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14-day Pranayama Intensive, Sep 18 – Oct 1, 2017

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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, September 18 – Sunday, October 1, 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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Yoga Retreat (August 2017) experience

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Lakulish Ashram 1

"… the retreat was a life-changing experience, because I truly came away from it a different (and hopefully better) person. … Since the retreat, I have been practicing every day, and I have found myself using some of the concepts from our lectures in my daily life. The retreat was one of the most joyful experiences I’ve had a in a long time… "

"… Wonderful! Thank you for facilitating such a magnificent time of reflection and community.  I felt a lot of my resentment towards my ongoing physical pain and the ending of a relationship melt away over the course of the weekend for which I am very grateful…"

" … Incredible, emotional. We covered a lot of material in a short period of time. Would love to have continued 3 more days…a month? …"

[Please read the full reviews here ….]

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Reclining Hip Opening Poses, part 1

In a previous post, I talked about a few of the seated hip opening stretches. Today, I would like to present some of the hip opening poses that are done in the reclining position.

I hope you will enjoy watching the video and practicing with me.

Reclining Leg Lift with strap (Supta Padangushthasana)

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Reclining leg stretch

  1. Lie down on your back in shavasana
  2. Bring the feet together and put a strap around the right foot. As you inhale, using the strap, lift the right leg up and try to bring it to a vertical position. Try to keep the left thigh pressed to the floor.
  3. As you exhale, slowly bring the leg down to the floor
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for two more breaths keeping the movement synchronized with breathing
  5. Next time you raise the leg up, hold it up there for four deep breaths. Then, while exhaling, slowly release the leg down.
  6. Repeat the above sequence with the other leg

Reclining Spinal Twist with strap

  1. Lie down on your back. Using a strap, while inhaling raise the right leg up to a vertical position. Try to keep the leg straight, without bending the knee.
  2. Continue reading »

Seated hip opening poses, part 1

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Seated cradle

Tightness in the hips is one of the most common problems students face in a yoga class when they try to do any of the yoga poses involving hip flexibility or hip rotation. This tightness usually is a result of long hours of sitting either in an office chair or in a car if you have a long commute to work. The situation gets further aggravated if you happen to maintain a poor posture while you are sitting. Poor hip flexibility can usually result in low back pain or poor support for the knees.

In the accompanying video, I have presented a few simple seated hip opening movements. In future articles, I will be presenting more hip opening poses from the standing, seated and reclining poses.

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Three stages of transformation during meditation

Prakriti, as we know, is a composite of three gunas – sattva (purity), rajas (action, movement) and tamas (dullness etc.). These three gunas are in a constant state of flux all the time. The dominance of one guna over the other keeps shifting from moment to moment. Since the mind is also a part of Prakriti, it also is going through constant change all the time due to changes in the gunas. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali has given the name "vritti" to these constant fluctuations going on in the mind.

Patanjali, in sutra 1.2, gives the definition of yoga as "that state of the mind wherein these constantly changing vrittis have been restrained or subdued and the mind can stay in a state of stillness" – yogaś-citta-vr̥tti-nirodhaḥ ॥2॥ (sutra 1.2). Patanjali has given the eight limbs of yoga as the means to achieve that state of stillness of the mind. Of these eight limbs, the most important and essential is the practice of meditation. As given in chapter 3, the broad category of "meditation" is actually a continuum of three practices called dharana (initial focus/concentration), dhyana (one-pointed contemplation, also called meditation), and samadhi (final state of absorption). When these three are practiced together, it is called "samyama" (sutra 3.4). In this article, I’ll be using the term "meditation" to imply the practice of these three stages of meditation – dharana, dhyana and samadhi.

In this article, I will be talking about the various stages of transformation that the mind goes through as we continue to deepen the practice of meditation.

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Yoga Retreat with Subhash, August, 2017

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Lakulish Ashram 1

I would like to invite you to a yoga retreat in the beautiful rural setting in Mebane, NC. At this retreat you will be able to slow down and experience yourself at a deeper level, nourished and supported by the beauty of natural surroundings. You will be able to deepen your personal yoga practice and develop an understanding of the underlying concepts in yoga in an ashram setting under the guidance of Subhash Mittal. Subhash is a long-time yoga practitioner and a dedicated yoga teacher who has been teaching yoga since 1996. Subhash brings the best out of the traditional, ancient yoga teachings and weaves these teachings in the practice of asana, pranayama, meditation and relaxation leading to a fulfilling and enriching life experience.

Come to this beautiful retreat center to tune in to the rhythms of nature and make a deeper connection with your true inner Self! This is a rare opportunity to spend time away from the stresses and strains of daily life and immerse into a yogic way of life.

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Sama-vritti (square wave pattern) Pranayama

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Samavritti pranayama

Normal breathing, which happens 24 hours of the day without our intervention, is a continuous flow of inhalations and exhalations. As part of pranayama practices, in addition to inhalation and exhalation, breath retention plays a very important role. We have the ability to voluntarily hold the breath at any time during the breathing cycle. We can hold the breath during or after inhalation or during or after a complete exhalation. As such, a pranayama breathing cycle can consist of these four components:

  • Puraka (Inhalation)
  • Rechaka (exhalation)
  • Antar kumbhaka (breath retention after inhalation)
  • Bahya kumbhaka (breath retention after exhalation)

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21-day Yoga Immersion, June 10-30, 2017

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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: Saturday, June 10 – Friday, June 30, 2017
  • Time: 6:00 AM – 7:30 AM
  • Where: 4000 Bear Cat Way, Suite 102, Morrisville, NC 27560
  • Fee: $125 (cash, check or paypal)
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My shoulder update – deja-vu – rotator cuff re-torn (yet again!)

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Rotator Cuff tear

As I mentioned in my previous shoulder update, I had surgery on my right shoulder on January 5, 2017 to fix a tear in the rotator cuff. If you recall, I had the same kind of surgery on the same shoulder in 2013. However, the cuff got torn again only a few months after the surgery. At that point I had decided to live with the torn rotator cuff as my pain was minimal. Moreover, I developed enough of the adjoining muscles to be able to do more than 65-70% of my yoga moves.

It was toward the end of 2016 that I suddenly developed a sharp and fairly persistent pain in my right shoulder. That pain, for a reason that I cannot explain, gradually began to increase and became quite intolerable. That is when I decided to again search for a surgeon who can help me in the situation. Finally I talked to a surgeon at Duke who said that she would be able to use a fairly recent treatment option that could fix the shoulder. So, I decided to have another surgery, which would be the third on the same shoulder.

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Laghu Shankha Prakshalana (colon cleanse – short version)

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Udarakarshanasana

In the classical yoga text, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, six cleansing techniques, called Shat-karma, are described. These are:

  1. Neti (nasal cleansing)
  2. Basti (like an enema)
  3. Dhauti (alimentary canal cleansing)
  4. Trataka (for the eyes)
  5. Kapalabhati (breathing technique for purifying the nervous system)
  6. Nauli (abdominal churning)

The practice of Dhauti as given in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika is as follows (chapter 2, verse 24):

"A strip of wet cloth, four angulas wide (i.e. seven to eight centimeters) and fifteen hand spans (i.e. one and a half meters) in length is slowly swallowed and then taken out, as instructed by the guru. This is known as dhauti."

As you can see, this practice is not very easy to do as it involves swallowing a long piece of wet cloth and then taking it out. To do this technique, one needs guidance from a competent guru and a fairly long time to get comfortable with it. As such, it is not commonly practiced as the technique for internal cleansing.

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