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21-day Yoga Challenge, Jan 5-25, 2015

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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, January 5 – Sunday, January 25, 2015
  • Time: 6:00 AM – 7:30 AM
  • Where: 4000 Bear Cat Way, Suite 102, Morrisville, NC 27560
  • Cost: $125
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Yoga to Ease Chronic Pain Naturally

(Guest post by freelance contributor Anne Healey)

Chronic pain affects 100 million of us in the United States, which can be debilitating, impacting on everything from your sleep to your employment.  While you may leave a visit to your doctor’s office with a prescription for stronger painkillers, if you are keen to explore more natural options for pain relief, research shows that yoga is an effective way to alleviate discomfort. While the benefit of yoga for easing back pain is fairly well-known, you may not realize that it can help with a range of other painful conditions. If you suffer from arthritis, migraines, fibromyalgia, peripheral neuropathy or multiple sclerosis, here we take a look at how making yoga part of your regular routine can ease your discomfort.

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Ujjayi Pranayama

In a previous article, I wrote about the breathing technique called the Ujjayi breath. In this breath, while breathing in and out through the nose, we constrict the passage of air at the base of the throat area, the glottis, which makes a slight hissing, ocean wave like sound. In normal breathing the friction of the air happens at the tip of the nostrils. In Ujjayi, we allow the friction to happen at the glottis area and not in the nostrils. Because of the constriction of the passage of air, the Ujjayi breath allows us to prolong the duration of each breath. Moreover, the gentle hissing sound has a very calming effect on the nerves and the mind.

In another article, I also talked about the deep three part breathing wherein we engage the full capacity of the lungs for each breath. We do this by bringing awareness to the three segments of the lungs – the top, middle and the bottom and consciously breathe into those areas. Thus, at the end of inhalation, the lungs are completely filled to capacity. At the end of exhalation, we allow the lungs to become fully empty of all air.

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Asanas for stronger and more flexible quads (part 2)

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Virtual chair against wall

This post (part 2) is a continuation on the theme of presenting asanas that are very effective in building strength and flexibility in the quads. Please visit the previous post (part 1) for more asanas.

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.

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12-day Pranayama/Meditation Intensive, Dec 3-14

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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, December 3- Sunday, December 14, 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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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

nadi-shuddhi1-small.jpg
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.

Continue reading »

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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