WHY MEDITATE? MEDITATION TIPS & INFORMATION

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! 
S.W.
 

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.

Namaste

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

"Use your Eyes"

 

"Often, during the day, our eyes become unfocused and our vision blurs. This can happen when we're "checked out" or when our eyes are tired from staring at a computer screen all day long. We may also keep our vision soft in order to avoid invading the personal space of others.

"In yoga, however, we learn to focus our eyes with precision. Instead of allowing the eyes to be soft, we direct our gaze purposefully. Our gaze (called drishti in Sanskrit) can help us direct the energy of a pose, helping us stay mentally clear. The gaze also has other benefits. In twists, using your gaze can help you turn further. In balances, setting your gaze can keep you upright.

The next time you're in class, notice how you use your eyes. Are you sharp and precise in your focus, or do your eyes seem to wander? See if focusing your eyes more carefully can also focus your mind." YJ

Why is Yoga Teacher Training such a Transformational Experience?

                                                                                   School of Hatha Yoga at Simply Yoga, 200 hr

                                                                                   School of Hatha Yoga at Simply Yoga, 200 hr


Blog post by Kat Danio, E-RYT 500
 
Regardless of the decision to pursue teaching after completion, those that have attended a Yoga Teacher Training program can attest that the experience changed their life.  You may wonder…“why is Teacher Training such a transformational experience?” 
 
It is not how much you know or how much technical experience you have; rather it is the innate desire and curiosity to explore your edges, mentally and physically, which leads to transformation. Training programs are a safe haven encouraging self-reflection where you’ll recognize your limitations and connect to your strengths; releasing judgments to become more accepting of yourself and those in your life. While in the container of the program, you are able to unplug from the daily grind; letting go of unhealthy behaviors and creating bonds and friendships with like-minded people.  Your asana practice improves as you learn proper alignment, anatomy, and assists. Through the study of the eight fold path and other yogic texts you’ll expand your consciousness and find your authentic voice; liberating yourself from internal battles resulting in heightened perspective and focus.
A Yoga Teacher Training program is an empowering process. Please share with us…
Why are you interested in attending Simply Yoga’s Teacher Training program?
Or,
How has Teacher Training change your life?
Kat