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Having struggled for nearly 2 decades with a tenacious, insufferable eating disorder that included adherence to a rigid fitness regimen and strict control of my activities, I had nearly lost all sense of spontaneity, joy, and inner peace. A good friend suggested that yoga might complement the various physical activities I was pursuing, though I suspect that she -- a seasoned teacher -- also knew that the deeper aspects of the practice would address the internal and external freneticism that characterized my days.

At first, I skipped out of class before Svasana, unable to still my mind and quiet my body for that precious 5 minutes of rest and relaxed awareness. I found a class that exhausted me to the extent that I had to take Svasana and, in time, began to reinhabit the body I had left behind at age 18. In Svasana, I began to feel the very molecules of my being zinging around within me, offering not only a new, more pure energy, but also a lightness and sense of being bathed in a protective peace. My practice grew to 3 - 4 classes weekly. In July of 2006, I committed to a residential Teacher Training program and nearby Mount Madonna Center. I had the opportunity to study and practice all 8 limbs of the classical yogic system put forth by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. I came to a very embodied understanding of the effects of the practice on my own body-mind. In the same way that Matthew Sanford had to journey back into his body, passing through all of the layers of pain and grief, I, too, have been able to use my yoga practice as a means of reintegration. This reintegration involves not only my small self -- my own mind, body, and heart -- but also a sort of more real, tangible sense of union with the Divine.

As the guru at Mount Madonna, Baba Hari Dass, is given to say: "If you work on yoga, yoga works on you." I feel richly blessed to be able to practice and teach this extraordinary system aimed to bring transformation of suffering into profound experiences of peace, well-being, and Union. In my very privileged role of teacher to elders in their 70's and 80's, I have also seen the power of the practice to breathe a sense of new life and greater ease during the sometimes arduous, painful process of aging. I've found that in "coming home" to one's body and greeting the home that one finds with a heartful of compassion, one taps into an unlimited reservoir of love and generosity and kindness. In celebration of all of these gifts, I cannot say enough about the rich blessing inherent in this ancient art.