Divine Feminine: Discover the Power Within

Swami Samayananda (previously Janet Gaston, for those who may have studied with her) will be in Nanaimo at Yoga Weyr, offering two outreach workshops from Yasodhara Ashram (Kootenays, BC, Canada): ‘The Yoga of Healing’ on Saturday, May 24th, 2014 and ‘Divine Feminine: Discovering the Power Within’ on Sunday, May 25th. There will be a group going from the Comox Valley; some of us will be staying for both workshops, others may choose one or other day to be there. I’veĀ attached the full information so you can register by contacting Shanti (Dorlean) Peck. If you’re going from this area and would like to carpool, contact DY to find out more info. This is a very special opportunity with a senior teacher from the Ashram.

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Create a Yoga Deck for Learing Sanskrit

A yoga deck with old business cards. It’s a classic memorization technique with a “green” twist. Don’t toss that stack of old business cards, re-use them to enhance your memory of yoga postures.

yoga-cards 001

To make the deck, gather all your outdated business cards, and all the old ones from your plumber, realtor, and webmaster, just sitting at the bottom of your desk drawer not serving any purpose. Write the Sanskrit term on the blank side (or the side with less writing) and the definition on the other side. Presto! You’ve given yourself a study tool, custom made for your practice.

yoga-cards 002

CREATING a yoga deck will help deepen your appreciation of the meanings behind the names of the asanas, and USING it will help you keep new Sanskrit terms clear in your mind. That’s right, expand the list of asanas to also include terms you will hear in Hatha classas, such as:

  • Prasarita – expanded, or outstretched limbs
  • Utthita – extended
  • Parsva – side or flank
  • Upavistha- seated or sitting
  • Kona – angle
  • Eka – single
  • Dwi – two
  • Tan – stretch
  • Sarva – whole
  • Anga – body
  • Salamba – supported
  • Ardha – half
  • Paravritta – revolved
  • Viparita – inverted

The two-fold yoga deck consisting of asana names and common Sanskrit terms will be valuable in two ways: learning for yourself through researching and compiling a list of dozens of Sanskrit words; and secondly, ease of access to keep all the variations strait. You can carry the cards with you and pull them out anywhere. These little self-tests are remarkably effective for both learning and retention.

TIP: On each card in the yoga deck you can include a few descriptive words about the asana on the side of the card with the definition, as well as a note about variations.

3 Examples:

  1. On the back of your card for Vrsasana write Tree, and “standing pose, one foot”.
  2. On the back of your card for Sarvangasana write Shoulderstand, and “use a bolster for supporting shoulders”.
  3. On the back of your card for Trikonasana write Triangle, and “may be revolved (paravrita)”.

Move prana gently with a Nettle-Mint spring cleanse

Innate in the journey of a yogin is summoning prana, also known as lifeforce or energy. That energy naturally must move, but in the winter we slow down, sweat less, stay immobile for longer periods and in general can become quite static. This is natural and there are natural teas that help get prana moving while softening the side-effects of your spring detox.

spring2014 002

The classic combination of Stinging Nettles and Mint is one such blend. At this time of year, fresh nettle is abundant in sunny verdant locales, along roadsides and beside driveways. Nettle may be considered a weed but it is both food and healing herb. Mint flourishes later in the spring, and French Mint or Chocolate Mint are two favourites varieties for tea making.

Mentha-piperita

When a yogin gets sluggish after a cold dark winter, or if the energy feels stuck and regular attempts at moving it doesn’t help alleviate the side-effects of detoxification – like skin conditions, headaches, and joint/body pain… reach for this blend. Follow the instructions to brew a pot and drink it over the course of the day and evening, for at least a few days.

Nettle Mint isn’t just a spring beverage, it can be enjoyed all year round, but this season is, across the board, a perfect time to build the blood and cleanse the system of built-up impurities. Yogins often find themselves susceptible to sensitivities, both before and after they adopt a yoga practice, and that sensitivity commonly contributes to leading people to yoga. If students cultivate their powers of observation through yoga, then body sensations/sensitivities can act as a barometre for our personal states-of-being.

Tiny mint at this time of year

Mint is stronger after it has been dried. Gather a basketful from your garden this Summer Solstice and dry it for the coming year. Repeat this with the Stinging Nettles, and while you are doing your gathering steady your mind on gratitude for the union between what we need and what nature provides.

Fresh Nettles may also be eaten cooked like spinach. Trim only the top of the plant, before it starts to flower. Boil them in a pot for a minute or two, then toss them with spiral pasta, nutritional yeast and olive oil.

TIP: If you have hives or rheumatism/arthritis, take a few calming breaths and consciously let the nettle touch your skin anywhere comfortable – NOT on the hives, but YES on the affected joint if you want – until you feel the slight sting, at which point you know the medicine of the plant has entered your blood system. It’s not as bad as a bee sting, as long as you control the amount of stinging. To start with take one sting, from a solitary plant on each inner wrist. (Use caution, practice this technique at your own risk.)

Buy Nettle Mint Tea

If you are interested in this tea, here is where to purchase a lovely organic blend of Nettle Mint. BeuTEAful by Tantra Herbs. Sari Weinberg is located in Sackville, New Brunswick, where she has an online tea shop, and also sells a wide variety of herbs and herbal products at the Moncton Saturday Market all through the year.

mint

These French Mint babies will mature by mid-Summer, reaching up to 18 inches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rishikesh Yoga Series for Daily Headstands

Please be sure to warm up before all exercise. This is an ADVANCED YOGA SERIES. Practice with mindfulness, the series is meant for students already doing yoga daily.

The following set of asanas is referred to as the Rishikesh Series in the very good manual, Yoga Self Taught by Andre Lysebeth (1971). It is an ideal way to begin your day and end your evening. “Subject to the most precise ruling, each pose completes or accentuates the previous one”. Do them in order, and feel refreshed after only 30 minutes of enjoyable yoga, including the Cobra, Seated Twist and Headstand. It was taught by Swami Sivananda at his ashram in Rishikesh, on the Ganges River.

We begin with an inverted posture, Sarvangasana, the Shoulderstand. This will get the blood pumping.

The Halasana, the Plough, increases compression on the neck and stretches the spinal column. Here we massage the stomach and release the blocked ribs.

Bow - Dhanurasana

In the counter posture, Matsyanasana, the Fish pose, the cervicals of the neck are squeezed instead of stretched, ultimately leading to better thoracic breathing.

From the sitting position, in the Paschimottanasana, or Forward Bend, we complete the plough by bending the spinal column without compressing the nape of the neck.

paschimottanasana

Paschimottanasana

Paschimottanasana

Bolster knees for increased support

Down onto the stomach, we find the Bhujanasana, Cobra pose, to be the third dynamic pose in a row. There is both the compressing of the stomach and the stretching of it. Elongate the neck for better release of the whole spine.

Shalabhasana, the Locust, complements cobra by contracting the lower portion of the torso. Keep the glutes relaxed.

Next is another back bend. Dhanurasana, the Bow pose, which eccentuates the previous stretches to the dorsal muscles. Be sure the big toes point together.

Rising up to sitting, from here we move into the ever important twist. Ardha-Matsyendrasana corrects any intensification of spinal curvatures that may result from successive bending.

Onward to the Sirsasana, or Headstand, crown-jewel of yoga postures.

Shirshasana
The series starts and ends with inverted postures. Upon descending from the headstand, lean onto your thumbs, which are placed at the Third Eye… hooked into the brow ridge, and let the full weight of your head be supported.

When the asanas have been completed engage the Uddiyana Bhanda, abdominal squeeze, followed by a advanced breathing (such as the Nadi Shodhana). Culminate with sitting meditation.

Ardha Padmasana

Goddess Kuan Yin in a half lotus.

Take at least 5 minutes for end relaxation, or Savasana. Scan your body for tension. Release with gratitude.

The asanas of the Rishikesh Series are:

  1. Sarvangasana
  2. Halasana
  3. Matsyasana
  4. Paschimottanasana
  5. Bhujangasana
  6. Shalabhasana
  7. Dhanurasana
  8. Ardha-matsyendrasana
  9. Sirsasana
  10. Uddiyana Bhanda
  11. Breathing Meditation
  12. Savasana

OM OM OM

The Goddes Saraswati – her river still teaches

The former location of the third of three rivers named after Hindu Goddesses, the Saraswati has been found. Legends about the mighty Saraswati river have lived on in India since time immemorial. Her holy waters were supposed to have flowed down from the Himalayas into the sea in union with the two other rivers, the Ganges and the Jamuna. This confluence is one of India’s holiest spots.

Saraswati, the multifaceted Hindu goddess of learning, music, and hand mudras (she is often depicted with a sacred stringed instrument) also has deep connections with the element water. Invoke Saraswati and let your creative potential flow.

Saraswati

Goddess Saraswati doing hand mudras. Statue from the Yashodhara Ashram on Kootenay Lake, BC.

Through satellite photography, scientists have mapped the course of an enormous river that ran through the north western region of India. The river was 8 km wide and it dried up approximately 4,000 years ago. It may have been a major earthquake that halted the flow of the Saraswati. In studying the riverbed, over 1000 archaeological sites have been found on the former course of the river, and they date from 3000 BC and older.

Discoveries of advanced prehistoric civilisations – thriving along the banks of this major river, and in several other parts of the world, such as Gobekli Tempe in modern day Turkey – has thrown a wrench in the paradigm of traditional archeology. New discoveries around the region of Dwarka are helping to shed light on human societies from the ice age.

Solitude sets one to meditating upon poetry…

diving, through silence
the stillness awakens
seeking

A broken table
at the side of a pond
holds only memories

heavy hem
soft footfalls
startle the Sisken flock

awakened
by light eclipsing
shy blood moon

strangely warm
blood moon eclipses
a deer leaves the meadow

rosehips, ready
for hot tea
settles

frost soaked hem
even sandal steps
startle the Sisken

Poetry from the Heart of Fall

diving silently
otter moves
the still water

picnic table perched
at the side of the pond ~
holding memories

wet skirt hem
even sandal steps
startle the Pine Sisken

holly may be bright
but once frosted
rosehips rival for redness

hem heavy with frost
sandals falling
startle a Sisken flock

laying under cover
let the dawn
colour the day

buried in blankets
twisting
a broken morning

wind chimes
cold and clear
snap to attention

the moon awakens
diffuse pink eclipses
no other

Are you having a good “Yoga Outside” season?

wind chimes
sing
as summer hums along

Haiku-inspired poems at Summer Solstice

a Pileated Woodpecker

nearby

laughs from the woods

Hummingbirds dart

the wind shifts

distant thunder rumbles

daisies appear

overnight

a fawn is born

a bubbling moon

sails inside

the tightest crack

night of endless light

shifting seasons

eternal dawn

Spring Poems to Meditate upon

a wet bee

bobs along ~

the flowering thyme

a wind

disturbs

the rain

moonlight

sails inside

the mossy crack

birdsong

in all directions

a measured performance

listen ~

the rain

is about to fade

young plum tree

flushed cheeks

roots run deep