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by: Ganga White from - Yoga Beyond Belief :  Insights to Awaken and Deepen Your Practice

 One of the first
questions teachers hear from new students is, "How long will it take?"  The question not only refers to how much time will be necessary for practice, but also to how long it will take to actually learn and master yoga.  Time has been called the poverty of our era.  The hurried pace of modern life drives us to feel we have little time for the things we want or need.  Time has always been precious, but too often we allow our lives to become frenzied and stressed.  The new student wants to know how much time he or she must dedicate, how much of the day the yogic endeavor will require, and how long it will take to reach the goal.  I have often answered these questions by saying, "It will take the rest of your life."  This is actually good news.  Yoga is not a goal at all - It is a lifelong process of living and learning that nurtures our being and enriches the quality of our days.  Realizing the significance of this insight removes unproductive pressures we may otherwise bring to our approach.  We have our entire lifetime.  

We will
     always have much to learn in the way of skills and techniques, but the essence of yoga is deeper - it is always immediate and available as it grows from refining our attunement to the flow of life, and life force.  Our bodies constantly change and adjust to our internal and external states, not only from day to day but also through many stages of a lifetime.  That is why a more meaningful practice promises no end but  provides a constant journey of leaning and discovering.  

Advancing our practice implies refining our ability to see and listen to our body on deeper and subtler levels.  Cultivating this internal perception is more important than merely attaining more exotic postures.  We can develop great strength or flexibility but miss the heart of the practice.  Someone may be able to twist into a pretzel while balancing on one finger and still be a novice who misses the heart and experience of yoga.  

Making the time for a yoga practice  means honoring and loving ourselves enough to dedicate time each day to our own well-being.  Serving ourselves is a part of serving others.  Only when we take care of ourselves can we have more abundant energy to give to others and to our endeavors.

When a student tells me, "I can't find the time to take out of my daily life for practice or exercise," I reply, "Neither can I."  I don't have the time to "take out" for my yoga practice either and yet I keep up a regular practice.  I certianly know that I have much more energy, much more quality time and freedom, and much better health than would have been possible with out having allowed myself time for asana.  In truth, yoga doesn't "take time"-it gives time.

Nutrition:  Finding your way to
                    healthy living

by: Sarah Paynter -BS - Biological Sciences & Human Nutrition

 The start of a New Year is the perfect time to take a look at your diet.  There are many reasons to consider what you put into your body.  Diet is an important area of our health that we are able to control completely.  The realization that what you feed yourself can directly affect your health and well-being is an important step towards healthy eating.  The mindfulness that you gain in yoga and Pilates classes will also play a huge roll in how you eat.  In class we work on noticing different muscles, turning some off and turning others on.  The question "where do you feel it" is a tough question to answer until you gain the body awareness that we all strive for in class. 

The same approach can be used daily in your diet.  Our bodies need fuel for physical and mental activities.  If we don't give our bodies what they need, we are not as capable in our day to day activities.  One of the first things to consider is if we eat when we are truly hungry, or do we eat just because the food or snacks are there, or we're bored or procrastinating???  There are so many reasons we eat and often the reason is NOT because we are hungry.  The mindfulness and self-awareness we practice in class should be applied to eating.  Pay attention to how you feel.  Eat because you are hungry and not for the multitude of other reasons.  Enjoy what you eat and really taste your food!

There are nutritional guidelines that we all should follow.  The amount of energy in food is measured in calories and caloric needs are dependent on age, height, weight, gender and activity level.  There are three sources of calories in the foods we eat: carbohydrates, proteins and fats; these are macronutrients.  Our bodies need calories from all three of these macronutrients every day and at every meal to perform at its best.  Vitamins and minerals are nutrients that do not contain calories but are key to healthy eating.  We should strive to eat foods that have a high vitamin and mineral content. The healthiest foods are usually foods that are in their most natural state.  Fruits, vegetables and whole-grains are all plant based food items and have the highest natural content of vitamins and minerals.   Lean meat and eggs are the best sources of quality protein.  Fats found in vegetable oils are more heart-healthy than animal fats (think olive oil vs. bacon grease).

Water is also a nutrient that we all need. Every system in our body depends on water to function properly.  The most obvious way to get water is to drink it!  Limiting or avoiding soda (even diet!) and other sweetened drinks is easy ways to kick start a healthy eating plan. 

For some of us eating healthy comes naturally and for others it is confusing.  I encourage each of you to schedule a nutrition consultation to make sure you are on the right path.  To take full advantage of your class sessions, healthy eating and drinking is a must.  Don't forget a healthy lifestyle is a combination of eating healthy, exercise, sleep, minimizing stress levels, and feeling good about yourself just to name a few.  I hope to see you all in class soon.

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