Florida Yoga Academy https://www.floridayogacademy.com Top Rated Yoga Academy in Florida Fri, 17 Aug 2018 20:48:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Yoga Is My Life, My Passion, My Happiness https://www.floridayogacademy.com/yoga-is-my-life-my-passion-my-happiness/ https://www.floridayogacademy.com/yoga-is-my-life-my-passion-my-happiness/#respond Mon, 07 May 2018 19:19:10 +0000 http://www.fly.239web.org/?p=51725 10 years ago I was a gym client, working out with the fitness machines and bored while doing so. You know how it is: you start with enthusiasm, after a month you go because you are paying the monthly fee, later on, you go to the gym less and less. You make hundreds of excuses not to go to the gym because it is boring, you don’t see changes in your body and you are not losing weight. Sometimes you feel jealous of perfectly shaped men and women hanging around you. The gym works for some people, but not for everyone. Then I started trying all the different types of classes: body sculpture (I didn’t like lifting weights), cycling (my knees were hurting), pilates was too hard for me and finally, I found a yoga class. My eyes opened wide, the class was gentle, easy and flowing. I didn’t notice how one hour went by and was gone. After class I felt like after a vacation: happy, relaxed and energized. After the first yoga class, I understood, that yoga could be my passion.

Step by step practicing yoga changed my life. I got more flexible, and I feel like I became ten years younger, never did I feel so good. My immune system got better, my metabolism got faster (I checked that with the metabolism machine), I become aware of my body and changed my diet. I lost weight! Now I’m in control of my life. Everything changed in my life: instead of going shopping a few times a week I was reading more, meditating, and just being outside at the parks and beaches. I’m not stressed anymore. I started saving money too! I didn’t plan all thoughts and changes just happened. I feel happy every day of my life.

My friends noticed the difference, and they said: “Inga, if we have problems you always say just to do yoga” I believe it is true, because after gentle stretching, breathing, meditating – everyone feels better. But how can yoga help with your financial problems or relationship problems? Easy when you are relaxed, feel good and are comfortable in your body you start looking at your problems from a different side and all of sudden they just don’t look that big and finding a solution is much easier than before.

Yoga is all life study. I find myself learning every day, by observing my students and helping them understand their bodies. Everybody can practice yoga! There is not age, body type or flexibility limits. You have to adjust poses (Asana) to fit your body, and then just breathe, relax, and enjoy the experience of a lifetime.

Now I can’t imagine my life without yoga. I got certified to teach yoga, and opened my own yoga studio! My first place was tiny; I could only fit four people in there. I was surprised that people liked my classes; soon they were coming back with their friends and family. Then I realized that the space was too small and rented a bigger place. Now I have my dream yoga studio with candles on the wall, a massage room and beautiful people who work with me.

Yoga is not an exercise – it is a lifestyle!

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Yoga for Children with Special Needs https://www.floridayogacademy.com/yoga-for-children-with-special-needs/ https://www.floridayogacademy.com/yoga-for-children-with-special-needs/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 21:49:24 +0000 http://www.fly.239web.org/?p=51600 Both of my children started yoga a few months ago.  For years I have heard that yoga can be beneficial for children with special needs and especially for kids on the autism spectrum but I wondered how my children would do. My little man can’t sit still for more than a minute and has a hard time staying focused, getting distracted by objects in a room and sounds outside. On the other hand my daughter struggles with motor planning, has low muscle tone and difficulty with coordination and balance. I practiced yoga a few years ago and I really felt that yoga had helped me manage stress and anxiety better and had improved my flexibility but I do believe it’s all depends on finding a good teacher so I was thrilled when, without looking for it, I met someone who seemed like the perfect fit for my children.

Every child with special needs is different and has different challenges so it’s important to find what works for each individual child whether they are in a private or group class. Instructor Inga Balciuniene, from Yoga and Massage Studio in Cape Coral, tells us: “In my classes, we practice breathing, yoga postures, and relaxation. I observe my students looking for what works for them and what does not. I make my classes easy and enjoyable for them. Every student is discovering their body through yoga and has to find what is most comfortable and suitable for them. And every class, step by step, we are doing more and more… You just need to be patient. I let them know that they have to be patient with their bodies, too. Nobody is perfect and you just have to work on your body from where you are today, and the most important part is to enjoy your yoga practice!

Yoga classes for children with special needs usually include an integrated series of balanced yoga poses, specialized breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques. Because children are visually oriented, many teachers add a visual element like using yoga cards for children or having a colored picture of each pose so that the child can have it near his or her mat. This is also helpful for children who may have language-based learning disabilities.

Benefits of Yoga for Special Needs Children

  • Calming benefits: children learn self-calming through breathing techniques specifically intended to help children contend with their escalating emotions.  Yoga helps them relax their body and their mind.
  • Self-Awareness: yoga helps children become more self-aware of their bodies and of their emotions, and gives them coping skills when they feel anxious, afraid or stressed. Kids in the yoga classes become more aware of others as well, interacting and making eye contact more often.
  • Health benefits: yoga is a healthy exercise that helps with cardiovascular fitness also improving strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility.  Yoga can even help improve digestion
  • Enhancing Concentration: yoga can improve concentration and reduce hyperactivity. Children learn how to sit still in one place and focus on what’s important as opposed to letting their mind wander and be distracted easily increasing their attention span.
  • Self Esteem: when children improve their agility and flexibility, it does wonders for their confidence.

In the few months since my children started yoga we have seen a huge improvement in my son’s ability to focus, he is more aware of his feelings and his ability to self-regulate has improved. My daughter has gained strength, improved her balance and flexibility and we have seen some improvement in her ability to motor plan. Yoga was the right fit for my children, maybe your children can benefit from it as well.

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My life story https://www.floridayogacademy.com/memories-from-holistic-yoga-therapy-training-graduation-my-story/ https://www.floridayogacademy.com/memories-from-holistic-yoga-therapy-training-graduation-my-story/#respond Fri, 23 Feb 2018 17:53:54 +0000 http://www.fly.239web.org/?p=51284
I remember that Christmas Eve of 1993. At that time I was just 21 years old, but I had already been married and started my adult life as a housewife. I remember that wonderful winter day. The beauty of winter’s magic dance hypnotized me while I was staring at it through the window. The puffy snow blanket kept slowly covering the trees in our backyard. I saw the sunlight spinning in whimsical twirl on the top of the neighbor’s house roof. The cold Winter Sun did not give any heat of course, and I felt so grateful for my old fireplace which generously pampered us with its warmth and coziness. My house has been filled with the Holiday spirit! We placed the most elegant Christmas tree ever in the middle of the living room. We brought the tree from the woods behind our house, and I decorated it with the pieces of wood wrapped in the colorful gift paper. My two-year-old son has had fun chasing our cat and cheerfully yelling.

The time came for starting Christmas Eve dinner preparation. Traditionally we would serve 12 dishes made with fish, mushrooms, vegetables cooked in all the delicious ways and variety of fruit. There was not a single family in my home country Lithuania who would celebrate Christmas without a traditional poppy seed milk and poppy seed cookies. But when I opened my fridge, I found there just three herring fish which were staring at me with the glossy sad eyes. Also, I noticed five potatoes glowing at me in all their sprouted beauty. A sharp thought rushed through my mind: How will I make Christmas Eve dinner for my family if I have nothing but the empty fridge? But this sudden thought couldn’t spoil my Christmas spirit. I got used to being creative while cooking for my family. Lack of food was my everyday reality.

But I have always been a dreamer and always believed in miracles. So, I closed my eyes and imagined what would happen if I met Santa Claus. What gift would I ask from him? Of course, the most desirable Christmas gift – the basket of fruit. I closed my eyes tighter, and the image of different exotic fruit has magically appeared in front of me. I could feel the taste of those delicious tangerines in my mouth. I could smell how fragrant they were. But reality happened to be fruitless. We had no money for such a luxury that Christmas Eve.

Time passed by and few years later I immigrated to the US along with my family, two hundred dollars in the pocket and big dream in our hearts. We were looking forward to start a new life in the most beautiful country. Soon I got a job and it made me feel happy because it paid money. I was working hard. Sometimes I worked three different jobs same time with no days off. I remember myself holding my first salary in my hand. I was spinning around looking at those dollar bills feeling like the richest person on Earth. I have never ever got such amount of money in my entire life before! I was so excited I could not decide where to go and how to spend my money. I realized that now I have enough to pay rent, utilities, internet, food for my kids and it felt amazing. I run to the closest Walmart toward my “big” shopping experience. I have been walking for hours between the isles, contemplating all the goodies at the endless shelves. I felt like a butterfly fluttering in that world of brightness, shine and beauty. But that day I left the store with the only box of tangerines in my hands. The most desirable fruit weren’t luxury for me anymore. Now I could eat as many tangerines as I wanted. I rushed back home holding my catch being anxious to start my tangerine celebration! I placed the orange balls in the vase and arranged them nicely. The color, the smell seemed to be magical and seducing. Slowly I started peeling off the very first tangerine feeling how my mouth starts watering but all of a sudden I heard the phone ringing. It was my sister calling. She spoke to me and cried telling that our parents are in such financial trouble they may lose their apartment soon. Next morning I sent all my money, my very first salary to my parents. I remember that day as one of the happiest moments of my life when I finally could help my family!

Since that time many years passed by. I was busy working, raising kids, living my life and little by little I lost my excitement I used to have for the ability to pay bills. Trips to the grocery store turned into a not very pleasant chore. Besides, with the time I developed allergies on citruses and even forgot when I ate my last tangerine. I was turning as a squirrel in the wheel between jobs, bills and other responsibilities. My life became bleak. I tried to entertain myself going shopping, learned how to spend money I didn’t have and didn’t earn. I kept asking myself – where did my American dream disappear? Where is my happiness? Is my life only about working, raising kids, spending time on Holidays with friends, shopping, paying bills and in the end I will die when my time comes? That’s it? Why nothing makes me happy anymore? Who am I? What is the purpose of my life?

One of these days I went to the local gym and took a yoga class. Since that moment I began my revival. I could not clearly describe what happened in that class, but something changed for me. I noticed that the Sun shined brighter, the trees look greener, and people looked happier. I wanted to smile with no reason feeling joy in my heart. I wanted to hug and kiss the whole world. I came back to get more of this wonderful experience and started practicing yoga. From the beginning, I did my practice just two, then three times a week until I could not imagine even one day of my life without yoga. Yoga changes everything. Every morning I woke up listening to the most impressive birds’ symphony, watching how the first rays of the Light are twirling to the rhythm, feeling the incredibly delicious aroma of my coffee. My senses were dancing at the top of the hill! I’ve been celebrating every day, every minute of my life!

But same time I could feel that there is something more behind just a regular practice of Asanas( physical postures) and Pranayama (breathing exercises). So, I wanted to discover all the yoga secrets that ancient yogis kept hidden for thousands of years. I enrolled for the Yoga Teacher Training with Williamson, Virginia, and the doors of the mystery yoga knowledge slowly began to open providing me with such desirable information. I started learning yoga philosophy and following the yogic way of life with the support of my dearest teacher. The Universe surprised me with the new paths opening for me every day. In October of 2009, I conducted my first yoga class as a teacher in my own studio! I understood that I found my path, my passion, my love and myself. This way was not easy, but I have never felt tired or disappointed. I was working fifty-five hours a week at my primary job and every evening and every weekend I had have enough energy to teach yoga classes at my studio. I was so happy with what I was doing, I was following my real destiny, so my yoga studio was growing year by year.

My hunger for knowing more about yoga was growing, and I was working and saving every penny for the future studies. In 2012 I went to the internationally well-known yoga institute Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai, India for The Heart of Yoga course. It was one month program of Yoga in T. Krishnamacharya tradition. I traveled to India by myself. I thought I had prepared very well for that trip by reading two traveling books about this country. But no matter how much you try to be prepared for India, upon your arrival the cultural shock is guaranteed. First two weeks I thought that I would die and this is the end of my life story. The fear was following my footsteps. Dirt, poorness, noise, smell were my daily companions on the way to the school. Homeless women on the streets with dirty hair dressed in smelly rags were carrying babies in their arms. They would follow me all the way begging for money. My heart was broken when I saw those babies, but there was nothing I could do for them. Fear and pity were my feelings in every minute of my first stay in India. It was disgusting and scary to see urinating men in almost every corner. Homeless people, sick and skinny, dogs with their ribs protruded under the skin filled the streets. They had no emotions hopelessly searching for something edible. Besides, the food was fire spicy, and people at the restaurants were eating with their hands! That was my first impression of India. Pictures I posted on Facebook terrified my family and friends. Even though my experience outside of the school was awful, I was happy at the school. I fell in love with T. Krishnamacharya yoga tradition. Every cell of my body was absorbing such valuable and desirable information, which I had been searching for the longest time. For the whole month, I plunged into the deep ocean of the authentic traditional yoga studies, practices and experiences. I knew that I have to come back here again for more yoga studies. I was dreaming of becoming a certified Yoga Therapist.

While concentrating on my studies, I didn’t realize when I started feeling more comfortable being in India. My fear had gone, and I started noticing beautiful things on my way to the school. Every morning I saw Indian women creating colorful mandalas with the chalks in the front of their houses. They were dressed in beautiful sari, and almost all of the ladies would wear fresh jasmine flower garlands in their hair. Indian kids were friendly waiving to me on the way to the school. I found beautiful temples were I could meditate for hours. I saw happy faces of poor people thankfully accepting a simple portion of rice for lunch at Rama Krishna Temple in Chennai. I felt blessed to be able to share my lunch with them sitting on the floor and eating with my fingers. The pictures that I kept posting on Facebook started to change to positive, nice and beautiful. I fell in love with India and I could not wait to come back for more yoga studies.

I promised to myself to come back to India for Yoga Teacher Training and Holistic Yoga Therapy Training and I did come back.

I am so lucky to have this opportunity to grow as a person and to study with well-known teachers in yoga world: Menaka Desikachar, Kausthub Desikachar and others. I successfully completed my courses and started integrating this unique knowledge of yoga in my everyday work. I help people to heal not just from physical but also psychological, spiritual, emotional problems which include problems with the relationship. I’m very happy with the students who come to study with me at Florida Yoga Academy.

Today we offer wonderful courses for the people who are seeking an authentic traditional yoga training: Yoga Teacher Training, Kids Yoga Teacher Training and Holistic Yoga Therapy Training. Besides our main programs at the studio, we run some other educational programs, workshops and health retreats. I’m blessed with the wonderful staff helping me to do all the work. Our mentors teach yoga for the kids at the local schools and voluntarily share the light of yoga with the disabled patients of United Cerebral Palsy of Southwest Florida.

I don’t think my journey of studying in India is over. I’m creating new plans to come back for Chanting Teacher Training course in 2019.

I’m a dreamer and I have so many projects in my near future.

I want to share with the world my adventurous trips to India and other countries by writing books. I want to open a healing center for the people who are tired from life and cannot find themselves. I hope that universe will support me.

I love my native country and will be Lithuanian to the end of my life, but I feel very thankful to the beautiful USA the country of my dreams which gave me a chance to change my life, to find myself, to follow my dreams and to be who I’m now.


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Yoga for Intellectual Disability https://www.floridayogacademy.com/yoga-for-intellectual-disability/ https://www.floridayogacademy.com/yoga-for-intellectual-disability/#respond Fri, 23 Feb 2018 17:46:20 +0000 http://www.fly.239web.org/?p=51278 One beautiful morning in Florida I received a phone call from United Cerebral Palsy of South West Florida Day Center asking for volunteer yoga teacher to teach yoga classes to intellectually disabled people.

I had a little experience working with Autistic kids and adults, and I was very excited to experiment how yoga tools can be applicable and beneficial for the people with intellectual disorders. I did my homework by researching about diseases that individuals were diagnosed at this Center: Cerebral Palsy, Down’s Syndrome, Autism, Pervasive Development Disorder and Spina Bifida.

With set appointment time on the following week a senior teacher of Florida Yoga Academy, Giedre Avellino and I went to the center. It was heartbreaking to see people lying on the special mattresses, in the wheelchairs blankly gazing to nowhere. Some individuals were doing crafts and drawings. Employees of the center were taking care of and interacting with the participants, but the atmosphere in this Center was very sad and cold. It was very challenging to stay balanced and calm at this place. I wanted to hug each of them and warm them up with all my love.

Tracy showed us the center and we chose the “quiet” room to start our Yoga experiment. Our Yoga room had no doors and curious participants of the center were interrupting our private classes constantly. Volunteer students were coming to meet us one by one. We asked questions, observed and tried different Asanas, Pranayama and Chanting. We noticed that participants have fear of meeting new people and trying new things, most of them were overweight, breathing was very poor and mostly their speech was affected, or they didn’t speak at all. Attention spans of our students were very short, yoga lessons were about 15 minutes long. We applied simple yoga tools addressing observation we noticed: Asanas- Tadasana, Virabhadrasana, Trikonasana, Uttanasana, Pranayama with arm movements and chanting OM. Each participant received a sheet with the written class instructions and promised to practice yoga at home every day!

Finally, a girl in the wheelchair was brought to the yoga room. I look to Giedre with question in my eyes:” What practice can she do? She cannot move or speak. Also she is under strong influence of medication! What Yoga tools can we apply to this girl?” I gently touched her hand and she pulls it away. She didn’t like my touch and I saw fear in her eyes. My thoughts were jumping in my mind: “She cannot talk, so she cannot express herself, communication is associated with Vishuddhi Chakra – the tool of Yoga which balances this chakra is chanting!” Very gently Giedre and I started chanting OM. I noticed interest in her eyes. We continued chanting. After a few minutes listening to our chant and the girl fell asleep! Later we had a few more participants in the wheelchairs brought to our yoga room for practice. The same tool of Yoga was applied each time: gently chanting OM.

A week later, we came back to UCP of SWFL to continue teaching yoga therapy classes. Employees of the Day Center met us with a lot of excitement asking what we did with the participants in the wheelchairs last week, because they were unusually calm during that day, some of them were sleeping! Listening to 5 minutes chanting had a big calming effect on those people!

We went to check how our mobile students practicing Yoga Therapy individually. But this group was not doing so well. All of them lost their sheets with the home practice and probably did not practice at home at all! I decided to change strategy and try group yoga classes. But if I want this program of Yoga Therapy to work, participants have to be guided every day, or at least few times a week. I talked with my Therapeutic Yoga Teacher Training trainees Linda Bambi, Eddie Colon and my senior teacher Giedre Avellino about this project. I was blessed with enthusiastic agreement to help and volunteer to teach Yoga at the Center!

A Yoga Therapy program was set up and Therapeutic Yoga group classes started at United Cerebral Palsy Center few times a week! Classes included the same yoga tools of Asana, Pranayama, and Chanting. There were ups and downs teaching at this center but after two months of practice, I interviewed students, employees, and teachers working with the students, as well as parents to collect information about their observations and noticeable changes that happened with the yoga students.

Ramel, student stated that he likes practicing yoga and his headache disappears after yoga class. Tracy, an employee of the center noticed that yoga students look more relaxed, have fewer conflicts, less agitation and that anger control is better. She said that one of the yoga students sat in a corner after yoga class and did everything from the class!

Linda Bambi, yoga teacher thinks that this is a great opportunity for participants of this center to express themselves, to show their gifts and to make themselves feel better. She believes that with guidance and patience everything is possible!

Willie’s mom said that her son’s breathing is improved.

Giedre smiles, noting how some yoga students at the center rush into the room for yoga class, or couple will “escape “ this “boring exercise” time for a potato chip snack…Many of students are participating with more confidence in each movement, and some are so excited to reach the floor in Uttanasana. Yoga class group’s togetherness, calmness, and chanting of the Om (for some students it comes as Uuu or Aaa) in indescribable ways touches not just participants of the group yoga class but the ones working on their crafts, naps or snacks by the table.

Florida Yoga Academy is continuing working on this project and is very thankful for UCP of SWFL for this unique opportunity. We are very happy that from February yoga students from UPC of SWFL Center will be coming to our yoga studio for their practice, were will be fewer distractions, beautiful surroundings and it will be a reward for the people who were participating in yoga classes regularly as well as  encouragement for the others who didn’t want to do yoga.

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