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Why Yoga?

“The only authentic Yoga is the one that works for each person according to circumstances and needs, and there are many possibilities.”
T.K.V. Desikachar

About Yoga

Yoga is the World’s oldest holistic system of self-development, integrating body, mind, and spirit. The science of Yoga began its development in India over 5,000 years ago and has evolved into a contemporary mind / body health and wellness system with practices ranging from purely physical fitness to a holistic lifestyle grounded in spiritual principles that expand consciousness and cultivate compassion.

Yoga encompasses a diversity of teachings and techniques, yet all schools of Yoga commit to cultivating health, fostering personal growth and supporting spiritual transformation. Yoga is highly adaptable. 

The practice of yoga changes us. When we focus on our breath, we become aware of our breathing patterns and tensions held in the body. As we move and stretch our bodies, tensions release and we feel better. We begin to notice things that we were unaware of before. Little by little that awareness seeps into other areas of our lives. We notice how we feel when we communicate with others. Perhaps we let go of old patterns of communication because we don’t need them anymore. Or perhaps we let go of old relationships because we finally recognize how damaging they are to our health and well-being. This is how the world changes, one person at a time.

When we change the way we think, we change the way we act. When we believe that the world is one family, we must act that way or be in conflict with our beliefs. When we believe that the world is one family, we take responsibility for our actions – thought, word and deed. And this is how the world changes, one person at a time. 

Yoga is not about the pose. It’s not about the body, mind and spirit. It’s so much more than that. Yoga is about remembering our true nature. It’s about acknowledging what is true in this moment – letting go of how we think things should be, how we want things to be. When we acknowledge our human nature with all of our flaws and imperfections, we are open to witnessing the same in others – without judgment. When we change the way we think, we change the way we act. This can transform our lives – our health, our relationships, our workplaces, our world.

Swami Kripalu said, “Self-observation without judgment is the highest spiritual practice.”

So, you may think that you came to Yoga to get into shape, lose weight, reduce stress, feel better – and you may just do that. You may get even more. Yoga can change your life!

Four Paths of Yoga

Karma Yoga – the active path. Selfless service. Involves working in the world and giving of oneself. Great for people with an active temperament. Think Mother Theresa, Habitat for Humanity, Peace Corps…

Bhakti Yoga – the path of love and devotion. Emotional energy channeled in devotion, chanting, prayer, church choir.

Jnana Yoga – the philosophical or intellectual path. Considered the most difficult of the four paths. Cultivates mental clarity and discriminating wisdom.

Raja Yoga – the Scientific Path or 8-Fold Path

  • Yama & Niyama ~ Ethical Living
  • Asana ~ Yoga Postures
  • Pranayama ~ Breath regulation
  • Pratyahara ~ Withdrawal of attention from the senses
  • Dharana ~ Concentration or One-Pointedness
  • Dhyana ~ Meditation or One-Flowingness
  • Samadhi ~ Ecstasy or Self-Realization

Hatha Yoga – a form of Raja Yoga that emphasizes postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation. Hatha Yoga, practiced in most Yoga classes, is the most common form of Yoga in the US.

Health Benefits of Yoga
About Karen

Karen was first drawn to yoga at the young age of 13 – through the only yoga book at the library! She was interested in the philosophy of yoga and the idea of a deep interconnection with nature and all beings. When she discovered a yoga class in the area, she attended twice a week for several years. She loved the feeling of wholeness she felt in class. During her years as a distance runner, and two pregnancies, yoga provided support for her body and mind. Yoga offers tools for skillful living and feeling well.  After her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in 1997 and cancer in 2012, her many years of yoga practice gave her tools for getting through the tough times into a place of joyful living.  

Karen believes yoga heals us, individually and as a community. Her deep need to help others live better and happier lives has led her to teach community yoga and private lessons since 1996. She received her first certification from Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health.

She has personally experienced the healing power of yoga by living nearly symptom free of multiple sclerosis for over 15 years. She found that yoga relieves her symptoms and gives her tools to better manage her stress. Karen is a perpetual student of yoga and loves sharing that journey with others.

Karen O'Donnell Clarke, C-IAYT, E-EYT500, RCYT. Certified Kripalu Yoga, Integrative Yoga Therapy, Yoga of the Heart, Yoga for the Special Child, and Trauma Informed Yoga Therapy (TIYT). I continue to study with a variety of therapeutically oriented yoga teachers.
The yoga therapy components of my teaching are based on my professional yoga therapy certification with Integrative Yoga Therapy, an IAYT member school, not derived from my status as an E-RYT with Yoga Alliance Registry.