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Serenity in Motion: Larry Terkel Bridges Ancient Wisdom and Modern Life through Yoga and Meditation

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The ancient practice of yoga has taken the world by storm in the past decades, with its popularity rising by almost 64 percent between 2010 and 2021. Of the 300 million yoga practitioners worldwide, 34.4 million are from the United States, accounting for 10% of the population. In 2017, American adults claimed yoga as the most typically used complementary health practice. Meditation is quickly joining the ranks, with its number of practitioners tripling since 2012.

The enthusiasm behind yoga and meditation can be attributed to the growing need of today’s society to improve their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health as they stand face to face with the increasing pervasiveness of chronic diseases and vulnerability to stress, anxiety, and depression. While many yoga teachers translate the word yoga into “union”, Larry Terkel prefers to translate it into the word “harmony”. While it refers to the harmony of the body parts, he teaches the power of harmony between body and mind, harmony with nature, harmony with universal consciousness, and ultimately harmony in all aspects of our lives.

Larry Terkel, one of America’s most experienced yoga and meditation teachers, combines mindfulness, spirituality, and physicality to address the challenges of modern life and navigate the era wherein machines foster isolation and feelings of inadequacy. Larry has been teaching yoga and meditation since 1971, having studied the practice with some of the world’s greatest masters, including B.K.S. Iyengar, Swami Satchidananda, and Pir Vilayet Inayat Khan, to name a few. As further evidence of the effects of yoga, Larry returned to swimming at the age of 60 after 40 years of yoga. At the United States Senior Olympic championships, Larry won 7 gold medals and set two national senior records for the 75-79 age group. Larry calls swimming ‘yoga in the water.’

Having received the highest certifications given by the Yoga Alliance, Larry teaches his unique form of meditation called meditationPlus, a technique blending mantra, mindfulness, and more to cater to individuals often caught in the hustle and bustle of life. This combination of techniques is a response to the challenge of incorporating meditation into a hectic lifestyle. Larry’s approach works to unlock numerous benefits of meditation, including stress reduction, improved sleep, enhanced cognitive function, and even opens us to practical and spiritual guidance.

Larry infuses his classical teachings with a sense of humor to reach diverse audiences, from college students to business professionals. He introduced a unique perspective, emphasizing that a yoga pose is only complete with a smile. This philosophy enhances safety in practice and, at the same time, injects positivity into the often physically intense world of yoga.

“In yoga, we explore and play with our limits but don’t break through them. Instead, we honor them. We want to get comfortable and smile with them. I joke with my students, saying they haven’t completed the yoga pose until they can smile in it even though it’s potentially uncomfortable. After all, aren’t relationships sometimes uncomfortable? Or work? Or life? They all need more smiles.”

Larry reminds them however that this smile is not a smile they give him as their teacher. It’s a smile they give themselves. “Establishing a genuine, healthy relationship with oneself is at the core of my teachings,” Larry says.

The renowned instructor encourages his students to find joy in discomfort, extend this practice beyond the mat, and integrate yoga principles into their daily lives to strengthen their emotional and mental resilience. “I always tell my students, don’t leave what you learn in yoga on the mat. It’s not just what you did for an hour of exercise that you might feel good about. Embrace the teachings and bring them to your life. Use them to address today’s pressing issues,” he added.

“New Year‘s 1971, the beginning of Larry’s yoga journey, with Swami Satchidananda, the Guru of Woodstock and his still wife of 53 years.”

In an effort to enhance his teachings, Larry has embarked on a program of 5-minute talks on everything from yoga and meditation to daily life and parables from his experiences that can apply to anyone’s circumstances.

As one of the most popular yoga and meditation teachers at the Chautauqua Institution, Larry distinguishes himself by encouraging his students to develop their own personal practice. He is known and loved for his hands-on teaching style and efforts to go beyond the prevalent studio-centric model. His corrections keep students safe and tune them into the feelings that yoga has to offer them.

"Larry's yoga and health 53 years later at 76 years old and a national masters swimming champion."
“Larry’s yoga and health 53 years later at 76 years old and a national masters swimming champion.”

Larry Terkel’s approach to teaching yoga and meditation has evolved over his five-decade journey. His commitment to keeping his practice fresh ensures that his teachings stay relevant and engaging for his students, helping them navigate physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual challenges. Larry’s ability to combine ancient wisdom with practical insights and a warm smile make him one of the most influential figures in yoga and meditation. As he continues to inspire and guide others on their journeys toward holistic wellness, his teachings will always serve as a bridge between the timeless practices of the past and the shifting needs of the present.

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