Archive for July, 2011

Yoga on Tuesday, August 2

Dear Yogis,
I have been announcing class happening this Tuesday August 2nd at Turtle Haven; this was not part of the original schedule, but since I have mentioned it, I will teach a class for anyone who appears! Please feel free to come…

Good News about Maher

Since Sister Lucy’s visit to Bellingham, there have been some happy developments. As a result of the goodwill spread by Sister Lucy, the word spread by Friends of Maher and the music and dance of the kirtan, Bellinghamsters and Whatcommites have been inspired to donate nearly three thousand dollars to Maher’s continued efforts. Far beyond Bellingham, Sister Lucy has been recognized by the Global Women’s Summit, a world wide American organisation working for the women’s cause, which has bestowed upon her the 2011 Leadership Award seen above. And perhaps happiest of all, Sister Lucy arrived safe and sound back at home. Below, a note about her arrival from Hina at Maher and two photos:

Dear All

This is to convey you the happy news that Sr Lucy is back with us with her inimitable hearty laugh with her heart full of love for every one of us. How much every child, woman and worker here at Maher missed her the two months she was away from them ! They could hardly wait to see her back among them to keep them going in life enthusiastically with their ever cherished dreams for Maher. With Sr Lucy around, for everyone at Maher, every new day opens with new dreams, aspirations, plans, and tons of energy to achieve them.

Maher workers gave a very warm welcome to Sr Lucy at the Mumbai airport as also at Pune the following morning. They represented every Maher center expressing their sentiments through greeting cards, placards, flowers and garlands. With a grand breakfast and Sr Lucy around after a long gap, the morning became a great home coming for all of them.

I along with whole of Maher family thank each and every one of you for making her feel so much loved and cared for. We feel she deserves the best in the world and the best for her is Maher and its people. Sr Lucy had so much to share with us about Maher’s special friends she met abroad. She had carried back with her a tiny gift for each and every one of us. This gesture was appreciated by all the staff, women and children at every center.

One of these days, Sr Lucy would definitely like to interact with you on her travel abroad.

With Lots of Love
Hira & Maher Family

A Steady Place

If you desire a practice, it will become yours; yoga practice on one’s own comes to those with deep desire for its many gifts. But to find that place of steady commitment, a steady place of practice will assist you tremendously in practicing regularly. While there are certainly examples of practitioners with luxurious surroundings for practice who still manage to avoid the mat, and those who practice diligently in the midst of a hallway or kitchen for lack of a seemingly more graceful place, the point really is to establish a place that ultimately by association calls you towards your practice. The more you return to that very place, modest or fancy, the more you build connection with the inner practice space. If you toss your mat down haphazardly, you have less of a chance of finding a rhythmical and steady relationship with practicing. If you have a place which can store your props, perhaps have an altar (if that calls to you), and become your sanctuary for practice, you will find that the physical space itself supports your solo practice. Hopefully when you walk into the studio where you take a class, there is a “groove” internally you notice awakening as you move into that space. And hopefully that grrove reminds you of things positive and inviting, even if sometimes challenging! Find a place at home, and be with yourself in your practice there consistently, and observe the connection that invites firmer ground for your practice.

Practicing Iyengar yoga offers us the creative and perhaps potentially daunting task of sorting through WHAT to practice when we practice on our own. The gift is in the possibility of finding a practice that suits our emotional state, physical condition, stage of life and so forth; in at least many other yoga traditions, there is much more set sequencing—this leaves less room for tailoring practice to particular needs of the moment. Having a few basic guidelines for “the natural order” of poses in the Iyengar system will help you find your way, as will relying initially on books, class remembrances and recorded sequences, prior to you being motivated to consider truly formulating your own sequences. As one astute student points out, the teacher is actually teaching students to BE their own teachers! So, if you plan on formulating your sequences, consider your emotional and physical state of the moment, any ongoing chronic conditions you would like to be focussing on regularly, and then also know that if you plan on inversions and will practice classical sirsasana (headstand) you then will also need to practice shoulderstand (sarvangasana), though you could practice the latter singularly. Also, if you practice backbends or forward bends, it is important if not essential to practice the appropriate preparatory poses for the body to yield to the more demanding spinal tasks of these categories of asanas. And then, a bit of counter pose is important as well; so if you have a backbend practice, some neutral spine and forward bending is important when you have finished the backbending, for example. There is also the consideration here that if you are practicing even standing poses, that if you have tight hamstrings, calves or hips you as an individual, may be optimizing your practice with asanas to prepare for the standing poses, though there is no guideline in general suggesting this approach. If you have been in classes over the years, you may likely have an “imprint” that is influencing your sense of the “natural order” of asanas; being awake and aware to the order in class will help you develop a more natural sense of the orders of asanas that will serve you in home practice. So as usual, paying attention, being awake is an important and central element of practice! Ruturning to the simple approach, most important is beginning to practice, and so there is always the handy formula, passed along to me by Felicity Green, of choosing an asana from class that was challenging, and one that was agreeable, and focussing on those for a satisying “seed” of a hopefully expanding garden of possibility.

BKS Iyengar’s wisdom brought to China

A recent news article in the Times of India, described Mr. Iyengar (here referred to as Guruji) and his visit and yoga demonstrations in China, where yoga is booming, in the short excerpt below:

Guruji demonstrated the subtle actions and movements of the skin, muscle and bone with the analogy of a simple leaf: the stem (centre) of the leaf is the line from the head to the feet; the veins of the leaf, which branch outwards from its stem represent the action of the muscles in the body. “Just as the veins of the leaf spread outwards, so also the skin and muscles of the legs. The entire body should not only vertically extend but also horizontally expand if one is to have a rhythmic stretch in the asana,” Guruji elaborated.

When the leaf dries, it dries first from its outer edges towards the inner core. Similarly, the human body generally ages from the outer musculo-skeletal body to the inner core of the being.

Read the full article here.

Make An Offering of Your Practice

There is a practice in yoga of “making an offering”, meaning that instead of simply applying ourselves, and gaining the fruits of our labor for ourselves, we imagine the efforts as a kind of gift or prayer dedicated to something besides ourselves. This might mean that as we begin our practice, and perhaps light a candle, we hold in our hearts and minds a situation or a being where there is suffering, and see our energy and efforts dedicated towards healing in relation to the distress. We can be metaphysical or not in relation to this idea. Perhaps our dedication, and the energy of our intention DOES truly and actually cause some change and bring relief. If we think not, is there still some good that comes from our compassionate thoughts and loving hearts? We might even just practice physically and dedicate our efforts to our own bodies that serve us so many times all day long, performing unsung miracles of beating hearts, breathing, thinking, and intricate physical exertion! If we lift our efforts of practice into the realm of seeing them as an “offering” perhaps we could feel inspired to practice with a different zeal and inner sense of purpose. Try working in this way in your practice, and witness the effects.