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Garden of the Heart Yoga Brings Outer Strength and Inner Peace

By S. Mathur

Yoga has multiple benefits for its practitioners, encompassing the physical, emotional, and spiritual realms.

"I believe that yoga is a practice that everyone can benefit from," Cheryl Chaffee, Director of Garden of the Heart Yoga in Sarasota FL, said. "Besides helping a person cultivate strength and flexibility, yoga also nurtures stress-relief, concentration, focus, and relaxation. It provides a framework for self-observation and personal growth."

Garden of the Heart Yoga studio was opened in 2003, making it one of the oldest yoga studios in Sarasota. It specializes in alignment-based Hatha Yoga, which is a safe and accessible practice. The studio has trained many students as well as yoga teachers over the years. Classes are open to any level of yoga experience. Some of the most popular classes are Basic Yoga, Gentle Yoga, and Restorative Yoga, all of which are open to people at levels of skills and fitness. The studio also hosts special events and workshops year round. These include dance events, yoga philosophy lectures, musical concerts and Ayurveda workshops.

What is unique to Garden of the Heart is the Kirtan yoga offering, where the poses and meditation are accompanied by chanting sacred mantras set to music. The mantras in Kirtan yoga often name the different aspects of God, which, Chaffee says, are different ways of looking at the Divine within.

"Music is a powerful vehicle of intention and emotion, and the act of singing or chanting engages the body, the mind, the heart, and the breath, much like the physical practice of yoga does," Chaffee said, "To participate in kirtan, you need no prior musical training or knowledge, you just come and listen and sing and connect to the part of yourself that is connected to Spirit."

Outreach and yoga practice both help people understand their own selves and how they connect to the world.

"It helps people remember that we are part of something greater than ourselves, by tapping into our deeper awareness of the world around us," Chaffee said, "By joining the physical movement of the body with the awareness of the mind, the flow of the breath, and the emotions of the heart, we can see how yoga is a full spectrum experience. It is much more than just toning the body or gaining flexibility."

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