OM: An Instant Cosmic Tune-Up

By Marcia Miller

I have just finished 22 days of a 21-Day Immersion in OM, and I’m not done yet. The practice has been simple: I have been chanting OM for at least 5 minutes a day. Some days I have done it twice a day and sometimes, once I get going, I lose track of time and go on for much longer. I’m not ready to stop; the way I’m feeling now I may keep this going indefinitely.

I LOVE the feeling of OM resonating in my body. I can feel the vibration of it especially along the soft palate at the back of the roof of my mouth. When I notice it here I often feel it expanding into my whole body with a resonant inner pulsation. This resonance feels so delicious it attracts my full attention and I am easily and fully engrossed in meditation.

Sometimes when I am chanting the OMs my mind can also be active. This morning my mind was busy throughout, thinking about this blog post that I was intending to write when I got up from my practice. The meditative experience often opens up space for creativity to flow and sometimes that flow is named as “distraction.”  In this instance, I was grateful that my mind was already at work AND I was simultaneously able to ride the waves of vibration that started along the palate and flowed throughout my head, chest and belly.  I didn’t have to become attached to my mind and my ideas—I could let this creative flow move through me as a way of starting the writing process, so when “I” showed up about 20 minutes later I was ready to write.

After my daily practice of chanting OMs for 5 to 10 minutes, I sit in “silence” for up to 20 more minutes. Even though I am quiet at this point I can still sense the pulsations and I feel like I am riding the waves of the cosmos. I feel plugged into something bigger than what I generally think of as myself and oriented in a way that leaves me feeling fresh and energized when I get up.

Here is what Swami Satchidananda says about OM in his commentary in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:

“When we vibrate in the same way as the cosmic vibration, we get in tune with the cosmos. That is why when we repeat OM, we feel a cosmic peace. That cosmic vibration vibrates in our own body. It brings a sort of realignment in the cells of the body, an adjustment or a new rhythm.  When the cells of the body run restlessly in all different ways, we feel sick. But, when we arrange that vibration to make it run smoothly, we feel happy, and we get healed. By constant repetition of OM, you will be able to heal many physical ailments and, ultimately, the mind also.  Then you will experience physical health, mental peace and pure happiness.”

There is also an astounding sutra about OM in the Vijnana Bhairava. The translation I love best is from the Radiance Sutras by Lorin Roche.  Here are some lines from sutra #16:

“The roar of joy that set the worlds in motion
Is reverberating in your body
And the space between all bodies……
The ocean of sound is inviting you
Into its spacious embrace,
Calling you home.
Float with the sound,
Melt with it into divine silence.
The sacred power of space will carry you
Into the dancing radiant emptiness
That is the source of all.”

If you are inspired to try your own 21-Day immersion, or even one day, here are some tips to make it fun and personal.

1. Use the sound of a tamboura in the background. The tamboura is a fretless stringed Indian instrument used as a drone in the background for singing. Because of the overtones in this instrument, chanting OM with it can feel like chanting with a whole choir and gives you many choices of tones.  I’ve heard that you can get an app for this on many smart phones, or follow along with a YouTube video, or get a CD.

2. Speaking of tones, when chanting OM feel free to change your pitch. Each tone, higher or lower, creates a different sensation in your body. Find the ones that feel most delicious at the time you are chanting. I tend to hit a wide variety of pitches in my practice each time I chant. I love chanting with my husband whose low, sonorous, Zen-monk-like tones create a strong base for my higher pitch.

3. You can also experiment with different vowel sounds. All of the vowels are present in OM somewhere and each one affects different parts of you. I like sending the “e” sounds into bones all over my body and “ah” gives me a sense of vibrant spaciousness that seems to open up anything in me that feels compressed. Send the sounds into any injured or sick areas and see what happens.

4. Have an OM buddy. Sometimes you can chant together, other times you can encourage each other to do the practice on your own.

5. Experiment doing your OM practice after practicing asana. You may find that the openness and relaxation of your body changes the way you experience the tones.

It’s also fun to remember the OM practice even when you don’t want to take time for the full 5 minutes. Simply add an OM or three to anything you are doing for an instant cosmic tune-up.

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Featured Teacher: Marianne O’Neil

Why do you practice?
I could answer this question like this:  to build a bridge between the body, mind and outside world; to learn about the body, to relax, to experience the inner self, etc.  But I have really considered the question, and I am not sure why.  Why do any of us do anything?  Can we really answer that question?  I am not really sure if I have a choice about whether to practice, or about any other thing that I do in life.  Although it appears to be a choice, it just may be an appearance.

Why do you teach?
For me, teaching is an extension of and deepening of my practice.  In order to teach, I really have to look inside at the practice and motivation and understand the poses and practices in a way that allows me to make the movements have more universality rather than just for my practice that day.

Inspirations?
Everyone who wakes up each day and keeps the world going.

Who have you trained with?
Rodney and Colleen, Richard Miller and Anne Douglas, Richard Freeman, Doug Keller, Leslie Kaminoff, and Linda and Marcia.

What style do you teach?
Hatha

What’s your favorite food?
Red lentil soup and any Indian Food

What’s your nickname?
Ginge -- a reference to my alter ego on Gilligan’s Island.

Do you own any animals?
Yes!  Two goofy dogs.  Yogi is a black and white maltese-schitzu and Ralphie a black schitzu-cocker spaniel mix.

What’s on your playlist right now?
The High Kings, soundtrack from The Descendents, and Eric Church

What’s your favorite yoga accessory?
Nothing!!  One of my favorite things about yoga is that you really don’t need anything other than your body.  But it is nice that props can make poses more accessible or help us to stay in them longer.

What style influences your teaching?
Currently, Krishnamacharya.

Favorite yoga pose?
Urdhva danurasana and savasanah

What is your favorite TV show of all time?
Probably Seinfeld or Frazier

Your favorite item of clothing?
The boots my sons gave me for Christmas -- I wear them all the time.

What did you want to be when you were little? 
Big

In the animal kingdom, which animal would you be? Why?
Tiger:  graceful, strong, fiercely courageous

Best trip you’ve taken, or dream trip you’d like to take?
I’m not too into travelling, but love Park City, Utah.  Great mountains, food, art and yoga!

What word describes you best?
Dedicated

What drives you every day?
I would have to say coffee has a pretty big role.

Whom do you admire?
Hillary Clinton, Dalai Lama, my mother-in-law Marlene O’Neil

What is your mission?
To leave the world a little kinder than when I arrived.

What books are you reading right now?
The Walking Dead, Compendium Two  -- but I really like the show.

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Spooky Action

By Bernie McKnight

My main concern after breaking my elbow last year was getting back to handstand.

My decision to have surgery & my commitment to physical therapy both were informed by the fact that I wasn’t willing to give up my status as a handstander.

Handstands are great. For me, keeping my balance when I’m upside down is a matter of noticeable undulation. I must be aware of what’s working to keep me from toppling over, and, while perfect balance is rare and fleeting, it cannot be ignored and is completely exhilarating!

Handstands are also very easy for me in the sense that I’m not afraid of inverting. Many people, I’m told, are afraid of going upside down. Because of this handstand can be a way to do what scares them, And as they begin to understand what approaching fear feels like in the yoga room they can imagine how that would look in other parts of their lives.

The scariest part of my handstand practice is admitting that it is very much a pose of ego for me. I don’t need encouragement to come into the pose. I get instruction once I’m there. I’m a person who can do handstands and I let the fact that it is a boundary-pushing pose for some go to my head. Like, I can go upside down, I’m perfectly comfortable outside of my comfort zone.

I recently experienced life changes so big that I questioned if I would ever be comfortable again. That’s what it took for me to understand that just because I am naturally capable of doing something that is a major challenge for others doesn’t make me immune to challenge.

Last night in yoga class I attempted handstand for the first time since my injury. My teacher told the class to strap the arms ‘if you are afraid your elbows will buckle’ as my titanium radius head gave way and I found my self grounded.

I am a person who can’t do handstands. But the pose still poses no fear for me. I’m not afraid that my elbows will buckle; I know they will and I know how to take care of myself in my practice of the pose until they don’t.

I’ll continue to practice and I’ll get that sense of balanced freedom some day and it will be great, but it won’t be the same kind of great that someone who never thought they could get upside down experiences when they come into down dog with their feet at the wall and walk their legs up until their torso is to vertical.

One of the things facing fear means is to tap into power. I’m coming off of six of the most brutal months of my life. I never thought I wouldn’t survive, but spontaneous bursts of ‘what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger’ shepherded me through many moments and today I am mighty.

Today I am ready to go into the yoga room and approach something that scares me. I don’t know if I’ll ever stand so tall that my hands touch the floor, but I do know how to try with all my honor.

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The Dvâdashânta – Deep Watching

By Linda Oshins

The practice I’m about to describe is actually a meditation practice, but since it involves closely watching an aspect of the breath, I teach it in pranayama class. It is one among several practices that I think of as “deep watching” or “deep listening,” ones that can teach you to “hear” or “feel” subtle body landmarks or to question your very nature. It is a meditation upon the dvâdashânta.  The inner dvâdashânta is located in the heart center and the outer dvâdashânta is located about 12 finger-widths from the tip of the nose along the line the breath takes as it leaves the nostrils. In my case that ends up being about 4 inches in front of the breast bone. There is also an upper dvâdashânta above the crown of the head, but it is not a focus in the particular practice described here. Regarding the inner and outer dvâdashânta, “When the breath pauses in each of these two spaces, the activity of prana and thus the mind ceases for a moment, and your breath will seem to vanish.[1]

Verses from the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra as translated by Jaideva Singh[2]

25. If one fixes one’s mind carefully on the two void spaces of the breath, one internal, when the inhalation pauses momentarily inside the Heart; and one external, when the exhalation pauses momentarily outside in the dvadasanta then, O Goddess, the Bhairava (the experience of the Absolute) will reveal herself, the marvelous and essential form of Bhairava.

26. When the energy in the form of the breath neither goes out from the center of the body to the dvadasanta nor comes back in to the center from the dvadasanta, then it simply expands in the center into a non dual, non discursive awareness. This is the attainment of the condition of Bhairava.

You could focus your attention on any one of these three points, but in this practice you “watch” the outer dvadashanta on the exhalation and the inner one on the inhalation.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position, either cross-legged on the floor, on props, or on a meditation cushion or bench. You may also sit in a chair, but sit upright without leaning against the back of the chair.
  2. Begin by watching the breath just as it is without criticizing it or yourself. Just watching. Just accepting.
  3. Find the internal point, which is about 12 finger-widths from the tip of the nose to the heart. Sense this point. Sometimes it pops right into your awareness and is distinctly felt. If that is not the case, just imagine its location and focus there.
  4. Find the external point, 12 finger-widths below the nostrils and external to the physical body. Again, if you don’t feel an external point, just imagine it’s there. In working with the subtle body, acting “as if” is useful until the practices become more concrete for you. Act as if you have a distinct sensation of these two points. Don’t worry about whether you are doing it “right.”
  5. On the inhalation, sense the internal dvâdashânta.
  6. On the exhalation, sense the external dvâdashânta.
  7. Move from one point to the other as the breath enters and leaves the body.
  8. Do this practice for at least 5 minutes or as long as you like. As in all such practices, if the mind wanders, simply bring it back to the point of focus.
  9. At the end of the meditation, return to the natural breath. In this case, the natural breath is defined as the breath your body takes without you applying any given technique. The body breathing itself.

What is inner? What is outer? Do you have boundaries? Are you boundless?

This is a practice that, for many beginners, introduces the variation in the boundaries of the physical body and the energy body. On a more profound level it invites us to expand beyond our concept of ourselves as bodies at all.

25. Attend to the skin
As a subtle boundary
Containing vastness.

Enter that shimmering pulsing vastness.
Discover that you are not separate
From anything there.
There is no inside.
There is not outside.
There is no other,
No object to meditate upon that is not you.[3]


[1] Refining the Breath, Doug Keller
[2]
Vijnanabhairava or Divine Consciousness, translated by Jaideva Singh
[3]
The Radiance Sutras, translation by Lorin Roche

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Featured Teacher: Katherine Yannucci

Why do you practice
It helps me on my spiritual journey and keeps my body and mind flexible.  It also helps me to relax.

Why do you teach?
I LOVE YOGA and I love sharing the benefits of yoga with others.  If I can positively influence more people thru this practice, I am all for it!  I can’t imagine staying quiet about something that can be so helpful to so many people.

Inspirations?
The following teachers who practice Ahimsa on a daily basis with their vegan diet and who make it an important part of their yoga practice.
David Life and Sharon Gannon from Jivamukti Yoga
Dharma Mittra from Dharma Yoga Center
Rossella Rossi-my first yoga mentor

Who have you trained with?
Rossella Rossi, Rodney Yee, Cyndi Lee, Sarah Powers, Paul Grilley, Doug Keller, Gary Kraftsow, Richard Freeman, and many others

What style do you teach?
Vinyasa Yoga, Yin Yoga and Yin-Yang Yoga (a combination of Yin and Vinyasa)

What’s your favorite food?
Indian Food

What’s your nickname?
Kathy or Katica-my Colombian family has always called me by this name.  It means “little Kathy.”

Do you own any animals?
Yes.  I have 2 yellow English Labradors named Zen and Rocco.

What’s on your playlist right now?
“Pilgrim Heart” album by Krishna Das

What’s your favorite yoga accessory?
My purple lite Manduka yoga mat

What style influences your teaching?
Vinyasa by Rossella Rossi and Yin Yoga by Sarah Powers

Favorite yoga pose?
Triangle pose

Favorite quote?

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi

What is your favorite TV show of all time?
I don’t watch a lot of TV now, but when I was younger I used to like “Three’s Company.”

What would you call yourself if you could choose your own name?
I like my given name so I wouldn’t change it.

Your favorite item of clothing?
My KATICA yoga pants that I designed

What did you want to be when you were little?
A social worker or someone who can help people.

In the animal kingdom, which animal would you be? Why?
A monkey.  I love trees and used to enjoy climbing them as a child.  I also think it would be fun to swing from tree to tree.

Best trip you’ve taken, or dream trip you’d like to take?
Greece for my honeymoon.  We went to Mykonos, Santorini and Athens.  I loved the people, the food, and the sights.  What a beautiful country!!

What word describes you best?
Passionate

What drives you every day?
The wish to live a long and healthy life for myself and my family.

Whom do you admire?
People who take care of their health and especially people who make significant changes in their life to be healthier.  My motto is “don’t complain if you aren’t willing to do something about it.”

What is your mission?

“To design a lifestyle that inspires change.” 

What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you?
Two of my neighbors whom I didn’t know that well at that time, took me by surprise when they offered to host a baby shower for me when we adopted my son, Andres.  It was really special and almost all of our neighbors attended.

Fun fact about you?
True to my Colombian roots, I LOVE to dance salsa and merengue.

What books are you reading right now?
A parenting book called “It’s Okay Not to Share.”

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Anahata Food Project Spring 2013

By Marcia Miller

Last week, the coordinators of the Anahata Food Project had our first meeting. We are excited to order seeds and get together for the first big work party of the season (Saturday, March 30 from noon to 2).  We planned what we would grow and which extra projects to do this year.

Right after that meeting I was talking to a friend who had helped us a couple of years ago and she asked if we were still involved. I felt amazed and grateful that so many of us have been working together since the beginning of the garden. And that new people join us each year to add meaning and service to their already busy lives.

Then my friend imagined the huge impact we have had on the food pantries we serve.  It is true that we have grown and delivered nearly 7 tons of organic produce since we started this project.  And while 14,000 pounds of produce IS a lot, I’m not really sure of the impact.  We grow and offer the food freely. In one pantry they divide up whatever food we bring so that most families get something fresh—sometimes only a quart of food per family, though at the height of the season it can be much more. And just because someone takes the food home does not mean it gets eaten.  Turns out there are lots of hurdles to getting fresh vegetables into the bellies of low income families. Some don’t have gas or electricity to cook with. Others don’t have pots and pans or don’t know how to cook vegetables so that they are nutritious and delicious.  Some families in need can’t even get to the food pantry for lack of transportation.

Still, there are many reasons that keep me inspired in what we are doing.

  1. It is so good for us!  Getting outside, in the fresh air, doing the physical labor with friends (or soon to be friends) is pure joy.  We can see the vast width of the sky and the weather patterns moving across it.  We occasionally visited by Kevin’s chickens and can see his cows from the garden.  There is a pond nearby that hosts migrating birds in the spring and fall and is home to many families of birds, frogs and fish during the summer.  We are surrounded by the sounds of nature which act like a healing balm to my soul.
  2. It’s good for the people who are using the food pantries once they get the food!  People who may not have access to good quality produce get some at least occasionally.
  3. The sense of working on behalf of others is a powerful tonic for the heart.  This is where the word Anahata comes from; it is the Sanskrit word for heart center.  It’s healthy for the volunteers beyond the obvious benefits of physical exercise.  The caring that we experience toward others reminds us that they are really not “the other”—they are us.  We value fresh, live, organic food so we do what we can to ensure everyone can have it.
  4. The magic of mattering.  I like to think that the people in the pantry wonder about us the way we wonder about them.  Who are these people spending so much time in the dirt working so hard, going far out of their way to bring some carrots and a bag of greens to them?  I hope they feel a sense that they matter to us even when we haven’t met.  For me this is part of the mystery of living this life together—we are connected—sometimes we can see it and feel it personally, other times we see the evidence before us—like a bag of greens.

Volunteer Details:  if you would like to work with us regularly or even occasionally please join us on Saturday, March 30, from noon to 2:00p for our first work session—a “Come to the Garden Party,” as volunteer Ann Janiak is calling it.  After that our main work day will be Sunday—we’ll meet earlier in the day as the temperature rises. Later in the season we’ll add a weekday morning session (either Tuesday or Wednesday) and a Thursday evening session as well. If you would like to volunteer,  send me an email and I will add you to our list  and you will received occasional emails with work dates and times.  Marcia@yogaonhigh.com.  I’ll also send you the farm’s address and location and my cell phone number in case you get lost.  We are only 15 minutes west of downtown!  Like us on Facebook or check out our webpage.

 

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Featured Teacher: Tom Griffith

Why do you practice?
I feel better on every level with each day.

Why do you teach?
I absolutely love it. Very literally helping others to help themselves, what better way to share ones passion?

Inspirations?
Martha and Jerry Marcom, the love, compassion and skill with which they live life in addition to their dedication to teaching and practicing Ashtanga yoga. I have watched as they have both shared this practice with so many happy people. I have also watched as they have both profoundly healed physically and all kidding aside aged gracefully as a result of practice and non-attachment.

Who have you trained with?
The Marcoms, Linda Oshins, Marcia Miller. For Ashtanga specifically Tim Miller every April at Yohi since 2005 (except one), Richard Freeman for a week long teacher training in 2007 and just last year here in Columbus, Maty Ezraty and a little with David Swenson and Manju Jois. So many great teachers at Yohi past and present.

What style do you teach?
Ashtanga but as they say around the studio I go both ways. I love to break things down into doable bits so that what may in fact be difficult becomes more approachable with a different perspective.

What’s your favorite food?
Southern BBQ.

What’s your nickname?
Tall Tom, Tbird and Tag. About three people in the world call me Tommy.

Do you own any animals?
I live with a cat called Persephone.

What’s on your playlist right now?
About this time of year I have Krishna Das’ Flow of Grace on constant rotation in the car.

What’s your favorite yoga accessory?
The half block. What can’t it do?

What style influences your teaching?
Tim Miller’s Surya Namaskara C and Richard Freeman’s metaphors have allowed me to stay rooted in my personal Ashtanga practice but to present what I know in fun yet challenging ways. Somewhere in there is a consistent repeated practice that is similar enough each week to know what changes (and what doesn’t) and subtle enough to stay with the experience long enough to experience it.

Favorite yoga pose?
This week, Bhujapidasana-arm pressure pose.

Favorite quote?

“Spread the toes of your buttocks.” -- Freeman

What is your favorite TV show of all time?
Looney Tunes

What would you call yourself if you could choose your own name?
Tom

Your favorite item of clothing?
Blue leather blazer jacket.

What did you want to be when you were little?
Professional skateboarder / photographer.

In the animal kingdom, which animal would you be?
Flying squirrel
Why?
Ok, maybe flying monkey.

Best trip you’ve taken, or dream trip you’d like to take?
Honeymoon in Prague.

What word describes you best?
agreeable

What drives you every day?
love

Whom do you admire?
Teachers

What is your mission?
To learn and help others

What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you?
It is a very long story but the answer is bought me a leather jacket.

Fun fact about you?
Rymocerous

What books are you reading right now?
Just finished a reread of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

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Pose of the Moment – Bakasana

As a new contribution to our blog we will be doing a Pose of the Moment. Moreover, on any given day, if you visit one of my Vinyasa or Hot Yoga classes you may just find the pose in the yoga sequence! One of the definitions of Vinyasa yoga is to place in a special way. Personally, the poses I share with you will be thoughtfully placed into my sequences using preparatory asanas that open and stabilize the body. In these articles in addition to looking at preparatory poses we will review the anatomy of the pose, modifications, what the asana is a preparatory pose for, counter poses and possible therapeutic and emotional benefits. I hope you find the information useful and I look forward to seeing you in class.

by Jasmine Grace

Pose of the Moment
Have you been to one of my classes lately? If not in almost every class I have been working on Bakasana. Have fun exploring this fun pose!

Sanskrit Name: Bakasana

Other Name/s: Crane or crow

Instruction to Come Into the Pose:

  1. Squat down and place palms flat on the floor with middle fingers facing forward. Elbows can be bent.
  2. Bring knees high onto upper arms and as close to the armpits as possible.
  3. Come to the tippy toes with feet coming close together. Squeeze the knees into the armpits and lift the feet, lift the pelvic floor, and straighten arms as much as possible.
  4. Gaze forward down the nose.

Modifications and Playing with the Pose:
I like to practice this at home with pillows in front of me for crash landings. It helps with the fear factor.

If you are still building strength, try to lift one foot of the floor at a time and work on the stabilizing poses listed below.

You can also place a block under your feet to get the height. Then try a lift feet of block.

As always, practice daily and build strength, coordination and confidence.

Play with the concept apana (downward) prana (upward). Ground (apana) through the hands to and finding lightness in the pelvic floor and feet.

Gaze/Drishti: Tip of nose

Anatomy & Preparatory Poses:

What needs to be open:
Hip extensors, Ankle dorsiflexors, back extensors, shoulder elevators and retractors, wrist flexors.

Marichysana A

Preparatory Asanas for Opening:
Balasana (child’s pose), Bidalasana (Cat Pose), Garudasana (Eagle Pose), Malasana (Garland Pose), Marichysana A (Sage Marichi’s Pose), Prasarita Padottanasana A (Spread-Leg Forward Fold Pose A), Uttana Prasithasana (Flying Lizard Pose), Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend).

What needs to be stable:
Wrist synergists, elbow synergists, shoulder stabilizers, external rotators of the arm, chest, abdominals, hop adductors and flexors, pelvic floor, knee flexors.

Preparatory Asanas for Stabilizing:
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog), Garudasana (Eagle Pose), Chaturunga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose), Malasana (Garland Pose), Navasana (Boat Pose), Phalakasana (Plank Pose),  Marichysana A (Sage Marichi’s Pose), Bidalasana (Cat Pose).

This Asana Prepares You For:
Tittibsana (Firefly), Parsva Bakasana (Side Crane/Crow), Eka pada Koundinyasana (One-leg Sage Koundinya’s Pose), Sirsasana II series (Tripod Headstand), transition pose by hopping from Arho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog).

Counterposes:
Balasana (Child’s Pose), Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-facing Dog), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog), Wrist Stretches, Vinyasa.

Resources: Stephens, Mark. 2012. Yoga Sequencing; Designing Transformative Yoga Classes. Berkeley, CA : North Atlantic Books
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Featured Teacher: Janet Braden

Why do you practice?
I practice to become a better person.  Practicing yoga brings me a deeper sense of calm, inner strength, balance and a clearer perspective on EVERYTHING.  I have more to offer others when I practice.

Why do you teach?
I want to share all of the benefits that I gain from yoga (and Pilates) with others.

Inspirations?
I am inspired by my family -- my husband and two children.  I am inspired by my students, my teachers, my friends and nature.

Who have you trained with?
Linda, Marcia and Martha and the rest of the amazing teachers at YoHi.   Tim Miller, Maty Ezraty, Cyndi Lee, David Swenson, Richard Freeman, Doug Keller and Rodney Yee.

What style do you teach?
I teach Vinyasa, Prenatal and Mommy & Baby yoga.  I also teach Stott Pilates.

What’s your favorite food?
Anything spicy!  I LOVE Thai food, coconut, avocados and dried mangos (the ones rolled in chile powder are delicious!).

What’s your nickname?
Mom!!!!!!’

Do you own any animals?
As of now we have 4 siamese cats : Isis, Duncan, Zeus & Buddha, and 1 shepherd mix dog : Helios.

What’s on your playlist right now?
KMFDM, the Pixies, Bob Marley & Fleetwood Mac.  I love 60’s and 70’s music (the Beatles, the Doors, Marvin Gaye).

What’s your favorite yoga accessory?
My turquoise Manduka mat -- it reminds me of the ocean.

What style influences your teaching?
Vinyasa, Ashtanga and Pilates.

Favorite yoga pose?
I am fascinated with handstands right now and having lots of fun practicing them at home.  I enjoy all arm balances -- they remind me that a good sense of humor is a wonderful thing to have while practicing and also they make me feel like I am about 5 yrs. old (when we used to roll down large hills just for fun).

Favorite quote?

‘Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, your right.’ -- Henry Ford

What is your favorite TV show of all time?
House Hunters International.

What did you want to be when you were little?
A ballerina or a marine biologist.

In the animal kingdom, which animal would you be?
Definitely a cat.

Best trip you’ve taken, or dream trip you’d like to take?
I went on a cruise to Mexico and Jamaica with my Grandma when I was in my early twenties.  The entire trip was incredible and I will always hold dear the adventure that we had together.

What drives you every day?
Coffee :-).  Half joking on that  :-).  I guess trying to be the best person I can be whether it is Mom, wife, student, friend or teacher (all parts of ‘me’).  Every morning when I wake up my son, I say ‘It’s a brand new day!’, and we go from there.

Whom do you admire?
People who show kindness to others without requiring personal gain for themselves.

What is your mission?
To try to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you?
My husband turned me into a Wife and Mother.

Fun fact about you?
I could eat wasabi on just about anything and I am afraid of bugs.

What books are you reading right now?
The Ikea 2013 catalogue -- trying to find ideas on how to become a bit more organized at home!  I am also spending quite a bit of time ( A LOT) searching online for new recipes.  My husband and I are eating ‘Caveman style’ (natural foods) and it has been an interesting process.  Fun to try new things and see what makes ‘the cut’.

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The Strength of an Angel

In the fall of 2012, I taught a six-week yoga program to middle school students at St. Mary Magdalene in Westgate focused on yoga and the six attributes of strength: Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Confident, Be in Control and Be Forgiving. I’ve been working with the children at St. Mary Magdalene for two years. One of my most dedicated students, Angel, shared a letter with me on the last day of class, detailing what yoga means to her. We at the Yoga on High Foundation felt compelled to share it here with you.

Namaste. —Colleen Leonardi

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