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Self-Discovery and Attunement with St. Augustine's Discovery Yoga

By S. Mathur

For Deva Parnell, experienced teacher and Owner of Discovery Yoga, yoga is about much more than just the poses and the physical health benefits, though those are important too. The combination of meditation and breathing emphasized by Kriplau yoga encourages inward focus on the road to self discovery: "In Discovery Yoga classes you get great exercise and more. In addition to our focus on physical and mental practices that build health, reduce stress and retard the aging process, we provide the resources, support and environment for you to increase your capacity for self-discovery and attunement."

Classes embrace the same philosophy and the practice of yoga in a community setting makes for a deeper engagement with the practice, Parnell explains: "Coming together with like-minded people in the spirit of Yoga creates a group energy that allows for deeper absorption into the practice. Each class is a complete experience, including centering, warm-ups (pratapana), yoga postures (asana), yogic breathing (pranayama), relaxation (yoga nidra) and integration."

Many teachers begin their classes with music and a centering experience. The Discovery Yoga studio is affiliated with Kripalu yoga, where poses flow into one another and body awareness and coordination are emphasized. Teachers are also certified in Kriplau yoga and offer students individualized guidance. Classes move through the stages of warm-ups, postures, deep relaxation, and integration. Ranging in level from beginners, gentle and vigorous to those suitable for all levels, most classes meet for 90 minutes each week over an 8-week period. Teachers often use music and reflective readings to enhance the class and encourage mindfulness.

Classes and workshops explore different types of yoga, such as Yin yoga, Chakra yoga, mediation, Vinyasa Flow and Yoga Fusion. Workshops in the teachers' areas of specialization are available throughout the year. Discovery Yoga has classes for yoga teachers as well. It is the oldest Yoga Alliance registered school in the state of Florida, and offers a 200 hour basic certification and a 300 hour masters certification for yoga teachers.

Parnell spent 12 years at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Massachusetts and helped to develop both the practice of Kripalu Yoga and the Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training curriculum. She has certified more than 2,500 yoga teachers over the course of her thirty years as a teacher.

On Sundays, Discovery Yoga offers free classes to the community. The Discovery Yoga Hostel had accommodations for those enrolled in training programs and workshops, as well as for R&R (Retreat & Renewal) programs for individuals. It offers simple accommodations for a relaxing visit to St. Augustine with a yoga class included for each night's stay. There is a shuttle service from Jacksonville Airport and a full kitchen is available for residents. Visitors can design their own retreats with as much participation in the life of the community as they wish. With its downtown St. Augustine location, it offers a comfortable base from which to explore the cultural and natural life in the area.

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