Most people probably think of physical postures when they hear the word "yoga." The physical practice is important and is one avenue to freedom and unity between the physical body, the mind, the emotions, the breath, and the spirit. I was a very physical kid and practiced yoga postures back then via my mom's Lillias yoga cards. I returned to the practice in1999 to help balance out the physical and mental stresses of life as an occupational therapist in a hospital. I found the practice so transforming that I went on to achieve my 1000-hour certification with Integrative Yoga Therapy (IYT) and eventually opened Living Room Yoga, a healing center offering yoga classes, yoga therapy, cranial sacral therapy, hypnosis, and yoga teacher training.

Out of my training with IYT, my rehabilitation background, and my desire to help people achieve balance on all levels of being, I developed a style of yoga therapy called Life Balance Yoga Therapy. At the beginning of each Life Balance Yoga class, students are asked to observe sensations in the body, thoughts moving through the mind, any emotions present, how it is in the breath, and how connected to spirit they feel. Then they are asked to inquire of the higher self what is most needed from the practice of yoga to enable them to return to peace, bliss, and ease. In keeping with the teachings of Joseph LePage, founder of Integrative Yoga Therapy, the Life Balance Yoga teacher provides a class to give each student "a little of what they want and a little of what they need." It is not uncommon for students to express gratitude that the class seemed to be geared especially for them.

What seems difficult for many yoga students is translating what they learn in class to a home practice. They may not remember the postures or draw a mental blank when they try to practice them at home. One way to immediately begin to incorporate yoga into your life is a daily practice of observation on all levels of being. This can be as transforming as a physical practice, and it only takes about 10 minutes. It is basically the same practice we do in Life Balance Yoga at the beginning of each class. Simply

1.Observe sensations in the body.
2.Notice the thoughts that are moving through the mind.
3.Become aware of any emotions present.
4.Notice how you are breathing (shallow, medium deep, hard to inhale? hard to exhale?).
5.Notice how connected to spirit you feel.
In addition, I add the following to my daily practice:

1.List of gratitudes.
2.List of daily intentions.
3.List of affirmations (a form of self-hypnosis!).

Personally, I have been doing an email gratitude exchange with a friend since 2006, adding daily intentions, affirmations, and observations more recently. These practices keep me from self-delusion and take away my need to hide through over-eating or over-workng. Staying completely conscious and aware enables me to address issues while they are still small, allowing me to reside more often in the state of peace, ease, and bliss spoken of in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. I believe in the power of these practices so much that I assign them as homework to my weight-loss clients.

I now invite you to begin these simple yet powerful practices as well. Whether you record them in a journal, exchange them with a friend, exchange them with me at, or post them on my blog at, I am confident that you will find them to be a powerful, transforming influence in your life.

Author's Bio: 

Stacy Renz is the director and owner of Living Room Yoga in St. Petersburg, Florida, a master's degree level occupational therapist, an E-RYT500 certified yoga teacher, a 1000-hour certified yoga therapist, a certified clinical hypnotherapist, and the founder of Life Balance Yoga Therapy teacher certification program. She specializes in teaching intuitively to meet the needs of individuals even within the class setting, providing modifications for those working with injury, healing injury using the tools of yoga conbined with physical rehabilitation techniques, and using precision cueing to challenge the beginner through advanced student to progress to his or her highest potential.