Yoga Rockford: Yoga ‘From the Heartland’

By Jennie Williford
Pranayama Yoga Studio

Yoga is mostly an individual practice. It is the process of drawing inward to connect more deeply to our inner truth. The place of this truth in yoga is within the heart. As we say “namaste,” we fold our palms at our heart, recognizing our own pure being within, and from there, acknowledging the pure being within others as well. With practice, this individual awareness grows outward toward the community around us. We benefit at a personal level, and ultimately want to share this practice with the community around us. We go to class, find a teacher we connect with, and ultimately seek connection with others who also do yoga.

Yoga workshops, conventions and conferences have grown out of this love of yoga, and the hopes of sharing the benefits of practice with others. All around the globe are yoga gatherings of all kinds for all practitioners. I have traveled across the United States, to India, and to Italy to practice with some of the best teachers in the Iyengar tradition. I’ve met new friends and connected with old ones along the way. Each of these workshops has touched my heart and deepened my practice. I am now blessed to be able to help create a similar opportunity for others.

As president of the Iyengar Yoga Association of the Midwest, I am excited to be working with our vibrant regional Iyengar Yoga community in planning for the “From the Heartland” conference. This conference is the 2011 regional conference of the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States (IYNAUS), to be held Sept. 15-18 at the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago. All of us who are working on this event have been touched deeply by our practice of Iyengar Yoga, and are thrilled to have this opportunity to share our passion with others.

As the Heartland of the United States, the Midwest is the perfect metaphor for the practice that draws us nearer to our own individual heart. Yoga done well, is yoga done from the heart. “From the Heartland” will provide all yoga students—of every level of practice and tradition—the opportunity to learn from the most senior teachers in the Iyengar method. Many of these teachers reside right here in the heartland. Attendees will have the chance to connect to a wider community of practitioners, gaining energy and encouragement from large- and small-group classes. Asana and pranayama will be taught along with special-topic classes in the afternoons.

Knowing that the practice of yoga doesn’t stop when you leave the classroom, we are also providing dinner circles, chanting sessions, and an inspiring keynote event at the Chicago Cultural Center. Matthew Sanford, author of the inspirational memoir Waking, will speak, and there will be a cello performance by yoga student and teacher Alecia Rowe, accompanying a video of Iyengar’s practice.

It is our hope that “From the Heartland” will bring to each individual a strengthened dedication to the practice of yoga, provide information about the Iyengar method in particular, and introduce practitioners to teachers in the area that can serve as support in these endeavors. A stronger community of yogis strengthens the tradition of yoga and provides opportunities for individuals to discover their own self within their own heart.

Join us for this wonderful event, and enjoy all the benefits of yoga “From the Heartland”! For more information about the conference, visit or contact Jennie at Pranayama Yoga Studio.

For more information about Pranayama Yoga Studio, visit or call (815) 968-9642.

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