What Yoga Means To Me

By:  Karen K. Sommers, Michiana VegFest Chair and Yoga Instructor

I have been practicing and teaching yoga in the Michiana area for close to 20 years.  I can honestly say that yoga has kept me going both physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually!

Yoga originated in India and has been around for thousands of years.  It has not always been accepted and approved in this country.  Now, in most areas you can find yoga classes in health and fitness centers, schools, hospitals, senior centers, parks, private studios, etc.

I started practicing as I was having lower back pain from running.  After my first class I was amazed at how my body felt but more importantly how relaxed and refreshed I was.   It was like a boulder was lifted from me.   My mind was clear, and I knew I had changed in that hour and a half class.  I wanted to learn more and feel that way all the time not just occasionally.  I then took classes regularly, went to yoga training and did advanced training a few years later.

Succinctly, yoga is a way of life.

Many of us attend yoga classes to move our bodies into Asanas, more commonly referred to as poses.  The poses are designed to move all parts of our bodies, both inside and outside.   This means our bones, muscles, joints, organs, ligaments, fascia are moving, opening and breathing relieving inner stress and pain.  Pranyama, or breath work, is a part of every movement.  The desire is to breathe in the new and release the old or whatever it is that does not serve us.

There are eight paths or limbs to yoga.  Above I mentioned Asana and Pranyama.  The others are listed below:

  • Yama – attitudes toward our environment
  • Niyama – attitudes toward ourselves
  • Prtyahara – withdrawal of the senses
  • Dharana – concentration
  • Dhyana  – meditation
  • Samadhi – complete integration

I encourage everyone to try a yoga class and see how you feel.  Better yet try several classes from different teachers.  Find what suits you best.

Or if you are curious there are many books and resources online.   Do a bit of exploration!  Maybe you will discover peace, balance, stress management, relief from pain and a more centered existence.