Monthly Archives

December 2012

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The New Year Cometh…

December 31, 2012

It’s the last day of 2012.  It’s the time for closure and for new beginnings.  It’s great to make new resolutions but it’s also important to take stock of the year that has gone by and think through your achievements, what you gained, what you learned and what you cherish about the year gone by.  This gives you a sense of achievement and also gives you a reality check about what you can expect from the coming year.  You’ll end up making more realistic resolutions and can spend 2013 effectively. 

So spend the last few hours of 2012 thinking about the good things of the year gone by and the greater things that the coming year is bringing your way.  Think of a great way to spend the first few days of 2013.  I’m going on the Vipassana retreat: http://www.paphulla.dhamma.org/ – you can perhaps meditate at home?

The last video for 2012: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=87S8GMxITWM.  Remember to ‘Like’.

Have a great New Year! 🙂

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Vacation Yoga.

December 17, 2012

I’ve been talking of how you can stay in touch with your yoga throughout our mega-holiday and through the beginning of Jan (after which I will be back to resume our classes.)  After a bunch of procrastinating (I’m in the planning and packing mood), I thought I’ll just bang out this blog before I can change my mind.

So here are a few things that you can do to stay in touch with your yoga, and to keep yourself flexible and fit during the holidays.

  1. Do all three bandhas (jalandar, udyaan, moola) while you’re driving or sitting on the plane.  Or meditating on the beach.
  2. Meditate on the beach :).
  3. Practice squating everyday.  Try and get your feet as close together as possible and hold your balance.  Here is a picture of me practicing squating on the ledge in my garden.  Remember squating helps to make your ankles more flexible, makes your legs stronger and helps your abs become strong as well!  I held my balance for a minute, during which this picture was taken, after which I lost my balance.  This is on my list of things to do as well.

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4.  Do the vajra asana post your meals whenever possible.  If you’re on your mat or your bed then do the supta vajra asana.

5.  Breathe with awareness 5 times every day.

6.  Do our warmup routine as soon as you wake up or right before sleeping.

7.  Do the below to ease backpain.

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These pictures were taken in the sun, hence the scrunched up face and the closed eyes.

8.  Practice the bhujanga asana on your bed.

9.  Do the various exercises for your abs in your hotel room, while waiting for your turn in the bathroom/cabbie to turn up/just waiting around in general.

10.  Practice the padmasana.

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11.  While you’re at it, put your hands on the floor besides your knees and lift yourself up.

12.  Touch your toes every chance you get.

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13.  Take a deep breath and smile in case your reservations/plans go awry.

14.  Always have your ‘me’ time.  Even if its just closing your eyes and thinking happy thoughts before going to sleep…or while shampooing your hair.

15.  If you have more time then practice pranayama – kapal bhati, bhastrika, anulom vilom…if you’re travelling to a warm place then practice sitili pranayam.

16.  Practicing sitting up straight every chance you get.

17.  Once your back is straight practice the butterfly asana.

18.  Keep a travelogue!  It helps you reflect.

19.  Try and get in touch with other yogis throughout the trip.

20.  Upload your yoga pictures on Yoga With Pragya!

 

Have an awesome vacation. 🙂

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MY INTRODUCTION TO YOGA – by Louise Hancock

December 11, 2012

MY INTRODUCTION TO YOGA

I had never tried yoga before I came to India, and as my mum has practiced it for almost 40 years and my sister for almost 20 years, I thought a year in India would be the perfect opportunity for me to do some catching up and see what all the fuss was about.  The first advert I saw was Pragya Bhatt’s for Power Yoga which promised “weight loss, flexibility and peace of mind”, so I thought I’d try that and went to my first ever yoga class on 26th June this year.  And I haven’t looked back since!

My pre-conceptions of yoga were that it would be quite relaxing and slow-paced, with a lot of breathing exercises, stretching and posing in awkward, uncomfortable positions (which I now know to be called asanas!) to increase my flexibility.  I have no experience of other yoga classes, which may well be like that, but Pragya’s are certainly nothing like that at all!  They are HARD WORK and only relaxing for the last 10 minutes or so when we get to lie down in the Shavasana and recover!  What has surprised me most about yoga, or certainly Power Yoga, is how aerobically intensive it is; everybody is completely tired, hot and sweaty by the end of a class, and we all know that we’ve had a good work-out.  It’s not just about asanas and breathing (or pranayama as I’ve since learned), we also do bhandas, mudras and A LOT of Suraya Namaskars; most days we do around 40 Suraya Namaskars and at least twice a month we do 108.

What has surprised and pleased me most about yoga is that it is such a great all-round work-out.  It certainly does work on your flexibility, but also on your strength, stamina and cardio-vascular fitness, and it works on every single part of your body in just one hour a day.  The Surya Namaskar, in particular, seems to exercise every single muscle group in one exercise!  You can practice anywhere, you don’t need a lot of space to do it, and you need virtually no equipment.

But what I like best about yoga is that it is a real leveler.  What I mean by this is that everyone has their own individual strengths and weaknesses.  In a lot of sports and fitness classes, there are usually certain people who are the “fittest”, “sportiest”, or whatever you wish to call it, and who are good at everything.  This is usually based on aerobic fitness, but in yoga, these people are not necessarily the best at many other aspects of the practice.  Being a military officer myself, I have always done a lot of exercise – running, spinning, Body Pump classes, circuit classes etc – and have always been fairly fit, but whilst I find that I am still quite aerobically fit and can recover from the exertion of 20 Suraya Namaskars quite quickly, I am not as flexible or able to do many of the asanas that other class-members can do.  Yoga really does bring out each individual’s strengths.

In terms of what Pragya offered in her original poster, I have definitely seen a big improvement in my flexibility, although I still have a long way to go with that, and I am definitely stronger than when I first started.  I have lost a couple of pounds, but not a great deal, but for me, that’s not why I started doing yoga, it was more about my general fitness, strength and flexibility, and it has certainly helped me improve all of those.  As for my peace of mind, I certainly feel very relaxed when I leave Power Yoga and I am learning that many of the difficult asanas that I think I can’t do are just an attitude of mind and believing that you can do them – maybe that’s a lesson for life in general…

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Yoga-With-Pragya/279129782153926?ref=hl#!/photo.php?

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Practising the warrior pose with Elaine Strong at the Gateway of India Mumbai. Not a very good demonstration of the pose, but then we hadn’t warmed up!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Yoga-With-Pragya/279129782153926?ref=hl#!/photo.php?fbid=421742477892655&set=pb.279129782153926.-2207520000.1355197852&type=3&theater

Preparing to start a round of Surya Namaskars.

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2012 Isn’t Over Yet…

December 9, 2012

A few days ago I was updating my diary and I realized that 2012 is almost ending.  This year was a water shed year for me.  I quit my job, moved and decided to switch careers.  I got married last year so I spent a lot of time this year getting used to the Big M.  And then I thought about my resolutions for this year.  And I realized that tennis had been on my list of things to do and I hadn’t picked up a tennis raquet the whole year.  I’d played squash a couple of times, but the resolution was tennis.  I think we get so caught up with our day to day lives (the large parts of which continue unchanged one year to the next) that we forget about the resolutions that we make on the 1st of Jan.  We often work towards the resolutions only for the first few weeks until the mundanity of regular life sets in.  Yoga is about growth and change and expansion.  And new postures, enhanced breathing, a better life are by-products of a regular yoga practice.

 

So then I thought that 2012 isn’t over yet.  I can utilize the remaining days to do something that I had intended to do this year.  And thereby keep from pushing one more resolution to the next year. 

 

The next day I encouraged my students to think about their resolutions for this year and try to fit some of them in in the last few weeks of 2012.  That way you get to keep a promise you made to yourself and make room for new ones for 2013.

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The Real Kahwah

December 3, 2012

The first time I had Kashmiri Kahwah was at Dilli Haat.  I loved it but couldn’t get my hands on the recipe or the leaves.  I next had it in a friend’s house and even posted a picture of it: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Yoga-With-Pragya/279129782153926?ref=hl#!/photo.php?fbid=393815357352034&set=pb.279129782153926.-2207520000.1354508624&type=3&theater.  As you can see this tea comes from a tea bag.  So it was a pleasant surprise when a few days ago I went over to a friend’s house and she made me real authentic Kahwah.  The people in Kashmir drink Kahwah because it builds up the body’s immunity and keeps it warm.  And all those dried fruits will give you the glowing skin that everyone wants.  So here goes:

1.  Take some cardamom, cinnamon and almonds.  Pictured here are the Kahwah leaves as well.

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2.  Boil some water and put the Kahwah leaves in.  Crush and add the cardamom as well.  Boil until you can see the color of the water changing and can smell the essence of the cardamoms.

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3.  Crush the almonds and put them in the cups/glasses that you’re going to drink in.

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4.  Pour the Kahwah and serve :).

And the best part was that my friend had an entire jar of Kahwah leaves sent over the next day, so now I can have it whenever I want.