Aunt Joan and Yoga
Up until about 40 years ago, yoga was practically unknown to most Americans. When it was introduced to the United States in the '60s, people believed in the incorrect stereotype that it was done only by "hippies," "flower children," and "druggies." Today the term "yoga" is more widely known, now that it is becoming trendier.
Yoga is a discipline with a scientific background that was developed over 2000 years ago. In this system of self-development the restless mind is calmed and energy is placed into constructive channels. It is not a religion as some people may be led to believe. It is a philosophy of life. The lessons learned are just as relevant today as they were when they were first created, still keeping the main principle that before you can train your mind to reach a higher consciousness you must first discipline your body. Yoga's popularity is ...view middle of the document...
There is also a best-selling video that The New York City Ballet Co. has created which combines dance steps and yoga postures.
Joan grew up on the northwest side of Chicago and began studying hatha yoga in the early '70s and has continued to do so ever since. She studied the science and philosophy of yoga at the Himalayan Institute for about 12 years and then later at the Temple of Kriya Yoga for approximately 11 years. Joan feels fortunate that she got started on this path at the right time because she had the opportunity to study under the great teachers that had come from India.
For her to become an instructor of yoga, a bachelor degree in the arts wasn't needed, but specific studies were. She completed her certification Level 1 and Level 2 at the Temple of Kriya Yoga. Joan usually teaches one to three classes in the morning and one or two classes in the evening. Spending time with her family, doing personal yoga training and pursuing her other profession, interior designing, are some of the activities that occupy her afternoons. Through taking workshops, classes and seminars, my great aunt can observe teaching methods and use them effectively in the classes she teaches. Once while we were camping she showed me how to perform some of the basic yoga stretches.
For anyone in search of a career in the "arts," she offers the advice of her current teacher, Sri Goswami Kriyananda, who says that joy will come from living a life of self-discipline and self-awareness. Sri Goswami Kriyananda recommends the repetition of a special mantra, called Ahambrahmasmi, which reminds us that we alone control the circumstances of our lives.
In the future Joan plans on continuing along the same path and journey of life that she is on now. For her, the most gratifying part of teaching this system is when her students return to her and tell of how yoga has made a difference in their lives. I believe that yoga will continue to be a rewarding experience for Joan physically and spiritually, and that like her students it has profoundly made a difference in her life.