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About Heather Haxo Philips

HEATHER HAXO PHILLIPS is the Board Vice President and Treasurer of the Iyengar Yoga Association of Northern California. She is a certified Iyengar Yoga instructor and a graduate of the IYISF teacher training program. In addition to teaching yoga, she is the owner and visionary of Raw Bay Area. Her dedication as a board member is supported by her deep appreciation for the wisdom and teachings of the Iyengar family as well as her background in small business and non-profit management.

As the sage Patanjali points out in one of the first verses of the Yoga Sutras, Yoga’s aim is to still the movements of consciousness, or in Sanskrit: yogah cittavrtti nirodhah. We understand the consciousness to be the sensory awareness that we use each day in the form of touch, taste, smell, sound, sight, or thought. Hatha yoga practice, therefore, aims to help us still the senses in order to gain perspective on our daily experiences as we best can, so that we can use these experiences for our–and by extension others’–benefit. This great potential contained in yoga practice is especially helpful when we’re faced with the numerous challenges related to aging, and can help us age well.

As we age, and as we become more aware of the bodily and sensory changes that naturally occur with age, we can certainly appreciate the multiple benefits that yoga practice can bestow upon us. The physical changes that occur with age can make us more acutely aware of the many layers of skin, muscles, and bone. Yoga practice can do much to bring our total awareness of the body and of our thoughts into the present—especially when practiced in the Iyengar tradition, which emphasizes the correct and mindful alignment of limbs, muscles, and bones.

Being aware of the body’s alignment, and of the correct movements of the various muscles and limbs in specific poses (are my kneecaps sufficiently lifted? Is my bodyweight equally distributed between the right and the left?) leads us to an increased sense of awareness of the six modes of consciousness mentioned above, as well as a sense of repose and increased bodily and sensory awareness. This increased bodily awareness, novel at first, morphs into increased acceptance and understanding of our bodies, the contents and causes of our thoughts, and in time, a sense of calmness and centeredness.

 

About Wojciech Kawalek

WOJCIECH KAWALEK is a valued member of IYANC's Board of Trustees and a long-time student of IYISF.