Hatteras Island yoga practitioner Natalie Kahn is a registered yoga teacher, trained in the Himalayan tradition — a practice of self-exploration, self-discovery and self-realization born at least 5,000 years ago in ancient cave monasteries of the Himalayas.
Many early mornings, she can be found leading a class on a Hatteras beach at sunrise.
“Yoga means ‘union,’ and it’s about the restraint of consciousness, mind, intellect and ego,” Kahn says. “It’s about cultivating this facility, so you can discern that you are not your thoughts, emotions, ego, but you are part of the human experience.”
Kahn is able to customize an individualized yoga program that suits each client’s multi-layered needs, even if the individual’s physical capabilities are limited.
Many people mistakenly believe yoga is all about specific — often challenging — asanas, or postures. Not so, she teaches. There are eight limbs of yoga, and asanas are only one limb.
According to the Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of the USA, other limbs include:
• Yama: A moral compass and how a person deals with his or her ethical standards and sense of integrity and considerations on how to live a life
• Niyama: Self-discipline and spiritual observances, such as attending a spiritual service, developing a personal meditation practice, such as taking contemplative walks
• Pranayama: controlled breathing techniques designed to gain mastery over the respiratory process while recognizing the connection between the breath, the mind, and the emotions
• Pratyahara: Withdrawing from the senses and blocking out external noise and distraction
• Dharana: Concentration to allow oneself to connect inward
• Dhyana: Uninterrupted flow of concentration that allows a state of stillness, devoid of thought, yet keenly aware without focus, meditation with the divine
• Samadhi: The highest state in which a person experiences oneness with the universe; a state of ecstasy, a peace that surpasses all understanding,
a connectedness with all living things
It’s about exploring the layers of your being and the remembrance of your source as light, Kahn says. “You can use yoga as a tool for achieving any type of goal. Some people can identify recurring struggles.”
Yoga can help people work through some very deep, perhaps long-buried issues. On a more profound note, yoga can help one “merge in bliss with universal consciousness,” Kahn says.