WHAT IS SIJAHK YOGA?
 

Sijahk Yoga is an energizing workout that fuses yoga and taekwondo, which enhances mental, spiritual, and physical fitness.  Sijahk means to begin, and in Sijahk Yoga, we begin with the body.  By limbering and strengthening the body through yoga, we can start to turn inward.  Turning within allows us the power to uncover any processes that may be holding us back from embracing and living in our strength.

Our instructors and students find that a solid yoga practice enhanced with techniques from taekwondo form the perfect balance.  Yoga poses strengthen, center, and increase flexibility in both the body and mind.  Through yoga form, we dance in the winds and release ourselves into the joyful flow, reminding us we are in unison with everything and everyone.  Yoga’s foundation supports the kicks, balance, and focus needed in taekwondo practice.  Taekwondo ignites our strength and releases patterns of self-doubt, allowing us to move past obstacles and move forward in our lives to fulfill our purpose. 
Basic Elements of Sijahk Yoga:

  • Yoga: Each level and form of Sijahk Yoga is centered on a specific yoga pose.  For example, Goddess form is so named because the Goddess yoga pose is featured throughout the form.

  • Taekwondo: Kicks, stances, hand techniques, and board breaking are among the taekwondo influences that can be found within the practice of Sijahk Yoga.

Additional Elements:
In addition to the main components of yoga and taekwondo, Sijahk Yoga draws its influences and practical applications from a variety of other proven techniques that are grounded in historical practice and modern psychological evidence.   Elements and results of Sijahk Yoga include:

  • Self-Defense:  Like other forms of yoga, the overall practice is nonviolent; however, the influence of taekwondo means that the forms include motions that could be used to fight or for self-defense.  Sijahk Yoga students report that learning these movements makes them feel stronger and more confident.  Knowing these basic movements prepares us to defend ourselves – whether from an actual attack or simply from our own self-defeating thoughts!

  • EFT:  Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as “tapping,” is a therapeutic tool that is based on ancient acupressure and modern psychology.  Practitioners combine spoken, positive affirmations with tapping on specific pressure points along the body’s meridians.  Tapping clears electromagnetic energy from places it’s been blocked and allows it to return to its natural flow through the body.   This restores balance to both the mind and body.  EFT has been known to address a variety of mental and physical issues, including clearing negative emotions, reducing or eliminating physical pain, eliminating food cravings, and facilitating goal achievement.  EFT complements several of the Sijahk Yoga levels.

  • Meditation: Meditation includes a variety of techniques for quieting and focusing the mind.  Students of Sijahk Yoga are guided by the instructor to let go of unwanted thoughts that cause stress.  The result is tranquil mind, which promotes both physical and mental well-being.

  • Balance:  Sijahk Yoga brings both mental and physical balance to its practitioners.  Practicing the forms improves physical balance.  The focus required to complete the forms and to practice other elements of Sijahk Yoga induces mental and spiritual balance, as well.

  • Progressive Relaxation:  This is a technique to control physical tension in the body.  Students learn to let go of tension throughout the body by first voluntarily tensing a specific set of muscles and then deliberately relaxing them.  This technique can be used to relax the entire body or to help a person let go tension he or she may be holding in a specific area.  Progressive relaxation is also practiced by relaxing the body from head to toe and focusing on particular body parts along the way.

  • Light Body Work/Reiki:  Reiki (RAY-key) is a Japanese technique that is based upon the idea that we are surrounded by “life force energy” – or Ki – which flows through each of us.  Practitioners of Reiki help people unblock and channel that energy to reduce pain and stress and to promote relaxation and healing.  Practitioners of Reiki do not touch the person they are helping, but transfer the universal energy through their palms by placing them just over the person’s body.  As a Level I Reiki practitioner, Christine offers Reiki to her students who wish to experience Reiki’s healing energies.  The addition of Reiki to students’ Sijahk Yoga practice is typically determined when students and instructors develop students’ personalized goals, but it can also be added to a student’s program as she progresses, if she so desires.

WHAT IS THE MISSION OF SIJAHK YOGA?
Sijahk Yoga endeavors to help students ignite their strength, reclaim their voice, overcome their obstacles, and unleash their confidence by
- Creating physical strength and fitness through movement
- Balancing both mind and body
- Eliminating negative energy and emotions
- Facing and conquering fears

WHAT ARE THE SEVEN CORE PRINCIPLES (OR “STEPS 2 STRENGTH”) FOR RECLAIMING YOUR STRENGTH?

  • Limber – We begin by limbering the body.  In Sijahk Yoga, the body is used as a foundation for fostering further growth cognitively, emotionally, and spiritually.  Yoga postures increase flexibility in the body and form pathways for muscle memory.  Yoga clears away physical tension that can create energetic blockages in the body.  When these blockages are cleared, a door opens for change on every level.  Postures calm the nervous system, which allows for greater awareness of cognitive and emotional states, as well as physical states.  Flexibility in the body promotes flexibility in the mind.  Life can then be viewed from a more open and detached vantage point.  From here, we can begin to clearly see what is and is not working and begin to change accordingly.

  • Strengthen – While yoga poses create our foundation for limbering and strengthening the body, memorization of yoga form also strengthens the mind and gives the practitioner a sense of accomplishment from its mastery.  By incorporating taekwondo kicks, stances, and other techniques into the practice, we further strengthen the muscles of both the body and the mind.  The result is a balanced, well-rounded workout that develops strength throughout the entire body.  Students of Sijahk Yoga also report that the practice improves muscle strength and tone in “problem areas,” such as the core and buttocks.

  • Reconnect – In addition to the chance to connect with others, Sijahk Yoga practitioners are challenged to reconnect with themselves and their inner strengths.  Fostering self-awareness, intuition, and self-care is also an integral part of our program.  For example, during Yoga Adventures, we introduce students to a variety of experts in mind-body disciplines to encourage self-awareness and self-exploration.  For example, practicing Emotional Freedom Technique (Tapping) during a session fosters reconnection to one’s natural state and awareness of our ability to heal ourselves.  Genuinely connecting with one’s strengths and passions can offer practitioners the inner knowing they need to move past any obstacles faced in life.

  • Challenge – Sijahk Yoga offers participants the opportunity to grow through challenge.  The practice allows students to create individualized goals to ensure that each practitioner is appropriately and sufficiently challenged to grow.  Once practitioners are aware and have insight into their challenges and obstacles, Sijahk Yoga instructors work with students to establish a clear plan of attack to overcome these obstacles.  Working with the instructors to achieve these predefined, personal goals creates an element of accountability for students to keep them focused and motivated. 

  • Partner – Research has shown that isolation is a risk factor for many mental and physical conditions.  To ensure meaningful connections, partner work is an integral part of Sijahk Yoga.  We offer opportunities for our students to leave their mats to partner and interact with others in the classroom.  Students get to know one another, recognize that they are partaking in this journey together, and they serve as active supports for one another.  Partnering may occur during warm-ups and stretches – or out in the forest during an adventure!  The key to the benefits of partnering is the awareness that one is never alone and always has the ability to connect to a support network.

  • Adventure – Although Yoga Adventures are not required for progressing in Sijahk Yoga practice, we believe that adventure and daring can accelerate progress toward reaching one’s personal goals.  We therefore offer Yoga Adventures to ….and we encourage our students to attend at least one our Yoga Adventures each year.  Yoga Adventures offer students a different and compelling way to connect with one another and grow.  Many of our participants have conquered their fear of heights with the guidance and support of their peers cheering them on to complete the adventure.  Yoga Adventures offer participants a supportive and exciting group dynamic that is typically not experienced in day-to-day life.  In addition, students have reported that the longer format offered by Yoga Adventures simultaneously offers both an invigorating physical experience and a relaxing mental retreat from the world.

  • Ceremony – Ritualistic ceremonies have provided comfort, connection, and rite of passage since the beginning of human culture.  Sijahk Yoga recognizes the importance of marking progress with ritual and therefore offers a unique challenge ceremony to celebrate participants’ accomplishments and growth through the levels of the program.  Once a student has reached her goals within a particular Sijahk Yoga level, she/he may participate in our challenge ceremony to demonstrate abilities and knowledge gained.  Successfully reaching goals and participating in a challenge ceremony allows students to earn belts and move on to new levels within Sijahk Yoga.

 WHAT DOES SIJAKH MEAN?  AND HOW DO YOU SAY IT? 
Sijahk means “to begin,” and it’s pronounced SEE-JACK.  As in other martial arts, it’s offered as a command at the opening of the forms.  Often, when called out in this manner, the hard sound at the end drops off, making it sound more like “SEE-JAH!”

WHY COMBINE YOGA AND TAEKWONDO?
After practicing and teaching yoga for over 16 years, Christine began practicing taekwondo with her husband and sons – and was pleasantly surprised by how much she enjoyed it!  She found that her taekwondo practice increased her strength, endurance, and self-confidence.  At the same time, she felt that her yoga background had provided a solid physical foundation that eased her transition to taekwondo practice.  As the two disciplines complemented each other so well, it seemed natural to Christine to integrate them into one practice.  As she developed Sijahk Yoga and shared it with others, it became apparent that the combination provided practitioners with a well-rounded practice that developed mental and spiritual wellness, as well as physical fitness.  Christine hopes to help her students experience empowerment through the unique mental, spiritual, and physical benefits of Sijahk Yoga practice.

I AM NOT SURE ABOUT THE KICKS IN SIJAHK YOGA™? ISN'T THIS VIOLENT? 
It really is a matter of perception.  Kicks are included in Sijahk Yoga because they increase flexibility, are energizing, and they can move energy out of the body.  Their expression does not have to be violent but freeing – they kick away stress, blockages, demons, or fear.  Whatever you can release through a kick, let it go.  See below for additional information on the rationale behind incorporating defense elements into Sijahk Yoga.
 
WHY IS SELF-DEFENSE INCLUDED IN SOME OF THE SIJAHK YOGA™ ADVENTURE PROGRAMS?  WHAT ABOUT “AHIMSA”? 
 Self-Defense is only taught at specific Sijahk Yoga Adventures. Our martial arts expert compares learning self-defense to learning CPR: You sure hope you never have to use it, but if you do, you are prepared and know what to do. Christine has included self-defense in her Yoga Adventure programs because she believes all women/men should know how to protect themselves.  Knowledge of self-defense techniques builds confidence and reduces or eliminates fear.

Yoga practice adheres to the tenet of “ahimsa,” which contends that all forms of life are sacred.  Originating in ancient India and continuing to be an important principle in most Indian religions (e.g., Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism), ahimsa calls for kindness and non-violence towards all – humans and animals alike.  It includes the notions that all acts of violence result in negative, karmic consequences and that all living things are connected, recognizing them as a single whole. 

Although the avoidance of all violence, verbal and physical, is called for under the doctrine of ahimsa, self-defense is another matter.  Ahimsa recognizes self-defense as necessary and an indication of a strong spirit.  As a result, Hindu scriptures and law justify the use of violence for self-defense.  That is, criminals are not protected under the rule of ahimsa. 

Sijahk Yoga aims to prepare its students to defend themselves – whether from physical attack or “inner demons” – by building their physical and mental strength.
 
HOW IS SIJAHK YOGA DIFFERENT FROM OTHER TYPES OF YOGA OR TAEKWONDO?
Basically, Sijahk Yoga seamlessly integrates the two practices, drawing on some of the best elements of both disciplines.  Learn more in the description of the practice and its mission above.

IS SIJAHK YOGA YOGA OR A MARTIAL ART?
In simple terms, it is both.  It is based primarily upon a sound yoga practice but incorporates elements such as kicks and hand techniques from taekwondo.  Each Sijahk Yoga form centers around a specific pose from yoga but it also includes movements that are common in taekwondo, as well as elements from a variety of therapeutic and psychological practices.  Unlike yoga, however, Sijahk Yoga includes levels or “belts” that students can achieve through demonstrating their proficiency during one of the challenge ceremonies offered throughout the year.  In this respect, it closely resembles a martial art.

HOW MANY FORMS OR LEVELS ARE THERE IN SIJAHK YOGA?
At this time, ten levels of forms are included in Sijahk Yoga. 

WHAT ARE THE SIJAHK YOGA FORMS LIKE? 
The forms are a sequence of poses and movements that many students have described as being “like a dance.”  Each element of the form flows into the next in a rhythmic way.  Because of the focus and discipline required to properly execute the forms, it’s also a moving meditation that hones the mind in addition to the body.

WHAT IS THE FORMAT FOR SIJAHK YOGA TRAINING?
Sijahk Yoga training is available in group class, Yoga Adventures (workshop), and private lesson formats.  A minimum of 18 classes is required to earn the opportunity to earn a belt (achieve a new level) at one of two, annual ceremonies.  Students who attend Yoga Adventures receive three class credits for each adventure.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM PRIVATE SESSIONS?
Our private sessions give you the attention and dedication you desire on your path to reclaiming your strength.  Private Sijahk Yoga sessions are tailored to the individual needs of the student.  Therefore, private sessions may include any of the following, as needed and requested:

  • Client-centered consultation.
  • Energizing yoga series.
  • Partner work.
  • Taekwondo kicks and/or techniques.
  • The yoga form of your current rank.
  • Light body work (e.g., Reiki, EFT).
  • Progressive relaxation.
  • Meditation.
  • Life coaching.

WHAT IS REQUIRED TO EARN BELTS / ACHIEVE NEW RANKS?
Rank belts are awarded based on the classes students attend in the class circuit and their subsequent demonstration of mastery of the form at a challenge ceremony.  Participants of the class circuit who have attended 18 or more classes in a series are granted the opportunity to earn a belt.  (Three class credits are granted for each Yoga Adventure a student attends.)

At the outset of a given rank, students meet with a staff member to develop personal goals.  They then receive Personal Achievement Cards where their classes and goals are listed.  Roughly mid-way through their training for a given form or level, the student demonstrates for an instructor how she is progressing through the training and the two of them review her personal goals.  Those interested in earning a new rank will meet with a staff member to review their progress and goals again once the class circuit has been completed.  If both the participant and the instructor agree that personal goals have been attained and the required classes have been completed, the participant will be given the opportunity to demonstrate their progress at the next scheduled ceremony.

HOW MANY CEREMONY OPPORTUNITIES ARE OFFERED EACH YEAR?
Two ceremonies are held each year where students can demonstrate their proficiency in a given Sijahk Yoga form and earn that level or belt.  Currently, ceremonies are scheduled for April and September.

HOW MANY YOGA ADVENTURES ARE OFFERED EACH YEAR?
Three to five Yoga Adventures of varying content are scheduled throughout each year.  Information about upcoming Yoga Adventures, including online registration, can be found on our website (http://www.sijahkyoga.com/adventure).

CAN FORMS BE MODIFIED BASED UPON PHYSICAL NEEDS OR RESTRICTIONS? 
Yes!  In fact, Sijahk Yoga aims to reach students of all abilities.  For that reason, Sijahk Yoga training can be tailored to each student.  When students begin a given level of Sijahk Yoga, they have a consultation with an instructor to set personalized goals, which will be recorded on their Personal Achievement Cards.  New ranks are achieved as classes and adventures are attended, forms are learned, and goals are completed.  For additional information, please see “What is required to earn belts/achieve new ranks?” above. 

ARE THERE ANY PHYSICAL RESTRICTIONS THAT WOULD PREVENT ME FROM PRACTICING SIJAHK YOGA?
Although we strive to accommodate individual needs, yoga is an activity that requires physical exertion, which may be strenuous and cause physical injury.  It is recommended that you consult a physician before you begin practicing Sijahk Yoga.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SIJAHK YOGA? 
Sijahk Yoga aims to help students reclaim strength in the mind, body, and spirit.  Students of Sijahk Yoga have reported experiencing greater strength, balance, flexibility, muscle tone, and overall fitness.  In addition to the physical benefits of Sijahk Yoga, students report that the practice empowers and strengthens the mind and the spirit.  Students also have reported feeling more self-confident, empowered, and “grounded” as a result of their Sijahk Yoga practice.

WHAT EQUIPMENT IS NEEDED TO PRACTICE SIJAHK YOGA? 
Comfortable clothing that allows for fluid movement and a mat are all that are required to participate in Sijahk Yoga.

ARE YOGA ADVENTURES REQUIRED? 
No, participation in Yoga Adventures is not required for advancement through Sijahk Yoga levels.  The adventures are offered as an additional, fun way to learn and practice the Sijahk Yoga forms and were created as a complement of the Sijahk Yoga sequence. 
As reclaiming strength and facing fears is central to Sijahk Yoga practice, the Yoga Adventures were developed to include an element of daring (e.g., zip lining, rappelling) to help people face fears head-on.  Yoga Adventures also incorporate more of the self-defense-related techniques for students who are particularly interested in learning those movements. 

Although Yoga Adventures are not required to progress through the course sequence for any given Sijahk Yoga form, students are granted three class credits for each Yoga Adventure attended.  Yoga Adventures create a fun, enhanced opportunity for students to move forward toward their next challenge ceremony to achieve new levels.

WHAT ARE THE REASONS STUDENTS ELECT TO PARTICIPATE IN ADVENTURES?
Students with a keen sense of adventure tend to really enjoy the Yoga Adventures.  Also, the desire to overcome a specific fear (e.g., fear of heights) or to gain a more, in-depth exposure to self-defense or to the therapeutic elements of Sijahk Yoga are among the reasons students choose Yoga Adventures.  Further, because Yoga Adventures are longer in duration than a standard class, students find the emersion in the practice to be restorative and relaxing – like a mini retreat! 

WHAT IS EFT AND WHAT ARE ITS BENEFITS?
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is also known as “tapping.”  See the description of EFT under the “Additional Elements” heading under “What is Sijahk Yoga?”

WHAT ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR BEGINNERS?
Visit the Sijahk Yoga website (www.sijahkyoga.com/workshops) to learn when the next beginner level series begins.   Students new to Sijahk Yoga are permitted to begin with the Goddess, Warrior, or Moon series.  Students new to yoga may also wish to attend the therapeutic yoga classes that are offered periodically by our instructors.  Information about yoga classes and other offerings is also available on the Sijahk Yoga website.  Joining our email list is an additional, easy way to stay up-to-date about classes, workshops, and adventures offered.

WHERE CAN I FIND SIJAHK YOGA CLASSES AND ADVENTURES?
Sijahk Yoga is offered at several locations throughout Westmoreland County, PA.  Please check our website (www.sijahkyoga.com/workshops) for upcoming class times and locations.

Yoga Adventures are held throughout the year at the Ligonier Camp and Conference Center.    Visit the website for upcoming dates (http://www.sijahkyoga.com/adventure).

IS ANYTHING ELSE OFFERED BY SIJAHK YOGA INSTRUCTORS? 
Yes!  Sijahk Yoga instructors offer classes outside the scope of the Sijahk Yoga training sequence.  Although they do not “count” toward class totals for eligibility for earning new ranks, these classes are a nice complement – or “cross-training” option – for Sijahk Yoga students.

Also, taekwondo kick clinics*, therapeutic yoga sessions, EFT sessions, and other instructional opportunities are routinely scheduled throughout the year. 

Information about all sessions offered is available through the “Workshops and Private Instruction” section of our website, www.sijahkyoga.com.  Additionally, we send a monthly newsletter and course schedule to our students. 

(*Kick clinics do count toward the 18 classes required for a student to be permitted to participate in a ceremony to earn a belt for a given Sijahk Yoga level.)