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Natural Awakenings

Titans of Yoga: World-Renowned Masters Offer Their Insights

Sep 02, 2010 04:01PM ● By Johannes R. Fisslinger

The essence of yoga, no matter its style, is a journey of self-discovery and transformation. It becomes a way of life that embraces a system of physical science, while honoring the quest for mental and emotional stability and balance. Millions of U.S. practitioners of all ages enjoy the benefits of increased flexibility and muscle strength, better posture and alignment, and decreased stress. As their practice deepens, they also experience yoga’s larger gift: a body/mind attunement that nurtures mental clarity, emotional composure and a greater sense of overall well-being.

The titans interviewed incorporate various techniques and approaches. Yet, they all agree upon the following handful of principles, designed to inspire, facilitate and heighten anyone’s yoga practice.

Be Present in the Moment

Yoga… is about the power of now, being present in the
moment. Anytime, [you can] take a few deep breaths and find a peaceful space within.
 ~ Beth Shaw, founder of YogaFit

Enjoy the moment; don’t be inhibited by the past or future. You are in a timeless space, connected to the infinite.
~ Sharon Gannon, co-
creator of Jiva Mukti Yoga

Try this healing exercise: Sit up, put your hands in your lap, close your eyes and watch your breath. Take 30 seconds to enjoy this moment, right now, being present… and connecting with your inner smile.
 ~ Lilias Folan, called the “First Lady of Yoga” since her 1972 PBS series, Lilias! Yoga and You

Focus on the Breath
 

If you bring your attention to your breathing, you become present; develop this muscle of being present by focusing
on the breath.
~ Bryan Kest, creator of Power Yoga

Try this transformative exercise: If your mind becomes restless, relax your jaw and breathing, then become aware of the quality of your breath, using a soft inhale and exhale. Feel your belly move as breath enters and exits through the nostrils, like a guest. Choose to observe your breath and it will redirect the mind.
~ Lisa Walford, developer of YogaWorks teacher training program

Experience Health and Oneness with the Body
 

Regular practice is key. Inevitably, if you do the postures enough, there’s magic to them. Even if you [begin with] no intention, yoga leads you to a state of union. Practicing yoga helps you remember that you’re already perfect, already free.
~ Sara Ivanhoe, creator of bestselling yoga DVDs

If you don’t feel good in your body—if you can’t move forward with ease and not dis-ease—how can you feel good about anything? Yoga… makes us feel good about the bodies we are in.
 ~ Beth Shaw

Yoga strengthens our life force and makes us stronger from deep inside; it builds life energy, prana, chi.
~ Vinnie Marino, Vinyasa flow teacher who employs music styles ranging from trance to rock

Strengthen the Mind through Meditation
 

The real power of yoga is in meditation, the qualities of the mind behind the action. Bring these meditative qualities into the physical practice, and it becomes meditation in motion.
~ Bryan Kest

Learn to concentrate on your mantra, your sacred words that you recite over and over again. My favorite is, “Let go… just let it go…”
~ David Life, co-creator of Jiva Mukti yoga

Practice pranayama [regulation of the breath] and meditation to improve concentration and the power of your mind. The mind creates emotions and thoughts; when the mind is healthy, the body and mind connect. Then you really find your soul essence, your consciousness.
~ Rajashree Choudhury, teacher of Bikram yoga

Experience Oneness with the Spirit

For energy to be flowing, you have to be in tune and in balance not only with the nature around you, but [with] something that’s deeper inside you. This energy that’s in you, in me, in plants and animals, is the pure energy, the one life that connects us all. Who you are is an expression of consciousness, an expression of God.
~ Kim Eng, Qi Flow yoga teacher and partner of author
Eckhart Tolle

Yoga helps you [let go of] attachment to material things and empowers your soul.
~ Rajahshree Choudhury

The essence of yoga is truth and love… willingness to embrace the God that is within, recognizing that we are all connected.
 ~ Seane Corn, internationally celebrated yoga teacher

 

Johannes R. Fisslinger is the co-founder of National Yoga Month and founder of Yoga-Recess in Schools. Both initiatives are coordinated by the Yoga Health Foundation. For information about free local yoga classes and events in September and the new Titans of Yoga DVD, featuring 25 masters of yoga and meditation now available through yoga teachers and studios, visit www.YogaMonth.org.

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