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Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) with mantra recitation (video)

Sun Salutation

In Hindu mythology, the sun god is worshipped as a symbol of health and immortal life. It is also revered as the source of life and energy. The Rig Veda declares that "Surya is the Soul, both of the moving and unmoving beings". The Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskara – सूर्य नमस्कार) originated as a series of prostrations to the sun. Traditionally, it is performed at dawn, facing the rising sun.

From a historical perspective, Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutation) is not listed as one of the yoga practices in any of the traditional, ancient yoga texts. Two of the most commonly referenced texts are the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Gherand Samhita. In these texts there is no mention of the practice of Surya Namaskara.

However, Surya Namaskara has been practiced as a religious ritual for possibly thousands of years as a form of worship to the "Sun God". It is not clear as to what the exact nature of this ritual, in terms of the asanas/stretches performed, was in the ancient times. My assumption is that the Surya Namaskara sequence, as practiced today, is a gradual evolution from its ancient origins. In the classical Surya Namaskara sequence there are twelve moves/asanas. Each of these asanas is accompanied by the chanting of a mantra. There are twelve mantras, one for each move of the Surya Namaskara sequence. Each mantra represents a prostration to one of the twelve names or manifestations of the Sun god. In that sense, this becomes a very devotional practice. You can listen to a beautiful rendition of the mantra chanting here (click the play button)

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Yoga for a healthy, pain-free lower back

Cat Pose

In this article, I am presenting a few simple poses that can help strengthen the back and relieve back pain. Back pain, especially pain in the lower back, is perhaps the single most common reason why people seek medical attention. This is also the most common cause why people come to yoga classes. On a quick google search, I found several studies that have confirmed that yoga indeed provides a lot of relief to backache sufferers. Despite the well-known benefits that can come with a regular yoga practice, it is strongly advised that in case of severe pain you consult with your doctor before commencing a yoga routine.

Most of the poses mentioned in this article have already been discussed individually in earlier blog articles. In this video I have combined these simple asanas for taking care of low back pain in a single video sequence. This way you can follow the video for this sequence to derive full benefits from the practice.

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21-day Yoga Immersion, Aug 11 – 31, 2016

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: Thursday, Aug 11- Wednesday, Aug 31, 2016
  • Time: 6:00 AM – 7:30 AM
  • Where: 4000 Bear Cat Way, Suite 102, Morrisville, NC 27560
  • Cost: $125
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Nadi Sanchalana (Rapid Breathing)

Vishnu Mudra

In an earlier blog post, I talked about the various pranayama variables that were given by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. Based on these variables, over a period of time, a large number of pranayama practices have evolved.

In this article, I would like to discuss a pranayama technique that involves fast breathing. As you know, practices like kapalabhati and bhastrika also involve fast breathing. However, in those techniques, either inhalation or exhalation or both are forced out in short bursts of breath. In this technique called Rapid Breathing, both inhalation and exhalation are even and unforced. That means both are of the same duration, and there is no force used either during inhalation or exhalation. Also, there is no conscious effort to breathe deep breathes. We allow the breaths to just "happen".

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FREE Yoga class – July 4

Happy Independence Day!

Downward Facing Dog

Come celebrate 4th of July with me! Treat yourself to the gift of a FREE yoga class on Independence Day:

  • What: FREE yoga class
  • When: Monday, July 4, 2016
  • Time: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Location: Integral Yoga Studio, 4000 Bearcat Way, Suite 102, Morrisville, NC 27560
  • Register here

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Yoga for healthy knees

Virtual Chair

Problems with knees and low back pain are perhaps two of the most important reasons why people come to yoga for help. In this article, I would like to present a few simple poses that can help relieve knee pain and also make the knees and the surrounding muscles – hamstrings, quads, calves etc. stronger. When the muscles surrounding the knees are strong and flexible, they can support the knees much more effectively, thus preventing injury and pain in the knees.

If you already have any kind of knee pain, please try to practice under the guidance of a yoga teacher. Be careful not to engage in any movement that causes more pain or discomfort as that can further aggravate your situation.

I hope you will enjoy practicing with the video.

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21-day Yoga Immersion, July 11-31

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, July 11- Sunday, July 31, 2016
  • Time: 6:00 AM – 7:30 AM
  • Where: 4000 Bear Cat Way, Suite 102, Morrisville, NC 27560
  • Cost: $125
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Basic Pranayama Routine recommendation

In an earlier article, I discussed the different pranayama variables that have been given by Patanjali in the Yoga sutras. Based on these guidelines provided by Patanjali, and using different permutations and combinations of these variables, a large number of breathing techniques have evolved over time. One of the main sources of information on various pranayama techniques is the "Hatha Yoga Pradipika", a classic yoga text which was written by Swatma Ram about a thousand or so years ago. This contains a complete section on Pranayama and lists a variety of pranayama techniques.

In the yoga classes that I teach and also in the special 14-day pranayama intensive programs, I cover several different pranayama practices. You may like to visit the pranayama page on my blog to get a list of these techniques, as well as links to detailed descriptions on the blog. However, since one can only allocate a certain limited amount of time on a regular, daily basis, I recommend a basic pranayama routine which should form the core of your practice. The basic routine should be practiced on a daily basis, adding other practices as and when you can allocate extra time for your practice.

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14-day Meditation Intensive, June 6-19

Padmasana (Lotus Pose)

I am pleased to announce the next Meditation Intensive. In this program, I plan to discuss the basic concepts of meditation and 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 classical yoga texts.

No prior pranayama or meditation experience is required.

Here are the particulars:

  • What: 14-day Meditation Intensive
  • When: Monday, June 6 – Sunday, June 19, 2016
  • 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: $90
  • 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.

Pranayama variables

Vishnu Mudra

Ever wondered as to which of the physiological functions in humans are both voluntary and involuntary? On a brief reflection on this question, you will come up with the answer – breathing and blinking of the eyes. Involuntarily, breathing happens 24 hours of the day, without our knowledge or intervention. However, it is one of the key physiological functions that can also be modified voluntarily.

The great ancient yogis recognized this fact about the breath. As they always were experimenting with the natural phenomena around them, they must have decided to experiment with the variability of their breath. They realized that the breath can be varied in multiple ways – it can be made short, long, loud, soft, forced, unforced etc. In addition, one could even stop the breath for a certain amount of time. Not only could the breath be varied in all these ways, they also found to their great delight that each one of these variations also provided great benefits at multiple levels.

We are all familiar with instances when our emotions can control the breathing rhythm. For example, when we are very angry or agitated, our breathing is very uneven, fast and shallow. When we are very sad, we breathe uneven, sobbing breaths. When we are calm or engrossed in some pleasant activity, like listening to some soulful music, our breathing is very gentle, even and soft. When we are trying to thread a needle, we naturally suspend our breathing as we attempt to move the thread through the hole. These examples demonstrate that our breathing pattern is a good indicator of the state of the mind that we are experiencing at a given time.

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