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by Roxanne "Raji" Williams


Many of you know that I chose to leave Pittsburgh for a month to pursue my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Certification. While a month flies by in our normal lives…a month is a long time to be away from home, family and work! Well, it was definitely well worth the sacrifice we all made. Thank you to everyone for all of your patience and support with the process of my completion of training certification!

Some people are aware of the fact that there are many types and styles and schools of Yoga. I went to the Satchidananda Ashram in Yogaville, Buckingham, VA. Founded by Sri Swami Satchidananda. There I studied what is known as Integral Yoga®. Below is some information from the Yogaville website.

What is Integral Yoga?
by Sri Swami Satchidananda

“The goal of Integral Yoga, and the birthright of every individual, is to realize the spiritual unity behind all the diversities in the entire creation and to live harmoniously as members of one universal family. This goal is achieved by maintaining our natural condition of a body of optimum health and strength, senses under total control, a mind well-disciplined, clear and calm, an intellect as sharp as a razor, a will as strong and pliable as steel, a heart full of unconditional love and compassion, an ego as pure as a crystal, and a life filled with Supreme Peace and Joy.”
HH Sri Swami Satchidananda

The word “Yoga” means union or yoke in the ancient Sanskrit language. It is a perfect description of the science and philosophy of Integral Yoga. Integral Yoga® synthesizes the various branches of Yoga into a comprehensive life style system. The aim is to promote harmonious development of every aspect of the individual. The six branches of Integral Yoga® are each powerful tools to gain self-mastery. When combined to effect the whole being the results are at once subtle, profound and measurable. Some basic descriptions of each of the six branches are listed here:

Hatha Yoga
Focuses on the physical aspects through asanas (postures), pranayama (breath control), mudras, kriyas, yogic diet, and deep relaxation.

Raja Yoga
Balance and control of the mind through ethical practices, concentration and meditation.

Bhakti Yoga
The path of devotion, by constant love, thought, and service of the Divine. Bhakti Yoga can be practiced by everyone. All that is needed is faith and constant remembrance of God.

Karma Yoga
The path of action and selfless service. Serving without attachment to the fruits (or results) of the action.

Jnana Yoga
The intellectual approach. Through the knowledge of what really exists, that is, what is not changeable, one who engages in the Path of Wisdom realizes Oneness with the entire Universe.

Japa Yoga
Japa means repetition of a mantram – a sound structure of one or more syllables which represents a particular aspect of the Divine Vibration.

- See more  HERE

The Yoga classes I will be teaching will be drawing largely from the description of Hatha Yoga listed above. We will be experiencing the sound vibrations of mantras, the asanas (physical practice) as moving meditation, guided deep relaxation, pranayama (breathing practices), brief seated meditation, and closing slokas (prayers) to complete the circle of energy and send it out into the universe. This is a truly beautiful practice suited for all ages, physical structures, fitness levels and belief systems. If time allows we will also talk a little about the nutrition and other branches of Yoga (for those who are interested). I am happy to answer any questions you may have to the best of my ability.

The over-arching theme at the Ashram was “Truth is One. Paths are many.” We talked not only about the benefits of Yoga on a person’s Mind, body and spirit, but we also talked about all the different faiths and how they are all related somehow. There was a heavy emphasis on accepting all belief systems, and acknowledging that we are all connected as beings on this earth. This really struck close to my heart as this has always been my personal belief since before I was old enough to “know any better”, and after people tried to teach me otherwise.

I definitely plan to return to the Ashram to visit my new family and recharge my spiritual battery. It is such a beautiful place in every aspect. Physically the landscape is beautiful. Energetically the place is gorgeous! AND the vegetarian food is DELICIOUS!! I had no idea going in that I would find out that I not only enjoyed the vegetarian diet so much, but that I would end up feeling SO GOOD! I certainly didn’t expect that I would want to maintain the diet! The structure of the intensive program is to allow you to LIVE YOGA, so that you can gain full understanding and appreciation for the knowledge and practices. I don’t believe in the stuff because someone told me so. I believe because I have experienced it FIRST HAND. I would suggest this to anyone who has questions about anything. Take into consideration what people say, and watch what they do-- but the most important thing is to find out why they do it.

If I had not caught a cold while I was there, I would not have been able to see how quickly I got over it without any OTC drugs. For this reason I am convinced! That doesn’t mean I don’t eat any crap anymore…but I do notice what it does to my body when I do. I am aware, and therefore I can make better choices for myself, as well as knowing EXACTLY why my body feels the way it does. Why my stomach doesn’t feel well after the pizza…or why I need a bathroom shortly after eating eggs…or why my body feels stiff after eating sugar…or why my mind won’t settle after spicy food, or stimulating caffeine, etc…etc…etc… And that is just the food discussion! We didn’t even mention the argument with the spouse, the difficult morning with the children, the anticipated presentation for work, etc… All of these things affect the clarity of mind and ease of body. All of this can be positively affected through the regular practice of Yoga.

Does this mean I am no longer an advocate of Pilates practice? Absolutely not! I am even MORE an advocate! I experimented with both practices while I was at the Ashram, and I even helped someone who was dealing with a back pain issue with Pilates. I am now even more a believer that the two are important in their own ways AND work very well TOGETHER. I have been trained classically in Pilates and now classically in Yoga (“classically” meaning the way it was designed by the originators), and am very proud of my training, my trainers and my practices.

I look forward to sharing all of what I have learned with you! Please come see me in class at Verve! If you have any questions, concerns, or if there is anything you are uncertain of or uncomfortable with, please feel free to see me before or after class. Otherwise, if there is anything you feel needs more discussion or personal time and attention, please feel free to email me at

Please know that there is nothing wrong with having questions or concerns, or not being completely in agreement. I saw that come up a lot during my training with people who were uncertain of some of the practices that were introduced to us. I loved the response that we got overall, “Take what you want, and leave the rest.” Meaning, if (after trying something) you feel like something is absolutely not for you, that’s ok. Allow yourself to be open to experiencing and you will find what, if anything, IS for you. Most of us had NO IDEA of how much perspective we would gain during that month of training! We had no clue that it would be part of our spiritual journey. Some people found their path, others were solidified on their previous paths, and still others found doors opening for them to look through to consider the path they didn’t even know laid before them. Regardless of what we saw, we gained clarity, some new tricks, and some new friends/family. It was a beautiful experience. From that, I will leave you with this…Life is happening! Embrace it! Enjoy it! Learn to MOVE FREELY with it! Om Shanti. Namaste.