Ask any yogi about their favorite “Yoga Idol”, and you will most likely hear about Seane Corn. Seane is an internationally known yoga instructor and impassioned activist. This week on Oprah.com, Seane reveals how yoga changed her life – and how it can change yours as well.
Seane was born in Northern New Jersey, but left shortly after high school graduation for the big city of New York. She discusses her reckless behavior in those early years in her article “Where I First Came to Believe in God.” She began doing yoga and it helped her to quit smoking, doing drugs, drinking, and brought her in touch with a healthier diet (veganism). Today, she uses her yoga-status to bring awareness to the HIV/AIDS crisis by teaching yoga and providing support and education about HIV and AIDS prevention.
Yoga literally translates into “to come together and make whole” – to unite. As Seane explains, it asserts that everything and everyone is connected and that there is no separation between heaven and earth, mind and body, or male and female. Everything you think, feel or experience has a profound impact on your physical body. Tension and anxiety, for example, affect the immune system, the cardiovascular system, and can aggravate chronic health conditions such as diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome.
The physical benefits of yoga include a toned, flexible and strong body. According to Shakta Kaur Khalsa of the K.I.S.S Guide to Yoga, the practice also helps maintain a balanced metabolism, which can regulate weight. Physicians are also now understanding the positive benefits of yoga with disease states, such as recovery from cancer. Even renowned cardiovascular physician Dr. Dean Ornish uses yoga in his patient recovery programs.
Mental benefits of restorative yoga are evident through focused breathing and relaxation techniques. Yoga teaches you to quiet your mind so that you can focus your energy where it is needed – whether on your job, your family, or the other million little daily responsibilities of life. Yoga has also been shown to be beneficial in the relief of depression symptoms and the boost to self-confidence.
Yoga, of course, was originally intended as a spiritual practice. It is non-denominational (not Hindu as some may expect) and teaches us “right living”, patients, forgiveness, and gentleness.
Anyone can do yoga, no matter how young or old and regardless of fitness level or weight. Beginners should look for a class that teaches basic poses that use props such as straps and blocks to help proper positioning. There are many different forms – Hatha, Bikram, Ashtanga, Sivananda, Kundalini, and Iyengar, just to name a few. Try several versions to see which is best for you.
In the end, Seane says that yoga has taught her that everything that happens in life happens perfectly and for a reason. Everyone has lessons to learn, and no one is exempt from pain or loss. However, through a regular yoga practice, we not only keep our bodies and minds in optimal working order, we also have revealed to us the connection of ourselves with others on this Earth and ultimately with God.
”Breathe and all will be revealed, love and all will be healed. This is yoga.”