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Natural Awakenings South Jersey

Letter from Publisher

September is National Yoga Month and as a yoga practitioner and instructor I’ve taken great pleasure in assembling this issue for you encompassing a variety of yoga-related topics. Many of the briefs originated from individuals that have inspired me in my yoga journey.

With this issue we are also introducing a new Yoga Resource Directory because I am passionate about supporting local studios that aspire to uphold the tradition of yoga as it was intended. Many readers may have heard of or even experienced some of the evidence-based benefits of yoga that are highlighted in Meredith Montgomery’s article “Yoga Enters the Medical Mainstream.” Still, the list is staggering. Physical and emotional balance, strength, flexibility, and stress reduction only scratch the surface.

I am a living testament to yoga’s diverse good effects. I first found myself drawn to the practice in the midst of a traumatic life event. In starting out, I treated yoga as another element in my workout routine, aiming to reap celebrated physical benefits such as endorphin release, tone, flexibility and strength. Yes, I increased my overall fitness level, but as my practice became more regular, I also noticed subtle changes gradually emerging that transcended the physical realm.

I began responding differently to external events that would have caused anxiety in the past. To my amazement, I was instead able to pause, breath and “be”. I owned a sense of centered calmness that could be accessed in the midst of emotional storms. What followed for me was a sense of deeper connection to what I would term Source and others might refer to as God, Yaweh, Allah, or Universe.

It seems that sages through the millennia have been onto something timeless. I frequently remind my students that integrating yoga postures, mindfulness and controlled breathing works on an ethereal level, whether you accept the yogic philosophy or not. It’s why individuals may suddenly find their emotions welling up in class while holding a deep hip opener or inversion. Emotional blocks are deeply stored in our cellular makeup and the practice has a way of bringing them to surface if we allow the experience.

I also often share with those that hold misconceptions about yoga that it is not a religion. Contrarily, I have found it can coexist, complement, and even enhance existing faith. The combination of mindful movement and conscious breath work with openness to a set of philosophical principles can transform one’s individual life experience.

I encourage you to remain steadfast in your yoga practice if you are already on this path, or try a class if you’ve always been curious about yoga.  My studio, Sol Yoga, is discreetly located in the back of Vacanti Jiu Jitsu & Mixed Martial Arts Fitness school, in Hainesport. It’s not a trendy studio, just a tranquil, tucked away place where people can be real and practical in discovering how this approach can help access pathways to inner calm. I invite you to come in and explore the possibilities with us, or visit the new directory (in the back of the magazine) to find a local yoga center.

In peace,

Michelle and Pat Signature

Michelle Vacanti, Publisher

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