Category Archives: Yoga – Therapeutic

#Yoga for #Mercury Retrograde.

Yoga is not about the outward form of a pose, the asana. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali define “asana” as a position that, “is steady and comfortable”. Patanjali also mentions the ability to sit for extended periods of time as one of the eight limbs of his system.

One of the stories Abhijata tells is of her pride at staying in Sirsasana for over half an hour. She went to Guriji and said, “Grandfather – I stayed in Sirsasana for over thirty minutes!” She assumed he’d be delighted, amazed at her progress. Instead he said, “But what did you DO?”

If we’re not waiting for the flashbulb to go off and record our moment of perfection, what exactly are we supposed to be doing when we hold a pose? And what do we do if it is not “steady and comfortable”?

At first, before we are able to stay and hold a pose for any length of time, we have to go the the edge of our capacity, connect with each part of the body, check the balance and alignment of the body. At this point, yoga becomes a science.

It helps to think of your body as a laboratory. Your skin, muscles, organs, bone and breath are your equipment. Your mind is the clipboard where you record your results. You apply the shape and form of the asana to the body. What happened? On the left? On the right? Will a prop extend, release, facilitate, inform the results? Where did the breath flow, touch? What shape was it?

Yoga is to explore your internal world, using the asanas and the breath to map your universe. You may find surprising things there – pain, sorrow, anger. These are like the boulders in your path. Sit for a while with the boulder and examine it. Resist the urge to blame others, your teacher, yoga. These are the best learning experiences we can have, for this is when yoga truly begins to heal.

Your Magic Zone

Julian Lennon.

 

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Filed under Ashtanga, Beginners etc., Iyengar, Pain, Relaxation, Yoga - Beginners, Yoga - Intermediate, Yoga - Therapeutic

Yoga, a life and a death.

Settling down to planning yoga classes and workshops for the new term, and after attending the BKS Iyengar Centenary event in December, I hardly know where to start. I feel a bit lost! When I left for India in November, I was physically and mentally very low, but I knew that whatever the teaching was, it would be just right for me. (It ALWAYS is.)

When the twelve day event began, I sank gratefully Prashant’s teachings on pranayama over the first five days. There were mutterings of frustration from the young, fit, active, healthy ones, they wanted action – they had been training for weeks no doubt, whereas I was lucky to be there at all! Instead, Prashant was asking us to develop a “culture of tenderness and delicacy”, to battle with our barriers through the breath:

“Don’t get trained. Get educated.”
“Pranayama is not deep breathing. It is breath craftsmanship.”

Exploring the internal purposes of exhalation, he encouraged us to use it like the heads on a Swiss Army knife – to cleanse, wash, expel, offer, evacuate. So for five days we dissected ourselves. It was intense and it felt very good to me.

Then, on the sixth day, Geetaji arrived. At 8.30 am sharp for the next five days, she was brought onto the stage in a wheelchair and taught us for four or five hours straight. After lunch it was on to Q&A sessions, back to the institute for meetings, interviews, where she finished at seven or eight in the evening. (On the final day, the centenary of her father’s birth, she was there with her whole family. Rachel and I went to pay our respects – I’m so glad we did.)

She was determined to make us reach inside, plumb our depths, face and deal with our issues. You wanted some action? Well, try this! Again and again she urged us to go beyond our limits, like in Sirsasana:

“Don’t come down. Go back up!

And going further and further over in Halasana:

“MOVE! MOVE!”
“Pain is not the criterion. Movement is the criterion.’
“If there’s a will, there’s a way. If there is no will, there is no way.”

At her feet she had 1,300 people from 56 countries and she knew she had very little time left. She wanted us to go through the pain, the fear, find out what lies beyond:

“There is transformation in every asana.”

Then her work was done, and her time had come. When the event was complete, less than 48 hours later, she died. She had been telling everyone all year that she wanted to see the centenary through, then her work would be done. No-one gave much thought to what she actually meant, though.

And what did I learn? I learned that freedom comes through the exhalation: the gift of yoga is power over life and death.

So back to today and where to start my class planning. Geetaji implored us to read Gher father’s books, and going back to basics seems as good a place as any. I’ll start with the book co-written by Guruji and Geetaji: ‘Basic Guidelines For Teachers Of Yoga’, and see where it takes me.

In her niece Abhijata’s words: “The cleanest mirror that we had, is gone… Never again will we have someone who was as clear, as simple, as straightforward…Everything else in the world came to a standstill when she was involved in an action…Her life force ended after December 14th…which reminds me of the death of Gandhiji… her work was done, and all she had to do was close her eyes.”

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Zubin: Ten Talks About #Yoga (P.S.)

Zubin says: Spend one whole season with these potent thoughts. They have the potential to help you transcend the many ills which have befallen you or will strike you in future time and space.

If I ask you, “Tell me, till what point can your eyes see?” Most probably, and reasonably, your answer would be: until the horizon. But with a powerful instrument, one can stretch that horizon to far-off stars.

A discerning yoga practitioner, with the fine instrument of Yog, can learn the usages of our rich embodiment and look within and beyond the surface horizon, to see the marvellous world of associated body, mind and breath.

Just as an astronomer would peer through a powerful telescope to see and explore our expansive universe, use these ten themes to explore the universe of your own embodiment.

Zubin Zarthoshtimanesh

 

“For every complex question, there is a simple answer… and it is wrong.” H.L. Mencken

http://www.yogafestival.world

Image: The main practice hall at RIMYI in Pune. (H. Lovegrove)

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Zubin: Ten Talks About #Yoga (10)

10. Goal is not the exclusive fitness of the body or mind but a unified condition.

‘Holics’ of any shape or size are deranged personalities. Workaholics were seen as extremely productive but it came at a high cost of their physical and mental breakdown. Hence ultimate fitness is never about exclusively building up your body or mental aspects but rather associated conditions to be engendered. The modern person should be aware of marketing spiel designed to trap him or her into buying their products. Energy drinks have no lasting energy, only a shot of extra sugar. A yogic deep breath in fact, will change the status of your body and mind.

So last but not the least, the human being has to give a deep thought and reflect on their act and behaviour, not of becoming but of being. A human ‘being’ is the end sought after and not a human ‘becoming’ all the time.

Zubin Zarthoshtimanesh

 

“For every complex question, there is a simple answer… and it is wrong.” H.L. Mencken

http://www.yogafestival.world

Image: The main practice hall at RIMYI in Pune. (H. Lovegrove)

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Zubin: Ten Talks About #Yoga (9)

9. Trainers Vs real Teachers.

Coaches and body trainers have become ubiquitous. The problem is their very little and shallow knowledge of our embodiment. Take for example a trainer preparing someone for the marathon. Making a person orient to an act is one thing, and making that person orient to the whole range of life that the person will face is another. Say there will be upheavals in life; the person’s body, mind and breath have to be taught to cope in all such situations.

What is the end you are aspiring for; Patanjali speaks of kaivalya and dharmamegha samadhi, that is supreme aloneness and a downpour of wisdom and enlightenment. Trainers can take you so far. But a philosopher-teacher or a poet or a grammarian, ayurvedachar and a yogacharya like Patanjali all rolled into one, can help you transcend your limitations at every stage.

Zubin Zarthoshtimanesh

 

“For every complex question, there is a simple answer… and it is wrong.” H.L. Mencken

http://www.yogafestival.world

Image: The main practice hall at RIMYI in Pune. (H. Lovegrove)

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Zubin: Ten Talks About #Yoga (8)

8. A long-term investment not a short-term plan. 

Imagine if you were to give a young, strapping lad a walking stick as a birthday gift. It would be deemed worthless and impractical of course.

So when we are talking about long-term, we don’t mean so far out as to be deemed worthless. We are talking about doing a little prospective practice to compensate for our short-sighted approaches to our own health and wellbeing.

If we are having a problem, what we can’t see are the problems that will emanate from that root problem. So our practice has to be a little prospective to also build up the immunity for a later onslaught.

Mere repetition will not get us to that space. It is constant experimentation and trying to educate different parts of our being that will propel us to that associated, absorbent state.

Zubin Zarthoshtimanesh

 

“For every complex question, there is a simple answer… and it is wrong.” H.L. Mencken

http://www.yogafestival.world

Image: The main practice hall at RIMYI in Pune. (H. Lovegrove)

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Zubin: Ten Talks About #Yoga (7)

7. Linear Vs Concomitant forces.

Yoga philosophy includes the eight steps enumerated by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras. It is assumed that they are linear, that they are to be climbed like steps; and in this scheme, asana precedes pratyahara, that is the withdrawal of the senses.

But life is never a linear process. One lives with so many relationships and at so many different levels. In the same way, in Yoga, one starts with the asana to feel the rhythm, and gradually try to play out all the notes, the entire scheme of Astanga Yoga, as one goes along. This movement from an effortful effort to an effortless effort is the only linear progression Patanjali prescribes.

Zubin Zarthoshtimanesh

 

“For every complex question, there is a simple answer… and it is wrong.” H.L. Mencken

http://www.yogafestival.world

Image: The main practice hall at RIMYI in Pune. (H. Lovegrove)

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Zubin: Ten Talks About #Yoga (6)

6. Memory building and not muscle building more important.

In the first chapter of his foundational yoga philosophy book, sage Patanjali enumerates the qualities to be developed: shraddha, virya, smriti, samadhi, pragnya, that is faith, courage, memory, absorption and keen awareness. Our gymnasiums are replete with the one-dimensional perspective of building muscles but it is more dynamic to develop lasting memory in our cells.

Take any skill that you may have picked up: say cycling. It is a memory imbibed at the cellular level by your body and mind. In asanas, you are developing and sometimes re-transforming the memory of the cells to respond. And since we are talking at the cellular level, this will sensitise us to another important aspect.

We pay so much attention to what and how much we ingest, our nutrition; but how much do we think about emptying or excreting at the cellular level. An empty vessel has more uses and hence asanas work tremendously to help you to exhale deeply in certain zones and regions, thus accelerating the emptying process. The next time you are on your head in Shirsasana, see it as a deep inter-penetration (and ultimately exhalation) in those passages of the head, face and skull region.

Zubin Zarthoshtimanesh

 

“For every complex question, there is a simple answer… and it is wrong.” H.L. Mencken

http://www.yogafestival.world

Image: The main practice hall at RIMYI in Pune. (H. Lovegrove)

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Zubin: Ten Talks About #Yoga (5)

5. Merely Doing in the body parts Vs learning its Usages.

 When a person cycles, or swims, one is using different parts of the body to propel oneself forward. In due course of time, one will develop certain muscles and strengths.

Now compare this to the education imbibed in the asanas. In standing asanas, one not only uses the legs, but starts learning the usages of the legs, for example, on the back, the spine; this education will come in handy later when one practices asanas of different depths like backbends, balancing or twisting postures; one will begin to identify the contribution of the legs to the overall assembly. The practitioner will imbibe the knowledge of what connections the legs make with the different body parts, even the eyes and ears.

We use our minds on different parts of our bodies; why can’t we, with proper application, learn the usages of how to use our arms for our backs, our legs for our spine, our breath for our body and mind and so on.

Zubin Zarthoshtimanesh

 

“For every complex question, there is a simple answer… and it is wrong.” H.L. Mencken

http://www.yogafestival.world

Image: The main practice hall at RIMYI in Pune. (H. Lovegrove)

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Zubin: Ten Talks About #Yoga (4)

4. Our embodiment has the potentials to be read like a book with the same benefits.

Normally, one would read or learn anatomy and physiology text books for knowledge and understanding about the different aspects of our body. The same goes for the way we have explored the mind – an entity apart from our physical processes. But we increasingly come to see that the body-mind is a fused entity.

The practitioner assumes different asanas to read the skill-set and disposition of the different parts of the body. When I am in Trikonasana or Parsvakonasana, is my inner and outer surface parallel? What about the length of my frontal leg and the back leg, is it the same? How can I make it the same and so on. Sometimes let me start with my body, but not end in the physical dynamics alone, let me see how I can balance my emotional self by creating new memories through my breath patterns.

In Yogasanas, the whole embodiment complex is read like a book. The same book will be read for not only physical skill but also to develop mental and emotional fibres like will, volition, adaptive potentials and reasoning. Whenever one hears the word Yogasana, one imagines sweaty bodies exercising; that is just one aspect of their dynamics; they also have other potentials like healing potentials, remedials and corrections.

Zubin Zarthoshtimanesh

 

“For every complex question, there is a simple answer… and it is wrong.” H.L. Mencken

http://www.yogafestival.world

Image: The main practice hall at RIMYI in Pune. (H. Lovegrove)

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Zubin: Ten Talks About #Yoga (3)

3. A unique condition, wherein our body, mind and breath support each other.

The practice of Yoga bestows a unique gift on its practitioner: associated body, mind, senses and breath. Come to think of it, all our endeavours, sports and educative explorations develop exclusive body awareness or mind awareness. Most of our athletes develop the physical side at the cost of their mental faculties. The practice of yogasanas and pranayama uniquely help to associate the body, mind and breath with each other and create a synergy of sorts in the altogether unique entity.

When one starts accessing the body through the yogasanas, the body-mind-breath complex develops a symbiotic relationship in the expanse of the consciousness. The different aspects of mind like intelligence, emotions and intuition can reverberate in the whole psyche and the body slowly gets the vital support of the mental and pranic elements. There is unique synergy which the practice of yoga creates.

Like missiles can be fitted with nuclear war-heads, similarly the body actions can be headed and aided by breath dynamics which will transform the capabilities of that instrument. And with less catastrophic and more beneficial effects on the human race.

Zubin Zarthoshtimanesh

 

“For every complex question, there is a simple answer… and it is wrong.” H.L. Mencken

http://www.yogafestival.world

Image: The main practice hall at RIMYI in Pune. (H. Lovegrove)

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Zubin: Ten Talks About #Yoga (2)

2. Our outer social gates are always open but yogic practices will help us to be open to the inner social culture within us. 

The human being is essentially a social creature, a gossipy animal. Social media is replete with antics of our movie stars and celebrities. In this era, we are naturally more selfie-conscious than Self-conscious. We have the technology to capture our surface appearance but we fail to develop more vital tools to sense our ever-changing nature within. Let us stop and reflect: can I sense which spinal muscles I access in different positions, sitting, standing or bending? Can I tell if I am breathing equally from both my nostrils, can I enhance my rib cage action sufficiently in my breathing process?

We have so much information about the world around us but very little about ourselves. Am I using my joints and muscles evenly while walking or is my weight only on my knee joint? Do I have access to my back thighs? Can I use my breath cycles to filter the mind stuff?

Our minds are channeled to the world outside and sometimes in the process become disproportionately dependent on its feedback. This makes us easily prone to wildly swinging positive or negative conditions.

Yogic practices open out the inner gates. One starts looking at the processes and impulsions behind one’s actions. A deep observation and education of our inner culture will open out new possibilities.

Zubin Zarthoshtimanesh

 

“For every complex question, there is a simple answer… and it is wrong.” H.L. Mencken

http://www.yogafestival.world

Image: The main practice hall at RIMYI in Pune. (H. Lovegrove)

 

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Zubin: Ten Talks About #Yoga (1)

1. Yogic practices are the vital apps to manoeuvre on unfamiliar terrain within.

As anyone living on our planet well knows, apps have become more important and indispensable to our lives than even tools like the Swiss army knife. When you are navigating in unknown terrains, the one indispensable tool is a navigator or an app like GoogleMaps. The path of Yoga gives a similar kind of support system like GoogleMaps in an unknown land. Our internal world is an unknown mass, very difficult to find and understand new pathways or live in different mental or breath channels. Normally an average person exists in three positions: standing, sitting and lying down. We merely operate and live in and through these three positions. Now just imagine if we can expand the scope of these positions, what could or would happen. Through the hundreds of yogasanas, we learn to wire and rewire our internal nervous and muscular connections, so that stress doesn’t build up. We learn to create apps (leg apps, arm apps, spinal muscles apps, breath apps) for ourselves to touch our whole embodiment.

The practices of yoga help to familiarise the practitioner with these internal pathways, and more vitally, discover and connect to the junctions of body, mind, breath, senses and speech, where further new possibilities open out.

Zubin Zarthoshtimanesh

 

“For every complex question, there is a simple answer… and it is wrong.” H.L. Mencken

http://www.yogafestival.world

Image: The main practice hall at RIMYI in Pune. (H. Lovegrove)

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Rachel’s Yoga Weekend Jan 2017

elbows2

Lifting the elbows/arms up.

elbows1

Keeping them up and moving the thoracic in.

bksetup1

Baddakonasana: 5 blocks, a brick.

bksetup2

Heels up on the brick, toes splayed.

bksetup3

Belt to each knee round the opposite thigh, tighten evenly.

bksetup5

Wedge another brick under each femur head, on a block if necessary.

bksetup6

Hold a looped belt under the outer edges of the feet.

bksetup

Sit for 10 minutes. To feel the effect in the pelvis and hips, walk slowly round the room when you come out.

chairuttanasana

Chair uttanasana.

ropedog

Using a strap on the door handles to create a sling at home.

liftingtheribs

Side ribs up….

thoracicin

…and thoracic in.

pachimottanasana

Side ribs up to encourage forward extension.

sacrumthoracic1

Sacrum in and up…..

sacrumthoracic

…thoracic in.

eyesvira111

Look from the backs of the eyes.

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Iyengar Yoga Home Practice Sheets

These yoga routines are designed to be simple, effective and easy to use. You may need some equipment, but most can be substituted with things you have at home. Beginners can try any of the first seven sequences. The Level 1 and Level 2 sequences are for more experienced students.

Staying in the poses is part of the process, to observe the way the body adjusts, learn how to release pain and tension, and allow the body and mind to relax. So it’s helpful to have a timer for these sequences. If you use your phone put it in flight mode.

If you have any questions or comments, please use the box below.

With best wishes, Hannah.

 

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Filed under Beginners etc., Breathing, Iyengar, Lifestyle Changes, Pain, Relaxation, Yoga - Beginners, Yoga - Intermediate, Yoga - Therapeutic