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Yoga Girl, AKA Karuna Lynne Elson is an author of several plays performed in NY, NJ, CA and NE. She teaches theatre and Yoga. She has always wanted to save the world. Now through sharing the ancient healing lessons of Yoga and the creativity that comes from theatre, Karuna Lynne is trying to be the best superhero she can be.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Often students ask me what type of Yoga I teach.  My usual response is a mixture of Sivananda and Integral Yoga or Yoga Life Society style.  When their eyes cross in non-comprehension, I then say, "Hatha."  Ah, then their eyes return to normal and I can tell they understand.  But do they really?  In America, Hatha means to many, a type of physical Yoga that uses breathing and is not "flow" Yoga.  

Yet, I have come to understand Hatha as a part of the Six Branches of Yoga.   Bhakti, Raja, Karma, Hatha and Japa.  Yogaville's website has a wonderful explanation:

HATHA YOGA actually is more than the asanas, relaxation & breathing.  There are also kriyas, or cleansing practices that strengthen the body and mind.  Here's my latest video on this subject.  Let me know if you end up trying it.  Or maybe you already do and have a story about it.  I'd love to hear it!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Oh, how I hated waking up yesterday.  A dark Pigpen-like cloud surrounded me most of the day for I hate New Year's Eve.  Ugh, all the lead up to the best fun night of the year.  The dilemma of to drink or not to drink, to make it a big eventful night or to lounge in footie pajamas watching Guardians of the Galaxy again.  The damn ending of a those 365 days makes me look back and judge myself, focusing on the negative.  All the things I didn't get done.  All the friends I wanted to keep more in touch with.  All the plays I wanted to see but didn't.  All the writing I wanted to get done but didn't.  All the-- yes I could go on and on but something happened this morning.  I woke up refreshed.  It's like clicking the reload button on the  browser-- everything just seemed to come in smoother, clearer and lighter.  I jumped up ready to start the year off right.  I did my Hatha practice this morning and my head was clear of the "Nagging Negatives."  I jumped in the Delaware with the intention of "Less thinking-- more jumping & having fun this year."  The old year was cold-burned off (along with maybe a toe or two) and I feel great.  

So now what?

How do I keep the mind clear and have ultimate fun?   Guruji says over and over that the goal of Yoga (all Yoga, not just Hatha) is to have ultimate, unwavering fun no matter what.

Okay dust bunnies, I will vanquish you with the joy of a youngster playing Star Wars.  Dishes- a doldrum?  Not possible-- (Okay I might need a little help with that one.  That's why I'm buying the mix of songs from Guardians of the Galaxy.) 

What else will I do?  Not get down on myself for what I haven't done and focus on what I have.
Such a simple concept.  

New rituals for the new year:

1.  Happy Thought of the Day

Elizabeth Gilbert has a Happy thought of the day.  She puts it in a glass jar each day, even on bad days.  Then she can pull one out when her dark days do come and she can smile remembering the happy moments.  I'm putting a jar next to my bed tonight.  

2. Practicing Hatha throughout the day-- a little in the AM, a lunch time ritual and then a few evening practices.  So if I can't get a full hour and a half session in, I still have done it throughout my day.  Might even make the nodding off as I ride home less of an occurrence.  4-5pm when I drive home from school-- that's my lowest energy time-- But not anymore.  That and my new suggestion from my doctor to take iron supplements.  I bet that's contributing to my lower energy.

Thank you "M" for the Spinach info.  http://www.vegetariantimes.com/blog/nutrition-face-off-raw-vs-cooked-spinach/  This should help with the low iron in my blood as well.  Lemon/Lime in my water to add vitamin C to aid in absorption of iron-- done deal.

3. And lastly see more friends this year.  Yes, a writer needs time at home in front of the computer, but the soul needs laughter & sharing.  So let me know if you'd like to catch a Yoga class, go for a hike, kayak, see a play or "Play Make Me Laugh" as we did when we were kids.  First one to laugh loses.  Or does she?

Happy 2015 everyone!

-- Yoga Girl

New Year of less thinking and more jumping in!

Air 35 Degrees 
Water 40 Degrees

Monday, July 28, 2014

Recently I took a trip and was delighted to find that changing my routine, reinvigorated my creativity and deepened my dedication to Yoga.  I wasn't on a Yoga retreat, wasn't on a gorgeous beach with palm trees lulling me into samadhi.  I was stuck in a cramped hotel room, with a view of DC's finest gray rooftops.  That is to say that it wasn't the beauty that inspired me, it was changing my routine.

I admit it.  I'm a Netflix junkie.  I watch movies as I make breakfast, then continue as I clean the dishes.  My dishes have never been so clean.  

Being away led me into a new routine and I'm so grateful for it.  Instead of constantly being bombarded by visuals, stories that were told to me and living vicariously through characters' lives, I found a stronger imagination.  

By fasting from stories, I dreamed deeper and remembered my dreams after I woke.  One of them has turned into a really great science fiction story that I hope to expand on.  

It is with this newfound knowledge that I implore you to change up your routine.  Turn off the constant input and let your mind find its own rhythm.  

I read somewhere that is what Tim Burton does.  He doesn't even do email.  (He has someone who does that for him-- which would be nice.)  He wants his creativity to flow and not be stifled from outside sources.  

Maybe you can't get away and change your routine.  Or maybe you just aren't ready yet to turn off the radio, Netflix, Twitter, emails.  You could then make a retreat for yourself...

Take a new class.  

You can join us for a Free Meditation class on Sundays in August 8 am to 8:30 am and stay for a Hatha class afterwards at the Yoga Loft in Freehold/Howell.  (Message me if you want more information.)

Or you might want to check out this free online class at UC Berkeley on the Science of Happiness.  It starts Sept. 9 and if you audit it for no credit, it is free.  

Another free possibility is:

Wishing you lots of creativity, joy, serenity and sunshine.



Sunday, June 29, 2014

Been thinking a lot lately about Yoga.  I've renewed my personal practice and enjoy an hour in the morning outside with the dog lying in the sun next to me.  It is pure bliss.  Connecting to nature, hearing the birds, smelling the grass as I curl up into cobra, I am in joy.  As the sun shines through the trees onto my face, I am able to sit, just sit in meditation and soak in all that is right in the world, sending out thoughts of peace and healing to those at war, those in hospitals, those who are lonely, or unwell, and the animals, plants, oceans, etc.  Being outside practicing Hatha has grounded my practice and I can't wait to get outside in the morning for my soaking in the sweetness and serenity. 

Yet, at the same time, I'm worried about Yoga.  I worry that those who could benefit most from a practice like Yoga are not going to find it because they might not understand that Yoga is not stretching and posturing.  You know what I'm talking about?  The incredible, almost impossible to the 99% of us-- side angle crow posture where the arms hold up the whole body but the legs are out to the side. 
Okay, this is a pose I have accomplished once or twice, but not without laughing, sweating and feeling like a superhero for just a second, until I fall back into my mere mortal status.  It is wonderfully brilliant if you can do this pose.  So happy for you.  I envy your arm and core strength, but I fear that there are many people out there that think they can not do Yoga because of the popularity of Yoga flow classes and advanced Hatha classes that focus on these challenging poses, yet do not teach that this "Yoga"-- this body-centered Asana centric Yoga is only one of the eight limbs of the real, whole Yoga. 

Rev. Jaganath says that it like what happened to the bakers.  When bread was born it was of course made from natural, healthy wheat ground into flour and bread was made.  Then came the refined, bleached, processed flour that soon many bakers were baking with.  Those who held onto the first recipes could no longer call their bread made with wheat, they had to call it "whole wheat" even though that's what it was before.  That's what it had always been.  But with the new wheat being made, the bakers had to reinvent a name for their bread and so "whole wheat" was born.

Although many Yogis I know are now gluten-free, the symbolism can be read into very easily.  Our
modern American society, obsessed with looks and the body has filtered out what it wants to focus on most and forgets the rest of "Whole" Yoga.  Yet, from what I see as a public school teacher and a compassionate human being-- I think it is the rest of the practices of Yoga that is most needed today.  Yes it is true that we should continue to work on a strong core in order to stay healthy but what about the mind and spirit?  Can we not get them healthy as well?

"Whole" Yoga is made up of:
Raja Yoga (the Yoga of synthesis and the science of meditation and the mind.  It is a holistic approach founded on moral and ethical precepts)
Hatha Yoga (postures, techniques for breath control, deep relaxation, cleansing practices)
Bhakti Yoga (love and devotion to any form of God)
Jnana Yoga (study and self-analysis)
Japa Yoga (repetition of a mantra to clear, calm, and steady the mind
Karma Yoga (the path of selfless service.) 

Taken from: http://www.yogalifesociety.com/What_Is_Yoga.html

My wish for the upcoming year is for more people to realize that Yoga is more than strength of body, but strength of mind and spirit as well.  I try to remind my students in my Hatha classes that the Hatha we are practicing is a moving meditation.  Hatha Yoga was created 5,000 years ago for the sole purpose of helping us sit still in meditation.  I get sad every time someone leaves my class early before Sivasana at the end of class, for that is why we do all the other asanas-- this is the whole purpose of the class-- the synthesis of all that we did, the way our body heals.  As one of my teen students put it, "I always feel like I am flying, weightless, outside of my body.  That's my favorite part." 

So how do we help others understand that Yoga is for everybody.  For every BODY?  That Yoga as we know it in America is Hatha-- all of the movement oriented classes are under the umbrella of Hatha and that there is so much more to it. 

If you are interested in learning more, please let me know.  There are a few classes, meetups, gatherings that are specializing in "Whole Yoga."  Many only learn these lessons if they take a Yoga teacher's training class, and I'm not even sure it is taught in all classes.  I am saddened by this, as you can tell since you've made it this far in reading. 

My wish is that everyone, no matter what religion, no matter what physical shape, no matter what mental or spiritual shape they are in-- could find a practice to help her/him come to stillness, come to joy and peace.  There are probably hundreds of ways s/he could find this peace, but a practice like Yoga (or do we have to say, "Whole Yoga") is a proven, effective way for one to sustain find the peace and sustain it.

I have many friends who say that they tried Yoga but they couldn't sit still.  They jog to clear their head, or garden or they take pilates.  Wonderful I think to myself.  That is great they found something that helps them.   But what happens when they get injured and can't jog, take pilates, or it is winter and the plants are no longer there to garden?  What happens to their peace?  Ah, well-- Yoga (Whole Yoga) can go with you anywhere for you need nothing, except your own breath and a practice to guide you. 

Enjoy a slice of Whole Yoga today.  Go to http://www.yogalifesociety.com/Yoga_research_center.html  or sign up for a meditation class, teacher's training or come experience a Satsang.  Learn more about Yoga that is beyond just the body. 

“The yogi is not one who sits down to practise breathing exercises,” he wrote in his interpretation of the Gita. “He is one who looks upon all with an equal eye, sees other creatures in himself.” That's one pose that will truly reduce your stress. -- Sri Mahatma Gandhi

Taken from: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/01/12/is-yoga-for-narcissists/when-high-achievers-do-yoga

With high hopes of spreading the love, light and joy,

Yoga Girl