Pamela Seelig is the author of the new book Threads of Yoga: Themes, Reflections, and Meditations to Weave Into Your Practice. She owned a yoga studio for nine years, and teaches yoga workshops. She lives in New Jersey.
Q: What inspired you to write Threads of Yoga?
A: After practicing yoga for a few years, I learned about Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. I was stunned and fascinated by the enduring quality of this 2,500-year-old foundational yogic text. While I loved the physical practice of yoga, I was increasingly interested in the deeper wisdom teachings.
After becoming an instructor, I strived to bring more of these philosophical teachings into my classes but found this is not so easy. I searched for books to help but was unable to locate what I was looking for.
So, I decided to write Threads of Yoga for both students and teachers interested in the deeper teachings and how to weave this wisdom into yoga practices, classes, and daily life.
Q: What do you think are some of the most common perceptions and misconceptions about yoga?
A: Most people correctly perceive, and science is confirming, that yoga is highly beneficial for overall health. There are many studies now verifying the positive physical, mental, and emotional effects of yoga.
One of the biggest misconceptions about yoga is that it is a purely physical practice. The asanas, or physical poses, are brilliant, but yoga is so much more.
According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, yoga is the quieting of the mind. When we quiet our chattering minds, we can perceive reality more clearly and see who we truly are.
Yoga provides a map back to our true selves or directs us toward self-realization. While most people roll out their mats to get in shape or reduce stress, there is also potential for profound transformation.
Other common misconceptions regarding yoga are that you need to be flexible to take a class or that you need to look a certain way to fit in.
Unfortunately, these false ideas can stop many from starting a practice and cause them to miss out on the many benefits of yoga.
Yoga is not just for the fit or flexible, but for anyone and everyone. Finding the appropriate venue, style, or teacher may take a bit of exploring, but thankfully there are so many online options now that it’s possible to find yoga without ever leaving your home.
However, finding an in-person yoga community to practice with when the time is right is well worth it.
Q: What would you say to encourage people who haven’t practiced yoga to take it up?
A: Yoga is a 5,000-year-old vast system of holistic health that has stood the test of time.
At the same time, modern mainstream science has now verified and continues to discover additional benefits of yoga. Not only are the physical postures beneficial in many ways, but other key aspects of yoga, such as meditation and breathwork, are potent ways to positively affect health and longevity.
Yoga reduces stress, builds strength and flexibility, and increases immunity. However, this is not why the ancients dedicated their lives to the study of yoga. It is also a system of expanding one’s awareness and affects the more subtle aspects of our being that cannot be measured scientifically.
As we expand our awareness, the benefits are limitless. Yoga is an incredible gift to us from the ancient past.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?
A: I hope that readers are inspired to begin a yoga practice or, if they have a practice, learn more about the wisdom teachings beyond the physical poses (asanas).
The world is changing so quickly that we can easily lose our footing and forget who we are and how to live a healthy and joyful life. Yoga offers many techniques and tools to help us get back on the path to balance.
Ultimately, yoga guides us to accept ourselves and understand the depth of our being. I hope that readers practice yoga to bring more of who they are into our world. That’s what the world needs right now.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Currently, I teach an online Introduction To Meditation course for those who want to get started and establish a home meditation practice. In addition, I continue to share yoga through classes, workshops, and writing.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I’m very grateful to my readers and for your interest!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb