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Sep. 1st, 2006 @ 10:50 am (no subject)
Oh... a two for one day! I got this in my email today from YJ and thought "There's another AWESOME pose!" I've never been able to do the full splits, and I like how this is another one of those poses with a story to meditate on (the icon here is not the pose - see the article for an image). And that story just so happens to involve crossing an ocean which I will be doing in *gasp* one week! So, I couldn't resist adding this post for today as well...

Leap Oceans in a Single Bound!

In Indian mythology, the monkey king Hanuman leapt from the South of India to the Himalayas, and all the way to Sri Lanka, with an entire mountain on his back, in order to deliver a life-saving herb to Laksmana, wounded brother of King Rama. In this task, Hanuman embodied his intense devotion to Rama, and it allowed him to do the impossible. This is the lesson of Hanuman: Power comes from devotion.

That mighty leap is memorialized in the pose Hanumanasana. This pose asks you not merely to stretch your legs but also to bring true devotion into your practice. Hanumanasana expresses the expansiveness possible when devotion is in the heart—the sense that you can overcome any obstacle when your yearning to help is combined with reverence and respect, as well as an intense and fiery devotion.

As you practice this pose, notice the duality between your reach for the pose and the pains that may accompany your attempts. When you feel pain, turn your mind inward. Instead of focusing on the pain, use your breath to access your heart, finding the inner passion that created the leap of Hanuman. Notice that when you switch the mind from pain to passion and do the asana with a sense of Hanumanic devotion, resistance begins to dissolve and the pose starts to blossom. As the mind turns, so the body responds. As the mind moves into devotion and the heart opens, so will the hips, the hamstrings, and the legs. The opening up of the legs, hamstrings, and hip flexors is a reflection of a deeper opening felt inside. When you maintain an inner quality of expansive devotion, the pose will not be a fight to open your hamstrings but a joyous attempt at aggrandizing all your capacities.

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Article's Author and References:

Founder-director of Yoga Centers in Bellevue, Washington, Aadil Palkhivala began studying yoga with B.K.S. Iyengar at age 7, was introduced to Sri Aurobindo's yoga at age 10, and received an Iyengar Advanced Yoga Teacher's Certificate at age 22. For more information on Aadil and his work, see www.yogacenters.com and www.aadilpalkhivala.com.

Anatomy of Hatha Yoga: A Manual for Students, Teachers, and Practitioners (Hardcover)
by H. David Coulter
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obsoletechild:
Sep. 1st, 2006 @ 09:26 am (no subject)
As I mentioned earlier this week, lately work has been a struggle. So today's positive thought was quite serendipitous...

Today's Positive Thought

Struggle is a choice. Choose joy instead.

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And, as promised, yet another awesome "how in the world do they do that??" pose...

Natarajasana (Lord of the Dance Pose)

Also called the Cosmic Dancer, Nataraja is another name for Shiva. His dance symbolizes cosmic energy in its "five actions:" creation, maintenance, and destruction or re-absorption of the world, concealment of authentic being, and salvific grace

(not-ah-raj-AHS-anna)

nata = actor, dancer, mime

raja = king

Benefits

* Stretches the shoulders and chest
* Stretches the thighs, groins, and abdomen
* Strengthens the legs and ankles
* Improves balance
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Still waiting to hear what poses awe and amaze you!
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obsoletechild:
Aug. 30th, 2006 @ 09:14 am (no subject)
This pose blows my mind:

Twist & Soar

It's a twist! It's a standing pose! It's an arm balance! The super-pose Visvamitrasana is all of those things and more.

By Shiva Rea

When I decided to start surfing a few months ago, friends said, "Oh, you're a yogini, it'll be no problem." But the first time I tried to stand on my board, I flailed, freaked, and wiped out like a true beginner. It took months to develop even a little comfort up there. But that's one of the reasons I love learning this new sport. Exploring a realm in which I'm a complete newbie gives me the chance to enjoy the transition from awkwardness to embodied grace, from fragmentation to wholeness. It's also an exhilarating way to experience the process of yoga.
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Check out the picture (icon for this entry). Its amazing. I want to work towards this.

Are there any poses that just amaze you?
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obsoletechild:
Aug. 28th, 2006 @ 10:23 am (no subject)
Heroes, Saints, and Sages

Many asanas take their names from Indian mythological figures who had fantastical lives and superhuman powers. Learn their lore to infuse your practice with the extraordinary.

When we're children, our imagination is held captive by such larger-than-life figures. As we grow older, however, mythic stories often lose their pull on us. We become so rooted in the mundane and prosaic that our connection with archetypal figures like brave heroes and clever princesses often fades. Thankfully, yoga practice invites us back into a realm of feeling and imagination, a realm where superhuman figures can come alive. Hidden behind the tongue-twisting names of many of the asanas we practice are stories of wild and woolly Indian superheroes able to change shape, read minds, and leap vast distances in a single bound.

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I really enjoyed this article for a couple of reasons. I find it difficult to hold the Warrior poses for some reason, both in the arms and in the legs, so this gives me something to think about while holding them. Also, part of what I enjoy about yoga is its playfulness - yoga is a space in which I can enjoy my body as a creative expression, not necessarily as a vehicle to carry out my goals or an object of someone else's desire or appraisal. This sort of symbolism enhances that imaginative aspect for me.

Your quide to fighting the good fight - the Warrior PosesCollapse )

I'm sorry I've not posted as much lately as I had been. Work is nuts right now, partly because school is back in session and partly because I am getting ready to leave town. I'll try to post a little more frequently, but as always, I welcome your input in the form of posts. Feel free to share an article, an insight, a pose you love, etc. Also, feel free to post any yoga questions or concerns you have - I'll be happy to research them for you and it will foster more discussion here.

Also, I think this is really cool. As seen in this month's YJ, Yoga Today offers a free 1 hour online yoga class daily. You have to install their driver or use I-Tunes, but so far, I haven't experienced any technical difficulties. The files are about 1GB each, so be sure you have enough space for that and that you clean the cache pretty regularly. ALSO - it took several hours to download this because of the way in which it is downloaded. So I would definitely follow the suggestion of downloading it overnight for the next day!
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obsoletechild:
Aug. 17th, 2006 @ 03:42 pm (no subject)
There was a great story on this on NPR yesterday, so I wanted to share this article...

Just Be...

You've tried everything—from working less to taking vitamins and quitting coffee—to cope with stress overload, and you still feel drained. But have you tried just doing nothing? In medical parlance, it's called constructive rest.

By Chris Colin

I'm balancing on my father's tennis shoes, age eight. Some neighbor is talking—grown-up talk about gutters or football—but then he stops and looks down at me. "Third grade," he says cheerily. "So, what's your favorite subject?" I don't hesitate: "Recess." I flash a self-conscious smile.

Recess, I'm thinking, really is better than math and history—it's what I've just learned, still swirling in my head, plus the freedom to digest it, plus the Jungle Gym, plus some rare emptiness. But I smile because at eight years old, I already know what's expected. Although no one has ever sat down to explain it to me, I understand the requirements of a culture driven by a work ethic, the need to keep unstructured time in its place. So, I go on to say to the nice man that spelling's pretty good too. I regret it to this day.

Twenty years later, I'm thinking about recess-ish things. And work ethic. And rare emptiness. Adult life suffers a conspicuous lack of scheduled recess; we just carve out rough approximations of it now and then.
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Sorry I've been slack on the posts lately... I've been running around with all kinds of things to do. While the theory of constructive rest makes some sense to me, there is something to be said for just plain rest - I feel like I could easily sleep for twelve or so hours if I only had a chance!
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obsoletechild:
Aug. 15th, 2006 @ 09:56 am (no subject)
Pose of the Day: Bakasana (Crane Pose)

A compact arm balance, Crane Pose tones and strengthens the abdominal organs and the arms.

Here's how to get into the pose:

Squat down from Tadasana with your inner feet a few inches apart. If it isn't possible to keep your heels on the floor, support them on a thickly folded blanket. Separate your knees wider than your hips and lean the torso forward, between the inner thighs. Stretch your arms forward, then bend your elbows, and place your hands on the floor with the backs of the upper arms against the shins.

Snuggle your inner thighs against the sides of your torso, and your shins into your armpits,

and slide the upper arms down as low onto the shins as possible. Lift up onto the balls of your feet and lean forward even more, taking the weight of your torso onto the backs of the upper arms. In Bakasana you consciously attempt to contract your front torso and round your back completely. To help yourself do this, keep your tailbone as close to your heels as possible.

With an exhalation, lean forward even more onto the backs of your upper arms, to the point at which the balls of your feet leave the floor. Now your torso and legs are balanced on the backs of your upper arms. As a beginner at this pose, you might want to stop here, perched securely on the bent arms.

If you are ready to go further, squeeze the legs against the arms, press the inner hands firmly to the floor, and (with an inhalation) straighten the elbows. Seen from the side, the arms are angled slightly forward relative to the floor. The inner knees should be glued to the outer arms, high up near the armpits. Keep the head in a neutral position, with your eyes looking at the floor, or lift the head slightly, without compressing the back of the neck, and look forward.

Stay in the pose anywhere from 20 seconds to 1 minute. To release, exhale and slowly lower your feet to the floor, returning toto a squat.

Hot Buddha, Cold Buddha

Commitment to practice is evidenced by your willingness to be present on the mat for whatever comes up right now.

By Judith Hanson Lasater

No matter how hard it may be to drag yourself to yoga class at the end of a busy day, inevitably you feel better when it's over, walking fluidly out the door with your sticky mat rolled neatly under your arm. At that moment it may seem inconceivable that you would ever resist practicing again. But somehow even the very morning after a great class, resistance to practice can arise. You may experience a mental struggle as you lie in bed, trying to decide if and when to get out of bed and onto your mat for that first Downward-Facing Dog Pose.

This experience of resistance is not just a modern phenomenon plaguing our overly congested culture. Throughout the history of yoga, students have struggled with exactly what it means to practice, what discipline is, and how to overcome recurrent resistance to practicing.

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obsoletechild:
Aug. 11th, 2006 @ 02:19 pm Art of Vinyasa conference in Miami, October 26-29


I don't know why it never occured to me until today to post a link to this Vinyasa-themed conference, taking place in North Miami Beach (about as Southeastern as Southeastern U.S. gets, y'all) in October.

It looks fabulous!

Early registration ends in a couple of weeks.

http://www.artofvinyasa.com

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nurturing
alkmaar:
Aug. 11th, 2006 @ 11:55 am (no subject)
Just one article today (I'm learning about defending DUIs!):

Slow the Flow

If you've ever taken a flow class, you've no doubt heard the teacher call out "Chaturanga, Upward-Facing Dog, Downward-Facing Dog"—over and over again. This sequence is often inserted between poses, making them the most repeated poses in a flow-based class. When done correctly, they build suppleness, strength, and endurance.

Chaturanga and Upward-Facing Dog are difficult and demanding for any practitioner, and repeatedly slogging through them can feel like an uphill battle. Ever feel your neck tense and your shoulders hunch as you take a nosedive into Chaturanga, ultimately collapsing into a heap on the floor? Or press into Upward Dog and feel a sudden twinge in your lower back, causing you to rush back to Downward Dog to find some ease? These common mistakes can be avoided if you learn proper alignment and build strength to sustain it through the entire flow. In the long run, mindlessly racing through these poses can lead to injuries—typically to the delicate shoulder joints and the lower back.

Learning these poses in detail can be challenging, particularly in a flow class, where the rhythm often takes precedence over the subtle nuances of the postures. So as you watch your fellow students move through Chaturanga and into Upward Dog, you might feel pressured to fake the poses and keep up with the class rather than stand out as the solitary neophyte. But you'll get more out of the class if you resist this temptation. Try this modified version of Chaturanga and spend time hovering just above the floor, allowing your arms to quiver. You'll build strength, and as you extend your stay in Upward Dog, you'll create the opening in your chest and upper back necessary to master more complex backbends.

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obsoletechild:
Aug. 10th, 2006 @ 10:36 am (no subject)
In a very shallow vein, I've been suffering some obnoxious acne lately, so I looked into a yoga approach to the subject.

According to this handy online test, I'm a Pitta type in Auryvedic alternative medicine:

The Pitta Type

* Pitta types are determined and strong willed with good digestion.
* The Pitta's primary organs are the small intestine and stomach.
* Pittas tend to be hot, oily, and light.
* Pitta is associated with the fire element, and tend to have a fiery quality.
* When a Pitta becomes imbalanced, he or she may notice skin rashes, burning, inflammation, fever, ulcers, anger, jealousy, copious urine.

In order to be balanced, Pittas should remain cool, avoiding excess heat, steam or humidity.

They should also avoid excessively oily food or fried foods as well as caffeine, alcohol, red meat, hot spices, or salt, choosing instead to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

Pitta types should also try to get plenty of fresh air. Expression of emotions is also important.


A second article on the same site suggests that I modify my diet, supplements and herbs, and stick with the yoga and masssage. Specifically, it suggests increasing omega-3s, A, zinc, B-6, fruits and veggies, water and fiber, as well as detoxing the liver while avoiding refined sugar, fried foods, trans fats, milk products, chocolate (gasp!), caffiene, soda, iodized salt, shellfish (gasp!) and wheat. It also recommends spot treatment with tea tree oil and consuming an herbal blend that can help with acne consists of equal parts of the herbal extracts of sarsaparilla, yellow dock, burdock, and cleavers.

A few Yoga Journal articles on the subject:

Intro to Ayurveda

The ancient science of Ayurveda can help minimize the effects of stress and improve the health of your skin. Yoga, which promotes relaxation, can also keep your complexion in balance. "One of the biggest commitments you can make to reduce stress is simply keeping up your yoga practice. Yoga postures induce deep relaxation, helping you to prevent fatigue and strain. Deep breathing normalizes blood pressure and helps release tension-related conditions such as headaches, backaches, sleeplessness, and stomachaches. Meditation brings another skin-care bonus, according to Dr. Mishra. The deep relaxation often obtained during meditation helps balance several of the subdoshas of vata involved in blood circulation. Long-term meditators' skin often develops a particular glow and radiance. The key is to find and maintain the type of meditation that suits you. A good teacher can make a real difference in terms of answering questions and helping you overcome initial obstacles to regular practice."

Real Beauty A well-tended, well-loved face is the best canvas for the soul's expression.

Ayurveda and Asana Ayurveda can shed light on the practice of yoga.

And, a Pose of the Day...

Padmasana (Lotus Pose)

Let this quintessential meditation pose teach you to focus on your path, not on your destination.

By Donna Farhi

As soon as you admit that you practice yoga, you're likely to be confronted with the question, "So, can you do that pretzely thing with your legs?" Padmasana (Lotus Pose), a.k.a. "the pretzel," more than any other asana, is synonymous in the public's mind with the practice of yoga. And if you are like me, unable for the first 10 years of practice to even approximate Padmasana, you would have to doggedly admit that, no, you don't do Lotus—and then face suspicion that you must be some kind of hatha yoga dilettante.

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More on Lotus Pose:

(pod-MAHS-anna)
padma = lotus

Benefits

* Calms the brain
* Stimulates the pelvis, spine, abdomen, and bladder
* Stretches the ankles and knees
* Eases menstrual discomfort and sciatica
* Consistent practice of this pose until late into pregnancy is said to help ease childbirth.
* Traditional texts say that Padmasana destroys all disease and awakens kundalini.
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obsoletechild:
Aug. 8th, 2006 @ 02:51 pm Kripalu, Lenox MA
Current Mood: contentcontent


Our moderator here asked me to review my recent experience at Kripalu ( http://www.kripalu.org )in the Berkshires, Massachusetts. As many of you know, Kripalu is a primary destination for yoga practitioners from all walks of life. So even though I hail from the Northeast (Connecticut, to be precise), it is my pleasure to visit and share my experiences with y'all!

Firstly, I must give props to my home studio, http://www.yoga4everybody.net, and its owner, Janis, for coordinating the trip. Due to the size of the group, we all received a considerable discount on our stay and program fees at Kripalu.

I signed up for a weekend intensive with the one and only Seane Corn, titled Detox Flow: A Weekend Workshop for Purification of Body, Mind and Spirit. My college friend and roommate for the weekend, H., was simply doing Kripalu's "R & R" program, when you don't have to do anything but attend optional available workshops and yoga, and explore the lovely grounds.

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madison bee
alkmaar: