I was introduced to yoga at a very young age. When I was just six years old, my mom and dad would practice in their bathroom with acclaimed yoga guru Alan Finger. I always knew what yoga was, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I really understood.

I give credit to the amazing Seane Corn for really drawing me in. She was the force that inspired me to grow as a yogi and continue my journey with many others, including Rod Stryker, Yoga Works, and City Yoga. Once I was truly immersed in yoga, I began to understand something: yoga is not just a physical practice but a way of life.

In our current society, yoga is often associated with exercise. Sure, it is fantastic for your body, and this can be beneficial enough for some people. But for me, the physical practice is a means to achieving greater things.

The practice of yoga is really a meditation in of itself, helping me see more clearly. It brings me a level of clarity, awareness, and peace in my everyday life. I am more aware of how I speak to people, whom I surround myself with, and the consequences of my decisions.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

The purpose of yoga has always been to unite the mind, body, and spirit. According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, which dates all the way back to 200 AD, there are eight parts to practicing yoga, known as the eight limbs of yoga. All eight limbs are essential to achieving lasting peace, and no one limb is more important than the other. The physicality of yoga, or the Asanas, is only one of the eight parts that complete the practice of yoga. I could not agree with this more.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga:

    1. Yama: universal morality
    2. Niyama: personal observances
    3. Asanas: body postures
    4. Pranayama: breathing exercises and control of prana
    5. Pratyahara: control of the senses
    6. Dharana: concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
    7. Dhyana: devotion; meditation on the Divine
    8. Samadhi: union with the Divine

The “Modern Yogi”

The ancient philosophy of yoga is the foundation of my practice, but I am also a human living my life to the fullest in modern day Los Angeles! This is why I define myself as a “modern yogi.”

Yoga inspires me to live a more conscious life of honesty, simplicity, and integrity, but it’s unrealistic for me to adhere to each strict traditional practice. The truth is, I enjoy the finer things in life, and sometimes these things are material objects. I find joy in fashion, home decor, travel, parties, fine wine, and meals with loved ones. This is just part of who I am, and I don’t think being an authentic yogi means I must give all of that up.

It’s important to understand that everyone is unique. What yoga means to me may be completely different from what it means to you.

Some may love the traditional meditations, and some may not connect to them, but both approaches are totally acceptable! You must find how the practice works in your life to help you be the best version of yourself.

The Importance of Meditation

The art of yoga is based on clarity of mind, awareness, and consciousness. This means quieting all of the anxiety, stress, and decisions that cloud our minds on a daily basis. And in today’s busy world, this can be very difficult to do.

When you study yoga, you learn how to channel your thoughts through the use of your breath, body, mind, and spirit. However, sometimes it can be helpful to take an actual meditation course. Deepak Chopra offers an amazing 21-day meditation challenge, and, believe it or not, you can participate for free!

Yoga Classes

The best way to immerse yourself in the study of yoga is to join a great yoga class. If you live in one of these cities, I suggest taking from one of these amazing teachers. (You can thank me later!)

Los Angeles: Steve Ross at Maha Yoga. Ted McDonald and Bridgette Bedi at 5 Point Yoga. Anthony and Rebecca Benanti at City Yoga. Seane Corne (when you can find her in town!)

New York: Elena Brower at Virayoga. Elizabeth Rossa at Shriyoga and Ragunath.

San Diego: Katie Brauer

New Jersey: Sue Elkind and Naime Jezzeny

Boston: Patricia Walden

Washington DC: Faith Hunter

Portland: Tiffany Cruikshank

Colorado: Amy Ippoliti

San Francisco: Stephanie Snyder. Suzanne Sterling. Giselle Mari

Home Study

Supplementing your study outside of a classroom setting with books and videos can be very beneficial. They are also great options for practicing yoga when you don’t have the means or time to take a class. Here are my top picks:

Videos: Seane Corn. Jesse Schein. Ashley Turner. Hala Khouri

Books: Contact Yoga—The Yoga of Relationship. The Heart of Yoga by T.K.V Desikachar. Light on Yoga by B.K.S Iyengar. Happy Yoga by Steve Ross.

Finding Your Inspiration

For me, one of the best ways to incorporate yoga into my daily life is having a meditation altar in my home. It is simply a small space where I place things that are important to me and make me happy. When I visit this space in my home, I am immediately reminded of what is important to me.

I highly recommend trying your own version of this in your home. It can consist of anything from a picture of your dog to a knick-knack from a trip abroad. Whatever makes you happy and puts you in a peaceful, focused mindset.

My Home Meditation Altar:

  • Sage
  • Photo of Ama
  • Photo of me and guides in Fiji learning Deeksha
  • Crystal
  • Beads blessed by Deepak Chopra
  • Beads blessed by Bagahwan
  • Candle
  • Flowers
  • Statue of Quan Yen, Goddess of Compassion
  • Statue of Ganesh, Remover of Obstacles
  • Framed Inspiration Quotes

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Marianne Williamson

Jodi Guber Brufsky is the founder and visionary of Beyond Yoga, a yoga-inspired lifestyle brand for today’s woman, whose aim is to inspire women to love who they are from the inside, to discover and accept themselves, and to embrace their own authenticity. To join the Beyond Yoga community, sign up here and follow Jodi on Twitter and Facebook.