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Ujjayi Breathing and Ujjayi Pranayama

Ujjayi Breathing

The word "ujjayi" is derived from the Sanskrit root "ji" (जि) with the prefix "ud" (उद्) added to it. So the combined root is "ujji" (उज्जि) which means "to be victorious". Ujjayi (उज्जायी), thus means "one who is victorious" and "ujjayi breath" would mean "the victorious breath".

Because of the various benefits it provides (listed below), Ujjayi is highly recommended as the breathing technique to be used during any of the yoga practices (asana or pranayama) that involve deeper than your natural breaths. For example, while practicing Sun Salutation, it is recommended that each movement be made slowly and synchronized with the appropriate deep inhalation or exhalation. In this case, since the breathing is slow and deep, Ujjayi is recommended for each breath. Similarly, while practicing the pranayama technique called the "alternate nostril breathing" or "Naadi Shuddhi", the ujjayi breath is recommended.

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Bend it like a bow – Dhanurasana

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Dhanurasana – धनुरासन -(Bow Pose) is one of the most commonly practiced back-bending poses. The Sanskrit word ‘dhanu’ means a bow. In the final position, the asana resembles a bow ready to shoot an arrow. It provides some of the same benefits as Shalabhasana (locust) and Bhujangasana (cobra) but also has some benefits unique to the pose.


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Jala Neti (Nasal Irrigation) with video demonstration

jala neti

In the ancient text on the practice of Yoga, "Hatha Yoga Pradeepika", six cleansing techniques have been prescribed: Neti: nasal cleansing, Dhauti: cleansing of the digestive tract, Nauli: abdominal massage, Basti: colon cleansing, Kapalabhati: purification and vitalization of the frontal lobes, and Trataka: focused gazing.

In this post, we will be focusing on one of the nasal cleansing techniques called "jala neti" (saline nasal irrigation). Jala Neti is a simple technique which involves using a special "neti pot" filled with warm, slightly salted water. The nose cone is inserted into one nostril and the position of the head and pot is adjusted to allow the water to flow out of the other nostril. Whilst the water is flowing through the nasal passages one breathes through the mouth. After half a pot has flowed in one direction, the water flow is reversed. When the water in the pot is finished, the nose must be properly dried.

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14-day Pranayama/Meditation intensive, June 15-28

Vishnu Mudra

I am pleased to announce the next 14-day pranayama/meditation intensive.

Come and join me for this life-transforming experience where you will learn two of the most important aspects of a complete, integrated yoga practice – pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation. In this program you will be introduced to many of the breathing techniques that are mentioned in our ancient yogic texts. You will also learn the concepts and techniques of meditation.

No prior pranayama or meditation experience is required.

  • When: Monday, Monday, June 15- Sunday, June 28, 2015
  • Time: 6:00 – 7:30 AM
  • Location: 4000 Bearcat Way, Suite 102, Morrisville, NC 27560
  • Daily Routine: Light stretching (10-15 minutes), Pranayama (30 min), Relaxation (10 min), Yoga philosophy (15 min), Meditation (20 min).
  • Commitment: A firm commitment to follow this schedule and attend every day
  • Fee: $90

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Twisting Head-to-knee pose and Pashchimottanasana

Janu-shirshasana (जानु-शीर्षासन) –

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is a composite of two Sanskrit words – Janu means the knee and Shirsha means the head or the forehead. So the literal translation of the pose is head-to-knee pose.

Twisting Janu-shirshasana is a variation on the traditional head-to-knee pose. In this pose, in addition to the forward bending stretch, we also add the element of spinal twist which brings about great relief to any stiffness or mild pain that you might have in your back.


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Stress-free “Full Catastrophe” living – a summary

[Guest post by Madhu Sheth]

I read the"Full Catastrophe Living" book by Jon Kabat-Zinn (600+ pages) and found out what is the essence of wisdom of body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. So I came to a simple conclusion – It is all about positive attitude in life. Look and observe inward to find direction and purpose in life.

Various research studies indicate some of the human characteristics that help heal and promote better health and living. So below is a summary from the book for you to read and if interested in more details, you may read the book. There is lot more in the book than the summary presented here- The practice of Mindfulness and Meditation, A new way of thinking about health and illness, Stress, Taking on the Full Catastrophe, The way of awareness.

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21-day Yoga Immersion, May 11-31

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:

[Please download the flier here]

  • When: Monday, May 11 – Sunday, May 31, 2015
  • Time: 6:00 AM – 7:30 AM
  • Where: 4000 Bear Cat Way, Suite 102, Morrisville, NC 27560
  • Cost: $125
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Asana video sequences – on my youtube channel

Prasarita Padottanasana

If you have visited my facebook page recently, you may have noticed that I have started adding short video sequences of some of the most commonly practiced asanas on youtube. Many of the students have asked me for video instructions on the basic asanas or sequence of asanas which can help them with their personal home practice. I have been unable to present these video sequences in the past as I could not find someone who could shoot and edit the videos. Fortunately, a few months ago, my good friend, Ami, who is an excellent videographer, very kindly agreed to help me shoot these videos. For the last few weeks we have been shooting, on the average, one short video every week and putting it up on youtube.

I highly encourage you to visit my youtube channel and subscribe to the channel. Having subscribed to the channel, I would truly appreciate your feedback on the videos that you watch. I welcome your comments and feedback and any suggestions for future video sequences. Here are some of the recent videos that you will see on youtube:

Prasarita Padottana – Wide-legged standing forward bending pose

Parshvottanasana – intense side stretch

Four simple poses for a strong core

Twisting janu shirshasana (head-to-knee) and Pashchimottanasana (seated forward bend)

Janu-shirshasana (head-to-knee pose)

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Four simple poses for a strong core

Forearm Plank

Core and back muscles, lower back in particular, are perhaps two of the most important sets of muscles in yoga practice. These muscles get used during majority of the yoga asana and pranayama practices. Strength and stability of these muscles can help you perform most of the yoga practices effectively and safely. On the other hand, a strong and regular yoga practice can help develop these muscles effectively.

For this post, I have chosen four simple poses that will help develop a strong core and stabilize the back muscles. You can view a video of these poses here.

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Understanding the Mind to eliminate Stress

  • What: An Introduction to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
  • When: First Saturday of the month
  • Next Session: Saturday, April 4, 2015
  • Focus: Eight Limbs of Yoga (Ashtanga Yoga)
    (see below for more details)
  • TIME: 2:30 – 4:30 PM
  • LOCATION: 4000 Bearcat Way, Suite 104, Morrisville, NC 27560
  • FEE: by voluntary donation

Why study the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (YSP)?

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