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.

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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 ( 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 or calling 303.725.1434.

Aspiring Yoga Teacher Scholarship – Spring 2017

Aspiring Yoga Teacher Scholarship – Spring 2017

Have you been contemplating how you might take your yoga off your personal mat and into the world? Ever wondered what it’s like to guide and inspire students on the yoga path but just didn’t have the funds to take the training? Well wonder no more…This week Yoga Alliance announced it’s Aspiring Yoga Teacher Scholarship program for 2017.

The Yoga Alliance® Foundation is giving away 7 Aspiring Yoga Teacher scholarships of $2,000 each. Awards will be given to those who want to attend a yoga teacher training to become an RYT® 200 and meet the eligibility criteria outlined below.

Scholarship recipients must enroll in and complete a teacher training program at an RYS® 200 and register as an RYT 200 within 12 months of being notified of their award. Scholarship funds will be paid in USD by Yoga Alliance Foundation directly to the RYS 200 once the recipient completes training and registers with Yoga Alliance as an RYT 200. Awards cannot be used to pay for training that has already started or has been completed.

Yoga Alliance Foundation strongly encourages candidates to apply who have a strong personal practice, are leaders in their community, and add to the diversity of the yoga teacher community. This includes those who have overcome socioeconomic or other personal obstacles, or who otherwise bring a diverse perspective or background.

To find out more and apply for the scholarship program, just click here.

Our Integrative Yoga Therapy (IYT) 200-HR program has been a standard of excellence in guiding individuals on a personal path or a teaching path. Our school offers the initial training right here in Colorado and if you decide to explore further training, our program extends to a 300 HR and 800 HR program, leading up to your Yoga Therapist Certification. Consider the path of leading others into the beautiful dharma of yoga. Click here to learn more about our program.

NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness is a Registered Yoga School with Yoga Alliance. Nancy Levenson is the Program Director of the local-based program.

New Yoga Teacher Training Class starts March 18 at NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness

New Yoga Teacher Training Class starts March 18 at NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness

There is so much depth to Yoga, it’s much more than just learning a few asanas/postures or how to breathe.  It’s a comprehensive lifestyle system of meeting each moment with bliss.  If you’ve ever considered deepening your exposure to yoga, offering the mind/body aspects to your existing clients, or felt an overwhelming desire to help others, we invite you to consider joining our new training starting,  March 18.

The 200hr Yoga Teacher Training  is for those who want to supplement their existing healing practice with yoga, or deepen their own personal practice. Along with offering Yoga with a focus on health and wellness to the general public, you will learn tools and techniques to teach Yoga-based wellness programs in a wide variety of complementary health care settings. The 200Hr Integrative Yoga Teacher Training is an  immersion program from the lineage of Joseph and Lillian Le Page and utilizes their training manual coupled with hands on expertise and wisdom from Nancy Levenson, an IYT Affiliate Program Director.

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

The 200HR program is the foundation program and Integrative Yoga Therapy also offers a national 300HR and 800HR program that leads to a Yoga Therapist Certification. The advanced yoga therapy programs are detailed at Integrative Yoga Therapy

S01-YA-SCHOOL-RYS-200 (2)The program is registered with Yoga Alliance as a 200-hour Teacher Training program and your instructor carries the highest certification in yoga therapy, a C-IAYT.

So step on the path, join our upcoming 200-HR class beginning March 18.  Send a request for more information via our contact form.

2017 DATES – Mar 18 through July 30.

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 and this class will have a four day offsite in New Mexico.  Scheduled dates (subject to change) are; Mar 18/19, Apr. 8/9, Apr 29/30, May 20/21, potential offsite in New Mexico – June 1-5, June 24/25, July 8/9, July 29/30.


200 HR Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Training 2017 – Colorado – Open House

Open House
Saturday, September 10th – 10am-12noon, 2017

Open House NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness

Are you considering yoga training with a therapeutic focus or know someone interested? Then join us for our Program Spotlight to learn more about our 200HR program starting January 14, 2017.

This spotlight is all about you and answering questions you may have about teacher training, homework, outcomes, and more. Come to this informal session and Discover Yoga as a Healing Art.

This program is open to anyone with a basic foundation in yoga and is especially suitable for occupational therapists, physical therapists,yogis, health care professionals and other mind/body modalities seeking to enhance their overall practice.

Nancy Levenson, Program and Affiliate School Director for Integrative Yoga Therapy will be on-hand, along with other graduates of the program to offer insights and answers to all of your questions. This program is non-residential and runs every third weekend, beginning January 14th. It’s not too late to join us, just RSVP. Event held in our private studio in Highlands Ranch.

RSVP by September 8th, send a message through the contact page or call 303.725.1434

AYURLUNCH – Mindful Learning, Sharing and Eating

By Nancy Levenson, PYT 1000 – Professional Yoga Therapist

The external influences on our health include seasons, diet and lifestyle.  During our last session of the 200HR Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Training at NamasteWorks Yoga, our group explored the external influence of diet.  We dedicated time to understand the principles of and cook an Ayurvedic lunch.  To support the studies of Ayurveda, the group explored how modification to ingredients can alter a meal to better support the optimal health of a client’s Ayurvedic constitution, Vata, Pitta and Kapha.  The group split into teams to assemble three different versions of the same meal.  Making simple modifications to ingredients, like adding cooling foods (papayas, cucumbers, coconut) for the Pitta meal, sweet foods like (avocados, grapes) to the Vata meal and pungent and bitter foods  like (broccoli and endive) in the Kapha meal, allowed participants to understand how diet helps to support optimal digestion and Agni in the body. 

Like Yoga, Ayurveda is the study of unity and integration and a process of self awareness and healing.  Ultimately Yoga and Ayurveda want to bring us into alignment with the laws of the Universe at the levels of body, mind and spirit.  Yoga therapy, works with clients one-on-one to integrate the sister sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda to support overall wellbeing. 


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.