To retreat is to disconnect from the everyday routine.Read More
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
"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."
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!
- The man who moved the mountain was the one who began by carrying away the smallest stones.
- Don’t be afraid that you do not know something. Be afraid of not learning about it.
- 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.
- Even if you stumble and fall down, it doesn’t mean you’ve chosen the wrong path.
- A strong man overcomes an obstacle, a wise man goes the whole way.
- The temptation to give up is strongest just before victory.
- The goal in life is to die young…but to do so as late as possible.
- Don’t speak if it doesn’t improve upon silence.
- Someone who points out your flaws to you is not necessarily your enemy. Someone who speaks of your virtues is not necessarily your friend.
- A thousand-mile journey begins with just one step.
- Don’t be afraid to go slowly. Be afraid of stopping.
- A person who is capable of blushing cannot have a bad heart.
- Even the happiness of a fool is a stupid kind of happiness.
- A hut full of laughter is richer than a palace full of sadness.
- Whatever happens always, happens on time.
- A good teacher opens the door for you, but you must enter the room by yourself.
- A mountain never yields to the wind- no matter how strong it is.
- Your home is where your thoughts find peace.
- 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.
- Unhappiness enters through a door that has been left open.
- No one returns from a long journey the same person they were before.
- It’s better to be a person for a day than to be a shadow for a 1,000 days.
- If you’ve made a mistake, it’s better just to laugh at it.
- Live calmly. The time will come when the flowers bloom by themselves.
- The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
Shared by 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)
In our Yoga practice, Mantras are often employed. Mantra is a Sanskrit word, generally defined as “divine speech”, or transformative sound. When we recite Mantra, not only do the words have power, but the very vibration and sound (which IS vibration) have power. Notice how your body often vibrates within as a word is sung or recited..or even breathed, like a whisper. According to Yoga teaching, the physical vibration in the body clears the Chakras, bringing another sense of peace and awareness. Chant mindfully and feel the difference….
Om…the universal sound vibration representing the world
Shanti….Sanskrit for Peace
When said or chanted, this is a simple prayer for peace within ourselves, and within all beings
OM MANI PADME HUM
Translation: The jewel in the lotus of the heart
Inspired by the lotus flower that takes root in the mud, yet blossoms beautifully toward the sun, this MANTRA is a reminder that transformation is possible under any circumstances. It is a much-used, often-heard Mantra among the Tibetan Buddhists.
OM NAMAH SHIVAYA
Translation: I bow to the goodness within myself
This MANTRA has roots in the Hindu tradition and it honors the god, Shiva.
It is a reminder that there is goodness within all things, and we honor that.
The deep, rich philosophy behind our Yoga practice holds at its heart center Sanskrit, the powerful, energetic, vibrational language by which that philosophy lives, breathes, and flows. Pronouncing Sanskrit correctly can be quite challenging, but it is of utmost importance. Sanskrit, which means “refined,” is purely phonetic, and thus sound is its most significant element. The Sanskrit alphabet consists of fifty letters and the addition of vowels and consonants with diacritical marks or symbols placed over them to distinguish their rich, diverse sounds. Equally important is that most Sanskrit “words” are not words in the true sense of the English language. In fact, much of the Sanskrit we use in our Yoga practice translates to multi-word terms or meaningful phrases for which there is no equivalent in English. This post will focus on one of the most widely used and meaningful phrases in our Yoga practice, Namastē. Namastē or namaskāra is a common greeting in India. Upon meeting, the hands come together in prayer-like devotion at the heart’s center, a gesture known as anjali mudra, and the sound namastē is exchanged and accompanied by a slight bow. Similar to the English “hello,” namastē is used when acknowledging a person whom you wish to engage in conversation, either in person or when answering the telephone. Namastē is not a word in the English sense of the term, but rather a meaningful phrase with deep, spiritual roots. In Yoga, when namastē is uttered at the end of practice, it is taken to mean “the light in me honors the light in you,” or “the life force, the self, the divinity, or the God in me is the same in all, we are all one.” In Sanskrit, namastē derives from namaskāra which originates from namaha, meaning “paying obeisance.” The belief that within each human being there resides a divine spirit or supreme God pervades the philosophy of Yoga. It is the belief in soul (ātmā) that forms the foundation on which is built the long-standing meaning of namastē, which holds that when two souls meet, each soul is compelled to acknowledge or pay obeisance to the other. The significance of namastē is not lost on its companion namaskāra, and in fact gives greater meaning to Surya Namaskara, the sequence of poses (asanas) most commonly referred to as Sun Salutation. When the true meaning of namaskāra is applied to the sequence, one no longer merely “salutes” or “greets” the Sun, but rather humbly and honorably acknowledges the soul that brings forth the light of the Sun, as in “the light in me honors the light in you, Sun, for we are one light, the same.” Namastē