September / October 2016
By Keena Lopez
Yoga is the ancient spiritual science that focuses on quieting the “noise” that comes from our thoughts that prevents us from having peace and feeling “still” and in control. The constant daily struggle is found when we try to “be still,” directing all our thoughts inward instead of outward to the things going on around us. “Yoga is the process of reversing the ordinary outward flow of energy and consciousness so that the mind becomes a dynamic center of direct perception no longer dependent upon the fallible senses but capable of actually experiencing truth.”1 Yoga teaches us, through meditation and body control, to focus not only the mind/body connection, but also on the spiritual connection we all share with the universe and the creations around us.
My love affair with yoga began in Southern California in the summer of 2000. I was introduced to a Meditation Garden in Encinitas. It was here that I was able to connect with nature and feel calm. You walk through the gardens and they have places where you can sit and meditate or just sit and look over at the beautiful ocean below. I was then introduced to Bikram yoga after a battle with cancer and was able to really detoxify myself in the heat. I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma at the age of 27 years old. It came right after a routine checkup with my dermatologist. Fortunately, I was able to have a deep incision in my chest and they were able to remove it all so I didn’t have to go through chemotherapy.
But at the time, they said I shouldn’t try to have more kids. That led me to healthy living through yoga and meditation. I truly believe the benefits of meditation and yoga are what helped me recover, remain positive, and also conceive my second son. I also practiced prenatal yoga with my third child and it was such an amazing experience. The bond we formed together before he was even born is so precious to me. I used acupressure, as well, to help with any ailments or tension I was feeling. My now 4 year old loves practicing yoga with me.
I have also found that practicing yoga helps me become more aware of my actions in relationship to others and the planet. As an instructor, my goal is for my clients to walk out of class feeling more awakened to their personal joy and believing more deeply in themselves and their personal dreams and desires. There are many different forms of yoga, making it a good fit for everyone. Some including: Hot yoga, Yin yoga, Kundalini, Restorative yoga, Power and Fitness yoga, Vinyasa, Aerial and Acro yoga, and Prenatal. Although each form of Yoga has a different technique or focus, the physiological benefits are consistent in all. Enhancing energy strength, helping with weight loss, building strength and flexibility, increasing blood flow, decreasing the aging process, decreasing oxygen consumption and respiratory rate, reducing premenstrual syndrome and helping to build sexual energy are some of the most noted physical benefits. Yoga is also a valuable tool in strengthening your psyche. The psychological benefits include feeling less aggravated, decreasing stress, helping you deal with petty issues, increasing productivity and emotional stability, increasing the feeling of vitality and rejuvenation and helping with focus and concentration. Spiritual benefits include peace of mind, happiness, increase in compassion, and getting a deeper understanding of yourself. Yoga is the balance of mind, body and spirit and becomes a lifestyle when you pair it with healthy eating.
What if you have never tried yoga before? Open your mind to the many possibilities that Yoga has for you. Many of my clients claim, ”Well I’m not flexible; I have never done it and I don’t want people to laugh.” I tell them to give it a try; it takes time; be open about the experience and, before you know it, you will amaze yourself and your body will feel the difference. I also have many clients that have never meditated before and are afraid they just can’t sit still long enough. Though it may take time, this is where the magic can really happen. The physiological, psychological, and spiritual benefits of mediation are continuous and on going. Meditation requires no equipment. It can be practiced anywhere. If you need a point to start from, you should try a guided meditation.
My exposure to and experience with yoga has been up and down through the years but it comes to me at the most needed times. Yoga has always been my safe and comforting spot that I can count on during transitioning times. Yoga is Love. Love is yoga.
September is National Yoga Awareness Month. It is all about educating people about the health benefits of yoga and meditation and inspiring a healthy lifestyle. Go out and try a yoga class or meditation. Remember to live your life in the moment and give gratitude for this day and for this life. Be open to opportunities and experience life at its fullest.