Finding Relaxation and Stillness in Yoga Postures: Q&A with Nora Benian
Please share what you do:
I am yoga therapist teaching hatha yoga, restorative yoga, and therapeutic yoga, serving clients in Toronto, Canada, and at Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat Bahamas and Sivananda Yoga Farm in California.
Why do you do what you do?
Teaching yoga is the most natural thing to me. It comes right form my very core. And yoga has the ability to take us to our core, our very being-ness, that which is life itself. How could I not help others explore this gem? Actually, I think that nothing matters more. It is a method practiced for prevention of illness and offers inspiration to create and explore new depths.
What are you currently fascinated by in your work?
My practice has morphed over the years (always hatha but at different paces, lengths of holds, and various breathing practices). With an ever-changing emphasis and perspective with each new layer, I uncover new information to share. When insight has been graced upon me, I cannot help but share it with those who will gain from hearing it; just like how my teachers have done for me. At first it was all about perfecting the asana (pose), then the energetics of the posture became the focus. Now it has become more about mental direction and the ability to find stillness in my mind as well as an ability to relax in the postures.
How did you come to your path? Any aha moments or key teachers?
In my youth, I was a competitive gymnast and became a nationally certified coach at age 15. I just couldn’t keep myself away from the art/sport even though my body had had enough of being jolted and torn. I became very interested in the physical and mental limitations my students had and we worked on overcoming them so they could reach their goals. Now of course, this was for the intent on winning medals but really self-mastery was the true goal. If I can conquer a fear, get stronger where I am weak, or become smooth in transitions and if I can work toward being better every day, why wouldn't I? So these early years of training provided me a foundation of proof that my efforts made a difference for myself and with my students. That’s the inspiration I carry with me.
What book(s) are you currently reading?
Many books have been helpful on my path as a yoga practitioner and teacher. One of my favorites is Conquest of the Mind by Swami Sivananda. Many of his books have spoken to me although this one really got me thinking about how to stay on task yet be relaxed.
What is one surprising thing about teaching here?
The Yoga Retreat is my second home, and I have been learning from and teaching there for over eight years now. Each year offers many new rewarding and inspiring experiences but also keeps the teachings real. The practice of being and serving has enriched my life and each time I return I understand the teachings of Swami Sivananda and yoga a little more, bringing more and more peace in to this ever-challenging and busy life.
Nora Benian (Sundari) is a Sivananda Yoga teacher, yoga therapist, registered professional counselor, and Thai Yoga Massage practitioner with a diploma of homeopathy from the British Institute of Homeopathy in Toronto, Canada. As a yoga therapist, she prescribes yogic practices along with counseling techniques to bring clients into alignment, build strength, and open energy channels to increase the life force.