Yoga and Meditation
Mind and Body in Perfect Union
In part, yoga owes its current worldwide respect by health professionals to the liberated 1960s Western youth culture that found fascination in reviving centuries-old Eastern philosophies. What began as a hip trend spread steadily, flourished and proved itself an extraordinarily powerful complement to cardiovascular and muscular conditioning programs for people of all ages and at all stages of life. Today, the grown-up and grown-wise ’60s generation continues to embrace yoga as an elixir to extend mental and physical vitality throughout advanced age.
Lisa Hampton, exercise physiologist, ACE ( American Council on Exercise ) certified personal trainer, and consultant of mind-body health and fitness, provides all Mindful Fitness yoga instruction. Lisa’s expertise is the result of working with numerous exceptional yoga instructors over the course of 20 + years. Since 1994, Lisa has offered students her distinctively patient and compassionate style of yoga blended with the Iyengar system.
Iyengar yoga is named after India-born B.K.S. Iyengar, a legendary yoga teacher who helped bring yoga to the West. Iyengar has shared his wisdom with millions of followers and his teachings remain one of the most comprehensive systems in the world of yoga. Practice of the Iyengar system, from simplest postures to more complex, is a gradual progression well-suited to beginners. Props, including belts, blankets and blocks, help students to achieve the correct body alignment so fundamental to Iyengar asanas. Movements are purposefully sequential to expand range of motion over a series of sessions, reducing likelihood of injury.
Yoga beautifully integrates mind and body, allowing the student to become aware of the smallest parts of the body while the mind becomes alert and clear. Breathing is the essence of yoga practice and becomes smooth, deep and relaxed. Yoga counters the stress of contemporary lifestyles, re-establishes sense of self and can be profoundly healing. Yoga students typically benefit from improvement in all of the following:
- inner harmony
- lung capacity
- mental, physical, and spiritual awareness
- pain relief
- sense of centeredness
- sense of self
- stress reduction
Taking time to pause and be still and listen within is one of the most powerful health practices available. Benefits abound on all levels – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. The physical body experiences a deep level of rest and relaxation from meditation that exceeds that of a good night’s sleep. Mentally, we gain clarity and peace of mind from stopping the chatter and creating space for perspective. Creativity and intuition expand. Anxiety decreases and is replaced by calm and tranquility. Joy and happiness are available and purpose is restored. Spiritually, our connection to a higher power is strengthened. It is said that prayer is when one talks to God and meditation is when one listens.
Knowing that being still is a challenge for many, Lisa has designed a class that begins with gentle yoga stretches to help loosen the body to prepare for sitting. Integrating conscious breathing, students relax, become grounded and connect mind and body. Each session will vary slightly as other mindful practices are taught to enhance this connection but all classes will emphasize sitting meditation. Sitting in lotus is not required! The goal is to be comfortable whether sitting on the floor, against a wall or in a chair. With regular meditation practice, students may reap the following benefits:
- improved blood pressure
- less worry, tension and stress
- decreased anxiety, scattered thoughts and fear
- pain relief
- increased sense of calm, peace, joy and happiness
- emotional control
- better sleep
- greater mental clarity and focus
- enhanced creativity and purpose
- expanded consciousness and unity
- slowed rate of cellular aging
- brain changes that improve stress response