Yoga

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Yoga for Central nervous system health, heart health and overall vitality


 

There is some important information about the brain that you may not be aware of that is important. First of all the Central Nervous System is the brain and the Spinal cord. Second the brain changes throughout our life, the term for this being- neuroplasticity. Third, we build new neural Pathways throughout our lives and we can actively affect this process!       In recent research I came across the work of Dr. Roger Sperry, (Nobel Prize Recipient for Brain Research)   -let's focus on these two points-

 

  • “90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine” Dr. Roger Sperry

  • “Additionally, Dr. Roger Sperry demonstrated that 90% of the brain’s energy output is used in relating the physical body to gravity. Only 10% has to do with thinking, metabolism, and healing.” 


 

Movement of the spine brings better brain health! These are reasons posture and optimal body Mechanics (particularly spinal alignment) is essential to health and vitality- healthy nutrition for the brain and energy output of the brain!

 There is a saying in Chinese culture- :You will live as long as you can arch your back". This makes good sense when you understand the relationship of nourishment and stimulation to the brain.  
 
Think about this in relation to the Asanas (poses) in yoga, all of which are strengthening and/or stretching the muscles along and within the spine to some degree.  “90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine”  Balance poses in Yoga, where you challenge yourself to balance on one foot or one foot one hand etc…90% of the brain’s energy output is used in relating the physical body to gravity.
 
Meditation, Ideally Yoga is moving meditation; quieting the mind. narrowing the focus, controlling the thoughts, and therefore giving the mind a rest or at least the focus (economy) necessary to build new neural pathways. The longer I do yoga the less separation there seems to be of mind/body/brain/heart/energy.  Through continued practice over time all of this becomes integrated and a natural understanding, knowing/ intelligence develops over time.  The brain is throughout the body and the body has it's own intelligence. This is far more than gaining muscle development and knowing the names and mechanics of postures (asanas). It is building new neural pathways, gaining control over the mind and body, it is training the intuition so that eventually the yoga practice begins to be naturalistic, and organic;y evolving. In other words you train till you can practice with mindfulness but very little "thinking". 
  
This is also why Shavasana, is so important, you are resting the brain as well as the body, “90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine” giving the spine time to restore and reset.  Shavasana using blankets and bolsters are often better for people who are injured or elderly or need to improve posture.  In meditation and some restorative yoga this is also true. Conversely, this is not so true the way many of us “relax” seated in chairs that foster poor alignment, watching TV or movies, drinking alcohol, etc… none of this is even approaching the healthy relaxation needed for restoring health of mind and body.
 

Another aspect of the brain is Neuroplasticity

- in this article How Training Changes the Structure of the Brain, Dan Peterson states;   "On the most basic level, learning a new skill or improving a skill involves changes in the brain.  There are a few different ways that our brains adapt to picking up new skills and changing environmental conditions.  The first involves a rewiring of the networks of neurons in the brain.  Each skill or action that an athlete performs involves the activation of neural pathways."

Knowing the brain is very plastic and that each repetition in practice affects the brain brings light on the importance of “mindful daily practice” to ensure that the pathways being laid down in the brain are reinforced with the right neural connections.  This processes being optimum when the mind is quiet.
~ “Do not allow past experiences to be imprinted on your mind. Perform asanas each time with fresh mind and with a fresh approach. If you re repeating what you did before, you are living in the memory, so you are living in the past. ” ~The light on life, B.K.S Iyengar Having a distracted mind, or careless practice isn’t just wasting your time, it can actually be steps backwards from attaining new skill, depth and understanding.This clarifies the abilities of an experienced yogi (daily practice over years) to perform yoga postures as compared to persons who do yoga at 1 or 2 classes a week.

 The other aspect of brain health has to do with the quiet mind. 


Research around the brain activity patterns of experts has been done by Brad Hatfield at the University of Maryland.  His research around expert marksmen... "has shown that their brains are, in fact, ‘quieter’ and more economical than the brains of novices.  In effect, they tune everything else out so thoroughly that only the most essential  brain areas associated with the task are turned on and working.   Novices, on the other hand, exhibited not only more brain activity, but  activity that suggested communication between areas of the brain associated with motor control and areas associated with conscious, cognitive thought and analysis.  Several studies on athletes and clutch performance of skilled tasks have associated a certain type of quiet, focused brain state with successful performance.  In effect, a quiet brain is an expert brain."

Conversely  "It has been theorized that high stakes cause athletes to overthink and become self-conscious about their movements, which in turn causes them to revert back to the rigid movement patterns of a less-experienced performer.  This has been observed in disciplines from rock-climbers to weightlifters to piano players.  The mind can get in the way of the body smoothly carrying out what it  already knows how to do." Dan Peterson

There is also a relationship to the quiet mind and the metabolic/systolic heart rhythms-   

At the Institute of Heart Math http://www.heartmath.org/research/science-of-the-heart/introduction.html  research shows "positive emotions create increased harmony and coherence in heart rhythms and improve balance in the nervous system and conversely: disharmony in the nervous system leads to inefficiency and increased stress on the heart and other organs..
The heart  a  complex,  "processing center with its own functional "brain" that communicates with and influences the cranial brain via the nervous system, hormonal system and other pathways. These influences profoundly affect brain function and most of the body’s major organs, and ultimately determine the quality of life." ~Institute of Heart Math 

Monday, October 20, 2014

I_AM VITALITY!


 

 I_AM VITALITY!  is a Process that includes:
    •   One, 4 hour Workshop
    •   Pre & post, individual consultations, 
    •   a series of Six classes (1hr 45min.)                                Total of 15.5 hours
 
The small class size and 7 week, 15.5 hour commitment, guarantees progress that will be life changing
 The Individual consultation the week before workshop is to evaluate your current posture and use of body mechanics to give you a clear picture of  your individual starting point and set some realistic goals. The 2nd consultation (last week or week following) is to see your progress and re-define your goals. This has proven to be one of the most helpful aspects of I AM Vitality!
The initial workshop focuses on posture and body mechanics, for optimal health benefits as you move in your day-to-day activities;  re-training the body so that you're not wear-it-down throughout your day, but are moving in healthful,energizing ways. You will learn and practice several exercises for the body's core muscles and gain awareness of engagement vs. tension throughout the body. This process includes hands-on adjustments for deeper understanding. The day will end with a Guided, deep, relaxation.
The weekly classes (6 weeks)  Practice moving mindfully. You will be moving correctly and moving more! You will be creating good movement/exercise habits.  These subsequent classes will incorporate dance and yoga to improve cardio-vascular health, strength, flexibility and body awareness. I will be leading you in simple yet vigorous Dance, Pilates core work, and yoga.
 Each session will end with guided deep relaxation,  which is refreshing, rejuvenating and highly beneficial in this fast-paced multi-tasking world!
    The Asana(physical posture/poses of yoga) are only the tip of the iceberg, and in the beginning, it doesn't matter if you can touch your toes or not!  It is the mindful sustained effort that will help the body be in it's current best state and make steady gains.
How wonderful is that!  So please, don't think you have to already be flexible, athletic, slim or anything else to begin. You Are ready for this!
   This is an excellent process for persons at any age or fitness level, persons feeling stuck at their current level of movement, or needing motivation to get moving.  
~ This is a valuable investment in your health and vitality ~ 
Participants must pre-register and pre-pay for the I AM Vitality process and attend the initial 4 hour workshop. There are no refunds! your Investment is $250.oo for entire I AM Vitality process. Watch for early-bird special rate for those who subscribe to website.
Current Members at the Garden Gate Day Spa will get special rate.
 
"I am passionate about teaching this synthesis of decades of study and teaching in multiple disciplines and methods including; Three traditions of Yoga, Dance, The Alexander Technique, Authentic Movement, Pilates, and The Franklin method."
~ Christina
 Please contact me if interested in the  I AM Vitality Process coming in January, 2015,\.
Outside of the Alb. NM area- I will come to you if you have a group of 10 -12.



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Autumn poems 2014 ~

Dear Ones, remind me of this day when I do not smile!
  Maybe it is the softer light of the overcast sky
or the moisture in the air
that brings this day under my skin in a soothing magical depth.
 I feel closer to ones who have passed beyond: are they sending us blessings?
I see immeasurable, infinite beauty in the green leaves
of a wetter southwestern summer, nearing it's end.
The colors rich and reflected, puddles are masterpieces,
rocks are singing and the trees dancing the Earths song.
I cannot contain gratitude so vast,
yet, is it enough to make up for all the days taken for granted?
This abundance my eyes missed because of the chatter in my smaller mind?
  Dear Ones remind me of this day when my eyes are dull.                   ~C.Bouajila


The sunrise sky casting a pink tint to the world,
The day’s first light glows through the tapestry of still trees.
Golden light and scattered hints of yellow autumn leaves.
Bird songs mingle in harmony with silent air, not even a slight breeze.
Brilliant white potential surrounds this new day.
The city traffic begins to hum, and then a train whistle in the distance.
There are journeys ahead as the past sleeps on.
A familiar cat jumps from tree limbs to rooftop.
Oh deep gratitude I am awake!                                                               ~ C. Bouajila

Image by Danmala
 

Friday, August 22, 2014


 

An all too common story of the Modern, Western Human Body

~ a not so short and somewhat generalized story for understanding the current level of comfort and enjoyment in the physical body.    By Christina Bouajila

In the womb we float in a small warm water place.  Then, as we develop, we move within our own skin and within the womb; though curled-up we moved in an incredible range of motion.  As we grow the space shrunk, yet we move more, we flex and lengthen muscles intuitively so that we are born with a fair amount of muscle tone (This is measured on the modern Apgar scale at birth). After we are born, (the birth experiences are a whole other story) we are able to unfurl beyond where we could in the womb because of the intuitive (instinctual) moving we did while confined.  This unfurling continues so that within months our spine has straightened from that curved shape it was inside the womb, our arms and legs (which you have been moving and which have been growing) have more tone and strength.  The muscles of our neck are stronger and we can lift our still heavy head. (The head being very large compared to later in life). We moved the muscles toward this many, many times before we actually lifted our head. Our neck is very flexible, as are our hips, so we can move our arms and legs to grab our feet or toes, maybe even put toes in our mouth. We become an expert at lifting our head grabbing and moving and we are becoming stronger because we do these things many times a day, every day, until we are exhausted and we rest, rest relaxed, completely, peacefully. We learn to roll over. We moved the muscles toward this many, many times before we actually roll over, and now we do this frequently with very little effort. We even roll over a few times and stay orientated in space (not dizzy or confused) We have fun doing this! Our spines are stronger and more flexible. We lift our head and upper body while laying on our tummy enough to look straight ahead! We are arching our spines. We moved the muscles toward this many, many times before we actually arched our spine with the strength to lift our upper-self off the floor.  Soon it gets very interesting and complicated because we scoot; coordinating head neck spine arms and legs to move- we have gone mobile! Now we go over, under and around things, and maybe bring an object along- every new movement we do is a result of moving the groups of muscles many, many times before actually lifting our heads, rolling or scooting. We move about until we are exhausted and we rest, rest relaxed completely.  Then after a while we figured out how to get our knees under our hips and lift up our lower torso and push up to the forearms and eventually hands; We got on all fours!  The first time maybe only for seconds, the next time we can’t quit get there, then it is for 3 seconds, then seconds longer…..then we can stay up there and we can rock back and forth!  We moved the muscles toward this many, many times before we actually got up on all fours.  We moved the muscles toward this many, many times before we actually rocked on all fours.  We practice (do) this many times a day every day. Life is an adventure! Then we coordinate systems of muscles to crawl!  We moved the muscles toward this many, many times before we actually crawled. We crawl and crawl and get so good and quick at this that our big people break a sweat to keep up with us! We move about until we are exhausted and we rest: rest very relaxed. Rest completely. Next we reach out to grab onto things higher and bring more of ourselves up,  this continues in countless variations all day every day until we stand – we stand holding onto this, that and thems many times all day every day- and then we have become a master at standing holding onto something! Then we step holding onto this that and thems, we fall, we step again and fall, we learn and we take 2 steps, fall, 1 step, 2 steps, fall, 1 step, fall,  maybe we stop for a day or week then we take steps and sit, more steps and fall into somebody’s arms. We stand without holding onto something! Maybe even surprising ourselves, but we have moved and moved towards this many, many times every day of our life. We move about until we are exhausted and we rest: rest very relaxed; we rest completely.  And then, we stand without support, balance for a second then fall, 2 seconds then fall, 4 seconds over and over many times every day then one day we stand and step without holding on to anything! We fall, we stand, fall, stand, balance, fall, stand, fall to sit, stand and step. We do this many, many times until walking 2 steps, 3 steps, more steps and then all over the place so that the big people get tired keeping up with US!  We move about until we are exhausted and we rest: rest very relaxed; we rest completely.

 The story is going to be changing because we live in the modern western world and it gets a bit sad then sadder, we might feel angry about some of it too.  Things outside of us begin to take over this process that up to now has been free and natural and fun- living in our bodies has been a mostly great adventure if we have been fortunate to avoid major trauma, injury, illness, abuse or neglect. If those things have happened the story is already very sad. Let these feelings pass through you, feeling is part of the process of growing.

 In this modern world we have car seats and strollers which confine and restrict movement which are poorly designed for our spines, but we are in them and we spend some time there, we may already be sitting in chairs rather than on the floor so we aren’t moving the hips, knees and ankles in half of the range of motion we did sitting on the floor.  Later, in Pre-School we sit at desks and in chairs for longer and longer periods of time. When we are active at recess and PE we are often playing games where the focus is on the ball, in the game with our team. We are rarely seeing and copying adults using good posture and body mechanics, as when generations ago children learned this through watching the physical work of adults in daily living. We learned by imitation, doing, feeling and seeing.  We might not ever be guided to tune-in to our own body’s alignment which gets thrown-off by afore mentioned cultural restraints. Maybe by now we are forgetting how to move about with determination and curiosity.  We might be seeing media stereotypes and unattainable examples that confuse us and make us think less of ourselves. People may say things that make us think we are awkward or worse.  We might even have stopped dancing, and playing. We move with less frequency, within less range of motion and with much less awareness. We might get into sports or athletics and restore some of this, depending on the sport, the coaches and all. Yet more and more time is seated in chairs, on a device, riding in a car, sitting in front of a TV or movie. So much sedentariness that when we rest it is restless, we drop our body in front of a device and keep the mind going. If we are lucky we walk a good 45 minutes a day, say to school, but if by now we only walk from house to car, to store to this and that (even sports) we have probably begun to lose the great body mechanics we had gained when learning to, practicing and mastering walking, so that when we go on a long walk it is without a smooth and efficient stride; we are forgetting to walk well, and sadly we don’t even realize it.  These trends continue, so that many kids in sports are up for knee and back surgeries while very young. Many other young people are rarely enjoying a long hike, or walk, or dancing or playing in any physical way. (In other cultures/times a wide variety of movement continues throughout life even the very elderly move throughout the day, walk, work, play, dance). Here we have pre-teens too inhibited to dance, or try something new, even when no-one is watching. A whole population lugging around their bodies like some kind of burden, harshly judging their physical self and storing tension and emotional residue throughout the tissues. This is very Sad, because moving is essential.  As we get older in western modern society, we move less, think more and eat whatever, are restless and we may be forgetting how we once did rest; how we would rest very relaxed, rest completely, peacefully.  Perhaps we begin to think sad thoughts about our body “I’m out of shape” “ I’m too fat” I’ll never be in shape” “I’m too old” “I can’t do this”, “I eat wrong” or “ this or that body part should be this or that way”  For many this trend continues and gets worse through middle and high school, college and beyond. Maybe we medicate, numb, or sedate ourselves.

 It does not have to be this way! It can be so much better, and the journey very satisfying! – Once started and made a habit, the progress back to harmony within the body happens fast, because it is natural!  Let’s start with taking a deep breath and let ourselves grieve the loss of knowing and loving our body as our friend.  This may be worthy of a good cry or several depending on your experience. Then, make friends with our body again, venture out for a walk or play music and dance. Henceforth, have compassion for the self, for the way things have been, but re-claiming our body completely. It is ours, it is Holy.  Each time, for several weeks, when we look into any mirror, look right into our own eyes and say “I love you.   Notice every negative thing we catch ourselves saying and replace it with a compassionate affirmation. Imagine moving much more, and thoroughly enjoying it. Let’s move until we are exhausted and enjoy the best rest, completely relaxed; resting just as when we were a small child.  When we dress, let’s be grateful for all of our body. When we wash our body, wash it in love. When we laugh let’s laugh more and louder. The truth is we are beautiful exactly as we are, and the more we love our body, as a best friend, the more healthy and vibrant and happy we will be.  We are not here to be perfect; we are here to experience and learn. We are in a body to experience this world. Let’s love it, exactly as it is, completely, without judgment, and we will shine from within, and from this shining we will have more energy to give and share, even into old age.  Inhabit your body as a home. Tenderly care for it, as a home. Enjoy, move and be relaxed in it, it is a home.  
Welcome home Dear Ones!    

Christina Bouajila 2014
 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The First Months / Years of Your Yoga Practice

Practical Guide: Your First Month of Practice, from   James Cardinale-

 James Cardinale trained with Sri Pattabhi Jois, Founder of Ashtanga yoga, James is based out of Albuquerque, NM, USA, and is an awesome teacher!

1. Just show up.

2. Don't worry about memorizing anything.  Your aim is to show up every day. The rest will come automatically. No one in the class cares if you know what you are doing. The teacher doesn't expect you to know anything.  Just show up. (And remember to take off your shoes.)

3. Each morning you will wake up and some days you will feel good and some days you'll feel bad and the thing is to get past the ups and downs of the mind and just show up anyway.  This isn't the kind of thing where you think to yourself "oh, I feel nice today I think I will go to yoga".  Nope.  The yoga bit is showing up regardless of how you feel because feelings are always changing. Philosophically, this is the identifying with the unchanging Yoga Sutra thing. Try to get right away that it ain't about the asanas. Just show up.

4. Or maybe think about the asanas as where your body is located in space.  So rather than your body being at home, take it to the shala.

5. Build up your daily practice with the mantra of "slow and steady".  There is no rush.  There is no finish line.

6.  The first month (actually, the first few years) is all about trying to establish a habit.  That is one of the reasons why you start with a small amount of time.  It is much easier to show up for perhaps twenty minutes each day than 90.  This is different than going to a 90 minute yoga class.  This is about a daily practice as part of the rest of your life.  Start small.  A little each day. This is the traditional method for learning and practicing Ashtanga yoga.  We aren't changing a thing because this really does work
7. It is ok to know nothing. It is ok to feel uncomfortable. It is ok if your ego gets bruised.  Be willing to learn.  Just be a student.

8. Yoga is not friendship time. Yoga goes beyond that. You can leave all that at the door.  You don't have to say good morning or be in a nice mood.  It really isn't about that. Your teacher isn't supposed to be your friend. Your fellow students are busy learning and practicing just like you are.  Let the space be more.  Let the energy be raised.

9. Just show up.

10. Keep showing up.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Moving beyond the soreness


 Move your body in new ways, build strength, increase your flexibility  and you will be sore.   This is actually a very good thing!
  When you move deeper/more the body will feel “sore” for 24-48hours (while the body is changing); the best remedy for soreness is to move again!  with-in 24-48 hours.   This is how you move beyond soreness. Remember consistency is the key to progress. Practice 4-6 times a week.
 Try enjoying this soreness- it is a clear sign that you are changing, enjoy feeling the muscles, enjoy remembering how your body moves and feels- Enjoy being ALIVE and Vital enough to be able to get sore! See it as a challenge to move (literally) beyond.
  • Yoga Asana (any vigorous exercise, sweating) is Stimulus for change. 
  • Change happens in the body (it becomes stronger, more flexible) during the 24-48 hours after. (1st decay of old cells and 2nd Growth of new cells)
  • If there isn't re-stimulus after 48 hours the body begins to lose that progress  (Decay)
 
To quote Dr. Harry S. Lodge co-author with Chris Crowley of, Younger Next Year and Younger Next Year for Women: "Exercise is healthy stress...When you exercise fairly hard you stress your muscles . You drain them of energy stores and you actually injure them slightly. The stress of exercise is good because it tears you down to build you back up a little stronger....It is a signal to your body that it needs to repair the damage and then some.  It needs to make the muscle just a little stronger. To store just a little more energy for tomorrow. To build a few more tiny blood vessels inside the muscle. To get a little younger."  .... " At rest, only 20 percent of your blood flow moves through your muscles: in a trained athlete, that rises, with exercise, to 80 percent. Picture it: torrents, rivers of blood flooding through your muscles with exercise, picking up the cytokines, the messengers of inflammation and repair, growth and healing, and taking them to every corner of your body....Every joint, every bone, every organ, every tiny part of your magnificent brain gets it's bath of C-6, and then the wonderful, rejuvenating C-10 each time you sweat. That's the right balance, good decay triggering growth."
 I recommend this book for understanding  how one can avoid 70% or more of disease and  70% or more of the negative affects of aging; empowering you to live an active, independent life longer.  It is also motivating and funny. We are likely to live a  much longer life than previous generations. Will it be active and independent until near the end?  or will we become increasingly helpless and dependent on "care" for years or decades of our life?  It doesn't have to be all downhill after 40, 50, 60,70 years old you can create a younger body now, and maintain it to very late in life.  ~Move it or lose it.~
 Pain is another thing all together; we tend to stop moving due to injury/pain. Rest it, stop all exercise. This is a huge mistake, keep moving, exercising all the parts you can! Pain is our teacher, so do continue to move, even move the injured parts in the range of motion you are able without pain, move through soreness and to the edge of pain. If you measure the pain from 1- 10, continue to move (slowly with the breath& mindful focus) up to the 1-2 range of pain and learn. This is where to check alignment:  are you breathing correctly? is the joint supported with correct, balanced muscle engagement? Are the spine, shoulders and hips in alignment? Do you feel energy spiraling through the limbs and torso?  Move with alignment and energy in mind, noticing what feels better and doing that!   To think and focus of building new strength and flexibility in improved alignment, rather than focus on what isn’t working. This is the mindset for healing. Homeopathy, Arnica, herbs, Epsom salts baths, essential oils, and acupuncture are some options for healing, but for goodness sake keep on moving!
 Of course if the pain is 8-10 range all the time, seek medical attention. But more and more people are getting results from yoga, physical therapy and exercise thereby  avoiding surgeries and other procedures that may or may not help. 
My Teacher, James Cardinale, recently when I mentioned shoulder pain (in the 4-7 degree range) had me do handstands. I was very surprised to realize there was no pain in doing handstands! Later, even just thinking of handstands, I aligned my shoulders better throughout the day! I discovered the pain was coming from how I was holding my shoulder while at the computer and reaching to the back seat of the car to lift out stuff! Changing those habits and doing head and handstands are healing - healing more than just that shoulder too!

"The body is a treacherous friend. Give it its due; no more.  Pain and pleasure are transitory; endure all dualities with      calmness, trying at the same time to remove yourself beyond their power. Imagination is the door through which disease as well as healing enters. Disbelieve in the reality of sickness even when you are ill; an unrecognized visitor will flee." 
         ~Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri______________    
 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

LEARNING

I was recently interviewed by Hakim Belamy for a blog about learning and want to share it with you.  direct link to blog I-remember-this!  or read it here-

I remember this! 
Christina Bouajila is a former K-5 art teacher who struggled with a learning disorder in grade school. Fortunately, her 6th grade year saw the efforts of a vigilant teacher and a determined mother converge as Christina was enrolled in a graduate student led program at Southern Methodist University. There, Christina saw her reading level rocket from a third grade reading level to a post 9th grade reading level as she was about to enter her freshman year of high school. She credits that leap to the passion of those young grad students and the attention she received in an environment where there was one teacher dedicated to the progress of two or three assigned students. However, later in life Christina learned a different kind of “reading”. She learned how to read and listen to her body.
I loved teaching, but what I experienced was one of the failings of our education system. I had 950 students in a very large elementary school, dealing with a different classroom and different classes every 45 minutes. I was passionate about it and I loved it. I put a lot of energy into it, but it became like riding a roller coaster, you can only ride it so many times in a day. So I burnt out. It was at a time when the economy was crashing, so I was losing my house. And something started happening at the time where I wasn’t coping with stress. There always seemed to be an endless stream of thoughts, worries about the future and analyzing the past. Very little time was being spent in the present. I also happened to be getting carbon monoxide poisoning from a car that I knew had an exhaust leak, but I thought with the windows rolled down I was protected. Things got so bad that I thought, at the young age of 49, that I was developing early onset dementia. It was frightening, I would be driving places I had been numerous times and get lost. It was really frightening for myself and my pre-teen daughter. I was so afraid and aware that I was losing the ability to have power over my own mind.

So I started looking to solve my lifestyle. Deal with living in relative poverty, part-time work and not wanting to go back to education for a while, so I started going to a community yoga class that was affordable twice a week. And all of the sudden i was like, “I remember this.” I had studied dance and I had always been very active. Before going into teaching and right after college I taught fitness for many years, as well as guided relaxation at the end of intense workout classes for people. And here I was going to this class and all of the sudden I felt peace. I remembered it, and I thought “I know how create this. I know how to do this”.

I kept going to the class for about three or four months. Then, the instructor mentioned that she was going to be moving and that she was having trouble finding someone to take over the class. I’d taught it before and was beginning to practice it more while I was not at class, so I said “You know, I think I could be ready in a month, and I’d be willing to take over the class.” However, I knew in order to take over the class I had to live the example. So I began daily meditations and daily yoga, and it saved my life.

I found my way back to being relaxed, and I mean really relaxed. Not the kind of relaxed you get when you plop down in front of a TV. I was able to be deeply relaxed and calm my mind enough to just be in the present. Now, it’s been over four years of daily practice that brings me back to that place of peace.

Christina Bouajila is a yoga instructor, meditation coach, visual and performance artist. The proud mother of a fine young scholar, Christina also organizes flash mob style, synchronized meditation events called "Med Mob". Find Christina and her yoga practice at HappyMountainYoga.com.