By Jacquie Stephens, E-RYT200

Beginning a Meditation practice can be daunting, which is a commentary on our society … that slowing down and being in the present moment is something that we crave yet it makes us nervous to try!

The basic principles of meditation are relaxation and breathing. If you can find a few minutes each morning and evening to practice, you will begin to feel the benefits of meditation very quickly; a few minutes a day can make a difference. Personally, it took me 15ish years of practicing yoga to achieve a consistent meditation practice. Meditation has lowered my reactiveness, helps me deal with chronic pain, even can help me dissolve a headache or stomachache. When I meditate I find that I am healthier, calmer and happier.

Benefits of Meditation: The benefits of meditation are well documented. Some of the earliest records of meditation date back 1500 years BCE and many religions, including Buddhism and Judaism, have records of meditation practice going back nearly as far. For instance – and I’m oversimplifying - in the Torah, Isaac (the patriarch) is described as going “lasuach” in the field. “Lasuach” is a term understood as a meditative practice (Book of Genesis 24:63). Ancient texts teach us that there has always been a central meditative tradition in Judaism.

Other forms of meditation evolved as non-religious variations of yoga traditions, such as the system of Transcendental Meditation, which became popular in the 1960’s. Instead of focusing on spiritual growth, secular meditation emphasizes stress reduction, relaxation and self-improvement.

The effects of breathing your way into meditation are grounding. Learning to use your breath to naturally calm yourself centers you for meditation and relieves many symptoms of stress.

Stress reduction, better focus, better sleep, anxiety relief, enhanced self-awareness, assistance with age-related memory loss, promoting feelings of kindness, assistance with addiction recovery, pain control, blood pressure regulation are just some of the benefits of meditation.

Let’s briefly talk about some of the benefits and why meditation helps:

Stress reduction: Mental and physical stress can cause increased levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Cortisol will cause many of the harmful effects of stress, including the release the inflammation-promoting chemicals called cytokines, causing disruption of sleep, depression and anxiety, raising blood pressure and causing your thinking to become slow and sludgy. Meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions such as irritable bowel and fibromyalgia.

Anxiety Reduction: Less stress often means less anxiety. A regular meditation practice will help maintain lower anxiety over the long term. Meditation can also positively affect job-related anxiety. Since social anxiety, phobias and OCD can be symptoms of stress and general anxiety, meditation may help relieve those symptoms too.

Increased Focus and Memory: Meditation is training for your attention span, increasing the strength and endurance of your attention, much as physical exercise does for your body. Meditation may help you stay focused longer and remember details better. It is even suggested that meditation may reverse patterns in the brain that contribute to monkey-mind, worrying and poor attention. Improvements in attention and clarity of thinking may help keep your mind young, as mantra meditation has been shown to improve memory, attention and mental fitness in older meditators.

Improves Sleep: Will it surprise you to know that nearly half of American adults struggle with insomnia at some time? Meditation helps you control or redirect monkey-mind that can lead to trouble falling asleep. Additionally, meditation can relax the body, release tension and place you in a peaceful state where you are more apt to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Pain Control: A consistent meditation practice is found to decrease complaints of chronic or intermittent pain. Your perception of pain is effected by your state of mind. The quieter your mind the more likely you are to be able to “control” your pain.

There are many reasons to try meditation. Slowing down and being present brings many benefits. Here are tips when starting or freshening up a meditation practice:

Keep track of your practice: when you meditate, how long, guided or on your own, whatever details are helpful. You can use an app or keep a journal.

Meditation Apps: My personal favorite is Insight Timer, and there are many others. The apps have timers and keep track of your practice, they have guided meditations of many varieties and lengths with different teachers. Some of the apps also have talks and classes.

Try to Meditate at about the same time every day. You can meditate pretty much anywhere you can sit still, so try different places from time to time.

Try to do breathing exercises before Meditation

Be comfortable, but not so comfortable you get sleepy. You can lie down, sit or be in a restorative pose.

There is so much information available about Meditation, it is easy to become overwhelmed. We are blessed at Simply Yoga to have teachers with remarkable meditation training and backgrounds. Mindy’s path to yoga came through Transcendental Meditation. Prema recently spent four months at an intensive Yoga, Meditation and Mysticism Training in Guatemala. Julie recently completed her 200-hour training in Yoga Nidra in India. Many of us share an interest in meditation and a passion for sharing it with the community. Simply Yoga has so many offerings that help you find or keep to your meditative path:

On a weekly basis, Julie Murphy teaches Stretch, Breathe, Yoga Nidra on Thursday afternoons from 4-5:15

Monthly, Julie Murphy offers a Yoga Nidra Guided Meditation

Prema teaches Yin & Meditation on Mondays at 9 a.m. and Tuesdays at 6 p.m. Prema is a frequent workshop presenter and collaborator, please check our schedule to stay updated.

Jerry Leeman teaches Meditation & Restorative Yoga on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. as well as Movement, Music & Meditation on Monday at 7:30 p.m.

Many of our classes include a meditative component, including our Yin, Restorative for Deep Peace and Restorative offerings.

Anya Castellano is offering her Crystal Singing Bowls & Meditation class the last Sunday of each month from 6 to 7:15 p.m.

I am presenting a workshop on Menopause & Yoga on December 1, 2018 from 1-4 p.m. Meditation is a very important tool for peri-menopause and post-menopause and will be included.

Julie and Prema are co-teaching Yoga Nidra, Crystals & Kirtan on December 2, 2018 from 3 to 5 p.m.

All classes and workshops are at Simply Yoga and you can pre-register at our website http://www.simplyyogadelray.com/workshops-events. Some workshops and special classes offer a discount for pre-registration.

Given our hectic lifestyles and the amount of stress many of us feel daily, a mediation practice only makes sense to keep your mind and body healthy. With so many offerings, Simply Yoga makes it easy to meditate.

Remember, the quieter you become, the more you will hear.

By Jacquie Stephens, E-RYT200

Beautiful Thoughts Shared

Sometimes we need to look to those we love and admire in order to realize what we value about life. We can take time to note what we like about others, and then turn the mirror to reflect the Light of those same words and feelings toward ourselves. It can be quite a revelation to see ourselves in this nourishing Light. When we can put the energy that we’ve been devoting to a phantom sense of achievement into the truly satisfying aspects of our lives, we can restore the balance between our inner and outer worlds and experience true joyful Peace. 
We would Love for you to share your thoughts with us! 

The Use of Positive Affirmations!

"The use of Positive Affirmations takes time, as you are creating new neural pathways in your brain. Come to this practice with gentle and loving energy."

At Simply Yoga we use Affirmations, Meditation & Practice to guide us each and everyday towards Peace, Lovingkindness & Compassion ! 

"1. I am a Channel of Peace and Well-being – my need for Peace is abundantly met.
2. I accept, appreciate and love myself. Unconditionally.
3. I feel Grateful for all of the Abundance that flows into my Life.
4. I experience a sense of Peace and Love with every Breath I take.
5. I radiate Peace and Love to others, helping them to be in a state of Peace and Love..
6. I am an Island of Calm, in a Sea of Uncertainty.
7. All is well. Right here. Right now.
8. I can release my past and live with Calm and Serenity.
9. I am aware of all the Beauty that is around Me.
10. I let go of Fear and Embrace Love.
11. I connect with the comforting Silence of my Soul."

Praises to our teacher, Christina Hessing!

I always enjoy whatever class I take at Simply Yoga, and I am grateful for that. But every so often there is a teacher and class that not only make my body happy, but my spirit and soul, as well. After a very stressful and challenging week-end, I came to Christina’s Tuesday 8/23/16 Yin Class to find a sweet and quiet spot for me.
The music was wonderful…a soundtrack to accompany my busy mind until it was busy no longer. A quiet, candle-lit room to soothe my eyes that had seen Hospital glare and a few tears over the past 3 days. A beautiful, caring voice that “allowed the inhalation to find you”…what a poetic and compassionate way to coach one’s breath!

I felt wonderful connection with teacher and fellow students, and by the end of the stretching, easing, holding and breathing, I was renewed and enriched.

I don’t know how you attract these inspired and wonderful teachers, Mindy, but I thank the gods and energy that brings them to Simply Yoga.

Once again my heart overflows and my gratitude exceeds all bounds.

Thank you for your friendship and the beautiful sacred space that is Simply Yoga.


Sheri W.

Reflections of a Recent Teacher Training Graduate

Now that I've had several months to reflect on my experience of the Teacher Training program at the Simply Yoga School of Hatha Yoga, I feel better able to put into words the effect that this experience has had on me, both as a practitioner of yoga, and as a person.  First, the personal aspect of the training program:  I believe that, for me, the overall top quality that I took away from the 6-month program was a sense of quiet confidence in my knowledge and ability to learn and grow as a yoga teacher.  I had recently retired from a successful 35-year career as a managing litigation attorney in a state Attorney General's office, and I did not lack confidence in my abilities to speak in front of an audience, to learn new and complex concepts, or to interact with students and peers.  (I had also taught as an adjunct professor for 6 years at 2 law schools).  But those work-honed skills were from another life, and I found myself with an immense dearth of confidence in my ability to learn and more importantly, to retain and to eventually teach, the asanas, the sequencing, and the principles of yogic history and philosophy which are at the heart of the science and art of yoga, and are so thoroughly covered in the TT program at SY. 

 Much of the material that was introduced in the first couple of months was vaguely familiar to me from my 9-year practice of various styles of yoga, but, and it's a big BUT, the depth of knowledge of the two lead instructors was awe-inspiring, and more than a little scary to me. 

Let me emphasize that the emotional turmoil I felt at this time was in no way due to any interaction with any of the teachers, or with anything that happened at the school - it was entirely on me, from that little negative voice in my head that just got louder and louder. 

"How am I ever going to live up to their level of knowledge and grace?  What am I doing here anyway?  What made me think that I could be a yoga teacher?" These and similar questions dogged me for the first two months, sapping my energy and confidence. 

 I was overwhelmed.  I decided to drop out.  Then, due to the persistence of Mindy and the two lead teachers, I was guided back, gently and slowly.  I didn't have to take the program for credit, they said, just come and listen and watch.  I didn't have to participate.  I could be there, like taking an audit in a college class.  What a gift!

The little negative voice in my head shut down, because there was nothing for it to criticize.  I came back gradually, and the teachers could not have been more helpful, discreet, and accommodating.  It took me longer to finish the program, but finish it, I did, and proudly.  

On a purely personal note, my friends and family have noticed that I am so calm and relaxed, or 'serene' as my sister said.  I have found that I am really ready to share some of the wonderful spirit and the gifts of practice that I have learned in the TT program.  The confidence instilled in me is reinforced each time I "take" a yoga class at the local gym, the YMCA, and even at private studios here in Maryland where I live in the summer.  Nothing and no one can prepare you better to be a teacher, in my opinion, than the program at SY.

On the topic of improvement/growth in my personal practice, both have been tremendously improved by the TT program.  I took advantage of the included studio classes at SY, and tried different styles of yoga and new teachers at every opportunity.  Even though I came to the program with a solid 9-year background of practice in styles including Kundalini, vinyasa, restorative, yin, and hatha, I was astounded to have my eyes opened so wide to the unique gifts offered by each individual teacher at SY,  only because I was able to watch, listen, participate, and learn in the studio classes.  I think that this 'bonus' feature of the SY program is arguably its most important.  You can learn so very much by having that 'teacher training eye' in class, and you are learning by example every single day.  If you are a teacher trainee student, or considering becoming one, I urge you to take as many classes as you can stuff into your schedule during the training time.  I found that these classes were an invaluable part of the learning that I experienced during the program.

Maybe I will have the pleasure of meeting you one day at Simply Yoga.  I hope so, and I hope that you will be pleased with your growth at the end of the TT program.  It is an experience like no other, and so very worth every bit of effort you put into it!

Marianne Dise

25 Points Of Buddhist Philosophy

  1. The man who moved the mountain was the one who began by carrying away the smallest stones.
  2. Don’t be afraid that you do not know something. Be afraid of not learning about it.
  3. Always look on the bright side of things. If you can’t comprehend this, polish that which has become dull until it begins to shine.
  4. Even if you stumble and fall down, it doesn’t mean you’ve chosen the wrong path.
  5. A strong man overcomes an obstacle, a wise man goes the whole way.
  6. The temptation to give up is strongest just before victory.
  7. The goal in life is to die young…but to do so as late as possible.
  8. Don’t speak if it doesn’t improve upon silence.
  9. Someone who points out your flaws to you is not necessarily your enemy. Someone who speaks of your virtues is not necessarily your friend.
  10. A thousand-mile journey begins with just one step.
  11. Don’t be afraid to go slowly. Be afraid of stopping.
  12. A person who is capable of blushing cannot have a bad heart.
  13. Even the happiness of a fool is a stupid kind of happiness.
  14. A hut full of laughter is richer than a palace full of sadness.
  15. Whatever happens always, happens on time.
  16. A good teacher opens the door for you, but you must enter the room by yourself.
  17. A mountain never yields to the wind- no matter how strong it is.
  18. Your home is where your thoughts find peace.
  19. There’s no such thing as a friend who doesn’t have any flaws. But if you try to look for all their flaws, you will remain with no friends.
  20. Unhappiness enters through a door that has been left open.
  21. No one returns from a long journey the same person they were before.
  22. It’s better to be a person for a day than to be a shadow for a 1,000 days.
  23. If you’ve made a mistake, it’s better just to laugh at it.
  24. Live calmly. The time will come when the flowers bloom by themselves.
  25. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

Shared by SW


On Getting Certified by Kery Knutson

Once you commit to a decision in life, there really is no stopping you. About 14 years ago I took my first yoga class. I recall it making me feel giddy and light. From that very moment, a little seed of an idea was planted: one day I will get my yoga certification. 
From the very beginning, I loved yoga — both the practice itself and the philosophy. But I’ll admit, it was a challenge to keep it in my schedule. After that first class, life would get busy and my yoga practice would dwindle. At times I would practice frequently, and then fall completely out of it for weeks, maybe even months. But it kept calling me back. 
At some point I said to myself, “That’s it! I want yoga to be part of my daily life.” That’s when I made the teacher certification training a real possibility.  Today I am a certified 200-hour RYT who takes every opportunity to share my experience. This is my story on getting certified.  
Dive into yoga!
When my training began I dove in head first with vigor! I was filled with enthusiasm and grateful to be in the class. Our class included yoga practice, meditation and lecture time. We discussed topics like spirituality versus religion, being present in the moment and letting go, among many other life lessons from the Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita and other works. 
And we practiced a lot! Within the first week, my body began to show signs of strain. Which, quite frankly, surprised me. I thought I was flexible and in pretty good shape! As I shared my experience with my fellow students I found out it was quite normal with all the practice we were doing. I took their advice and started taking Epsom salt baths — which I now highly recommend as they were a life saver. 

We started teaching fairly quickly too. Early on we were taking turns teaching mini sections of our yoga practice to each other to test our knowledge. It was a good test of the philosophy in practice — learning to let go, be present and just do it.  
Rebellion kicks in.
As the program progressed I noticed my body getting tired. I witnessed myself starting to procrastinate my homework. I got tired and bored with making my lunch. Basically, the monkey mind started to whine! 
So I said to myself, “snap out of it!” As I begin to notice these feelings, I shared them in class. After some discussion we determine it’s just a natural part of the learning process and human behavior. One of my biggest lessons throughout this training is that of resistance and acceptance. As soon as I accepted it, it was easier to let it go and watch it just float away like a leaf in a stream. 
I reminded myself that I chose this path. I WANT to be here pursuing a long-time goal. It’s as if the ego was having a temper tantrum and I had to tap into “source” to set it straight! 
Muscles and meditation.
All was moving along nicely… until it wasn’t. One day in meditation I was laying on my back on some props when something moved. Suddenly I had a stiff neck. It was so bad that I had to pick my head off the mat using my hands. My body was reacting to the extra activity and something fell out of whack. I was injured and very disappointed. 
During meditation tears were streaming down my face uncontrollably due to both the physical pain and the disappointment. Again, a lesson presented itself: let go of attachment. In our practice I worked through the poses best I could, enjoyed a mini massage from a caring classmate and reminded myself this too, shall pass. And it did… eventually. That’s life after all, we can’t control it, I thought. I caught myself thinking, “hey the teachings are kicking in and I am applying them to overcome one of life’s little challenges!” It made me feel like I was in exactly the right place, at the right time.
Teach and grow.
It’s all about practice. As with any skill we wish to hone, the mastery comes in taking action and actually doing it. As our program continued we took turns teaching the various yoga flows we’d been learning. This helped both solidify our own yoga practice, and gave us experience in teaching others. I was reminded of a quote I read that said, “The best teachers are really just great students.” I made a mental note to continuously learn something about yoga each day so that it becomes a natural part of both my teaching and my way of being. 
Not every student in our class has the same goal. Some signed up to deepen their own yoga practice and not necessarily because they are intent on becoming a RYT (registered yoga teacher). It reminds me of what my instructor said to us on the first day of our class: “This will be a spiritual journey for you.” 
It was for me. I got so much more out of the 200-hour yoga certification training than just knowing how to construct and instruct a yoga class. I’ve learned life lessons, I’ve applied them and have certainly grown from the overall experience. I’ve gained a new way of being, not to mention strengthening my personal yoga practice better than ever before. I can honestly say the experience of becoming certified has truly enriched my life.  
Self improvement of any kind is a practice so by no means have I checked the “done” box. Yoga is a practice. Life is a practice. We get to continue to learn and grow. That’s what makes life so exciting! And as my journey continues, now as a certified RYT, I look forward to sharing my yoga experience with many students in the future. I hope to see you on the mat at Simply Yoga in one of my classes. Until then, Namaste.

by Kery Knutson

"If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet," said author Toni Morrison, "then you must write it.”

I read the above quote and thought about all the possibilities for creativity we have in our lives. Often we believe that the story, OUR story, has already been written.
But in fact, to a great extent we are the authors of our own story….OUR biography.  When we allow the openness that Yoga provides, we also allow ourselves to be
the person we want to be….and then we can write (and live) the story we want to read.

As Gandhi wrote, “be the change you want to see in the world”. It’s all related and it all begins with us…our story, our lives, our vision…the unity that IS Yoga.


"When you know better, you can do better"


So, I would love to tell you about Beautycounter and why I am so passionate about it and the products…. Basically it’s because I want to know that what I am using on my skin and body is safe, non-harmful, but effective ! I believe that many of us take care of ourselves and our children by trying to eat right, exercise right, etc but we don’t even realize that what we are putting on our skin, our largest organ may be harming us tremendously !  I would love to share with you my reasons and how I found out about Beautycounter but as a resource for many people who come to SY, I felt this to be a BIG important piece for our health!

I’ve included just some info for a quick read about Beautycounter!

"We believe that the products you use regularly—cleansers, moisturizers, scrubs—should be gentle, effective, and safe. Ingredients in these products should not add to the load of toxic chemicals that we all carry with us due to daily environmental exposures. Our products provide a safe first layer that leaves you protected and primed for whatever comes next.

Our whole-picture approach to product development ensures that every ingredient goes through Beautycounter’s rigorous screening process before we add it to our products, and that every ingredient we use is fully disclosed. We have nothing to hide. We believe in complete transparency!

It’s been 76 years since the federal government passed a law in the U.S. regulating the ingredients used in cosmetic and personal care products. A lot has changed since then.

While the EU has banned or restricted more than 1,300 harmful and toxic chemicals from personal care products, the US bans or restricts just 11. At Beautycounter, there are 1,500 ingredients we will never use. Every ingredient in our products has a function; nothing is used without careful consideration for efficacy and performance. No unwanted extras, no dyes, no mysteries. Just ingredients with purpose!"


1in 3 children will be diagnosed with Autism, ADHD, Asthma, or Allergies. Even more troubling, chemicals linked to learning disabilities, breast cancer, fertility and other health issues are allowed in the the products we may be using everyday! Our Kids deserve better, we all deserve better! We have a few favorites for our little ones, Kidscounter as well as the new Babycounter products too! Would love to share them with you and educate you more! 


Everyone Counts... https://youtu.be/LYKw1c6M3iQ



Authentic Success



"Authentic success is having time enough to pursue personal pursuits that bring you pleasure, time enough to make the loving gestures for your family you long to do, time enough to care for your home, tend your garden, nurture your soul. Authentic success is never having to tell yourself, or those you love, “maybe next year.” Authentic success is knowing that if today were your last day on earth, you could leave without regret. Authentic success is feeling focused and serene when you work, not fragmented. It’s knowing that you’ve done the best you possibly can, no matter what the circumstances you faced; it’s knowing in your soul that the best you can do is all you can do, and that the best you can do is always enough. 

Authentic success is knowing how simply abundant your life is exactly as it is today. Authentic success is being grateful for the many blessings bestowed on you and yours that you can share your portion with others. Authentic success is living each day with a heart overflowing. Authentic success is feeling good about who you are, appreciating where you’ve been, celebrating your achievements , and honoring the distance you’ve already come. 

Authentic success is reaching the point where being is as important as doing. It’s the steady pursuit of a dream. It’s realizing that no matter how much time it takes for a dream to come true in the physical world, no day is ever wasted. It’s valuing inner, as well as outer, labor- both your own and others’. It’s elevating labor to a craft and craft to an art by bestowing Love on every task you undertake." SW





After 30 years of classic Hatha Yoga instruction and study in NYC and at an ashram in Nassau, The Bahamas, I stumbled upon Kundalini at Simply Yoga. To be honest, I had NO idea what a Kundalini practice involved. What I saw was a 7AM class scheduled on Tuesday mornings at SY. I signed up because the early morning class suited my early morning energy. I sat on my mat, watched and listened as the instructor, Scott (spiritual name, Sat Atma) proceeded to conduct the Kundalini training. The terms and vocabulary were different from the Hatha language I knew. The emphasis on breathing and the geometry of the poses, the inclusion of music and chanting and the engagement of the bandhas, mudras and emphasis on bringing awareness to the internal activity intrigued and resonated with me. Even the suggestion ( not requirement) of wearing white and cotton and head wrap brought the practice to a new level for me.

Simply Yoga is a wonderful space for so many reasons, but the inclusion of Kundalini among the classes offered, with two excellent instructorsLisa Feldman (spiritual name Taran Inder) currently at 7:30am Mondays, and Scott Adelman on Thursdays at 6pm, both are certainly a huge part. I encourage anyone who is curious to join one of these classes. All level of competency is welcome and you will know soon whether this powerful and mystical practice is for you. I found that I became even stronger when doing my Hatha practice, and that there is no conflict in exposing one’s body, heart and mind to both disciplines. I know that has been working for me, and I’m in the second year of my Kundalini Yoga practice.

I look forward to seeing you in class….I’m almost always there!

Sheri Weiner (spiritual name Ram Deva)