At our birth it enters into us, the migratory bird!
like the fire, invisibly present in the wood,
like the oil hidden in the sesame seed,
it dwells in the deepest depth of us:
to know that (the bird) is to free oneself from death.

— Hamsa Upanishad

Meaning of Hamsa

The word hamsa (pronounced “hum-suh”), literally translated as “swan,” is the symbolism for the Atman or soul.

Breath is sound, and the sound created through the breath stays with us throughout our life and fills us with energy. The sound or mantra created through the breath is said to be so ‘ham (सो ऽहम्), where the inhale is “so” and the exhale is “hum.”  The meaning of this mantra is “I am that.” In Vedic philosophy it means identifying oneself with the universe or ultimate reality.

The mantra is also inverted from so ‘ham (the sandhi or joining of saḥ + aham) to ham + sa. The combination of so ‘haṃ haṃsaḥ has also been interpreted as “I myself am the Swan”, where the Swan symbolizes the Atman.

Courtney Miller

CourtneyHeadshotCourtney Miller, co-founder of the Hamsa School of Yoga and Ayurveda, is a Holistic Nutritionist and Yoga Teacher. She received her Masters of Science from the American College of Healthcare Sciences, and is currently pursuing her studies to become an Ayurvedic Health Counselor and Pancha Karma Therapist.

Yoga played a major role in Courtney’s life as she struggled with an eating disorder in her early teens and twenties. She began to practice yoga when she was in college and found that the practice helped her to become more aware of the mean inner dialogue that was constantly streaming through her mind. By continuing to practice she found the ability to slowly chip away at the self-hatred, eventually finding a glimpse of self-awareness she hadn’t experienced before. Yoga compels you to tune into your body, take notice of where there’s discomfort, and us your breath to relax into it.

After graduating college in 2011 she started a non-profit organization, Girls Empowerment Partners, to promote self-confidence and self-care in young girls.

Courtney is registered with Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT 500.

Debby Andersen

newheadshotsmallDebby Andersen, yogini, healer, and co-founder of the Hamsa School of Yoga and Ayurveda, blends the ancient wisdom of Yoga and Ayurveda into a practical, modern-day path of self-discovery and healing. Born and raised near Des Moines, Iowa, she graduated from the University of Iowa with degrees in Dance and Psychology. An avid traveler, she fell in love with yoga while living in India for 3 months, where she was also introduced to yoga’s sister science, Ayurveda. She completed her first yoga teacher training in India in 2006. Since then she has completed numerous trainings in yoga and the healing arts.

Debby is a NAMA-registered Ayurvedic Practitioner and is certified to practice Ayurveda through the Ayurvedic Institute. She is registered with Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT 200, RYT 500 and is a C-IAYT through the International Association of Yoga Therapists.

About the Hamsa School of Yoga and Ayurveda

Hamsa School of Yoga and Ayurveda was founded in 2016 by Courtney Miller and Debby Andersen. We offer comprehensive immersions into living and teaching in alignment with the principles of yoga and Ayurveda. Our vision is to provide opportunities for travel, pilgrimage, and immersion-style learning rooted in classical teachings. Hatha and Ashtanga-based Vinyasa are emphasized, along with the lifestyle practices of Ayurveda and study of ancient texts. We believe that knowledge gained from experience has the power to awaken the wisdom of yoga already inherent in each and every person. Through our training programs, our aim is to create a space where this knowledge can be realized and integrated, cultivating transformation that will allow you to find your unique expression as a yoga teacher.

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