Meditation is Your Greatest Ally

Senior Kundalini Yoga teacher & healer Hari Das Kaur studied with Yogi Bhajan, the Master of Kundalini Yoga for 24 years, until his passing in 2004. We are blessed that she shares with us her wisdom in classes and special events at Prana – how Kundalini Yoga and the healing art of the Yogis, Sat Nam Rasayan, has helped her stay grounded, calm and balanced in times of turmoil.

“In the midst of chaos, your greatest ally will be your meditative mind.” 
~Yogi Bhajan

Your meditative mind can stop impulsive behavior and hold you to your basic values.  In a Kundalini Yoga class, we build this resonance in ourselves very rapidly.

“Where love has become distorted and fraudulent, your purest touchstone will be your sense of true sold identity.”~Yogi Bhajan

You will cultivate and sustain a cozy and prosperous environment for you and for your family and will be supported by the technology to sustain a wholesome life based on kindness and goodness.  Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan is a comprehensive yogic tradition, combining meditation, mantra and physical exercise with breathing techniques.  It is a raj yoga (royal yoga) encompassing the eight limbs of yoga into a singular practice of excellence and ecstasy.

Sat Nam Rasayan

Everyone has an innate capacity for healing: to heal ourselves, to heal others and to help others heal themselves.  You can begin today to access your own miraculous healing abilities and contemplate the questions:

Why does one person recover and another continue to suffer under seemingly identical circumstances?

How is it that a long existing depression can be lifted within minutes?

Science gives us answers to explain the mechanisms but healing remains a mystery and often considered a miracle.  The purpose of healing is not just to rid us of disease and not only a measure to restore that which has been lost.  Healing is the work of coming into balance in the present moment.  The healer, through meditation and focus, enters a transcendent realm, in which he’s able to practice this sensitive process of healing.

Sat Nam Rasayan, probably the oldest known method of healing, has historically been handed down from generation to generation, from one master to one student, taught in complete silence. Fortunately, today Sat Nam Rasayan is taught in classes with language for the first time ever.  This treasured healing system of Sat Nam Rasayan, a nurturing mystical yogic heritage, is now available for everyone to learn. This healing practice leads to awareness, balance, inner happiness, peace and flexibility – the essentials of healing.  People who want to develop their capacity to heal need to strengthen the right spiritual muscles.  It is very simple and as mysterious as that.

 

Hari Das is a Certified Kundalini/Meditation Instructor Level II, trained directly by Yogi Bhajan, the world-acknowledged Master of Kundalini yoga.   Hari Das has been practicing and teaching Kundalini yoga and meditation for over 30 years. Her spiritual name ‘Hari Das Kaur’ means Servant of God.

Based on the belief that health, happiness and holiness are the essence of a fulfilled life, Kundalini yoga offers students a highly efficient system for creating physical, emotional, mental and spiritual vitality. Hari Das brings tremendous knowledge and dedication to her teaching as well as a light and joyful energy that is inspiring and uplifting.

Hari Das Kaur is also a third level practitioner and student teacher of Sat Nam Rasayan, the healing art of the Yogis, and a member of a very small group of global healers who are certified by Guru Dev Singh Khalsa to teach this ancient healing art.

Join Hari Das for her weekly Kundalini Yoga class every Tuesday at 12-1pm.

Upcoming special events:

November 10: Sat Nam Rasayan: Dream State & Meditation

November 26: The Power of Gratitude, a special Thanksgiving workshop. Register & details here.

 


PYTT Graduate Spotlight: Yoga of Transformation

The yoga postures and breath are tools to rebuild and transform ourselves.
The goal is not to tie ourselves in knots – we’re already tied in knots.
The aim is to untie the knots in our heart.
The aim is to unite with the ultimate, loving and peaceful power of the universe.
~ Max Strom

“My story is not unique, my story is one of transformation.
Stories of transformations have been told since the beginning of time, from mythological Greek stories to more modern books like ‘Metamorphosis‘ by Franz Kafka. Tales of transformation reverberate throughout our history. Everyone has their own story of metamorphosis, an ever-evolving transformation happening over their lifetime. Normally we think of stories as having a beginning, middle and end, but that is… oh so wrong! As a neuroscience student I know that our brain likes to compartmentalize things, put them in boxes so we can better understand. But, often times the walls of these boxes keep us blind from reality. The reality is that the transformation is never over, that it keeps going on and on and on.
The question most people ask a yoga instructors is,“what brought you to yoga and how long have you been teaching?”
The answer to this question inherently brings about a story of being lost and then being found, for whatever reason, maybe an injury, heartache, or emotional instability brought you to the mat and helped you heal.

The real question to ask a yoga teacher, where the uniqueness comes from, is the following question:
“What kept you practicing yoga?”

No one ever asks the question, what kept or keeps you motivated to do yoga?
My answer: the oxymoron of constant transformation.

Why? Let me explain.
Like I said earlier, I study neuroscience, I love to know how the brain has and has not transformed over the centuries, I love to learn about the transformation of knowledge that happens between our neurons. My love for the brain started started when I was a competitive soccer player and track & cross country runner in high school. I got into these sports to mask an eating disorder that I had. Insecure with my body, but tired of having an eating disorder, I took the quick fix of competitive sports. It worked for awhile, until I got injured. No longer able to get my energy out through sports, I became depressed and anxious. I had tried yoga when I was 15 and I decided to try it again. What other physical activity could I do?
Within a couple of months of doing yoga not only did my injury improve, but my brain got better, I felt sharper and happier. No longer plagued by an eating disorder.
One day I was sitting in my anatomy class when I read over the term neuroplasticity in the table of contents of my textbook. I stopped paying attention to the teacher and started reading about neuroscience and how malleable the brain is. I felt like I had experienced that malleability of the brain through yoga and I wanted to know what was happening and why. Since that moment, I became hooked. I became a neuroscience nerd. I started practicing more and more yoga, and before I knew it I was training to be a teacher 7 years later. I thought I had already gone through my butterfly transformation, but little did I know that transformations don’t happen once in a lifetime.

Growing up with two gay dads on the west coast and a bisexual mom on the east coast, I spent a lot of my childhood on airplanes. And a lot of time explaining to my friends how my family works. I loved my family and thought it was the coolest thing that I got to grow up in both places and be exposed to different cultures. It was the best of both worlds. The only hard part came when I became a teenager and started on my journey of self-discovery. I’ve always been a stubborn and tenacious person, one who likes to be unique, so when I realized that I’m bisexual too, I rejected it. Naturally, as a teenager should, I didn’t want to be like my parents.

It was through diving deeper into my yoga practice, through learning to teach, that I experienced a new transformation, that I allowed myself to let go of my stubbornness that was keeping me unhappy. I stepped fully into my identity, into a proud bisexual woman.

Since then I have started teaching yoga for athletes on Sundays where we do a 3 to 5 mile run and then yoga with the Just Run Shore Store. I’ve also been blessed to teach restorative flow at Prana Yoga Center and Vinyasa flow for my college classmates for donations. I’m also beginning an adventure with hikyoga where I’ll be teaching yoga as we hike through San Diego. I feel so fulfilled and am not sure where my yoga journey will take me, but I’m sure it will keep transforming.

From an injury to an eating disorder to self-identity, yoga has been my backbone, particularly the practices of meditation, breathing, and movement to breath. What keeps me coming back to the mat is the sure knowledge that practicing will help me be calm and clear and help me through my next transformative phase.
My next step is to graduate college, work for a year, and then apply to neuroscience grad schools as I continue to teach yoga. Going from a college student to a working professional is going to be a scary and foreign transition, but one that I know I can handle because of my yoga practice.”

Hannah graduated from the Prana Yoga Teacher Training in spring of 2016. She now teaches Yoga at Prana, on campus and at her house.


Yoga for Cancer Therapy: Human Resilience is Infinite

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On April 6-8 we are excited to host Dr. Ingrid Yang, M.D., J.D., E-RYT-500 again at Prana for a continuing education intensive for certified Yoga teachers on “Cancer Therapy Yoga.”

Ingrid has been teaching yoga since 1999, cancer therapy yoga since 2006 and has been leading this training since 2009. She specifically designed this training for certified yoga teachers to learn how to teach cancer yoga therapy with skill and confidence. In addition to being a passionate Yogi and former Yoga studio owner, Ingrid is a physician specializing in rehabilitation medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL, with a particular emphasis on spinal cord injury, sports medicine and cancer rehab.  Here is a brief interview with Ingrid:

 

You’ve been offering this training for 7 years. What is the most profound change you see in your trainees while they undergo this training?

How much more confident and comfortable students become to teach cancer survivors and the courage they find within themselves to teach this population.

 

The great thing about trainings is that you spread your transformative work exponentially through your students/teachers. Where are some of these teachers teaching now? 

Many students have gone on to teach training to their respective students, but also at cancer centers, community centers, and even at hospitals in both group classes and one-on-one in the inpatient setting.

 

Some of your students are cancer survivors themselves. What have you learned by working with this population?

The capacity for human resilience is infinite.

 

Part of this training helps teachers with poses which address pain management. What yoga techniques can help with this?

meditation, meditation, meditation, pranayama, and more meditation!

 

How are eastern and western philosophies merging when it comes to caring for people who are dealing with cancer?

More and more allopathic physicians and oncologists are adopting yoga techniques of embodiment, breathing techniques and meditation.

 

Where do you see the future of cancer therapy going in the future?

Integrating all modalities of healing for whole-heart and comprehensive medical therapy — acupuncture, meditation, yoga, physical therapy, and more!

 

IY1Ingrid Yang, M.D., J.D., E-RYT-500 is co-author of Hatha Yoga Asanas and founder and past director of Blue Point Yoga, a yoga center in Durham, NC, where she developed this training while she was employed as a research associate at Duke Medical Center’s breast oncology department. At Duke, she focused her research on breast cancer and genetic and protein signatures demonstrated in chemotherapy treatment. Having worked closely with cancer patients in both clinical and yoga settings, Ingrid is uniquely qualified to inform and inspire teachers to lead cancer patients though the healing process of Yoga. She currently resides in Chicago and leads workshops, trainings and retreats nationally and internationally. www.ingridyang.com

Find out more about the upcoming Cancer Therapy Yoga Teacher Training on April 6-8, 2017 at Prana Yoga Center in La Jolla/San Diego.


YOGA UNITES

Yogis from Across the Globe gather for Summer Intensive!

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Spring is in the air and that, for many of us, marks also the beginning of planning new summer adventures. Something to look forward to, works towards and pin on our visionboard, or simply above various to-do lists on the fridge.  Today many Yoga students combine their love of Yoga and desire to learn more with a Yoga destination training and San Diego is on the top of the list!  Ever since we started offering Prana’s well-established 200hr foundational training as a Summer Intensive, we’ve had Yogis from across the globe join us in our beautiful seaside town of La Jolla (San Diego). And what’s not to love?

Prana Yoga’s Summer Intensive is an ideal destination experience for aspiring teachers and students who want to deepen their knowledge and learn more about all things Yoga – the Yoga postures and philosophy, meditation, anatomy, the business of Yoga, how to structure classes and give verbal and hands-on adjustments, and much more.  With a carefully designed curriculum and a top notch teaching faculty at one of the most beautiful spots on the West Coast, our training is sort of like ‘summer camp for Yogis.’   You do what you love all day long, make new friends, and end up with a network and community of newly-minted Yoga teachers – all, while immersing yourself in SoCal’s laid back lifestyle.

We found that the condensed format works well for out-of-towners and locals alike, and makes for a fun and interesting mix of Yogis from all over world.  While we take the study of Yoga seriously and go deep, there’s be plenty of time and opportunities to connect with each other, unite as a group and enjoy the best of San Diego’s summer with fun ‘field trips,’  like oceanfront Yoga at the La Jolla Cove, Stand-Up Paddle Board Yoga on Mission Bay, and a visit to Paramahansa Yogananda’s Meditation Gardens in Encinitas, CA.

Meet some of our PYTT alumni from around the world!

 

Hannah Sekovski – High School Graduate, Colorado

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Hannah graduated high school in 2016 and is currently busy building her Yoga business.   She will begin her college studies this year with a focus on a bachelor’s degree in nutrition.   “I got certified to teach Yoga at Prana Yoga  in June 2016 following my high school graduation. I wanted to increase my skill level and gain a certification so I could lead others. It was important to me to develop higher levels of competency and confidence in order to effectively teach and guide students in class. Currently, I am in rotation at two local health clubs.  In addition I have launched my own business teaching Vinyasa Flow to corporate clients as part of their health and wellness programs.  I also offer in-home sessions for clients who prefer the convenience and privacy of doing their practice at home.  I am forever indebted to my experience at Prana Yoga Center as the foundation upon which I build my Yoga career.  The lessons I learned under the kind and watchful eye of Gerhard were and continue to be invaluable.”

 

 

Aisling Hill Connor Yoga & Ballet Instructor, Kansas

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“Yoga is and will always be a constant adventure of diving within for new knowledge and discovery.  Ballet is my passion, Yoga is my life! 

I started ballet at the age of 6 in Texas. Ballet Austin’s training was great and provided a well-rounded curriculum. As I finished my training at the North Carolina school of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC (now known as UNC School of the Arts), I was offered a company contract with the Kansas City Ballet. Being completely in love with all that was ballet I decided to make it my career. The accomplishments were not without difficulty. In 2005, at the height of my career, I noticed some knee pain. Well, that knee pain turned into four knee surgeries and many years of rehabilitation. During this time, I used many different methods of rehab – traditional physical therapy, Pilates, and Yoga being my main sources. One in particular stood out as the most impactful, and that was Yoga. I had never known how much yoga could help the body not only stretch and relax, but strengthen and balance. Not to mention the psychological benefits. My doctors and physical therapists were saying I may never get fully back to ballet, but I returned and danced a total of 15 years with the Kansas City Ballet. Yoga has become a major part of my life. With all the positive things it has done for me, I am now sharing those benefits with others.

I have practiced many different styles of yoga, but when I was introduced to Vinyasa my eyes were opened. Being the closest form of yoga to dancing, using breath connected with the asana to guide you through a flowing practice, I realized I was hooked. First being drawn to Yoga for its physical benefits, I now live with a deepened understanding of what yoga means in my life as well as many others.’  It is and will always be a constant adventure of diving into new knowledge and discovery. Yoga is and will always be a constant adventure of diving within for new knowledge and discovery. I received my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training certification in June of 2013 under the direction of Gerhard Gessner at the Prana Yoga Cente . I am a 200hr RYT with the Yoga Alliance. I use alignment-based training as the basis for all of my classes, and as such, you will enjoy a nurturing yet challenging Vinyasa flow-based class that will cultivate your body and mind.”

 

Rhiann Suen –  Yoga Teacher, Hong Kong

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I attended Prana’s Summer Intensive in 2014 and loved every minute of it.  Since then, I’ve moved back to Hong Kong where I now teach Yoga. The most important things I learned are to be more aware of my breath and senses, listen to my body mindfully and live in the present moment. I teach Yoga because I want to inspire my students to find their purpose and discover what Yoga means to them and how it can enrich their lies.”

Rhiann currently teaches public classes at Yoga BamBam, Yoga UP, Yoga Refine and Emi Yeung Dance Academy in Hong Kong.

 

 

 

Cola Hart – Chicago

Cola_Hart2“I attended the Prana’s Summer Intensive Training in 2014 so I could learn and be certified with the intention to share my knowledge of and love for Yoga.  Prana is my Yoga home, my original root where I started Yoga. Yoga is now an integral part of my life and its benefits serve me off the mat as much as on.  I am passionate about making a mindful and healthy Yoga practice available in areas where it is scarce.  I currently offer community classes and donation-based classes, volunteer and pay-what-you-can classes in Chicago and the Chicagoland area. For me, Yoga is about connecting with the breath, the root of our being.  It is being conscious, meaningful and learning to balance life in every sense of the word.  It is an individual and universal practice, while it is also great, euphoric workout.”

 

 

 

 

Registration is now open for the 200-Hour Summer Intensive, June 16 – July 2, 2017.  The Yoga Alliance certified training is taught by Prana founder Gerhard Gessner, E-RYT, visiting senior guest teachers Robert Birnberg, (L.A.) and Manoj Chalam, and some of San Diego’s most sought after teachers and Prana favorites incl. Sara Deakin RYT500, Shauna MacKay E-RYT500, Vicki Abrams E-RYT and Dr. Alison McLean, PT.

The first free Info Session will be held on Sunday, March 19th at 12-1pm at Prana Yoga Center. Call 858 456 2806 or email to alex@prana-yoga.com to RSVP.


PYTT Alumni Feature: YOGA IS HEALING

I’m a busy, stay-at-home mom of four beautiful children ages 7-17.  I just graduated from the 200hr Prana Yoga Teacher Training taught by Gerhard Gessner and an amazing group of teachers in November 2016. The training was held at the Chula Vista Yoga Center, close to where me, my husband of 19 years and our kids live.   I have been practicing yoga for about fours years.  In the last three years I lost three loved ones.   I lost my father suddenly in March of this year and Yoga has helped me to Let It Hurt, Let it Heal and Finally To Let It Go.   For me, Yoga means healing.

 

One of my favorite quotes that really speaks to me is by B.K.S. Iyengar:

 

” Yoga allows you to rediscover a sense iof wholeness in your life, where you do not feel like your constantly trying to fit broken pieces together.”

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Yoga  has been such an important part of my healing process and has added peace to my everyday life.  Yoga also helps me balance my life. I decided to take the teacher training because Yoga has brought me peace in a time where I needed it most.  It help me through my healing process and I felt I was ready to share it with others who might be in a similar situation.  Like with my Yoga practice, my experience with the teacher training was deeply healing one.  It empowered me and gave me strength to move forward in life.  Some of my favorite parts were the holistic approach with Shauna Mackay and an entire weekend studying the Yoga Sutras with Robert Birnberg, a guest teacher from L.A., who studied in India with one of the Yoga gurus, TKV Desikachar.  My plan is to teach classes so I can hopefully help others through their healing process with the help of Yoga. I’m so grateful for this amazing opportunity that has been truly life-changing for me.. I feel blessed to been able to learn from Gerhard and I’m especially grateful for his kindness and depth of teachings that I aspire to pass on to my students.

 

~ Alina Sanchez, RYT 200, PYTT Graduate November 2016

 


Yin is In!

Yin Yoga: The Quieter, Deeper Practice
by Shauna MacKay, BPE, C-IAYT, E-RYT

The first time I took a Yin class it was not what I expected. I’d assumed it would be like a restorative class, where I would be relaxing over bolsters, allowing the props to support me, as the tension released from my body. Instead, I found myself riding the edge of sensation, in a long held lunge, wondering when it would end!

It was sometime later, that I practiced with Yin Master, Bernie Clark, and experienced a deep opening in both my body and mind. I now realize that understanding the basics of Yin Yoga prior to taking a class can make a big difference in the effectiveness and enjoyment of the class. So here are the answers to some common questions I am asked about Yin Yoga.

 

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What is Yin Yoga?
Yin Yoga is a slow-pace style of yoga where the poses are held for longer periods of time (1 – 5 minutes). Believed to stretch and stimulate the deep connective “yin” tissues of the body, it’s a highly effective way to open the body and still the mind.

How is it different than other styles of Yoga?
Most styles of yoga are yang in comparison, meaning more active, engaging the yang muscle tissues. Generally, muscles like rhythmic, repetitive, short duration movement. Yin Yoga, on the other hand, brings the body into a soft, less muscular shapes and through long holds, releases tension in fascia, tendons and ligaments or more yin tissues of the body.

What are the benefits of Yin Yoga?
Yin works on the physical, energetic and mental bodies. It can improve flexibility, sometimes substantially as the targeted fascia and other yin tissues begin to soften and release their holding patterns.

Emerging from innovative teachers like Paul Grilley and Paulie Zink, Yin Yoga integrates elements of Chinese medicine, in particular, the theory of energetic meridians. Acupressure and acupuncture are common healing techniques utilizing the knowledge of meridians. Similarly, a Yin practice is meant to stimulate energy or the flow of Chi through the body.

Yin poses are held 1 – 5 minutes. Each pose is like a mini meditation session. It’s a chance to settle in and be still. A skilled teacher will support you in your finding your own method of cultivating peace within the poses.

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Who should practice Yin Yoga?
Almost anyone can get value from a regular Yin practice. Yin addresses physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Physically, those who have tight, inflexible or strong athletic bodies can benefit from the slow, mindful approach to releasing tension in the body. Emotionally, it can be a calming practice, particularly to those who find meditation difficult. And the spiritual benefits of a quiet, introspective practice may translate into a more peaceful outlook in everyday life.

Personally, Yin Yoga has helped quiet my mind, improve my flexibility and open my heart. As my teacher Bernie Clark taught, “In Yin Yoga, we use the pose to get into the body, rather than the body to get into the pose.”

Join Shauna on Wednesday mornings, 7:45-8:45 AM for Yin Yoga.


Rachel Krentzman publishes her first book!

COVER-Yoga for a Happy Back

YOGA FOR A HAPPY BACK:  A Teacher’s Guide to Spinal Health through Yoga Therapy

We are excited and thrilled to congratulate our senior teacher Rachel Krentzman, E-RYT, PT on the publication on her first book: Yoga for a Happy Back: A Teacher’s Guide to Spinal Health Through Yoga Therapy, which is now available on amazon.

Utilizing her vast experience as a physical therapist and yoga therapist, and the latest advances in the field,  Rachel advises on how to design therapeutic yoga classes for individuals with back pain. Included is information on creating class themes, and never before published sequences from the Purna Yoga tradition for alignment based treatment of specific spinal conditions, along with over 300 photos and illustrations.

Rachel was instrumental in starting Prana’s Yoga Therapy Program, which includes weekly classes, specialty workshops and her Yoga for a Happy Back certification program, offered again this July.

Here’s is an excerpt of the book’s Introduction:

Every Wednesday I swim in the ocean. I created this ritual more than four years ago.  After dropping my son off at school, I head straight to La Jolla Cove and brave the always-chilly entrance to the mile long swim to the buoys.  And every year on my birthday, I swim the two-mile cove route to La Jolla Shores and enjoy a birthday brunch with an ocean view.  I rarely miss a week unless it has been raining or the swell is too big.  I am there, in fog or sunshine, wending my way through the kelp and the unknown.

This cove is a sacred place for me.  I left my wedding band near the quarter mile buoy knowing the ocean would receive it and hold it for me.  I visit it every now and then and use the time out there to pay homage to the dreams I had and the love I was searching for.  Sometimes I cry, sometimes I pray and other times I just swim by and glance back.  When I emerge from the ocean, refreshed and humbled, I shower off and go teach my 10 a.m. Yoga class.  My students are accustomed to me running in with sandy feet and an occasional strand of seaweed in my salty hair.  They know it will be a good class if I swam.  Swimming in the cove gives me the clarity and focus that I have only otherwise found with a regular Yoga practice.  It helps me to be fully present and aware and feeds my soul.

Being out in the ocean is a stark reminder of how vulnerable we truly are.  I usually swim with a partner for safety and to ease some of the fears of the unknown world below.  If my friends cannot make it, I go anyway, but find my mind an interesting beast to tame. I work on constantly redirecting my thoughts away from images from the “Jaws” novel I snuck from my parents’ bookshelf and read when I was a child.  I just keep my eye on the quarter-mile buoy and swim towards it with certainty that once I reach it, I am safe and protected.

As I swam out towards my buoy on one particular Wednesday, an uneasy feeling came over me.  I suddenly and unexpectedly became aware of the illusion my mind had created.  I had always seen the buoy as a destination, an island that would save me from anything out there if I could just touch it.  The knowledge that it was there gave me direction and a sense of peace.  However, when I reached the buoy that day, it hit me that the safety I felt was false.  I had created it to feel some sense of control over my environment, but the truth was I was still out at sea and at the mercy of its depths.

We all have our buoys, our illusions that we cling to for safety and security.  We learn this at a young age as we are wired for survival.  For some, that buoy is money and a nice home; for others it is family or a significant other, a career or expertise in a field.  We cling to ideas of who we are or who we need to be to feel all right in this world, for this world is like the ocean, vast, expansive and unpredictable.  It can be beautiful and peaceful and in an instant become turbulent and hostile.

This ‘clinging’ often manifests as physical tension in the muscles, tissues and joints.  When we are gripping in our minds, we will translate that sense of ‘holding on for dear life’ to our bodies as well.  The more we try to control life, the more we tense up.  The more we can let go and trust, the more we unwind.  (…)

And that is why I have written this book—so that other Yoga teachers, physical therapists, medical and health professionals can better help their students and clients to heal themselves.

The lower back and sacrum make up the foundation of our spine.  Our sense of survival is lodged there, and our root chakra, the energy center symbolizing our relationships, home, safety, money and family.  When we feel out of control in our lives, our spinal muscles contract to hold us together. In an attempt to survive, the sympathetic ‘fight or flight’ nervous system fires continually, creating and maintaining tension throughout the body.  In order to heal, it is important to allow ourselves to move from an anxious and high-tension mindset to a more expansive and trusting one.

What I have learned—after building up a lifetime of coping mechanisms to control my unstable surroundings—is that this type of living, of striving and gripping, holding on tight, only creates more tension.  Letting go and trusting is the hardest thing I have ever had to practice.

Yoga is a brilliant and beautiful science designed to create a strong, healthy spine.  But the intention of the practice is to allow us the freedom to sit, be still and get to know our real problem, the mind.  Pain is an opportunity to stop, listen and do something different.  Pain is how our bodies scream out for us to pay attention, to stop forcing and to start feeling.  So, while stretching our bodies in Yoga, we are given the opportunity to discover our true selves, to take each breath as it comes and be present in every moment.

Yoga has not only healed my back, it has healed my life.  It has not only given me tools I can use to relieve pain and discomfort, but it has given me tools to deal with the challenges of being human in an ever changing world.  Yoga builds inside of us a way to trust in the unfolding of life as it is and to see the beauty in each moment, even in our struggles and pain.

Most people tend to go to health professionals expecting them to provide the right “fix.”  What I have seen, as a physical therapist for the last twenty years, is that true healing is a partnership and a process.  It requires commitment, practice, patience and acceptance. 

Yoga offers much more than a set of postures or therapeutic exercises; it can show your students and clients a new way to live in the body.  Instead of trying to mask pain or fight it, we learn to sit with it and let it unwind from the inside out.  To do so takes both persistence and kindness.  And a great deal of courage.

This book is an instructional manual to help you help your students and clients work through their injuries and heal their back pain, but it is also a memoir of healing.  It is the story of the mind-body connection and how paying attention to your big toe mound can, in fact, change your life.

Rachel second book ‘Yoga for Scoliosis” will be published in 2017.  Learn more about Rachel and Happy Back Yoga.

Join Rachel for two specialty workshops on Reversing the Aging of the Spine and Yoga for Scoliosis at Prana in June/July.

Happy Back Yoga Teacher Training, July 7-16, 2016:  Free demo class & Q/A  will be held on June 5th at 3pm. Please rsvp to alex@prana-yoga.com

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Teacher of the Month: Alison McLean

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Alison is a doctor of physical therapy, certified Yoga teacher and teaches Happy Back Yoga classes and Yoga Therapy workshops at Prana. 
How did you get into teaching Yoga? 
I fell in love with Yoga in the early 2000s but was always intimidated of teaching Yoga. However, combining Physical Therapy and Yoga always has had a strong pull with me, in fact this was part of the reason I went back to school for my Doctorate in PT. My mentor at the time encouraged me to complete a Yoga Teacher Training so I could formally combine Yoga and Physical Therapy.  I got certified through Prana Yoga’s 200-hour Teacher Training with Gerhard in 2012. The training really changed and evolved my life in a such a positive way.
Being a doctor of physical therapy you bring a unique approach added value for yoga to yoga. How has your training and work as a PT influenced you as a yoga student and teacher?
My PT training has taught me to slow down my practice and really evaluate how I am moving. I encourage my students to do the same. All of us have patterns of moving, some are functional and some dysfunctional. In a Yoga class, if we just go through the motions, then we always move through our familiar patterns. But, if we slow down and focus on the breath and alignment, we can teach the body to move in new ways. This will help heal any injury or prevent future ones down the road.
What does your own practice look like? 
My own practice is continually evolving. Especially now following pregnancy and an cesarean. I had to let go of “I will get back to” and just embrace a new practice without forcing. It is such a gift to give life, so I want to respect my body where it is now. And, truthfully being a new mom, any time on the mat feels good right now. Even if this time is a short 15-20 minutes or a partner practice with baby. Someday I’ll hop back into my Ashtanga class again when the time is right. Currently I think my body is still healing from the surgery, so I am being a little more gentle. Plus, since I’m hyper mobile in many joints, the strengthening from holding poses longer is very helpful.
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Do you incorporate yoga in your work as a physical therapist when treating clients?
Yes, I love adding Yoga to physical therapy work.  Sometimes it’s just an intro to Yoga or sometimes the session is mostly Yoga. It depends on the patient’s goals and desires.
Besides seeing private clients as a physical therapist and yoga instructor you also teach public yoga classes and workshops, as well as anatomy trainings. What fascinates you about anatomy?
I am an anatomy nerd. The body fascinates me, it is so complex. However long you study anatomy, you can never know it all. Science is always discovering something new, either a new connection, function or even part. When you think you have finally got it, then something new is added to the mix changing everything. This keeps you on your toes and is forever evolving. The workshops I teach are just an extension to this knowledge combination. The workshop in June will focus on the Neck, Upper Back and Shoulders. With all the advances in technology we seemed to be glued to our devices, myself included. This posture can lead to lack of movement in some areas of the upper, back and chest, and poor positioning of the neck. We will use the Yoga Wall to reverse the effects of sitting and hunching to lengthen the spine and improve alignment. This will relieve a lot of tension in the neck, and top of the shoulders.
Who are your favorites teachers who most inspire you?
Some of the teachers who most inspire me and I have studied with are Judith Hansen Lasater, Ginger Garner, Roger Cole, Shelly Prosko, Jules Mitchel and Neil Pearson.
Join Alison’s Happy Back Yoga Wall  classes on Wednesdays at 10:00am and Tuesdays at 7:30pm.
Her next Yoga Therapy workshop “Free your Upper Back, Neck & Shoulderswill be June 5 at 2-4pm.

Summer Intensive Yoga Teacher Training Info Session Tomorrow 4/19 at Prana

Are you considering a yoga teacher training this summer but short on time? Did you know you can earn your 200 hour teacher training certification in less than three weeks?!

Join us for a free class followed by the info session, meet teachers, graduates & have all your questions answered tomorrow, Tuesday, April 19th at 6pm.

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Prana Yoga’s 200hr Summer Intensive offers the same curriculum as the highly regarded fall and spring/winter 200hr teacher training programs – in an intensive format of 17 consecutive days.

Whether you are a San Diego local or come from out of town, the quality of instruction, tested curriculum and setting of this summer intensive yoga teacher training promises an truly exceptional experience in beautiful La Jolla, California just steps away from the Pacific Ocean. The Summer Intensive also includes fun events like outdoor Yoga on the beach and Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Yoga on Mission Bay.

 


PYTT Alumni Spotlight: Aerial Cetnar and Nadine Ziemert

Learning to teach Yoga to Help Others
Aerial Cetnar, Clinical Psychology Graduate Student, Los Angeles
 “As an undergraduate student at San Diego State University, I  attended yoga classes, especially during stressful times.    I started working as a Behavioral Health Assistant in the Psychiatric Unit at Rady Children’s Hospital. Many of the patients suffered through various mental illnesses.    One day, one of the patients was having a rough day and I decided to use my knowledge of yoga and meditation to help the patient relax and decrease anxiety.    This patient immediately noticed a huge difference and continued to use the skills I showed her.  Noticing this, I then decided to pursue my yoga teacher training certification so that I could learn more about yoga.  I also thought of doing research in my graduate program to discover the effects of yoga on mental illness.“
Aerial attended Prana’s 200hr Yoga Teacher Training Summer Intensive in June 2014.   She now lives in Pasadena and is in her first year of the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program at California School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles.
She teaches Vinyasa Flow classes at various LA Fitness locations in Los Angeles.
“It has truly been a rewarding experience, especially living in such a diverse community. It’s been so positively impactful, providing myself the opportunity to not only improve the lives of others, but learning and growing during the process. “
Deepening  My Own Practice Through Yoga Teacher Training – and what happened then
Nadine Ziemert, Scientist – Tuebingen, Germany 
 Nadine is an associate professor in the Microbiology Department at the University of Tübingen, Germany. She took her 200hr RYT certification at Prana during the spring of 2014.  She divides her time between Germany and La Jolla, where she used to live full time with her husband and dog Nala, before accepting a position abroad.
“When I signed up for the Teacher Training with Gerhard, I didn´t want to become a yoga teacher.   I just wanted to learn more about yoga and deepen my own practice. During the training I noticed that I had fun teaching and people liked my approach to it.   Soon after graduating I started to teach colleagues and friends at Scripps –  a lot of them had no idea about yoga and were surprised how good it felt!
Spending a lot of time in the lab, I started teaching yoga mostly to scientists who sit at their computers or stand in the lab pipetting all day.   A lot of them have lower back issues and shoulder and neck tensions, where yoga can help a lot to release pain and prevent these problems.    But I found that most important are the mental benefits.  I think that especially a yoga flow style, such as Vinyasa Flow,  is perfect for scientists.   For scientists – probably like many other professions –  it’s hard to stop the constant flow of thoughts and relax.  In a flowing vinyasa practice, students can concentrate on the slow movements and transitions that calm the mind and helps to reconnect body and mind.  Many of my  students mentioned that there is no other exercise after which they feel so calm, relaxed, and energized at the same time.    I am happy to help people to get to know all the benefits of yoga for themselves and guide them to discover that yoga is much more than glorified stretching exercises. Personally, I think that yoga keeps me sane, improves my stress coping skills enormously and helps to find my inner balance.
Now back in Germany, I teach a weekly class at a Vinyasa studio in Tuebingen.   Teachers have very different backgrounds here and it is interesting to learn how they got into Yoga.    I also teach a more diverse group of people now with varying backgrounds and age groups, so I learn a lot  too.   The teaching forces me to keep my own practice up, which is sometimes not easy between the job, travelling and adapting to a new city.   But it´s definitely worth it, it makes me happier and more balanced. “

Source: Blogger