A Higher State of Being

Upon looking into the yoga scene, it became clear to me, that one almost needs a Ph.D to decipher all the implications of a yoga lifestyle. Not historically the domain of rail-thin supermodels in trendy clubs, yoga is a lifestyle, like a religion to some, a path to a higher state of being. In the Hindu culture yoga is as much mental as physical — it’s not just a “workout.” Yoga is an entire set of principles which dictate a way of life for the dedicated practitioner.

Of course, yoga to many, IS just a workout – and a good one at that. There are many “yoga avenues” for one to explore and two here in the Valley are The Yoga Center in Corvallis, and ZenSpot MBS in Eugene.

The Yoga Center offers Iyengar style yoga classes for all skill levels from total beginner to advanced students. What’s Iyengar yoga you ask? Well, the official B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga web site has this to say:

“Iyengar Yoga, created by B. K. S. Iyengar, is a form of yoga known for its use of props, such as belts and blocks, as aids in performing asanas (postures). It is firmly based on the traditional eight limbs of yoga as expounded by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras, emphasizing the development of strength, stamina, flexibility and balance, as well as concentration (Dharana) and meditation (Dhyana).

A form of Hatha Yoga, it focuses on the structural alignment of the physical body through the development of asanas. Through the practice of a system of asanas, it aims to unite the body, mind and spirit for health and well-being. This discipline is considered a powerful tool to relieve the stresses of modern-day life which in turn can help promote total physical and spiritual well-being.”

Anything that relieves stress is a plus — in my book!

In Eugene, you’ll find ZenSpot MBS.

The MBS extension stands for Mind, Body, Spirit – a nod to the idea of yoga being more than just a physical workout.

 

ZenSpot offers “hot yoga.”  Hot yoga is practiced in a room that is heated to approximately 100 degrees and has an elevated humidity level. They say to simulate the original conditions in India, to allow greater flexibility, and to allow the release of toxins in the body. Whatever the reason, it’s nice and warm and beats being outside in the Oregon winter — even if that also includes an “elevated humidity level.”

 

Many of the terms used in the discussion of yoga are Sanskrit, and are so foreign that they are for the most part unpronounceable. So instead of becoming a Ph.D to deliver the full story, I cheated and found someone who already did — two of them in fact. Dr. Michael Bittner, and Dr. Kelli Harrington (who founded and  own ZenSpot MBS in eugene).

 

Compliments of Dr. Michael and Dr. Kelli…

“Imagine being unfettered and free, enjoying youth and vigor, de-stressed and detoxified, strong and flexible, lucid and focused. All these sensations are within your grasp. Through yoga, you endeavor to balance the essence of yourself, ultimately discovering that everything you need is within you. It comes from practice, effort, dedication, time and proper guidance.

 

At 5,000 years old, yoga traces its development to India. Today, yoga is a testament to the test of time. The success and purity of yoga rest with its straightforward approach and its goal of transcending ego and uniting the mind, body and spirit in a balanced whole.

Because of the many attempts to market yoga and create offshoots, it is helpful to clarify the six primary paths of yoga.

Jnana yoga

employs study and meditation. Through these acts, the devotee strives to find his or her true self.

Bhakti yoga embraces prayer as the path of devotion and enlightenment. This path of yoga often involves the individual following a guru or some entity that is believed to have achieved enlightenment.

Karma yoga

reflects ongoing selfless action carried out through deeds.

Mantra yoga

relies upon sacred sounds, words or phrases as the vehicle to achieve union. Through silent or vocal practice, the yogin directs attention to the mantra, excluding everything else.

 Raja yoga

refers to “Royal Yoga” and is described in the Yoga Sutras as written by Patanjali. Adherence to the eight-limb path is the means of achieving enlightenment. The eight limbs consist of yamas (moral principles), niyamas (inner discipline), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (turning inward), dharana (concentration), dyhana (meditation) and Samadhi (absolute bliss).

 

Hatha yoga

emphasizes physical exercise and breath control. Hatha yoga is the most popular form of yoga practiced in the West. Hatha means forceful. When broken up, “Ha” refers to sun and “Tha” relates to moon. Together Hatha evokes the balance between opposites such as masculine and feminine, soft and hard and bright and dark. Through the physical practice, breathing, cleansing of the body and focus on the presence, the practitioner readies for a contemplative state, then meditation followed by enlightenment or union with truth and the one.

Within the Hatha yoga path one finds several different styles that bring together characteristics found in the six paths of yoga. For instance, Hot yoga brings together the Raja and Hatha paths in a heated room of 100+ degrees; Astanga yoga draws from Raja, Hatha and Mantra yoga paths; and Jivamukti yoga joins elements of Hatha, Raja and Jnana paths. Iyengar yoga emphasizes alignment, asana and breathing. Power yoga integrates Hatha path with Vinyasa. By no means exhaustive, the list of different styles of yoga is both a reflection of the tradition of yoga and the innovative trends of an interested public.

 

What continues to popularize Hatha yoga in the west has been the physical nature of the practice and the results. Among the many benefits are improvement in overall strength; loss of fat; improved range of motion and flexibility; more efficient respiratory system; happier disposition; regulation of blood sugar; improved digestion; heightened senses and improved focus. And along with the physical improvements come the mental and spiritual benefits, completing the whole.

What yoga offers is nothing less than phenomenal. To see the benefits only takes a few classes. So remember, if you are looking to be unfettered and free, full of youth and vigor, de-stressed and detoxified, strong and flexible, lucid and focused, find a professional yoga studio and a style that you resonate with and integrate yoga into your lifestyle. The benefits are well worth the effort and the “high pro yoga glow” is very becoming. Namaste!”

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