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Upavishta-konasana (Seated wide-legged forward bend)


Upavishta Konasana – उपविष्ट-कोणासन –

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(Seated wide-legged forward bend) is an intermediate level pose and helps a great deal in stretching the inner thigh and inner knee muscles and the entire spine. It also brings about a sense of calm to the mind that helps relieve stress and anxiety. The word upavishta means "seated" and kona means "angle".


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My yoga practice – post shoulder surgery

Standing wide-legged bend

After my shoulder surgery on January 6, I met with my doctor four weeks after the surgery for my first post-op follow-up. At that time she told me that due to the nature of the surgery which involved the use of a human graft, the recovery is going to be quite slow. It could take up to a whole year before I gain full range of motion and strength. Of course, since using human graft is a relatively new procedure, not much data is available from actual case studies to make a good, realistic assessment of the recovery time. It is not even clear what "full recovery" means. In my doctor’s estimate I may regain full range of motion; however, I may gain only about 80-85% of my previous strength in my arms and shoulders. These follow-ups will continue every four weeks for the next few months.

My current yoga practice

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14-day Pranayama Immersion, March 27 – April 9

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, March 27 – Sunday, April 9, 2017
  • 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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Surya Namaskar Yogathon (108 rounds), Saturday, March 18

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)

Surya Namaskar Yogathon (108 rounds) – Saturday, March 18, 7 – 11:30 AM!

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), main Cultural Hall, 309 Aviation Parkway, Morrisville, NC 27560; temple phone: (919) 481-2574
  • When: Saturday, March 18, 2017
  • Time: 7:00 AM to 11:30 AM (on-site registration starts at 6:30 AM)
  • Program Fee (donation to the temple – includes veggie lunch): $20 with pre-registration or $25 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.
  • Program: Om chanting, invocation prayer, a brief discussion of the mantras associated with SN (a chart of SN is available on my website here), practice 108 rounds of Surya Namaskar accompanied by the chanting of beautifully rendered Surya Namaskar mantras, yoga nidra (deep relaxation), brief session of pranayama to balance out the flow of prana, closing chants.
  • Lunch: Vegetarian lunch will follow the event
  • Light snacks, tea/coffee will be available in the hallway during the event.
  • To register: please fill out the registration form on the HSNC website and submit it online. You can make the payment on the same page.

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What causes suffering?

In a previous article, I talked about how to make right choices in life so we can diminish or prevent future suffering. In this article I will expand a little more on the concept of suffering and discuss the various causes of suffering. We’ll turn our attention to one of the sutras from Patanjali (sutra 2.15):

परिणामतापसंस्कारदुःखैर्गुणवृत्तिविरोधाच्च दुःखमेव सर्वं विवेकिनः॥१५॥

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pariṇāma tāpa saṁskāra duḥkhaiḥ guṇa-vr̥tti-virodhācca duḥkham-eva sarvaṁ vivekinaḥ ॥2.15॥

"To one of discrimination, everything is painful indeed, due to its consequences; the anxiety and fear over losing what is gained; the resulting impressions left in the mind to create renewed cravings; and the constant conflict among the three gunas, which control the mind."

What this sutra tells us is that a person with sharp discriminatory wisdom (the Sanskrit term used in the sutra is "vivekin") begins to realize that all life experiences are either actively or potentially full of suffering. When I read this sutra for the first time, it seemed a little strange to me that a person of wisdom should feel any suffering at all. After all, the purpose of all yoga practices is to attain enlightenment which will put an end to suffering. It took a little deeper reflection to understand the significance of the sutra.

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How to make proper choices in life

At every step in our life, we are presented with multiple options to choose from. The choices that we make today can have a serious impact on our future. We can be faced with simple questions like "which shirt should I wear for the party?", or whether or not I should eat this ice cream, or more serious matters like picking the right profession or career or picking the right life partner. Every option that we pick, every decision that we make, can have short-term and long-term implications.

What propels us to make inappropriate choices?

In a previous article, I wrote about how the mind functions and how we tend to be driven more by our ego rather than the pure intellect. Based on our past experiences, the ego likes to pick those choices which gave us a pleasurable experience in the past. For example, if we enjoyed a piece of cake in the past, in our memory bank it gets labeled as a "pleasant or enjoyable" experience. Next time when we are given the choice of eating a cake vs. not eating it, the ego will decide to eat the cake even though the intellect knows that it may not be good for our health. When we repeatedly make choices which are pleasant but not desirable, it can lead to much suffering in the form of disease or other physical and mental ailments. This also ties into the theory of Karma which can be summed up in this oft-heard statement, "as you sow, so shall you reap". As per this theory, our current thoughts and experiences are driven by our past actions; also, our future experiences will be driven by our present thoughts and actions.

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21-day Yoga Immersion, Feb 6-26

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, February 6 – Sunday, February 26, 2017
  • Time: 6:00 AM – 7:30 AM
  • Where: 4000 Bear Cat Way, Suite 102, Morrisville, NC 27560
  • Cost: $125
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My shoulder update – surgery January 2017

If you have attended my yoga classes in recent months, you would have noticed that I have been dealing with a nagging problem in my right shoulder for some time now. In a previous update on my shoulder, I wrote about the re-tear of the rotator cuff muscles after the surgery in October 2013. As a result of that tear, I have had a limited range of motion (ROM) as well as limited strength in the right arm/shoulder. However, despite the tear and some limitations, for almost three years after the surgery I was able to raise my arm to a full vertical position without any significant pain. That level of ROM allowed me to practice sequences like Surya Namaskar and asanas like up/down dog etc. without much problem. I was, in fact, able to practice almost 75-80% of all the asanas in my usual routine. You can view a sample of the movements in this video on the Sun Salutation sequence which is from August, 2016. I was perfectly happy with this level of functionality in my shoulder and had no desire or intention to get any further treatment done to the shoulder. Of course, I have vivid memories of the painful experience after all three previous shoulder surgeries. For those who are not aware of it, I had my first shoulder surgery on the right shoulder back in 2002. That surgery was quite successful and I was back to normal functionality. Soon after, in 2005, I had to have the same surgery on my left shoulder as well.

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Sun Salutation with Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana) and Intense Side Stretch (Parshvottanasana)

warrior 1
Virabhadrasana (Warrior 1)

If you’ve attended a yoga class with me, you would have noted that Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) is an integral part of the routine that we practice. Typically, we practice three rounds of Surya Namaskar. In the first round, we go through the basic sequence which has the classic 12 movements. In the second and third round, we add some variations to many of the movements. For example, in the second round some of the common poses that we practice include warrior 1, warrior 2, triangle pose, pigeon pose etc. In the third round, we usually practice the upward facing dog and also occasionally some twisting variations from the lunge position.

In today’s post, I am presenting the sequence of three rounds of Sun Salutation with warrior 1 and the Intense Side Stretch integrated into the second round. My friend Neha has graciously agreed to bring you the video presentation.

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Nine Obstacles to Wellness

With the New Year approaching, you are likely to exchange a large number of greeting messages with friends, relatives and well-wishers. Majority of the messages have phrases like "wishing you another year of health, peace, happiness and prosperity", or something similar. Health, peace and happiness etc. are all required for us to function in our daily life at our most optimum level. Without these, our work efficiency and productivity will drop, and we can fall prey to mental ailments like stress and depression. Another term that includes many of these attributes and is gaining acceptance is "wellness". If you search the Internet you will find multiple definitions of the term wellness. Two of these definitions are given below:

The World Health Organization defines wellness as:

"a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."

The National Wellness Institute defines wellness as:

"a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential."

Wellness can be thought of both as a process and a state of being. When you follow the guidelines for the process of wellness, you will achieve a state of wellness.

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