If you have taken a yoga class from start to finish, you know that somehow it was possible to make your way from frazzled, tense and irritable, to a place where you felt at ease, relaxed, and content. As you think back on a class, you may likely remember breathing, setting an intention, and moving around some, but where did the magic happen AND how do we find our way back there?

~Breathing and Movement help you relax physically and eventually even very busy minds learn to relax as a result.  Physiologically, it is not possible to be tense and relaxed at the same time.  By focusing attention on full, deep breaths, we can initiate a relaxation response and head off anxiety and tension.  By moving around into different postures, we learn to alternatively tense and relax the muscles where we store our stress thereby releasing trigger spots and alleviating discomfort.

~Creating an Intention means we decide there is a point to our practice and everything we do on our mat contributes towards that end.  When we notice our mind wanders or our inner critic surfaces, we can come back to our intention, STOP doing what is not beneficial, and stay focused en route to ease, relaxation, contentment or whatever intention was calling you on a given day.

~Mindful Awareness is what separates yoga from other forms of movement and exercise.  If you are newer to yoga, the feeling of being in a relaxed, meditative state may be most apparent towards the end of class in savasana, but the more you practice, the easier it becomes to be fully present in your body, on your mat, and eventually off your mat.  The more we are able to let ourselves “be” and break out of worrying about what has happened or what could happen, the more likely we are to feel contentment.

~Feeling Content, Appreciative and Grateful for the things in our lives that are good or are going well are states that we all visit, but most of us find it challenging to live there. Similar to how being tense and relaxed at the same time is impossible, the more we contemplate our appreciation and gratitude, the less dissatisfaction and negativity we experience.  That is not to say that being grateful eliminates frustration or suffering, but it gives us perspective.  In this way, yoga helps us begin to see life and it’s situations more clearly.  We remember what really matters.

What are you grateful for???

by Denise Antonini, MS, LPC, RYT
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Dynamic, soulful, and empowering, Denise pours inspiration and creativity into her teachings, using her expertise in health psychology to elevate an ancient practice to a state-of-the-art yoga experience. Yoga is her art of movement, mindfulness, her art of attention, and awareness, her art of intention. At Stanford University Denise studied psychology and the mind-body connection graduating with honors. At Chicago Medical School her thesis and doctoral work in clinical psychology focused on maintaining health, improving quality of life and achieving wellness. As a therapist, consultant and professor she has helped people create the life they want to be living. As a yoga instructor her invigorating, fluid yoga sequences challenge the body helping students to disconnect from the busyness of day-to-day life– tuning in to their intuition by stabilizing the mind with the breath. Denise effortlessly guides anyone who comes to the mat to a place of meditative calm–finding the perfection of the present moment.

Denise and her husband Eric are the owners and co-founders of You and the Mat, an independent yoga studio and gallery for yoga inspired art. Together they strive to make yoga accessible to students, instructors, and the community through their classes, art and music events, Master Teacher and Support Local Workshop Series. Celebrating yoga as a fusion of art forms, they support artists, musicians, and creatives who share their vision.