Karma Yoga


Balance yoga is not only a vibrant hatha yoga studio that challenges you physically and mentally, but also a studio devoted to helping our students and the community at large- in other words, challenging your soul.So far, since we opened in December of 2004, we (our students and teachers) have come together to:

 

  • Raise several thousands of dollars to help Kashi Yoga in its yogathon (2005 and 2006) as they continue to feed the homeless.
  • Raise several hundred dollars for Taskforce for the Homeless (along with Lululemon Athletica) at our yogathon in Piedmont park for the Solstice.
  • Raise several hundred dollars for Hurricane Katrina victims.
  • Collect blankets, clothes and other necessary items for the homeless.
  • Enable adolescents and young children in foster care to have a merry Christmass/happy holiday season through DFACs. (We collect donations and then go buy them gifts, wrap them and help distribute them. Last year we “adopted” three teenagers.)’08 UPDATE: Balance Yoga was able, thanks to the generosity of its students, to adopt 5 little girls this Christmas. We raised over $1200 worth of funds and toys. THANK YOU! “09 UPDATE: BY again raised almost $1000 to help these children during the Holiday season! THANK YOU! ’10 UPDATE: We raised enough money to help four more children have a happy holiday. THANK YOU! ’11 UPDATE: We raised enough money to support four more children!
  • Thank you to all those who participated and donated in Shannon’s class on Sunday afternoon, October 7th- we raised several hundred dollars for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.
  • Thank you to all those who participated in Jennifer’s Fundraiser for Cancer research! We raised over $700! And again, thanks for coming to the other cancer fundraiser in which you all helped Jennifer raise over $500 for the same!
  • We hope that you will join us in these acts of Karma Yoga as we “take the yoga off the mat and into the street!” Look for our next cancer research fundraiser in September of ’12 as well as our annual fundraiser for the Secret Santa program this winter!

See Bekah Hanlon’s story of inspiration below:

“Just Be”

By: Bekah Hanlon

When I first started practicing, it was pink. By year three, I upgraded to blue. And by year five, I threw all caution to the wind, splurged and upgraded to a raspberry, Jade yoga mat. I certainly felt my five years of practice had warranted the crème de la crème of mats. I had arrived; I had conquered arm balances, was on my way to inversions and had even learned a thing or two about my bandhas.

My journey on my mat at times had been about the physical; how did I look; was I thin; could I control not rolling my eyes at the teacher as she reminded me to yet again ‘find my breath’. And at other times, my mat offered a source for me to find ‘me’; I allowed my practice to be led by breath; I controlled my responses to what my practice stirred up; I learned to ‘just be’.

And at the age of 31, I was faced with a fear that most females fear and unfortunately face, breast cancer. Upon diagnosis, I lived for my practice. As I had chosen initial treatment of a bilateral mastectomy, I knew in a month, I would not be able to practice. And this my friends is when I began to understand what the past five years of practice had been about.

For a month, I came on to my mat, was grateful I was there, I accepted the mundane and made intentions like never before. My intentions were certainly focused on my health, but I also offered my practice to women that were fighting this battle, those that had lost fighting and the family and friends that fell witness to this disease. When the teacher reminded me to breath, I was thankful I was in that moment, using my core, my breath and my mind. While off my mat and learning about my cancer, I took each step as if my mat was underneath my feet. I literally spent seconds, minutes and hours focusing solely on my breath. I reflected on the moments that my teachers had stated time and time again, ‘use your breath; don’t panic in the pose; just breathe’. And how true this was on and off my mat.

The day before my surgery, I practiced yoga. The teacher asked that we focus on accepting the mundane. And for once, I would have given anything to have been a part of the mundane. I allowed myself to experience each asana, each warrior pose and every pose that I had rejected and loathed since the beginning of my practice. My intention was to ‘just be’. And moments up to my surgery, I used my breath to prepare for my greatest plight.

My recovery was almost picture-book like. Within a day, I had come home; within two days, I made pancakes; by day four, I did my hair! My upper body strength was weak, but my mind and breath were the strongest they had ever been. Three weeks after surgery, I received the green light to return to yoga. I spent moments worrying that others would see I was not at my yoga best, but quickly realized that I was at my best. My heart was open, my mind was aware, and I was ready to ‘just be’.

So why share this story? This past Saturday, Jen read to us many quotes and one truly resonated with the journey I’ve been on. She read to us about a man that had gone to study with the Asian monks. After several years, he realized that no matter how many lists he made about what he wanted to be or what he wanted to focus on losing, he would only have one opportunity to be him. And I will only have one opportunity to be me. I will only have one opportunity to experience that asana, on that day, at that moment. My yoga practice is no longer about poses, but about life and learning how to use what I’ve learned on my mat when I’m off my mat. Each day is a gift; each practice is blessing. It is hard to always be mindful in your practice; it is hard to not make mental lists of things to do when class is over. We often wait for a crisis to occur before we can realize the beauty in each day.

But as we are given the opportunity each time on and off our mats to seek enlightenment, I urge you seize the moment. I urge you to ‘just be’.