Beyond the Mat

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As the summer season begins to become part of the past and we return to a “normal” schedule, I’m reminded that there is still something celebratory as we slowly make our way into the autumn season. It’s yoga!

September is National Yoga Month. It is a national health observance designated by the Department of Health and Human Services. The goal of this initiative is to bring awareness of the many health benefits that yoga has to offer. For over a decade, SAS has honored this observance and has created opportunities to inspire and motivate employees and families to achieve a healthy lifestyle through a variety of yoga avenues. It’s a beautiful thing to see. Not only have our yoga numbers grown, but I've personally witnessed countless individuals improve their practice and grow as individuals.

T.K.V. Desikachar, yoga teacher and scholar, noted that the goal of yoga is to encourage us to be a little better than we were before, embracing every opportunity that helps us progress. I’ve remembered that quote and believe that there are many facets to yoga (on and off the mat). We may initially come to yoga to get a workout or relieve stress. Maybe we seek yoga as a means to escape and create an island of solitude on our mat. We feel good with the practice…we’re more open and relaxed and then we enter society again. Our tranquility dissolves and we crave that feeling we had in yoga, so we return. Yoga sneakily turns into something else. Creating shapes and breathing brings us clarity and helps us move through the process of simply letting go and finding our inner tranquility. By approaching the pose as a means of investigation, exploring the boundaries and the breath, we find patience and our better selves. It doesn’t happen overnight but it can happen if you begin and create a firm foundation, rooting yourself and growing from the ground-up and not seeking to attain the perfect practice. There is something to learn each time you step on your mat. Through this education, we can extend this lesson beyond the mat.

Here are some helpful hints whether you’re new to the practice or not.

  • You don’t have to be able to touch your toes before you come to class. Yoga can assist you with flexibility.
  • Newbies…choose the class format that matches your practice. We have many formats to choose from at SAS. Before you attend (class at SAS or in your town/city), check out the levels and descriptions to find the class that fits. This can alleviate a lot of frustration so you can truly be in the practice.
  • Trouble being still? If so, ask yourself why. Yoga can help as you continue to practice. We all have to-do lists and concerns that distract us, but let yoga be your time to simply be.
  • Come as you are and embrace the poses that you don’t like. These are most likely the ones you need.
  • Last but not least, begin with a beginner’s mind. Let your assumptions release and see each class as an opportunity for growth.

artwork by Amanda Pack

Find your path. Give yourself permission to listen to your body, mind and spirit.
Maybe it has something to tell you.
~ Namaste, Celeste ~

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About Author

Celeste Cooper-Peel, ND, MA, MCHES, CWHC, E-RYT

Wellness Manager

Celeste has been in the science, health and wellness field over twenty-five years. She began as a research chemist with a concentration in genetics and nutritional biochemistry. After working in the medical field, she saw the need to follow a path of proactive wellness and prevention. After receiving her Masters in Health Education, she ventured into the mind/body world receiving training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Yoga. Shortly after, she received the 2003 Wellness in the Workplace Award for a large health system in the state of Virginia. In 2004, Celeste joined SAS Institute, Inc. and continues to be passionate in her position overseeing Wellness. She believes curiosity and collaboration bring insight and new ideas which bring out the best in everyone from team members to those who are making healthy lifestyle changes. Believing that the body knows how to heal if given the proper tools, Celeste earned certifications in Aromatherapy and Essential Oils, Classical Chinese Medicine and Homeopathic & Naturopathic Medicine. She earned her Doctor of Naturopathy degree in 2020. Celeste is a published author, wife and mother and practices what she preaches and teaches. She is a nationally recognized Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) and has advanced certificates in Integrative and Functional Nutrition, Genetics and Genomics. She is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) with the National Yoga Alliance, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Instructor, Certified Wellness and Health Coach (CWHC) and Certified Yoga Therapist (CYT). Follow @ccooperpeel on Twitter and Instagram.

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