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Seane Corn Demonstrates "Body Prayer"

Watch Seane Corn demonstrate her graceful and athletic form of "body prayer" in a video excerpted from Yoga from the Heart.

Pertinent Posts from the On Being Blog

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About the Image

While in India for a YouthAIDS trip with actress Ashley Judd, Seane Corn poses in the Eka Pada Koundiyanasana position in front of the Taj Mahal.

(Photo courtesy of Seane Corn)

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Yoga found me when I needed it most. I was recovering from a broken relationship and moved in with a friend who was in a teacher training program. She convinced me to go to a class with her and I immediately felt my heart and spirit open up. While it challenges me physically, it's Yoga's ability to quiet my mind through "moving meditation" that puts me in a place where I can grow spiritually. Yoga gave me perspective on my ability to heal myself.
I was lucky to have a terrific instructor at the Yoga Center of Minneapolis named Tanya Boigenzahn Sowards. She turned me on to ashtanga. I have also done weekend retreats there with Rod Stryker and Seane Corne. Seane's detoxification retreat involved asanas but her talk on forgiveness as "the greatest detoxifier" was particularly insightful for me. She encouraged me to look at those who appeared in my life, those who left an indelible mark especially those who brought suffering were really angels who came to help me unite with "spirit." That perspective has been life changing. After the class she took time to encourage me. The picture is just after our conversation. Thank you for your wonderful conversation with Seane.
People who are tuned in to this spiritual practice seem to magically appear since I've been practicing. Your show is one of those instances. Thank you. I love your program!

I started practicing about 7 years ago, while I was a 43 year old pregnant woman. I was so worried about the health of my baby, I could barely sleep some nights. I was a very anxious and controlling person back then. I thought I could handle, and should handle, everything and everyone in my life. The absurdity of that mind pattern caught up with me. I started Yoga then because I thought it was physically gentle enough to handle and that it might help me to relax. I had no idea how Yoga would lead me on a spiritual journey that I am still on.

Yoga has led me into a new phase of life. It has helped me to awaken and it has brought me closer to my true nature. There were times when I would just start crying in the middle of a pose. I believe it was the release of some repressed emotion that I was holding inside. There were plenty of those and there probably still are.

I could go on and on, but let me just say that I feel like a more humble and grateful person than I was before I started my practice. Yoga has led me to read spiritual books, listen to calming sacred music and to sound meditation. It all helps me feel more alive and comforable in my own body. I can experience the wonder of life that I remember having as a small child. It is amazing.

I practice both Vinyassa and Kundalini yoga. I know that this will be a part of my life for the duration.

Love,

Donna

What I love about yoga is its ability to open the heart and mind. After practicing yoga for about two years, I was led to start reading the Bible. It wasn't until I truly opened my heart and my mind and rid myself of ALL prejudice, including my preconceived notions of Christianity, that I found Jesus. Now that I understand His plan for salvation, my 'yoga' comes by reading His Word.
Anyone seeking enlightenment should read the Bible. There is nothing like the peace that comes from knowing that through Jesus, God sees you as a saint. I don't have to do anything to earn His favor...all I have to do is believe. My soul has been set free!
In my practice, I like to share the gospel message of Jesus Christ. But when I've shared this with others in the yoga community I don't seem to receive the same gentle openness that is preached. Why is that?

My first yoga experience was the first week of August, 2008 when I joined some friends for a daily "beginner's yoga" session as part of a week-long retreat with church friends at the YMCA camp in Estes Park, CO. Through the windows, I could see Ypsilon Mountain as I first learned of "mountain pose." Learning to breathing deeply in the late summer air of the Rocky Mountains was a spiritual experience.

Within the week, I discovered that I could get out of bed in the morning without back pain. I could stand on one foot for the first time in years. (I'm 61 years old.) I could bend over to tie my shoes without thinking about it first. All this in six days!

Then I heard your podcast (which I download every week because no station in Kansas City carries your show --- yet). What Seane Corn shared makes SO much sense. I took the podcast to my weekly Yoga class and shared it with everyone there. Now even my wife is interested in trying Yoga to improve flexibility. Thank you so much!

Although I started doing fitness-style yoga 10 years ago, I started practicing in a viniyoga studio in January 2007. The differences in these two types of yoga have been very striking for me.

I have never been an athletic person and found yoga helpful because I was just too clumsy to keep up with Pilates, Jazzercise or other fitness classes. I consider myself a spiritual person but the spiritual aspect was not a factor in my decision to pursue yoga. I started taking classes at a viniyoga studio to get back in shape after my 2nd child was born. Because I have small children I try to fit yoga in to my regular routine both at home and in classes, but sometimes only practice 1-2 times per week. I did not expect that combining yoga, meditation and a focus on balance would have such a dramatic impact on my physical and mental well being. Now I am in much better shape than I ever expected to be and can feel the impact of a focus on balance in my own sense of well-being. Some of the things that I have learned fall into the following categories.

Trust - trusting my body to learn what I am asking, and trusting that sometimes my body doesn't do what I want it to - even if a pose came easily the day before. That doesn't mean failure, but rather that each day is different. Tomorrow is different too.

Confidence - that I can be strong and that through practice I will learn what I need to learn. That I have the power to help myself and do not need to be a victim of circumstances, people or my own body.

Humility - that I am an eternal student and it doesn't really matter to anyone (including myself) how good I am at yoga.

Community - that the community of like-minded people has an energy and healing power valuable in itself.

When described in this way, yoga seems very spiritual and like religion. Thank you for giving me the chance to share my views. Namaste.

Thirty seven years ago (at the age of 18) I tried two things for the first time – I attended my first Yoga class and that Fall helped to lead High Holiday services at a synagogue. I have continued with my Yoga practice sporadically over the years. I have led High Holiday services every single year since 1971. I was ordained as a rabbi in 1979. Twenty one years ago I founded my own congregation in Jerusalem (Kehilat Kol HaNeshama). In October 2006, as the holiday season was ending (after Simchat Torah) I was aware that I felt I had given more than I had gotten. As someone involved in training (reform and conservative) rabbis studying in Israel I heard my own voice cautioning my students to be aware of the dangers of spiritual burn out. I was also aware that my congregation could handle my absence for one High Holiday season. I felt determined to go on a spiritual retreat for the High Holidays. I arrived at Kripalu Sept 1, 2007. The month I spent there was filled with contrasts. On the one hand – paradise! I was in a spectacular natural setting (every day the panorama from the mountain changed slightly as the leaves turned). The program offered two Yoga classes a day, organized hiking, biking and kayaking and endless amounts of wonderful vegetarian food. I went swimming in Lake Makeenac every single day. There was poor cell phone reception. There were hundreds of people in and out for various weekend or week long programs (meditation, health, wellness…). I ate all meals in the small silent dining room. Yet it was an unbelievably challenging month. I had absolutely no responsibilities. Amazing how I managed to generate anxiety even though there was nothing to be anxious about! I was determined to get the most out of every single day. I wanted to do Yoga, meditate, pray, study and enjoy all the activities offered by Kripalu. When I had to choose between a bike ride, a lecture or private study – I freaked! Besides the two Yoga classes a day, my only other agenda was an hour a day of Koran and an hour a day of Talmud. I reacted as if I was going to get a grade at the end of the month! Letting go of "achieving" was not easy. The other great challenge was "who am I?" I was pretty resolute in not telling people I was a rabbi from Jerusalem. To spend the month of the High Holidays NOT as a rabbi was a new and disorienting experience. (For the first few days I kept my cell phone with me AS IF someone might call me and I had to be available.) While staff and lay people back in Jerusalem were in the whirl of the High Holidays- I took my tallit (prayer shawl), a machzor (prayer book)and a shofar into the woods to pray on my own. What a strange experience to lead services just for me! Every page of the prayer book made me homesick for my community – the prayer book was designed for communal prayer not personal prayer. Instead of reading, chanting or singing all the words of the service, my prayer was mostly meditation in the woods, lots of trees and no Jews. The "not being a rabbi" was terrifying. It was a month without leading, teaching, explaining, guiding and worrying about others. What a gift, to discover there is a "me" who doesn't always have to be a rabbi. Every morning I did my own praying and meditating. There was a group meditation after the afternoon Yoga class. The focus was on breathing. (There was also "kirtan" – Hindu chanting a few evenings a week – but I was not interested in another devotional system.) There were some meditation sessions when I wept from struggling to let go. I had waves of homesickness – missing "home", missing my family…By the end of the month I felt pretty emptied, clean, and clear. I really expected that after some fifty Yoga classes I would be physically transformed. No such luck! I found I was still struggling though most of the poses. I did four private Yoga classes and that was brilliant. The gifted teachers helped me put together my own personalized flow that I could take home. As the retreat came to an end I felt relaxed and renewed and ready to get home. A flight, train and bus ride later I was in the middle of France at the ecumenical Christian monastery Taize (Tay- zay) fro another few weeks of retreat. But that is a whole other story. A whole year later and I have been pretty discplined about my practice - I meditate for half an hour every morning and do a 30 -45 minute Yoga flow most every day (and I attend two classes a week).
This year at High Holiday services I will introduce some of my Ypga practice to the congregation.

I began yoga practice in 1990. It was a time when I was at one of those crossroads in life. I was nearly 40 and not terribly satisfied with my life. I now realize my soul knew something was missing. Now after 18 years of practice and and two teaching certifications - in Kripalu yoga (the yoga of compassion) and Svaroopa Yoga (the yoga of consciousness) I can honestly tell you that I truly live according to my innermost urgings. It has been, as you can imagine, a remarkable journey with many twists and turns. It has led me to end an 18 year marriage, to lose a career, and to establish myself as one of a new emerging genre of artists combining ecology, theology and activism in my work.

Here is my current artist statement - which I feel speaks volumes abotu what I do. I can honestly tell you that without my daily yoga practice I could not paint. Yoga harmonizes me with a grander scale of life.

Artist Statement
HUMAN/NATURE

SHAKTI (life moves through beauty)
The tracings of the narrative of art are scribbled in the realm of transcendence. And from these faint tracings art becomes the pragmatic idealism which makes visible concepts of compassion, love, goodness and truth. The persistent miracle is when this aesthetic reveals an understanding not previously exposed by any other means or at any other time. In our reach to grasp these tracings we encounter beauty and we touch hope.

ANEMONES Pacem in Maribus (Peace in the Oceans)
Today there are untold extraordinary phenomenon happening around us at exceptional speed. Before we can absorb these events new images arrive from around the globe. We exist in constant flux. The speed of experiences recalling knowledge, evoking new awareness which modifies perception, creating one conscious experience. Our ideas, our cultures, our societies, even our own identities become connected and influenced. We are creating a new world. Through this we come in turn to understand how consciousness pervades every part of the planet. We’ve come to understand the sentience of Gaia is not in doubt and that we are vibrantly connected.

CARYATIDS (harmony and co-creation)
In as much as we are a part of nature, we now can be consciously involved in our co–evolution, which is to say in our own self definition and reconstruction. Nature is no longer something ‘over there’ to be viewed in the middle distance with a dispassionate disinterest, or conquered as a hostile alien, or trivialize with romantic sentimentality. We can recreate ourselves in beauty because the world mirrors us. Beauty exists through this harmony, it is in us and we are surrounded by it. Beauty is a greater sense of grace that calls us to lean down close and hear the earth breathing in synchronicity with us while at the same time experiencing the speed of life.

the medium - moistmedia
As we enter the 21st century not only does our choice of medium contribute to the conversation between the work and the viewer but it’s an essential element of the work’s vitality. A symbiotic relationship is formed by the union of the dry silicon virtual medium with the wet animate medium of paint resulting in a new medium: “moistmedia.”

In combining the virtual and the natural worlds and integrating the personal and global, the natural process is reconstructed and with it our direct intimate experience of life. We are now part of each and we are called to redefine our selves and the environment. The medium is redefined with the knowledge that it imbeds itself in the narrative and anchors spaces that otherwise would be enveloped by images formed from an apparent world. Beauty, by its mere presence, creates an environment which offers a subtle connection to the tracings of transcendence. We can call beauty into play and beauty calls us to remember our compassionate ethos. In remembering our direct connection to the earth and self reconstruction we reclaim our intimacy with the mystery and perhaps reach the harmony of co-creation.

I love your program! You are making a difference. Thank you.

Namasté,

Michelle

ps I'll attach my latest fusion drawing Zimbabwe Caryatid. It just won an award at a regional open competition in Concord MA. I was isnpired by the terrible fact that the life expectancy of women in Zimbabwe has now dropped to 35 years of age.

www.michelledemarco.com

Yoga saved my life and my health physically, mentally and spiritually. I started to practice after a back injury weight lifting and after a traumatic breakup of a relationship. I began teaching almost 7 years ago and I have felt like I have gotten younger every year from my practice. Three and a half years ago I opened my own studio which employs 12 teachers and has 25 classes a week.

I have taken workshops with Seane Corn and she is amazing, inspiring and challenging. Thank you for the program!

I started practicing yoga back in early may with my husband. My husband was returning to yoga practice after a nearly 10-year hiatus. My goals, at first were purely physical in nature: get increased flexibility for my competitive sports training. The spiritual and mind aspects of yoga sort of just crept up on me, a serendipitous surprise: i've always been impatient, quick to react, quick to anger, quick to worry and become anxious, always busy, always in movement, never still, hyperactive.

Yoga has somehow 'quieted the beast within', so to speak. It is the only time, i've noticed, when i am 'mostly' quiet inside, body still, but mind alert. i've come to realize how 'loud' my interior is in the eveery-day hectic day-to-day.

I find myself needing less sleep, i'm less inclined to anger, more relaxed and more forgiving of others, but more importantly, more forgiving of myself.

an additional bonus: doing it with my husband has brought us together on a very deep, spiritual level.

i really came at yoga with a bit of skepticism, and now i find that if i miss a day, i feel like i'm missing my 'candy' for the day.

ps: we BOTH love krista and sof!
:)

Started yogas late in life . enjoy doing everyday. like more and more people practice. There are several yoga magazines briginning in advances yoga postures and insights. Though started in India, looks like more people outside practice. Yoga is not something done according to schedule but it is life. If not now, never

I think the one thing that my ashtanga practice has taught me, very recently, is I can only do things breath by breath. Every part matters, not just the pose and how I get into it and how it looks. The same thing is true in my life. I am hoping to finish my dissertation next year and writing has been very challenging. I have to remember to do it breath by breath. It takes as long as it takes, but what do I learn about, what do I have faith in, what do I learn while I write it. That lesson has been invaluable.

I loved the interview with Seane Corn. I knew about her, but had not heard anything about her thinking about yoga as prayer. I am Catholic and I pray before every practice - I set my intention, not to make sure that the poses are right, but to open my heart, open my mind, to be more giving from my heart, more loving. What a blessing to hear her interview. Thank you.

As a public school teacher, for years I lived in my head, giving little thought to the rest of my body. When I discovered yoga, and began practicing it regularly, it brought me a restoring sense of connectedness and balance. The way I must be aware of my breath passing in and through me, and commune with every muscle to lengthen and bring it mindfully into position, brings me, in the end, to a silent, meditative place that is nothing less than spiritual---a deeply satisfying connection of body, mind and spirit that is wholeness.

I practice Hatha Yoga with a Svaroopa influence, which was developed at the Master Yoga Academy in LaJolla, California. This was a good connect for me, as I have a larger body type, and it's gentleness and the props that it uses, such as blankets and blocks, made yoga more accessible to me.

My First Handstand at 51

I had always lived in my head, a book in my hand, and my heart, on my sleeve, but rarely in my body. In my teens and twenties, I discovered yoga at UCLA but lacked the discipline to stick to a practice. If I made it twice monthly to the large auditorium at UCLA where a beautiful blonde lotus of a teacher taught, I considered that I was doing well. But some kind of impression was made. The teacher had some kind of special energy; she was indeed like a flower, blossoming into one asana after the next, her radiant smile filling the room with white light. I felt superb after each session, limber and lithe; opened. I loved the practice. Eventually, however, I stopped going, earmarking the experience as something I would do later on in life.

Meantime, a certain swami, Muktananda by name, moved next door to my beachhouse in Santa Monica. My small room faced his ashram and I used to watch him and even wave to him sometimes as he stood beaming on the balcony far above me. I would sometimes share the blue bus into Westwood with devotees of his who reported to me wonderful experiences of shakti. I decided to check it out, wandering over one day to have a peacock feather floated over my face. Nothing out of the ordinary happened, so I headed for the ashram's bakery for a goodie, a daily stop for me. The ashram made the best desserts in town.

I didn't disbelieve the Shakti maidens I met, frequenting my busline, or strolling about the beach, but I was not really interested either. I was very involved at the time with my studies at UCLA, an esoteric buffet of literature in which I was thoroughly enmeshed, the poetry of Stephan Mallarme and Wallace Stevens, the prose of Virginia Woolf.

The years went by, early motherhood came and went. I considered a season of yoga during my pregnancies but never found the moment to do it. There was a table of books to be read and a job to go to.

Then a string of personal tragedies hit centering around the loss of a pregnancy. I became depressed. I was now in my early 40s. That period was remarkably similar to the wild rebellion of my also depressed adolescence. I would refer to that period in my 40s as my second adolescence, only instead of rebelling against my parents, I rebelled against my husband.

To perk myself up, my friend Jeanette suggested I accompany her on a trip to India. Needless to say, India jolted me out of my depression like no drug or doctor could have, sweeping me away into her waves of color, her ocean of vibrations, her shimmerings of gold and silver. I was completely knocked out of my shell of grief. I felt transported in this vast, romantic land where magic still took place on a regular basis or at least events beyond my Western comprehension. In India, I was East of the sun and West of the moon, and my imagination was afire, picturing my own poem, my own fairytale.

The contrasts, the vivid alternations, were startling as we drove around visiting both palaces and slums, witnessing the glittering riches of the wealthy and the brilliant rags of the truly poor whose real suffering was mind boggling. Face to face with such suffering, I seemed to transcend out of my ego for good. These encounters with the people and landscapes of India changed me and I do not believe I have ever gone back to the person I was or how I used to feel.

During the trip, I became impressed with how Jeanette kept up her yoga, practicing her postures in our hotel rooms. The idea of doing yoga, especially as I was in the birthplace of yoga, entered my imagination again. By this time, I was in my mid forties. I started to take a yoga class here and there. After about a year of on-again off-again yoga, I wandered down the street to where a new yoga studio was opening and fell into the hands of Jim and Ruthie Bernhaert. Here were hands that insisted and assisted that I adjust my clumsy asanas into proper alignment, and hands that showed me how to fold my fingers against my heart into anjali (I like to say angelic) mudras.

Soon I couldn't stop. My fingers spread like rays of the sun, my feet flexed, my spine straightened. Energy flowed. Yoga took my older body that could have gone downhill and made it go uphill, made it young again. Simple as that. What better antidote to midlife and menopause. I never even felt menopause in the flurry of headstands and backbends I was doing on a regular basis. I wasn't hardcore; I only did yoga every two days. But I was regular. Soon I was accomplishing postures that I hadn't even been able to do as a child. The last to come was the handstand. I had been cautioned by yoga teachers that headstands could damage the neck so I was eager to take my head off the floor. But for some reason I couldn't kick my legs up like I did in headstand.

I started to do a few stretches in my hallway. One day I discovered that I could kickstart an upward posture by moving a leg up across the opposite wall. Add to that a slight push with the help of the wall and voila I was in handstand. I discovered this trick by practicing on my own in much the same way as I had discovered how to give myself an orgasm many moons before. It was a personal approach and a great feeling.

Since I started yoga four years ago, I have moved through several teachers and a few types of yoga. For instance, I initially practiced Anusara Vinyasa through the Bernaerts, but have recently discovered the beauties and benefits of Restorative yoga. Incidentally, Anusara Yoga derives from the Sidhe yoga tradition brought to America by Muktananda, the swami I used to wave to so many years ago. Perhaps that peacock feather waved across my forehead like a magic wand (indeed, “sidhe” means “faery” in Celtic) did have some kind of effect that 20 years later led me to this gift of a yoga practice that has empowered mind and body, and transformed my heart.

i know i am in balance psychically and physically when i am consistently practicing yoga, be it a few poses a night or a full sequence in an hour long session.

i am an alcoholic and when i drink i, obviously, cannot practice. however, when i am in a better place and am able to say no to a drink (or 10) consistently for long periods, my practice becomes an in important part of maintaining that flow. i can feel so much better in my mind and body when i do asanas rather than downing a couple of bottles of wine.
i believe deep down, that yoga will save me by forcing me to save myself.

I am a Mother and Yoga teacher. Yoga has helped tremendously to transform my life in many ways. Mostly with the way I am a mother. Like many, my childhood was far from perfect. My mother always seemed to not be fully there as a parent. My father the same. Both I feel were very selfish at times. However, Yoga helped me to see that everyone is where they need to be. Even if where they are isn't always where you would like them to be. Though cliche, Yoga has taught me that I can learn from my parents on how not to be with my children. That parenting itself is a form of Yoga. Don't get me wrong I still get frustrated from time to time, but along with my husband (who is also a Yoga teacher) we have brought Yoga into our lives and parenting by way of compassion. Compassion for everyone and all faiths. That is how Yoga helps to keep the balance in our lives. It has taught us to be mindful and present. Or at least to come back and remember to be present. It is a continual journey for both of us. As I believe it should be. And in the future, when the kids are teenagers, Yoga will also help keep the peace by reminding us that each one of us is where we need to be, including our children.

I practice Hatha Yoga in the Sivananda Style.

Many people think of yoga as a physical practice. Originally yoga was a spiritual practice, then the other aspects were added. I practice Bhakti Yoga, devotional yoga through prayer, meditation, and chanting/music/speech. It helps me to deal with life's stress and calms me down. It empowers me to focus on what I can do to change the situation. It brings an aspect of self control to my life. I learn to think about the consequences of what I do. I also have learned to live in the moment. I have developed myself more as a person through this practice of yoga. I learned that I needed help with things in my life because of being unemployed. That's okay. Self-reliance is a myth because everyone needs support and help in acheiving anything. God is a big support, but God's likes to act through a compassionate person, compassionate animal, or the creation/nature itself. I have experienced miracles like being able to do public speaking and helping to bring a different perspective to different spiritual groups I have been involved with. Chant and music is so important in helping me center my life. Yoga is union with God.

In 1971 a dear friend of mine entered the novitiate of a community of cloistered nuns. One of the first things she told me that they had to do was take a course in yoga, there at the novitiate. She recommended it to me. When I got back home my dear spiritual director told me he was glad to know of my interest and recommended that I follow the method of Fr. Jean Marie DeChanet, OSB, founder of the first Christian ashram in India. Over the years I have waited for the gurus to come into my life, not seek them. And many very holy men and women, have come to teach me, mostly hatha yoga. It has changed my life. I have slowed down. Most of these wonderful teachers have come from Mexico, some from Belgium, India and Italy. Prayer in movement is as old as the first humans that danced for joy to their God, and marvelled in the beauty of nature, cats and trees, the wind and the little flower. The Church was founded by an Asian, Judaism relies on writings written in Asia. Most people I encounter in California apparently forget that historical fact!

I was most disgusted with this program. It was near the end of the program that the guest was discussing her attempt to work with street kids. These were kids who provided sex for money in order to survive. She was extremely sympathetic to the female kids as we all should be. Unfortunately, she showed great disgust about the males. She rudely dismissed them as homosexuals and hustlers. Well, both boys and girls are on the street for the same reasons -- one of which is being thrown out by parents for their sexuality. Another is conflicts with their parents. This is blatant and unacceptable discrimination based on sex and sexuality which does not have any place on a program such as your. The host, Krista Tippett should have responded to this as inappropriate.

I have been practicing yoga (privately) for 10 years. I find it brings me a sense of wellbeing, balance and peace and/or harmony to my daily life. I feel more patience and humor to those around me...a spiritual grounding, if you will. It grounds me.

I have stepped away from traditional religion, as I find true spirituality comes from within and from surrounding nature. Living in Jacksonville, Fl., I find this is not the what most people practice.

I feel so strongly about the physical and emotional balancing and healing of yoga that I volunteer to share this with children. I believe in giving children permission to stretch and breath. Sports are beneficial, but yoga offers benefits that differ from sports. At end of each "session" I do give the children time to meditate. I bring them through this using creative visualization to help calm their senses and to go inward. I also give positive affirmations to them while they are relaxed. I truly enjoy working with children to help them gain some sense of peace in this crazy, loud world.
Namaste

I have experienced several miracles. One, at age 19, when Yoga came to me. I'd been programmed to over-achieve, but the end of the first freshman semester found me sitting on the floor watching people stroll by and wondering, "who am I and why am I here?" These questions led me to read a lot of books pointing to answers, e.g. by Buber, Tillich, etc. Two of these were the Upanishads and the Bahagva-Gita. Immersed in these, one day I awoke and found my body performing postures and movements I'd never seen before. All I knew was that they felt perfectly right, totally both energizing and relaxing. I learned soon that the day simply can't begin for this human being without about an hour of this practice.This happened 42 years ago. Since then, this Self-moved yoga has been daily practice. When truest, the movements emerge from within. This practice opened me to answer "why am I here: to help others on their path; to help others work together; to help others find their way to live in peace; and to serve the muse." (When I am not on the road as an organizational consultant, I play a lot of jazz.) You ask below about "faith," and I suppose this sums it up. This is the code I live by, and how I wish to be remembered. I am sure the “yoga” that came to me is integral to this way of being.

I am in love with yoga not only because I love practicing but because in just 8 months it has saved my life. I began practicing in Jan. of 2009 at a local studio with a very young teacher that I now consider my "reverse mentor". I am 53, and have had insomnia for 17 years, yes that long, which contributed to constant stress. Last year I found I out I have a severe case of scoliosis which I did not know I had even though it caused me to walk around in constant pain limiting my activity, & forget getting a good workout anymore. This, all while thinking I was living a normal life. BUT in just 8 short months of practicing, I now sleep like a baby! This is unbelievable to me. I smile. I can think again, the foggeyness is gone. If I don't miss my yoga my back muscles don't spasm and so my back pain is almost non-existant! I have tried EVERYTHING, all the sleep remedies out there, mental & physical. I have tried all the pain relieving remedies like Chriopractic, physical therapy, etc.
Yoga absolutely is the answer to all my troubles. I am a person again, mentally, physically, emotionally, mind, body & soul!!! I am now training to be a yoga teacher. I will practice yoga for the rest of my life!!!

For over two decades I was a leader in the field of information and communications technology (ICT) for development and managed the World Bank's largest ICT portfolio of projects in public sector management, education and health in every region of the world. My first yoga classes were with Beryl Bender Birch and Thom Birch and I am grateful I was introduced to this age-old practice, which I then taught to international development professionals like myself to help balance our over-stressed work lives. I saw how this practice can move from the physical to the emotional and can have an impact on the lives of underserved and unserved communities. With Beryl Bender Birch, Lori Klein, we founded The Give Back Yoga Foundation (www.givebackyoga.org) to support certified yoga teachers to give back to those in their communities who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience the transformational benefits of this powerful practice, in all its aspects-- from asana and stress reduction, through breath work and meditation, to general service to others.

I started with power yoga about 4 or 5 years ago and sporadically took classes. I sensed there was a great deal in it for me but lost sight of it as time went by.

About two years ago I started again, primarily because, as I got older, I wanted additional flexibility in my body.

Over time I sensed there was a "more" behind the physical exercises and benefits. This is now what I am focused on. I am at heart a spiritual person but not a church person, and I know yoga right now is the finest, most meaningful way for me to connect spiritually with whatever is beyond temporal existence.

Seane Corn's program this past Sunday also focused on what is really at work when life presents itself. I have a lot of anger and hostility towards socially and politically conservative people. And I am beginning to understand that I will not be whole until and unless I can offer forgiveness to them and truly accept it within myself.

This is a journey I am not sure will be successful. But it is one I make anyway.

I discovered yoga at 56, while recovering from six rounds of chemotherapy and a month of radiation. Yoga let me move at my own pace and to be forgiving of my own body's limitations. After I got some of my strength and flexibility back, I tried several types of yoga--vinyasa flow, Bikram, kundalini, restorative, and hatha yoga. Five years later, I teach hatha yoga, as well as practice daily. The spiritual aspect of yoga, linking breath with movement and meditation, helps me focus on what is most important--acceptance of whatever life has to offer at this moment. Karma yoga--freely offering my practice to those who don't have access to yoga--that's actually my favorite form.

Attached to this is an image file of one of the yoga classes I teach for preschoolers and their moms.

Mine is informal, stretches, to heal my sore heel, my sole, and to let my soul soar. Amazing, eh? I have been healing for 4 years with dedicated daily stretches which for lack of a better word, my body has become addicted to, craving the stretches until performed. My practice is at home and occasionally one more formally trained will remark how similar to a yoga pose.

I'd done haphazard, sporadic yoga over the years, but did not maintain a regular program. A very health-minded individual who takes responsibility for maintaining my health and eschews medical interference, I found myself quite ill over the Christmas/New Year holidays into January of 2000.

It was a type of influenze combined with a hacking chronic congestion, something I had never had before, and I seemed to be making no progress. Out of desperation I went to a doctor whose prescription of drugs only seemed to add to my discomfot.

With this illness I had been down for over two weeks. One morning, in that twilight space between sleeping and awakening, the word 'yoga' breathed itself into my mind.

As it was I'd rec'd an earlier birthday gift of a cd/lesson booklet called OM Yoga in A Box. I put it on and within the 90 minutes it took to work through the sessions, I was well. No coughing. No fever. All gone.

From that day forward yoga has been a regular discipline. At 65, my body is flexible, limber and healthy, with none of the 'normal' heatlh challenges afflicting others my age and younger.

A session of yoga brings me back to my sense of self, and the realization that--no matter the situation I am facing--I am enough.

After 10 years, I still classify myself as a beginner, as my body changes every day to where a pose that was mastered two weeks earlier can often seem new and difficult again. As I've moved recently, I hope to find classes in my locale to really take me further.

I often wonder how these poses came about, who studied these intricacies and took the time to develop them. What a gift to humanity, this study.

I listened to the broadcast about Yoga. Yoga is a form a prayer but with your body. Yoga is a science of life, it brings mind body and soul together. It is time to yourself when you can meditate and become closer to yourself, and to your prayer if you wish. Yoga was first formed around the 3rd century in India. It was seen as a was to gain ethical and spiritual balance. Many religions use yoga to become closer to their God. Hindu philosophy believes that yoga embraces the notion of God, and Budism use related practices. Shawn Koran is a yoga teacher and trainer. Before she was a yoga instructor she had obsessive compulsive disorder. She then realized how bad it was when she was doing yoga in the position known as downward dog. She looked down on the mat and noticed that her hands were not exactly in line. This bothered her because her shoulders were straight but she could not get her hands straight. Then she says that her teacher said something life changing. He said "breath and everything changes". She breathed and felt realized. She wanted to find a way to bring this into her everyday life. Yoga helped her get off drugs. Yoga gave her a body high that was better than drugs. She says that the first time yoga really impacted her life was when she lived in New York. She was walking home from a class and all of a sudden had a very weird feeling. She stopped and had to find out what this feeling was. She found out that she was happy. She had a sense that everything was unfolding, she was part of something bigger than she could control. Yoga had planted a seed in her life and she wanted to embrace it. I go to yoga classes a few times every month. I find it very relaxing, its time for yourself. You can put away everything else that is going on in your daily life, and grasp you inner self. It a way to let go of stress and tension. Next time I go to a yoga class I am going to remember the things she has said about yoga. I will embrace it more and hopefully get more out of it than I have in the past.

For this SOF assignment I found a broadcast from September of 2009 on Yoga. Krista Tippett interviewed Seane Corn, a woman who found her way spiritually through yoga. Yoga is becoming very popular and an estimated 20 million people in the U.S. practiced yoga as of the time of this broadcast."Yoga is aligning with medical research and culture," Krista said, which is a very true statement. Nowadays, yoga is incredibly well known for its benefits to the body. Seane suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).Her obsessions were even numbers like 4 and 8, and she also had an obsession with balance. She felt that if she balanced the right way she would protect someone she knew from dying. Seane couldn't deal with her emotions and tried using lots of things to self-regulate her obsessions. She liked to use drugs, especially hallucinogens. Yoga eventually became her way of healing, although it took several years before she would realize this. In Seane's first yoga class, she started becoming very anxious because she felt that she was not balanced correctly, when her teacher said something that would mean a lot to her for the rest of her life. Her teacher said "breath and everything changes." This helped Seane with her yog, because she felt that as her anxiety rose she simply could just keep breathing deeply and the anxiety would pass. Seane says thatt the heart of the practice of yoga is love. She also uses spirtual words. For example, when she says spirit she is meaning that which exists inside of you. This was a very interesting broadcast. I chose to listen to this one because I am about to start my very first yoga class on monday. This broadcast really shows how yoga is just as much spirtual as it is physical.

Yoga helps me in my daily life. I feel more body mind connection. I stated deepen my yoga practice in last 5 years, the reason I started yoga in my 40s from my sciatic and chronic lower back pain from pregnancy. I told myself let give it a try to learn this ancient practice. I practiced yoga forms everyday. In the first 3 months, I really felt the different. People around me noticed in my body and my energy.

I used deep breath work to guide me when I wake up every morning. Any problems in daily life, yoga help me survive. I got deeper in yoga study and got certified as a yoga teacher in 2009. I know that yoga can travel to any one by allowing in mind over the body. Yoga makes me become more compassionate to the world. I studied different forms of yoga, iyengar, ashtanga, hatha, and anusara yoga and pranayama practice under the principle of believe that how I would adapted too goods from each yoga into myself and the world. They are helpful to my life, I can connect to my mind and physical body. I am not vegetarian. I focus more inwardly so I adapted to situation to place the space I go. The forms and lineages study are only outside, but what important is how you can bring yoga into daily life for healthy balance body and mind. The world get more easier and lighter. I meet people and feel grace. Now, I expand my yoga practice to family and friends. I teach and practice yoga with my friends weekly.

Yoga to me is about being completely pleased and completedly relaxed with yourself. It is about being and noticing myself, not beating myself up. Total acceptance of my significance, and that I have a place in the world, like on my yoga mat, just because of my being, nothing I have to prove. Just being aware , starting with breath. To realize that I am doing the best that I can every moment of my life.
I practice hot yoga. It allows me to let go and not struggle. In class a have a safe place to be self. The Heat opens and softens the heart. My mind and body can relax and let go. Going to hot yoga, I am reminded that I have a good life! The connection with self and others is what it is all about,it is easier to love others, if you love self.

Yoga to me is about being completely pleased and completedly relaxed with yourself. It is about being and noticing myself, not beating myself up. Total acceptance of my significance, and that I have a place in the world, like on my yoga mat, just because of my being, nothing I have to prove. Just being aware , starting with breath. To realize that I am doing the best that I can every moment of my life.
I practice hot yoga. It allows me to let go and not struggle. In class a have a safe place to be self. The Heat opens and softens the heart. My mind and body can relax and let go. Going to hot yoga, I am reminded that I have a good life! The connection with self and others is what it is all about,it is easier to love others, if you love self.

I fell into yoga as a gym rat when my local gym offered a general hatha class in the aerobic studio. It was like a breath of fresh air and I knew I had found a place for me. Rather than being exhausted from my normal cardio routine I had been doing to reduce stress, my first yoga class offered me deep relaxation, physical challenge and a clear mind, like the top of a still lake. I was immediately hooked. I've practiced yoga since 1997 - and have taught for the past 6 years at my local recreation center. I primarily practice and teach Iyengar yoga - but take classes of all styles. Sometimes I dabble with a hot or vinyasa class - but I like the precision and alignment teaching of Iyengar. I also like a good Anusara class as well - the joy and spirit of yoga radiates strongly from John Friend.

As for what it has done for me, it has changed my life. Changed the way I think about my breath and body, changed the way I approach life and has literally been a touchstone to help me through both struggles and exuberant times in my life. My yoga practice was instrumental in the natural birth of my daughter (my doula about passed out when she saw me sit in virasana for 30 minutes between contractions) and it something I see myself doing for the rest of my life. Oh to be Mr. Iyengar with those poses and vitality over 90 years of age!
All in all yoga is about balance - about finding the action in the pose without tension. About finding the shadowy parts of consciousness in your body, your spirit, your psyche and bringing it to a non judgmental and curious light. About creating space, compassion and joy in your physical body - which translates to space, compassion and joy in life. I love it and I love sharing it with others.

When I have first timers come to class and do not return, I think it is like cooking pasta and the pasta doesn’t stick to the wall – that person is just not ready yet. I don’t take it personally and yoga is not something that can be forced on anyone. But like a gong or a sound that finds the right vibration and frequency for those that are ready to hear – those that are drawn to the art and science find it transforming.

My first trip to the mat was without preconceived notions. I had no idea that I would release the Yoga genie through the mat. I sensed deep peace and was hooked. I started classes 3 times a week and found that when I came home in the evening I was serene. My mind had slowed and my sleep was deep and peaceful.

After several months of practice I entered Teacher Training, not necessarily to teach, but to delve deeper into yogic philosophy and the ancient origins of this intriguing practice. As I travelled the training road I came to know myself. My stress level lessened as well as my anxiety. I discovered what it is like in the “Yoga bubble”.

In the midst of training I had shoulder repair. This did not stop my journey, quite the opposite, it gave me the opportunity to expand my yoga horizon. I travelled the path through an alternate map; modification, modification, just sit. It was and is all good; I discovered my own “well-being” through different colored lenses. I feel that I was fortunate to have this opportunity to really explore yoga and deepen my practice.

Pranayam has become an integral part of my day; at work, at home, in the car, everywhere. Recently I had my other shoulder repaired. Pranayam was instrumental in my pain control; nothing like focusing on the breath to reduce pain medication intake. My breath is my friend; at home, at work, in all situations.

So, how does Yoga fuel my sense of well-being? It gives me the ability to live like the Lotus, at home in the muddy water. I am comfortable in the present moment. When at work, if I feel like the muddy water is bothering me, I practice a few Yoga postures to bring myself back, relax, and restore myself. Yoga is my well-being.

Yoga for me, is like a fast ticket home. When ever I am feeling tired, overwhelmed, tight, or just not quite right, I know that this magical combination of breath and conscious movement will center and nourish me. I first found the practice as a physical form of stretching and exercise, but soon realized the multi-layered gifts available in the mental and Spiritual cultivation and refinement it offers. I have made it my life-work to teach and share yoga with others, especially children. I now have a studio for private and group classes, and lead a teachers training program for children's yoga teachers. I choose this career to ensure that this beautiful balance and sacred discipline are part of my daily world.

I came to yoga for the first time last spring. my job as an elementary school teacher brings demands on my time and my energy - both physical and emotional. over the years, I have felt myself struggling to meet my own life - to really join in it fully - and unable to be capably interactive and loving in its aspects - work, family, self, the world. since beginning my practice, I feel myself coming into my life in a more accepting way - with less judgment of myself and of others - and so much more peacefully than I ever have before. the bonus for me is that, like life, yoga is a process of opening and learning, so it will always be there for me, helping me nurture and support myself. it's faith.

thank you very much for your repeat of the piece on Seane Corn - I hadn't heard it the first time. she is an inspirational personal representation of karma. her discussion of intention, in particular, is something I want to bring into my practice more consciously.

***

as my husband and I listened this morning, a recurring question came up once more when we heard statements about groups who object to Christian language in yoga, or want to"take yoga back": it amazes us that there are people who would like to own - in a proprietary way - religion or aspects of spirituality.

Making Space - A Yoga Story

It was with some hesitation that I approached the door to the Be In Awe yoga studio. I was fifteen minutes late to my first yoga class. I had left my place on the west side of town in what I thought was plenty of time, only to discover what most new-comers to Ann Arbor no doubt must learn, that one-way streets can turn a simple cross-town drive into a twisting and maddening adventure. I was tempted to turn back and try again next Saturday, but with so much effort already invested, I decided to press on and hope for the best. I stomped the snow off my shoes and opened the door.
I was greeted by the welcoming smile of Jody, the organizer of Ann Arbor Outdoor Yoga. I later learned that during the warmer months the classes where held outside on a large deck surrounded by the natural beauty which Ann Arbor is so blessed. For now, classes were being held, warm and cozy, in an unassuming house set back from the noise and bustle of the road. Spread out around the comfortable room were eight other aspiring yogis well along in their class. Quietly, I slipped off my shoes and hung up my coat. Jody pointed to an open spot on the floor where I could unroll my mat. She asked me to spend a few minutes in Savasana, the asana of complete relaxation also known as the corpse pose, before joining the class. I rolled out my mat and laid flat on my back, my feet turned out, my arms at my sides, palms turned up in a gesture of receiving. I waited for my heart rate to slow and my breathing to deepen. One’s thoughts are also supposed to slow, but mine couldn’t help but wander.
Over the past two months, like many others in these difficult economic times, I had experienced some major changes in my life. I had been laid-off from my job. Fortunately, I had found a new one relatively quickly, one that required that I move. I was thankful to be moving to Ann Arbor, a city I have always admired for its creative spirit and emphasis on active healthy living. As fortunate as I felt, these were still major changes and they were taking their toll on my state of mind. I tried to relax my mind and bring it back to the present moment.
“One –two, One-two,” Becky, today’s teacher, was saying over and over. Her voice, strong and encouraging, was leading the class through a rigorous breathing exercise. As she said One, I could hear the entire class forcefully pushing air out of their lungs. On Two, I could just barely hear the air flowing back in through their noses. “Push the air out and with it all the toxins, all the things you don’t need any more,” she told the class. “Then, just relax and feel the healing oxygen flow back in.”
Sivananda Yoga, the type of yoga practiced at Outdoor Yoga, places breathing at the center of all its practices. From what I have come to understand, by paying attention to our breathing we become more in sync with the natural world through this very basic rhythm of taking in what we need and discharging what we no longer need. Breathing activates what yoga masters call prana – the vital life force. Through breathing exercises, called pranayamas, we can make active this vital force and enhance its healing influence in our lives.
After finishing my Savasana, I raised myself up to a cross-legged sitting position and joined the class. Becky’s voice was now calm and gentle, “Inhale---, exhale---,” she said, guiding the class into calm inhales, and long relaxing exhales. “Feel the white light flowing up and down your spine,” she said.
Despite my efforts to stay with the class, my mind continued to wander. I thought about how the events of the past two months had forced me to expel many things from my life. Things that at one time had served me well, but were now no longer needed. I had moved from a two bedroom house into a small one bedroom apartment with all of two very small closets. I repeated to myself the standard mover’s lament, “How had I accumulated so much stuff?”
Some of it was easy to be rid of. I filled large black plastic garbage bags with stuff that I should have thrown out long ago and marched them to the curb. That overstuffed chair that I never used could go. I had two beds, I was pretty sure I only needed one. I kept my favorite desk and took the other one to Salvation Army. This isn’t so bad, I thought.
After breathing exercises, we went back into Savasana. We put our arms over our heads. “Stretch,” we were told, “Now relax…” There is a lot of relaxing in Sivananda Yoga, I like that. “…feel the benefits of our breathing in your entire body.” Next we were standing and doing Sun Salutations. I looked over at the others to learn the steps to this intricate set of poses. At the end of each one we stood with our hands at our chests, palms pressed together. I could feel my heart working, pumping blood through my arteries and veins, then on to the next set. After the Sun Salutations came the Shoulder Stand, an advanced asana. “Does everyone know this pose,” Becky asked, looking over at me. I shook my head. As she talked the class through the pose, she came over and showed me how to place my hands at the small of my back for support, then told me to stretch high with my feet pointing to the ceiling. My chin was firmly pressed into my chest and I could feel the blood rushing to my head. More challenging still, she asked us to try to move our legs back, keeping them straight, and see if we could touch the floor behind our heads. I was rethinking my earlier decision not to turn back. “Relax into the resistance,” Becky told us.
There was resistance, no doubt about that. I had borrowed a friend’s pick-up and through several back-straining trips over one weekend managed to transfer my things to my new place. That Sunday night I collapsed into my comfortable recliner. I looked about me in dismay. My beautiful hardwood floor was visible only in small patches. The rest of it was obscured by the over-abundance of stuff piled all around me. The message was clear; more things would have to go!
The next weekend I took a fresh look at my crowded space. “Relax into the resistance,” Becky had echoed what my circumstances were commanding me to do. I liked a lot of these things. I had at one time paid good money to have them. I questioned my decision to rent such a small place. Well, too late for that, I told myself, look forward not back. I rolled up my sleeves and re-evaluated what I considered essential. I went through my clothes first. I folded and hung up all the clothes that I had actually worn in the past year, the rest I bagged up for donation. I went through every scrap of paper in my four drawer filing cabinet tossing out every article I thought I might want to read someday, tearing up all the warranties for things I no longer had; until I got all my paperwork into a two drawer filing cabinet that fit under my desk. I looked over at my large bulbous golf bag, stuffed with a full set of clubs. Clubs that had not hit a golf ball in over two years. Was it time to say goodbye to them? No! I had my limits. I stuffed it into the back of my tiny front closet. I boxed up a number of books and set them next to the door.
With not a few misgivings, I drove to the Re-Use Store, my car crammed with the latest round of my discarded things. The attendant helped me unload. I drove away, my things sitting along the side of the large industrial building with all the other donated items from that day.
On the way back, I became pleasantly surprised to find myself feeling lighter. A smile spread across my face. I realized that for each thing that I had left behind, I had also left behind an old, no longer needed, idea about myself, about who I was, and what I needed to live a happy and healthy life. The thought that someone might come across one of my things and be happy to get a good deal on something they needed, added to my good mood. As did the receipt in my pocket, tax time was right around the corner.
We were finishing up with a final Savasana. In a bright, clear voice, Jody concluded the class in a beautiful chant. She explained that it was given for the safety, strength and courage of the students as they go back into the world. I appreciated that.
Back in my apartment, I sat for a long time admiring the warm hues of my oak floor. The move had forced me to make space, to get rid of things that I no longer needed. It had been difficult, but I had done it. Now, I was ready for the next phase. Relax, and let the prana flow in.

Namaste

David Trombley

Christianity and Yoga
I am a Christian who teaches Yoga several days a week. I have thought at length about how these two practices intertwine. To me, being a good Christian means to be Christ Like, embracing the faith in the spirit, mind and body.
Spirit - By spirit, I mean daily prayer (talking to God, or for anyone, whatever their perception of a higher power is for them); and meditation (listening). I believe God talks to us if listen with the mind of a child. Based on my personal experiences, those who fear meditation as inviting voices other than God into our minds have not really meditated, and only listened to those who want to control their faith for their own purposes.
Mind - By mind, I mean reading the bible and other spiritual texts so that one’s intellect can grasp the concepts the spirit and body come to embrace as real and healthy and positive.
Body - By body, I mean taking care of this temporary vessel God has given us; but even more than that, opening up the vast potential of the body and the energy therein, so we may fully understand and appreciate the power of our faith. Our faith and our energy (chi or ki) and our mind are meant to be one, as demonstrated by Christ himself, who not only embodied a perfect theological mind and pure spirit, but performed physical miracles because his body was one with his mind and spirit.
I believe God means for us to unite spirit, mind and body into one.” Yoga” means Union - uniting spirit, mind and body. It is easy to pick at the differences among various faiths, but more valuable to look at their similarities and shared beliefs.
I have difficulty believing the teaching of a Christian preacher who has only developed his or her mind in theological study of the bible, but has let their body and real spirituality fall to the side. I know some very scholarly preachers who seem very spiritual, but have let their bodies become obese. One has to wonder about their self indulgent, and not God focused, behavior, when their health is so poor.
I believe we must acknowledge that the Hindu and Taoist faiths have wisely included a physical practice to help unite the body with the spirit and the mind, in a way that Christianity has not. The Hindu practice of Yoga, and the Taoist practice of Sun Do (Korean Taoist Yoga), have helped many Christians, including myself, become much closer to Christ by increasing our faith and by letting the energy of God flow through us.
Fear is the opposite of Faith. I believe that those who fear that practicing Yoga or Sun Do or meditation are actually betraying their faith, just because it is something new, or different, or outside of their traditional Christian practices. They are denying some the many blessings God has given us, namely our diversity and an open mind . I have seen many physical miracles performed by Christians, Hindus and Taoists in my 50 years on this earth, and it inspires and fulfills me to teach the physical practice of Yoga or Sun Do to Christians and let this enhance their faith.
My name is Roy Bushman. I am a practicing Christian raised in the Baptist Church and attend church regularly. I started Tae Kwon Do in 1972 and am a 7th dan black belt with I K Kim Tae Kwon Do Centers (www.ikkimtkd.com) in Cincinnati, Ohio. I teach Tae Kwon Do several evenings each week as a volunteer, seeing the amazing benefits the practice of Tae Kwon Do has on children and parents of all faiths. I am also a volunteer instructor several days a week of Sun Do, a Taoist Yoga practice, and the Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky contact for the International Sun Do Association (www.sundo.org)
“An open mind is like an open mouth, eventually it should bite down on something fulfilling,” and for me Sun Do has provided a Yoga practice for my body that enhances my Christian Spirit and engages my open mind. Thank you, rb

I have practiced yoga sporadically over the past five or so years, trying hatha yoga first. I returned to yoga in early winter this year, taking up a more committed practice in a vinyassa flow class; in vinyassa flow, I'm able to have moments when there is a complete feeling of mind/body as one. When that happens, I understand what it is to be grounded in peace - there is nothing I have to tell myself to get to that place. In my practice, I've begun to have the sensation that for an hour, I am doing one, long movement rather than simply a series of poses. Breath and movement, within the flow, are one. It IS like a prayer.

Amongst many of your wonderful programs, my husband and I were/am very happy to hear the interview with Seanne Corn. We have her videos and love her whole being. Due to the woes of our times, we have gotten away from yoga. We'd like to thank you for having this program air. It reminded us what we have gotten away from and why we were not feeling right. Thank you so much! Namaste, Bonnie Jo and Jason.

Genetically, I’m a lumberjack. I might not look it at first – female, 5’8” and 120-ish. But my shoulders. They’re a size 42 men’s suit coat. When I raise my hands overhead in tadasana they go wide just in case I happen to have an axe in one of them (it’s best to swing an axe outboard of one’s body).
My dad was a very part-time lumberjack, but a lumberjack nonetheless. He worked stumpage with his dad in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as a boy. (Stumpage is not an unfortunate placement of an axe, but the ownership of the timber on someone else’s land.) My great grandpa worked the lumber camps, felling white pine for months at a time. I’ve always found a simple beauty in the clear sense of purpose that comes from the work my great grandpa did.
Action: whack the tree.
Purpose: make the tree fall down.
Action directly connected to its purpose. Clear, simple, not aggrandized.
Growing up, I was always looking for clear purpose. And I didn’t see the purpose in a lot of things. I told my first date, “I don’t know why people even date if they’re not old enough to marry each other.” (I did not hear from him again.)
I went to an engineering college because I got a scholarship. I got an engineering degree because I went to an engineering college. And I got an engineering job because I got an engineering degree. Purpose continued to elude me.
After college, I worked for an automotive company in suburban Detroit. I designed little bits that do little bits in your car you’d never even think a little bit about. Then I got a job hobnobbing with tattooed guys on the line. It was the mid-90’s, though, when union-management tensions were escalating, and in the five years I was there, there were three shootings in the plant. I quit. My husband and I moved to Iowa to work for an agricultural equipment company. There, I witnessed a union-management relationship that was remarkably respectful. I saw people working at whatever they did with a strong sense of purpose that I hadn’t seen in the Motor City.
I worked a couple years, had a couple kids, then I resigned from my job. I wanted as much time with my kids as I could… stand. I applied myself to raising my kids mindfully and writing about it irreverently, publishing a few pieces here and there.
Then, my part-time lumberjack dad, with his deceiving full-time lumberjack physique, was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. He was given a six month prognosis. I was devastated. Staying at home at the time with my two preschool-kids, I had nowhere to go for support. Mornings were no different just because my dad was dying – my kids still went all Oliver Twist on me – “Gruel again?!?” Hell, their world wasn’t crumbling. They didn’t understand, they couldn’t, and clearly they weren’t going to let up on me. So sometimes I’d come out swinging the proverbial axe. Roaring. Then regretting.
After an acquaintance witnessed one such incident, she suggested I might want to get my ass to yoga. So I did. Once a week for six months: Hey, where’d my 15 post-baby pounds go? Twice a week for six more months: Hey, where’d my flash temper go? Then traveling for weekend workshops, trainings and conferences for six years: Hey, where’d my huge ego go?
Soon, I began teaching yoga. Periodically, I’d run into engineers I had worked with, and they’d often react in a “wtf?” kind of way to my new occupation. In our culture, the status of an engineering manager exceeds that of a yoga teacher. Or any teacher, for that matter, but we won’t go there. I’m no engineering flunkie. That’s not it. It’s that I knew that my purpose was deeper than what could be realized within the corporate engineering framework.
I could have re-entered the engineering field, beholden to my ego and nothing more, and basked in that status. Or, I could find my real purpose. Purpose is found at the intersection of aptitude and passion. This is akin to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s flow theory, just substitute the word flow for purpose. For each of us, that intersection occurs at a different place – some in a testing lab, others in front of a canvas, in a garden, in a white pine forest, on a yoga mat. It is completely focused motivation. When you are in the zone.
I met my guru, Devi Das (the name she was given when she was initiated into the tradition) Karina Ayn Mirsky, in 2007. It was clear to me that she, for lack of a better word, rocked. After my first day of formal training with her, I told her how much I appreciated her teachings, how very purposeful she was. Purpose – full. Full of purpose. She set me down a path inside myself that didn’t stop at the body or the mind. I couldn’t impress her with my lumberjack strength. I couldn’t impress her with all the little bits I figured out. She required me to stop trying so hard to be strong or to figure things out. To let go of some of the Paul Bunyan and the Dilbert. To look inside to a place deeper than the body, a wisdom deeper than the mind, for answers that had always been there if I’d been able to listen. Yoga continues to teach me this – to listen.
In January, 2010, I opened the doors of my community’s first yoga studio. And the funny thing is, I didn’t want it. Or, in more yogic terms, I had no attachment to opening a yoga studio. A few years before, I had fantasized about it. Then, through studying with my teacher, I let go of that attachment, and focused on action in the present. Action like caring for myself and each student as best I could. And so, it was an incremental birth, formed by an accumulation of simple actions. In the process, I found action directly connected to its purpose.
Action: nurture the person.
Purpose: the person gets up.
Both in contrast to and in harmony with:
Action: whack the tree.
Purpose: make the tree fall down.
Nurturing myself, not whacking myself anymore, was essential to my finding balance in life. It is, truly, essential to wellbeing. And so I taught my students to stop beating themselves up. “Don’t put your energy there, into that thing, feeding it. Put it in the 90-99% of yourself that is on the right track. Have gratitude for this. Then this will grow, and that thing will fade.”
The Bhagavad Gita takes place 3,000 years ago on a battlefield called dharmakshetra. This literally means “field of dharma.” The place where one’s life purpose can be sorted out. Although there may be axes on that field, we don’t come out swinging them at whatever habits and patterns we may be locked into that keep us from connecting with our life’s purpose. Yes, we have to clear some timber to make space for what we were born to do. Yoga helps us do this systematically, no axes required. And when we are in the zone of our purpose, no matter what it is, its effect is beneficial to our community. Humanity benefits. And life comes into balance.

I've always found yoga to be a little too slow. Somehow the art of holding poses was just beyond my patience level. (I much prefer a walking meditation.) I understand its importance and certainly I can appreciate all the benefits derived from the daily practice, but I just never was able to get into it. And then I found the series of poses called Sun Salutation (which Seane Corn demonstrated in the video, but she called it a yoga prayer.) This is the yoga I practice. It gives me energy, insight, and generally makes me feel good.

I combine this with a series of Tai Chi poses which claim to be good as a stress detox. These, too, are a series of poses which can be done once or twice or many times repeated.

The bottom line is we each have to find what works for us as individuals. And while I probably won't get into a more lengthy practice, I absolutely loved many things Seane Corn said in the Being interview and will make that a part of my daily practice.

PS: The image I've included is of Pug (At The Beach). While I don't care for a daily yoga practice, Pug, my little island dog philosopher creation, does. Here he is doing The Bridge.

“Life happens...what are we going to do about it?” This is a quote from the interview with Seane Corn, Yoga, Meditation in Action. Having been born and raised in the Lutheran religion, I haven't explored yoga and the benefits of yoga. I can honestly say that I know very little about it. However, after listening to the wisdom of Seane Corn, I find myself very interested. I especially connect with what Seane Corn says is the definition of yoga, “we are all one”. She says that yoga is bigger than any one religion. Although many may differ in that opinion, I find myself encouraged by that meaning. I believe that most religions share a common ground in the understanding of love, forgiveness, and serving others.
What happens during yoga? The one aspect that I was aware of is the physical aspect of increasing respiration and circulation, as well as flexibility. Until listening to this broadcast, I didn't understand the meditation or mental aspect of yoga. I always thought it was just another form of a religion that I did not understand. However, I now find that yoga is not that different than what I've been taught throughout my life. The concepts of love, peace, and forgiveness have been areas in my life that I have focused on in my 43 years. Love is the heart of yoga and you get to God through the heart. The Lutheran religion teaches to love yourself, your neighbor, and God. An offering is collected at each service at my church. Seane Corn's body prayer involves making every movement an offering to God. The thing to focus on is your intention when making those movements. This was very refreshing for me to learn that the two are not so very different.
An emotional part of yoga is to be able to identify those shadows in your life that may be holding you back from living a happy life. I believe this requires forgiveness of those who may have hurt you in the past. The inability to forgive results in a disconnect from God. A step in the direction of healing is finding the strength to perceive those life experiences differently. All life experiences, good and bad, play a part in the person we are today. Seane Corn says that we can continue to point our finger at those in our life who have hurt us or we can acknowledge what happened, move forward, and use that knowledge to better the world we live in.
Yoga is prayer from your heart and not from your head. I think this concept is one that some Christians tend to forget. We find ourselves in church reciting the same verses in unison without even thinking about them. When doing yoga, there is no separation between mind, body and spirit. I plan to check into some yoga classes in the future. The physical benefits are important but I am most intrigued by the mental benefits of achieving peace and a deeper closeness to God.

The other day I listened to Krista Tippett’s interview with Yoga Instructor Seane Corne titled “Yoga. Meditation in Action” and I am so glad I did! It was a great interview that taught me a lot about yoga.
Yoga was something I never gave much thought. To me it was simply an exercise that I found odd and knew virtually nothing about. After listening to Seane Corn’s interview, I cannot wait to have my first opportunity to try Yoga! I connected with Seane on the level of anxiety and obsessive compulsiveness. Though I wouldn’t say that I deal with obsessions at the level Seane did, I believe I deal with it to a degree. Yoga could be what I have needed all along.
Seane described Yoga as a physical activity that detoxifies your body coupled with deep breathing to mentally ground you. Yoga gave her a sense that she was part of something larger than she could define and it helped her mind to be settled. Seane believes, as well as other Yoga instructors, that there is no seperation between mind and body. Your body remembers everything and if we hold onto things it can be stressful on our physic. Every breath and movement is full of intention and if you fall out of a pose, not to let yourself get angry. Stay away from the negative energy.
Seane Corn seems like a very real and wonderful person. She came into a better lifestyle because of Yoga and in turn is helping others who need guidance from someone like her.

Yoga is a great form of medication. Seane Corn uses yoga to go above and beyond the basic usage of it. She is using it to not only help herself, but she is even trying to help others that are in a terrible position in their life. Yoga is difficult to do, but done properly it is very relaxing and calming for a difficult exercise. She chose not to go to college and began work as a waitress. Nineteen was a big changer to her life though. She learned about her having OCD, and then she began therapy and started doing yoga. Her OCD made yoga hard for her to do at first, since she had to be sure everything was being done perfectly. Even a slightly messed up hand alignment she would have a problem with. Her yoga instructor told her to just "breathe and everything changes". After that statement from her instructor, she began to fix her OCD problem and realized not everything must be absolutely perfect. Breathing actually is a major part of yoga, and helps to relax a person while they do the difficult exercise. Yoga is a great form of meditation, and by using yoga, she helped both herself, and others in slowly fixing their life and making things right. She is helping kids the most, which is likely a very difficult thing to do, but it is likely equally rewarding to turn a child's life around before it becomes even worse.

I listened to the broadcast about Yoga. Yoga is a form a prayer but with your body. Yoga is a science of life, it brings mind body and soul together. It is time to yourself when you can meditate and become closer to yourself, and to your prayer if you wish. Yoga was first formed around the 3rd century in India. It was seen as a was to gain ethical and spiritual balance. Many religions use yoga to become closer to their God. Hindu philosophy believes that yoga embraces the notion of God, and Budism use related practices. Shawn Koran is a yoga teacher and trainer. Before she was a yoga instructor she had obsessive compulsive disorder. She then realized how bad it was when she was doing yoga in the position known as downward dog. She looked down on the mat and noticed that her hands were not exactly in line. This bothered her because her shoulders were straight but she could not get her hands straight. Then she says that her teacher said something life changing. He said "breath and everything changes". She breathed and felt realized. She wanted to find a way to bring this into her everyday life. Yoga helped her get off drugs. Yoga gave her a body high that was better than drugs. She says that the first time yoga really impacted her life was when she lived in New York. She was walking home from a class and all of a sudden had a very weird feeling. She stopped and had to find out what this feeling was. She found out that she was happy. She had a sense that everything was unfolding, she was part of something bigger than she could control. Yoga had planted a seed in her life and she wanted to embrace it. I go to yoga classes a few times every month. I find it very relaxing, its time for yourself. You can put away everything else that is going on in your daily life, and grasp you inner self. It a way to let go of stress and tension. Next time I go to a yoga class I am going to remember the things she has said about yoga. I will embrace it more and hopefully get more out of it than I have in the past.

For this SOF assignment I found a broadcast from September of 2009 on Yoga. Krista Tippett interviewed Seane Corn, a woman who found her way spiritually through yoga. Yoga is becoming very popular and an estimated 20 million people in the U.S. practiced yoga as of the time of this broadcast."Yoga is aligning with medical research and culture," Krista said, which is a very true statement. Nowadays, yoga is incredibly well known for its benefits to the body. Seane suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).Her obsessions were even numbers like 4 and 8, and she also had an obsession with balance. She felt that if she balanced the right way she would protect someone she knew from dying. Seane couldn't deal with her emotions and tried using lots of things to self-regulate her obsessions. She liked to use drugs, especially hallucinogens. Yoga eventually became her way of healing, although it took several years before she would realize this. In Seane's first yoga class, she started becoming very anxious because she felt that she was not balanced correctly, when her teacher said something that would mean a lot to her for the rest of her life. Her teacher said "breath and everything changes." This helped Seane with her yog, because she felt that as her anxiety rose she simply could just keep breathing deeply and the anxiety would pass. Seane says thatt the heart of the practice of yoga is love. She also uses spirtual words. For example, when she says spirit she is meaning that which exists inside of you. This was a very interesting broadcast. I chose to listen to this one because I am about to start my very first yoga class on monday. This broadcast really shows how yoga is just as much spirtual as it is physical.

Yoga helps me in my daily life. I feel more body mind connection. I stated deepen my yoga practice in last 5 years, the reason I started yoga in my 40s from my sciatic and chronic lower back pain from pregnancy. I told myself let give it a try to learn this ancient practice. I practiced yoga forms everyday. In the first 3 months, I really felt the different. People around me noticed in my body and my energy.

I used deep breath work to guide me when I wake up every morning. Any problems in daily life, yoga help me survive. I got deeper in yoga study and got certified as a yoga teacher in 2009. I know that yoga can travel to any one by allowing in mind over the body. Yoga makes me become more compassionate to the world. I studied different forms of yoga, iyengar, ashtanga, hatha, and anusara yoga and pranayama practice under the principle of believe that how I would adapted too goods from each yoga into myself and the world. They are helpful to my life, I can connect to my mind and physical body. I am not vegetarian. I focus more inwardly so I adapted to situation to place the space I go. The forms and lineages study are only outside, but what important is how you can bring yoga into daily life for healthy balance body and mind. The world get more easier and lighter. I meet people and feel grace. Now, I expand my yoga practice to family and friends. I teach and practice yoga with my friends weekly.

Yoga to me is about being completely pleased and completedly relaxed with yourself. It is about being and noticing myself, not beating myself up. Total acceptance of my significance, and that I have a place in the world, like on my yoga mat, just because of my being, nothing I have to prove. Just being aware , starting with breath. To realize that I am doing the best that I can every moment of my life.
I practice hot yoga. It allows me to let go and not struggle. In class a have a safe place to be self. The Heat opens and softens the heart. My mind and body can relax and let go. Going to hot yoga, I am reminded that I have a good life! The connection with self and others is what it is all about,it is easier to love others, if you love self.

I fell into yoga as a gym rat when my local gym offered a general hatha class in the aerobic studio. It was like a breath of fresh air and I knew I had found a place for me. Rather than being exhausted from my normal cardio routine I had been doing to reduce stress, my first yoga class offered me deep relaxation, physical challenge and a clear mind, like the top of a still lake. I was immediately hooked. I've practiced yoga since 1997 - and have taught for the past 6 years at my local recreation center. I primarily practice and teach Iyengar yoga - but take classes of all styles. Sometimes I dabble with a hot or vinyasa class - but I like the precision and alignment teaching of Iyengar. I also like a good Anusara class as well - the joy and spirit of yoga radiates strongly from John Friend.

As for what it has done for me, it has changed my life. Changed the way I think about my breath and body, changed the way I approach life and has literally been a touchstone to help me through both struggles and exuberant times in my life. My yoga practice was instrumental in the natural birth of my daughter (my doula about passed out when she saw me sit in virasana for 30 minutes between contractions) and it something I see myself doing for the rest of my life. Oh to be Mr. Iyengar with those poses and vitality over 90 years of age!
All in all yoga is about balance - about finding the action in the pose without tension. About finding the shadowy parts of consciousness in your body, your spirit, your psyche and bringing it to a non judgmental and curious light. About creating space, compassion and joy in your physical body - which translates to space, compassion and joy in life. I love it and I love sharing it with others.

When I have first timers come to class and do not return, I think it is like cooking pasta and the pasta doesn’t stick to the wall – that person is just not ready yet. I don’t take it personally and yoga is not something that can be forced on anyone. But like a gong or a sound that finds the right vibration and frequency for those that are ready to hear – those that are drawn to the art and science find it transforming.

Ensure that it is clean, then draw her a hot bath and add bath beads or bubble bath. If you get rewarded in the process, so much the better, but making those rewards your sole motivation can only lead to disappointment. Just try to do it for her, and see what happens; it will probably come back to you..
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is the National Yoga Ambassador for YouthAIDS and cofounder of “Off the Mat, Into the World.”

Production Credits

Host/Executive Producer: Krista Tippett

Executive Editor: Trent Gilliss

Senior Producer: Lily Percy

Technical Director: Chris Heagle

Associate Producer: Mariah Helgeson

Production Intern: Julie Rawe