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What is Yoga?

Yoga is not just my passion, but a magical part of my life. It’s a big part of my calling. Yoga is hard to explain in one word and yet so simple. Most people who know me know that I live yoga as much as I can! I teach yoga four times a week and practice even more than that (not just the physical asana practice but all forms – 8 limbs – of yoga). And even as I wrote this I was guided to begin creating my very own 200-hr. Yoga Teacher Training. Some yoga teachers may have undertaken their yoga teacher training in india, so it’s well worth considering if you can. I started practicing yoga when I began my weight loss journey over over 17 years ago. The more I practiced the more yoga I desired. I couldn’t and still can’t get enough. Yoga is Namaste. Yoga is sublime. Through my dedicated yoga practice, I am able to handle life with more grace, flow and ease. Through yoga we can heal ourselves physically, but also just as important mentally, emotionally and spiritual. As I practice yoga I get deeper into my true self; ripping away the layers that no longer serve me – obtaining a deeper connection to Source/God. Yoga’s natural side effects are alleviating stress and anxiety while providing unlimited physical benefits to the body including shedding those unwanted pounds. Yoga’s goal is to assist you in aligning with the true essence that you are. Along the way you will notice more peace and a calm that comes from within in any situation. You realize you are living yoga every moment of your life. For many who begin yoga, it starts as a physical attraction to become more limber and feel more calm. The other “side effects” of yoga may slowly creep in on a person and before you know it they are not just obtaining their initial reason for practicing but they are BEING more connected; FEELING more free, kind, loving and loved. Life becomes more manageable. It can come at you in subtle ways or it might take a hold of you the very first time you practice. Yoga to me is magical and so very natural. Yoga is connection. Connection to the Earth and the Self, as well as the divine connection to the cosmic consciousness. Yoga Asana is the physical practice of yoga; the movement portion of yoga that many of us are well aware of. Asana yoga is the doorway into a deeper connection. Through practice all forms of yoga (the 8 limbs I describe below) it is possible to awaken your Kundalini and eventually achieve enlightenment. (If you aren’t aware of Kundalini, which is our divine essence, you can learn more by reading my Kundalini article and by purchasing my book Divine Embrace.) As we flow through life accumulating toxins, Yoga provides the detox our bodies need. Yoga removes these from our bodies naturally. Yoga also removes the toxicity of the mind. Our mind thoughts, if left unchecked, can become a disease. Stress, anxiety, depression and a general sense of unease rests within us as we allow our mind thoughts to take hold of our very existence. Yoga brings space and freedom back where there seemed to be no room for before. As I said, many people begin yoga to assist them with physical issues but then as they practice, there is an opening – an awakening. Amazing. This is not just exercise. It is only one limb of the 8 limbs of yoga (full description of the 8 limbs are below). You will see if you choose to practice. Doing yoga provides freedom. Space is created in yoga to BE. Magic occurs as you focus, breathe consciously, gaze deeply, go inward, create space and ultimate freedom. All stress comes from a disconnection from Self; from Source. You may start out doing the physical practice of yoga and even meditation for your health, to relieve stress or shed a few pounds, but it’s ultimately a disconnected feeling that draws you to yoga even subconsciously – to reconnect once again to your Soul; your Source and/or God. Life can feel like such a rollercoaster and practicing yoga can bring you down from always feeling like you are in that whirlwind! Life becomes balanced and manageable.On of my old yoga teachers has a saying I love, “Life happens. Life in the flow.” We learn over time that nobody can solve our problems, but someone can guide you how to solve the problem. You may receive guidance through a teacher, a guru or even strangers that you run into every day. As we practice yoga we learn that the more we know, the less we truly know. Every day I am reminded how much I truly do not know; a very humbling experience. Yoga teaches me to be present. To just live for being and enjoying life as it is right NOW. Not ten minutes from now, no five days ago, but right now. We are taught to get out of our heads, to release worries and fears of the past or the future and to only live for this very moment. Presence. “Lead me from untruth to truth, lead me from darkness to light.” ~ Buddha’s

Through yoga we are reminded that we do have a dark side as well as a light side. We are not to repress the dark side, but embrace that side of ourSelf. We are the yin and the yang. We ultimately cleanse the dark stuff we hold inside. We shine the light on this. We must make friends with dark side. Both positive and negative balance out the whole. Daily practice refines and improves our inner vision to see ourSelf more clearly. We no longer need to run from fears. Face them and say I’m not running from you anymore. So much is in our heads, so much dark is only in our heads, self-doubt judgment betrayal. Yoga grounds the body so that the light and dark sides of ourselves become clear. So much is truly untrue. But as we diligently practice we are able to find the middle ground and walk our centered balanced line in life. We gain balance in centered lightheartedness. We can have harmony in both light and dark. “Yoga tells us that the world is actually a projection of our own thoughts and we can modify our inner world to manifest into our outer world.” When our inside realm is at peace and in harmony, our outer world shines this projection back at us.” ~ David, Jiva Mukti Yoga co-founder Through yoga we learn observation. We can observe our world and see what part that is in us is begin reflected back to us. We can then see what part of us needs modification or adjustment in order to have our outer reality reflect back to us the peace, happiness and love we so greatly desire and deserve. Yoga is already inside of you. Happiness is there. Yoga helps you peel away the onion layers to get to the core. To freedom. The deepest Divine connection to the Ultimate Light Source. Come out of wanting and back into acceptance and Joy. A yogi or yogini can turn any situation into bliss. That is a yogi. Yoga is being now. Ultimate yoga is meditation. Just BE. Yoga is love. “Love is the light that dissolves all walls between souls.” ~ Paramahansa Yogananda Through a dedicated practice of all forms of yoga we can participate in the world with a sense of freedom, unaffected from trauma, depression, anger, etc. The freedom is balance in both. Below I wanted to take the opportunity to go deeper and explain all forms of yoga – the 8 Limbs of yoga – which is also an excerpt from my book Divine Embrace: 8 Limbs of Yoga So much activity and anxiety exists in the world. So much can be relieved from practicing all forms of yoga. Yoga is not just the physical asana practice but encompasses many elements for a mind, body and soul connection. In ancient Yoga traditions they were aware of the transformation of the body as inevitable and set up a beautiful complete practice of yoga called the 8 limbs of yoga. I’ll explain in brief the 8 limbs of yoga. By following these 8 limbs of yoga you are consciously preparing your body for the Kundalini awakening process that follows. This builds up your physical body, your mental body and spiritual body’s with prana and the necessary energy to withstand and go through the inevitable changes that will occur once Kundalini awakens. Yoga provides mental, physical and spiritual benefits. It’s an all-around balanced practice (sadhana). The eight limbs of yoga are described in short as follows: 1. Yama: Universal morality or restraint (outside ourselves with others). Both the Yama’s and Niyama’s have five characteristics, rules or laws that are considered the ten disciplines of yoga. Yama’s five characteristics of moral behaviors towards others are as follows: • Ahimsa – Compassion for all living things • Satya – Commitment to Truthfulness • Asteya – Non-stealing • Brahmacharya – Sense control • Aparigraha – Neutralizing the desire to acquire and hoard wealth 2. Niyama: Personal observances or discipline (inside ourselves). Nyama’s five inner moral guidelines for oneself are: • Sauca – Purity • Santosa – Contentment • Tapas – Disciplines use of our energy • Svadhayaya – Self study • Isvarapranidhana – Celebration of the Spiritual 3. Asanas: Body postures 4. Pranayama: Practice of breathing exercises and control of prana 5. Pratyahara: Control of the senses or withdrawal. A non-attachment so that the world is not a distraction to the inner self. 6. Dharana: Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness. The ability to focus on something uninterrupted by external or internal distractions. 7. Dhyana: Devotion, Meditation on the Divine. Building upon Dharana so that the focus is no longer on one thing but all-encompassing. 8. Samadhi: Ecstasy, bliss, Union with the Divine. This builds upon Dhyana to transcendence or enlightenment. I am happy to recognize that what I have included in my books How I Found My True Inner Peace, and Divine Embrace as guidelines that have worked for me and as my offering to assist us in a smooth transition to awakening to full self-realization, is very much in line and similar with the 8 limbs of yoga. Of course I frame it in a more modern way with funny quirks of my own self. It is after all my expression that I offer. I am rather happy to have found this out after having written this book series. It is a true testament that we are One with the Divine and connections are happening at deep levels. When you start to connect within yourself, and may have already, you will see and feel the deep connection deep inside. You will receive those synchronicities and signs to help you along. The 8 limbs of yoga truly are wise. This ancient wisdom offers us the knowledge that may have seemed hidden but has been here all along. The ancient yogi’s came to this knowledge. As have I, you too will come to this wisdom from within even if you don’t have the guidance of the 8 limbs themselves. Suddenly, it all makes sense and you are there. They help you through and allow you to realize it does balance out and you will naturally evolve as we all will. May you always know the Peace that dwells within, ~ Maggie, Spiritual Cheerleader


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