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Your First Yoga Practice

The word yoga means to join, or to yoke. This represents a primary requirement for all of life – to feel safe, unified and connected. Throughout history, the pursuit of happiness has been humanity’s abiding quest. But the happiness we seek is more than just the ephemeral happiness of a desire fulfilled or an adversity overcome. What we seek is far deeper and more lasting, perhaps a more apt description is ‘peace without suffering.’ Yoga is a practical and ancient approach to this state of happiness or nirvana.

Let us start this month with a simple and realistic approach to adding yoga to your life. I often say to my students, if you are only able to do legs-up-the-wall for 5 minutes everyday, you are on your way to cultivating your yoga. We will expand our practice as we progress, but for now this simple excercise is a good place to begin. If you feel ready for something more, try working your way up to all of the first three modifications for downward dog, everyday for a month.

Yoga is about making a choice each day that celebrates your well being. You now have 3 choices before you:

1. The time and place that you’ll begin your practice. Are you going to create a space in your life to practice?

2. The choosing of your destination. Are you going to health and happiness?

3. The effort you’ll put in to get there. Are you going to excercise the discipline required to get there?

In this progression you’ll start on your path toward true and abiding happiness.

If you are like most of us, it is your bad habits that distract you from your happiness and fluidity. You believe you are your habits. You may also believe that true freedom is to be able to do “whatever you please”. As Paramahansa Yogananda stated “You should understand to what degree you are free, and how much you are influenced by your bad habits. To be good just because it has become a habit to be good is not freedom either. To be tempted is not sinfulness, but to be able to resist and overcome temptation is greatness; this is freedom, for you are acting by free will and free choice only.”

Finally, yoga is about unity and unity means feeling connected to oneself. This connection is the foundation of self respect. When we respect ourselves we do what we need to do to feel good, and we don’t compromise. This is the yoking, and this is what the practice of yoga can give you. So, let’s begin!!

Published by Mary-Jo

I am passionate about diversity, inclusion, sustainability and community. Having raised my children in a small B.C. town as a single parent, I relied on the community, my resourcefulness and the land to sustain us. We developed a market farm,built a cafe and catering business that utilized the produce, local farmers and families to thrive. As a Waldorf school parent I became experienced in biodiversity, edible landscapes and community engagement. I gained substantial skills in leadership, facilitation, project management, communication through teaching yoga and running various business's. My role as a facilitator and trainer to individuals seeking to become a yoga teacher- whom never thought that they could stand in front of a room and speak in public, gave me insight into human nature and coaching. In addition to designing and building businesses - cafés, yoga studios and national training programs, I am a student of Social Development & Social Psychology and understand the complexity and importance of social engagement. I can handle with grace most any situation, having encountered a disability later in life. Consequent to becoming disabled and through advocacy and providing peer support I have trained and acquired extensive exposure and understanding of UN principles on disability, The Human Rights objectives, theories and principles of Universal Design and the various challenges and obstacles for those affected and the relationship to various stakeholders. After 30 years of teaching yoga, my spinal cord injury and subsequent sabbatical has allowed for the integration of my yoga and more in-depth study of the Healing Arts. I have had the fortune of working with some of the best in the field of rehabilitation, Somatic Experiencing and manual therapy including Emilie Conrad, Mark Finch, Judy Russel, Rod Stryker, Carolyn Myss, Ana Forest, & Tim Miller, Susan Harper, Mariah Moser, Herta Buller and Nature.