Category Archives: Asanas

“Breathing In The Benefits Of Yoga To Achieve Happiness In The Moment” – By Jennifer Miller, “SunGoddess Magazine” In July 30 Issue

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“If We Sit With An Increasing Stillness Of The Body…The Mind Gradually Stills And The Heart Is Filled With Quiet Joy” – Ravi Ravindra

“If we sit with an increasing stillness of the body, and attune our mind to the sky or to the ocean or to the myriad stars at night, or any other indicators of vastness, the mind gradually stills and the heart is filled with quiet joy.”

The Wisdom of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras: A New Translation and Guide by Ravi Ravindra” 

The Importance Of “Letting Go” To Allow Others The Freedom To Make Their Own Choices In Life

By Jennifer Miller

Life is for many of us a journey that involves “letting go”, releasing harmful or negative things, desires, thoughts, visions, and people. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali describe this state of “non-attachment” as follows:

When the mind loses desire even for objects seen or described in a tradition or in scriptures, it acquires a state of utter (vashikara) desirelessness that is called non-attachment (vairagya).

The path to “utter desirelessness” or non-attachment is combined with asana practice to make up the core principles of yoga. But letting go has also been important to me as I have moved through challenging times in my life. Quieting my mind allows me to rise above drama and negative issues during my day, like an impartial witness floating above the scene in a movie.

This is increasingly important as a mother raising children during their teen years. It is only natural to want to teach them about life, to save them from making mistakes or experiencing failures. By practice the art of letting go, I know that they are on their own personal journey and have the freedom to make choices that enhance their life or not. I will not take their “negative” choices personally. It is their life and I cannot expect to control what is clearly their own free will.

Freedom and peace has filled my soul when only a few years ago I agonized and could be paralyzed with pain. And it will remain a process for me, a practice devoted to letting go. By giving others the freedom make their own decisions without judgment or emotion, I have increased my sense of inner peace and freedom as well.

Namaste, Jennifer Miller

“Dwelling In The Present Moment, I Know This Is A Wonderful Moment” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“In The Attitude Of Silence The Soul Finds The Path In A Clearer Light…” – Mahatma Gandhi

“In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light…Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.”

“Speak only if it improves upon the silence.”

Mahatma Gandhi

“Yoga Tones The Bodies And Nourishes The Souls Of The Women At The Recovery House”

By Jennifer Miller
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Walking through the doors at the Recovery House, the ladies came up to me with a request: they wanted to see a picture of me before I started yoga. “I bet you always looked like this” said one. The group’s interest turned into a discussion of one of the big benefits of yoga: getting in shape after having a baby. These questions and others are all very honest and touching, reflecting how concerned they are with their appearance and bodies.
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A question then came up about whether my yoga practice excited my husband when I was married, again showing the physical and sexual interest the poses had in their minds. I then told them about very painful parts of my life, where yoga helped me to process my grief, to the point where I am now able to laugh at many of these traumatic times.
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I could feel, and see in their eyes, that my words were very comforting to these women, all of whom were dealing with trauma and change in their lives. One of the young ladies asked me why I volunteered here.
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 I told her that presenting the gift of yoga allowed my soul to give back some of the beautiful calm and peace I felt during times of great pain…

They were all very moved and I knew some were true believers. I felt my heart sing with joy that they could understand. I began to work on some individual asanas with a few of the girls. At first they are scared in trying something new, but three of the girls all nail the “crow” pose. I was cheering and clapping and didn’t know who was more excited.
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A girl in the back of the room asked me what poses would help her tighten her stomach and lose weight. I told her that yoga connects our minds and bodies, and that by maintaining the connection while eating, she could learn to eat only until feeling full. This honors the body as it is the temple for our soul.
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Nearing the end of our time together, I hear that one of the girls is cleaning a yoga mat to take to her room to practice, while another one is listening to a yoga tape. I can see the slow progress we are making, and know in my heart that if you can touch one life you’ve made a difference in the world. On my way out they bring their babies over…the beauty of connecting with the human spirit.
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Namaste, Jennifer Miller

“Yoga Is The Path…The Experience Of Realization, Samadhi” From ‘Bhagavad Gita Demystified’

“Yoga…is the path and not the goal. It is the experience of the path that matters. The bliss that we experience during this path is the experience of realization, samadhi.”

“Tittibhasana” Pose by Jennifer Miller

From “Bhagavad Gita Demystified” by Nithyananda Paramahamsa

“Yoga Is Primarily A Practice Intended To Make Someone Wiser…” By T.K.V. Desikachar

“Yoga is primarily a practice intended to make someone wiser, more able to understand things than they were before.”

“The goal is always bhakti…to approach the highest intelligence, namely, God.”

T.K.V. Desikachar from “The Heart of Yoga: Developing A Personal Practice”.

“Even In Simple Asanas…One Is Experiencing The Innermost Quest” – B.K.S. Iyengar

“Even in simple asanas, one is experiencing the three levels of quest: the external quest, which brings firmness of the body; the internal quest, which brings steadiness of intelligence; and the innermost quest, which brings benevolence of spirit.”

B.K.S. Iyengar, From “Light On Life”

“Breathing In The Moment To Stay Centered And Balanced” By Jennifer Miller

“Durvasana”

Arriving at the Yoga Center, I roll out my mat and make sure it lines up with walls that surround me. Each time I place my feet on this six-foot long, 2-foot wide space, I have a feeling of  “returning home”. I fill my lungs with deep breaths, exhaling and begin the process of “letting go”.

In yoga, this breathing technique is known as “Ujjayi”, a Sanskrit word that means “to be victorious”. Breathing, or “Pranayama”, engages the diaphragm and the “chakras”, or “force centers”, producing a sound similar to waves crashing in the ocean. I feel a calming and quieting of my mind and begin a move inward.

“Ujjayi” is important in overcoming distractions, which prevent focus as we move towards “being in the moment”.

This mind-body connection produces a warming of the body, which increases to an intense heat in my pelvis as I bend and stretch deeply. I fuel this rise in energy with deep breaths, and become one with my movements, aware of the energy in the room created by other dedicated yogis.

I am grateful to my teacher and happily drive an hour each way to the Ashtanga Yoga Center. Nearing the end of my 1 1/2 hour practice, I complete work on a third-series pose called “Durvasana”, where I am standing with one leg behind my head. This pose requires me to stay centered and balanced, as I continue the journey inward towards my essential self.

Namaste, Jennifer Miller

“Quieting The Mind, Yoga Alows Us To Be In The Moment” By Jennifer Miller

One of the great benefits of yoga, in addition to increased strength and flexibility, is that it promotes the peaceful state necessary for self-reflection, letting us go “inward” to establish a “mind-body-spirit” connection and nourish our soul.

Other forms of physical exercise require a great deal of external focus, with our mind and body “engaged” with equipment and people around us.

Yoga allows me to “be in the moment”, quieting my mind to focus on “being where I am.”

To “be in the moment” is a goal of “meditation”.  Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder and former director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, developed “mindfulness meditation” to help people reduce the suffering coming from chronic pain and stress in their lives. This included a method of “moment-to-moment” awareness that allowed for increased “coping skills”.

Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction” (MBSR) program combined Hatha Yoga and meditation to achieve extraordinary health benefits. But, in writing “Wherever You Go, There You Are”, he beautifully described what all of us can achieve when we quiet the mind:

“From the perspective of meditation, every state is a special state, every moment a special moment.”

How cool is that? Our modern society does a great job of promoting life’s “special moments” but requires most of us to “purchase” these as luxuries.

The “movements of the body” in yoga connect us to the “moments in the mind” where we can “nourish our soul”.

My yoga practice allows me to achieve serenity and peace, what many people would describe as a “special moment”.

Namaste, Jennifer Miller

“Sun Salutation” By Jennifer Miller

“Our Soul’s True Purpose” By Jennifer Miller (Video)

We must all strive to connect our mind, body and spirit to find our soul’s true purpose.

Rumi, a 13th Century Persian Poet, wrote beautifully about the importance of following your heart to find love and purpose in life….

My video presents 5 of his most beautiful quotations.

“What I have come to treasure most in life are the hardships I have overcome, and the satisfaction of feeling “heroic” in many ways. To live through challenging times and not only survive, but to emerge victorious and “thrive”, will bring all of us a sense of incredible joy and satisfaction.”

“To live a truly authentic life makes us vulnerable, but it is a life worth living. I am who I am and I can live with that.”

Jennifer Miller

“How Yoga Allows Us To Master The Mental Blocks Holding Us Back In Life” By Jennifer Miller

“Vrschikasana”

As a yoga practitioner for the last 10 years, I have personally observed the mind-body connection. When I work on “inner growth”, I know that my practice will act as a mirror to my soul.

And there have been many “aha! moments”. 

The times when my ego would restrain the movement into difficult asanas; but through “Pranayama”, or the control of breathing, I was able to relax and flow like a river, expanding my ability to learn.

To remain open and let go is to find the answers that are already there.

Once, I found myself blocked and unable to complete a difficult asana for two years. It also happened that this time of frustration mirrored” a difficult time in my life, a time when I was forcing life and trying to control it.

To master and move through this asana, I would have to “trust” myself and overcome mental obstacles.

A now simple “forearm balance” created an overwhelming amount of fear inside me. My life also lacked “balance” as I was I was going through so many transitions; I was overwhelmed. My ego did not let me accept what was happening. As I observed myself and this asana, the issues became clear and I soon progressed through the asana. Yoga is a great gift to the inner workings of the mind as it connects through the body.

Namaste, Jennifer Miller

“What Your Yoga Practice Reveals About Your Life” By Jennifer Miller

How do you show up on your mat?

Are you in the present on your mat, realizing what each Asana is here to show you? Jennifer Miller

As a yoga practitioner for over 10 years, I have become very aware of the life connection between “how you are on the mat” and your state of being. 

There are many types:
 
  • Loud Moaning Yogi   They sound like they are having a Meg Ryan “When Harry Met Sally” moment…attempting to achieve the Big O right there on the mat.
  • Sloppy Sweating Yogi   Frequently uncontrolled, all over the place, these types  frequently drip sweat on your area. Unconcerned with anything around them. (I once had a wet towel thrown on my mat; not once, but three times. Each time I grabbed it with my foot and put it back in their area. Yes, my foot. I must say these feet of mine are pretty talented).
  • Intense Oblivious Yogi   Characterized by pushing their practice to the limit and not listening to their bodies. (I see many injuries with these types. You don’t  mess with them or their practice).
  • Super Zen Yogi  Just being near them you feel peace, acceptance and, kindness. (I love them).
  • Competitive Egocentric Yogi   Think “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon, and you understand this type…always one eye on those around them and the mirror. They want to be better than you but they are not at peace with who they are.
  • Graceful Connected Yogi   Their practice flows with Spirit in every movement, as if connected to a higher source. Each Asana is a dance with life. They are Zen and Grace unified with the whole of the Universe. (I feel they are in the present on their mat, realizing what each Asana is here to show them:  Mind, Body and Spirit in Divine Harmony).

How are you on the mat?

Do you see a connection to the mat and your personality?

Can you stay in the moment and BE with what is?
 

Try observing yourself during your next practice and be present to what the beauty of Yoga has to teach us all.

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Namaste, Jennifer Miller

Praise For My Feet As I Begin My “Sun Salutations”….

My toes need to be spread to create balance and eveness as I proceed through my Surya Namaskara or "Sun Salutations". Jennifer

I awoke this morning and planted both feet on the floor and thought about how far these feet have taken me.  I gazed at my toes and felt an overwhelming love that these feet have never let me down; we have been on quite a journey together so I feel a duty to show them the respect they deserve. So I promised these beautiful tootsies I would be mindful as I walked through my day starting with the present moment.

My yoga practice begins from my feet up. As I look down, I imagine each foot as a lotus, spreading my toes and knowing that my feet will support my body. I need to be centered and grounded. My toes need to be spread to create balance and eveness as I proceed through my Surya Namaskara or “Sun Salutations”.

My feet are quite “unique” as my left foot is two sizes smaller then my right. I contemplate this and realize that my right brain, which is the intuitive and emotional side, is very developed while my left brain is less so. I will go about my day very mindful of the importance of my feet as they represent the natural balance between my feminine and masculine sides. I will honor both the “Anima-Feminine” and the “Animus-Masculine” traits as they both have served me well.
 
Thank you tootsies. Jennifer Miller.