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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)

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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.

Step-by-step

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

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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:

[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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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, February 7, 2015
  • Focus: Eight Limbs of Yoga (Ashtanga Yoga)
    (see below for more details)
  • TIME: 1:30 – 3:30 PM [please note the earlier start time this month]
  • LOCATION: Integral Yoga Studio, 4000 Bearcat Way, Suite 104, Morrisville, NC 27560
  • FEE: by voluntary donation

Why study the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (YSP)?

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14-day Pranayama/Meditation Intensive, Feb 2-15

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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, February 2 – Sunday, February 15, 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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Surya Namaskar origins – how Hanuman almost swallowed the Sun

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Surya Namaskar sequence

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation), in some form or another, is an integral part of most styles of yoga that are practiced today. Integral Yoga (the style that I practice and teach), Shivananda, Kripalu, Power yoga, Vinyasa, Flow yoga, hot yoga … to name just a few of the more commonly practiced styles today – all include some variation of Surya Namaskar as a part of their yoga routine. As we know, most yoga practices have their origins in the ancient yoga texts related to the philosophy and practice of yoga. The two most commonly referenced texts for the practice of Hatha Yoga are the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Gheranda Samhita. However, when you look at these two texts, you will find that no mention has been made of the practice of Surya Namaskar. So the question that comes to mind is "how come Surya Namaskar is such a common component of all Hatha Yoga practices today when it not even mentioned in any of the ancient yoga texts?".

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Agni-stambhasana (Fire log pose)

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Agni Stambhasana (Firelog pose)

If you haven’t tried the pose before and you look at a picture of the pose, the Agni-stambhasana

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may seem deceptively simple. However, if you have tightness in the hips, knees or the ankles, this pose can become quite challenging. The word agni-stambha (अग्नि-स्तम्भ) is a composite of two Sanskrit words – Agni means fire and stambha can mean a pillar, a support or just a log. So this name is usually translated as the fire-log pose. In the final position, the position of legs in the pose gives the impression of a couple of fire logs stacked one on top of the other. When you practice the pose, it may actually give you a burning sensation in your hips or knees.

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Yoga FAQ #2

How often should I practice yoga?

The simple answer is – Every Day! Yes, to get the full benefit of your yoga practice, it is important to establish an ongoing daily practice. Remember the definition of "practice (abhyasa)" as per Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras, "Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness." (Sutra 1.14).

As you know, most of my classes are 1.5 hours in duration. However, for your personal home practice, it is not necessary that you allocate a full 1.5 hour session. Even if you can build a regular practice for, let us say, half an hour each day, it will go a long way in filling your day with energy, vitality and keep your mind calm and focused. Depending upon how much time you can allocate for your yoga practice, I’d be happy to recommend a routine that you can fit into that schedule.

If, however, your work and/or family situation is not conducive to a daily yoga schedule, you may try to practice as often as you can during the week. When you start practicing on a regular basis, you will start seeing the benefits of the practice. This will hopefully motivate you to deepen your practice even further by adding some additional time for the practice.

I am just too busy – how do I find time for yoga?

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

warrior2
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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