When we lived in Coppell 7 years ago, we went to a local yoga studio twice a week. I didn’t really “get into it.” I was still figuring out my best meditation style and had a lot going on with work and building a practice in past life regression. To say I didn’t give yoga a fair shake is putting it mildly.
My dear friend Arthur Graye told me about how he got into yoga:
“I was led to yoga when I was 18 because I was drawn to the idea of merging the physical body with the energy which inhabits it. Everything is so separate in our common society. I liked the fact that there was a clear path of physical action that could lead to the knowing of ourselves on an energetic level and thereby granting us access to spiritual enlightenment. It changed my life. And then when j discovered the branch of mantra, it changed it again.”
Arthur is a Yoga teacher, Reiki Master and wears many other hats as a spiritual leader in our community. His explanation of the various aspects of yoga is one of the best I’ve seen and I have his permission to share it:
“In my classes, we start off with Mantra Meditation. We recite the Gayatri Mantra or the Mahamitrunjaya Mantra while using a strand of prayer beads , otherwise known as a Japa Mala. By participating in Mantra Meditation, we raise our awareness and create an inner sacred space that allows us to be fully present for our practice on the mat. The Japa Malas are useful tools in keeping count of the number of repetitions for the Mantra. This meditation is an excellent way to clear your head and raise your vibration. It sets the mood for the practice and is a valuable tool in connecting to the Divine.
Pranayama is also a major part of Tantra Yoga. In my classes, you can expect to be presented with the opportunity to learn many different breathing techniques. There are breathing techniques for calming, energizing, balancing, etc. The breath is one of (if not the absolute) most important things we do. Without air, we could not live. Breathing is the first thing we do when we are born and the last thing we do before we pass on to our next plane of existence. Some say that the breath is the bridge from the physical to the spiritual. I believe this wholeheartedly. Breathwork is the quickest way to gain control over your emotions and mental processes.
The third component of my classes is Asana. This is what we, as Americans, recognize as yoga. This is the physical work of Yoga. Postures such as Downward Dog, Warrior, Cobra, Childs Pose and MANY more are used to enhance the strength and flexibility of your physical body. Remember, that the entire goal of yoga is to gain access to the control panel of your mind. The physical work is a very important component of this goal. By keeping our body in a fit condition, it will allow us the range of motion to sit in meditative positions for longer and longer periods of time. The fact that we will become more and more comfortable in our bodies and in our daily lives is a very big added bonus.
Many yoga classes today concentrate on getting you in the class, getting you warmed up, wearing out your physical body and then sending you on your way. This is EXACTLY what I try to avoid in my classes. After the Asana (physical postures) is completed, I always lead my students through a ten to fifteen minute Savasan.”
If you live in the Lewisville, TX area, I invite you to check out Arthur and his weekly yoga classes at Miracles of Joy.
What I like best about Arthur’s approach is, as he says in his own words, “Tantra meets you where you are.” With Tantra’s all-encompassing approach to yoga, the postures, breathing exercises, meditations and/or chanting work with your own life force to alter your energy for your own personal needs. He teaches different classes on grounding, relaxation, detoxification and inspiration.
How can yoga benefit me? Well, I wanted to find out what the medical community might have to say about yoga. I found an interesting article by the American Osteopathic Association:
Benefits of Yoga
“The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome,” explains Dr. Natalie Nevins. “Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia.”
According to Dr. Nevins, other physical benefits include:
-Increased muscle strength and tone
-Improved respiration, energy and vitality
-The maintenance of a balanced metabolism
-Cardio and circulatory health
-Improved athletic performance
-Protection from injury
Aside from the array of physical benefits, one of the best benefits of yoga is how it helps a person manage stress, which has been known to have devastating effects on the body and mind. “Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, drug abuse, and an inability to concentrate,” says Dr. Nevins. “Yoga can be very effective in developing coping skills and reaching a more positive outlook on life.”
Yep, gonna find a yoga class and get started . . . Happy Holidays and Happy New Year, y’all!