Sunday, March 25, 2007

Archived Articles

Caldwell reels in readers with new books and old bestsellers

Four siblings reunite with lost father through journals:Diaries hold more than memories for WWI soldier's four children

Blind 92-year-old launches travel book series: Seeing the world past the words

Wine -- women -- and writing: This wanderlust author refuses to settle

Pioneering vet tells story of a very full lifetime

The Call of Women in the North: Author Toni Graeme records their voices

Turn-of-the-century Japanese author is celebrated for the 100th anniversary of sharing his dream

Humane author explores second chances for incarcerated souls through writing

Lost and found: author tells of discovering her father's true identity shortly before losing him

Life lessons: Octogenarian author taps into ageless knowledge, love, and the miracle of life

More than one lifetime achievement is realized by a long time celebrated author

Author and WWII veteran asks "would you like to spend 1400 days with me?"

A senior pool of authors are plugging into a new wave of publishing

A Time of War: Veterans write about their trials of love, allegiance and anguish overseas

Creative Magic

Late Bloomers

Rubicon Chapbook Press


PATH project

Tent City: The Right To Sleep

The Practice of Yoga: The Benefits of Turning Ourselves Inwards for Healing

By Andrea McKenzie

The moment we wake up each morning, we start giving ourselves away in little pieces – we make breakfast for our family, try to maintain patience and understanding in traffic, perform our duties at work, return home to cater to our domestic lives, make time for social engagements, sleep and then wake up to a similar routine the next day. At what time do we have the luxury to focus on our own emotional and physical needs?

Yoga is a practice that reminds the body, mind and spirit of its intrinsic needs to stay healthy, fit and focused. In Yoga, we learn how to calm our chaotic minds and purge the clutter of daily demands. Yoga encourages slow, intentional movements to focus on all parts of the body and honour our thoughts and inner selves. All too often, we spread ourselves so thin that we don’t pay attention to our own needs.

There are various types of Yoga (yoga meaning union – between body, breath and mind) that lead to the same place, getting to that place of union through different paths. These types are: Mantra Yoga – Yoga of sacred sounds; Jnana Yoga – Yoga of self knowledge; Karma Yoga – Yoga of skillful action or selfless service; Bhakti Yoga – Yoga of devotional love; Raja Yoga – Yoga with an emphasis on meditation; and Hatha Yoga – Yoga focusing on the physical body through postures or Asanas, a physical practice of the postures meaning seat, and breathing techniques.

Twice a week, Tracy Boyd opens her doors to those wishing to practice Yoga at Island Yoga in the Fernwood district of Victoria, British Columbia. For three years, she has been running her Hatha flow Yoga practice for a mixture of beginner and intermediate classes. The classes at Island Yoga focus on allowing students to go inside the body and essentially ‘birth’ the posture from the inside out, gently creating curiosity within the body about its own limits and potential. Each posture energizes a different aspect of health in the body – depression, anxiety, muscle and joint pain, flexibility, fatigue, muscle stiffness, and digestion.

“It is true that we are our best teacher. To become an active, willing participant in our wellbeing and even our healing, we need to know and bear witness to ourselves,” said Boyd. “For me, the best way I have experienced this is to be quiet and listen to the guidance my body provides me.”

Boyd began practicing Yoga in 1999 due to a long-standing interest, and then out of necessity when she developed an intimate relationship with anxiety. She is now trained in the classical Ashtanga eight-limbed tradition and Hatha Yoga systems, as taught by Baba Hari Dass.

“I sought out classes and an instructor because I had heard that Yoga was beneficial in stress reduction,” said Boyd. She started teaching Hatha Yoga once she had completed her certification. “Through the classes I provide, I attempt to offer an environment where students can come face to face with themselves by a uniting of the body and mind through an integrated movement of the body and breath.”

Her classes include the following physical components and philosophy:

The positive effects of forward bending postures regularize blood pressure and strengthen the endocrine system,
Backbends strengthen the digestive and eliminative organs.
Twisting Asanas massage the visceral organs removing sluggishness in the liver as well as the kidneys,
Inversions purify the blood by removing toxins and waste products out of the system.
Seated Asanas calm the nervous system and reclining Asanas strengthen the nervous and immune systems.
Balancing postures strengthen concentration, and stabilizes the mind by making the breath smooth and steady.
Reclining Asanas are restorative and quieting, they bring balance and a cooling quality to the mind breath and body, and they also relieve fatigue and stress and strengthen the immune system.

The Yoga philosophy helps to remind both the instructor and student that Yoga practice is not limited to the physical movements, but also enhances the human capacity for patience, mental strength and focus, stability, and a calm state of mind.

The main benefits of Yoga include the regulation of breath, which helps the mind to rest and undesired thoughts to diminish. As well, the body becomes flexible and strong, major organs of the body are strengthened, the glands and nervous system perform more efficiently, and circulation is improved.

“I believe that many or most people begin a Yoga practice by some need or desire to lessen stress or anxiety, as well as need of more exercise,” said Boyd. “However, if one sticks with the practice, there comes a point when people realize that although Yoga is certainly beneficial to the physical body, the practice enhances beyond the body. The physical practice is a doorway to meditation and a vehicle for peace or enlightenment to be experienced through the body.”

Westerners are turning more readily to the Eastern practice and philosophy of Yoga, as we are seeking broader answers than western medicine can sometimes provide. There is a growing need to seek these answers internally, rather than treat our varying illnesses as being exterior and separate. Yoga is becoming more visible as a westernized trend for exercise and stress relief, as well as a growing industry. As Boyd observes, “the growth of Yoga in our culture shows a great need and also necessity for finding stress reducing modalities in our lives.”

“Westerners have extremely busy and stressful lives nowadays and we need something to relieve the pressures of modern day living, and Hatha Yoga is a great resource for relieving stress,” said Boyd. “I think that people are recognizing and experiencing the importance of mind/body wellness and the benefits of integrating holistic healing with allopathic medicine. With this realization comes the understanding that we have the ability to become participants in our health and wellness,” said Boyd.

Above all, Yoga promotes an individual’s power to take control of their own health and well-being. The practice teaches how to listen to our own bodies and pinpoint where we hold physical or emotional tension and how to release this energy or convert it into a positive force. Boyd passes along the wisdom of her teacher to her students, “if you work on Yoga, Yoga will work on you.”

To learn more about Island Yoga, contact Tracy at or by calling 380-YOGA (9642).

Posted by Andrea McKenzie at 4:12 PM

Super B said...
Wow, those are some great articles!
December 9, 2006 11:43 AM

1 comment:

andrea said...

Hey Andrea,
Nice blog! Were you invovled with the PATH project? My thesis used the baseline data from that project. Very cool!