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The Dharma of Downward Dog

By Leslie Garisto Pfaff
NJ Life Magazine, October 2006

Yoga is now on the menu of many mainstream gyms and health clubs. But even those people drawn to its practice in pursuit of perfect abs can’t deny the spiritual benefits of traditional yoga.

BEFORE WE BEGIN, PLEASE UNDERSTAND: I’m not a yoga kind of person. I’m impatient and easily distracted, and I don’t like sitting on the floor. I’ve never experienced proper deep breathing (though I am well acquainted with hyperventilation). I’m pretty certain that this world is all there is, and, until recently I made my way through it by gritting my teeth and just getting on with things.

But as I sit in yoga instructor Jyoti Chrystal’s office at Starseed in Montclair, I feel there might be something else to life. The lighting is muted, and there’s soft, plush carpeting underfoot. Hindu deities regard me peacefully from the bookcase to my left; behind me, on the wall, hang feathered gourds and gnarled medicine sticks: tools, I learn, for use in shamanistic healing. Chrystal, a lithe woman in her early 60s (she looks considerably younger) with cropped silver hair and a beatific demeanor, is telling me about her first yoga experience, 34 years ago — “I’d never heard silence in my whole life, and it was startling to me” — and talking about relaxing into one’s self, yoga as a healing tool, and the way a good teacher “spreads an energetic blanket of protection over her and the student body.” Suddenly, I find myself thinking, Maybe there is more to this world. And, maybe, yoga is the way to find out.

The Dharma of Downward Dog

By Leslie Garisto Pfaff
NJ Life Magazine, October 2006

Yoga is now on the menu of many mainstream gyms and health clubs. But even those people drawn to its practice in pursuit of perfect abs can’t deny the spiritual benefits of traditional yoga.

BEFORE WE BEGIN, PLEASE UNDERSTAND: I’m not a yoga kind of person. I’m impatient and easily distracted, and I don’t like sitting on the floor. I’ve never experienced proper deep breathing (though I am well acquainted with hyperventilation). I’m pretty certain that this world is all there is, and, until recently I made my way through it by gritting my teeth and just getting on with things.

But as I sit in yoga instructor Jyoti Chrystal’s office at Starseed in Montclair, I feel there might be something else to life. The lighting is muted, and there’s soft, plush carpeting underfoot. Hindu deities regard me peacefully from the bookcase to my left; behind me, on the wall, hang feathered gourds and gnarled medicine sticks: tools, I learn, for use in shamanistic healing. Chrystal, a lithe woman in her early 60s (she looks considerably younger) with cropped silver hair and a beatific demeanor, is telling me about her first yoga experience, 34 years ago — “I’d never heard silence in my whole life, and it was startling to me” — and talking about relaxing into one’s self, yoga as a healing tool, and the way a good teacher “spreads an energetic blanket of protection over her and the student body.” Suddenly, I find myself thinking, Maybe there is more to this world. And, maybe, yoga is the way to find out.

The Dharma of Downward Dog

By Leslie Garisto Pfaff
NJ Life Magazine, October 2006

Yoga is now on the menu of many mainstream gyms and health clubs. But even those people drawn to its practice in pursuit of perfect abs can’t deny the spiritual benefits of traditional yoga.

BEFORE WE BEGIN, PLEASE UNDERSTAND: I’m not a yoga kind of person. I’m impatient and easily distracted, and I don’t like sitting on the floor. I’ve never experienced proper deep breathing (though I am well acquainted with hyperventilation). I’m pretty certain that this world is all there is, and, until recently I made my way through it by gritting my teeth and just getting on with things.

But as I sit in yoga instructor Jyoti Chrystal’s office at Starseed in Montclair, I feel there might be something else to life. The lighting is muted, and there’s soft, plush carpeting underfoot. Hindu deities regard me peacefully from the bookcase to my left; behind me, on the wall, hang feathered gourds and gnarled medicine sticks: tools, I learn, for use in shamanistic healing. Chrystal, a lithe woman in her early 60s (she looks considerably younger) with cropped silver hair and a beatific demeanor, is telling me about her first yoga experience, 34 years ago — “I’d never heard silence in my whole life, and it was startling to me” — and talking about relaxing into one’s self, yoga as a healing tool, and the way a good teacher “spreads an energetic blanket of protection over her and the student body.” Suddenly, I find myself thinking, Maybe there is more to this world. And, maybe, yoga is the way to find out.