Finding Our True Body Through the Practice of Yoga

Finding Our True Body Through the Practice of Yoga

Commentary by Ana Balzar

Yoga comes from a Sanskrit word, which means, “to join” or “to yoke.” So, what exactly are we “joining” or “yoking” in yoga? In short, yoga is teaching us the means of attaining union of the individual soul with the universal soul by bringing us (the individual soul) to a greater level of self-awareness and self-realization so that we can one day achieve enlightenment. In many ways, the practice of yoga is about unlearning habits that the human world teaches us, which ultimately causes much of our suffering, and keeps us from attaining our Bliss. Yoga is a journey to our True Self, the Self that exists deep inside all of us, but is often covered by layers of muck we acquire as we journey through life.  Sometimes the muck comes from society, sometimes from the ones closest to us, and other times it is our own muck, the expectations we hold for ourselves in our mind that keep us away from our True Self.

Lately, I have been reflecting on the physical body in relation to the journey towards the True Self. In the West, our physical body is a representation of ourselves to the world. People read our identities on our bodies, we judge lifestyles from bodies, we perceive socio-economic status from bodies, we determine worth, predict behavior, and we often have a whole range of reactions and feelings based solely on how we read each other’s bodies: whether it’s love, discrimination and hate, judgment, appreciation, or perceptions of beauty, our bodies represent us, whether the stories other people read on us are accurate or not. How we read the physical body is dependent on our experiences in the world, and it’s also based on societal norms and standards for bodies. To see what kinds of bodies are valued most in this society, all you have to do is look at the covers of magazines: the women are predominantly white, skinny and blonde, with expensive clothes and perfect looking skin and teeth. We are generally not taught to embrace ourselves—the messages we receive tell us to exist within a certain kind of box.  It’s no wonder that we have an eating disorder pandemic, and that the beauty and diet industries are one of the most profitable businesses out there. Whatever happened to being happy? To being true to who we really are? There has been a lot of push back in recent years: from the happiness movement, to an increase in more body positive images in the media, however there’s a lot of work to be done to change societal and personal messages we’ve been receiving our entire lives.

I’ve gone through my own struggles with my body: my body image has often been a source of suffering for me, a layer of muck I’ve had to learn how to clean in order to know my True Self.  Many women experience these struggles in different ways- whether they are perceived as fat, skinny, curvy, overweight, stick thin- it doesn’t matter. Someone, somewhere along the line has said something to us about our body that has made us want to change it.

For instance, at the age of 11, I was teased about my body size for the first time. At the age of 13 a teacher of mine remarked on all the weight I’d gained over the summer, publicly, in front of all my other classmates. I remember pinching my stomach and the sides of my belly, I remember pulling back the fat of my inner thighs and imagining my legs slim like a model, imagining myself beautiful, skinny, and wanted. I controlled how I ate for a few years, and I lost 20lbs at one point, and then I gained it all back. I tried diets, I tried baggy clothing, I exercised obsessively, I cut out all dessert, all carbs, and all things delicious, to become my perception of thin. And I never got there- it’s never quite good enough. I have curves: breasts, hips, and thighs that will never fit into size 2 or 4 jeans unless I starve myself and end up in a hospital bed.  Though there was suffering through those years, the journey led me to discover my True physical body- and it looks different than anyone else’s True physical body, as its meant to. Sometimes you have to do everything wrong in order to understand and learn what’s right for YOU.

After years of torturing myself over my body appearance, I entered into the world of yoga. Not because I thought it would help me change my relationship to my body, but because I thought it would help me mold my body into what I wanted it to be.  I’d read articles about women losing weight from a regular yoga practice, so I thought I would try it too, in hopes that it would work those same miracles for me. Instead of losing pounds, I gained deep self-awareness of my body. I heard my body speak to me, and for the first time I truly listened to what it was trying to tell me all these years. Instead of silencing it with diets, mindless gym exercises, regimented eating schedules, I listened and heard all the ways it wanted to move, how it desired to be fed, when it wanted to rest. It took me years of listening and practicing to understand my body, and when I did, I achieved true contentment in my physical form. I wasn’t denying myself food that I love to eat, I wasn’t doing exercises that I hated doing- everything about the way I moved my body, what I chose to put in my body was about MY desires, not how others were telling me to treat my body. I discovered that dark chocolate with almonds is my staple dessert, and that my body will tell me when it craves it. I discovered that my body loves to run outside because it allows me to connect with nature, because it builds my strength, because it gives me peace and time for myself. My body loves to experience movement through dance, through different types of yoga, and through barre classes.  My body wants to build strength, and that’s how it experiences its beauty. Sometimes, my body just wants to rest, and I shouldn’t push my body when it wants to be still even if my mind is telling me that it “should” exercise. My body craves a mostly vegetarian diet because that’s when it feels light, content and energized for the day. There are days my body wants meat and chips and ice cream. And so, I listen to it. Because that’s what it means to follow your Body’s Bliss. Ever since I’ve been following this Bliss, my body has been happy, and I’ve never been happier with my body. I’m still a size 12, like I’ve been most of my life. There are many ways to be a size 12- but this size 12 fits my body and my bliss. The size doesn’t matter- it’s how you feel in whatever size pants you wear, whether you are a size 2 or a size 16. This size is right for my body; this way of existing is how my body is at peace and in health.

Let your focus be your True Body, not your imagined body. Don’t use the scale to determine whether your body is where it should be. Let your body speak to you, and then listen to it with every beat of your heart because by listening, your body will teach you how to truly love all of yourself.

Ana Balzar is an MSW and Certified Yoga Instructor.  She received her 200HR Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Training at NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness.  NamasteWorks Yoga is a private yoga center in Highlands Ranch Colorado offering private yoga sessions and teacher training.

Yoga Teacher Training – Highlands Ranch – A Perspective on Choosing the Right School

Yoga Teacher Training – Highlands Ranch – A Perspective on Choosing the Right School

Embark on a Yoga Training that Supports You First, then Others.  Yoga Teacher training is growing in popularity every year, and program costs merit that you spend the time, to ensure you are making the right choice for your future.

These are my personal recommendations to help you maneuver through the maze of options.   I’ve mentored many students over the past seven years of providing training, and many I’ve encouraged to go elsewhere. If you still need guidance after reading this, consider setting up a FREE 30 minute consultation with me.

Rather than simply going to the studio closest to your home, the one you take classes from or the one that’s the cheapest, it is worthwhile to look for the right school and the right person/team to train you. You need to find someone who is experienced and whose teaching style and personality you find inspiring.

It really depends on what you want out of your yoga training. If your interest lies in getting into teaching as fast as you can with limited focus on the eight limbs of yoga, anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, asanas,  adjustments, pranayama, mediation, philosophy, Koshas, etc. then choosing a weekend program may be right for you. However, if you want an in-depth understanding of the yogic process, a well accredited school is worth every penny spent.

Read more

Yoga Therapy on Colorado Post-Polio Conference Agenda

Yoga Therapy on Colorado Post-Polio Conference Agenda

Yoga Therapy uses the postures of yoga along with breathing exercises, meditation, life-style management, support of mental well-being and many other tools in a targeted manner, customized specifically to work with a client’s condition. On September 9th, NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness founder, Nancy Levenson will be guiding a Taking Care of Your Body breakout session during the Colorado Post-Polio Conference. This session aims to inform participants about expectations and invite them to explore an enchanting experiential journey through body and breath.

The Colorado Post-Polio Conference focus is on the practical aspects of keeping polio survivors active, safe and involved in their world.

Saturday, September 9, 2017, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Mile Hi Church Community Center
9077 W. Alameda Avenue
Lakewood, CO 80226
For more information visit their site

NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness is The Place to Discover Yoga as a Healing Art.  We are a private sanctuary located in the heart of Highlands Ranch that offers specialized private yoga therapy programs, classes, teacher training, workshops and retreats.

Embark on a Yoga Training that Supports You First, then Others

Embark on a Yoga Training that Supports You First, then Others

If you want to offer Yoga as a healing art, or supplement your existing practice with yoga, or deepen your own personal practice and, save money at the same time, then please join us for the 2018 200-HR Integrative Yoga (IYT) immersion training and accept our $300 discount before September 1, 2017.

Along with offering Yoga with a focus on health and wellness to the general public, you will learn tools and techniques to develop Yoga-based programs to support a wide variety of health care issues. The 200-Hr IYT immersion program is from the lineage of Joseph and Lillian Le Page and utilizes their training tools, decades of research and program enhancements all coupled with hands on expertise and wisdom from Nancy Levenson, the Affiliate Program Director.

This program is open to anyone with a basic foundation in Yoga and is especially suitable for body-workers, health care professionals, occupational therapists, physical therapists, clinical psychologists, respiratory therapists, family therapists, social workers, experienced yoga instructors, and anyone desiring to deepen their own personal awareness of their body/mind and spirit.

2018 Registration Now Open – And a $300 Savings Too!

THERE’S A REASON TO ACT NOW. When you sign up early, you save $300. off our tuition fee. If you apply and are accepted prior to September 1, 2017, you will receive a $300 discount. Our classes are small on purpose and securing your space is the best way to ensure you will be in the program.

To be considered for the upcoming class, please send us an email via our contact form on our website (http://namasteworksyoga.com/contact) or call 303.725.1434.

You will embark on an intimate and insightful journey of yoga, as you explore yoga with a new vision – As A Healing Art. This intensive non-residential program takes you deep into the world of yoga and its therapeutic applications. Sessions include;

  • A Multidimensional Approach to Yoga
  • Explore the Deeper Practices of Yoga with Prana Vayus, Chakras, Nadis, Mudras and more
  • Understand, Design and Develop Health and Wellness programs for a variety of ailments
  • Interpret the Interactive Psychology and Philosophy of Yoga
  • Assess and Connect to the Physical and Energetic Anatomy, Physiology & Kinesiology
  • Study hallmark movement practices

2018 DATES – January 20-June 17.

The 200-HR program is based on 180 contact hours and 20 non-contact hours.  We run a weekend format designed for existing professionals, meeting Saturdays and Sundays from 7:00a-6:30pm.  The 180 contact hours usually meet every third weekend with a few exceptions.

Scheduled dates (subject to change) are; Jan 20/21, Feb 10/11, Mar 03/04, Mar 17/18, Apr 7/8, Apr 28/29, May 12/13, Jun 2/3, Jun 16/17.

The 200-HR program is the foundation program and we are a RYS, Registered Yoga School with Yoga Alliance. Find out more by visiting us at http://namasteworksyoga.com/teacher-training or calling 303.725.1434.

“Fall in love with the back of your cereal box” – Jerry Seinfeld

“Fall in love with the back of your cereal box” – Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld has been making people laugh for years from his comedy show to his self-named television series. Although he is most known for his ability to make people burst into uncontrollable fits laughter, occasionally his antidotes make us pause and consider its deeper meaning. His quote, “Fall in love with the back of your cereal box”, is one of those. On the surface, we may shake our heads with a smile on our face and think, “what?” But, what if we lived our lives in such a way that when we looked at something we see every day, such as our cereal box, we actually noticed the details? So often, we hurry from one thing to another throughout our day without really noticing what is going on around us. We don’t take the time to pause and notice the many different shades of green on the new leaves, or the way the sun illuminates the blades of prairie grass putting on a tremendous show of light, or the free symphony performed by the birds. These things are going on around us all the time, but so often we are in such a hurry or are just too preoccupied with life to notice.

When we take the time to pause and notice the details we live into a more vibrant life. We are filling ourselves with beauty and the result is gratitude, creativity and radiance. Join us; take a few hours out of your busy life and invest in yourself. With your camera in tow, we will replenish your soul by taking the time to capture the details we see on the outside and relate it to the beauty on the inside. Pause, breathe in beauty, exhale stress, capture moments, be in awe of the details of world you live in and your amazing self.

During this four-hour program, you will develop a candid relationship with nature as you explore the beauty of the Highline Canal. With camera in tow, you will be guided to discover the great outdoors and capture the field of the natural world and how these images relate to your inner world of joy. This program includes a 3-mile round-trip hike to capture nature’s images, time for self-contemplation, time with community and exploring nature in story and texture. After this morning experience, you will leave with greater vibrancy and intimacy with nature, self and a beautiful heartfelt smile. Click here to find out more.

Program:  Through the Lens and into the Date: Thursday, July 20th
Time: 9:30-1:30
Fee: $39 pp
Venue: Fly’n B Park

To learn more about this program or register call 303.725.1434 or click here.

 

Breathe New Life Into Your Bones℠ – A Mind/Body/Nature Focus on Bone Health

Breathe New Life Into Your Bones℠ – A Mind/Body/Nature Focus on Bone Health

There’s no better time to contemplate our bone health than during the Halloween Season.  As one of the living systems of your body, having healthy bones and preventing bone loss is something we are all faced with, regardless of age. Your bone health is connected to your mind-body system and when one moves out of balance so do the others.  On October 27, during this 3-hour FREE workshop you will discover a holistic approach to managing your bone health.

You will creatively get to know and sense your bones, engage in prana/breath/energy for the bones, discover strategies to relax your bones, engage in a gentle nature walk to reduce stress and learn how to keep the adrenals healthy with movement and yoga.  You will experience the benefits of Yoga Nidra, a deep meditative sleep for combating the bone damaging effects of a cluttered mind.  Our skeletal system is alive.  At the end of this program you will walk away with a new appreciation of the framework that is your body.

Date: Friday, October 27
Time: 9:00 am – noon
Fee: Free to the community through a Grant
Capacity:  Limited to 30 participants
VenueLone Tree Hub, 8827 Lone Tree Pkwy, Lone Tree, CO 80124

To register:  Click Here to Register.  Program space is limited to 20.  If you have questions, please call 303.725.1434 or reach us through the contact form.

Bring sunscreen, hat, walking shoes, water, and a snack – Yoga mat and all art supplies are provided.

This program is brought to you by NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness, LLC and The Lone Tree Hub – a community and enrichment center for all ages, part of South Suburban Parks and Recreation.

To learn more NamasteWorks Outdoors other nature & Mind/Body programs, visit www.namasteworksyoga.com/outdoors. You can also learn more about your two guides, Nancy Levenson and Courtney O’Malley.  To learn more about The Lone Tree Hub click here.

The Vibrancy of Color℠ –  A Nature/Yoga & Art Exploration

The Vibrancy of Color℠ – A Nature/Yoga & Art Exploration

If you love fall color, time outdoors, balancing your seven chakras or learning more about these internal energy centers, tapping into your own creativity, and meeting others, then join us for this Free 3-hour community nature/mind/body adventure.

Our time together will begin with a nature walk on the trails, where you will fully immerse your senses in the colors of fall. You will have the opportunity to pause and gather inspiration from the beauty of nature ablaze in shades of yellow, orange, and red. During your time outside, you will gather items that speak to you. We will then head indoors for community discussion and to create an inspirational art piece. We will conclude our time together with a yoga practice specifically designed to balance the chakras and restore vibrancy and vitality to each person.  You will walk away a living rainbow.

Date: Saturday, September 16
Time: 9:00 am – noon
Fee: Free to the community through a Grant
Capacity:  Limited to 30 participants
Venue: Lone Tree Hub, 8827 Lone Tree Pkwy, Lone Tree, CO 80124

To register:  Click here to Register.  Program space is limited to 30.  If you have questions, please call 303.725.1434 or reach us through the contact form.

Bring sunscreen, hat, walking shoes, water, and a snack – Yoga mat and all art supplies are provided.

This program is brought to you by NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness, LLC and The Lone Tree Hub – a community and enrichment center for all ages, part of South Suburban Parks and Recreation.

To learn more NamasteWorks Outdoors other nature & Mind/Body programs, visit www.namasteworksyoga.com/outdoors. You can also learn more about your two guides, Nancy Levenson and Courtney O’Malley.  To learn more about The Lone Tree Hub click here.

Mother/Daughter Strong Bonds℠ – A Day of Nature/Yoga and Playfulness

Mother/Daughter Strong Bonds℠ – A Day of Nature/Yoga and Playfulness

This unique FREE program invites mothers and daughters (ages 13 and up) the opportunity to invest in their relationship in a fun, meaningful and exploratory way, both indoors and out. You will quiet the distractions of your busy lives and celebrate your collective feminine spirit. Moms can tune into their teens aspirations, inner most desires and find out what makes their teen come alive. Daughters can take a break from the barrage of social media and practice the power of the present.

You will have the opportunity to spend quality time together while engaging in activities designed for deeper bonding.  Commune with nature and each other to build strong bonds.  As a team, you will explore the boundaries of your yoga mat in a playful manner. We will incorporate elements of nature walking, yoga, communication, creative expression, and playfulness.

Date: Saturday, November 4
Time: 9:00 am – noon
Fee: Free to the community through a Grant
Capacity:  Limited to 30 participants, 15 mother/daughters
VenueLone Tree Hub, 8827 Lone Tree Pkwy, Lone Tree, CO 80124

To register:  Click Here to Register.  Program space is limited to 15 sets.  If you have questions, please call 303.725.1434 or reach us through the contact form.

Bring yoga mat, sunscreen, hat, walking shoes, water, and a snack –  All art supplies are provided.

This program is brought to you by NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness, LLC and The Lone Tree Hub – a community and enrichment center for all ages, part of South Suburban Parks and Recreation.

To learn more NamasteWorks Outdoors other nature & Mind/Body programs, visit www.namasteworksyoga.com/outdoors. You can also learn more about your two guides, Nancy Levenson and Courtney O’Malley.  To learn more about The Lone Tree Hub click here.

Capture Your Smile – Through the Lens: Seeing Ourselves Through Nature

Capture Your Smile – Through the Lens: Seeing Ourselves Through Nature

One of my favorite scenes in City Slickers, starring Billy Crystal, is when he returns from his yahoo adventure and greets his wife at the airport.  He holds up his index finger to his mouth and says, “Look what I found” as he exuberantly displays a wide smile.  If you saw the movie, you know he had just had a mid-life birthday, felt trapped in his career and seemed unhappy in his life.  He sets out on an adventure in search of a magic elixir to curb his depression and what he finds is a smile.

Your smile radiates whenever you are taking a picture, but is it your real self, your real emotion at the time, or a facade to ensure others or, maybe even yourself, that you are happy. Whether its bodily pain, physical stress or emotional drains, the loss of your smile can have a tremendous impact on your health and joy.

There are easy ways to put a smile back on your face without having to drive cattle through Montana.  We invite you to grab your camera and join us on a day of feeding your soul and reclaiming your smile.  Play and nature are so important to your vibrancy, and this day is all about taking time to pause from your busy life, join other women in nature, and ignite your inner smile. Pictures communicate our emotions and feelings and we will give you the tools to tap into your joyful spirit.

During this four-hour program, you will develop a candid relationship with nature as you explore the beauty of the Highline Canal.  With camera in tow, you will be guided to discover the great outdoors and capture the field of the natural world and how these images relate to your inner world of joy.  This program includes a 3-mile round-trip hike to capture nature’s images, time for self-contemplation, time with community and exploring nature in story and texture.  After this morning experience, you will leave with greater vibrancy and intimacy with nature, self and a beautiful heartfelt smile.

Program:  Through the Lens and into the Date: Thursday, July 20th
Time: 9:30-1:30
Fee: $39 pp
Venue: Fly’n B Park

To learn more about this program or register call 303.725.1434 or click here.

9th Annual Free Yoga in the Park – Highlands Ranch – Printable Schedule

9th Annual Free Yoga in the Park – Highlands Ranch – Printable Schedule

The 2017 printable schedule for the 9th Annual Free Yoga in the Park is released.

This free to the community event hosted by NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness and  in participation with the Highlands Ranch Metro Districts is released today with all the information you need to enlighten your Saturday mornings this spring and summer.  The volunteer instructors; Nancy Levenson, Jena Sawyer, Charmaine Stattman, Barbara Bloodgood, Kate Roberts, Renee Carrillo and Jess Bonasso have been listed for you to follow your favorite teacher or come out and explore the practices of each.  This year’s theme is “The Radiance of Yoga & Nature,” where each instructor will blend nature with mind/body yoga exploration.

Print your own schedule  and Like our NamasteWorks Facebook page too!

Come out and join the growing beginners and seasoned yogis at opening day, May 27, 8:15-9:15 am at Civic Green Park in Highlands Ranch.