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beyond asanas

Beyond Asanas: The Asanas Books Lifestyle Yoga

Ardha Chadrasana: The Half Moon Pose

September 11, 2019

When I started writing Beyond Asanas, it was going to contain about 100 asanas.  After all, I was writing my magnum opus.  As the book took shape this number dwindled down to 30.

I chose asanas that I had been practicing for a few years.  Ones which I knew and understood.  There were, of course, the mundanities to consider.  Visual appeal, my ability to execute the posture well, would my research yield interesting information about it?

The Ardha Chandrasana made the cut.  I found a connection between this asana and the story of the near-destruction of the universe.  When Shiva swallowed the halahala to save the Universe, the poison turned his body blue.  Chandra stepped in to help.

Then there’s the story of why the moon waxes and wanes.  Lord Ganesha and his temper are responsible for the moon manifesting in its ‘ardha‘ or half stage.

The Ardha Chandrasana is Chapter 5 of my book.  To read the stories and the significance in more detail get your copy of the book.

Below are the step-by-step instructions, with images.

1. Start on the right with Trikonasana.

For more on Trikonasana see Chapter 4 in Beyond Asanas.

2.  Bend your right knee and reach forward with your right hand.  Place it on the floor diagonally opposite the right foot.

 

Note the extension on the right side of the torso as the outer edge of the left foot stays firmly on the ground.

 

The right arm and right foot must be diagonal to each other, else balancing is hard.

 

3.  Engage your right arm and leg, so that you can balance and support yourself on them.  Slowly lift the leg up until it is parallel to the floor or slightly above hip level.

 

The key to balance is your gaze. The steadier and more focused your gaze, the better your balance.

 

Behold! The final posture. The gaze swivels up to the left thumb.

4.  To come down, bring your left leg back to the floor in the same way you took it up.  You should end in the Trikonasana again.

5.  Repeat on the left side.

 

These beautiful images are done by Farhan Khan of @khan.clicks and David of @deavalin_david_dsouza.  The makeup is by Henna of @makeupbyhennaanbaree.

If you have any questions or queries, do leave a comment.

Get your own copy of ‘Beyond Asanas: The Myths and Legends Behind Yogic Postures’ here.

Yoga

Cut Through the Noise and Find Your Centre

September 9, 2019

I recently enrolled for a Master’s program in yoga studies.  I went back to SVYASA (Swamy Vivekananda Yoga Anusudhana Samsthana).  It is a university dedicated exclusively to yoga and holistic health.  In 2012 I registered for their YIC (Yoga Instructor’s Course) never dreaming that in 2019 I would be back for a masters.

Two months ago I went to the university to attend a few lectures.  My days there were reminiscent of my Infosys Mysore training.  Until now yoga has largely meant asana practice for me.  Philosophy is intimidating.

I think this master’s program may just bridge the gap for me.  The faculty at SVYASA comes with a long list of achievements and experience.  All the members are well-known experts in their chosen area of study.

Our Yoga Therapy professor, Dr. Uma gave us some enthralling lectures.  She lectured on the importance of an integrated approach to health care.  One day the discussion turned to vegetarianism, veganism and other lifestyle related food choices.  She told us about her personal conflict with milk.  For years she had adamantly supported the consumption of milk.  She holds an MBBS, MD as well as a BHMS.  Milk is a panchamrit (five elixirs). However, latest research shows that milk is not good for you.

“Then I realized that milk as we know it now is not the milk Ayurvedic texts are talking about.  The cows, the environment, the people were different, and so the milk was also different.  Now I don’t have milk.”

“Nowadays disseminating information is easy.  You will find 100 opinions on everything under the sun.  What to eat, when to eat.  What to drink, when to drink.  Why to eat, why not to eat.  Why to drink and why not,” she said.  “You must not listen to everything.  Find what resonates with you.  What do you believe in-spite of all the information that you are being bombarded with?  You must cut through the noise and find your center.”

 

Lifestyle Travel Yoga

The First Class

September 4, 2019

How many times have you quickly gone up into sarvangasana? Do you remember to pull the shoulders back, open the chest, activate the thighs and lift the tailbone up? Seemingly small modifications can change the entire posture.

Perhaps it was nervous excitement or maybe anticipation, but my first class was amazing.  By the end of the class my blood was singing and my body felt like it was thrumming (to the beat of my blood?).

I am a sucker for simple classes.  I believe if you focus on the simple stuff everything else falls into place.  This class focused on the tailbone and sacrum region.  We started the class with adhomukha virasana.  Rajalakshmi asked us to continue to extend the arms.  “This extension isn’t because you are lengthening your bones!!!” she boomed into the mike.

“The bones never extend!!!  It’s impossible for you to extend any of your bones!!!” she continued.  “Pay close attention to the parts of your body that make the extension possible!” she said.

She encouraged us to pay close attention to the tailbone-sacrum region and observe how it participates in forward bends and twists.

The most interesting part of the class was dissecting the parivritta trikonasana or the revolved triangle posture.  There are three movements that make this asana possible: the extension of the side, the bending forward keeping that extension intact and finally, the opening of the chest.  And once we were in the final posture we were asked to pull the tailbone and sacrum in to the body.

At one point Rajalakshmi caught me looking at my hip.  I realize I do this unconsciously every time I practice this asana.  I use my eyes to ensure that my hip is pushed back, which detracts from the overall experience of the asana.  “Your side is compressing and you’re becoming a ball,” Rajalakshmi explained patiently.  “Extend your chin forward and away from the sacrum.  Open the sacrum and lengthen the side!” she boomed again.

This is the magic of the annual pilgrimage to RIMYI.

Travel Yoga

An Auspicious Start – Pune Day 0

September 2, 2019

This is my fourth consecutive year coming to study at RIMYI.  In previous years I’ve had the luxury to make lists and plan.  This time I was caught in a whirlwind.  I had to wrap up projects, attend a last minute Vedanta class, plan the quantum of assignments to work on this month, and so on and so forth.  I was, of course, also trying to stuff myself with as many idlis and masala dosas as I could.  Have to survive for a month after all.

I think all the frenzied activity of the last few days caught up with me last night.  While I was finishing my packing I suddenly felt sick and threw up my lunch.  My stomach settled down after that but I was in no position to eat and went to bed.

After a quick and simple breakfast of fresh steaming idlis (surprise!) this morning we drove to the airport.  A short flight later I alighted in Pune.

Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra is special and I’ve been lucky to witness it for the last 3 years.  As I got into the taxi I could hear the processions and feel the excitement in the air.  The festivities will continue for the next few days and it’s great to be here this time of year.  I couldn’t have asked for a more auspicious start to my month.  Here’s to a wonderful month of growth, re-connection, beautiful discoveries and new friendships.

Fourth year in Pune for my trusted pink suitcase too.

Poetry Yoga

The Rigors

August 25, 2019

The rigors of a home yoga practice. ⠀
Messy hair, ⠀
sweat stained clothes. ⠀
A little music, ⠀
an old mat.⠀
Props strewn around. ⠀
A useless mirror.⠀

Books Lifestyle Travel Yoga

Rubbing (Book) Shoulders With My Favs

August 22, 2019

My sister spotted my book at the Delhi International Airport.

Over breakfast with my boyfriend today I mentioned I have my book club meeting tomorrow evening. It got me thinking about reading and those who read. I said to him, “Reading is a bit strange. We all know how to read, but very few actually read.” Those who aren’t bitten by the reading bug as soon as they learn how to read, can never catch the reading disease. For them reading a book will depend on literary awards and bestseller lists. They will never know the pure joy of a juicy historical Walflowers romance followed by the heartbreak of a volume on partition and its consequences. They will never relate to, and therefore never benefit from the existential crisis of a desperate vampire. They won’t know the thrill of hours spent digging through piles of dust motes to unearth treasure in a second-hand bookstore. Their shelves will forever be prey to awards, notable mentions, even popular opinion.

I read ‘God of Small Things’ in high school. The book was one long beautiful breath-taking poem. Last year the magic reappeared in ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’. To have my book next to hers is a little like being close to her energy.

I read a little known book called ‘The Gin Drinkers’ around the time I started college. I was smarting from culture shock, felt like a fish out of water on most days, wondered if things would ever get better and like most young people looked for familiarity that I never really found. (Have I found it now?). As clichèd as it sounds, I recognized a bit of myself in the characters of this book. When Sagarika Ghose spotted her book at the airport, I wonder if she registered the book next to her.

If you spot ‘Beyond Asanas‘ anywhere, do send me a picture!

Books Yoga

Beyond Asanas – My Book, My Words

August 21, 2019

Thank you @zzeehphotography and @makeupbyhennaanbaree for this amazing shot.

When I was writing ‘Beyond Asanas’ my aim was to write a book which would give readers insight into little known stories about the asanas. This is an aspect of yoga practice which is never emphasized, so most practitioners only understand the asanas superficially.

Little did I know that through the book I would come in direct contact with people near and far, known and unknown. People who would read my words and appreciate them. And then take the time out to give me feedback, and share my work with others. So many of you have reached out to me on social media and through other means to express your thoughts and emotions regarding my work. You have no idea what it means to me. 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻⠀

‘Beyond Asanas’ was published this year on June 21st. The publisher, Penguin Random House felt that would be the apt day to publish a book such as this. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The beautiful photos have been shot by Joel Koechlin. The insightful foreword has been written by Kalki Koechlin.

Do get your copy now, and please don’t forget to share your feedback. It helps.

Buy on Amazon & Flipkart.

Available on Kindle too!

2019

4th Aug – 11th Aug

August 12, 2019

A snapshot from the first Instagram live session I did showing my own morning practice. Didn’t manage to save the video for this one, but other videos are up on www.youtube.com/PragyaBhatt

This week started with another event, this time for the FLOH Network.  FLOH is a singles network which has an interesting modus operandi.  Unlike other dating sites, FLOH actually plans meetups for their members.  You can then actually meet people face to face, and figure out if you vibe well.  And if you do, then you can explore your options to your heart’s content.  As part of the event, I shared my personal journey with yoga and how yoga has impacted my personal and professional life.

Sometimes I get out of the yoga pants and into some fancy gear.

Check them out on: https://www.floh.in/

It’s been so cold in Bangalore that I spent an afternoon to dig out all my winter clothes.  With the sun disappearing on us for days on end, I designated some time to fish out warm sweatpants and hoodies, sweaters and jackets.  It’s so cold that I actually layer for class!!!  And usually the layers don’t come off until after at least 10 rounds of Surya Namaskars.  What can I say?  I’m cold blooded?  I filmed a small warm-up routine while waiting for students to show up, and here it is.  When it’s cold, I can’t be bothered to take the hoodie off.

 

 

 

I listen to podcasts pretty obsessively and am constantly on the lookout for interesting new ones.  This week I stumbled upon this on and found it fascinating.  I usually end up listening to this stuff while I drive, cook or even during a shower! Do you have any interesting podcasts that you listen to?

 

 

 

Since many people ask me about my personal practice, I decided to start going live on Instagram.  Still a little new to it, I couldn’t save the first live session I filmed, but here’s the second one.  The video is kind of grainy and there’s annoying noise in the sound, but it will get better!  Follow me on Instagram for quick updates on everything I’m doing.

 

Also this week I was sad to hear that Toni Morrison passed away.  I read ‘Song of Solomon’ in high school and fell in love with her writing.  RIP.

 

Also, ‘Beyond Asanas‘ is now stocked in all the major bookstores and is also available internationally.  A friend of mine in Germany and the UK have received their copies.  Also – my high school English teacher also got her copy and uploaded this adorable picture.  Order your copy now!

Can you spot Beyond Asanas?

2019 Books Food Lifestyle Yoga

29th Sept – 4th Aug

August 5, 2019

Three times a week I have a student coming home early morning. For an hour we work with all our props and what follows is a deep, delicious savasana.

The first post of the week was a snapshot of my hand balancing practice.  I’ve been trying to invert for many years now.  Some days it’s good, some days not so much.  But I do a certain amount of inversions daily.  I find using blocks for pincha mayurasana and a bolster for  adhomukha vrkshasana helps to activate, stimulate and access my core muscles.

On Wednesday, the 31st I had an amazing book talk hosted by Carrots Restaurant.  Carrots is my default go-to for such events because their food is amazing and the vibe of the place is just the right amount of holistic health meets real life people.  Geetanjali, a friend of mine since college, also attended and relegated us all with anecdotes of me from college.  She reminded me that I was a huge fan of the Khadi Bhandar even back in college when such stuff wasn’t ‘cool’ like it is now!

All writers dream of when they will be signing their books. It still feels surreal.

Grateful for friends who partake of and enjoy your success.

 

In other new, I spotted my book ‘Beyond Asanas‘ at Higginsbothams on MG Road and was quite kicked about it.  As usual I took a million pictures of it.

 

In the run-up to my book launch, RJ Grisha, a lovely lady based in Chicago reached out to me via my Facebook page to see if I would do an interview for her radio should called ‘Life Aaj Kal’.  It was great because I got a chance to analyse myself and introspect a bit.  After all, it’s when we come across major breakthroughs that we think most about the meaning of everything in our lives.  When I listen to the interview now I smile in spite of myself.  I sound excited and nervous, happy and cautious…a young girl on the brink of the greatest event in her life.   You can listen to the interview here on the RadioPaaniPoori site.

Yesterday (4th Aug) I was kicked about doing an event for a company called Floh.  My talk was about how yoga has helped me with my personal and professional life.  I spoke about how our relationship with ourselves pretty much determines our relationship with others.  Therefore, it’s imperative to work on that relationship.  When I became more conscious of how I treat myself, talk to myself and perceive myself, then miraculously, others also became conscious of it.

But the best part of Sunday is my weekly runs at the Ulsoor Lake.  Yesterday I clocked 5 km and followed it up with some stretching and hanging upside down.

Favorite thing on this planet – loads of time to practice, run, stretch and monkey around Ulsoor Lake.

 

2019 Travel

July 22nd – 28th

July 29, 2019

This week started out with me being all writerly.  Many of you don’t know that I have a humongous  collection of saris.  Yet the only thing I wear most frequently are my yoga pants.  So it was refreshing to attend the Guru Purnima celebrations swathed in six yards of elegance.  And since I was presenting my teacher with my book on the same day I thought let me make it a Kodak moment and the result was the first Instagram update for the week.

Give me a beautiful south cotton sari any day. #noyogapants #sarinotsorry.

 

I’m still pinching myself about what a wonderful year this is turning out to be.  Last year if you’d told me that next year by this time I would have conducted a yoga retreat in Italy, I’d dismiss you as senile.  My book was in the pipeline, but I was immersed so deeply in editing that it ever seeing the light of day was almost mythical.  The second update for the week saw me thinking about my unconventional journey and the twists and turns that it’s led me on.  With no roadmap the only thing I’ve relied on to get to this point is my gut instinct and also blind trust on whoever wants to massage my ego!  This picture was taken when my sister Ana, cousin Ishani and I were roaming the streets of Imperia trying to find Susanne and Stephanie (with whom we were going to head to Liguria).

Dancing all over Imperia.

 

The 25th of July is Abhijata’s birthday.  In 2016 I went to Belur to attend an Iyengar yoga workshop for the first time.  Abhijata was there along with Birjoo and Rajvi Mehta.  I was nervous about speaking to Abhijata, but my classmates egged me on.  And I finally did, thinking I’d like to remember myself as courageous enough for a ‘no’ rather than the coward who didn’t even dare.  It was now or never.  Abhijata not only told me to write to the institute keeping her in the loop but also answered a few of my questions.  I did a blog on it and later put together a YouTube video.

 

And I ended the week with updates about my first book event for ‘Beyond Asanas’.  The event is called ‘Feeding Body and Soul – A Book Talk.  It is being hosted by Carrots Restaurant and they even curated a special menu for it!!! The menu included: Melon Mint Gazpacho, Raw Beetroot Ravioli with Herbed Cheese and Cilantro Hummus with Baked Lavash Chips.  Exciting stuff!!!  The first event was on Sunday evening and I spoke about my personal journey, why yoga, how I went about writing the book etc.  It was an open, free-wheeling discussion and I look forward to doing the event again on Wednesday the 31st of July.  Fingers crossed that this is the first of many book events. 🙂

Simply yummers….