Introducing Curator: Beryl Bender-Birch
HipSIlver is very proud to introduce Beryl Bender-Birch, a highly sought after teacher and renowned yoga master. Beryl is Founder and Director of The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute, which has schools and studios throughout the United States. She offers certification trainings in the United States and internationally. Beryl is compassionate and actively engaged in community. She is involved with healing and growth on a practical and intuitive level. She founded the Give Back Yoga Foundation which reaches out to underserved populations; men and women in prison, veterans with PTSD, cancer patients and survivors, and those in addiction recovery. We are delighted she is part of the HipSilver team. - Gail Bruce
The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute
It is an honor and a privilege to be here with all of you, and to be a part of the HipSilver community. As a family of bright, educated, and experienced “elders,” we are a force to be reckoned with. And yoga (my special forte), coupled with diet, exercise, and social service, are what, for me, fuels that force.
I hope to share with you in the coming months more about the ways in which you can actually practice yoga, and offer tips on making yoga work for you, no matter your age or ability. In this uncertain and unpredictable world in which we live, I cannot imagine getting through a day without some form of my yoga practice – whether meditation, conscious breathing, movement, or yoga service – it all helps to keep me sane, happy, and healthy.
For those of you who do not know me, I graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in English and Philosophy and traveled to India in l974 for 6 months to further my studies. At the time, I thought I was the last one on the train to go to India, as so many of my teachers and mentors had already been to or were from India. Little did I know what was to come, as far as the influence that this wonderful country and all the Eastern wisdom traditions would have on our Western culture.
I have been practicing yoga and meditation since l971, and teaching these wonderful practices for over 40 years. I have written a number of books on the subject and in l980, I started training yoga students to become yoga teachers. I now focus on directing The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute, the school I started in l980 that offers yoga teacher training programs nation wide. We have an outstanding faculty and have been rated as one of the top yoga teacher training programs in the country. Interestingly, a significant percentage of our students are over 60! We have programs running in 6 different states and are also the official training program of the Give Back Yoga Foundation, a non-profit I co-founded 10 years ago that is now the gateway organization for yoga service projects in the US. https://givebackyoga.org/product/hard-and-soft-200-300-hour-yoga-teacher-trainings.
My asana background was in a fairly rigorous practice called ashtanga, and my first book, Power Yoga, was my interpretation of that practice. The book sold nearly 300,000 copies and launched me on my travels around the world teaching yoga.
Since then, I have written several more books – Beyond Power Yoga is the detailed philosophy of classical yoga.
Boomer Yoga was written for the baby boomers and beyond (all of us), and my last book, Yoga for Warriors, was written as a gift to the military and is especially designed for veterans returning from deployment and trying to make the difficult transition back to their families and civilian life.
Doing the Work
We certainly all know what a challenging year 2017 has been. Yet I believe that we also know how, in so many ways, there has been a conscious and profound response to these challenges. People, like so many of you, have found the courage to speak up and speak out for the freedom and rights of all beings. I’m thinking, for example, of the Women’s March on Washington, of the #MeToo movement, of my friend Morgan Dixon’s Girl Trek, an exponentially growing movement to get black women walking for health and liberation, and of the work Give Back Yoga Foundation has done in taking yoga into prisons and the military, into hospitals, health care facilities and treatment centers, offering yoga for cancer and yoga for 12 step recovery. We, collectively, are rising to the challenge of the times.
I call this spiritual activism “doing the work,” and it is the backbone of my practice and my teaching. I think once we “wake up” (through any kind of a spiritual practice), to the knowledge that we are truly all connected, then there is nothing else to do with one’s life but serve our fellow human beings and our beloved Mother Earth, and all her inhabitants. As my good friend Seane Corn says “It's exciting to consider what is possible when we organize, work together, align our values, commit to fair and right social change and do whatever is necessary to ensure a free, safe and equal society for ALL. It's even more thrilling to know that this is already happening in communities throughout our globe.”
I look forward to hearing from you all and sharing stories, tips, and practices to help you stay healthy, find calm, and maintain equipoise in a chaotic world.
Best Wishes for 2018.