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Journal Post

 "Where women are respected, there god dwells. Where women are disregarded, there all deeds go in vain." - Manusmriti Tomorrow, March 8, is International Women's Day. On this one day we honor the achievements of women around the world. We also recognize the unfathomable violations that women and girls still face to their basic human rights. Please take some time to acknowledge and appreciate the women in your life - mothers, sisters, grandmothers, daughters, yourselves.
Did anyone else feel like they wanted to start this year over? Thank God for the Chinese New Year, the first new moon of the Lunar Year. 2013 is the year of the Water Snake.  The moon takes close to 13 months to travel around the Earth. This New Year speaks more to me than the arbitrary day, December 31, marking the Earth's revolution around the sun. Imbolc, the Return of the Light, has just passed and with it the fact that we made it to the halfway point between the first day of Winter and the first day of Spring.
When I first began teaching yoga in 1981, yoga wasn't exactly entrenched in the mainstream as it is now. I had been meditating for four years and doing asana out of a book daily. There was never a thought about becoming a yoga teacher, as I had four children, ages 7-14, and it was all I could do to stay afloat and meet my commitments as an Air Force wife and mother. My daily meditation practice helped more than anything else to keep me on a fairly even keel during those challenging days.
As the yoga boom continues to grow and new studios pop up everywhere, the question arises of how to offer classes in order to appeal to both new and experienced students. Yoga studios usually choose one of two options for class registration. One option is class cards, where the student pays for a specific number of classes over a certain time period. This is often seen as most convenient for the student, as they can go to any class on the schedule without committing to any specific class.
Not long ago, I was troubled to read in the Washington Post that local hospitals are having to expand to accommodate increasing numbers of aging, ailing Baby Boomers - a generation of which I and many of Willow Street's students are a part. We're living longer than our parents did, and of course we want to grow older gracefully. Yet even as health care is one of our highest concerns - as it is for people young and old - right now, we're most worried about our pocketbooks and retirement plans!
As we see and feel the changes that take place in our body/mind from coming to yoga class each week, there's often a gradual stirring to begin to practice on our own. Our yoga evolves beyond a class we look forward to once or twice a week, and into a regular home practice in which the benefits of our yoga only multiply. It's actually in a home practice that we discover the nuances of the Principles of Alignment, and begin to feel what we need more or less of. Both I and my fellow teachers are very often asked: how might I go about developing a well-rounded practice that fits into my already busy life?
Encourage your students to develop a home practice-and
stick with it.By Sara Avant Stover
I moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand, from New York City when I
was 21. I had been practicing yoga for three years, attending
group classes four times a week. When I moved, though,
things changed. Chiang Mai's yoga scene didn't compare to
the abundant supply of classes I had grown so used to in
New York. If I wanted to keep practicing, I had to do it alone.
Forced by circumstance to foster a home practice, my
relationship with yoga quickly deepened and became more
intimate, more connected. Equipped with a solid foundation
Our ancestors lived in harmony with nature's changing seasons. In lieu of fancy spas and healing retreats, they relied on plants, prayer, and rituals to heal themselves. Today, we've lost our connection to that wisdom. The frenzied pace of the modern world, our increased exposure to environmental toxins, and a growing alienation from nature have caused most of us to fall out of alignment with an optimal state of health and happiness. But each new year brings another opportunity to perform the time-honored ritual of internal cleansing. Spring, which celebrates rebirth lasts approximately from March 15 to May 15 in the Ayurvedic calendar, is the perfect time for detoxification.
I reviewed my first video for Yoga Journal in 1991, and since then I've reviewed at least a couple in every single issue for the last 18 years. Just this year I reviewed my 300th video (though I've probably watched at least half again as many that didn't pass muster), and by some strange alignment of planets or more likely some cosmic comedy of karmas, it was a presentation by our very own Rod Yee.
The spark of interest in yoga often ignites an inner obsession that infiltrates every aspect of your life. At first yoga is life and you cannot get enough of it. Yoga reconnects you to long forgotten inner realms and you somehow fall in love with yoga. Yet if your yoga practice evolves into a daily, lifelong relationship it is almost inevitable that at some moment you will get bored with it. The insatiable hunger for as much yoga as possible will shift and change to a space where you will be absolutely full of it. This period of lackluster levels of initiative often comes ironically as a result of your full immersion in the yoga world.
Paying attention to alignment in your yoga postures can be confusing.  Lift this, drop that; lengthen here, shorten there; soften one side and strengthen the other one.  And, in the meantime: don't forget to breathe. For many students, looking more closely at alignment can be intimidating. Alleviate that stress by breaking the postures up into sets with alignment points in common.   For example, in standing postures, we can say that we are either focusing on squaring the hips or on opening them.  Although this is somewhat of an oversimplification, it can help students that are newer to alignment principles get a handle on where to start.
 With so many styles of yoga available the question inevitably rises: what makes this one different than the next? Each lineage seems to claim that they have the answers, that they are the safest, or most informed, or most spiritual. What about the seemingly non-denominational yoga teachers out there, the purely physical practitioners? Are they really practicing yoga or merely acrobatics? And how is a student to choose? 
Sometimes it's nice to site back and reflect on where we have been and where we are now...My husband and I moved to Florida from Virginia five and a half years ago, after he retired. Initially I kept my yoga center in Virginia and went back regularly to run it, so I did not start teaching in Florida right away. However after comparing winter up north with winter down here, I sold my yoga center and decided to focus on Florida! In August of 2000 an opportunity came up to teach in the community where we live. We initially offered two morning classes, with my husband Dave teaching one class and me the other; we had a total of 18 students.
People often come to yoga looking for a way to feel less stressed and more relaxed, and the practice of yoga can certainly make a significant difference. So much so, that I often wonder how people who don't know yoga and relaxation can manage when life gets bumpy! However, the potential benefits from yoga and relaxation training go far beyond just immediate stress relief. They change the lens through which we view our stressful life events, and thereby eliminate many stressful feelings at the source.
Anusara means "flowing with Grace" or "following your heart." Developed by John Friend, Anusara is a style of hatha yoga that encompasses the physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions of yoga.
Anusara Yoga is an exceptionally therapeutic system because it is founded on Universal Principles of Alignment that bring the body into balance. This specific alignment positions the joint and muscles for maximum stability, flexibility, and safety and optimizes the circulation of blood, vital energy and other internal fluids for the healthiest flow. Anusara also teahes 7 Loops & Spirals that act as fine-tuning dials for the energetic and structural alignment in the body.
Desire is not typically a very welcome concept in spiritual circles. In fact, most Eastern spiritual disciplines regard desire as the root cause of all suffering, observing that desire causes mental agitation as we think about what we want that we don't have. Desire therefore causes people to lose the peacefulness that they are searching for. Followers are taught to reject, suppress, or sublimate desire, and to take a more ascetic approach toward anything connected with the senses, because the senses pull us away from our inward focus toward oneness and peace.
My thanks to our conference co-coordinators and my dear friends, Patricia Walden and Linda DiCarlo, for their tireless efforts and their deep devotion that made this conference possible. Thanks also to all you workers and volunteers, in front of and behind the scenes for your invaluable and essential assistance. And, of course, thanks to all of you attendees for being here. Without you there wouldn't be any conference.
John Schumacher in Arm BalanceNamaste! Ahhh August! In the Southeastern US its as if the whole earth has given a sigh of relief. Although, it cooled off,�Â�  it has been so dry that we are beginning to lose leaves! A reminder that it has been a fiery hot summer and we need to explore cooling practices and keep hydrated to stay in balance. iHanuman has stayed out the heat this last month to bring you a new home page! Let us know what you think!
Eagle PoseNamaste! Our Yoga Community in Central Virginia holds an Annual Summer Yoga Immersion. This seems to be what the height of summer in July portends: Immersing yourself in something you love, like yoga, so you can come into your full bloom like a stunning sunflower. Harness the fire and heat of summer to express yourself to the fullest.
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