The Shift Network Blog

The Alchemy Of Joy

The Alchemy Of Joy
Jeanie Manchester
By Jeanie Manchester

I love moving my body and lifting my heart into the light.

Yoga asana is an amazing alchemical process where our limitations are transmuted through breath and movement.

My passion for movement and this alchemical process began as a toddler when I loved to splash about in the pool and hold my breath under water, popping to the surface, exhilarated. I was suddenly aware of my breath and the brightness of the day and how I was filled with this pulsing life force that is joy.  So essentially, joy has been my life’s exploration. When I feel this joy I know that I’m connected to my heart and to my life’s purpose where the teaching of yoga flows effortlessly.

As we move in interlinking waves of in-breath to out-breath, from pose to pose, the practice asks us to listen deeply and to connect to the vibration of our interior awareness. The process of heating up our bodies with breath, and movement, creates a meditative flow, which releases inhibiting negative patterns in the subtle body so we can feel more freedom and creativity.

I do love lifting my heart and soaking up the sun but I’m not always on the mat. I carry the yoga into my daily life as I wash the dishes, take my kids to school, kiss my husband goodbye, feed the dog and take out the trash. This is the real work, to hold the consciousness of yoga in the day-to-day life.

And then there are the truly difficult moments in life when the practice demands we find strength and courage to stay with our breath and connection.  A while back, my father crashed headlong into the asphalt while riding his mountain bike and suffered severe injuries.  I remember pacing the hallway in the hospital not knowing whether he would live through the night.  In the morning I found solace when I slipped into the yoga studio, onto my mat and connected breath to body, body to prayer. Pose by pose and breath-by-breath I let go of fear and began to trust the underlying vibration in my core.  In the midst of all of this, I returned to the pulse of my heart and sent this pulse to my father.  I’m grateful I listened to the call to walk into Richard Freeman’s studio so long ago, to find my place and begin this ancient and beloved practice of discovering the breath of life, the alchemy of joy through movement.

Jeanie Manchester has been studying yoga since 1989, and is the director of the Anjaneya Yoga Shala in Boulder, Colorado. She has studied extensively with master yoga instructors including Richard Freeman, John Friend and Douglas Brooks. Her understanding of yoga therapy is enhanced by her training in the Rolf Method of Structural Integration, as well as her other ongoing studies. Manchester’s classes delightfully weave story and meditation with alignment and body mechanics. Off the mat, she enjoys swimming, hiking and backcountry skiing in the Colorado outdoors with her husband and two children. To learn more about Jeanie and to see her videos on Gaiam TV, click here.