Personal Reflections of Yoga
by Mary Abranyi
I can honestly say that yoga has changed my life and I have personally witnessed it change the lives of many others over the years.
Looking back to where my journey began back in 2000, I took my first class with a friend who said I should try yoga. I had always been physically active and enjoyed my workouts at the gym so the physical part of yoga clicked instantly for me. Little did I know it at the time, but the physical poses were just one piece of this ancient Eastern practice that would end up unlocking a greater understanding of myself, which is something I had not experienced in a gym.
Soon, the breath work began to make sense but it would be years before I could sit with a quiet mind for meditation. I didn’t let that stop me though, as I committed to learning more about yoga, which in turn, led me to learn more about me. Eventually I found myself enrolling in multiple teacher training programs in an effort to deepen the experience that had already given me such joy and peace. I was on a path to healing my own emotional wounds and physical ailments and I knew I needed to share what I was learning with others!
Now, as a teacher of yoga, I find myself encouraging students to find their truth through practice and express the value of experiencing yoga beyond the yoga mat and into the world. In class we work on what one would expect in a Western yoga session by doing a variety of yoga poses (Asanas #3) coupled with yogic breathing (Pranayama #4) and meditation (Dhyana #7) but these are only three of the eight limbs of yoga that are intertwined into the classes.
We also delve into the importance of how we act and react through moral and ethical conduct (Yama #1), the power of self-discipline (Niyama #2), tuning out external distractions through objective observation and internal awareness (Pratyahara #5), concentrating on a single point visually, internally or through sound (Dharana #6), and attaining the ultimate stage of yogic experience in peace and personal enlightenment (Samadhi #8). The eight limbs of yoga act as basic guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life.
Yoga has given me the opportunity to learn more about myself emotionally, physically and spiritually. I have learned how to breathe better, stand taller, think clearer, and find peace within my body. With that, I cannot help wanting to share the power of this 5,000 year-old practice with as many people as possible.