Ancient Teachings of Tantra And Kundalini Yoga – Nadis

Ancient Teachings of Tantra and Kundalini Yoga – Nadis
Reposted with permission: TantraKundalini.com

Ida is the left channel. Ida is white, feminine, cold, represents the moon and is associated with the river Ganga (Ganges). Originating in Muladhara, Ida ends up in the left nostril.

Tantra Kundalini Yoga Nadis

Tantra Kundalini Yoga - Nadis

Pingala is the right channel. Pingala is red, masculine, hot, represents the sun and is associated with the river Yamuna. Originating in Muladhara, Pingala ends up in the right nostril.

Sushumna is the central channel and is associated with the river Saraswati. Within the Sushumna nadi there are three more subtle channels: Vajra, Chitrini and Brahma nadi through which Kundalini moves upwards running up the body from just below Muladhara chakra to Sahasrara chakra at the crown of the head.

The kanda in Muladhara chakra is the meeting place of the three main nadis and is known as Yukta Triveni (Yukta: “combined”, tri: “three”, veni: “streams”). In Muladhara, Shakti, the static unmanifested Kundalini, is symbolized by a serpent coiled into three and a half circles around the central axis Svayambhu-linga at the base of the spine. The serpent lies blocking the entrance to Sushumna, the central channel with his mouth. Sushumna remains closed at its lower end as long as Kundalini is not awakened.

The technique of Kundalini Yoga consists in using Prana (the vital air), guiding its circulatory movement through Ida and Pingala down to the base of the spine into the space where Kundalini lies coiled. The vital energies of the opposite forces circulating in Ida and Pingala will be unified and Shakti Kundalini will then awaken and rise up Sushumna, energizing the seven chakras.

From Muladhara chakra, Ida and Pingala alternate from the right to left sides at each chakra until they reach Ajna chakra where they meet again with Sushumna.

In Ajna chakra the meeting of the three main nadis is called Mukta Triveni (Mukta: “liberated”). Continuing beyond Ajna chakra, Ida and Pingala end in the left and right nostrils respectively.

Once the Kundalini Shakti has ascended through Sushumna to Sahasrara, the highest psychic center at the crown of the head, it is made to reverse its course and return to rest in the base center again.

Breath And Stress Reduction

Breath and Stress Reduction
by Sherry Roberts

There is a saying in Yoga: When you can control your breath, you can control everything.

People give you strange looks when you tell them you spent your Saturday afternoon breathing. But that’s what I did. There were about 10 of us at the workshop on breathing at my local yoga center. We were all there for different reasons: to learn how to use breathing to cope with stress, asthma, and respiratory illness; to discover how to breathe efficiently during yoga, meditation, our daily chores, walks in the neighborhood, and hikes up mountains.

We’re all born knowing how to breathe. Watch a baby breathe. See how she automatically fills up her entire abdomen and ribs like a little balloon? She doesn’t breathe only from the upper chest in short, rapid gasps. As we age, we develop inefficient breathing habits as the result of other habits such as smoking. Women have been conditioned throughout history to alter their breathing habits for the sake of appearance: The corset made deep breathing impossible. Today’s young woman is still trussed up in a “media corset” as she is bombarded from newsstands, videos, movie screens, and television shows with the message to “suck in your gut.”

Breathing is a healing tool, according to my yoga teacher, and it can be relearned with practice. How do we get back to the “breath of babes”?

First, we learned about the three types of breathing:

Low or abdominal breathing — breathing with the diaphragm and abdominal muscles. When you breathe in, the abdomen extends (as if you were pregnant). When you breathe out, it deflates.

Middle breathing — lower ribs expand forward and to the sides with each breath. To see if you breathe from the middle, place your fingers along your ribs and breath. Do your fingers move with each breath?

High or upper chest breathing — short, rapid, shallow breaths originate from this area. This is where many smokers and corset wearers breathe.

To relearn deep breathing or the breath of babes, as I call it, we stretched out on the floor on our backs. (Practicing breathing sitting up is more difficult.) Nearly all of us used pillows under our heads. Some of us also used pillows under the back and knees. The idea is to get comfortable. Then we placed one hand on the abdomen and one hand on the lower rib and practiced filling up those areas with breath. Keep the mouth closed and breathe through the nose.

The first thing you realize is that it’s been a long time since you tried to control those muscles and you growl at your teacher who is showing off by inflating one lung and then the other at will (a trick that looks like it belongs in the circus). Focus on the image of a balloon inflating from your abdomen and into your ribs or a wave of air filling you from abdomen up through the ribs and into the chest. It becomes all about controlling the breath: inhale — hold — exhale. Our teacher suggested that we count as we inhale (10 counts), hold for 5–10 counts, and exhale slowly (another 10 counts). If you can’t do a count of 10-10-10, do 7-7-7 or 5-5-5. It may take practice to get to 10-10-10 or 20-20-20.

De-stressing is not just a bunch of hot air or is it?

The ultimate de-stressing comes with slowing the breath to 1 to 2 breaths per minute, my teacher says. He suggests doing three to five of those extremely slow breaths when you really need to relax and you will feel like a new person. However, on this Saturday afternoon, I can’t even come close to that new person in me. You must practice the skills at night, my teacher says, and then use them during the day. He recommends posting notes throughout the house, near the telephone, on the computer monitor to remind yourself to breathe deeply.

The telephone can be a big stressor, so he advises more advanced methods of de-stressing. “Don’t answer the phone on the first ring,” he says. “Impossible,” says a mother of three teenagers. “It’s a stampede.” Still, he maintains, let it ring, empty your lungs, take a slow deep breath, start to exhale, and then answer.

We all have events that trigger stress or anxiety — answering the telephone, approaching green lights (will it turn yellow just as I get there?), serving during a tennis match, making the big presentation, meeting new people. You may find yourself unconsciously holding your breath during those moments. Feeling breathless or holding your breath is a cue to use deep breathing.

When do you use deep breathing?

Don’t use deep breathing during meditation. That is the time when you want to be aware of your breath, but not necessarily controlling it. Use deep breathing at times when you need energy or want to fill calm: during yoga, during exercise (instead of panting on the treadmill and using only your chest to breathe, deepen and slow the breath), before stressful confrontations, before doing something you don’t like to do, before meditation (a warm-up that calms the mind). Or do deep breathing just for the fun of it, just to feel calm and at peace.

Focusing on breathing concentrates the mind. The great Paramahansa Yogananda compared breathing and restless thoughts to storms. We can’t find serenity — that no stress state — until we calm those storms through deep breathing and meditation.

More resources: The book, Science of Breath, offers some basic breathing techniques and discusses how breathing fits into the mind-body connection. Or check out the breathing classes at your local yoga center.

 

Kundalini – Nadi’s

Kundalini – The Nadi’s

In the context of Hinduism , the Kundalini energy is unseen and unmeasurable represented by a snake (or sometimes a dragon), who sleeps curled in the muladhara (the first of the chakras , the seven energy-circles, which is located in the area of the perineum). It is said that to awaken this serpent, the yogi controls life and death. Several doctrines used this concept of Kundalini: the yoga, the tantra, the Buddhism, the Taoism , the Sikhism and Gnosticism .

Symbolic:

With regard to the symbolic representation of Kundalini , mentioned above, it should be recalled that in many cultures the snake has been revered as a sacred animal. So in the ancient Egyptian civilization, the snake that the pharaohs were in their crowns, representing his divinity and high initiation (was a symbol of high expertise). Also in cultures Mayan and Aztec was worshiped the feathered serpent. The Genesis of the Bible the serpent is lying, this allegorized in black snake (as opposed to the god Yahweh). The white snake is the sacred serpent of ancient civilizations, possessed of our magical powers. Also in the same myths, is the example of the serpent of the Israelites in the desert and healed. In the culture of Ancient Greece , two snakes are depicted in the famous caduceus of Hermes and a snake in the rod of Aesculapius, symbol of medicine.

Doctrine

With alchemy, energy Kundalini would rise vertically through the spinal fluid through the spine, through all the chakras and feed the brain, modulating its activity. It would be an evolutionary energy, and the degree of activation in the individual would condition your consciousness.

The snake has its base in Muldhara, coiled three and a half around it, and there is usually asleep. So, after winning the opening of chakras, can be awakened with techniques such as Tantra and Kundalini Yoga. The purpose of Kundalini Yoga is therefore wake the snake and unscrew it, directing it to Sahasrara (the chakra above) to unite body and spirit, in an attempt to integrate the two principles, usually opposite, materiality and spirituality, fusing their energies into a single body. In terms of these principles would Tantric Shiva (the masculine principle or consciousness) and Shakti (female principle or energy).

To reach this state, the serpent Kundalini must pass through three main nodes:

The first is the knot of Brahman, in the first chakra . The second is the knot of Vishnu, the chakra of the heart. The third is the knot of Shiva, the eyebrows. In each of these sites, the three energy streams are combined, knotted and tangled in a kingdom.

To the extent that consciousness pervades the first knot, begin to drop attachments to all sensations, the names and shapes of things. It establishes a new relationship with the senses and sensations perceived through them. Before entering this knot, every sensation captures the mind, the captive, the distracted and the practitioner is difficult to meditate or be still. All meditations that stimulate the navel set the fire that burns that barrier and allows wake beyond its threshold.

Finally, we reach the third door on the sixth chakra . This knot is beyond the five natural elements. It’s where intertwine way , pingala , shushumna and other nadis (river). When opened, breathing temporarily balances both nostrils and furthers the sense of time and earthly identity. Then said the Trikuti , the three rivers, you become a tri kala jna (the knower of the three times (past, present and future). The yogi no longer acts only for this time but for all time. If the knot is tight, the practitioner can obtain supernatural powers, but will be attached to them.

According to some Eastern religions, when a human being reached the maximum development and activation of this energy, get the lighting, evolutionary state that transcend the ego and develop super consciousness and universal love.

The awakening of the Kundalini

The major objective of the practices yogic and tantric is the unblocking of the nadis (‘river’) and the awakening of energy Kundalini .

However, yoga instructors warn about the danger that carries a premature awakening of the serpent. In this sense, all the great spiritual teachers warn, in this regard, the need never force at all this energy.

Yoga instructors teach their students that the Kundalini Yoga is a dangerous technique. For example, Swami Prabhavananda warns about dangerous physical effects that can result from breathing exercises of Kundalini Yoga: “Unless properly done, there is a possibility of damaging the brain. And people who practice this type of breathing without proper supervision can suffer a disease which no known science or doctor can cure. ”

According to yoga instructors, inadequate and sustained practice of breathing exercises can lead to a malfunction of the limbic system, aggravating cases of apnea (stopping breathing during sleep) or snoring, both diseases that can potentially cause heart and circulatory problems. On the contrary, the practice of meditation and breathing well tours can be helpful to correct breathing problems.

Books on yoga will consider the case of a Western practitioner of the late twentieth century, calling itself Gopi Krishna unguided said to have awakened your Kundalini meditation doing his chakra to the crown. His life after awakening was so blessed by the joy and euphoria as tormented by physical and mental discomfort. Eventually his experience stabilized. In describing the awakening of the Kundalini (the coiled serpent power) Gopi Krishna records his own experience as follows: “It was variable for many years, painful, obsessive … I’ve been through almost every stage of … types of mind mediumistic, psychotic and other, for a while I was hovering between sanity and insanity. ”

Kundalini syndrome

The kundalini syndrome is a set of symptoms of type sensory, motor, mental, psychological or emotional, they say some people feel who practice Yoga, Meditation or have been in a near-death experience.

The flow of Kundalini

Ida nadi

The ida nadi is the left side, the channel of the moon. According to Hindus, gives the power of emotions in their pure state, providing the qualities of deep joy, pure love, compassion and artistic skills. This is the more feminine side of men and women. Typical problems are left of emotional attachment, depression, low self esteem, guilt or lethargy.

Pingala nadi

The pingala nadi is the right side, the channel of the sun. Would empower the rational mind, you can learn and get the strength to overcome problems through effort. It is the more masculine side of men and women. Typical problems on the right side are selfish or violent behavior, arrogance and pride.

Shushumna nadi

The shushumna nadi , the central channel is the balance of the other two channels. This way you get a cooling channel and a warming sun moon channel, thus achieving a steady state in which attention keeps going from one channel to another, from sadness to euphoria, hyperactivity to lethargy , and is always in the center.

The Chakras

According to Hinduism, the human body has seven main chakras, which would correspond to the autonomic nerve plexus, and that would qualities such as diplomacy, compassion, wisdom and creativity. Immediately after the “spiritual fulfillment”, the chakras are activated and begin the slow process of cleaning up all the negative energy accumulated through years of self-destructive activities (such as drug addiction, alcoholism, violence, anger or bigotry of any kind ). The benefits are almost immediate, small anxieties are reduced and the joy and objectivity begin to manifest.

In ascending order, the seven chakras are:

Chakra Muladhara (Earth)

The first chakra is situated below the sacrum bone in which resides the Kundalini . Its main aspect is the innocence that is the quality that allows you to experience the pure joy, without the limitations of prejudices and conditionings. Innocence gives dignity, balance and a strong sense of right, an intuitive wisdom that is always present in children, but gradually lost, due to the conditions of modern life. This quality exists in all people, and is just waiting for the awakening of the ‘kundalini’ to be revealed in all its beauty and purity.

Chakra Swadisthana (Water)

The second chakra is the creativity, knowledge and pure attention. Is that connects to the internal source of inspiration and to appreciate the beauty of the world. Pure knowledge that this chakra gives us is not mental, but is an absolute and direct perception of reality. This center is the ability to concentrate and focus. On the physical plane, takes care of the bottom of the liver, kidneys and lower abdomen.

Chakra Nabhi, or Manipura (Fire)

The third chakra is what gives the quality of generosity and complete sense of satisfaction and happiness. When the Kundalini illuminates this chakra, provides righteousness and inner sense of morality, giving balance to the different facets of our lives.

Surrounding the second and third chakras, is the Void, which established the principle of the teacher in us. In many spiritual traditions it is called the “ocean of illusions” (in the Indian tradition is called Baba Sagara), which can only be crossed with the help of a spiritual guide. When the Kundalini awakens and goes through the Void, the principle laid down in master yogi who becomes his own guru (teacher or spiritual guide), with the ability to feel subtle problems in their fingertips, and to solve them using your own Kundalini (solar plexus).

Chakra Anahata (Air)

The fourth chakra , the heart circle, is where is the spirit, the true self. From the heart manifests love and compassion, and this chakra gives us the sense of responsibility. At its core, the breastbone, manifested as complete security and self confidence. All our fears and fears dissipate when the Kundalini through the chakra of the heart.

Chakra Vishuddhi (Ether)

The fifth chakra is the diplomacy. This chakra provides the energy required to communicate with others. His good relations affect and are correct and may be expressed as perceptions heart. This chakra is blocked with feelings of guilt and blame others when the arrogance (ie, when lacking dignity or self-employed).

Chakra Agnya, or Ajna (Light)

The sixth chakra is in charge of forgiveness and compassion, and can transcend the thinking mind consciousness to spiritual consciousness nirvichara (Sanskrit, ‘without thinking’). When this chakra is open, we understand the true meaning of forgiveness, as we become aware of the evil that makes us hate and rancor. The latter are incompatible with peace and love to a human being sucked from inside noble spirit.

Chakra Sahasrara (Wisdom)

The seventh center integrates the previous six with all its qualities and aspects. It represents the latest step in the evolution of human consciousness. Same as Swadisthan chakra, the Sahasrara chakra gives direct perception of reality, achieved by carrying through the spontaneous awakening of the Kundalini.

Once through the third knot, finally, the snake rises, harmonize all the chakras, and the light of knowledge descends to join the serpent which rises towards the Sahasrara, to be absorbed by it.At that time the individual conscience joins the universal consciousness and enters a state of knowledge, bliss and ultimate liberation.

Only the true enlightened can awaken at any time and as often as desired. And I must say that very few yogis achieve great results, although many spend their entire lives trying to get at least a moment of Kundalini awakens. The concrete and explicit method of awakening Kundalini is not taught to anyone. These practices are transmitted to outstanding disciples, and should only be exercised under the guidance of an expert teacher. As well as the snake can be extremely rewarding, it is also a powerful and dangerous if not used the right way. Awakening the Kundalini without healing the chakras would be very risky.

A tantric states that: “What we think releases, enslaved, and what you think enslaves free”.

Kundalini Yoga Mantras

  • namo guru dev namo On
    • Word for word translation: om the spiritual mantra, namah: ‘I revere’, gurudeva: ‘divine spiritual master’).
    • Literal translation: ‘Om! I offer obeisances to the spiritual master (as God), I offer obeisances’
    • Free Meaning: ‘I salute cosmic energy, the Creator and the divine path towards the light’.
    • aad Gurey namah, jagaad Gurey nameh, sat gure nameh, deve namah shri guru
      • Word for word translation: aad is a bija mantra (seed of a Hindu religious prayer), guru: ‘spiritual master’, yagad: ‘world’, namah: ‘reverence’, sat: ‘eternal’, Sri: prefix of respect, Spanish as “gift”; gurudeva: ‘spiritual master: God’).
      • Literal translation: ‘I offer obeisance to the teacher, the teacher of the world I offer obeisances to offer him obeisances eternal master, the great master [as] I offer obeisances god’.
      • Meaning free: mantra of perception and union with Universal Consciousness.
      • Sat Nam
        • Word for word translation: sat: ‘eternal’, n?ma: name.
        • Literal translation: ‘name [God’s] eternal’.
        • Free translation: ‘Truth is my identity’.
        • Practice: This mantra is pronounced in all exercises (mentally or aloud). By inspiring: SAT , exhale: nam .

Mantra for meditation

  • ek (number one)
  • On (God, energy)
  • kar (creator)
  • sat (truth, the eternal)
  • nam (name, identity)
  • ?r? (sublime)
  • wahe (mantra that stimulates ecstasy)
  • guru (spiritual master).

Finding Personal Power – Yoga Poses for Manipura Chakra

Finding Personal Power- Yoga Poses for the Manipura Chakra
by  on Nov 15, 2012 on Alchem Yoga

Manipura Chakra - Third Chakra - Navel - Power

The Manipura Chakra, located at the naval or Solar Plexus, is the third of the seven major chakras that lie along the Shushumna Nadi, the spine. Chakras, are swirling energy centers that are found throughout the body that are also associated within areas with large bundles of nerve endings. Bringing your focus to these areas and practicing postures that engage and open the muscles associated with them can help to balance the flow of energy through the chakra.

Manipura is our center for personal power. This is the chakra where the energy for turning ideas into actions flows. Responsibility, self-confidence and humility all flow from here, as do inactivity, self-doubt and arrogance. Finding the correct balance in this chakra allows us to harness energy for being positive and proactive.

Postures to engage and open the Third Chakra:

Cobblers Pose

Cobblers Pose

Begin in Cobblers poseBaddha Konasana, with the bottoms of the feet together and the knees relaxing towards the mat, or resting on a prop. The heels in toward the pelvis. (if you find this uncomfortable, cross the legs and begin in Easy Pose, Sukhasana.)

Take a few breaths to center the body and clear the mind, then slide the hands behind the body pointing the fingers away and press down through the floor. Exhale and bring a slight arch into the spine; lifting the heart and relaxing the head back to a comfortable position. Hold for 3-5 breath.

 

Sukhasana

Comfortable Seated Pose

Inhale to center and slide the left leg in front of the right to Sukhasana. Bring the left arm to a comfortable position behind the body, either resting on the mat or wrapping around the body. Cross the right arm to the left knee. As you inhale, lengthen the spine, as you exhale move with control into the twist turning to look over your shoulder.

Keep the weight even and let your breath flow with ease. Hold here for at least 3 breath and then exhale with control to center. Change the cross in the legs and repeat with the left hand crossing to the right knee.

 

Cat Cow Pose

Cat Cow Pose

Move the body to all fours, aligning the wrist under the shoulders, the knees under the hips. Lengthen the spine to create space between the crown of the head and the tail bone. On your next inhalation, come into cow poseBitilasana, beginning to roll the stomach towards the mat, curling the head and the hips up. Soften the throat and jaw, holding here as you move for 3-5 deep breath into the belly. Then on an exhalation move into catMarjaryasanarounding the back up, relaxing the head down and tucking the tailbone under. Hold here for another 3-5 deep breath and then move on an inhalation back to neutral, parallel with the mat.

Plank Pose

Plank Pose

Come in to plank poseUttihita Chaturanga Dandasana wrist are aligned under the shoulders, legs in-line with the hips. Hold here taking 3 deep breath and then transfer your weight to the left leg, pressing through the floor. Exhale drawing the right knee in towards the chest, reaching your nose down. Hold here for three breath and then straighten your leg, toes return to the mat. Rest here in center for a couple breath, bring the knees down if you prefer. Move to the other side, bring your weight to the right and on your exhalation bring the left knee in and reach the nose down towards the knee.

 

Half Knot Variations

Half Know Vraiations

Bringing the knees back down to the mat, move into position for half-knot pose, finding the variation that is most comfortable for you body today. Slide the right hand forward and turn the left palm up sliding it under the right arm as you rest the left ear and shoulder to the mat. Relax the left shoulder blade down into the mat as you find a comfortable position for the right arm, either above the head pressing down into the mat, fingertips reaching towards the ceiling or adding the bend to the elbow to slide the hand over to the opposite hip. Breathe into the stomach for five deep and abdominal breath, expanding and contracting as you breath into the twist. As you exhale, lower the arm and move with control to slide the hand out.

Return to all fours take a few breath in center and then repeat on the other side, sliding the left arm forward and the right arm under. Move into the most comfortable variation on this side, listening to the body and taking deep breathes. Begin with the knees aligned under the hips, and if you feel comfortable here, try settling the hips towards the heels and see how it feels.

Fish Pose

Fish Pose

Moving onto our backs, move into position for bridge pose, bringing the bottoms of the feet to the floor, sliding the arms into the sides and then lifting the hips up to create space between the back and the mat. Then slide the hands under the body and rest the hips and back on top of the arms to prepare for Fish Pose, Matsyasana. Bring the bottoms of the feet together or straighten the legs, whichever you prefer. As you exhale, press into the hands, bending the elbows and lifting the heart. Relax the head back to a comfortable position and take 5-10 deep and abdominal breath. Return to the mat as you exhale, straightening the arms and bringing them out from under the body. Straighten the legs and take a couple breath letting the mat support the body.

Reclined Twist

Reclined Twist

To prepare for the Reclined Twist, draw the left knee onto the chest and hug the leg in with the right arm. If you feel tension in the lower back, then bend your right knee and bring the foot to the mat for support. As you exhale, move the left knee over to the right side of the body for the Reclined TwistSupta Matsyendrasana.

Remember that the knee can always rest on a block or the arm can support the leg if it doesn’t relax comfortably to the floor. Take 10 deep breath on this side and then repeat on the other side with the right knee moving in and then over to the left side of the body, supporting the leg however you find comfortable and holding for 10 breathes. Remember that after you practice, allow the body some time to rest as you spend a couple minutes in Savasana, breathing into the belly, letting your energy balance and the practice to integrate.

Savasana - Corpse Pose

Savasana - Pose

Additional postures to practice include those that strengthen the abdominal; any boat variations (Navasana)twisting posturesSun Salutationswarrior posesvirabhadrasana I, II and III, and inversions such as plough (halasana) and circle pose(chakrasana).

Affirmations for opening Manipura the 3rd Chakra:
I am worthy. I am capable. I am powerful. I know who I am, where I’m going and what I want and can work my way through any problem that arises. I love and respect myself. I stand up for myself and for what I believe in.

Namaste
by Ashley F Giove RYT 

Ashley F Giove is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. Certified in Raja Yoga, her experience includes private in-home lessons, workplace wellness programs, and group instruction teaching various class formats and yoga styles. Find her on 

Yoga, Commercialism, Sexism

Countercultural Yoga & the “Body Beautiful.”
by Carol Horton, on Nov 19, 2012

How does the yoga community replicate the sexism and power imbalances of the dominant culture? What is lost, and gained, as the practice becomes increasingly mainstreamed?

In this episode of the 21st Century Yoga Guru Expert Series originally broadcast by Where is My Guru,contributors Melanie Klein and Frank Jude Boccio discuss these questions and many others with co-editor Roseanne Harvey. This is a cutting edge, deeply informed, fun and fascinating discussion of critical issues of body image and commercialism in North American yoga that you won’t want to miss!

Melanie Klein presents “How Yoga Makes You Pretty” at CSUN for the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)’s NEDAwareness Week, 2012. Photo by Loren Townsley.

Melanie Klein is a writer, speaker, and professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Santa Monica College. She is the adviser of the Santa Monica College Leadership Alliance, and founder and co-coordinator of Women, Action + Media! Los Angeles. Melanie attributes feminism and yoga as the two primary influences in her work, and is committed to consciousness-raising, promoting media literacy, healing distorted body images and cultivating healthy body relationships. Founder of the blog FeministFatale, her work may also be found at Adios Barbie, Ms. Magazine, WIMN’s Voicesand, of course, elephant journal.

Melanie’s chapter in 21st Century Yoga, “How Yoga Makes You Pretty: Yoga, the Beauty Myth, and Me,” has resonated deeply with many readers, who identify with her struggles around body image and dismay with how an “increasingly commercialized yoga community” has taken to replicating the damaging messages of unattainable “prettiness” that run rampant in our culture:

What sealed the deal for me is when I stumbled upon an advertisement for diet pills in Yoga Journal. Not only had yoga publications succumbed to accepting corporate dollars for products that seemed unrelated to a healthy yogic lifestyle, but now they’d allowed the ultimate self-esteem crusher to enter: advertisements reinforcing cultural messages focused on size, not health. This trend continues with yoga ads, DVDs, and products that focus solely on weight loss . . . and the continued use of models that don’t reflect the diverse range of women and men practicing and teaching yoga.

Poep Sa Frank Jude Boccio leading Moksha Yoga Teacher Training, Thailand 2006

Poep Sa Frank Jude Boccio is a certified yoga teacher, interfaith minister, member of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing, and Zen Buddhist Dharma teacher ordained by Korean Zen master, Samu Sunim. His book, Mindfulness Yoga: The Awakened Union of Breath, Body, and Mind is the first to apply the Buddha’s mindfulness meditation teachings to yogasana practice. Besides his writing appearing in Tricycle, Shambhala Sun, Namaskar and Yoga Journal,he maintains two blogs: Mindfulness Yoga and Zen Naturalism. Based in Tucson, where he lives with his wife, Monica, their daughter Giovanna and their two cats and two chickens, he travels worldwide, leading workshops and retreats.

Frank’s essay in 21st Century Yoga, “Questioning the ‘Body Beautiful’: Yoga, Commercialism, and Discernment,” brings a critical Buddhist perspective to bear on contemporary yoga culture’s fascination with physical prowess and beauty:

I believe this seemingly positive celebration of the body is merely a specific cultural and historical manifestation of the shadow side of Hatha yoga and its tendency to fixate on the body . . . If we merely stop and proclaim the beauty of the human body, we fail to go deeper. We fail to see the reality and instead get caught in grasping and clinging. Freedom – the purpose of yoga, after all—is to go beyond such conditioning . . . Going beyond the surface, we reach a much deeper intimacy. Dogen, the great 14th century Zen master, wrote,’Zazen (sitting meditation) is the investigation of the self. Investigating the self, we forget the self. In forgetting the self, we become intimate with all things.

You can listen to Melanie and Frank’s path-breaking discussion of body image and commercialism, as well as how yoga can connect us to more empowering understandings and experiences of our bodies (and therefore, ourselves) here via Blog Radio. Or, download the podcast and listen at your convenience. And while you’re at it, check out Melanie’s recent post, “Yoga’s 21st Century Facelift and the Myth of the Perfect Ass(ana).”  Plus, stay tuned to elephant yoga for the next installment of the 21st Century Yoga online book club, which will feature Frank Jude Boccio’s further thoughts on these critically important topics.

Listen to internet radio with Where Is My Guru on Blog Talk Radio

For more information on 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics, and Practice (Carol Horton and Roseanne Harvey, eds.), please visit the book website. You can purchase a copy via our eStore or Amazon (paperback or Kindle editions available). 

Yoga Practice and Training Tips

Yoga Practice and Training Tips

An Asana practice is the foundation for any Yoga lifestyle. While yoga goes beyond the asana, 99% of yoga is practice, as the deeper teachings of the practice unfold through the asanas. It is the one thing you can do that will have a positive effect on every level of your being. If you have decided to sign up for a yoga workshop, weekend or training, here are some tips to consider.

Tip #1 – Savasana (corpse pose), or final relaxation
This is the most important element of any Asana practice. It is an essential transition between our Asana practice and moving back into the routine of our daily life. This pose is teaching us how to relax in a very profound way. And to quickly recover the energy consumed through the Asana practice.

Savasana improves the quality of our sleep and regularly recharges our body with vital energy. Analogously speaking, like a station broadcasting waves and energies, the mind becomes serene so that it emits vibrations of inner calmness and peace through the practice of complete yogic relaxation. In this technique, one can experience genuine rest. Be sure to take a minimum of 10 minutes.

Tip #2 – Sleep
This may seem obvious, as so many things do. However, most people are sleep deprived. So while we may know what to do, the key is doing them. And during any training you will be challenging your body. It is recommended to try and get 8 hours of sleep every night. And make this schedule part of your daily life.

This means eliminating all stimulating activity an hour before bedtime so that the mind and body can begin to calm, and  prepare for sleep. Engaging in a short Savasana and/or Meditation practice before falling asleep will give you a deeper sleep. And is also advised if your sleep is interrupted. You can also visualize a deeply calming mental image in the area of the forehead.

Yogic tradition reveals that before midnight the cosmic position of Earth offers the most auspicious energy rays for the regeneration and recharging of the nervous system. This advice is especially important if you wish to cure disease both naturally, and through your Yoga practice.

Tip #3 – Alcohol, coffee and tobacco
Tobacco, coffee and alcohol obstruct the subtle channels that carry refined macro-cosmic energies, and destroy the subtle centers of force which Yoga aims to energize. This excess consumption not only damages health, but also decreases mental power and strength. During an intense yoga training it is best to refrain completely.

Tip #4 – Bathing
Water interferes with digestion, so it is recommended that one should never bathe after meals until the main digestion process has been completed. You can take a bath or shower daily, but never immediately after asanas or other Yoga techniques. A hot shower after practicing yoga is said to draw the blood away from the glands and the internal organs. And also directs the blood to the skin. Some also believe that a showering immediately after yoga disrupts the sequence of yoga and drains away essential energy. This energy that you have built up through practice cannot be replenished.

It is best to wait at least two hours after a Yoga session to wash. And better not to have a bath or shower two hours before a Yoga session (latter less important).

If you have a place, and inclination to do so, exposing the naked body to air gives the skin a chance to breathe. These air baths give the body a sensation of freshness and develops resistance. Or, choose a sunbath. When practiced wisely, they are a source of energy, vitality, force and vitamin D. The best times are mornings before 11am or after 4pm in the afternoon.

Tip #5 – Swimming
If you have the opportunity to swim, it is greatly beneficial. Skin is revitalized by the minerals and pure air. And it is a wonderful exercise for harmonizing and mastering the breath, which has a positive effect on health.

Tip #6 – Walking barefoot
Yoga is a practice that puts us back in touch with all aspects of our being, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I am not sure why we practice with no shoes or socks, I have never found a good answer. But I do know that our feet do better when they are not cramped into a confined space. Standing on bare feet during your practice will begin the process of healing the feet, and bringing them to back to their natural state. They are the foundation for everything we do, so keeping them healthy is critical. It also prevents slipping and sliding on your mat. And keeps the yoga room cleaner.

But what about off the mat? Absolutely. Especially in warmer weather. Walk barefoot in the fields, on the shore of a lake, river or the sea at every opportunity. The soles of the feet absorb subtle telluric energy streams which strengthen and refresh the body.

Tip #7 – Diet
In Yoga there are two first stages which integrate the moral and ethical aspects in a very rigorous way. The first stage is called Yama, consisting of restrictions or forbiddings. A Yogic diet is a non-meat diet since it goes against the first Yama, Ahimsa which means non-violence, or the harming of any being. In act, speech or thought.

Additionally, a diet excessively rich in meat brings many toxins in the body and challenges the digestive system. So it is primarily a vegetarian diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, grains, etc., with moderate size meals encouraged. When eating be as aware as possible. Chew your food as much as you can, so that it is easily absorbed, and assimilated into the body.

It is crucial that you perform your asana and pranayama practice on a totally empty stomach. After a heavy meal allow 4-5 hours before exercise. After a moderate meal, allow two hours. I do my practice first thing each morning so my schedule for eating is only twice per day. Around 10am, then again at 4 or 5pm. If I need something to sustain me I’ll have some fruit, or a small portion of Quinoa salad, or other healthy leftover.

And few last tips:

  • It’s advisable to speak to a doctor before beginning yoga.
  • You should not do yoga if you have a medical problem or health condition.
  • Inverted postures should also be avoided as these tend to make your head woozy, increase your blood pressure and can cause eye problems.
  • If you practice in the morning, make sure that you do it an hour after you wake up or your body will be stiff.
  • You should also avoid doing asanas immediately before bedtime as you will feel too rejuvenated to sleep.
  • The only thing you need is a tapas sticky mat to prevent slip. The thinner are, in my opinion. You do not need a new wardrobe, just wear something comfortable.
  • Practice from a place of acceptance and non-judgement of where you are that moment. You are there for your health. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. Or, how they are doing it. Yoga is for everyone, at every level, so be sure to practice YOUR yoga. There are lots of variations and modifications for every posture to suit students at all levels. There are lots of teachers find those that resonate with you. Remember that there is depth to the practice beyond the physical, but there is also benefit just from the physical.
  • Listen to your gut. As with any profession, everyone may learn the same or similar information, however, choose to interpret and teach from a difference space. Be open but not gullible. Do not blindly follow anyone, or anything that puts you in harms way. Take what works for you, and leave the rest.

I always encourage students to practice for themselves and to ‘come as they are’ – nothing more, nothing less. With reminders that it is the quality of these things, not the quantity, that matters in yoga. Find out which branch of yoga is right for you.

Deb Bobier – E-RYT, 500 – Founder, YogaBound.com, debbobier@yogabound.com

Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs – Shade or Partial Shade

Fig and other Fruit Trees like full sun.

Fig and other Fruit Trees like full sun.

Planting Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs – Shade or Partial Shade
By Deb Bobier (YogaBoundDeb)

In an effort to conserve our drinking water, and minimize the use of pesticides, we created a yard design based on the concept of xeriscaping.

This requires a lot more thought and planning than simply putting in grass. Our criteria included sustainability, the right look and feel, creating different moods, layering, colors, edible versus non-edibles, trees versus bushes, Florida native when possible, non-invasive species, plants with flowers, those without. Those that attract butterflies and birds. Drought resistant and more.

There is nothing better than picking fresh basil for the tomato sauce you are making. Or, pink grapefruit and enjoying fresh, nutritional fresh juice each morning (while in season). All of our fruit trees require full sun. Part of the year the sun is more southerly. The rest more northerly.

Our side yards get sun year round so we made one side our fruit orchard. We have Mango, Orange, Avocado, Lemon, Lime, Jaboticaba, Palmillo, Guava, Pomegranate, Fig, Dwarf Mulberry and Kaiffer Lime (Thai dishes). And are researching others based on our desires but also, what works for the space, conditions and light.

When we are planting herbs and other vegetables, those needing full sun (most) like tomatoes, melons and peppers, that absolute wilt without the sun, are in raised beds in our southern space. Here they receive sun throughout the day. I also like to plant among my non-edibles.

Herbs like basil, parsley, chives and others will do quite well with limited sunlight. Plants grown for their stems, leaves or buds, as a general rule, tolerate light shade fairly well. That said, even many of these crops will also tolerate light shade, simply providing smaller yields.

Our Basil, planted with non-edibles, is often in partial shade.

Our newly planted Basil, is often in partial shade, and growing nicely.

The following crops will grow with as little as three to six hours of sun per day, or constant dappled shade. While size or yields may be affected in some instances, taste will be just as good. Those that will tolerate light shade are noted on the list with an asterisk (*).

  1. Lettuce
  2. Arugula
  3. Spinach
  4. Broccoli *
  5. Green onions
  6. Cabbage *
  7. Parsley
  8. Sorrel
  9. Garlic
  10. Mint
  11. Collards
  12. Endive
  13. Cress
  14. Cauliflower *
  15. Peas *
  16. Currants
  17. Pak Choy
  18. Beets *
  19. Kohlrabi *
  20. Brussels Sprouts
  21. Mustard greens
  22. Thyme
  23. Coriander
  24. Tarragon
  25. Radishes
  26. Cardamom
  27. Potatoes *
  28. Rhubarb *
  29. Swiss Chard
  30. Kale
  31. Turnips *
  32. Carrots *
  33. Sweet potatoes and yams *
  34. Gooseberries
  35. Cilantro
  36. Dill
  37. Lemon Balm
  38. Strawberries *
  39. Beans *
  40. Blackberries and raspberries *

Keep in mind:

  • If trees or other plants are the source of shade, garden plants may not only have to compete for light but also nutrients and water.
  • The amount of shade may vary by the seasons when the angle of the sun is different. Study your land carefully and see if sunlight is a bigger or smaller problem than you may have thought later in the season.
  • Bright and light surfaces nearby (such as white fences or walls) can increase the amount of light plants get.
  • Morning shade and afternoon shade differ in their effects on garden plants. Some cool season vegetables may actually prefer lots of morning sun and then shade during the hot summer afternoons.
  • Areas with partial shade in the afternoon can also extend the growing season for some cool season crops that are prone to bolting during higher heat, such as lettuce.
  • Pay attention to air circulation. Walls and branches can block air flow, allowing moisture to build up and encourage some diseases. Plant crops with more space between them in shady areas, and be careful to water around the root area and not soak leaves from above.
  • It’s even more important to keep weeds at bay for shade crops that are already competing for light, water and nutrients in less ideal conditions.
  • Pruning nearby trees and bushes can dramatically help increase sun exposure.
  • Light is more important in northern states like Minnesota, where we have shorter growing seasons and cooler temperatures. A southern zone 9 garden can tolerate much more shade than a zone 4 garden in Mankato.

It is a work in progress. We have just had a well put in. And drip irrigation laid. Over the next couple of weeks we are observing the irrigation to see if any adjustments need to be made before we put in 4-6 inches of good mulch. This we’ll top with pine straw. This keeps the soil moist. And helps prevent weeds. And unlike traditional sprinkler systems, all this water goes back into the ground. We aren’t watering concrete. And none of the water is blown away by the wind.

One outdoor sitting area with Rosemary growing well between the Helaconia and Elephant Ears.

One outdoor sitting area. The rosemary is growing well between the Helaconia and Elephant Ears.

We now have a yard space that is an extension of our house space. Wherever we look from any, inside or out, you see beauty. There are fountains, ponds and other elements integrated to create a peaceful space. That nourishes us and our guest mentally, physically and emotionally.

Read more on why this is one of the most important movements of our time.

Say No To Meat At Yoga Festivals

Is Yoga Meat the New Happy Meat? Guest post from Kim Amlong- Yoga teacher – Ahimsa Practitioner.

The inhumanity of our society embraces meat as a necessity; even occluding meat from yoga festivals has become an impossibility.

Disconnected from all pain and suffering and insensitivity, we perpetuate the atrocities afflicting billions of lonely, afraid, unseen beings living in constant agony.

Ignoring the facts of the scientific community, we continue to hopelessly destroy our health and our environment to the utmost degree.

We want to believe: heart disease, cancer, animal suffering and global warming are only myths propagated by crazy extremists.

Speciously Green and Conscious mission statements abound, but animal welfare ethics are nowhere to be found.

Hypocrites escape discovery when the masses are not awake, or are too afraid to speak up for another’s sake.

The power of money squelches compassion, leaving only cruelty to reign, in a kingdom where everyone feigns awareness and no one is to blame.

Westernized yoga is becoming more a part of the American dream of Capitalism and greed than a sincere intention to help others evolve spiritually.

Do I have to bend and weaken my ideals till they crumble into irreparable pieces of another elusive dream? How can I transform this chimera into reality?

Yoga practice expands our abilities to empathize and connect with all sentient beings, and to profoundly care for and respect the fragile, earth and universe we share.

Yoga provides us with the one and only guiding principle we need in life: Ahimsa or non-harming.

We create the world of heavens or hells in which we live. Every dollar we spend molds our lives and the lives of countless other precious beings.

I beseech you to responsibly tune into the cries and not turn away and shun the possibility of a world where Meat and all the horrendous death and destruction it inflicts no longer exists.

Finally, we will live in a free world where an all-inclusive community of peace and love and mindfulness releases us from our separateness. Yoga philosophy and meat don’t mix. Please sign our petition to ask Wanderlust Yoga festival to remove meat from the menu.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/973/236/055/say-no-to-meat-at-yoga-festivals/

Discover Ayurveda

Discover Ayurveda

Ayurveda is the oldest surviving complete medical system in the world. Derived from its ancient Sanskrit roots – ‘ayus‘ (life) and ‘ved‘ (knowledge) – and offering a rich, comprehensive outlook to a healthy life, its origins go back nearly 5000 years. To when it was expounded and practiced by the same spiritual rishis, who laid the foundations of the Vedic civilization inIndia, by organizing the fundamentals of life into proper systems.

The main source of knowledge in this field therefore remain the Vedas, the divine books of knowledge they propounded, and more specifically the fourth of the series, namely Atharvaveda that dates back to around 1000 BC. Of the few other treatises on Ayurveda that have survived from around the same time, the most famous are Charaka Samhita and the Sushruta Samhita which concentrate on internal medicine and surgery respectively.

The Astanga Hridayam is a more concise compilation of earlier texts that was created about a thousand years ago. These between them forming a greater part of the knowledge base on Ayurveda as it is practiced today.

The art of Ayurveda had spread around in the 6th century BC toTibet,China,Mongolia,Korea andSri Lanka, carried over by the Buddhist monks travelling to those lands. Although not much of it survives in original form, its effects can be seen in the various new age concepts that have originated from there.

No philosophy has had greater influence on Ayurveda than Sankhaya’s philosophy of creation and manifestation. Which professes that behind all creation there is a state of pure existence or awareness, which is beyond time and space, has no beginning or end, and no qualities. Within pure existence, there arises a desire to experience itself, which results in disequilibrium and causes the manifestation of the primordial physical energy. And the two unite to make the “dance of creation” come alive.

Imponderable, indescribable and extremely subtle, this primordial energy – which and all that flows from it existing only in pure existence – is the creative force of all action, a source of form that has qualities. Matter and energy are so closely related that when energy takes form, we tend to think of it in terms of matter only. And much modified, it ultimately leads to the manifestation of our familiar mental and physical worlds.

It also gives rise to cosmic consciousness, which is the universal order that pervades all life. Individual intelligence, as distinct from the everyday intellectual mind, is derived from and is part of this consciousness. It is the inner wisdom, the part of individuality that remains unswayed by the demands of daily life, or by Ahamkara, the sense of `I-ness’.

A Sanskrit word with no exact translation, Ahamkara, is a concept not quite understood by everyone as it is often misleadingly equated to `ego’. Embracing much more than just that, it is in essence that part of ‘me’ which knows which parts of the universal creation are ‘me’. Since ‘I’ am not separate from the universal consciousness, but ‘I’ has an identity that differentiates and defines the boundaries of `me’. All creations therefore have Ahamkara, not just human beings.

There arises from Ahamkara a two-fold creation. The first is Satwa, the subjective world, which is able to perceive and manipulate matter. It comprises the subtle body (the mind), the capacity of the five sense organs to hear, feel, see, taste and smell, and for the five organs of action to speak, grasp, move, procreate and excrete. The mind and the subtle organs providing the bridge between the body, the Ahamkara and the inner wisdom, which three together is considered the essential nature of humans.

The second is Tamas, the objective world of the five elements of sound, touch, vision, taste and smell – the five subtle elements that give rise to the dense elements of ether or space, air, fire, water and the earth – from which all matter of the physical world is derived. And it is Rajas, the force or the energy of movement, which brings together parts of these two worlds.

Basic Element

Subtle Element

Sense Organ

Motor Organ

Function

Space

Sound

Ears

Vocal Chords

Speaking

Air

Touch

Skin

Hands

Grasping

Fire

Sight

Eyes

Feet

Moving

Water

Taste

Tongue

Genitals

Procreating

Earth

Smell

Nose

Anus

Excreting

It is worth noting that even at the stage of the dense elements the philosophy of creation –which according to Sankaya is now and in the present, without any past and any future – is still dealing with aspects of existence beyond our simple physical realms. The point of contention being that we are the first and foremost spirit experiencing existence. To use Ayurveda in daily life, one has neither to accept nor even understand this philosophy. But it does provide a deeper insight into how Ayurveda works towards betterment of your health.

Ayurveda therefore is not simply a health care system but a form of lifestyle adopted to maintain perfect balance and harmony within the human existence, from the most abstract transcendental values to the most concrete physiological expressions. Based on the premise that life represents an intelligent co-ordination of the Atma (Soul), Mana (Mind), Indriya (Senses) and Sharira (Body). That revolves around the five dense elements that go into the making of the constitution of each individual, called Prakriti. Which in turn is determined by the vital balance of the three physical energies – Vata, Pitta, Kapha and the three mental energies – Satwa, Rajas, Tamas.

Ayurveda thus offers a unique blend of science and philosophy that balances the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual components necessary for holistic health.

Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar BAMS, MD (Ayurveda). Dr. Suhas is a classically trained Ayurvedic Physician and Gold Medalist from prestigious Pune University.  A Rig Veda Brahmin by tradition and accomplished Clinician.

Creating Paradise Within – Better Health Through Ayurvedic Rejuvenation

Creating Paradise Within: Better Health through Ayurvedic Rejuvenation

Since humans first roamed the earth there have been oral and written stories of the quest to find the elixir of life–the Fountain of Youth. The Western biblical tradition tells of a Golden Age when people lived hundreds of years. In the East, there are stories of those who attained immortality, existing in magical realms. Are such stories, or the desire to be able to attain such a state of being, folly–mere vanity in the face of the truth of impermanence and death?

Surely, there are those whose lives have been rich and fulfilling in one way or another and who wish life didn’t have to end so soon. Conversely, there are those who hold the opposite view:  life has been full of sorrow and to die is a blessed final relief.  For some the party ends too soon; for others the torment continues.

Can you remember the days when you were full of vibrant energy from sunrise to sunset? A holistic program of rejuvenation will bring back the body’s natural energetic state making us feel young and energetic again.

According to most Ancient Healing Traditions, food only nourishes our gross physical layer.  The subtle nature–our true essence or spirit, and therefore the most important part of our being, is left malnourished.  Ayurveda teaches that if life is lived in accordance with prakruti (your innate nature) or basic body-mind constitution, then a natural youthfulness is maintained throughout life.

According to Ayurveda and the wisdom traditions of the East, one’s state of mind is what makes the difference. Ultimately, to feel youthful, rich and full of life is a state of mind. There are those who go from complacency to boredom in living out their lives and those who are ever-thirsty, ever-searching; young people in rockers in front of wide screen television sets and grannies in sneakers, exploring the pyramids.

Highly effective methods of physical  rejuvenation are found within Ayurveda, but there also is a mental or spiritual dimension that is viewed as an essential ingredient. If mental and spiritual flexibility and openness are not developed and enhanced, of what value is a more youthful body, except for the temporary relief or pleasure it provides?

Negative emotions are considered to toxic to our well being leading to physical illness. Decreasing our exposure to sensory overloads is a critical step in emotional detoxification.  Unending mental dialogues are toxic to our mind. Some call it the drunken monkey mind syndrome.  Spiritual Rejuvenation: The most joyful state is just to be, atoned, attentive, empowered and aware of our Inner Divinity.

Detoxification and Rejuvenation are serious components of Ayurvedic medicine. The methods offered can be quite extreme with respect to the demands it places on one’s time and lifestyle, yet the rewards often outweigh the inconvenience. At the same time, as intimated, there are practices one can engage in that can give slow but increased benefits if practiced regularly and over time.

Exercises(Yoga & Meditation) from the Ayurvedic tradition that slow the aging process and, when coupled with quality diet and other first level health-giving recommendations, actually can reverse the aging process. With the use of basic or more advanced levels of detoxification and rejuvenation, they can have amazing results. If practiced in the morning, they get the body and mind up and ready to face the day. If they are performed in the evening, they help to relax one and smooth out the stresses and strains of the day.

Can you remember the days when you were full of vibrant energy from sunrise to sunset? Rejuvenation is essential to your vitality, creativity, happiness and inner growth.  A holistic program of rejuvenation will bring back the body’s natural energetic state making us feel young and energetic again.

Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar BAMS, MD (Ayurveda). Dr. Suhas is a classically trained Ayurvedic Physician and Gold Medalist from prestigious Pune University.  A Rig Veda Brahmin by tradition and accomplished Clinician.