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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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Three common reasons for not meditating

Sukhasana (Easy Pose)

Here are the three most common reasons why people don’t meditate.

  1. Reason #1: "I don’t have time"
  2. Reason #2: "I can’t sit at one place for 20 minutes"
  3. Reason #3: "My mind is constantly racing – I can’t keep it quiet even for a minute"

Let us take a close look at these three reasons for not meditating.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin Recipe

pumpkin muffin
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin

As per our tradition, we recently had the yoga breakfast with the participants of the recently concluded 21-day yoga intensive. It was a great time to mingle with each other in a very relaxed, casual atmosphere. An important part of the get-together always is to share some of the most delicious veggie dishes for breakfast.

Chris Morton has shared this gluten-free and vegan recipe for "pumpkin chocolate chip muffins" which was enjoyed by everyone. Here is the recipe:

Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

  1. Combine in a mixer:
    • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin
    • 1/2 cup coconut oil
    • 1 cup sugar
  2. Mix dry ingredients:
    • 1 1/2 cups oat flour
    • 1/2 cup coconut flour
    • 2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
    • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
    • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
    • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg(or fresh grated)
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
  3. Add to wet. Mix well
  4. Stir in 1/2 to 3/4 bag of enjoy life mini chocolate chips
  5. Bake at 350° for 25 min.
  6. It yielded 21 muffins for me scooped into mini muffin pans

If you try it out, please share your experience here with preparing the dish and how you enjoyed it.

14-day Pranayama/Meditation Intensive, April 6-19

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, April 6 – Sunday, April 19, 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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Dolphin Plank Pose

Dolphin Plank

One of the commonly practiced asanas for building strength in the arms and shoulders and also for a strong core is the Chaturanga Dandasana (four-limbed staff pose). This pose is commonly integrated as part of the Surya Namaskar sequence; however, it can also be done independently in association with its close cousin, the plank pose. Chaturanga Dandasana can be a challenging pose for those with weak wrists, arms or shoulders. A variation, called the Dolphin plank pose, is more readily accessible to most students. Even though it is relatively easier to practice it provides all the same benefits as the plank or the chaturanga dandasana, especially because one can hold the pose for a longer duration. This is a great option for those who have weakness in wrists due to sporting activities or repetitious mouse movements in front of the computer.

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Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) Yogathon, March 22

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Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)

Registration Form

I invite you to join us for this memorable yoga event where we will practice 108 rounds of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations). Surya Namaskar, practiced to the accompaniment of beautifully chanted mantras,
will not only invigorate and energize you but also lead you into a state of deep meditation.

  • Event: Surya Namaskar Yogathon (108 rounds of Sun Salutations)
  • Location: Hindu Temple (HSNC) 309 Aviation Parkway, Morrisville, NC 27560; temple phone: (919) 481-2574
  • When: Sunday, March 22, 2015
  • Time: 7:00 AM to 11:30 AM (on-site registration starts at 6:30 AM)
  • Program Fee (donation to the temple – including veggie lunch): $15 with pre-registration or $20 on the day of the event; In addition, please try to find sponsors who might be willing to pledge money per round that you complete.
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Five Steps to Inner Peace

As we know, the goal of yoga practice is to attain the highest state of inner peace. Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras, calls this the Asamprajnata Samadhi (seedless samadhi). This samadhi finally leads to the state of "Kaivalya" which can be translated as self-realization.

In this connection, Patanjali, in yoga sutra 1.20 provides us a great insight into the kind of endeavor needed to attain this state of seedless samadhi:

श्रद्धावीर्यस्मृतिसमाधिप्रज्ञापूर्वक इतरेषाम्॥२०॥

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shraddhaavIryasmRutisamaadhipraj~jaapUravaka itareSham

"For those (who are willing to follow the path of prescribed effort), this Asamprajnata Samadhi is attained through faith (shraddha), energy (virya), memory (smriti), contemplation (samadhi) and discernment (prajna)."

You can think of these five steps as the rungs of a ladder. Most commentators depict these as successive steps, one leading to the next. Thus shraddha (faith) leads to virya (energy) and so on, until we reach the state of prajna (discriminative wisdom). Prajna has been identified elsewhere in the sutras as the state leading to "seedless samadhi" (sutras 1.48 – 1.51).

Let us take a closer look at these five endeavors.

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Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-legged standing forward bend)

Prasarita Padottanasana
(Wide-legged standing forward bend)

Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-legged standing forward bend) (प्रसारित पादोत्तानासन) –

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is a variation of the more commonly practiced Padottanasana (standing forward bending pose). In most of the classes that I teach, we practice Padottanasana as a part of the Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) sequence. The Prasarita Padottanasana can be practiced either as a part of the Surya Namaskar sequence (from Warrior 2) or as an independent pose as one of the standing poses. It is a nice pose for stretching the legs, hips, inner thighs and the spine.


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21-day Yoga Immersion – March 1-21, 2015

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: Sunday, March 1 – Saturday, March 21, 2015
  • Time: 6:00 AM – 7:30 AM
  • Where: 4000 Bear Cat Way, Suite 102, Morrisville, NC 27560
  • Cost: $125
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