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21-day Yoga Immersion (April 2016) – feedback from students

Most people tend to practice yoga with the main objective of achieving physical well-being. As a result they focus only on the "asana" (physical postures) part of yoga practice. If we go by the eight limbs of yoga defined by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras, then asana is only one of those eight limbs. In fact, if we dig a little deeper, we realize that the word asana refers ONLY to a sitting posture. The word "asana" is derived from the Sanskrit root "aas (आस्)" which literally means "to sit". The word asana means either the posture you sit in or the seat that you sit upon. The whole series of physical postures were developed so the body could be made strong and flexible enough so that one could sit in a meditative posture for long periods of time. As per Patanjali, it is only through the practice of meditation that one can attain a perfectly calm state of the mind, which is the goal of yoga.

When these postures were developed, instead of coining a new name for them, the yogis decided to keep the same name "asana" for these postures as well, which Patanjali used for a sitting posture. This is how the whole science of Hatha Yoga evolved. The text that is most commonly referenced for all current yoga practices is the Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swatmarama.

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What causes fluctuations of the mind? – the Five Vrittis

"How hard it is to control the mind! Well, it has been compared to the maddened monkey. There was a monkey, restless by his own nature, as all monkeys are. As if that were not enough some one made him drink freely of wine, so that he became still more restless. Then a scorpion stung him. When a man is stung by a scorpion, he jumps about for a whole day; so the poor monkey found his condition worse than ever. To complete his misery a demon entered into him. What language can describe the uncontrollable restlessness of that monkey? The human mind is like that monkey, incessantly active by its own nature; then it becomes drunk with the wine of desire, thus increasing its turbulence. After desire takes possession comes the sting of the scorpion of jealousy at the success of others, and last of all the demon of pride enters the mind, making it think itself of all importance. How hard to control such a mind!" – Swami Vivekananda

This famous quote from Swami Vivekananda sums up the state of our mind – incessantly restless! There is constantly something or the other happening in the mind – thoughts, worries, anxieties, likes, dislikes, variety of emotions, negative feelings, positive feelings, planning, scheming …. and the list can go on. The change in the mind is continuous. This constant change or fluctuation is what has been termed a "vritti" by sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras.

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14-day Pranayama Intensive, May 9-22

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Vishnu Mudra

I am pleased to announce the next Pranayama intensive. In this program, we will be practicing some of the main pranayama techniques given in our ancient yoga texts. I will also discuss the underlying concepts in the practice of pranayama and all the wonderful benefits that the practice can bring us.

No prior pranayama or meditation experience is required.

Here are the particulars:

  • What: 14-day pranayama intensive
  • When: Monday, May 9 – Sunday, May 22, 2016
  • Time: 6:00 – 7:30 AM
  • Location: 4000 Bearcat Way, Suite 102, Morrisville, NC 27560
  • Daily Routine: Light stretching (10-15 minutes), Pranayama (40 min), Relaxation (15 min), Yoga philosophy/meditation (15-20 min)
  • Commitment: A firm commitment to follow this schedule and attend every day
  • Fee: $90
  • To register: fill out the registration form, providing information in all the fields, and submit it online

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Pratyahara (Sense Withdrawal) Meditation

In this segment, I will take you through a sequence of guided meditation. In this meditation the objective is to disengage the mind from any influence from the five senses. This will help us focus the mind inward which will help us get into a deeper state of meditation. This state of the mind is called Pratyahara, which in one of the eight limbs of yoga called "Ashtanga Yoga" in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. I will guide you through a sequence wherein we will connect with each of the five senses one at a time and then disengage from it. Click on the "play" button below to practice with the audio. I am also giving below the text transcript of the audio that you can use for your meditation.

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Sit in any comfortable seated posture, with the spine upright and vertical. Keep the eyes closed.Try to pull the neck up, rooting the tail bone down so the spine feels elongated. Try to maintain the head, neck and trunk in vertical alignment. Make any adjustments to so the spine and the body feel comfortable. Relax the hands, arms and shoulders. Relax the neck muscles. Now, soften and relax the facial muscles. Begin to watch your breath as you inhale and exhale, just observing the flow of breath at the tip of the nose, without modifying your natural breathing rhythm.

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Surya Namaskar Yogathon Experience, April 2016

yogathon

On Saturday, April 2, 2016, the Hindu Temple (HSNC – Hindu Society of North Carolina) organized a yoga event dubbed as "Surya Namaskar Yogathon" wherein we practiced 108 rounds of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations). 

Introduction

If you have attended a yoga class, be that at a yoga studio, a health club, gym, or online, chances are that Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) was a part of the routine. Surya Namaskar has now become an integral part of most yoga styles that are practiced. As expected, each style of yoga introduces its own variations into the Surya Namaskar routine.

yogathon

Traditionally, Surya Namaskar consists of 12 movements which are woven together in a nice, flowing, dance-like sequence, with each move synchronized with the appropriate breathing pattern. Practice of Surya Namaskar impacts all aspects of the body – physical, physiological, mental, emotional and even deeper.

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Understanding the mind to eliminate stress – workshop, April 16

Understanding the Mind to eliminate Stress

  • What: An Introduction to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
  • When: Third Saturday of the month
  • Next Session: Saturday, April 16, 2016
  • Focus: Introduction to Yoga Sutras of Patanjali; Definition of Yoga
    (see below for more details)
  • TIME: 2:00 – 4:00 PM
  • LOCATION: 4000 Bearcat Way, Suite 104, Morrisville, NC 27560
  • FEE: by voluntary donation
  • To register: please fill out the registration form
  • Audio recordings of previous sessions are available here

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Meditation Intensive – feedback from participants

Most people tend to practice yoga with the main objective of achieving physical well-being. As a result they focus only on the "asana" (physical postures) part of yoga practice. If we go by the eight limbs of yoga defined by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras, then asana is only one of those eight limbs. In fact, if we dig a little deeper, we realize that the word asana refers ONLY to a sitting posture. The word "asana" is derived from the Sanskrit root "aas (आस्)" which literally means "to sit". The word asana means either the posture you sit in or the seat that you sit upon. In that sense, your mat is your "asana". If you sit in a chair, the chair is the asana. The whole series of physical postures were developed so the body could be made strong and flexible enough so that one could sit in a meditative posture for long periods of time. As per Patanjali, it is only through the practice of meditation that one can attain a perfectly calm state of the mind, which is the goal of yoga.

When these postures were developed, instead of coining a new name for them, the yogis decided to keep the same name "asana", which Patanjali used for a sitting posture, for these postures as well. This is how the whole science of Hatha Yoga evolved. The text that is most commonly referenced for all current yoga practices is the Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swatmarama.

Continue reading »

Ashtanga Yoga (Eight Limbs of Yoga) (with audio)

For most people the word “yoga” (योग) brings to mind the image of a yoga model that appears on the cover of a yoga magazine in a pose that is almost impossible to get into for an average practitioner. Yoga is commonly practiced as a routine which helps in improving physical fitness and sometimes as a means to stress management. There is growing awareness that yoga can be effectively used as therapy in treating a variety of ailments, including hypertension, diabetes, heart conditions etc. Those who have been practicing yoga for a while can attest to the physical and physiological benefits that the practice brings.

While all the above mentioned benefits of yoga are certainly desirable, most people are ignorant about the true meaning and purpose of yoga which is “the ability to control the fluctuations of the mind”. This brief and succinct definition was provided to us by Sage Patanjali, more than three thousand years ago, in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (योग सूत्र)

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. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali has provided a very scientific and practical exposition of the philosophy and practice of yoga. One very important section of the book describes what is commonly called “Ashtanga Yoga” (अष्टाङ्ग योग)

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or the Eight Limbs of Yoga which provides practical guidelines for achieving the goal of yoga, i.e., controlling the mind.

Most of the yoga as it is practiced today, called Hatha Yoga, includes physical postures (asanas) and some breathing techniques (pranayama). As you can notice from the eight limbs which are listed below, asana and pranayama are only two of these eight limbs and help establish a strong foundation toward achieving the objectives of yoga. However, to develop a fully integrated practice of yoga and achieve the final objectives of yoga, one needs to include in their routine all the eight limbs of yoga in some form.

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21-day Yoga Immersion, April 4-24

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Virabhadrasana (Warrior2)

I am pleased to announce the next 21-day Yoga Immersion program. The past programs have been very well received by all the participants. For most of them, it has been truly a life-transforming experience. I invite you to join me on this exciting and deeply rewarding 21-day yoga journey. Here are the particulars:

  • What: 21-day yoga immersion
  • When: Monday, April 4 – Sunday, April 24, 2016
  • Time: 6:00 AM – 7:30 AM
  • Where: 4000 Bear Cat Way, Suite 102, Morrisville, NC 27560
  • Cost: $125
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Easy steps to creating a podcast

As I wrote in a previous post, I have recently created a podcast page on my blog. I have now started adding podcasts from the audio recordings of the monthly workshops on various aspects of yoga philosophy that I have been offering for about two years now.

When I started researching on the net as to how to create podcasts, many different approaches came to surface. Since I use the WordPress platform for my blog, I decided to narrow down the approaches that are applicable for wordpress. The whole process seemed a little bit daunting in the beginning. However, I was able to devote a little more time to my investigations when I had to cancel all my engagements during the "snow days" in January. I was able to use that time to research the net, try out a few approaches and finally settle on the one that I am using now.

I am giving below the process involved in creating the podcasts:

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