I’m happy to present another Guest Post from the lovely Sharyn Hahn! Here’s to finding the balance between being open and knowing your boundaries.
“Svarupa – Renewal through awareness:
Help students remember their essential self, their best self, their Sacred Self.”*
This is one of the central tenets of Deep Yoga. It is a goal that I embrace as I strive to be an effective and sought-after teacher. My training to become a certified Deep Yoga practitioner, in conjunction with my own personal struggles to heal myself, has illuminated my path towards finding my own “sacred self.” Part of my “essential being” is that of a teacher. As I have developed in the areas of fitness training and yoga practice, (in addition to my French teacher persona), I have come to understand that my passion for sharing my knowledge and experiences is innately intertwined with my sense of purpose. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to explore this aspect of myself because it not only helps others through my teaching, but it is also very fulfilling to realize that I actually am where I am supposed to be! Being aware of the present moment and our place in it is a very difficult thing, but it is necessary so that we may embrace ourselves.
Coming to the mat is good for us in so many ways. Yes, the physical poses are a big part of what makes us feel good and there are a myriad of yoga styles to fit our needs; hot yoga, aerial yoga, barre yoga; the list goes on. Studios market their particular niche in order to attract students, and there are millions of people trying new ways to engage in this popular activity. Many yoga students attend classes primarily for exercise. A “yoga butt” is a coveted goal, which I had actually never heard of until I began my teacher training. As a new “serious” student of yoga when I was in my thirties, I was one of the people who went to Vinyasa classes in order to stretch and build arm and core muscles. Breath and meditation were not aspects of the experience that I cared about, mainly because they were difficult for me. I think this is true of a large percentage of current yoga students or those who are hesitant about taking their first class.
In my opinion, any path that leads us to the physical practice of yoga is a good thing. During my training I learned that the main reason that ancient yogis did the asanas (poses) was to prepare their minds for the long meditation that was the ultimate goal of their practice. Reaching a state of enlightenment and connecting with the universe were paramount. The gurus of long ago had a lot more time to focus on their inner light and divine selves. In these frenetic times, carving out an hour and a half for a yoga class once or twice a week is often all that we can do. Our focus is outward, competitive, and unconnected to self. When we first sit down and try to breath and meditate at the prompting of the teacher, it is very daunting. There is a lot of mental noise, our bodies can’t relax and we have no idea where to find that “inner light.” I struggled with this for years. I could not breathe properly, and my thoughts were never still. My “sacred self” was eluding me at every attempt to settle into a state of relaxation.
It took family trauma and a weekend retreat of healing to lead me to the teacher who taught me how to practice daily yoga so that I could begin to learn how to “be present.” I learned that in reality all it takes is ten minutes a day to begin the process in an authentic way. How many of us think that if we cannot commit to at least an hour class several times a week, a consistent home practice and a 20-minute meditation every day, that it is not worth the effort? My teacher explained that this is the main reason that we are unable to connect with our inner divine selves. Making the decision to have a short daily routine is one of the first steps in the process of finding “renewal through awareness.” Once you can wade past the baggage that is weighing you down, clear the barriers blocking your vision, and quiet the mind, you will be on your way to connecting with your essential and true best self.
It has been proven scientifically that yoga releases stress and anxiety not only through specific poses that engage the hips and twists, but also through various types of breath work and meditation. Sometimes it takes a long time to figure it out, but once you get it, meditation and centering yourself will become an integral part of your practice. Connecting with your inner essential self will lead you to a more fulfilling life. You will be able to allow your hopes and dreams to become tangible goals that you can actualize through mantras and visualization. It really does work! I am proof of this. You will notice the following changes from a daily practice that includes several yoga poses of your choice, a mantra and a moving or seated meditation:
- increased flexibility
- improved balance
- better posture
- more strength
- more energy
- feeling more grounded
- improved demeanor that will invite more fulfilling connections with others
- more concise decision-making due to intentions and mantras
Here are two short mantra meditations that you can try on your own, as well as a chanting option.
Please sit quietly and find your breath. Focus within your heart space and relax for a few moments, just feeling the breath moving in and out freely. Call on your inner guidance and allow it to come to you. When you feel more centered in your heart essence please chant the mantras below (taken from correspondence with Saul David Raye):
- Lakshmi Mantra for grace, abundance, allowing
OM SHREEM MAHA LAKSHMA-YAI NAMAHA
This mantra focuses on allowing the heart to open and receiving blessings.
Lakshmi also represents the expansion of the heart – of receiving and sharing – circulating energy to create a greater flow for all.
- Durga Mantra for strength, compassion and clearing negativity.
OM HRIM DURGAYAI NAMAHA
This mantra invokes inner strength, courage and the positive force of LOVE to move through challenges and negativity.
Durga also represents the boundary of Self, honoring yourself, your feelings and being clear in your boundaries.
If you prefer to have a musical chant and meditation, click on this link for the beautiful and uplifting Gayatri Mantra by Deva Premal.
“The time-honored practice, the gayatri mantra, embodies the wisdom of the Vedas and leads us toward self-realization. Today, it is chanted, meditated to, and sung around the world with reverence and love.”
I invite you to begin your path towards connecting with your own “sacred self” by starting a daily practice of 5-8 poses and meditation. If you need guidance with poses you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Deep Yoga manual
Sharyn Hahn has been a teacher to students of all ages for 33 years, with a focus on teaching French at a private school in NYC. During the past eight years she has added a new dimension to passion for teaching and is now an ACE certified Personal Trainer (FitWomaNow!), and a YogaFit instructor with a 200-hour RYT certification in Mind-Body Balancing from the Deep Yoga Center in San Diego, California. She is currently pursuing a certification in Yoga for Traumaas she continues to broaden her understanding of the significance of yoga, meditation, and breath in her students’ lives. Sharyn holds a Master’s degree in French literature and language and runs Tutorcise.com.