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 (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.

What’s so special about that?

What’s so special about that?

One day, a religious leader came to the Buddha and asked, “When one follows your Way, what does one do in daily life?”  The Buddha replied, “One walks, stands, sits, lies down, eats, and drinks.”  The man asked, “What is so special about that?”  And the Buddha answered, “An ordinary person, though walking, standing, lying down, eating, or drinking, does not know that he is walking, standing, lying down, eating or drinking.  When a practitioner of the Way walks, he knows that he is walking.  When he stands, he knows that he is standing.”  – Sulak Sivaraksa

This is mindfulness – so simple, yet so difficult.  For some mindfulness is a way of life, for others a lost art.  How many of us can classify ourselves as ordinary?  We go through life with little or no consciousness as to each moment that we are gifted.  We have become so disconnected from our inner world, that we live in the outer world with the same awareness. We end most of our days reminding ourselves of our accomplishments and planning for our tomorrow, but to what degree were we truly present to any experience?

When working with clients, privately or in groups, they are asked to leave the past behind, forget the future exists, and explore the present.  To what extent can they take their awareness to the now. They are asked to explore their body, just as it is, to notice the nuances of the breath and how the breath and body co-exist.  Taken even deeper, we explore the mind-body by witnessing, not judging or editing or altering.  We simply bring ourselves into full awareness and learn to reprogram ourselves to be mindful if, only for just this moment.  Mindfulness is not another goal to achieve, rather it is a state of being truly alive.   And when we are alive, mindfulness invokes an awareness that everything is special, every step, every breath, and every moment.  After all, who among us desires to be ordinary?

If you are looking to explore mindfulness as a method to reduce anxiety or just be connected to the present moment, contact us for a private session or to join one of our outdoor or indoor programs.

by Nancy Levenson, Founder and Yoga Therapist at NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness, LLC.

 

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.

 

Grace With Movement New Yoga  Class – Highlands Ranch, CO

Grace With Movement New Yoga Class – Highlands Ranch, CO

New Thursday Morning: Women’s Only Group – 9:30-10:30 am – Starts Feb. 23

 

NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness introduces a new class and instructor

New and beginning practitioners as well as those wanting to further their practice and deepen their experience, please join me in an introductory, basic Hatha Yoga class.  Time will be spent learning breath work (Prana), postures (Asana), and meditation techniques.  Enjoy the luxury of 60 minutes of introspective time… Time with “self” where gentle flow, concentrated breath, and core / balance work allow you to practice in a quiet, non-judgmental environment.  Over time the breath and body work will become a relaxation tool, a muscle strengthening technique and a restorative aid in building a healthier body and a more balanced, gentle mind.

This 8-week series is open to all students.  In particular, brand new yogis, interested in the rich history of yoga, developing from the very beginning proper breath and movement, and specifically cultivating a practice of “self-care” and enhanced self-love.  Additionally, those who have been practicing for some time but wish to “fine-tune” their foundation by focusing on the “basics”, and increase their overall knowledge of yogic philosophy, intent, and finding additional core strength.  Each of us is unique.  No matter your size, your health, your disposition and outlook – YOGA can help you enjoy the pleasure of Prana joined with Asana, stretches and meditation, and the bliss of loving yourself and gaining confidence.  No prior yoga experience is required.

To Join the Upcoming Session: to confirm and hold your space send an email to barbarabloodgood@yahoo.com  OR call 303.725.1434

The Instructor: Barbara Bloodgood

Barbara is a Registered Yoga Teacher, RYT-200, a 200 HR Integrative Yoga Teacher and a 200 HR Yoga for Survivors Teacher. A two-time cancer survivor, Barbara is a believer in health and wellness in mind and body. This holistic, integrative approach has led Barbara to study and practice yoga for 12 years. Her mission is helping others find the joy of “self-care”. Empowering others to bring balance to life by joining mind, body and spirit in the practice of yoga is an honor and a joy. We find peace in the present and acceptance of self through dedicated study, practice and belief.

 

 

 

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.

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

Summer Solstice 2016 – June 20th

Summer Solstice, which occurs today at 4:30 MST,  marks the day each year where the sun graces our sky, creating our longest day and shortest night.   In the tradition of time immortal, yogis have honored the summer solstice by practicing 108 sun salutations.

Sun Salutation, is the graceful sequence of postures linked together to create a dynamic flowing motion.  Each posture is linked with breath, with each pose counterbalancing the previous pose to create an overall body, breath and mind practice with the intention of awakening your own inner sun.    Discover the therapeutic effects of spending time with the sun today.

Summer Solstice 2016

 

 

About Nancy Levenson:  Nancy’s mantra is helping others Discover Yoga as a Healing Art and their personal path to their wellness. She is founder of NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness.  She explores the tools, history, philosophy and science of yoga in working with clients to discover their own innate healing process. If she could, she would sprinkle JOY in everyone’s life and remind them of their own true nature as a path to wholeness.

She loves guiding yoga retreats all over the world and has recently added private one-on-one desert excursions and private retreats for clients to explore their own contracts, soul wisdom and spirit animal through a practice called, SOULSutras.

 

Consciousness Like Ours – Meditating with Rainer Maria Rilke

A mediation commentary by Nancy Levenson

I believe our spirit thrives when we open our morning to meditation.  The Eighth Elegy by Rainer Maria Rilke offers us an opportunity to mediate on the free nature of our beingness.  Opening ourselves up to God before us allows our spirit, body and mind to breathe in wellness and wholeness.  When we explore the rich texture of the words of a poem during our mediation we can discover aspects of self, that may have been buried deep inside ourselves.  I encourage you to find your own deep meaning in this poem, perhaps a favorite passage that speaks just to you.  Or, simply mediate on the quote I offer you today.

 

NamasteWorks Yoga - A Deer - Rainer Maria Rilke

The creature gazes into openness with all

its eyes. But our eyes are

as if they were reversed, and surround it,

everywhere, like barriers against its free passage.

We know what is outside us from the animal’s

face alone: since we already turn

the young child round and make it look

backwards at what is settled, not that openness

that is so deep in the animal’s vision. Free from death.

We alone see that: the free creature

has its progress always behind it,

and God before it, and when it moves, it moves

in eternity, as streams do.

We never have pure space in front of us,

not for a single day, such as flowers open

endlessly into. Always there is world,

and never the Nowhere without the Not: the pure,

unwatched-over, that one breathes and

endlessly knows, without craving. As a child

loses itself sometimes, one with the stillness, and

is jolted back. Or someone dies and is it.

Since near to death one no longer sees death,

and stares ahead, perhaps with the large gaze of the creature.

Lovers are close to it, in wonder, if

the other were not always there closing off the view…..

As if through an oversight it opens out

behind the other……But there is no

way past it, and it turns to world again.

Always turned towards creation, we see

only a mirroring of freedom

dimmed by us. Or that an animal

mutely, calmly is looking through and through us.

This is what fate means: to be opposite,

and to be that and nothing else, opposite, forever.

 

If there was

in the sure creature, that moves towards us

on a different track – it would drag us

round in its wake. But its own being

is boundless, unfathomable, and without a view

of its condition, pure as its outward gaze.

And where we see future it sees everything,

and itself in everything, and is healed for ever.

 

And yet in the warm waking creature

is the care and burden of a great sadness.

Since it too always has within it what often

overwhelms us – a memory,

as if what one is pursuing now was once

nearer, truer, and joined to us

with infinite tenderness. Here all is distance,

there it was breath. Compared to that first home

the second one seems ambiguous and uncertain.


O bliss of little creatures

that stay in the womb that carried them forever:

O joy of the midge that can still leap within,

even when it is wed: since womb is all.

And see the half-assurance of the bird,

almost aware of both from its inception,

as if it were the soul of an Etruscan,

born of a dead man in a space

with his reclining figure as the lid.

And how dismayed anything is that has to fly,

and leave the womb. As if it were

terrified of itself, zig-zagging through the air, as a crack

runs through a cup. As the track

of a bat rends the porcelain of evening.


And we: onlookers, always, everywhere,

always looking into, never out of, everything.

It fills us. We arrange it. It collapses.

We arrange it again, and collapse ourselves.

 

Who has turned us round like this, so that,

whatever we do, we always have the aspect

of one who leaves? Just as they

will turn, stop, linger, for one last time,

on the last hill, that shows them all their valley – ,

so we live, and are always taking leave.

 

About Nancy Levenson:  Nancy’s mantra is helping others Discover Yoga as a Healing Art and their personal path to their wellness. She is founder of NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness.  She explores the tools, history, philosophy and science of yoga in working with clients to discover their own innate healing process. If she could, she would sprinkle JOY in everyone’s life and remind them of their own true nature as a path to wholeness.

She loves guiding yoga retreats all over the world and has recently added private one-on-one desert excursions and private retreats for clients to explore their own contracts, soul wisdom and spirit animal through a practice called, SOULSutras.