Yoga class is a sacred space, free of judgment, expectations, and criticism.
Yoga is where we turn to quiet our minds from the chaos of the outside world.
Yoga is where we release the tension we have accumulated within the body and make space for healing.
Yoga is where we feel safe, supported, and at peace.
Yoga is not an escape.
Yoga is a technique for getting quiet, feeling the breath and heart beat, and turning the awareness inward.
We become calm, quiet, and centered.
N is for Namaste
Once you step into a yoga class, you will most likely hear new words and phrases you have never heard before. These new words you hear are based in the ancient language of yoga, Sanskrit.
In some classes, the teacher will use only Sanskrit terminology when referring to yoga asanas (Sanskrit for postures). Others may teach completely in the English translations. My preference is to teach mostly with English terminology, yet introduce basic Sanskrit terms to help anchor the teaching to modern life.
M is for Mantra
Mantras are a useful addition to a meditation practice. You can silently, or aloud, repeat a word or
groups of words to help your mind stay focused.
You can repeat the mantras through out your meditation, to re-connect when
your mind wanders, or to begin or end a meditation practice.
Here are some commonly used mantras, their definitions and
ways to incorporate them into your practice.
OM/ AUM: Probably to most recognized mantra in
yoga. It has many translations, but most
often refers to the divine universe, or the union with the universe.
Listening is a powerful quality. At its most basic, it’s a sense that we use
to be in the world around us, to keep us safe and informed. Past that, it’s an emotional quality we
develop (and continue to develop) throughout life. We expect it of others, so we are heard. We teach it to our children, so they learn
the value of being a good listener. We
do our best to listen to our loved ones, so they can express themselves and feel
heard as well. But there is an even
deeper listening, one we are not often taught.
Much of the talk about yoga is directed at adults. The benefits to health, concentration,
fitness, stress relief, sleep, and managing emotions. But it’s important we don’t overlook the
wonderful benefits yoga can provide our kids.
Kids today are often very busy. There is a lot of work to do at school and
much less play. There are lots of
organized activities and much less free time.
At the most basic level, yoga and meditation give kids a chance to use
their bodies through movement and listen to or still their minds.
Amudrais a hand gesture, often used
during meditation or even within some yoga postures to help direct the movement
or life-force energy. There is often
symbolism in the fingers, the shape of the gestures, and many times the mudras
are used to cultivate a specific quality, such as calm, uplifting energy, and
stillness of the mind. You will often
see mudras on the figures in ancient artwork of Asia, as they are symbols in
myths, stories, and figures and add meaning to the art.
Once you begin a regular yoga practice, you will find you
benefit so much from the routine, the stillness it provides, the consistency,
the community. And then life will show
up in one of its many forms to interrupt what you have worked for. While in the moment, you may perceive this to
be annoying, it may upset you, you may not know just when you will get back to
your practice, but this is a huge turning point. A big opportunity for growth, even if it's hard to see at that moment.
H is for Home
After you have a taken a series of yoga classes, you may
begin to find you want to practice more and perhaps even on your own. This is called building a home practice. Home practice is beneficial because it allows
you to continue to work on asana and meditation to encourage progress in your
practice, both physical and spiritual.
Another benefit to home practice is it costs almost nothing.
To begin a home practice, you will need a yoga mat and space
to unroll your mat.
G is for Gratitude
While not strictly related to yoga or meditation, a
gratitude practice is a beautiful addition to one’s life. You can choose how often you practice, daily
or weekly, however in my opinion, stopping each day at least once to reflect on
a moment you feel gratitude is just good for the soul.
Google definition time! Gratitude: a quality of being thankful; a readiness to
show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Even in the darkest moments, there is always something to be
F is for Forward Bends
Forwards Bends are a big part of yoga practice. They have so many wonderful benefits, from stretching
the muscles in the entire back of the body, to lengthening the spine, calming the nervous
system, and even encouraging the mind to turn further inward.
Forward Bends can be done seated or standing, and there are
a huge variety with many variations. Child’s
Pose is a favorite of many for its physical and emotionally restorative
effects. Standing forward bends are a huge
reoccurring focus in classes practicing Sun Salutations.