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yoga is at the very heart of everything i do and offer. most people aren't familiar with what yoga actually is... yoga means union or wholeness. what yoga practices do is help people to find wholeness within themselves and realize their inherent oneness within the universe. i highly recommend practicing yoga poses, awareness/meditation, and breathing as part of one's lifestyle. until it is experienced, the claims others lay to the power of yoga sound too good to be true (or a little wacky and out-there!), but after giving it an honest try, most people are incredibly blown away by the power of something so simple and straightforward.
the style of yoga i teach is my own special blend. i call it the natural yoga method. my classes combine poses, where i encourage students to exert themselves fully but without straining, with metered breathing, music, mindfulness (present moment awareness), intuitive free-flowing movements, insights, relaxation, and meditation. whenever possible natural imagery is used, we use natural light and fresh air to connect to the living universe. as students gather experience in practice, they are increasingly encouraged to let go of self-consciousness and we blend our long, strong holds with free-form, inspired movement. this is the hallmark of the natural yoga method style, and it liberates body, mind, creativity and spirit.
in addition to our practice on the mat, i encourage my students to look at their lives as a living yoga practice- a journey to wholeness- and the practice on the mat as a small part of that total experience. the mat is the laboratory where we re-align, strengthen and balance our bodies and sharpen the most important tool we have- our awareness. that in turn brings out our mental, physical and emotional best, and connects us to our own heart, our source, our spiritual center. it is a highly personal experience, although many people have similar experiences of lightness, blissfulness, relaxation, confidence, creative inspiration and contentment. yoga practice heightens and develops a feeling of compassion and empathy with others, even animals and plants and the environment. it also can be a powerful way for couples to connect, stay connected, and remain truly in-love for a long, wonderful time. yoga practice, together or seperately, can work as a form of relationship therapy, especially in the form of private lessons. yoga is inherently a very deep and intimate experience with one's own self and as shared with others.
practicing at least once or twice each week is highly recommended, and at times of high stress or for those more experienced with the practice, daily practice is suggested. practice can be done with group classes, private lessons, with videos, or on one's own. starting the practice under the guidance of a qualified instructor is highly recommended.
more about the natural yoga method
the natural yoga method is a simple, practical approach to integrating the vast wisdom of yoga into daily life in a very natural way. I wanted yoga to accesible to people of all levels of philosophical interest, because the gems contained in yoga practice are applicable universally, but the cultural wrappings in which they are contained turn some people off or are intimidating because they seem so different. Many people in the West, I know especially in America, have had a very negative experience with organized religion, and so when I offer yoga I strive to give the universal aspects, and allow individuals to search deeper and embrace any parts of the cultural context that thrill them on their own. I also know people who are happily and strongly affiliated with organized religion, and I want the natural yoga method to serve them as well. Yoga does not have to be religious in any way, but for many people, it does touch deeply the spiritual and/or creative aspects of their hearts. It is an individual experience in one's own body, heart and mind.
In my view, the most important aspect to remember is that we are alive to fully be alive. Too many people relinquish themselves to a life of muddling along in line, trying their damnedest to conform to spoken and unspoken social mores and to not make waves by being a true individual in any way. What is the point of living if we live a lie? What is the point of being individuals if we try so hard not to explore or express what makes us unique, or to cherish or investigate the world around us? There is nothing enlightened about erasing your personality... enlightenment is the extraction of all that is not you from the truth of who You are as an individual, then allowing yourSelf to shine your unique light into the world. People who are truly themSelves are rare gems in this world and inspire joy and consciousness in others, just by being themSelves everyday. It is mind-blowing once you realize the power contained in being confident and honestly yourSelf- it is the most potent way to affect postive change in the world. This has been my direct experience!
Yoga, an ancient but perfect science, deals with the evolution of humanity. This evolution includes all aspects of one's being, from bodily health to Self-realization. Yoga means union - the union of body with consciousness and consciousness with the soul. Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one's actions.
~B.K.S. Iyengar, Astadala Yogamala
Five Principles of Living Vividly
Vinyasa~ life is a meaningful unfolding, a journey back to wholeness
Smriti~ mindfulness, remembering to be here fully
Avinaabhava Sambhandu~ interbeing, recognizing the inextricable interconnection of all
Maitri, Ahimsa & Seva~ living gratitude and kindness, finding your deepest Self in whole-hearted loving and compassion for others
Ishvara Pranidhana~ 'Deep Honesty', harmony with Nature, following the heart, surrendering to the truth of reality (Reality=God's will, if that resonates with you)
Music, movement, art, and other forms of creative expression move the energy and keep us from getting blocked, resistant or insensitive to the longings of the soul. Creative expression, including singing and listening to music, can help us to cleanse, purify, express, and find the Self within. Choosing the right songs to listen to or sing at the right time, by feeling, not by rationalizing, can help us to heal, accept, become more present and more free. It is a form of therapy, a form of yoga. Everything is energy, so by learning to observe that and work with energy in life, you will find truth and harmony, which unleashes your fullest potential, happiness, and satisfaction in life.
These five ideas can loosely convey the basis of the sustainable, Yoga-lifestyle (sadhana in Sanskrit) of living wholeness and harmony. These ideas are just one expression of this truth, the natural yoga method is just one perspective of Yoga. There are so many ways offered in the world, so find the way that keeps you inspired, that uplifts you and helps you to acheive wholeness (Yoga).
The guru, or the teacher, is life itself. If we live with opened eyes, hearts and minds, we will keep evolving, growing consciously into our own highest potential and live a life that is nothing short of extraordinary. That is the heart of the enlighten yoga- exploring life in the thrill of our greatest potential at the expense of no other, but instead enhancing the world around us just by being alive! Everything is possible, life is ripe with infinite potential. This is your life, how will you live it? Who do you want to be, how do you wish to be remembered by others, what mark do you want to leave behind on this precious planet? Live vividly, with passion and wonderment, in knowledge of the full depth of existence.. every moment is simply playfulness and at the same time extraordinarily sacred. This is my offering to the universe, from the lotus blossom of my heart. <3 ~ laura
Come visit Laura for a yoga class or presentation at:
enlighten yoga center | 37 Prospect Street (clock tower complex- Brookside Avenue entrance) | Amsterdam NY 12010
call/text~ 518.866.3621 | email~ firstname.lastname@example.org
(c)2011 ~Enlighten~ Amsterdam (C) 2011 Laura Harrison- (laura loves the universe/ live vividly!/natural yoga method/ enlighten yoga center/ enlighten yoga + community center)