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.

FREE YOGA IN THE PARK – HIGHLANDS RANCH, JUNE 7-2014

MEET THE INSTRUCTOR – Barbara Bloodgood

Barbara’s back too!  A breast cancer survivor and a trained breast cancer yoga instructor, Barbara discovered the yoga world after experiencing her own step back from optimal health in September 2002, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent eight rounds of chemotherapy and 36 rounds of radiation to rid the cancer that spread from her breast into her lymph nodes.

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It was then that Barbara became committed to her own yoga journey.  She loved being on the mat, it offered her the spirituality piece that she felt had been lacking for some time in her life and provided her an inward look at her own heart and soul. Come out and join Barbara in one of her gentle practices in the park….you might hear her say the word “alignment”, “alignment”, “alignment”.

IF YOU GO Yoga in the Park takes place in Civic Green Park, 9370 Ridgeline Blvd. in Highlands Ranch, from 8:15-9:15 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays through Aug. 16.  Arrive 15 minutes early to sign a park waiver and settle onto your mat.  Program is sponsored by NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness and the Highlands Ranch Metro District. Visit www.namasteworksyoga.com for more info and program schedule.

NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness offers Yoga as a Healing Art to the Douglas County communities of Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Castle Rock, Castle Pines and other nearby communities.  Our service is one-on-one healing therapy, Teacher Training and Free group classes at Yoga in the Park, Highlands Ranch.

Mandala Yoga – The Circle of Unity

When we open our heart to body, mind and spirit, we sense a connection.  The loving balance of energies is felt throughout us and extends beyond us.  To close our Free Yoga in the Park series, we joined our collective loving energy into Mandala Yoga. 

Mandala means circle or center, and is derived from the root manda, meaning essence and la, meaning container; thus, a mandala is a container of essence.  Joining hands, breathing, moving, and laughing filled us with joy, bliss, unity and oneness.  It represented our journey onto the mat to join in community, peace and practice.   Click on any image to enlarge.

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Yoga helps create a sacred space to bring each of us to our center.  Love Your Body, Love Your Mind, Love Your Spirit – The Circle of Self.

When we embrace the present moment, we notice that our life is perfect, whole, and complete.  When we extend that to the greater community, the whole community is perfect, whole, and complete.

NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness offers; Yoga as a Healing Art to the Douglas County communities of Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Castle Rock, Castle Pines and other nearby communities.  Our service is one-on-one healing therapy, Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Training and Free group classes at Yoga in the Park, Highlands Ranch.

Yoga Never Ends – But Tomorrow We Say Goodbye

We roll out the mat, take our space, breathe in the fresh air and join in community.  An hour later we are alert to our senses, aware of our body, mind and our spirit.   But, Yoga never ends — it lives inside us 24/7, in our actions, our thoughts, our words, and our very being. 

We invite you to step on the mat with us for our final practice of Free Yoga in the Park this season, Saturday morning, August 31,  8:15-9:15, session led by Nancy Levenson of NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness.  While we say goodbye tomorrow, we know Yoga never ends.  It’s a seed we carry inside us when we Love Our Body, Love our Mind, Love our Spirit.  May each of you carry that seed inside you until, we meet again.

On behalf of NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness, the Highlands Ranch Metro District and the amazing volunteer instructors; Nancy Levenson, Jenny Clark, Sue Khodarahmi, Jena Sawyer, Renee Carrillo, Jenny Domingue, Jammie Speyer, Kelly Conrad, Meghan Ecklund and Barbara Bloodgood, we thank you for the opportunity to serve and bring yoga not only alive in the outdoors but, inside each of you.  Namaste!

Stay tuned for our Moonlight Yoga and Kirtan in the Dark – announcement coming soon…..

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Hundreds of trees take root at Free Yoga in the Park

Sometimes stepping into nature is all we need to feel grounded.  We can step on the mat anytime, anywhere and ground our feet downward, establishing deep roots in mother Earth.  From this space, we begin to feel the stability of our body combined with the softness of our focus.  Our branches begin to spread out, limbs reach towards the sky or another, open to a new day, perhaps a new way of feeling alive.  Our breath flows freely, like the sap of our true nature, cursing through us as we awaken to Love Our Body, Love our Mind and Love our Spirit.    

Thank you for joining us this morning for our FREE Yoga in the Park practice in Highlands Ranch, CO.  A special Namaste to our very own NamasteWorks Yoga  trained teacer, Jammie Speyer, for leading a beautiful practice for us all.  NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness reminds you all that sometimes coming home to our self is as simple as becoming a Tree.  Please join us for one of our upcoming practices.  The full schedule is available at http://namasteworksyoga.com/events

8AM Saturday June 27 – Join Jammie for Free Yoga in the Park, Highlands Ranch

MEET THE INSTRUCTOR:  Jammie Benton-Speyer

Yoga has been an amazing journey for Jammie, as a student, a teacher in training, and now as an instructor.  Jammie came to yoga to help manage chronic pain, but soon realized that yoga would play a much larger role in her life.  As a student, she was amazed at what her body could actually do, despite her inability to reach the full expression of every asana.  Jammie found that through practicing yoga, she felt better not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And to her surprise, she loved yoga so much, that she decided she wanted to teach – specifically, Jammie wanted to teach people who manage physical pain, stress, and depression related to chronic illness.   

NamasteWorks Yoga Free Yoga in the Park In January of 2012, she began studying Integrative Yoga Therapy, and became certified at the 200 hour level the following September. Her goal as a Yoga instructor with a therapeutic focus is to truly meet each client where they are, through careful consideration of their specific needs, and thoughtful construction of an individualized yoga practice.  Currently, Jammie teaches Family, Prenatal, and Mommy and Me Yoga. 

IF YOU GO:  This Saturday Only practice begins at 8AM.  Yoga in the Park takes place in Civic Green Park, 9370 Ridgeline Blvd. in Highlands Ranch, from 8:15-9:15 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays through Aug. 31.  Arrive 15 minutes early to sign a park waiver and settle onto your mat.

NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness offers; Yoga as a Healing Art to the Douglas County communities of Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Castle Rock, Castle Pines and other nearby communities.  Our service is one-on-one healing therapy, Integrative yoga Therapy Teacher Training and Free group classes at Yoga in the Park in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

 

Join Nancy Levenson at Free Yoga in the Park

MEET THE INSTRUCTOR – Nancy Levenson

Nancy Levenson is founder of Free Yoga in the Park and NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness, LLC. a premier provider of  mind/body wellness services. A highly regarded PYT, professional yoga therapist and champion of yoga as a Healing Art.  She will lead the Wednesday June 24, LOVE YOUR BODY, LOVE YOUR MIND, LOVE YOUR SPIRIT practice at Free Yoga in the Park.

Nancy Levenson, NamasteWorks Yoga + WellnessNancy describes her style of yoga as compassionate and expressive.  She focuses on an individual’s overall wellbeing by placing an equal emphasis on their physical, energetic, emotional and spiritual dimensions.  She counts among her influential teachers, Joseph & Lillian LePage, where she received her yoga therapy training through Integrative Yoga Therapy, Judith Hansen Lasater and Gary Kraftsow.

Today, Nancy works privately one-on-one with patients suffering from Back Pain, Stress, Panic Attacks, Osteoporosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, MS, Depression, and extreme fatigue.  She is also the Program Director of the 200HR Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Training offered by her business.

Join her tomorrow at Free Yoga in the Park.

IF YOU GO Yoga in the Park takes place in Civic Green Park, 9370 Ridgeline Blvd. in Highlands Ranch, from 8:15-9:15 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays through Aug. 31.  Arrive 15 minutes early to sign a park waiver and settle onto your mat.

LOVE YOUR BODY, LOVE YOUR MIND, LOVE YOUR SPIRIT and Awaken Your Inner Radiance

Dwelling in our own radiance, we touch what is most real and reliable in ourselves and most easily overlooked and undeveloped.  When we can be centered in ourselves, even for brief periods of time in the face of the pull of the outer world, we can awaken our own radiance from within, wherever we find ourselves.  Awaken your inner radiance and join Renee Carrillo tomorrow morning as she guides our free yoga practice in the park.  Renee is a graduate of the 200HR Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Training at NamasteWorks + Wellness.  If you have contemplated becoming an instructor, please let us help guide you on your path.

NamasteWorks Yoga Free Yoga in the Park

IF YOU GO Yoga in the Park takes place in Civic Green Park, 9370 Ridgeline Blvd. in Highlands Ranch, from 8:15-9:15 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays through Aug. 31.  Arrive 15 minutes early to sign a park waiver and settle onto your mat.

NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness offers; Yoga as a Healing Art to the Douglas County communities of Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Castle Rock, Castle Pines and other nearby communities.  Our service is one-on-one healing therapy, Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Training and Free group classes at Yoga in the Park, Highlands Ranch.

FREE Yoga in the Park, Saturday, June 12, 2014 – Highlands Ranch, CO

Meet the Instructor – Meghan Erin Ecklund

Meghan Ecklund, NamasteWorks Free Yoga in the ParkMeghan turned to yoga early in her college years. Emotional and physical stressors reared their ugly heads until she almost lost herself in pain and unhappiness. Meghan says she was completely out of balance.   Her first exposure to yoga was through an Anthropology course she took in school and where she learned about the practice of yoga by Tibetan monks.  Her first practices where at the University and she discovered that the practice of yoga ameliorated her symptoms of incredible stress. She practiced asanas, breathing, and meditation which eased her mind, bringing her into awareness of a full mind and body connection. Wellness is an essential part of our lives.

Meghan desires to help promote yoga as an integrated part of people’s lives. Meghan joins us for a third year bringing her grace and soft spirit to the practice.

Now in our 5th year, we still offer 100% free Yoga in the Park, never asking for a donation.  All we ask is that you join us Love Your Body, Love Your Mind, Love Your Spirit.  Beginning May 29 through August 31, 2013, residents, 18 years and older, can participate in an hour long practice each Wednesday and Saturday morning from 8:15-9:15, with only a few minor exceptions.  Sessions are held at Civic Green Park, located adjacent to the Highlands Ranch Public Library.

See the full schedule here.

NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness offers Yoga as a Healing Art to the Douglas County communities of Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Castle Rock, Castle Pines and other nearby communities.  Our service is one-on-one healing therapy, Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Training and Free group classes at Yoga in the Park, Highlands Ranch.

 

Lions, Tigers and Elephants of all Ages Take to Free Yoga in the Park, Highlands Ranch

Family Day at Free Yoga in the Park is an opportunity for the entire community, young and old to come out and explore the beautiful craft of yoga.  This year’s June 29th practice led by Renee Carrillo drew out 200 participants that stomped their elephant feet, roared like lions, lifted limbs gently walking through the forest like a tiger and explored many other yoga postures for all ages.

Love your Body, Love your Mind, Love your Spirit reminds all of us, young and old, that yoga is the process of yoking these three aspects of our being and that sometimes the exploration can bring about fun in the community.

While Family Day is only offered once during the season, Free Yoga in the Park runs through August 31, each Saturday and Wednesday from 8:15-9:15 am.  If you are looking for an engaging morning, join one of our ten instructors that lead the practice at Civic Green Park in Highlands Ranch, CO.  Our practice is absolutely FREE, never asking for a donation, a gift from us to you, our annual act of SEVA.  Free Yoga in the Park is a joint program between NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness and the Highlands Ranch Metro District

Nancy Levenson is founder of NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness which offers Yoga as a Healing Art to the Douglas County communities of Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Castle Rock, Castle Pines and other nearby communities.  Our service is one-on-one healing therapy, a RYS Registered Yoga Alliance School providing a 200HR Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Training and Free group classes at Yoga in the Park, Highlands Ranch.