“Yoga is the cessation of agitation of the mind.” - Yoga Sutras of Pantajali
The word, yoga, comes from the ancient Indian language, Sanskrit. It literally means “to bind one to” or to yolk someone to something. In the ancient practices the breath binds one to the universal life breath that we all share. Focusing on breath and awareness connects us to God and a deeper sense of oneness with the Divine. Elena Bower, co-founder of the Virayoga in New York City has made yoga a lifestyle and a career. She has practiced for over fourteen years and leads yoga events in eclectic environments like the New York’s MoMA and on the Great Lawn at Central Park. I asked her about what yoga means to her and how to put it into practice every day. Here’s what works for her.
Debra: How do you find ways to integrate yoga into daily life?
Elena: I try to pause before I let myself get angry, I try to listen to what’s being said rather than formulating my opinion before the other person has finished, and I take 15 minutes per day to practice. Usually more, but at least 15.
Debra: What is the best practice for a beginner who wants to experience more calm?
Elena: No TV for one week. During TV time that week, go to Yogaglo.com and for the cost of one class per month, you can practice with a selection of the most creative, authentic, gifted teachers on the planet, as much as you wish.
Debra: What advice do you offer to other mothers on the spiritual path?
Elena: Be an adventurer with your kids, take them to unexpected places, show them what it means to be both completely adaptable and utterly fallible- which means to say you’re sorry when you’re wrong. And be lovingly firm with boundaries; they will thank you later – always tell them you love them and find something good in those moments.
Debra: Who was your best teacher and why?
Elena: My ex-husband, now my dear friend. My experience with him continues to show me my strength, wisdom and power. His growing receptivity to what is possible for us and our family is giving me the key to my own greatness.
Debra: What is the deeper meaning of yoga?
Elena: To locate within your body your most steady, receptive, attentive listening.
Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life. A visionary and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the globe and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. She has spent over fifteen years practicing meditation, working with dreams and doing spiritual practices. Visit her online at http://www.awakeintheworld.com.