Tag Archives: asana

Graduation! by Swami Nirmalananda

IMG_9779My heart is deeply touched – again – yesterday, by the amazing and committed yogis who completed YTT Level 4, now trained in 12 teaching themes, 108 poses and over 350 adjustments for their students. We held their Completion Ceremony in the afternoon, after they shared the teaching in a grand finale yoga class, with each of them teaching part of the class.

While they still have DTS (DTS (Develop your Teaching Skills)) to complete before they become certified, they have completed a grand undertaking, a milestone, a great accomplishment in their life. And they will serve the world, offering others what they have themselves received through their studies: healing, transformation and illumination.

Thank you to our new grads!

On the Road by Rama (Ruth) Brooke

Rama Brooke

Rama Brooke

I use the 20/20/20 (20 minutes each) protocol for Ujjayi Pranayama, asana (poses) and meditation while traveling, although lately I’ve been placing more emphasis on the breathing practice. Travel depletes prana (energy). The extra Ujjayi helps to support the other two practices as well as my adjustment to the slightly “off kilter” routine of a busy travel schedule. I fit an additional 20 minutes of Ujjayi in the afternoon or before dinner, whenever possible. I also do it before falling asleep at night.  I don’t rely on this as part of my daily practice because I don’t know how long I’m actually doing it, but I find it helps me to drift “inward” and tune out any exterior noise or stimulus.

On a recent family travel vacation, we were packed into small hotel rooms with little opportunity or floor space for my usual asana and meditation practice. For my daily practice I relied on Ujjayi Pranayama and a series of “bed” poses beginning with Alternate Leg, Alternate Leg – Diagonal or Supta Janushirshasana, and then to JP with a variation, which I learned in ATT 411:  Deeper Yoga, which I love because it gets the lumbar spine too.

I woke up early and didn’t want to disturb anyone else in the room.  I did Ujjayi sometimes for an hour or more until others began to wake up and then I would finish with the poses before getting up to shower. In the afternoons, we would return to the hotel before dinner so I did another 20 minutes or more of breathing practice. I also did the bed poses again before falling asleep at night. I was amazed at how well this practice served me during the two weeks away from home. I had more energy than ever before on such a trip, and my body stayed open and healthy. I attribute this mostly to the consistent practices I do at home, especially meditation, which sustain me wherever I am. I also attribute it to the long Ujjayi sessions during the trip that allowed me to tap into and maintain my pranic (energy) reservoir.

This travel vacation was a “once in a lifetime” type of experience — one to cherish.  My more common travel experience is often by plane, which makes packing blankets and blocks an inconvenience, but I do usually stay in a hotel or somewhere that has floor space and furniture to substitute for props. My favorite travel asana prop is the firm seat cushion from a couch or a large overstuffed chair. One or two of these make a great base for poses such as Kurmasana, Baddha Konasana, Seated Side Stretch or even Virasana Seated Side Stretch (turn the cushion, if it’s rectangular, to sit on the short end, and use throw cushions or bed pillows to prop knees).

Without blocks, I do Dhanurasana Leg for a Lunge substitute, lying on a platform of the same firm couch or chair seat cushion(s). When time allows, I add some standing poses or the Standing Vinyasa. Jathara Parivrttanasana with deeper variations is a great way to end the session and add in a little more ribcage or lower spinal opening.

For meditation, I like to sit on the floor, when possible, in Sukhasana. I will use the same cushion props to create my Sukhasana seat. If sitting on the floor isn’t an option, I will sit in a straight (desk) chair, using a pillow to support the upright position of my spine, and place my feet on the firm seat cushion (I have short legs) on the floor.  This is how I “do more yoga!”

Taking Your Yoga Practice with You on Vacation by Yogeshwari (Lissa) Fountain

Yogeshwari (Lissa) Fountain

Yogeshwari (Lissa) Fountain

One of the very first things I discovered after completing Teacher Training and committing myself to Svaroopa® yoga full time, was that every day felt like a vacation because my practices gave me an “internal getaway.”  My practices became an oasis in the middle of life’s daily challenges. I didn’t need to get away anywhere to feel better, or more peaceful, because yoga was doing that for me, and it was all happening on the inside. Still, vacations are a treat: a change of scene, a break from our routines, and a chance to have extra downtime with our loved ones.  For me this doesn’t mean I take a break from my yogic practices, because they help to support my inner state, and provide a continuity of Self within the changing landscape of a vacation.

Whenever I go away, I know my practices may be shorter than usual, so I try plan for that, as I know that my time with family and friends IS the yoga practice I am blessed to be enjoying. And still, I want to take care of myself, so I come prepared with my supplies: my travel pouch with timer, iPod, ear-buds, battery operated candle, puja photos of the Gurus, and a travel size Guru Gita. Then there is my shawl, and two blocks. If I am driving, I bring some blankets, of course. I know every hotel has an easy chair and pillows for meditation, and with blocks and a wall and chair, I can make any asana practice happen! Setting up my “yoga space” goes right along with unpacking.

My vacation yoga might be as simple as the “20/20/20” formula: morning Ujjyai Pranayama, meditation, and asana (sometime during the day). But usually I can fit in a full meditation period (20 minutes Ujjayi and 40 minutes meditation).  I’ve learned that if I ignore my body at the expense of keeping up with everyone else’s plans, I’ll feel it.  So I’ll often do three deeper poses (with variations),  such as Kurmasana, Pigeon with Dhanurasana leg, and JP.  Even if it’s a quick Magic Four, even if it’s just a Lunge, don’t neglect your body

And we must take care of our minds. Quiet mind is a portable yogic state that comes along with you on vacation. I repeat mantra silently, practicing japa. The Self never leaves you, because it is You, and everyone else. The good news is that if you have an established daily yoga practice, you have plenty of Shakti (energy) reserves to carry you through on the days when you can’t fit in much practice. In this way, vacations become a time to bring the whole of you into your life, in new and exciting ways.