Dec 2, 2013

Visiting practice

I can't remember if I posted this when it was published.  In either case, 'tis the season.

Taking my practice on the road by Esther Liberman (Elephant Journal)

My husband and I traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico this past weekend for one of the most beautiful weddings we have ever attended. The bride, my college roommate and dear friend, chose to put aside every convention of self-importance to set her non-denominational special day on a sustainable farm that also housed and entertained the lot of us for the entire weekend. It was gorgeous, relaxing and a lot of fun.

Over dinner the first night, her husband, a new dear friend, and I chatted about our Jewish backgrounds and how similarly we’d grown up—he in Canada and I in Colombia. Despite the radical differences between the two countries, their Jewish populations shared countless similarities in their approach to worship and community.

Some conventions we both remember fondly and as far less-practicing adults we still appreciate (cantor-driven prayer in Hebrew, to which we sang along phonetically, much like mantra). Some we’ve always questioned (separating men’s seating from women’s). The truly fascinating aspect of our comparison of childhood notes, though, were not these details, but rather that despite the fact that we grew up on different continents and in different languages, the form and fashion of our religious identity was virtually identical.

Driving back from dinner to the luscious farm where we’d be staying for the weekend, I saw the sign for the Nahalat Shalom congregation whiz by the car window, one more adobe edifice in the desert. “Maybe we can pop in for Shabbat services tomorrow night,” I said to my husband. “Uh,” stalled the even less-practicing Jew who grew up the same way I did but remembers religious customs slightly less fondly, “don’t we have a rehearsal dinner to attend?”

Skeptical as he is, my husband also knows me very well and could guess why I’d made the suggestion. He remembers my old habit of visiting temples on Shabbat whenever I found myself in a foreign country, despite the fact I seldom (if ever) attend services when I’m home, just to be able to walk into a situation that is, regardless of the surrounding culture and within the confines of the temple walls, entirely familiar.

Going to Shabbat services in 1993 in the Marais in Paris, I managed a better pronunciation of my prayers in Hebrew than what I had all week in my terrible, highly critiqueable efforts at French. A Friday night spent in the only functioning temple in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2000 felt more like home than had anything else for a whole summer in that desolate, haunted city.

Not wanting to deny me the anthropological curiosity and personal comfort that I derive from this old ritual of mine, my husband was about to agree to go to temple, when I abruptly agreed with him. “You’re right, we do have a dinner tomorrow night. Besides, we’re going to Mysore practice in the morning...”  continue reading full article

Aug 12, 2013

Yoga Comics: Surya Namaskar & a Demonstration

The Amazing Surya Namaskara!! Doing “salutes to the sun” renders life heavenly and blissful and is the secret to everlasting youth!

In Yoga Mala, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (“Guruji”) talks in depth about the benefits of the Surya Namaskara. Guruji explained that by practicing the Surya Namaskara, all ailments, including mental illness, can be cured. He says, “To keep the body, which is the foundation of the performance of all sorts of meritorious deeds, pure and free from obstacles such as disease as much as possible, the Surya Namaskara and yogasana are very important. Indeed, in the present world, they are essential to all, men and women, young and old….”

Here is more background to the amazing and revitalizing power of the Surya Namaskara from Yoga Mala: “The practice of the Surya Namaskara, or Sun Salutations, has come down to us from the long distant past, and is capable of rendering human life heavenly and blissful. By means of it, people can become joyous, experience happiness and contentment, and avoid succumbing to old age and death…
Yet, nowadays, without ever having learned the traditions and practices of their ancestors and having not control over their sense organs, people engage in self-indulgence and destroy their mental powers for the sake of tangible gain. They deny reality simply because it cannot be seen and make their lives miserable, or subject to disease, poverty, and death. If they were to follow the traditions of their ancestors, however, they would develop their bodies and minds, and, in so doing, make possible the realization of the nature of the Self, as a scriptural authority confirms: ‘Nayam atma balahinena labhyah (This Self cannot be gained by one devoid of strength)’….
By following the precept of the great sages, ‘Shariramadyam khalu dharma Sadhanam (The first duty is to take care of the body, which is the means to the pursuit of spiritual life),’ our ancestors found the means to bodily health.”

The daily duty of performing Surya Namaskara was believed to instill the blessings of the Sun God who brings good health. Guruji says, “If we reflect on the saying, ‘Arogyam bhaskarad icchet (One should desire health from the Sun),’ it is clear that those blessed by the Sun God live healthy lives. Therefore, for health – the greatest wealth of all – to be attained, the blessings of the Sun God must alone be sought.”
The Sun planet has played a very powerful roll in all cultures. Surya, the Sun God, represents the visible form of the divine, one that you can plainly see every day. The Sun is believed to heal the sick and bring good fortune.
Guruji says, “The method for doing Surya Namaskara has been described in various ways by various people. We cannot categorically state which is correct, but when we reflect on the science of yoga, we see that the tradition of Surya Namaskara follows, in the main, the method of vinyasa, or breathing and movement system, the movements of rechaka, or exhalation, puraka, or inhalation, and meditation. According to the yoga shastra, this tradition includes: vinyasa; rechaka and puraka; dhyana (meditation); drishti (sight, or gazing place); and the bandhas (muscle contractions, or locks). And this alone is the method which should be followed when learning the Surya Namaskara, as yogis declare from experience. Indeed, the Sun Salutations done without following the rules mentioned above are little more than exercise, and not true Surya Namaskara.”
Via The Yoga Comics
Editors: Jessica Walden and Elise Espat (Albuquerque Ashtanga Yoga Shala)
Cartoon guy: Boonchu Tanti, Ashtanga Illustrations by Boonchu / Ashtanga Yoga Center Of Bangkok. - AYBKK

This video was taken in 2010 during Dasara. I'm on the far left :)

Aug 10, 2013

Weekend Edition #17 Sharath in Moscow and Copenhagen

"Guru To Go. A portrait of R. Sharath Jois" is a sweet mini doc by Alessandro Sigismondi chronicling R. Sharath Jois' visit to Copenhagen hosted by Astanga Yoga Copenhagen.

Here are notes from Sharath's Moscow Conference (2013 July 28) hosted and posted by Ashtanga Yoga Moscow.  There is also a livestream of Sharath teaching a led class here.

Next stops:
Stockholm: August 11 – 16
Helsinki: August 18 – 23
London: August 25 – 30
Saraswathi in Helsinki: September 22 – 27
Saraswathi in Kiev: September 29 – October 4

Aug 3, 2013

Weekend Edition #16 The week in review

Thanks to the participants and organizers of last weekend's Anahata Yoga Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  It was a wonderful event and there is already talk about the next one...

Here are a few articles, posts, and conference notes worth a read:

For the home practitioners, there is also a new live stream of Sharath teaching in Moscow:

I'm heading to Mysore in the fall to practice and study with my teacher R. Sharath Jois.  Here is a glimpse of a led intermediate class at the shala a couple of years ago:

Lastly, I've opened up an online shop to help raise funds for my trip and also for Uttarakhand disaster relief.  Check it out!

Thanks for reading!

Jul 26, 2013

Jul 22, 2013

The Yoga Comics tribute to Shri K. Pattabhi Jois

We created this week's comic in deepest gratitude and loving memory of Shri K. Pattabhi Jois.
Happy birthday Guruji and may your story continue to inspire!

Please visit this link to the KPJAYI website to read more about Guruji's life and legacy:

The quote is from "Yoga Mala" by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.

About The Yoga Comics
Editors: Jessica Walden and Elise Espat
Illustrator: Boonchu Tanti

Jul 20, 2013

Weekend Edition #15 Guru Purnima

Me and Guruji at his birthday celebration on my first trip to India

अज्ञानतिमिरान्धस्य ज्ञानाञ्जनशलाकया ।
चक्षुरुन्मीलितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
ajñānatimirāndhasya jñānāñjanaśalākayā |
cakṣurunmīlitaṁ yena tasmai śrīgurave namaḥ ||
I offer my respectful obeisances unto my spiritual master, who has opened my eyes, which were blinded by the darkness of ignorance, with the torchlight of knowledge.
This year Guruji's birthday is on Monday which is also a moon day and Guru Purnima.  I remember that we were trying to learn to the Gurustotram (below) so we could chant it for him at the celebration but we were too nervous to make mistakes and didn't do it.  Jayashree schooled us after by explaining that we should want and be grateful that our teacher corrects our mistakes because that means he cares and he is teaching us and then we can learn.  The photo above was taken by Elena De Martin of La Yoga Shala, Milano...


In honor of Guruji, here is a sweet video by Barry Silver of Ashtanga Yoyogi...

Still from Barry Silver's tribute video

And gratitude to my teacher R. Sharath Jois.  Ashtanga yoga changed my life.

Sharath helping me with back bends.  Photo by Tom Rosenthal

My painting/drawing of Ganesh
I recently opened an online shop featuring my artwork in hopes of raising funds for India.  50% goes to the work being done to help the people in Uttarakhand. The other 50% helps fund my trip to India to study with my teacher Sharath in the fall.  Please check it out and support!

Jul 15, 2013

Namarupa & ♥India Fundraiser

Namarupa Magazine's latest edition is now available online for free.

In this issue there's an article detailing Sharath's conference in New York earlier this year at AYNY as well as many other good reads.  You can read it online or purchase a print copy here.

"Vishnu" by Elise Espat
I am really moved and inspired by the work being done to help the people in Uttarakhand.  To help raise funds I launched ArtByElise with the intention of donating 50% of the profits to the Namarupa Bandhava project.  The other 50% helps fund my trip to study with my teacher R. Sharath Jois in the fall.  Your support is appreciated!

Jul 7, 2013

Weekend Edition #14 India ♥

"The Journey Home" is a sweet companion video to Radhanath Swami's book of the same title. (We have a copy in the Shala library).

Rishikesh, Haridwar in Uttarakhand, India
Via Namarupa:
An early monsoon brought days of torrential rain, bursting dams, landslides and floods. To date the death toll is well over a thousand with many still missing. Whole villages washed away. Places that had existed for hundreds of years gone without a trace. Those who had not perished were left with the shreds of the clothes they were standing in. The papers have been filled with stories of the disaster and survivors are trickling home with harrowing tales. Much has been written about the terrible plight of the many pilgrims in the area.

Jul 4, 2013

Yoga Comics : Mysore-Style

Via The Yoga Comics:
"The Ashtanga Yoga method is built around the ‘Mysore Style’ class, so named because yoga was taught this way by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, in Mysore, India, and continues to be taught this way in traditional Ashtanga Yoga schools around the world. In Mysore Class, the student is taught a sequence of postures through one-on-one instruction. The correct movements, breathing, and other aspects of the practice are learned gradually, in a step-by-step process accessible to anyone. This method allows each student time to practice and memorize what they have learned before adding more. Students are able to practice independently and at their own pace while surrounded by the energy and inspiration of other students in the room. The main teacher and assistants are able to work with each student individually. Initially, students may require more attention, but as they become proficient in their practice, they are allowed more independence, receiving adjustments and assistance only when required." -Jois Yoga

Editors: Jessica Walden and Elise Espat
Cartoon guy: Boonchu Tanti

View more

Jun 28, 2013

The Yoga Comics: Guide to rest days

Via The Yoga Comics:
Ashtanga yoga practice helps us to cultivate more awareness and sensitivity within our relationships with the earth, others, and ourselves. One way we grow this balance of gentleness and strength is by giving equal effort to holding on and to letting go to when we do and not do our asana practice. We diligently hold on to our asana practice on most days and we softly let go of our asana practice on rest days.

Some examples of typical rest days are:
  • Taking off moon days and Saturday (or Sunday) gives us time to spend with our families.
  • Taking off fever days allows us to give our full strength to heal when we are sick.
  • Taking off ladies' holidays honors and nurtures our bodies' natural rhythms.
  • Taking off 6 weeks - 3 months after giving birth to allow the body to rest, heal and regain strength.
If you are wondering if you should practice, ask your teacher.
Here is also a useful post of the topic of when not to practice:

Cartoon by: Boonchu Tanti
Editors: Jessica Walden and Elise Espat

Jun 11, 2013

Can I practice if...?

Mahesh asks:
Was checking about if Ashtanga was suitable for me or not. So the first thing is suryanamaskar and then padmasana?

As I know padmasana needs lot of practice and most basic thing is lot of hip joint flexibility. Making a person jump to padmasana directly wouldn't break/weaken the knee?
Mahesh, this is a really reasonable concern.  I remember when I first saw a picture of someone practicing ashtanga.  I was horrified!  I thought to myself "oh, this yoga is only for very advanced athletes who are wildly flexible and strong, etc."  It took a long time before I realized that what I was seeing in the picture was not at all what I would be expected to do in my own least not right away.

My favorite Ashtanga FAQs always include a line about how one should avoid looking at asana stuff on the internet, blogs, youtube, etc.  Often we get really enthusiastic about something and want to learn everything we can about it and so we get books, magazines, videos, etc. hoping that exposure to the information will help us get closer to that thing we are enthusiastic about.  While this is often helpful -- we do need information in order to know what to do and how to go about doing it -- it can also be very confusing and misleading.

Yogic texts always include a line or two about how you can't experience yoga from just reading books or from having all the gear or the perfect clothes.  You're suppose to practice.  That's what the whole 1% theory 99% practice thing is all about.  The best way to go about this is one-on-one with a good teacher.

The hard part about talking about what we do in practice in a public forum like a website or whatever is that it is completely individual.  So, to your point, do we always start with surya namaskar?  Yeah, we do, but it might not look like what it looks like in a yoga demo video on youtube.  I mean, think about it, most of the time something gets published because it is nice looking.  The reality is usually much different...  Imagine someone who has a broken leg.  Do they start with surya namaskar?  Yes.  But maybe their teacher has them do the whole thing on the floor or with a chair or in bed.  This is why it is important to work with a teacher.  They can provide the appropriate instruction and develop a curriculum just for you.

Do we always finish with padmasana, even as a beginner?  Yeah, we do, but it might not be in the exact shape you are thinking of.  Asana should be steady and sweet and one should work gradually, slowly, consciously, and consistently, over a long period of time.

The important thing to remember is that this is a breath-based practice.  If you can breathe, you can practice.  The second is that asana is only one of the 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga.  Maybe you will simply sit in a chair for your padmasana and that is perfect.  Not everyone needs to bend into a pretzel.  But everyone definitely can practice the drishtis, the breathing, and the quality of steady and sweet asana.  Everyone definitely can practice ahimsa (yama is the first limb of Ashtanga yoga and ahimsa is the first yama)...

Look for a traditional Mysore program and as my teacher says "No fearing, you come!"

Here is also a sweet post you might find inspiring:
"The importance of a daily yoga practice" by Ivey DeJesus

Jun 8, 2013

Weekend Edition # 12: Injury Inspiration

Life happens.  Relationship troubles, financial troubles, work troubles, the weather, illness, digestion troubles, injuries...  In yoga, all these things and more are summed up as the "three miseries" or  "three obstacles".  They are:
adhyātmika --miseries of body and mind
adhibhautika --miseries from other living creatures
adhidaivika --miseries from natural/supernatural disturbances
These names are old and the miseries timeless.  They will always come to us and they always have.  If we wait to practice until the obstacles stop, then we will probably never practice.  It is easy to do some asanas when we feel nice and there is a nice view and the teacher is nice and there was no traffic and we get the spot we like and everything is going well.  We should definitely be grateful and notice when we have it easy.  But often it is when things are not going well, when things are very hard or seem impossible when the true meaning of yoga is there for us to realize.  It is then when we have the opportunity to really practice and to rise to the occasion.

Eventually, practice becomes the baseline, the steady beat of our lives.  Before that, each time an obstacle arises, we ask ourselves "should I practice if...?"  It is in this moment when we begin to explore our intentions and the meaning of the practice.  This is the moment when a lot of people - confusing yoga with the mere performance of asanas - quit.  This is also the moment when others start to question their motivations and show up anyway.

To anyone who has ever shown up anyway, started from the ground up, or who has fallen to rock bottom from the highest cliff knows the feeling.  The infinite sorrow, the despair, the irrational impossibility... and then when we are patient just a few moments later, the warmth of humility and the curious strength of complete surrender.  It is the relief of having nothing to prove, no expectations, and nothing but the here and now.  All of a sudden it all comes together - the showing up, the exploration of what the asana practice is really asking, the patience of being sensitive and receptive - and it starts to seep into every other part of our lives.  We start to make connections between all of our actions throughout the day and the world around us.  The definition of asana as a "steady and sweet seat" becomes the establishment of a constant steady and sweet connection with the earth. We start to realize that we can always practice and that the effort toward steadiness of mind is what we have been cultivating all along.

In times of injury or bodily obstacle, our asana practice may change, but it is important to remember that there are 7 other limbs of Ashtanga yoga that can be practiced all the time.  But this post is about injuries and here are some sources of inspiration if you are finding yourself grappling with bodily obstacles:

"Breathing the practice" by Jangalikayamane
"Healing injuries with Ashtanga Yoga" by Paul Mitchell Gold

One final note:  everything is relative.  An emotional blow feels 100% as devastating to the person experiencing it as a broken arm feels to the person experiencing the broken arm.  Just show up.  Identify with the true nature of the self.  Let go of the asanas.  Make showing up to practice about others and something larger than yourself (Ishvarapranidhana).  Showing up anyway is a chance to add to the group energy, to inspire others who are also having a tough time.  It is a chance to be grateful and for tapas... for it often takes some serious obstacles for us to open to the possibility of yoga.

Jun 7, 2013

How to learn Ashtanga yoga

People are sometimes a little confused about what Led and Mysore classes are, what they are for, who they are for, etc. Here's the rundown from the main shala in Mysore, India (KPJAYI) and authorized teacher Magnolia Zuniga.

Mysore in a nutshell via KPJAYI:
All students commence their instruction in the same manner in which on the first day of class they are taught Surya Namaskar A, followed by Padmasana and deep breathing, and a few minutes of rest to conclude their first day of practice. The next day after Surya Namaskar A has been performed, Surya Namaskar B is taught, and one then again concludes in the same method as the previous day, with Padmasana, deep breathing, and rest. After both of the Surya Namaskar have been learned correctly, each of the various asanas are added one by one. When one asana is correct, the next one is taught.
Led class in a nutshell via KPJAYI:
Because of the difficult nature of remembering and mastering the various vinyasas, on Fridays and Sundays, group guided classes are taught, in which all the vinyasas are counted out loud and all students follow along together accordingly. 
For a deeper look and further explanation, read Magnolia Zuniga's post at Mysore SF.  Here's a little taste:
I know, I know, you’re not in India. I get it. But you are in a city/town/place where you have responsibilities and an active life. All the more reason to take it slow and be reasonable with your expectations. Supta Kurmasana is certainly not a beginner posture. Just because it’s called primary series, that doesn’t speak to it’s actual level of proficiency necessary to do the postures safely.  Continue reading...

Jun 3, 2013

Summer Schedule 2013

Class Schedule : June/July/August 2013
Sundays 8:15 - 9:45 am Led Primary Series
Mondays 6:30 - 9:45 am Mysore
Tuesdays 6:30 - 9:45 am Mysore
Wednesdays 6:30 - 9:45 am Mysore
Thursdays 6:30 - 9:45 am Mysore
Fridays 6:30 - 7:45 am Led Primary Series

Doors open at 6:30 am Sunday and 6 am Monday-Friday.
Doors close at 10 am Sunday - Thursday and 9 am Friday.

Schedule updates here.

May 30, 2013

Sita Sings the Blues

Nina Patel's Sita Sings the Blues is all kinds of beautiful animation, sweet music, and the Ramayana.   
"Sita Sings the Blues is a musical, animated personal interpretation of the Indian epic the Ramayana. The aspect of the story that I focus on is the relationship between Sita and Rama, who are gods incarnated as human beings, and even they can't make their marriage work."  Read more about the film here.

Watch the film:

Show your support and donate to the film or just buy stuff...

May 29, 2013


“To begin the practice of yoga, an aspirant should first do the Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutations), and then proceed to the asanas. The Surya Namaskara and the asanas must be practiced in the correct sequence and follow the method of vinyasa. If they are not, or the movement of rechaka and puraka is neglected, no part of the body will become strong, the subtle nadis will not be purified, and, owing to the resulting imbalance, the body, sense organs, mind, and intellect will not develop. They may even become further imbalanced. 

If the asanas and the Surya Namaskara are to be practiced, they must be done so in accordance with the prescribed vinyasa method only. As the sage Vamana says, ‘Vina vinyasa yogena asanadin na karayet (O yogi, do not do asana without vinyasa).’ When yoga is practiced with a knowledge of its proper method, it is quite easy to learn, but practiced without such knowledge, it becomes a very difficult undertaking, Therefore, aspirants should not forget to learn the method of vinyasa, as well as of rechaka and puraka, and to follow it in their practice.”

From Yoga Mala (Sri K.Pattabhi Jois)
“Vinyasa” means breath-synchronized movement or the marriage between the breath and the movement. By practicing the vinyasa system, an intense internal heat is produced that purifies muscles and organs, expelling unwanted toxins, and increases the circulation. The balance between breath and movement eventually brings balance to the practice, creates a balance of strength and flexibility, and encourages the practice to become a moving meditation. The vinyasa is carried out after nearly every asana during the practice and aside from bringing balance to the body and mind, it brings the body back to a neutral position before starting the next posture. The vinyasa always begins and ends the journey, wiping the slate clean to begin again.

May 20, 2013

Yoga Comics: Life is Precious

"In the yoga shastra it is said that God dwells in our heart in the form of light, but this light is covered by six poisons: kama, krodha, moha, lobha, matsarya, and mada. These are desire, anger, delusion, greed, envy and sloth. When yoga practice is sustained with great diligence and dedication over a long period of time, the heat generated from it burns away these poisons, and the light of our inner nature shines forth."

Comic via The Yoga Comics
Quote via the KPJAYI

Apr 27, 2013

Weekend Edition #10 Grow Food

Time to get gardening and learning is simple with these cute infographics on growing herbs, starting a home garden, and composting!

"Grow Your Own Herbs" by Heather Diane Hardison of Illustrated Bites.

 "Square Foot Gardening" by Frugal Dad

"How to make compost work for you" by WellHome via treehugger

Apr 26, 2013

Shala Shirt Project

अभयं सत्त्वसंशुद्धिर् ज्ञानयोगव्यवस्थितिः
abhayaṁ sattva-saṁśuddhir jñāna-yoga-vyavasthitiḥ
"Fearlessness, purity of heart, steadfastness in knowledge and devotion."

1st ever Shala shirts designed by me and Ashtanga Illustrations by Boonchu Tanti, printed locally by Guerrilla GraphiX on 100% organic cotton made in the USA tees :)

Apr 14, 2013

Weekend Edition #9

Some notes and highlights from the week:

Leslie Kaminoff explains "accessory breathing":

Meet the Sweetest Vegan:

I'm going to Florida August 17 & 18 (I'll see you there!)
On facebook
The Shala's website
The details:
Sat. 8:30AM – 11AM Led Primary
Traditional Sanskrit count of asanas and vinyasas we well as each and every inhale and exhale. Ride each breath in and out, allow your mind to sink down, and surrender to the current. We will finish with deep relaxation and chanting.

Sat. 1PM – 4PM The Strength to Surrender
When we untether ourselves from mental chatter we are able to soften the heart, trust fully, embrace faith, and open to possibility. We begin to experience a lightness in the body and mind and an ease in practice that flows into all areas of our lives. Spend the afternoon with Elise delving into this topic to gain insight into where you are in your journey, what is holding you back, keeping you stuck, or bringing stuff up. Learn how to tap into the tools you already have to help you trust this process, let go, and feel more joy in life. Elise will touch on the mental and physical aspects of heat, resistance, purification and sweet sweet surrender.

Sun 8:30AM-11AM
Mysore & Chanting The weekend culminates with Mysore practice and chanting that shakes us to the core and aligns all aspects of our being with the light within.

Recommended Reads:
I may have recommended this before and here it is again:  The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali with commentary by Swami Satchidananda.  Yes, it comes en espanol tambien.

"Disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sensuality, false perception, failure to reach firm ground and slipping from the ground gained -- these distractions of the mind-stuff are the obstacles.
Accompaniments to the mental distractions include distress, despair, trembling of the body, and disturbed breathing.
The practice of concentration on a single subject [or the use of one technique] is the best way to prevent the obstacles and their accompaniments."

vyādhistyānasaṁśaya pramādālasyāvirati
व्याधिस्त्यानसंशय प्रमादालस्याविरति
bhrāntidarśanālabdha bhūmikatvānavasthitatvāni
भ्रान्तिदर्शनालब्ध भूमिकत्वानवस्थितत्वानि
cittavikṣepāste 'ntarāyāḥ
चित्तविक्षेपास्ते ऽन्तरायाः
~Yoga Sutras 1.30-32

Apr 8, 2013

Yoga Comics: Isvara Pranidhana

"Awaken isvara pranidhana...especially when Sharath is counting soooo slooooowly during these three postures. Surrender and feel the inner strength expand (even as the outer strength diminishes)."

Isvara pranidhana means surrendering to the supreme soul, or worshipping God. Isvara is the purest form of the soul, not unlike samadhi. Once you surrender to isvara, to the divine, there will be no delusions. The yoga practice is a spiritual practice - not just doing exercise - it is striving to attain spiritual knowledge. First you surrender to the guru, then to the teachings. Only then will isvara pranidhana come. The more you think of God, the more you become attached to the divine, providing inner strength to deal with the uncertainties of life and with samsara.

Via The Yoga Comics

Apr 6, 2013

Weekend Edition #8

Been a bit busy planning this:

Here's a bit more about Krista:
Krista Shirley is a level 2 authorized Ashtanga Yoga instructor and founder of The Yoga Shala in Winter Park, Florida. Krista teaches traditional Ashtanga yoga classes in the Mysore method Monday-Thursday mornings 6:30-8:30am and counted led Ashtanga Primary series Friday mornings 6:15-7:45am followed by guided meditation from 8:00-8:30am. She also leads asana, meditation, and self help workshops and retreats at The Yoga Shala and around the globe.

Krista has been a dedicated student and practitioner of Ashtanga yoga for over a decade. She found this practice in college and it touched her so deeply she traveled down a path different than what was originally laid out for her. After graduation she started traveling the world delving deeper into her yoga studies. After meeting Shri K. Pattabhi Jois in a workshop in New York in 2004 Krista knew she had found her Guru – his essence was undeniable, his spirit light and loving, and his vast knowledge of asana, Sanskrit, chanting and philosophy was an endless well to draw from. Krista has made eight trips to Mysore, India to study at the Krishna Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute (KPJAYI) in order to study with Guruji and Sharath, connect to this lineage and feel the essence of this living parampara. Guruji passed away in May of 2009, the same month The Yoga Shala opened its doors. This space is a living, breathing dedication to Guruji, to his life’s work, and his never-ending passion for Ashtanga Yoga.

Krista’s dedication to her personal yoga practice and the Ashtanga lineage shine through in her teaching. Her energy is contagious and inspiring! Krista specializes in meeting each student where they are, helping them not only create a habit of daily practice, learn the sequence of asanas, work towards physical mastery of the postures, but also helping each student go inside themselves to heal old wounds, forgive old hurts, let go of the things in their lives that no longer serve them. Krista is here to help you begin or advance your Ashtanga Yoga journey and looks forward to sharing this transformational and enriching practice with you.

And there is this super sweet video as well:

Yay. Be sure to sign up early here!

Mar 30, 2013

Weekend Edition #7 Videos

One can't learn yoga from youtube videos, but if you are going to watch videos, watch these ones :)

Mini documentary on London's Stillpoint Yoga capturing the warmth of practicing together:

Kino MacGregor describes the stories we tell ourselves in "Strength of Body and Mind in Yoga - Stay Up for the Full Ten Counts in Utpluthih":

Guy Donahaye shares footage from the old shala in 1999:

An interview with Saraswathi Jois & Sharmila Mahesh:

Yuko's Story - Cancer Recovery and Yoga | URBAN YOGIS Episode 2:

Mysore clip from the film Enlighten Up:

Mr Ramesh - La peur (the fear):

Mar 27, 2013

Santosha & The Family Scooter

Since this is the last weekend of the Mysore season, we dedicate this comic to those of you who are still in Mysore, packing up your trunks, visiting the Temple one more time, having your last Mysore dosa and practice in the Shala. We hope you enjoy this comic. Say goodbye to that amazing place for us too. Until next time…

Title: Mysore ride on family scooter.

Story: My kids' favorite part about living in India was getting to ride on the "family scooter".  Sometimes we would drive to the swimming pool across town and pile on the scooter with all of our floaties, swimsuits, picnic basket, and change of clothes, and we would all manage to fit. What's more, sometimes we could drive across town, beeping and swerving around vehicles and animals, without stopping once! It was pure freedom.

Wealth cannot be measured by the size and power of the 'Family Wagon'. It can be measured by the size and magnitude of the smiles on the passengers.

Santosha (contentment) is one of the niyamas. It means the knowing the peace that is already inside, and, at the same time, feeling unity with something much greater than ourselves.

via The Yoga Comics and Ashtanga Illustrations by Boonchu

Mar 23, 2013

Weekend Edition #6 Spring Cleaning

Spring is a lovely time to shift gears, shed tired habits, and start fresh from the inside out...

The quote above is from "Yoga and Vegetarianism" by Sharon Gannon.  It is a quick and inspirational read that navigates food choices using basic yoga philosophy.  I definitely recommend it.

While most Albuquerque growers' markets won't start until late April/May, the Corrales Growers' Market is open once per month in the off season with the next chance to get some super fresh food coming up on April 7th.  In the meantime, here is a list of what's in season.

For life and space organizing check out "Organizing from the Inside Out" by Julie Morgenstern.  Much more than a quick tips guide, the book gets you to do some reflecting on what is important to you in life and moves from there.  Super helpful.

So how do you clean a yoga mat?  It all depends on the mat you have...

And while we are on the subject of mats and feet...  Foot warts happen.  Take care of them nowAthlete's foot too.  And if you find yourself slipping on your mat a bit more than usual try this tip from Yoga Journal:

To avoid slipping around on your mat, brew two black tea bags in one pint of boiled water for 15 minutes. Add two quarts of cool water and soak your feet for 20 to 30 minutes. The tannic acid in the brewed tea will change your skin's pH level and help prevent unwanted odor-causing bacteria.
Lastly, an article by Sally Kempton on the art of mindful speaking.
"You can change the world, or at least your experience of it, by becoming conscious of the words coming out of your mouth."

Spring forward!

Mar 18, 2013

Satya (The Yoga Comics)

Many times on our walks, complete strangers will come up to us, scoop up Maple, and kiss her on the mouth... Maple will lick their lips and they love it! I think it is so gross because I know exactly where her mouth has been... her privates, cat poop, garbage, dead birds. I don't encourage the kissing and I think about stopping them, but they are just so happy sharing the love.

Satya -- speak the truth but only if it is sweet.

Satya means "to speak the truth," yet it is not always desirable to speak the truth if it harms someone unnecessarily. If speaking the truth has negative consequences for another, then it is better to say nothing. The Mahabharata says: "Speak the truth which is pleasant."

Story by: Elise Espat
Edited by: Jessica Walden
Cartoonist: Boonchu Tanti, Ashtanga Illustrations by Boonchu

Mar 10, 2013

Bondage or liberation are in your own mind

As the mind, so the man; bondage or liberation are in your own mind. (Mana eva manushyanam karanam bandha mokshayoho)

Santosha: "At some point we all think to ourselves 'I'd be happy if...' or 'I could practice if...' The truth is that there will always be something that we think is in our way and that if wait for that 'perfect' moment, chances are that it will never come.

The Niyama, Santosha , is about contentment. Seeing things with equanimity and finding the grace in our daily lives. In this way, each moment is a chance for yoga, a chance for liberation, whether we are on a beautiful mountain top or in a teensy cubicle. 'As the mind, so the man; bondage or liberation are in your own mind.'"

Description: Elise Espat , Albuquerque Ashtanga Yoga Shala

Editors: Jessica Walden and Elise Espat
Cartoon guy: Boonchu Tanti, Ashtanga Illustrations by Boonchu

All comics here:

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