Recent Posts by Betsy Ceva

What I love about Birchwood

Birchwood Center for Yoga and Massage is a sanctuary. Beautiful space, full of light - highly trained teachers and massage therapists full of compassion and wisdom - abundant offerings of classes and workshop to make students feel welcome and part of the community - all in all a place of LOVE. Namaste, Angela Taylor
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Natarajasana by Julie Lifton

Last week I taught Natarajasana, The King Dancer, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  As is often the case, I observed the link between the alignment of the body and the intention of the pose. In King Dancer the orientation should be forward, the gaze at eye level, the forward hand and the…
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A Delicious Soup From The Well Fed Yogi!

Mary Callan is a 2018 graduate of Birchwood's 300 Hour Advanced Teacher Training program, a beloved Gentle Yoga instructor, the mother of four beautiful young women, and the author of the blog The Well Fed Yogi. The following is a scrumptious recipe she whipped up after finding a "glut of carrots in the fridge." Mary writes…
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My “Deepening Your Practice” Experience ~ Peggy Dimond

In the fall of 2009, I took the Deepening Your Practice track of Birchwood Center’s 200 Hour Teacher Training Program. I’d been practicing yoga for six years, typically taking 3-4 classes a week, and wanted to learn more about yoga philosophy and broaden my understanding of the postures. I had no ambitions of becoming a…
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Testimonial: Birchwood’s 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training

Birchwood’s 200-Hour Yoga Level I Teacher Training “revitalized my body and reinvigorated my heart” by Amy Oscar I'd never thought about becoming a yoga teacher before but suddenly, as the 2015 Teacher Training approached, I felt excited, curious. When I saw teacher trainees around the studio, I watched them: I want what she's having, I…
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What is Restorative Yoga?

Restorative Yoga is an intuitive, meditative, profoundly healing practice that utilizes a variety of props to support the body in deeply comfortable and relaxing ways. It is a simple, slow practice accessible to all ages and abilities, and can be modified to accommodate most body types or special needs. Restorative Yoga provides a potent form…
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Pranayama – Yogic Exercise in Respiration

Pranayama is the fourth step in Ashtanga yoga, the eight-fold path put forth by Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras. Prana means vital life force and ayama means expansion or extension. The controlled breathing of Pranayama practice expands life force throughout the entire body/mind system.

Breathing is the single pranic activity that is under our control and by using different patterns of breathing we can affect the nervous system and our states of consciousness in different ways. Pranayama helps us to regulate our breathing, helps to control and train our mind, and automatically leads us to the fifth step on the eight-fold path of Yoga called Pratyahara, withdrawal of the senses inward.

A full breath is composed of three parts:
Puraka, inhalation
Rechaka, exhalation
Kumbhaka, the pause in-between

Pranayama is the voluntary control of any of these three stages of breath. This conscious, deep, and rhythmic breathing reduces stress and brings about relaxation, tranquility, and a sense of well being. Pranayama gives rise to balance in our bodies and minds, and a soothes of the nervous system. Pranayama practice should be easeful and pleasurable – never forced or rushed, and should be practiced regularly on whatever time frame pleases you.

© 2016 Betsy Ceva

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