Breathe the Cure
How yoga can change your life-one day at a time
Jody Joseph Marmel
Having never fully understood the big hype about yoga, I decided to talk with a master of yoga-Jenny Buergermeister, CEO of the Texas Yoga Conference/Breathe the Cure. Jenny arrived in Texas as a young girl with her family and 14 years later, she began experimenting with a yoga practice. This was in 1994. “By the influence of a few great professors at The University of Houston, I became fascinated with Eastern philosophies. Passionate for knowledge in college, I graduated with a double degree-B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Journalism.” But this was just the beginning of Buergermeister’s educational endeavors.
She went on to attain a Masters in Psychology and more recently, she completed a program at Rice University in Philanthropy and Non-Profit Leadership. During this time, yoga was a focal point in her life and continues to help guide her on a daily basis. “Yoga has helped me work through grief. I have lost so many loved ones in the last 15 years. The breath-centered practices and the philosophy of transpersonal psychology have changed my life for the best in so many ways. I simply feel devoted to yoga’s purpose-to help enhance life and to self-actualize.”
Buergermeister teaches mainly Vinyasa Flow Yoga that has some aspects of martial arts woven into it. The style is from the Hatha Family. “I use music that aligns with the yogic intention of vibrational shifts using sound. I put a lot of effort in setting a mood and tone for my classes.” Buergermeister teaches at Rice University at the Wellness Center and at Houston Ayurveda Center in River Oaks. Her students are mostly professionals, students and some go-getters. She loves her students and it shows.
While talking with Buergermeister, she emphasized to practice being present by breathing with awareness. It works to change the brain. “I really believe that many of us are attracted to yoga in the beginning because of the asana practice and the cool body tricks that we can learn. Hatha Yoga is actually a practice of working through the physical to get elsewhere. But wisdom from breathing eventually kicks in and an inner force will begin to guide each of us into other areas of yogic interests and pursuits.”
Perhaps one of the most important highlights of talking with Jenny was her explanation of life changes. Change is one true constant when it comes to our human development on ‘the path.’ Change is also inevitable. “We might as well learn how to ride the waves and go with the flow to help keep our bodies from experiencing too much stress which can begin to break down our immunity. Body out of ease is dis-ease.”
Think about that for a moment or two. If we allow our bodies to do what they were intended to do and there certainly were not as many stress factors way back when, our bodies would be at ease and so would we as a result. The greatest trend happening now is in neuroscience with articles emerging in just about every magazine. There is substantial evidence available to us on how significant meditation and yogic practices are in the brain’s healthy development and function, regardless of age. Buergermeister recounts, “Harvard just released a study observing those who integrated a regular meditation practice over an eight week period. The results showed an increase in gray matter of the prefrontal cortex which are associated with feelings of happiness, self-identity and altruism. Areas associated with stress, the amygdala, showed a decrease in gray matter. This is a huge discovery.”
Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and so many other Universities are now producing substantial research in brain science. Many believe it is the next big leap for human research. “We need to start looking at the brain more closely. The contemplative breathing practices simply work and it has nothing to do with religion. This is science. When done consistently, over a short period of time, we can change our brain with just 20 minutes of practice a day. That’s it! Anyone can do this.”
Buergermeister, CEO of the Texas Yoga Conference/ Breathe the Cure wants to grow the conference and bring in more help to get it to the next level. She also wants to share her expertise with a wider audience and is contemplating going back to school to study more in neuroscience and participate in some of the research.
Every Labor Day across Texas is Free Day of Yoga. From sunrise to sunset, participating studios across the state will offer free classes as a way for people of every age and every fitness level to try yoga for the first time, experience a new style of yoga or share yoga with family and friends. “Since the event’s inception in 2005, thousands of students have joined in the Houston Free Day of Yoga to experience the physical, spiritual, emotional and mental benefits of practicing yoga. It’s all over Texas!” Breathe, relax and enjoy! The benefits of yoga are far greater than I ever imagined and with new research being released, it’s time to breathe the cure!