I am originally from the suburbs just outside of Buffalo N.Y.. I have been an athlete since the age of five but did not step into a yoga studio until I was 25 years old. Someone had told me that yoga would help my volleyball game and it did that plus a whole lot more. After walking out of my first class I knew that I had stumbled onto a practice that had the potential to transform my entire life.My body felt as though I just had a full body massage and I had a powerful feeling of peace throughout me. I had never known what it was like for my mind to be still before. Since then I have passionately sought to deepen my practice and to have this stillness permeate every area of my life.
Yoga is a gift
I still struggle to answer when people ask me “what is yoga?”. This is because yoga is so deep and extensive and involves so many different things which makes it hard to find a simple answer that everyone can understand. The simplest definition I can think of is yoga is the oldest known science that is designed to create and maintain physical health, emotional balance and mental clarity. A blank stare would usually ensue and I knew they were thinking “how?”. When I sit and ponder yoga and it’s depth there is always one word that constantly comes to me “CONNECTION”. Yoga fosters connection in many different ways and on many levels.
When in yoga we start to become aware of the areas of tightness and tension so that they can be removed we start to develop a deeper connection with our own bodies. We literally start to open up and strengthen places and muscles that we never knew were there. I have heard mny new practitioners say” wow, I’m sore in places I never even knew were there”. Yoga is never about how deep or how far we can go in an asana. In yoga you just want to feel sensation. On some days we may want to deepen the sensation and on others lessen it. It is simply a process of connecting to and listening to our bodies because it is constantly speaking to us through the language of sensation.
As our practice deepens we start to become aware of the profound stillness that yoga creates in our minds. For many like myself this is the first time that we have ever been aware of stillness in our minds. Many of us spend our days with our minds elsewhere or scattered thinking about the past or future. This stillness brings us into the present moment which is truely the only place we can live our lives.
We cannot live in the past or future, only the present. It is in stillness that we find our true selves. Labels of the ego start to fall away (ex. lawyer, student, alcoholic). We can then discover the very spiritual beings that we all are. When we approach our lives from a place of stillness we will find ourselves being less reactive to situations and things that do not serve us.
When we start to live yoga we can start to realize how interconnected all beings and the universe is. There is no longer he and I, there is only us and our connection to oneness. Oneness is the knowing that all beings are made of and are perfect expressions of divine energy.
This can change every realationship we have in our lives. The knowing and feeling that everything is connected is a shift in consciousness. Take a minute to ponder this what what this world would be like if everyone practiced yoga. I suspect there would be a radical change towards a better world.
If all of this seems a little too deep, do not worry. Simply be open and receptive to what this practice of yoga offers. Try not to have expectations for they are the source of let down. It all starts with a single conscious breath.
Jenny Degennaro is an RYT 200hr yoga teacher. She has been practicing Bikrim and Vinyasa for the past 9 years. Her passion led her to make yoga practice into a profession, so that she could inspire others to REACH their own goals on and off the mat.
Jenny moved to San Diego in 2010, where she immersed herself in the local yoga community and completed yoga teacher training.
Jenny is also a Pilates instructor, massage therapist, health coach, nutrition specialist, and her diverse knowledge of fitness, nutrition and kinesiology help her students lead a total balanced healthy life.
Her classes are Vinyasa flow integrating alignment, core work and breathing techniques; from beginner to advanced poses with creative sequencing to challenge you every class. Each class is designed to energize the body, cultivate a meditative consciousness, and give you greater vitality and health.
Hana found yoga as a way to connect to a deeper sense of self. "When I leave my mat, I feel lighter in my body and spirit, more whole and connect to a deeper sense of who I really am, and what I am apart of." It is from this place she seeks to help students find a true sense of self and balance by practicing yoga on and off their mats. Born and raised in San Diego, she has been surrounded by the beauty of the ocean waves and sun kissed sky. She inspires to help spread the waves of positivity in the mind, body and spirit simply by acknowledging how abundant our lives truly are. "When we connect to our breath, we connect to our essence, our humanity, our light which makes us all one".
In 2008, he moved to the San Diego area which provided more access to studios and sparked a renewed interest in Asana (yoga postures). This periodic practice would soon evolve into daily routine. Under the guidance of North County based instructors his experiences of the physiological and spiritual benefits of the yogic practices developed and expanded.
With the encouragement of a community of teachers, Graham began to teach public classes in 2011. Over the years, with avid study of the effects of Yoga on his body and psyche, Graham has developed a unique style and philosophy of teaching that integrates his experiences and wisdom into classes that are physically challenging and therapeutically oriented. His classes are a journey through which one is given the opportunity to go inside, to clear and develop the mind, heart and body, for the purpose of revealing the peace in ones own inner-landscape.