The Magic of Yoga

Sandy Naimou has been teaching yoga since 2011, practicing yoga for over 20 years, and writing in personal journals since childhood.  Yoga and writing are central to her spiritual life and development.  She currently blogs on her website, CreativeEnergyYoga.com and teaches yoga full-time, primarily at General Motors Corporation.

Sandy holds a B.A. in psychology and M.L.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies.  She spends her free time studying theosophy, anthroposophy, actively working as a board member for the Theosophical Society in Detroit, taking long walks at Cranbrook Botanical Gardens with people she loves, and watching sunsets on the beach, sometimes with a yoga mat.

Her main focus is to help people maximize their potential at work, at school, at home, and in other areas of life’s challenges. That’s why we’re delighted to have her lead a yoga class at The Path of Consciousness spiritual and writing retreat on October 5-7th at the Colombiere retreat center in Clarkston, Michigan where, weather permitting, we will practice outside in the fresh open air on the beautiful grounds of the retreat enter. We will close our practice with sounds of a crystal bowl and Tibetan singing bowl. For more information, click here.

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“Yoga opens the channels of creative energy so that the streams and rivers of your own consciousness flow freely towards your beautiful creations,” she says.

In this gentle and heart-centered yoga practice, she will engage participants with breath-work, concentration, and physical movement to open and connect the body, heart, and mind.

“Expansion in the heart center particularly opens us to truth and awareness of possibilities,” she said. “Connection between heart, mind and body brings into physical manifestation the ideas that live in our minds and the feelings and desires that live in our hearts.”

She adds that in addition to focusing on the heart center, the physical postures in this practice works on other areas in the body that require attention based on the physical demands of sitting and writing for long periods.

I was introduced to yoga over 15 years ago when my Reiki and Sikkim teachers asked the students to do a standing forward fold. Although I was fit and exercised daily, sometimes twice a day, I discovered I couldn’t touch my toes. I had limited flexibility, which can and does impact our daily life in ways that become obvious especially when you get older. I started going to yoga classes and immediately noticed a difference.

Yoga does more than burn calories and tone muscles. It’s a total mind-body workout that combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation or relaxation. In my case, it helped distress me during my stressful motherhood routines and allowed me to focus on my writing. Then, when my mother moved in with me, with dementia and in a wheelchair, the balancing and strengthening poses, along with the breathing exercises I’d done in yoga helped me care for her.

Yoga can be healing, strengthening, and transformational. In 1970, Billy Hayes was caught at Turkey airport with two kilos of hashish taped to his torso, then convicted of smuggling drugs and sentenced to four years and two months. Only weeks from his scheduled release in 1975, a high court extended that sentence to 25 years. He escaped after 5 years and went on to write a book about his experience which Oliver Stone wrote the script for and later made into an Oscar winning film called Midnight Express.

In one interview, Billy said, “Before I got arrested, I discovered yoga. And I’ve literally done yoga every day for forty years. It’s the only thing that saved me in jail, physically and emotionally. And in Hollywood. Emotionally, you have to be really tough to be in this business, Yoga just helps keep me balanced every day. It helps.”

In another interview, he said it was like a “magic act” that distressed and relaxed you.

 

Download from Sandy’s website a free guided meditation to know what truth feels like in your body. Click here

One of the Best-Kept Secrets

One beautiful sunny morning in March 2014, I drove to Colombiere Conference and Retreat Center to cover a story for The Chaldean News about a women’s Lenten retreat. It was a Friday and my son, a preschooler, didn’t have school that day. One of the directors of the retreat encouraged me to bring him along so I did.

Colombiere is nestled on acres of towering pines and oaks in Clarkston, Michigan. I remember upon entering the long road that leads to the building, I felt a sudden disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Inside, my son stopped to view some of the statues and look out the window at the walking trails and gardens. We took the elevators to an upper floor and went into a most lovely chapel with bluish décor. Father Sameem Balius was performing mass. He talked about the importance of retreats, how they renew peoples’ faith and help them experience the loving presence of God and to seek the wisdom necessary for good daily living.

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Later we moved the cafeteria, which was surrounded by large windows. My son and I observed the green acres of land. A few nuns were doing their morning walks. I interviewed the priests and organizers of the retreat, who initially started it years prior “to combine prayer, meditation and spiritual education”, and went home feeling blessed to have had the opportunity to visit this place, especially with my young son. (I included below a link of the article I wrote in 2014).

Two years later, my family and I went to Cancun, Mexico and I ended up participating in a spiritual ceremony that had me thinking to bring home the experience I enjoyed in the Riviera Maya. As an author of 12 books, I wanted to also combine writing workshops with it. I’ve worked with many writers and have found that oftentimes, there are spiritual blocks preventing them from moving forward in their career. I’ve also worked with many people who have healed several issues in their lives through the process of writing. I decided to start a writing and spiritual retreat and named it The Path of Consciousness, based on the sign welcoming patrons to the spiritual ceremony in Mexico. Last year, Reverend Barbara Yarnell of the Center of Enlightenment and another dear friend Lisa Argo offered to help me find the right venue and prepare other necessary work.

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Someone suggested we visit Colombiere. The name didn’t ring a bell but when we arrived to the building, upon driving into the long road, I immediately remembered the day my son and I went there, the peace that enveloped me and I’m sure him as well since he was so good throughout the day, allowing me to enjoy mass and interview people. From that one visit, we agreed this is the perfect place for the writing and spiritual retreat and didn’t end up touring other retreats. Later, I discovered that Colombiere is said to be “one of the best-kept secrets.”

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As someone who loves history, when I learned of the story behind Colombiere, I invited Janice Seeley, director of conferences and retreats, to come on my show and share it. Colombiere opened as a Jesuit training facility in 1959. It is named after Claude de la Colombiere, a Jesuit teacher, orator and spiritual director, who lived in France from 1641 to 1682 and was canonized May 31, 1992. In the course of preparation for the priesthood, the young Jesuit undergoes fifteen years of training, years of formation. Some examples of the classes offered in liberal arts were English, Latin, Greek, French, Literature, History, Education, and Speech. This rich background prepares the young Jesuit for further studies in philosophy and theology.

From the beginning, the Jesuit Healthcare Center for retired priests and brothers has been located there, as well as a large community of Jesuits involved in the operation of Colombiere. After the number of seminarians declined by the late 70s and 80s, they decided to open up an infirmary/retirement center for the Jesuit priests. In addition, the remainder of the building opened up as a retreat center. Although the facilities reflect the Jesuit influence, they are not limited to those of the Catholic faith. Colombiere hosts a wide spectrum of non-profit and for profit groups and is available for educational, religious, and governmental day and overnight programs, as well as both corporate and religious retreats.

Aside from having the writing and spiritual retreat there, I’m also considering having the Girl Scout troop which I lead to spend a night or two there, where mothers and daughters can enjoy quiet time without the interruption of electronics or television. If you want to check out the spiritual and writing conference and retreat which will be from October 5 to 7, visit this link The Path of Consciousness
Read Article about Chaldean Women’s Retreat

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