Niyamas on the Mat - Art of Living Retreat Center

The Practice: Niyamas on the Mat

By Dr. Bharti Verma, MD
May 10, 2018

Niyamas on the Mat - Art of Living Retreat Center

Last month, we delved into how to practice Yamas on the mat. Today, we’ll be looking into Niyamas. The Yamas are a social code of conduct, and the Niyamas are a standard of personal ethics an individual strives to follow on the spiritual sojourn of Yoga.

 

Shaucha (purity)

Cleanliness and tidiness in the outer environment and your own personal cleanliness keeps the mind from becoming cluttered and irritable. On the mat, if your mind becomes disturbed, then your body cannot focus on doing asana, and the whole practice becomes disturbed.

Deeper understanding of Shaucha is to understand that your body and mind influence each other both on the mat and off the mat. Taking care of each is important to achieve a steady and comfortable asana. Balance and symmetry can only be achieved if the mind is calm and the body flows with the breath.

Shaucha on the mat means personal and environmental cleanliness, together with calmness of the mind.

 

Santosha (contentment)

Santosha on the mat means your asana practice is happening with a relaxed attitude of the body and mind.

Accepting the body as it is in that moment without complaint, and having a mindful attitude toward the practice of asana. When the mind and body are both relaxed, then every movement is joyful and becomes an expression of happiness.

 

Santosha on the mat is a tension-free body and a joyful mind, both flowing in harmony with the breath. 

 

Tapas (penance)

Tapas means willingly accepting adverse conditions without complaining, and this extends to your asana practice on the mat being met with a sincere attitude. Having patience and willingness to give the practice your sincere effort. This type of practice will develop endurance and stamina on the mat and build capacity for endurance off the mat.

 

Tapas on the mat is accepting the challenge of practice with a sincere attitude.

 

Swadhyaya (self-study)

Self-study on the mat means observing one’s attitude, balance, symmetry, and sincerity, and from these observations, learning to improve your own practice at your own pace.

Swadhyaya on the mat means learning from Self-reflection.

 

Ishwar pranidhana (surrendering to a higher power)

Ishwar pranidhana is invited to your practice by 100% just letting go of any anxiety on the mat. Once your sincere effort has been given to achieving symmetry and balance on the mat, let the mind and body totally relax.

This attitude drops any feverishness. It allows you to transcend the body into stillness and the mind into a deep silence. This allows the divinity within to prevail.

Or as Patanjali explains, “Prayatna Shaithalya vAnant Samapatti bhyam!”

Ishwar Pranidhana on the mat is letting the divinity within be your guide into the practice and allowing the divinity to prevail: It is the journey and the destination!

 

In fact, one needs to follow only one of the Yamas or Niyamas and all other Yamas and Niyamas will start to manifest. Not just on the mat, but also in life. Each Yama or Niyama holds a secret to leading one to the truth, and like all rivers merge in the ocean, each of the Yamas and Niyamas bring one to the depth of True Consciousness.

Asatoma sat gamay…

 

Dr. Bharti Verma, MA, MD, MCFP,  combines an established medical perspective with a seasoned background in yoga. As a senior teacher with the Foundation, Bharti teaches advanced level yoga and meditation programs internationally. She is an avid yoga practitioner and instructor with 500 h E-RYT Yoga Alliance certification. She brings yoga to her clinical practice and provides yoga and meditation instruction to many of her patients on a weekly basis.

 

Join Dr. Verma and some of the most influential and engaging yoga teachers in the south east for the Joyful Yoga Conference from August 10th-12th, 2018 at the Art of Living Retreat Center.


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: alignment , niyamas , spirituality , the Practice , yoga
Kripalu Yoga - Art of Living Retreat Center

The Practice: Me and Kripalu Yoga, An Unexpected Love Story

By Heather Bilotta
April 26, 2018

Kripalu Yoga - Art of Living Retreat Center

I walked into my first yoga class at 19. It was strip mall yoga. I remember being told to relax and breathe while in poses where breath, and relaxation were the last things I imagined possible. “WTF” was muttered under my breath repeatedly as I contorted myself into painful poses I’d never done before. I worked hard and tried to keep up with a flow that felt like it was created by a sadist. When the class was over, I remember feeling really angry and hateful. No bliss. No peace of mind. I walked away from my first experience of asana wondering what the hell my straight-edge, vegan friends getting into yoga and joining the Hari Krishnas were thinking. Nuts. They were nuts.

 

Why I ran from yoga

But like many ultimately great relationships mine with yoga started with distaste and confusion. What the hell was this practice that pushed my buttons so deeply? Why would I want to chaturanga 20 times and then hold down dog while watching my brain spin? Not willing to quit right away I tried out some DVDs by yoga-lebrity teachers and disliked those too. Some were too fitness class like, some too New Agey. And just like the woman who runs from that guy at the party who sips seltzer and challenges her mind with interesting thoughts rather than telling her how hot she is, I ran from yoga.

 

What on earth is Kripalu Yoga? 

Flash forward by 9 years. My back hurt. It hurt bad. I had herniated discs during labor and the road to recovery was filled with intense lightning bolts of pain. Every doctor I had encouraged me to try yoga. “It’s good for a bad back,” they said. “It’ll be relaxing,” they said. With my initial experience of yoga with the sadist and boring DVDs it was hard to believe what I was hearing so I ignored the advice. After a year of limping through physical therapy, cortisone injections, and ever more pain I saw a flyer in my town for free yoga classes… this yoga had a weird name… Kripalu Yoga. Incredulous. Exasperated. I decided that I would try this yoga with the strange name.

 

I walked into the tiny rec center with a stinky carpet and cardio machines jammed against the wall and my tiny chunk of hope shrank even smaller. There were 10 or so people jammed into a room that only 6 people on yoga mats would fit comfortably…I was about to leave when my teacher Laura immediately sprang to help me find a spot. Everyone shifted a little left, a little right, and suddenly there was a place for me…it felt nice. My hope grew a smidge.

 

Coming home

There was gentle chanting playing from a tiny radio. She had a sweet little altar with sacred objects I didn’t recognize and this little chime that she struck right before she began to speak. After the chime sounded everyone stopped stretching and the room fell silent. We were old, young, fit, and fat people all gathered together. Looking around the room I felt a sense of ease. I felt that we each belonged there on that mat, in that place, with each other. I felt myself settle.

 

This is yoga!

When Laura spoke her voice resounded through the small space, sounding like warm honey tastes…nourishing and sweet. She encouraged us to turn our gaze inward and sense our breath and body as it was in the moment. Then for about 10 minutes we breathed and noticed that practice. We began simply, just filling our bellies with breath, then breath moved up a bit higher, all the way to the collarbone. We exhaled generously, squeezing the belly. I felt my self sink deep into my body, felt my busy mind slow way down. I felt the muscles in my body soften a little, felt peace beginning to bubble up from inside. Suddenly my heart and brain screamed from inside of me, THIS IS YOGA!

 

Finding the true potential of yoga 

Though the rest of the practice was challenging and again I found myself in poses I didn’t know that I could do and breathe simultaneously, again I felt angry about my body’s limitations, however there was a big difference between that night and my other experiences. This time I had space for it all. With my teacher’s gentle cues, encouragements, and lots of reminders to notice and accept the thoughts and sensations I was having I made it through the 90 minutes of yoga without letting my frustration sweep me away, off the mat and out of the class.

 

At the end of class I felt a sense of accomplishment, and my body felt better. Tensions were softened. Tissues lengthened. Though the flow was intense I felt like I was learning something beyond exercise for a sore back, I was learning something really important about noticing my experience and not letting it carry me away.

 

The beginning of a mad affair

That was 11 years ago and I haven’t looked back. I’ve been practicing Kripalu Yoga ever since. Not to say that this mad affair has been all wine and roses, true yoga practice isn’t. I’ve cried, sweated, blown apart, come back together, blown apart again and got back on that mat many times. I’ve learned that what I experience on my mat I can take into my life…noticing the hard feelings and not becoming overtaken by them. Bringing acceptance to my limitations, celebrating my growing ability to become conscious of feelings and thoughts.

 

The impact of a good teacher

Over the past decade I’ve had the opportunity to study with a number of yoga teachers, some true masters of Kripalu Yoga but none will ever capture my gratitude and heart like my first teacher, Laura Lin. Thank you Laura, wherever you are now. Your spirit lit the candle in my soul and I will be ever blessed for that. Jai Bhagwan!

 

Heather Bilotta is a passionate believer in the healing power of self-expression and the importance of connection to community. Her Shake Your Soul®, Kripalu YogaDance, Kripalu R&R classes, one-one SomaSoul® and Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra® healing sessions are infused with heart and creativity and are an opportunity to bring light and acceptance to your whole, unfiltered self. She truly provides a supportive no-judgment zone. Heather teaches at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Cranwell Golf Resort, and beyond. She is continuing her studies in Body-Centered, Subtle Energy Healing in the Professional Training Program at Hartford Family Institute.

Join Heather and Sage Brody at the Art of Living Retreat Center from May 18th to May 20th for Gotta Dance!, a joyful and healing exploration of body and movement.

This article first appeared on heatherbe.com. 


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: dance , Heather Bilotta , kripalu , spirituality , the Practice , yoga
Art of Living Retreat Center - Nature

Articles We Love: A Return to Nature in April

By Paige Reist
April 16, 2018

Art of Living Retreat Center - Nature

 

At the Art of Living Retreat Center, we know that one of the most profound pillars of healing and wellness is the natural world. Nature is a wise teacher, a gentle and fierce guide, and a way back into ourselves. We’re incredibly lucky to hold a space nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, where our guests can breathe in the cool, sweet mountain air, explore the gorgeous forests, and let the beauty of the wild sink deeply in.

 

In celebration of the Mountains returning to life this spring, our favourite articles this month remind us of the deep medicine available through nature.

 

Recompose and the Conservation Burial Movement

Emma Loewe for MindBodyGreen

Death is a subject that causes many of us in the West intense discomfort. The cultural avoidance and fear of death has even affected our burial practices — we have a tradition of preserving the bodies of our deceased loved ones as best as science knows how. Unfortunately, these burial practices can be harmful to the environment. Recompose founder Katrina Spade aims to provide a more nature-friendly option. Emma Loewe speaks to Katrina for MindBodyGreen.

“In U.S. cemeteries, we bury enough metal each year to build the Golden Gate Bridge all over again, enough wood to build 1,800 single-family homes. Cremation takes its toll too, emitting 600 million pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually in the United States. Considering that 10,000 people are turning 65 every day in this country, these figures aren’t likely to go down anytime soon. As Spade puts it, “The awful truth is that the very last thing that most of us will do on this earth is poison it. I want to push back against these defaults that aren’t aligned with our ideals and interests as people.”

 

How to Cure Stress the Old Fashioned Way

Brian Stanton for Elephant Journal

Brian Stanton shares how nature can cure our “addiction to doing”, how it centers us and cures us of our stress, and how it helps us slip into an effortless meditation.

 

“It turns out that when you cure stress, you cure other things too. Researchers from Japan, in fact, have shown that lingering in the woods might even prevent cancer by boosting natural killer cell activity. This Japanese practice, called “forest bathing,” also results in lower blood pressure and cortisol levels.”

 

3 Spiritual Lessons That I Have Learned from the Ocean

Alex Chong Do Thompson for Rebelle Society

Alex Chong Do Thompson writes about his encounters with watery wisdom during his time as a U.S. Marine and beyond.

“The amount of ocean life that exists is fantastic, but what’s even more interesting is why it exists. We must remember that there are no magical incantations or preternatural powers being used to create all of this abundance. Rather, the ocean is simply the perfect container for different forms of life to manifest.

It provides the right salt content for tuna, the right temperatures for jellyfish, the right pH levels for seaweed, etc. And then the Universe takes care of the rest.

Over the years, I’ve learned that this is also true of human interaction. For example, we have no control over what people say to us throughout the day. Conversations may be pleasant, or they may be absolutely dreadful. It’s completely out of our hands. But like the ocean, we can create a container that encourages good things to happen.”

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , articles we love , death , happiness , nature , spirituality , Spring , stress , wellness
Art of Living - Why Spirituality matters

Walking the Path: 10 Reasons Why Spirituality Matters

By Lucia Whalen
June 12, 2017

Art of Living - Why Spirituality matters

 

The word “spirituality” means different things for different people. For some, spirituality is associated with religion and is tied to concrete rites and rituals. For others, meaningful activities like swimming, making art, and walking through the woods brings on a spiritual experience. For the most part, though, the word spirituality has become as ambiguous and vague as the word “the,” and is often stigmatized by associations to “hippy-dippy” new-age philosophies, patchouli, dreadlocks, and yoga pants.

 

Spirituality seems to have become confused with religion, as it is common to now associate as “spiritual” or “not spiritual”. However, at its core, spirituality is a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and is not an ideology to believe or not believe in. Spirituality is, in fact, what gives life a sense of meaning and purpose.

(more…)

TAGS: anxiety , art of living , art of living retreat center , creativity , forgiveness , mindfulness , relationships , silence , solitude , spirituality , stress , wellness
Spiritual Retreats

Spiritual Healing Retreats

By Paige Reist
February 2, 2017

Spiritual Healing Retreats in North Carolina Spirituality is not just about religion. It is about the connection you feel to the world as a whole. Human beings were not meant to feel alone. We are social animals that have, throughout our history, felt ourselves as a part of nature – one that has its own spirit, and is not simply a vessel of nerves and muscles. It’s not uncommon to find yourself drifting away from that feeling of soul and spirit. Spiritual healing retreats are designed to bring you back. Each retreat is its own unique experience designed to rejuvenate the soul and restore your sense of spirituality.

 

What’s Involved in Spiritual Healing Retreats?

Every retreat has its own unique character and personality. What you are looking for with any spiritual retreat is a variety of features that are unique to you. For example:

  • Time with Nature

Those living in the city life often miss out on one of the most important keys for boosting the soul – time outside, surrounded by nature, and away from the cities. Nature is something you can feel, and something that the mind needs to feel at peace.

  • Spiritual Guidance

From yoga to classes, there are many different activities that bring out someone’s spirit, provided that you are led by those that are able to offer the guidance and inspiration that you need for spiritual growth.

Getting more in touch with your inner spirit involves taking time for yourself. Guided meditation, as well as activities for quiet and relaxation are all great ways to feel restored.

  • “Soul” Food

It’s difficult to nourish your soul if you aren’t nourishing your body. Several spiritual healing retreats integrate meals that detoxify the body and refresh your mind. This allows you to feel less bogged down mentally, and experience more spiritually.

  • Relaxation

Finally, stress is the enemy of spirituality. Your spiritual healing retreat needs to give you the opportunity to simply relax and enjoy your time away from your concerns and challenges.

 

Spiritual Healing Retreats at the Art of Living Retreat Center

When you feel more in touch with your spiritual side, it is something that reverberates through other areas of your life as well, including how you feel at work, the motivation you have to manage your home life, and so much more. For more information about our spiritual healing retreats in North Carolina, please feel free and view our calendar or call us to find out about our upcoming retreats.

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , Ayurveda , Detox , guidance , happiness , lifestyle , meditation , spirituality , wisdom , yoga
holistic lioness women of color retreat

Uplifting Events: The De-Stress Lioness Retreat

By AOLRC
November 7, 2016

with The Holistic Lionesses & Co at The Art of Living Retreat Center

This week we launch a new series that explores some of the exciting programming put on by partners at the Art of Living Retreat Center. There are so many exciting events that are offering transformation and change, each in their own meaningful way. We want to spotlight these programs as well as offer new opportunities for partners to be part of this change. So read on and join us as we explore transformative programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center. Comments? Questions? Please share in the comments below. – Andrew K.

partner_holistic-lioness_drawing-creativity

Meet the Holistic Lioness & Co.

You are a whole person, beautifully flawed. This is the message of The Holistic Lioness & Co, a community created for and by millenial women of color searching for purpose, balance, and meaningful spiritual fulfillment.

Millenials, as a rule, are a unique and controversial generation. They’re creative, tech-savvy and ambitious, and approach life with a collaborative spirit and an open mind. But this also means that millenials have a unique set of challenges – they often struggle with finding balance, inner peace, and accepting themselves for the flawed humans they are. They work hard, play hard, and immerse themselves in chasing their dreams. So much so, in fact, that they can neglect their emotional and spiritual health, and are often met with a feeling of emptiness when they reach their goals.

Millenial women of color and their spiritual needs focus on self-care are often overlooked by the wellness industry, and the Holistic Lioness was created by Founder & CEO Keisha Faulkner to fill that need. Lionesses are leaders. They are, as the Holistic Lioness puts it, “stunning, regal, powerful, intuitive, strong, ambitious, and nurturing”. This program empowers women to discover those traits and capabilities within themselves and bring them out in meaningful ways.

holistic lioness women of color retreat

The Holistic Lioness Retreat this Fall

This past October, The Holistic Lioness gathered women together at the Art of Living Retreat Center for three days of connection, healing, and empowerment. Facilitated by Dr. Kristian H., a lifestyle expert, health enthusiast, speaker, and woman of color, this retreat served as a place to find balance between mind, body, and soul. To discover your heart, and meet yourself from a place of love. At these retreats, you have the wonderful opportunity to connect with other women on the same journey. Through meditation, group therapy, yoga, hiking, and creative expression, you learn how to thrive, not just survive. You come away with a better understanding of how to deal with stress, how to find balance and peace, and how to embrace your beautifully flawed, whole self.

“The Holistic Lioness & Co. was founded on a simple, yet bold vision to inspire women to prioritize wellness, personal growth and self-care.” – Keisha F.

“What started as an idea to host a small wellness retreat in the mountains has become a dynamic digital community – one filled with ideas, resources and community engagement for women of color looking for ways to ‘be balanced’ through mind, body and spirit wellness. THL is here to dispel the myth that holistic wellness is an exclusive, complicated and costly lifestyle change. We are here to serve as a catalyst to provide easier, affordable access to health and wellness resources,” shared Keisha.

partner_holistic-lioness_smile

Being at the Art of Living Retreat Center

“This was a weekend dedicated to Millennial women of color seeking internal peace, self-awareness, balance & purpose. The Art of Living Retreat Center created a space where everyone found their own individual form of peace and healing as well as create healthy, life-long bonds,” shared Kiarra from the retreat.

Life-changing Support

The Holistic Lioness retreat is designed to help you express your vision more clearly, find your purpose, and chase your dreams.

“I encourage anyone that has an opportunity like this to go into it with an open heart and an open mind, and soak up the entire experience. I’m walking away to get back on the road and drive home with so much knowledge and so much support and a newfound sisterhood. And it’s something I’ve never had in my life, so thank you.” – Camille E.

I’d also like to invite our readers to check out the instagram account of The Holistic Lioness & Co., which is consistently uplifting and rewarding: THL on Instagram

 

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

 
TAGS: Holistic Lioness , partners , spirituality