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Asanas for stronger and more flexible quads (part 1)

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Vajrasana

Quads (short for quadriceps) are the group of four muscles in the top part of the thighs. Quads, in combination with the hamstrings (back of the thigh) provide an excellent support structure both for the knees as well as the spine. Strength and flexibility of the quads can usually translate to healthy knees and a strong spinal column.

Most people pay very little attention to the quads. In fact, many of my students realize how tight their quads are only when they try to do a certain yoga pose which involves these muscles.

In today’s post, I will be presenting a few simple asanas (yoga postures) which will be very helpful in making the quads stronger and more flexible.

Vajrasana (Diamond Pose)

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Yoga FAQ #1

What is Yoga?

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Downward Facing Dog

Starting with today’s post, I will be writing about some of the most common ‘frequently asked questions’ related to yoga from time to time. I will start by answering the most important and the obvious question, "what is yoga?" 

If you look up the word "yoga" in the Monier-Williams Sanskrit dictionary you will find close to 40 different meanings listed. Going through this list, you will realize that the meaning depends largely on the context in which it is used. It is fair to assume that the meaning has evolved throughout history. 

As an example, in one of the most revered texts, The Bhagavad Gita, the word yoga has been used in the title of each of the eighteen chapters of the book. For example, the first chapter is titled, "Arjuna-vishada Yoga" (Yoga of Arjuna’s despondency). Here the word yoga is used to indicate Arjuna’s state of mind on the battlefield. 

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12-day Pranayama/Meditation intensive – Nov 12-23

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Vishnu Mudra

I am pleased to announce the next 12-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.

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Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-limb Staff Pose)

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Chaturanga Dandasana

Chaturanga Dandasana (Chaturanga for short) – चतुराङ्ग दण्डासन – (Four-limbed Staff Pose) is a level 1/level 2 pose, excellent for strengthening the arms, shoulders, toning the core muscles, stretching the ankles, thighs and the spine. The Sanskrit word Chaturanga is a composite of two words – chatur meaning four and anga meaning limb; the word danda means a staff, stick or a rod, and asana means a pose. That’s how "four-limbed staff pose".

In some styles of yoga, like the Vinyasa Flow or Ashtanga Yoga, the Chaturanga is an integral part of the Sun Salutation routine. In fact, it gets repeated several times during the sequence. In the classes that I teach, I introduce the pose slowly over a period of time as most of the students find it hard to get into the pose quickly. For them, I use the beginner’s variation described below.

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Introduction to Kundalini

Kundalini is an ancient Hindu system of philosophy and practice. It is based on the Tantric philosophy which, according to some scholars, predates Patanjali and his Yoga Sutras.

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Kundalini Shakti

Two of the most significant texts that guide our current yoga practices are Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (by Swatmarama). Patanjali, in the Sutras makes no mention of the term Kundalini and only a scant reference to a couple of terms from the naadi (nervous system) system used in Kundalini. The Yoga Sutras provide the basic foundation and the underlying philosophy of the yoga practice, not the actual details of the practices involved. The main guiding text that provides details of the yoga practices is the Hatha Yoga Pradipika which came out approximately one thousand years ago.

In the practices described in the Pradipika, Swatmarama decided to integrate the yoga philosophy from Patanjali and the Kundalini practices taken from the ancient system of Tantra. As a result many of the yoga styles that are in vogue today are influenced both by the basic yoga philosophy given in the Yoga Sutras and the practices including the Kundalini aspect of yoga as given in the Pradipika.

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What is Awareness?

Consciousness and Awareness

Consciousness and awareness – two words that sometimes are used interchangeably. Do they mean the same thing? If not, what is the difference between them?

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Ego and Awareness

We commonly hear a story like – "the boy fell down, his head hitting a stone and he become unconscious. By the time the paramedics came, he had regained his consciousness and became slowly aware of the surroundings". Here, we notice that the boy had to regain consciousness to have awareness. Thus, these are two separate concepts. From the yoga perspective, consciousness is an attribute of the pure soul, called "Purusha" in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Awareness is an attribute of the intellect which is a part of the phenomenal entity called "Prakriti".

As you may have heard, only Purusha or the soul (atman) has consciousness. That is why Purusha is often referred to as "pure consciousness". The intellect or the Prakriti has no consciousness of its own. It is the "borrowed" or reflected consciousness from the soul that the intellect uses for its working. Using this borrowed consciousness, the intellect becomes "aware" of the various elements of Prakriti.

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Workshop – Understanding the Mind to eliminate Stress

I invite you to join me for a discussion on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali wherein I will introduce some of the key concepts of the sutras. We will also discuss how an understanding of the sutras can profoundly impact our day-to-day life in a positive way.

  • What: An Introduction to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
  • When: First Saturday of the month
  • Next Session: Saturday, October 4, 2014
  • Focus: Eight Limbs of Yoga (Ashtanga Yoga, aka Raja Yoga)
    (Visit here for a brief intro )
  • TIME: 2:30 – 4:30 PM
  • LOCATION: Integral Yoga Studio, 4000 Bearcat Way, Suite 104, Morrisville, NC 27560
  • FEE: by voluntary donation

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21-day Yoga Challenge, Oct 13 – Nov 2, 2014

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Virabhadrasana (Warrior2)

I am pleased to announce the next 21-day Yoga Challenge 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, October 13- Sunday, November 2, 2014
  • Time: 6:00 AM – 7:30 AM
  • Where: 4000 Bear Cat Way, Suite 102, Morrisville, NC 27560
  • Cost: $125
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Root Cause of Stress

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Stress

One of the most common reasons why people join yoga classes is to learn how to deal with day-to-day stress.

Here are a few definitions of stress:

"Stress is a physiological response to any change, whether good or bad, that alerts the adaptive fight or flight response in the brain and the body."

"Feeling overwhelmed or negatively challenged by a circumstance or an event that places a demand on the body, mind and/or emotions that is perceived as beyond our ability to handle."

"The body’s response to any demand, when forced to adapt to change."

The modern fast-paced lifestyle puts a lot of demands on the mind and body. We convert these to mental stress as we find ourselves unable to deal with these rapidly changing events and situations. As you can see, the main cause of what we perceive as stress is our inability to deal with the event or situation that we are presented with at any given time.

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12-day Pranayama/Meditation Intensive, Sept 24 – Oct 5

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Vishnu Mudra

I am pleased to announce the next 12-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: Wednesday, Sept 24 – Sunday, Oct 5, 2014
  • 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: $75

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