In class a have a safe place to be self. The Heat opens and softens the heart. My mind and body can relax and let go. Going to hot yoga, I am reminded that I have a good life! The connection with self and others is what it is all about,it is easier to love others, if you love self.

I fell into yoga as a gym rat when my local gym offered a general hatha class in the aerobic studio. It was like a breath of fresh air and I knew I had found a place for me. Rather than being exhausted from my normal cardio routine I had been doing to reduce stress, my first yoga class offered me deep relaxation, physical challenge and a clear mind, like the top of a still lake. I was immediately hooked. I've practiced yoga since 1997 - and have taught for the past 6 years at my local recreation center. I primarily practice and teach Iyengar yoga - but take classes of all styles. Sometimes I dabble with a hot or vinyasa class - but I like the precision and alignment teaching of Iyengar. I also like a good Anusara class as well - the joy and spirit of yoga radiates strongly from John Friend.

As for what it has done for me, it has changed my life. Changed the way I think about my breath and body, changed the way I approach life and has literally been a touchstone to help me through both struggles and exuberant times in my life. My yoga practice was instrumental in the natural birth of my daughter (my doula about passed out when she saw me sit in virasana for 30 minutes between contractions) and it something I see myself doing for the rest of my life. Oh to be Mr. Iyengar with those poses and vitality over 90 years of age!
All in all yoga is about balance - about finding the action in the pose without tension. About finding the shadowy parts of consciousness in your body, your spirit, your psyche and bringing it to a non judgmental and curious light. About creating space, compassion and joy in your physical body - which translates to space, compassion and joy in life. I love it and I love sharing it with others.

When I have first timers come to class and do not return, I think it is like cooking pasta and the pasta doesn’t stick to the wall – that person is just not ready yet. I don’t take it personally and yoga is not something that can be forced on anyone. But like a gong or a sound that finds the right vibration and frequency for those that are ready to hear – those that are drawn to the art and science find it transforming.

Ensure that it is clean, then draw her a hot bath and add bath beads or bubble bath. If you get rewarded in the process, so much the better, but making those rewards your sole motivation can only lead to disappointment. Just try to do it for her, and see what happens; it will probably come back to you..
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Yoga Meditatation In Action
My entire Life I have always wondered what my purpose is and why God has created me after ALL that I have gone through. It wasn't until December 3, 2012, that I think I know why. After listening to Seane Corn Onbeing.org... from the moment she started speaking, an energy in me was instantly attracted to her and/or experience on a personal level. I too had had gone through ALL what she went through growing up and it was like I was speaking about myself. She found her way and how to deal with her OCD, anger, sadness, drug addiction, smoking habit, and molestation. While at the same time in the midst of it all she finally realizes she is happy for once in her life, through doing Yoga meditation. I too AM gonna try this as I trust what she said she experienced is true. I have reminicesed my entire life about all the bad things that have happened to me. And, after listening to her she has inspired me significantly. Moreover, she led the way to resolve all the issues at hand, before me. I never have done this before but I truly believe it is the way, where I too... can find a sense of ease, healing and balance, like I never saw before.

It is through "breathing" and "yoga" she finds herself and pure love and true happiness. She demonstartes her love so gracefully through slow repetitive movements which has an effect on the lymphatic system. By doing this alligns the mind, body and soul. It's not until we learn to breath and move properly that we release hate, anger, sadness because otherwise it will stay with our physical body and we just repress it. "Yoga tells us to take off the BAND-AID off our wounds and heal through Spiritual practice."

Yoga has helped herself amongst many (prostitutes, alcoholics, drug addicts, molested children) others NOT born with a silver spoon in their mouths. It also allows you to get closer with God because your using your senses and not just your heart. You are surrending yourself with a new ear as it's infinite and limitness.

We ALL at some point in time in our lives denied our body, for whatever reason. And, now we can use our body to pray. We can pray gracefully at our own pace and movement. It is through that that our love for self and others come out and show our true intentions. Yoga has a tendancy to allow ourselfs to shine with true beauty and love. this was a way that she offered (slow motion) practice to her father, who was dying of cancer. It doesn't have to be perfect either because the less perfect it is the more graceful/abstract it becomes. You too....will be attracted to it because it's "anything but fluffy"!

Yoga also helps us finds those repressed dark shadows in our lives, we all have buried so deep within ourselves. "If it is in me, it is in you." I cannot judge your shadow unless I judge my own. We all oppress our shadows whether it be rage, anger, sadness, hopelessness, insecurities, addictions, prostitution etc...but that doesn't make us a bad person. "We can perceive things as bad or we can perceive things as opportunities." You can take all your bad experiences and turn them into a positive experience and be a teacher so to speak, to help others.... along their journey, to help themselves. What a beautiful thing. Don't take away your experience but rather give people strength through your experience. We can ask our Spirit to veiw our experiences since God is in all of us, in light and darkness. This gives us strength to move forward with love and we learn to breath with grace.

She states "Give me a junky and a whore as it's my own teacher. I will bow on my knees to YOU because how did you do it. The alcoholics are the works so to speak.....How can you help me get out of that. The power of social healing is awesome. "Being able to forgive is a poison you take hoping someonne will die."

Yoga can be a Spiritual practice to pray, forgive, find our shadows, rage, anger, saddness, addiction etc...."Everything happens for an opportunity to move towards a transformation." And, it is through yoga we all can find peace, grace, happiness, ourselves inner being of who we are and what we are made of. And, why. "People who hurt you, your ego doesn't know better. People who harmed you and/or me were my teachers, they taught me about LIFE. Forgive over and over otherwise your soul will suffer."

The soul has a tendancy to suffer and repress our experiences, so why not bring them ALL forward through yoga, Spirit, God, and the world.....to make our experiences a positive one and not repress it as a bad experience. It is through experience we find ourselves and true happiness in the END....when it's ALL said and done.

nice pose of yoga in the front of Taj Mahal.

I very much appreciated listening to this episode of on being. I have practiced yoga on and off for about 15 years. However, I literally had a spontaneous awakening and thereafter realized I needed a dedicated practice and have had a dedicated practice for almost 3 years now. Yoga has transformed my life and continues to do so. I remember literally the day I felt my heart open. It happened to be Valentine's Day two years ago. It is difficult to describe and so many odd energetic things occurred that day that I decided I needed to just go home and sit in the bath tub. I was so grateful. A lifetime of stuffed down emotion and a difficult childhood without tools to cope led me eventually to yoga and meditation. Her experience is my own. It was the first time this has been affirmed. Thanks.

This is one of my all-time favorite podcasts! Just came across this equally inspiring and on-message presentation... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcGUo6uNs34&feature=em-subs_digest-vrecs

Kudos!

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Hatha Yoga is an accessory to Yoga. As a comfortable chair is an accessory to writing.
Yoga is one of the non-theistic schools of the six philosophic schools of the Vedic (Hindu) tradition: it has no G_d.

The focus on the body is a side issue; the mind is a function (mochin katmut) of a body part, the brain: it is insentient, just as all flowers are on their own black, as on a pitch-dark night. Yet it is illuminated by the sentience from that which is referred to as Yechidah or Ain Sof. That sentience (mochin gadlut) has no content, but reveals all, just as sunlight illuminates and reveals all colours and shapes, because it has no colour or shape of its own. The awareness of this sentience and its complete absence of content, including the absence of "I" and "not-I", is a realisation. It is the recognition that the absence of content in that illumination is its darkness.

With regard to karma - the Law of Consequences: tradition has it that the phantasm that some call the “soul”, manifests in embodiments as the delusory “I”-sense; it is uncreated, and therefore has no beginning.

With each act there is the generation of two consequences: a mandatory voucher for the experience of pleasure or pain (each to be experienced separately; they do not cancel each other out), and a tendency to repeat the act. The tendencies remain associated with the delusion.

In the course of an infinite number of cosmic cycles, the universe cycles from unmanifest to manifest and back to unmanifest, in both gross and subtle forms. An infinitude of vouchers, both pleasurable and painful, accumulates in one’s account. For each embodiment a minuscule, finite quantity of these vouchers commence encashment. During the embodiment, new vouchers are generated with each act: some may proceed to encashment within that embodiment, while the rest accrue to that account. The embodiment ends when there are no vouchers in the encashment queue.

So what one is experiencing now may be from vouchers generated millions of cosmic cycles ago, in any of an infinitude parallel universes. According to the tradition, one fully deserves every iota of pleasure or pain that one experiences. But it may have been “earned” in a world outside the bounds of this time and this space as we know it.

There is no one keeping score. It is the law of consequences run wild, or on steroids (take your pick). In some traditions it is so inviolate that the need for a “God” is altogether dispensed with: in those traditions, the universe functions just fine without a “God”, akin to how the “law” of gravity does not need a “God”. These non-theistic systems include three of the six Vedic (“Hindu”) philosophical schools (Sankhya, Yoga, and Advaita Vedanta) and two non-Vedic schools (Jainism and Buddhism – all of Buddhism). Some may think the many gods in various Buddhist traditions inconsistent with non-theism. But these are highly advanced or fully realised beings, and not intrinsically different from an ordinary human – or an insect.

How wonderful to hear Seane Corn. So good to hear of yoga practitioner who are bringing yoga to people who will never come to the mat so she brings the mat to them. The western world has taken yoga to a different level and it is a healing art available to everyone. I appreciate the yoga studio I go to and I have the feeling after a session that I cannot identify and then I realize, as Seane Corn said, that I am happy. In my 60s, I am healthier than I have ever been and at peace with myself. I owe it all to yoga and the sense of purpose my husband and I have together. The sense of purpose is a gift from my mother who started a school in India for orphaned, abandoned and slum children.
I want to invite Seane Corn to share her skills at our school for street, orphaned and slum children in Nagpur, India. Children who have dark secrets in their past lives, of family trauma and abuse. Girls who remember their mother being burned by exploding propane stoves, of mothers hanging from ceiling fans, of mothers who were attacked by drunken fathers with a sword. Yet they are children who readily engage in play and are full of acceptance, love and joy. We spend part of the year with them every year. The school was started by my mother, Iris Wilkinson, a retired school teacher with the help of a Dutch woman who adopted 2 girls from the church orphanage that Iris was a volunteer director of. The school hostel houses 125 children and another 100 children are bused in. It is called Nav-Jeevan Sanstha and has a Facebook page. We welcome volunteers who can teach, to come and stay with the children. Like sponges the children soak up all lessons. In return they give back a sense of peace and contentment.

Now I know why I've been resisting yoga for all of these years! What a bunch of nonsense!

The fact that you see it as a bunch of nonsense means you ARE a natural and the Yoga world NEEDS your leadership!!!

I loved this program. I'm a 74 year old man and have been practicing Yoga for about 5 years and find it to be very enjoyable. It is good for my golf, my spirit and my emotional well being. I'm trying to get to a higher spiritual level with my yoga and Sean has encouraged me to continue my efforts. Thanks for airing this subject.

Dear Ms. Tippet,

Thank you for the show and to your guest, Ms. Corn. Sean's perspective and discourse have invigorated my own decades long practice of yoga and refreshed my perspective.

Sincerely,

Rahul

My son has OCD and I am looking for a way to help him without drugs, i heard you on NPR station and thought it was a message to look into this. What would be a good starting point for him? Thank you for your time

It's not 5,000 years old. Read this scholarship by Mark Singleton. The 5,000 year old claim is part of the fluffy pretensions of current yoga entrepreneurs.
http://www.amazon.com/Yoga-Body-Origins-Posture-Practice/dp/0195395344

Nice segment but two comments. Doing a pose in front of the Taj Mahal seems more like a stunt and cheapens both. I could be wrong but I never heard of Indians doing that there. The other comment is that yoga is 5,000 years old. Everything out there says it is 100 to 150 years old as it is practiced TODAY. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2009/11/how-old-is-yoga/

I am a yoga-nobody. Nothing hard, or sophisticated. Yet the mindfulness of all movement as an offering that Ms corn describes is how I practice. The spiritual dimension of this interview was exceptional. I work with people with PTSD and her understanding and ability to describe and explain the function of the shadow is so simple, yet so profound. Very informative and helpful.

I enjoy all of your discussions and insights, Krista.

Your discussion with Seane Corn was enlightening. I think, a lot, about the human experience. I write a little about my experiences and thoughts on small business at DNJ.com.

Presently, a theme keeps reappearing in my never-ending thoughts about philosophy, truth and wisdom - for us. The phrase "Mindfullness" describes the concept. I first became aware of the science behind the method when I visited a spa in Arizona called Miraval. Being in the moment sounds simple but it is not. Nearly every a aspect of the noise we experience, in daily life, creates only division, confusion, and separation of thoughts - that make difficult, the healthy state of "wholeness" we rarely attain. In other words, not focusing on the non-existent future - and past - frees-up some of our psychic energy so we can be still and quiet - for a few minutes a day. If one can be still and quiet for minutes in a day - we have a chance to realign our thoughts with reality - and that state of being in this moment - we call happiness. Having an over-active mind my whole life has affected the way I interact socially. Anxiety and panic attacks - it seems now - can be a direct result of living too much in my head - and losing contact with reality (un-tethored from the ground). The lesson is, I think: Just because you believe it is true, even know it is true, does not make it true. You have built a program that provides listeners with useful insights.

I was appalled, disgusted and infuriated while listening to Krista Tippett and Seane Corn refer to "child prostitutes" during the yoga podcast on 8/3/14. For Seane to claim that she knows anything about sex trafficking and to use those words is abominable! NO child is a prostitute! In our society, the word "prostitute" is typically associated with a person who has willingly chosen to engage in a sexual act in exchange for something. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 defines sex trafficking as the "recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person forced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years." By definition, this means "child prostitutes" cannot exist and and those children should be identified as "child victims of sex trafficking." These are not children who are being paid wages for work performed in safe, healthy environments--they are devalued and being sold as slaves. I might expect to hear language that devalues them on other news programs, never on NPR. Shameful!

love the new format, but I'm a reader not a listener. anyone know how i can get the transcript?

Trent Gilliss's picture

Hi Susan. Thanks for the note. The transcript is still available but it's in the list of goodies as you scroll down the page. For good measure, here's a link! http://www.onbeing.org/program/seane-corn-yoga-meditation-in-action/tran...

In my personal experience, I can attest without not one single doubt, that once I heard the word yoga for the first time, I was eager to learn more in detail.

The first information I gathered was that yoga is a practice that includes deep breathing exercises, and some physical postures that one can perfect with training.

I was not much familiarized with the East culture at all.

All I knew was that Buddha was a Prince and that India was once a golden paradise and a land that has produced countless of spiritual people, sages, rishis and saints.

That was 2005.

Now fast forward to 2014, and here I am blogging about yoga, meditation, spirituality, education of human consciousness, talking about GOD, as the Greatest Omnipresent Divinity, or Dios, Divinidad Infinita Omnipresente Superior, in Spanish language too, and JESUSJAY has a soundcloud channel as well.

I went from 20 level of consciousness to 600 –the level of peace– according to Dr. David R. Hawkins, as he explains in his book Power vs Force & through his many other books including Discovery of the Presence of God and Truth vs Falsehood.

I was at level 20 and I have reached the 600 level as of August 2014.

I think peace, I speak peace and I do make peace. I am a communicator for All Things GOD PEACE & LOVE.

My girlfriend from Los Angeles, former Hollywood actress, is also on the spiritual path.

Her guru is Sri Prem Baba, whom I quote frequently on The Spiritual Journalist on Blogger.

Like myself, she is a yogi in training too.

She spent 3 months and 8 months, respectively in India and Thailand in 2012 and 2013 and while she was there she also volunteered her time BY helping children.

She obtained her certification as a yoga instructor in India.

In September 2009, I Met Maharaji at the Jackie Gleason Theatre in Miami Beach.

I had learned about Prem Rawat at school while working at IPOR -Florida International University’s Research Center- a co worker named Amelia told me that it was important to have a living spiritual teacher.

The next day, she brought me a DVD “Discovering More” by Prem Rawat the founder of Words of Peace Global and The Prem Rawat Foundation.

When I watched it, I cried. I cried of joy not sadness.

I became instantly blessed by his speech and I became a volunteer for his organizations.

I studied The Keys during 8 months and then I received Knowledge in April 2010, 4 techniques of meditation that Maharaji teaches and which he received from his father Sri Maharaji.


It is in the spiritual reading of books and practice that one becomes enlightened.

You have to reduce ego to nothingness first, so that you can only act in God consciousness applying only God’s system of thought.

The only thing needed is zeal, willingness to learn, an open mind and practice.

I AM FASCINATED BY THE STUDIES OF SELF-REALIZATION FELLOWSHIP, THE TEACHINGS OF BELOVED GURU PRECEPTOR, PARAMAHANSA YOGANANDA.

Chakras

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