Tonight I walked by the Gracious Homes store window on the way to teach my Core Vinyasa class, and something stopped me dead in my tracks.
Tall, handsome, strong, down to earth, bright, optimistically sprouting white snow from its head, and, the best part, it made me laugh. If it wasn’t a fake, highly flammable and snowing pollutants that called for a danger sign, I would say it was perfect. And, if I had room in my apartment, I would buy it, except a juicer is higher on the priority list. All kidding aside, I do love this Christmas tree, and what attracted me most was how joyful it looked budding white snow from its top.
I walked into the yoga room with a smile, and told my class about the tree and how joyful I felt. “Don’t you all feel that way sometimes?” I asked. A few nodded and the rest stared.
Yoga gifts us ancient tools that, if practiced long enough, naturally put us in touch with the Buddhi within. One of the goals of yoga is to reach a state of Samadhi. Samadhi that the Yoga Sutras teaches is a state of being aware of one’s existence without thinking and is characterized by bliss (ananda) and intense joy (sukha) glowing from the crown of the head.
Yoga has been practiced for more than 5,000 years, and more than 12 million Americans are enjoying the health benefits.
We bend and stretch tight muscles with carefully designed asanas to better our posture and gain the flexibility needed to sit and meditate. Meditation techniques quiet the monkey mind so that we can hear our heart and connect to the divine source. Mindfulness techniques call for us to pay attention to the moment, and notice the gifts right in front of us. Pranayama breathing techniques cleanse and focus the mind on the breath. When this happens, the mind calms and stress is reduced. A long list of anti-stress benefits balances a host of biochemical responses. Calming effects lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate—benefitting people with high blood pressure and heart disease. Inversion poses are wonderful mood boosters and counteract the blues. My teacher Sri Dharma Mittra reminds us during class to stay in them a while and wash the brain. I include yoga in my occupational therapy sessions to help patients with physical dysfunctions like cerebral palsy, those with sensory integration deficits, like autism, and children with learning disabilities.
A yogi diet is gentle, humane and provides nutrition to fend off disease and to live a long energetic life.
Ask a yogi what they think about yoga and most will say that they are happier, calmer, more content and spiritually connected. The practice is very accepting and it provides time and a safe space to break down barriers that are holding us back from love. Yoga teaches us about compassion and that there is an abundance of whatever we need to embrace joy, which is our birthright.
These are just a few of the benefits; however, there are many anecdotal claims for what yoga can do to better your life. There is a style for everyone that will meet the needs of every stage of life.
I was born a yogi—back bending off the arm of the couch before I could walk and probably in many previous lifetimes too. I have always been an optimistic and happy person, however, there was a definite clear moment in time when love seemed to drop from above, overcame me, and like the tree, joy felt like it was sprouting from my head. Since this shift, I am not practicing yoga anymore. I am living it. The techniques on the mat have become my life off the mat. I am a better mother and companion and deeply grateful.
I leave you with this beautiful Buddhist trinity blessing to guide your yoga journey to bliss:
“I take refuge in the Buddha, the one who shows me the way in this life. I take refuge in the Dharma, the way of understanding and love. I take refuge in the Sangha, the community that lives in harmony and awareness.”
Mary Krensavage is a long time NYC yogi, certified in Dharma Yoga, Therapeutic yoga and Pilates. She has officially been on the scene teaching fitness and dance classes since she was 16, and yoga for about 15 years, but if you talk with her, she will tell you she has been a yogi for many lifetimes. Mary is a nationally licensed occupational therapist and has a private practice treating children with disabilities. She is a mom of two active young boys, and is usually multi tasking and doing too much in a day. “We have such little time here on earth. I want to help as many people as I can and don’t want to waste time idle… or sleeping too much.” The chance to correct karma wakes her in the morning, her children motivate her, and both green juice and coffee keep her going. Mary’s passion is capturing beauty through photography, and her favorite yoga asana is Urdhva Dhanurasana. Visit http://about.me/marykrensavage to follow Mary on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Visit her yoga website www.ashramyoganyc.com to learn about her weekly NYC classes, complimentary meditation class and other events, www.zeninthecityblog.com to read her publication articles and www.nycpediatricot.com to learn about her occupational therapy services.
Ed. Karla Rodas
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