CHATURANGA DANDASANA (FOUR-LIMBED STAFF POSE)

Chaturanga Dandasana can be a great challenge for many yoga practicer and to create a proper alignment and correctly distribute the weight can be a struggle. By repeatedly practicing this pose incorrectly it's easy to injure yourself. The tendency in this pose is to put all the weight on the wrists and to collapse in the shoulders while the tailbone is pointing up. As in all yoga asanas practice it's important that you pay attention to your body and that the practice is done in harmony and not in domination. 

When practiced correctly the benefits are:

  • Gives strength and flexibility in your wrists.
  • Builds muscle on your arms, shoulders, and back.
  • Develops lengthens and tones your core muscles.
  • A good preparation for any arm balances or work with inversions. 

Variation: If the full pose is to challenging then let your knees rest to the floor to so that you can focus on your shoulders and wrists. 

THE SECRET OF VIPARITA KARANI PART II

"After six months, the wrinkles and grey hair are not seen. He who practice it daily , even for two hours, conquers death." 

- Hatha Yoga Pradipika 

VIPARITA KARANI with support 

VIPARITA KARANI with support 

Start in Viparita Karani Asana by closing your eyes and relaxing the whole body. Bring your attention to the manipura chakra while breading slowly and deeply with ujjayi pranayama. During the pranayama feel the breath and move your attention from manipura chakra to vishuddhi chakra. When you exhale focus on vishuddhi chakra and at the end of the exhalation bring the focus back to manipura chakra. 

You can start to practice up to 7 rounds and gradually increase up to 21 rounds over a period of months. 

Although this practice has many benefits and helps to move the energy and to balance the prana flow, it should not be practiced unless the body is healthy. Those suffering from high blood pressure, bad neck, heart problems should not do inverted postures without consulting an expert before. 

GET LOST IN EKAGRATA

Ekagrata origins from Sankrit language and it means intentness in the pursuit of one object, close and undisturbed attention. In other words, it is one-pointed attention.

When you practice yoga mindfully and bring your full concentration to your action, you will find yourself in a very focused state and all other concerns seem to dissolve. This is the state of ekagrata. It allows you to ignore and forget all outside factors and distraction and it helps you to concentrate just on one thing. And for that moment the rest of the world hurries without you.

The pose below, Prasarita Padottanasana, is a good asana for practicing one-pointed attention. This mild version of inversions (head and heart are below hips) combined to a forward bend can bring you a wonderful feeling of calmness.

Prasarita Padottanasana

Prasarita Padottanasana

GREETING THE SUMMER!

When the temperature rises in the summer so does the Pitta dosha!  Learning to accept the natural tendency of the body by adapting your diet and exercise will help you to maintain the balance in the body and mind and stay cool during the summer season. 

Due to wrong lifestyle or bad diet you can easily spot signs of increased Pitta in the body:

- Acne

- Skin Rashes

- Irritation, anger & jealousy

- Excessive body heat

To balance the Pitta we must remain cool and peaceful since this season is a sensitive time for those who have Pitta in their constitution.

Food: It's recommended to eat fruits and vegetables that are sweet, juicy, bitter and astringent in nature. For example melons, pears, cherries and mangoes. Vegetables as broccoli, zucchini, cucumber and asparagus also have cooling effects. Avoid spicy and sour foods and use cooling spices such as mint, fennel, anise and cardamom. Avoid eating food with heating properties as hot peppers, tomatoes, radishes, onions, garlic and spinach.

Only eat when you are hungry and try not to eat too much since the digestive system works slower in the summer.

Drink: During the summer it's important to drink enough with liquids but avoid cold drinks even if it's hot outside. Avoid alcohol, black tea and coffee which stimulate the Pitta dosha.

Yoga: Try to enjoy the light practice during the summer and don't overdo any form of exercise since it can overheat and aggravate Pitta. Practice a restorative yoga which contains forward bends, twists and mild backbends. Practice inversions, arm balance and standing poses with precaution as these can create heat.

Stay cool and enjoy the summer! 

GROUNDING - TIME TO TAKE SHOES AND SOCKS OFF

In modern life we have lost the connection to Mother Earth. We have invented so many items that separate us from the ground, such as shoes or a bed. However, every now and then it is nice to consciously regain this connection, and spring/summer time is a perfect moment for it.  

Go to the woods or to a natural beach. Take your socks and shoes off and FEEL the ground under your feet. Walk barefoot and try to feel the energy the earth is transmitting into your body. No matter if it is salt water or morning grass, it just really makes you feel alive for that little moment. Touch leaves, flowers… taste them!

There is a wide range of benefits you can get from grounding: anti-aging, sound sleep, calmer nervous system, reduction in inflammation and enhanced immune system, among others. Even if you do not believe in all this, for sure it makes you feel good! 

GURUJI

"When I practice, I am a philosopher. When I teach, I am a scientist. When I demonstrate, I am an artist"

- B.K.S Iyengar -

Today's post is dedicated to Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja (B.K.S.) Iyengar (Guruji) for his dedication to teach yoga and for sharing his experience and wisdom across the world. 

Guruji began teaching yoga over 70 years ago and deservedly he is acknowledged as a master of yoga. With his experience and research he has developed his own yoga style, which is suitable for anyone. Iyengar yoga is characterized by precision and alignment, timing in and sequencing of postures, and the use of props, such as belts and wooden gadgets. 

During the mid 70´s Guruji opened The Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, India, in memory of his late wife. He currently lives there dedicating his life to yoga; practicing, writing books and giving some special classes.

 

THE GOLDEN GHEE

Ghee is clarified butter where the water and milk solids have been boiled off leaving us with this golden butterfat. 

Fats are an integral aspect in our diet and according to Indian traditional, ghee is the best form of fat your body can ask for. Ayruveda teaches us that ghee may be beneficial for balancing lipid levels, promoting learning and memory, strengthening the immune system, and warding off pathogens and cancer. In addition it nourish the eyes, hair and skin, the traditional ghee lubricates and cleanses the insides, including the intestines, tissues, joints and arteries. 
 

How to make Ghee:

1) Use unsalted organic butter. 1 pound of butter takes about 15 minutes of cooking time. The more butter you are using, the more time it will take. Cut your butter into square pieces as this will help it to melt faster and more evenly. Put the butter in a heavy, medium-sized pan. Turn the heat on to medium and stir gently from time to time until the butter has melted.

2) Pretty soon you will see white foam at the surface and when your butter starts to simmer turn down the heat to medium-low until the butter just boils and continue to cook at this heat. Do not cover the pot and do not stir much. 

3) Keep your eye on the ghee, as it can easily burn. After a while the bubbling will increase and foam will become thinner and you will see the milk solids starting to attached on the side of the plan. Just scrape the sides from time to time to help it sink to the bottom of the pan and as the milk solids start to sink to the bottom and get a brown color you will see that the butter is begin to clear up and has a nice golden color. Keep a close eye on your butter and keep stirring, scraping the sides and bottom so the milk solids don't attach to the pan and burn.

4) After a few minutes you will notice how big the bubbles are getting and all the sudden you will see how the butter gets a white foam for a second time. This is the indication that your ghee is now ready and you can take it off the heat. Let it cool until just warm. Pour it through a fine sieve or layers of cheesecloth into a clean, dry glass container. Discard the curds at the bottom of the saucepan. 

Ghee can be kept on the kitchen shelf, covered. It does not need refrigeration and the medicinal properties are said to improve with age. Don't ladle out the ghee with a wet spoon or allow any water to get into the container, as this will create conditions for bacteria to grow and spoil the ghee.

Enjoy your golden ghee! 

MARICHYASANA II (INDIAN SAGE II POSE)

Posture dedicated to the sage Marichi, the son of Brahma (the cosmic creator) 

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HOW TO ENTER TO THE POSE:

Start with sitting in Dandasana and draw the right foot on top of the left thigh into half lotus posture, bend the left knee and sit up on a support if necessary. Inhale lifting the left arm up and extend through the left side. Exhale folding forward and reaching the right arm behind you to bind your hands behind your back, grabbing the left wrist with your right hand.  If your hands don't reach you can use a stripe. Inhale drawing the wrist downwards and lift the sides of the trunk. Exhale extending the trunk over the right leg and try reach the ground with your head. Hold this position and remember to keep breathing all the time. Inhale as you lifting up out of the pose and exhale as you return to Dandasana. Repeat on the other side. 

MODIFICATIONS: 

- The leg can be placed on the ground rather than drawing the foot on top of the thigh.

- Use a stripe if your hands don’t reach

- Sit on a blanket or any other support for comfort

WHAT I SHOULD FEEL?

Most parts of the body are in stretch in this pose and the energy is flowing in circular motion. 

BENEFITS:

- Stretches the spine and shoulder

- Restores digestive power and the manipura chakra (third chakra located at the navel)

- Stimulates kidneys and liver and gives a massage to the internal organs

- Calms the brain

- Helps women with abdominal pain during menstruation and makes the womb powerful and enables women to carry a child strongly

CONTRAINDICATIONS:

Do not practice this pose if you have diarrhea, asthma or if you are pregnant.  

 

 

SAVASANA (CORPS POSE)

Let go and relax...

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At the sight it might appear as a very easy posture, but perhaps it's one of the most difficult ones since it requires complete relaxation

Great posture to connect with the Earth element and to reduce the Vata dosha in case you feel overwhelmed. Savasana helps to reduce high blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia and it rejuvenates the Central Nervous System. 

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF MUDRAS

The list of mudras, hand gestures, is endless and there are many different variations to them as well. Here we introduce you some of the most common ones, which you might have practiced in a yoga or meditation class.

ANJALI / NAMASKARA MUDRA

Anjali mudra is the hand gesture that evokes greeting another being with the utmost respect and adoration for the Divine in all. This mudra can be expressed with palms at the heart level or at the forehead, as a prayer coming from one's heart or the third eye. Only with the heart or with a deeper spiritual insight (third eye) can one truly see that we are all expressions of the same light. Fingers can be together or separated.

CHIN / GYAN MUDRA

Chin mudra is the gesture of knowledge and human consciousness. Practicing this mudra is believed to help instill wisdom and spiritual enlightenment. It is one of the most commonly used gestures with those who meditate or practice yoga regularly.

DHYANA / SAMADHI MUDRA

Dhyana is the hand gesture that promotes the energy of meditation, deep contemplation and unity with higher energy. The circling of energy created by the triangle formed by hands also promotes a cleansing of any impurities on an etheric level. Just by looking at this Buddha hand gesture one can connect to the energy of deep peace and serenity. 

KALESVARA MUDRA

Kalesvara Mudra is dedicated to the lord of time. Kalesvara Mudra helps us by clearing conflicting thoughts and making us calmer. It helps us in contemplating and observing our character, addictions and behavior over time, opening the door for change. Kalesvara Mudra can be practiced by anyone desiring change.

UTTARABODHI MUDRA

Uttarabodhi mudra helps you to cultivate oneness as opposed to feeling separate from everything else in your world. Practice this mudra to remind yourself that strength is gained from becoming one with others.

YONI MUDRA

The Yoni mudra can be described as a gesture that allows a person to get detached from the chaos of the outer existing world. Yoni means uterus or womb and this gesture is named the Yoni Mudra, because the person who practices it regularly has no external contact with the world, pretty much like a baby in the uterus. This mudra helps to relieve stress and to attain spiritual calmness and mental development. (In the picture the triangle points upwards, but in the practice the peak points downwards)

 

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ABHYANGA - SELF MASSAGE

Take a moment and treat youself with a self massage!

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By giving ourselves a daily massage for 5-20 min, with love and patience, we alleviate the accumulated stress and toxins in the mind and body. It also increase the circulation, helps to tone the muscles, gives us a smoother and softer skin and improve our sleep at night. In many ways it's amazing and also said to improve our organs. 

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Massage oils

Olive oil: Helps to relieve stiffness because of its warming effect. (good for Kapha) 

Almond oil: A light oil, it is also anti-inflammatory. It is especially good for dry skin, although it is beneficial for most types of skin. (good for Vata) 

Coconut oil: A heavy and thick oil, it is best to warm it before use. It is especially beneficial for cracked, dry skin. (good for Pitta) 

Sesam oil: Warming effect, provides nutrients for skin, hair and bones and also helps to regulate blood pressure (good for Vata) 

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After you're done with the massage you can relax for 10-15 minutes to allow the oil and the massage do their magic, followed with a relaxing warm bath or shower.

Even though it's recommend to perform the massage in the morning, to release toxins that may have accumulated during the previous night, it can also be done in  the evening before bed to calm yourself down.

Relax and enjoy this special moment just for you!