Finding Balance On and Off the Yoga Mat

What Do You Have to Lose?

Yoga offers a myriad of physical, psychological and spiritual benefits. Besides the inherent physical benefits that yoga creates -- overall strength and flexibility -- yoga also improves sleep quality, alleviates pain, prevents injury and balances metabolism. Yoga also trains us how to quiet the mind, create positive energy, relieve stress, eliminate depression and develop awareness of ourselves and the world around us.

"Yoga is overflowing with rewards. It opens our minds. It teaches us how to better deal with ourselves and others," said Elka.

"More than any other reason, students tell me that yoga helps them deal with stress." she said. "This ultra-fast pace world offers so much stress -- yoga brings people the calmness they need. Even those people that only come to work out recognize they are now able to cope with their emotions better and handle stress."

You can practice yoga everywhere, not just in a class. This is especially true of breathing. Learning to breathe properly is an important tool. Once you learn to breathe when faced with anxiety, depression or a stressful situation, you learn how much it can calm you down.

"Giving yourself a moment just for yourself -- just to focus on your own being -- helps us solve internal struggles," Elka said. And it doesn't take long to learn. "Start with meditating just 10 seconds a day. Keep yourself in the present for just those 10 seconds. Little by little, increase your meditation by 10 seconds a day. That's all it takes."

She read a passage by Thynn Thynn from her book of inspirational quotes that she often reads from at the end of her classes. "Why do we think we have no peace of mind? Experiencing peace is like looking at our hands. Usually, we see only the fingers -- not the spaces in between. In a similar manner, when we look at the mind, we are aware of the active states, such as our running thoughts and the 1,001 feelings that are associated with them, but we tend to overlook the intervals of peace between them."

"We all need to look at that space -- in life -- look at the missed perceptions. Be conscious of what we do everywhere...on and off the yoga mat," Elka explained.

"The world we live in today is challenging. There will always be struggle," she continued. "Our purpose is to find peace amongst the struggle. Yoga can help us reach this goal."

As her voice trailed off, students came in and began setting up their mats and towels. Elka welcomed each student with a hug, a smile and some positive energy.

Elka Hauck is owner of Namaste Yoga Center in San Diego. She teaches a variety of yoga classes each week and offers massage and various forms of energy healing. Visit her Web site at or email her at .
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