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Marjarasana (Cat & Cow stretch) for a healthy back

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Cat Pose

Back pain, especially pain in the lower back, is perhaps the most common reason why people join a yoga class. Many people notice stiffness in the back when they wake up in the morning. Most stretches in a typical yoga routine are geared toward making the spine more flexible, stronger and healthy.

Marjarasana

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(cat and cow stretch) is a simple stretch that, when practiced regularly, can go a long way in keeping the spine healthy and pain free. In the yoga routine that I practice and teach, I start each asana (stretching) session with Marjarasana.

I hope you will enjoy practicing with this video sequence.

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14-day Pranayama Intensive, Feb 8-21

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Padmasana (Lotus Pose)

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, February 8 – Sunday, February 21, 2016
  • 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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Role of Yoga in dealing with MS

In a previous post, Denise, who is undergoing cancer treatment shared her experience about her yoga practice. In today’s post, Kerry, who is undergoing treatment for MS for a few years now, has kindly agreed to share her yoga experience. Kerry began attending my yoga classes, taught during the lunch hour at a local corporation, almost seven years ago. Subsequently when she changed her jobs, she decided to continue her yoga practice with me and started attending the classes at my studio. About three years ago she told me that she had been diagnosed with MS. But rather than showing any signs of depression or anxiety, she, like a true warrior, has stayed very positive in her attitude and has been handling her situation bravely.

In the notes below, Kerry has kindly shared her experience with her yoga practice.

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Role of yoga in a serious health condition

Denise started attending yoga classes with me a little over a year ago. In the registration form that she filled out, under "any medical issues" she wrote, "Last 10 years only major medical issues; surgery to remove section of large intestine and heart attack." When she came in for the class, I was pleasantly surprised with her cheerful smile and a very pleasant attitude. She gave no indication that she had gone through major health issues in the past. She became quite regular in the classes and started enjoying them.

After about three months of regular classes, she suddenly stopped coming. I just assumed that she might have had some health issues and would be back soon. After about a month of absence I received an email from her telling that she had been diagnosed with cancer and will need to go for surgery. From that time on she kept me in the loop, updating me frequently with news about her surgery, subsequent radiation and chemotherapy. After a couple of months of recovery from surgery and treatment, she came back for the classes and has been attending very regularly. She is back to her cheerful self, always displaying a very positive outlook and an infectious smile.

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Yoga philosophy workshop series

As many of you may be aware, I have been offering a monthly workshop on various aspects of yoga philosophy at the studio. These workshops are normally held on the 3rd Saturday of the month. My main objective in teaching these sessions is to share the underlying concepts of the practice of yoga as given in the ancient yoga texts.

I started these workshops with the main intent of discussing the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. In his Yoga Sutras, Patanjali has provided the very essence of the philosophy and teachings of yoga in a highly scientific and systematic exposition. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (YSP) are one of the six darshanas (Sanskrit word for philosophy) of Hindu schools of philosophy and a very important milestone in the history of Yoga. The book is a set of 195 aphorisms (sutras), which are short, terse phrases designed to be easy to memorize. Though brief, the Yoga Sutras is an enormously influential work that is just as relevant for yoga philosophy and practice today as it was when it was written. A study and understanding of the Yoga Sutras can bring about a very positive transformation in one’s life.

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Veerabhadrasana (Warrior Pose 1)

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Veerabhadrasana  (वीरभद्रासन)

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or the Warrior Pose 1, along with its two siblings called Warrior 2 and Warrior 3, is one of the very commonly practiced asanas. This is a powerful and energizing pose, especially useful for strengthening the leg, hip and thigh muscles.

In my own practice and the classes that I teach, I integrate the practice of Warrior poses as a part of the Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) sequence. However, all three variations of the Warrior pose can be practiced independently as standing poses. 

Hope you will enjoy practicing with my good friend Tanu in this video sequence.

Who was Veerabhadra?

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Reclining Twist to relieve back pain

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Lower back pain is perhaps the single most commonly mentioned reason why people join yoga classes. There are several yoga poses that are recommended for taking care of lower back pain – for example, Marjarasana (cat & cow), Pawanamuktasana (wind-relieving pose), Balasana (child pose), all twisting poses etc. One of the poses that I personally enjoy and recommend highly is the Reclining Twist. In Sanskrit, it is variously named as Jathara Parivartanasana – जठरपरिवर्तनासन – (Abdomen Turning), Udarakarshanasana – उदराकर्षणासन – (abdominal stretching), and Supta Matsyendrasana – सुप्तमत्स्येन्द्रासन – (Reclining twist).

The reclining twist is what I call a "feel good asana" as it stretches multiple parts of the body in a gentle way and brings about a sense of refreshing rejuvenation and detoxification.

I hope you will enjoy practicing with this video sequence.

In my own practice, I make it a point to do this pose on a regular basic. I usually do it right after the inversion pose (shoulder stand or headstand) and before the seated spinal twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana).

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21-day Yoga Immersion, Jan 4-24

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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, January 4 – Sunday, January 24, 2016
  • Time: 6:00 AM – 7:30 AM
  • Where: 4000 Bear Cat Way, Suite 102, Morrisville, NC 27560
  • Cost: $125
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12-day Meditation Intensive, Dec 9-20

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Padmasana (Lotus Pose)

As you may be aware, I have been offering the combined pranayama (breathing practices)/meditation intensives for some time now. Lately, based on discussions with some of my students, I have decided to offer the pranayama and meditation intensives separately. This will allow me to go deeper into each of the practices in these programs.

I am pleased to announce the next 12-day Meditation Intensive. In this program, I plan to discuss the basic concepts of meditation and also practice several of the meditation techniques. Most of the information that I will be sharing is based on the concepts discussed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and related ancient texts.

No prior pranayama or meditation experience is required.

Here are the particulars:

  • What: 12-day Meditation Intensive
  • When: Wednesday, December 9 – Sunday, December 20, 2015
  • Time: 6:00 – 7:30 AM
  • Location: 4000 Bearcat Way, Suite 102, Morrisville, NC 27560
  • Daily Routine: Light stretching (10-15 minutes), Pranayama (15 min), Relaxation (15 min), Meditation – discussion and practice (45 min)
  • Commitment: A firm commitment to follow this schedule and attend every day
  • Fee: $80
  • To register: fill out the registration form, providing information in all the fields, and submit it online

Strongly recommended

  • Light,’sattvic’, nutritious, VEGETARIAN food
  • No alcohol, drugs, tobacco or any other item of similar nature
  • A personal commitment to continue the practice after the program is over

Please visit here for more details…

Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. I look forward to your participation.

Excellent stretch for shoulders using a strap (video)

In a previous post, I described a few stretches to help release tension from the neck muscles. As we know, the neck and shoulders are closely tied together through the nervous system as nerves from the neck pass through the shoulders and down the arms. As such, stretches for the neck and shoulders are usually practiced together so we can relax both the neck and the shoulders together.

I hope you will enjoy practicing along with the video demonstration.


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