GJ HEALTH: How the body and mind connect with yoga | PostIndependent.com

GJ HEALTH: How the body and mind connect with yoga

Monica Cullinane
Free Press Health Columnist

Yoga is the only kind of activity that is a complete package deal as it integrates the individual physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Physically, it stretches and strengthens your body creating a balance between stamina and flexibility.

Mentally, by working with the breath you can control your mind; easing anxiety, increasing focus and equilibrium.

Emotionally, by holding the yoga postures you stimulate your endocrine system and can experience a feeling of well-being after practicing yoga. An added benefit, practicing self-discipline helps you develop control over your emotions. And any spiritual belief deepens with this special physical form of meditation.

You can approach the practice of yoga from different aspects, focusing on one or more levels. In the book, “Light on Yoga,” by BKS Iyengar, “Yoga is the deliverance of pain and sorrow.” Sometimes I ask my students why are you here? Why do you practice?

It fascinates me that by being able to lift my kneecaps up, or to spread my toes, as an example, I can start to work with my intelligence and awareness and have discovered how to expand these things!

The mind is tricky. You get the knees to lift but when you take your mind to another area your knees might drop! And all this can happen when you learn how to sit, how to be still. You might come to yoga to practice physical postures, but you might learn how to train your mind, how to practice equanimity, or mental calmness, and maybe you can learn how to sit quietly with whatever is going on in your life.

One of the favorite postures in yoga practice is Savasana, corpse pose, or final relaxation. It is one of the most difficult to master according to Mr. Iyengar.

It is not just lying down and maybe falling asleep, Savasana has a protocol. The body is relaxed and your mind alert. This is very difficult as the mind’s job is to think! As the name suggests, corpse pose also prepares us to that final moment of life in which we learn to relax with complete surrender, letting go and experiencing peace. This is why we do Savasana at the end of every class.

We all have our ups and downs; life is not always just flowers, but thorns, too. Yoga is to learn how to walk into the difficult. Yoga can also teach us how to replace a negative thought with a positive one. How through self-inquiry we can see if our belief system is working, has a bug, or needs an update.

It is all a process. We all have our own time, our own light bulbs, and “Aha” moments.

I love to teach yoga. The art of teaching is a great gift to me. We have our own journey through our life with our own body, so we learn and we transform constantly like our cells. Sharing this process is a joy for me.

To go a little deeper in the practice of yoga, the Academy of Yoga is offering a Foundation Training program on June 22 from 1-6 p.m.; the only requirement is that you like yoga and want to learn more about it!

If you want to dive in and learn how to be a teacher or simply deepen your own practice, the 200-hour Yoga Teacher Certification Program, registered with Yoga Alliance, the main certification board in the U.S., is taking place from October 2013 through June 2014. It is a nine-month program, one weekend per month, with time for you to absorb and consolidate what you learn. It is definitely a transformation process!

For more information or to register call 970-683-0166 or email info@academyofyoga.com. We will send you a brochure with info and registration form or visit http://www.academyofyoga.com.

We also offer yoga classes throughout the week. Come and visit us and give yoga a try! The first week is FREE.

Namaste to you. (Namaste in a few words means: The highest in me honors the highest in you).

Academy of Yoga owner and certified health coach Monica Cullinane has a private practice coaching clients on how to reach their goals for health, weight loss and stress reduction. Additionally, she teaches yoga, presents workshops and lectures on living a healthy balanced life. She is available for a FREE initial consultation at the Integrative Medicine Center of Western Colorado (www.imcwc.com). Call 970-245-6911 to schedule an appointment.


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