Yoga

YOGA LIFE-CHANGING

“Yoga is Life-changing” is a bold statement that some may overlook with a little dismay and distain. But Yoga can change every aspect of your life from the mundane to a spiritual epiphany. For Yoga is more than just an exercise for health vitality and maintenance; Yoga permeates your mind and even enlightens your spirit; your soul.

Yoga is the counter balance to today’s stress-filled, hectic, fast-fast multi-tasking lifestyle. Often our mind is obsessed with the future; we are planning and working on our To-Do-List! Or we may be dwelling in the past on past mistakes, failures and heartaches. We are often like a video in fast-forward or in fast-rewind. Yoga is like pushing the “Pause Button!” In Yoga we pause into the “Present Moment,” what is right in front of us right NOW! We look for the everyday miracles in our lives:  “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth.”Thich Nhat Hahn 

“Those who are blind may feel that if they could recover their sight they would be dwelling in paradise, but we who have good eyes rarely take the time to appreciate that we are already in paradise.”  – Thich Nhat Hahn   

To a casual observer of Yoga, it may seem a little silly to focus on breathing; Awareness, focusing on your breath. After all breathing is automatic, we breathe from the first day of our birth. We can breathe without thinking about it. We can even breathe in our sleep. So what is so special about breath awareness and breath control? We may not notice, but in our hectic lifestyle we often breathe shallowly and fast; we literally don’t stop to take a breath. Shallow high chest fast breathing is inefficient and unhealthy. A man breathes approximately 15-breaths per minute. (1) That works out to 900-breaths per hour and 21,000 for a 24-hour day! (1) Creatures that breathe more slowly tend to live longer than those with a rapid breathing rate. (1)

Our breath takes oxygen through the body’s respiratory system and transfers the oxygen through our hemoglobin (carries the oxygen in our blood) to our circulatory system, through the bloodstream to every cell in our body! Yogic breathing can actually add more hemoglobin to our bodies! Oxygen is necessary to clear and relax the body and mind. (1)



Brother Chi Sing (Dallas Meditation Center) "I Breathe For You."


Breathing in, I calm the body and mind.
Breathing out I smile.

Thich Nhat Hahn


Inhale: Nutrients In!

Exhale: Waste Eliminated!

Most exercise programs ignore digestion and the elimination of waste. Yoga focuses not only on the breath inhalation (Nutrients In) but also focuses on digestion, the internal organs, and waste elimination! 

Before engaging in any sort of exercise program,
including yoga of any type or variety,
people with any sort of cardiovascular condition
including high blood pressure should consult their physician.





Yoga helps to cleanse and purify your mind as well as your body. Yoga has broadened and depended  my Christian faith to be more expansive; seeing the Divine in all things, seeing the Divine more clearly in Nature, and recognizing the Divine in all peoples, all of Creation.

Yoga has introduced me to many gifted teachers, Thich Nhat Hahn, Thomas Merton, and “Snow Geese” a poem by Mary Oliver, “Oh, to love what is lovely and will not last.” Yoga penetrates your ethics, morals and your actions; “Our actions are our only true belongings.” – TNH Adapted. Yoga has even reintroduced me to my teacher, Jesus Christ.


Impermanence a poem inspired by Mary Oliver's
"Snow Geese"
"Oh to love what is lovely and will not last."

In Yoga, our bodies really are our sacred Temples that must be maintained and kept clean. The New Testament in the Bible tells us in
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; … therefore glorify God in your body.”

John Wesley the founder of the Methodist church quoted in a sermon in 1778, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” (2)  Cleansing and purifying the body and mind comes into a practical practice through Yoga.

Your body is a reflection of your mental and emotional life
as well as your physical history.

-Paul Grilley

Often exercise and diet are a war of willpower and often fail to bring their promised advertised results. How often do people fall off of their exercise and diet plans? Yoga is not a war of willpower! Yoga is working in cooperation together with your body and mind to bring stress relief, calmness and equanimity. Yoga rewards your body with more energy, rest & relaxation, fitness control, weight control, stress reduction, health maintenance, physical therapy, and may become a comprehensive lifestyle and a spiritual tradition.

Most Yoga classes are filled with a very diverse class of men and women of all ages, shapes and sizes, ethnicities, students of all skill levels (20 students=20 different skill levels);  each student has their own personal physical limitations of muscle strength, their unique personal range of motion, endurance, height and weight. There is NOT a "One Size" fits all yoga class. Each person has their own personal, individual yoga practice and it is NEVER a Competition with others in the class. There is NOT a single yoga recipe for all students. Each and every student has a unique range of motion and limitations! So there is NEVER a need to be self-conscious or embarrassed if you fall out of a pose! 

In Yoga whenever you fall out of a posture (and everyone will fall out of a posture) 

In Yoga you are always given “Grace,” you do not need to judge your performance, be aware of the posture and simply “Begin Again.” You may never be able to start over, but you can always Begin Again. Don’t judge when you fall out of a pose, it will just become a distraction luring you away from your focus, concentration and breathing, building up irritation and aggravation (Increasing your breath rate and blood pressure) thus making the posture more and more difficult, which can be discouraging. With “Begin Again” you are kind and forgiving of yourself. You give yourself “Grace and Forgiveness, you let it go and move on; some days you’re hot, and some days you’re not. You do not puff yourself up with pride with a good series of Yoga postures and you do not go into a discouraging depression when you fall out of Yoga poses; from the Eight Winds of Prosperity/Decline, Honor/Disgrace, Praise/Censure, and Pleasure/Suffering.

No matter what your Yoga skill level may be from beginner, intermediate, to advance, each student begins where they are! All students need reminding not to reach beyond their range of motion; don’t let your ego talk you into over-reaching into pain and injury.   

In Yoga we listen carefully to our bodies and our breath. What is your body telling you? Does your body warn you about aches, pain and sore joints? Your body maybe telling you that you may need to modify a posture to avoid injury and pain. As we get older out joints stiffen and our muscles have less flexibility. You may not be able to bend into a forward fold to touch your toes; no problem don’t judge it! Just modify the posture, if you can’t touch your toes, try to touch your ankles, your calves or your knees; grab what you can grab safely. Due to an injury or pain, your body may even tell you that there are postures that you need to avoid.

Yoga is about living in moderation. Moderate diets that encourage you to eat healthier without going hungry. Yoga is not about contorting your body into a pretzel. Hatha Yoga is a slower paced, methodical practice that rewards your body, bones, and joints with rest, and flexibility; not overnight but over time.

Yoga truly s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s your muscles, your mind and exhilarates your spirit. Stress drains your energy and drains your health making you more susceptible to illness. Through Yoga, stress melts away. Stress does not magically disappear! With Yoga philosophy you refuse to run away from your problems; you begin to Face Your Fears! You begin to approach stress with resilience and confidence. This mental strength strengthens your immune system translating into better health and prevention of diseases. Good Health is more than just the absence of disease! Good health is also ABOUT being “HAPPY!”  

My adult daughter, Jennifer taught herself Yoga strictly from books and videos. She looked really amazing doing the Yoga postures. I was soon to be turning 60 and I felt that I needed to do something. I was gaining weight and my work was very physical, I was overweight and I was often out of breath and tired. I came to the realization that something had to be done. My daughter encouraged me to practice Yoga with her and so I did. I really enjoyed most of the Yoga postures even though sometimes I thought my daughter was trying to torture me, but slowly I improved into the poses.

Yoga postures are NOT about endlessly pushing further! (Yet we are always encouraged to reach to do Our Personal Best; to do better next time.)     

But yoga postures are also about Satisfaction and Contentment.

  • Holding the Posture.
  •  Relaxing into the posture.
  • Awareness of your body in the posture.
  •  Relaxing at the Edge. 
  • SAFETY Not letting your Ego talk your body into Pain & Injury!

Yoga postures are about finding Peace, Contentment, Relaxation, Happiness, and being grateful and thankful in the posture. Even when you are having a bad day holding a balancing posture like Tree... this is an everyday miracle that we often take for granted and ignore. How many people have you seen in wheelchairs or scooter? I imagine that they would think walking a miracle if they could just simply stand and walk. How many seniors have you heard about that have lost their balance, fallen, and have broken a hip? And here you are standing on one leg Tree (even on a bad day). Be Grateful! Be thankful! 

Those who are blind may feel that if they could recover their sight they would be dwelling in paradise, but we who have good eyes rarely take the time to appreciate that we are already in paradise. 
― Thich Nhat Hanh 

OR: Those who can't walk may feel that if they could recover their ability to walk, that they would be walking in Paradise, but we who have two good legs rarely take the time to appreciate that we are already walking in Paradise. - adapted from Thich Nhat Hahn

Later at my church Arapaho United Methodist Church in Richardson, Texas I began taking Spiritual Yoga lessons taught by Shelly Niebuhr a graduate of Aura Teacher Training. Shelly brought to the class the breathing awareness and breath-control (the missing puzzle pieces) that had been missing from my previous practices.  With the breathing aspects and focal points, concentration, and breath entered into the practice, the Yoga slowed down, became more comfortable and even relaxing. Postures like Pigeon or Bridge poses which were painful at first, but now Pigeon and Bridge are poses that I can really relax and be comfortable in. Each and every yoga posture (Asanas) has a peak/climax-apex/zenith/prayer that we seek.  More and more postures became the same as prayer. Example Warrior One is more than a powerful majestic stance; it may also become a prayer: 

1I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. – Psalm 121:1-2 NIV

Yoga is about focusing our awareness. Awareness is our connection to the present “Here and Now!” For the present moment is fleeting: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man,” “If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.”Heraclitus.

The more you focus on your breath the more you become aware of the universal breath of the universe. Meaning that the more you focus inwardly, the more you become aware and connected to everyone and everything. “We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”  - Thich Nhat Hahn

In Christianity, “Salvation” is not reserved exclusively for after death. “Salvation” is being in a right relationship with God, living in the present. Likewise in Yoga, “Enlightenment” is being in a right relationship with the universe; being One with the Divine, Universal Prana Life-Energy that is within us, surrounds us (Holy Spirit), and is in all people, creatures, all things; even minerals.

When I first started to take Yoga, I was very naïve and unsophisticated;   I was ignorant on the subject of yoga and knew nothing of Eastern philosophy. At the end of our yoga workout we would dedicate our practice; for Yoga is not just for our benefit but also for the benefit of the whole world/universe.

The more you look inwardly, the more you discover the great “Out There!” the Prana Life Energy within each and every one of us, surrounds us and the Universal “Out There!” This life energy is always available to us if we can just calm our bodies and minds to contemplate, meditate and connect with the Universal Prana Life Energy, or as a Christian may call the Holy Spirit.

Really hearing the bird sing. Or really seeing the blue sky, we touch the seed of the Holy Spirit within us.  - Thich Nhat Hahn

By reading the scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me. The sky seems to be a pure, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green. The whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music under my feet. – Thomas Merton

Yoga affects everything from your diet, sleeping habits, driving habits, to Yoga becoming an expression of God’s Divine “Love.” Yes, Yoga can affect every facet of your life and become Life Changing!

Yoga Dedication (slightly different from Shelly Niebuhr’s Dedication):

May all beings be happy and free.
May all beings transform their suffering.
May all beings rejoice in all joys.
May all beings be at peace.
Namaste

At the end of the class when the class repeated, “Namaste,” (nah-məs-tay) at the end of our dedication for the practice; that is not what I heard and understood; I heard “On-this-Day!” Only later, after a little embarrassment, I began to understand the meaning: “The sacred in me, respects the sacred in you,” “I recognize the sacred in me and I recognize the sacred in you and, I bow and give respect to the sacredness in you.” Namaste is more than respect; it is a connection of sacredness with one another. Yoga brings us a connection with all people, creatures, all of Creation. This “Oneness” makes us more empathetic towards others; to love all of Creation, to work to perfect and to cherish all of Creation. Yoga works to give our lives more meaning and works to be our moral compass.

The more you look inwardly, the more you discover the great “Out There!” the Prana Life Energy within each and every one of us, surrounds us and the Universal “Out There!” This life energy is always available to us if we can just calm our bodies and minds to contemplate, meditate and connect with the Universal Prana Life Energy, or as a Christian may call the Holy Spirit.

Really hearing the bird sing. Or really seeing the blue sky, we touch the seed of the Holy Spirit within us.  - Thich Nhat Hahn

By reading the scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me. The sky seems to be a pure, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green. The whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music under my feet. – Thomas Merton

In Christianity, “Salvation” is not reserved exclusively for after death. “Salvation” is being in a right relationship with God, living in the present. Likewise in Yoga, “Enlightenment” is being in a right relationship with the universe; being One with the Divine, Universal Prana Life-Energy that is within us, surrounds us (Holy Spirit), and is in all people, creatures, all things; even minerals.

Yoga affects everything from your diet, sleeping habits, driving habits, to Yoga becoming an expression of God’s Divine “Love.” Yes, Yoga can affect every facet of your life and become Life Changing!


(1)     The Complete Yoga Book by James Hewitt 

(2) The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.






Thich Nhat Hahn Quotes. Inspirational meditation nature video with the Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hahn.



Don't Expect Good Results From:

Bad Habits!

Bad Diets!

Lack of Exercise!

Sedentary Lifestyle!

Question: What are YOU going to do?



Focus on Breath


Spiritual Diary:

Celestial Birthday

Near Death Experience?