Monthly Archives

July 2017

Yoga

The Use of Props

July 28, 2017

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Blocks and ropes have become a permanent fixture in most yoga classes.  If you are into this practice for the long term it might be helpful to invest in a few props right now.  For me props are indispensable and I use them daily.  Some I use more than others.

Mat – There are many different kinds of mats I use depending on what I’m practicing.  I have a thick mat for when I need to practice the Halasana or any other pose where I feel I need some cushioning.

Most Iyengar teachers call your regular yoga mat the ‘sticky mat’.  I own two sticky mats and I’ve had them forever.  One stays in my car and the other one I use for my personal practice.  And I’ve had these mats for over 5 years now.  I think the best thing to do for your yoga mat is to wash it regularly and hang it out to dry.  The stickiness somehow gets replenished and they are as good as new. Someone gave me this tip during my teacher’s training and I’ve recommended this to others.  I haven’t heard any complaints from anyone (yet).

Floor – I think it was in a Manouso Manos workshop that I heard that the floor is your first prop.  It gives you a solid foundation.  It stays strong during your standing, seated, prone or inverted asanas.  A clean, uncluttered surface looks inviting.  In my teacher’s class it’s a clay floor.  When it’s really hot I sometimes practice on the cool bare floor.  In my house I get the floor cleaned every day so that I have a fresh palette to play on daily.

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Wall – I started practicing the Adhomukha Vrikshasana in Pune last year.  I continued to practice it at home and have steadily moved away from the wall.  When it comes to some asanas – like handstand or the headstand – you need to determine when you are ready to move away from the wall.  In this way, the wall helps you in exploring yourself and taking risks, but at the same time staying available for you always, should you need it.

Blocks – My first blocks were foam ones that I got as part of a ‘yoga set’.  Foam blocks work well when you’re just using them for minimal support.  However, when I’m working on chest opening or the Setubandhasana, I prefer the sturdier wooden variety.

Chair – during my last retreat I shared a personal story about the Viprita Dandasana.  Basically, I would have a horrible reaction to this pose.  I would feel queasy, my heart would start racing and I would start sweating profusely in only 20 seconds.  When I went to RIMYI last year the dreaded asanas was part of a the women’s only class.  I resigned myself to 2 minutes of queasiness.  But I was pleasantly surprised.  The way Gulnaz explained the asana was so clear and concise and it opened up the asana for me.  It was one of my biggest takeaways from my time there last year.  An asana (or a problem) can seem unsurmountable until someone guides you correctly.

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Blanket – When I think of blankets I think of softness.  I use my blanket under me when I do forward folds.

Ropes – I use these daily.  Because I do traction for my back daily.  Because you should do traction for your back daily.  Because everyone should do traction for their back daily.

Belt – I use belts mainly when I need to work on shoulder opening in various asanas.  In fact, watch this video  illustrating an easy shoulder opening trick using the belt.  Also, as most of my students know, I almost always use belts in the final relaxation.

Props ALWAYS enhance your practice.  I know a lot of people think that they don’t ‘need’ props.  I used to think so too, but I now feel that if you utilize your props well then you uncover nuances of the asanas that you wouldn’t otherwise.

Leave me a question if you have one!

 

 

Travel Yoga

Resetting

July 15, 2017

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The last few months have seen me travelling almost every two weeks.  Last weekend I hoped on a bus to Auroville.  I was hoping to  work on my book as well as take a break from my routine (which has become increasingly hectic).   I’ve been to Pondicherry twice before and each time I’ve done the usual tourist trail.  Tax free liquor and lots of leather.  Also handmade soap and pretty incense.  Can never resist some of that incense….

 

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Long bus ride.  Waiting to be picked up.

 

Pondicherry has long been known for it’s French architecture and quaint cafes.  Usually you base yourself in Pondicherry and then take a day trip to Auroville to get as close as possible to the Matri Mandir.  You shop in the boutiques at the Visitor’s Center and go back to your hotel in Pondi feeling very excited with your exotic purchases.  This is how my last two visits to Pondicherry have been, with the exception that last time I took a tour of a few temples and the paper making factory.  You can register for this tour at the government run tourist info center located right on the beach.

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This time I wanted to go off the tourist trail a little bit.  We got lucky because my friend Joel (an Aurovillian) booked us into a heavenly guest house.  Joel, incidentally, is an amazing photographer.  For those of you who follow me on Instagram and Facebook, you may already have seen a lot of the work the two of us have done together.  If you’re looking to get a few shots taken you should contact him.  He does really unique and artful stuff.  You can check out some of it here.

 

InstaFit_1499937145Our days in Auroville were filled with cycling to the beach, eating at Bread and Chocolate (highly recommended) and lots and of pool time.  We submerged ourselves in the pool every chance we got.  I particularly loved the Krishna statue perched on one side of the pool.  After seeing my pictures of the guest house a lot of people have asked me about it.  Here’s your link to the Sharnga Guest House.

And we can finally surf folks!  While in Bali earlier this year I looked wistfully at InstaFit_1499937303everyone enjoying the sun and waves and thought…one day.  Little did I know that the day would come so soon.  If you’re in Auroville I highly recommend going to the Kallialay Surf School and book a surfing lesson.  The instructors are professional and experienced.  Our instructor Eddy was amazing.  He broke down the lesson into simple and easy to understand modules.  This ensured that we eased our way into the ocean and handled the waves well.  His instructions and manner is so clear and concise that I would recommend him to even those who don’t know how to swim.  You can surf even if you don’t know how to swim!

And as always, my favorite part of my time in Auroville was connecting to nature.  Whether it was the pool, surfing the waves or eating simple organic food at the various kitchens – I felt we were always connected to nature and the earth.  This helps in resetting your system both mentally and emotionally.  I try and remain centred and focused through daily meditation, but some time living the ‘simple’ life allows me to revel in the feeling of wellness.  Luxury vacations with a huge group of friends to exotic destinations full of new sights and sounds is great.  But every once in a while it’s good to pare down to the basics and allow your mind and body to detox.

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@Bread&Chocolate. French-pressed, consciously sourced coffee with coconut milk.

Yoga

A Note on Teachers

July 11, 2017

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Admittedly when I started yoga I had a healthy mistrust of the entire ‘guru’ culture.  I associated it with blind faith, pointless rituals and baseless beliefs.  This perception influenced me for a very long time.

It took me years to find my teacher.  Even when I found him I actively made it a point to reiterate, “He’s my teacher, not my guru.”  Today I don’t even know what that meaIMG_20161218_143346ns!

I feel that over the years I’ve shed a lot of my preconceived notions.  This takes a while, and I feel yoga helped me ease up and soften.  After almost 6 years with my teacher I’ve come to realize that there is great comfort in allowing someone else to take control for a little while.  There is a comfort that comes from allowing yourself to accept that sometimes someone else may know what is best for you.

We need to now own our culture and our spirituality.  We need to dissociate the word ‘guru’ with orange robes and nonsensical rituals.  Studies have shown that those who consider themselves spiritual and/or religious enjoy higher levels of wellness than those who don’t.  Perhaps we need to analyse our beliefs and recognize our unique brand of religion/spirituality.  Let’s not try and fit ourselves into a mould, rather, let’s create a mould that fits us well.

If you’ve been going to the same class for years now, consider yourself committed.

If you go to class and find yourself questioning less and accepting more, consider yourself devoted.

If you seek your teacher out for an opinion on a non-yoga dilemma, you might just be on the path to finding your guru.

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