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Stephanie Miller's Hatha Raja Yoga

Stephanie works to ground her students in the present moment and guide them with gentle yet focused Hatha Raja movements.

The Dalai Lama once said, "We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves." With help of their local yogis, people are chasing inner peace all over the world. Stephanie Miller is one of those yogis. Stephanie Miller is the director of BambooMoves Yoga, and a practiced holistic healer. BambooMoves was founded in 2007, and consists of yoga studios in Forest Hills, NY, Englewood NJ, Palisades Park NJ, and Baltimore, MD. Honoring a more ancient teaching of yoga, BambooMoves focuses not only on fitness and health but largely on spirituality and mental wellness. Often described as the "heart and soul of BambooMoves", Stephanie guides her students in this journey. Stephanie Miller was the first graduate of the BambooMoves teacher training and became the director after the departure of founder Andrew Tanner, and has experience in Taoist energy training, martial arts, dance, and a variety of yoga forms. She received her 500-hour certification with Sri Dharma Mittra in New York City and studied in India at the Shri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute with Saraswati. She uses a fluid teaching style to combines power and grace, and is dedicated to cultivating a deep sense of peace within each of her students. Stephanie works to ground her students in the present moment and guide them with gentle yet focused Hatha Raja movements to find a more flexible place in their bodies and minds.


BambooMoves' growing community of yoga studios focuses on providing students with a nurturing yet challenging practice. They hope to provide their students with the qualities of bamboo itself: flexible yet strong in body and mind, leaving them better equipped to deal with the various challenges of life. The studios abide by the principles espoused in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. These include compassion, truthfulness, and surrender to the Supreme Energy. They also include six different classes for all levels, from yoga virgins to yogi masters. These classes include beginner and master classes, multi-level classes, and a "Relax and Renew" class to promote healing and rejuvenation. In addition to regular classes, BambooMoves hosts regular 200 and 500 hour Yoga Alliance certified Teacher Trainings, workshops, and retreats. For those of you looking for a more private practice, the studios also provide private yoga sessions, with one on one training, which are 60 minutes long. They also offer energy healing sessions, hypnosis sessions, and massage sessions to provide healing, relaxation, and self-improvement opportunities for students. For mama's to be, they even have a pre-natal yoga class! BambooMoves believe that everyone can experience more peace and happiness – one smile, one breath, one move at a time.


Patanjali's Yoga Sutras

"The Indian tradition attributes the work to Patañjali. Much confusion has been caused by the late medieval traditions of conflating Patañjali, the author of the grammatical Mahābhāṣya, with the author of the same name who wrote the Yoga Sūtras. Yet the two works in Sanskrit are completely different in language, style and subject matter. Furthermore, before the time of Bhoja (11th century), Sanskrit authors did not conflate the authors, and treated them quite separately. And modern scholarship shows that these two authors are separated in time by about six hundred years. A third Patañjali is sometimes also invented, an author on medicine, in order to fill out the meaning of Bhoja's verse that said a single Patañjali cured speech through grammar, the mind through yoga, and the body through medicine. However, no major work of medicine by a Patañjali is known to Sanskrit literature."

The Enchanted Forest

Stephanie Miller teaches BambooMoves' Master Class for intermediate to advanced practitioners or teachers who are looking to strengthen their practice, and the Open Class, which is a multi-level class recommended for experienced practitioners and newer students with a sense of adventure. You can also find her running the Yoga and Meditation retreats at The Enchanted Forest, along with other instructors from BambooMoves. The Enchanted Forest is a beautiful serene retreat nestled in the mountains of the Catskills in upstate New York. There you will find tranquil accommodations and blissful adventure. Stephanie practices a combination of Hatha and Raja yoga. Yoga can be daunting at first to new students, and the use of Sanskrit terms can be confusing. Before you decide what type of yoga class if for you, let's go over the main types of yoga mostly practiced in studios like BambooMoves.

Hatha is one of the most popular types of yoga classes available today. In Sanskrit Ha and tha, the sun and moon, refer to the two opposite currents that regulate all processes in our body. Hatha Yoga specifically deals with intention, gaining control over the flow of these life-currents. Hatha Yoga is defined by its asanas, or postures. In the ideals of Hatha Yoga the body becomes better prepared for yogic awakening by creating a healthy physical condition, and raising Kundalini, or dormant energy, along the spine, strengthening the nervous system. Some Hatha Yogis may even demonstrate control over internal organs, blood flow, and breathing. Along the same lines is Raja Yoga. Raja Yoga means royal and is sometimes called the crown of Hatha Yoga. After body and mind are cleaned, Raja trains yogis to stay calm and attentive. Sometimes also referred to as Ashtanga Yoga, improvement in our concentration allows more attention towards the source of our Being. If you are one of the millions of people looking to center your mind, these types of yoga are for youIf you are looking for a more cardio based, athletic type of yoga try Vinyasa. 


Flow With Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa yoga is a term that covers a broad range of yoga classes where movement is synchronized to the breath. This style is sometimes also called flow yoga, where a series of poses run together to create one constant flow. Since you hold each position for a lesser period of time, your general movement is increased, raising your heart rate. In Vinyasa yoga, the breath acts as an anchor to the movement as you to flow from one pose to the next in time with an inhale or an exhale. Scholar of yogic literature and Sanskrit deem the literal translation of Vinyasa to be "connection," referring to the connection of breath with movement. Vinyasa offers both physical and spiritual benefits, and is the type of Yoga most closely associated with weight loss.

 Bikram yoga, or more commonly know as Hot Yoga, is practiced in a 95 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit temperature room. The high temperature is meant to up the intensity of the practice on the body, increasing flexibility, and detoxification through sweating. Due to its high-temperature Bikram yoga does come with a few warnings. Know your limits, know your body. Be sure to hydrate before, during, and after, and if you have to leave the room, do it! Really, this goes for every yoga class. You don't become a yogi overnight, so each individual should work at his or her own pace. This is another great reason to take yoga in a studio, like BambooMoves, versus trying it for the first time in your home. Yogi's like Stephanie Miller are there to take you on your yoga journey, whatever method you choose.


Tristhana

Tristhana means the three places of attention or action. First, posture. Second, breathing system. Third, looking place. These three are very important for yoga practice and cover three levels of purification: the body, nervous system, and mind. They are always performed in conjunction with each other. Asanas purify, strengthen, and give flexibility to the body. Breathing is rechaka and puraka, that means inhale and exhale. Both the inhale and exhale should be steady and even; the length of the inhale should be the same length as the exhale. Breathing in this manner purifies the nervous system. Dristhi is the place where you look during the ãsana.

There are nine dristhis: between the eyebrows, the nose, navel, thumb, hands, feet, up, right side, and left side. Dristhi purifies and stabilizes the functioning of the mind. For cleaning the body internally, two factors are necessary: fire and air. The place of fire in our bodies is four inches below the navel. This is the standing place of our life force. In order for fire to burn, air is necessary, hence the necessity of the breath. If you stroke a fire with a blower, evenness is required so that the flame is not smothered out, or so that it does not blow out of control.


Long Even Breathing

Photo via Bronia Sawyer

The same method stands for the breath. Long, even breaths will strengthen our internal fire, increasing heat in the body, which in turn heats the blood for physical purification, and burns away impurities in the nervous system as well. Long, even breathing increases the internal fire and strengthens the nervous system in a controlled manner and at an even pace. When this fire is strengthened, our digestion, health, and life span all increase. Uneven inhalation and exhalation, or breathing too rapidly, will imbalance the beating of the heart, throwing off both the physical body and autonomic nervous system. An important component of the breathing system is mula and Uḍḍīyana Bandha. These are the anal and lower abdominal locks which seals in energy, gives lightness and health to the body, and helps to build a strong internal fire. Without bandhas, breathing will not be correct and the asanas will give no benefit. When mula bandha is perfect, mind control is automatic.

Patañjali said, “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” Stephanie Miller, inspired by her teachers, works tirelessly to bring Hatha Raja yoga to to a growing community of practitioners.  From the Bamboo Moves studios to her Enchanted Forest retreat in upstate New York and excursions in the Baja Mexican desert, Stephanie follows her bliss. Om Namah Shivaya.


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