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Lifestyle Travel Yoga

When the going gets tough…

September 22, 2016

I watched ‘Eat Pray Love’ and later devoured the book.  I loved the book and the movie.  I remember googling to find out what ashram Elizabeth Gilbert had checked into.  My friends and  discussed the book and its ideas to death.  We planned similar journeys.  And finally, all of us hoped that should we ever experience a life altering event, we would have the courage and strength to overcome it just like Elizabeth Gilbert.
Elizabeth Gilbert went on to write another book about her life post marriage with the love of her life (whom she met in at the end of ‘Eat Pray Love’).  I haven’t had a chance to read that book yet, but I do hope to pick it up soon.  Over the past few weeks the internet exploded with news that Elizabeth Gilbert has divorced her husband of 12 years – for the woman she’s in love with.  The thing is, this news wasn’t brought to the world through newspapers and magazine stories; Gilbert put it up on her Facebook page herself.  She included a picture of herself with the woman she loves.

Today while in the Sirsasana, with rivulets of sweat running down(up?) my torso and onto the mat, I think I gained a new perspective.  This morning we were taught how to balance our shoulders and torso in the headstand.  The teacher took us through various moves that helped us understand the positioning and behaviour of our shoulder blades and other parts of the torso.  This was to give us insight into how we can improve our headstand.  I was experimenting with my headstand and the experiments had me almost toppling and definitely very very unstable.

I’m sure falling in love while married, deciding to commit to the woman you love (despite knowing she has terminal cancer) and finally calling it quits on a relationship of 12 years with the love of your life (and which has been immortalized in a couple of best selling books) wasn’t easy.  And it didn’t happen overnight.  There must’ve been moments of uncertainty, of fear, of helplessness, anxiety, doubt, anger…and an overwhelming sense of insecurity.  Deciding to go public with an intensely private matter of this kind also couldn’t have been easy for  a woman known the world over for her soul searching trip to India and Bali.  No one in the public domain is impervious to criticism.  With social media being so pervasive, every detail of your life can be analysed.  You can be publicly berated for your actions, opinions and personal choices.  Therefore I think it was very very brave of her to be open about the choice that she made, and to risk a lot of bad publicity, ‘unfriends’, ‘unfollows’ and ‘unlikes’.  In an age where lifestyle choices are beamed out to the world the second they are made, we are constantly under the scanner.

For health and fitness professionals, it is imperative to look their best in every post.  Even pictures of them looking less than their best are always pictures of them looking fabulously less than their best.  The constant scrutiny from fans and followers creates intense pressure to look a particular way or make certain choices.  For fitness professionals choices such as drinking, smoking and indulging the sweet tooth present a challenge – to broadcast or not to broadcast?  I wonder, for instance, as a yoga expert what if I were to one day get a condition that yoga is meant to prevent – how would I go public with it?  Would I, like Gilbert, have the courage to talk about my experience?  Or what if I were to gain all the weight back (a fear that I constantly live with)?  How would I even begin to talk about it?  Which is why I feel like the protagonist on ‘Eat Pray Love’ is more courageous than what was portrayed in the book.  Her courage is uncommon and her quest for herself is very honest.

This is something we can all learn from.  What if an event in your life forced you to re-evaluate everything you’ve stood for so far?  Most of us are so fixated in our opinions and lives that we can almost never admit that we are wrong.  And what if we had to do so publicly?  I can’t imagine what Elizabeth Gilbert went through, but I think it would have been a process of immense growth and fulfilment.

When was the last time you were faced with a situation that challenged your basics and how did you deal with it?  Was it a process of growth and learning?  If yes, what did you learn?

Lifestyle Travel Yoga

Sunday the 18th – Koregaon Park

September 20, 2016

 

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Early morning walk around Koregaon Park.

 

Half the month is over, and, as Anuja pointed out in the car earlier today, half the year is almost over.  I bet a lot of people already made their New Year’s Eve plans. I’ve only been able to plan for the first week of December when I may be off for a new adventure.

 

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This should be better by December.

 

However, while I’m here I would like to experience a bit more of Pune.  So this past Saturday I decided to meet up with a friend of mine from my Infy days.  While in the UK, Bhavani and I were out frequently clubbing, pubbing, eating or just watching movies.  The last time I met up with her we went to Mallaka Spice (Bhavani & Me @Mallaka).  Last Saturday we went to a popular hangout here called The Bar Stock Exchange.  Nice place.  Good music, good crowd and nice drinks :).  We headed back to Bhavani’s house with plans of watching ‘Sinister’.  Once I realized I’d already seen the film, I promptly fell asleep.

The next morning was Sunday and I’m not one to miss out on a delicious breakfast.  Because of the early classes here, I’ve become very frugal with my breakfasts.  But I think I’m essentially a breakfast girl.  The other day (at Funky Kona in Baner) Anuja and I were discussing how much more fun and romantic breakfasts are over dinners.  Show me a breakfast and I’ll show you  girl who isn’t afraid to stuff her face.  So we drove around a bit to get to our breakfast place.  The Yogi Tree is right next to the Osho Ashram.  Bhavani had her usual parantha while I had a sandwich.  I have to confess, I don’t miss south Indian breakfast, but I do miss the coffee.  I’ve started to hallucinate the smell of fresh filter coffee!!!  I guess I know the first thing I’ll have in namma Bengaluru.

I pomelo_20160911194640_save.jpgwanted to indulge in a little bit of street shopping also while here.  I did go to Lakshmi road a day before the Ganapati festival.  It was crowded and I don’t think I’ll ever willingly go there again.  But I managed to pick up two pairs of beautiful Kolapuri chappals, which; for the record; happen to be my favorite kind of footwear.

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Many people told me that Koregaon park is known for its small quirky boutiques.  Bhavani and I decided to walk around.  I was looking for nice spots to take yoga photos.  Sadly, couldn’t find a single pretty background.  However, we did go to a few of the small boutiques and indulged in some retail therapy.  I got a sense of the vibe of the place which is youthful and vibrant.  There were interesting little food joints interspersed with the clothing and accessories boutiques.  Lots of places for dessert, but I’m keeping my chocolate addiction under control these days.

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Once I got home I said hi to Aston.  Aston makes a dog’s life look very chic.  He moves only if he has to.  He sprawls under the TV and sort of rolls around there every once in a while.  And he spontaneously has barking fits.  Playing fetch is his only form of exercise, but we know he’s in love with the tennis ball.  Anuja claims that he sleeps on his back and sometimes dreams about running after the ball.  So she says Aston’s legs move, as though he’s running after the ball.  Except he’s asleep.

I decided to strike a few poses while Aston was catching his breath.

Sunday evening Anuja and I decided to go back to Koregaon park to Dario’s.  I’d heard so much about the place and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed.  They have delicious food.  We decided to taste the vegan cheesecake and had some bruschetta and coffee.  We thought we’d go for a round of shopping before we sat down for dinner.

When we emerged from Dario’s it was raining, but the weather wasn’t going to keep a couple of girls away from clothes.  We browsed through a few boutiques in Koregaon park.  I was looking for interesting quirky stuff while Anuja was checking out the merchandise.  We headed home early so that I could be up bright and early for my 7 am.

 

 

Lifestyle Travel Yoga

The Standing Asanas – Day 17

September 17, 2016

It’s been raining non stop in Pune for the last 3 days.  The last time I experienced rain like this was in Wellington.  There the rain was accompanied by mist and the smell of Eucalyptus and Citronella.  Here I’m hurrying to RIMYI as quickly but as carefully as I can so as to make it to class on time while avoiding getting muck on my shoes and clothes.

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The 7 am class this morning was taken by Abhijata.  We started with the Uttanasana and the Adhomukha Svanasana.  We frequently start classes with these poses.   Then we were asked to get bricks and then started the series of standing poses.  We did all the standing poses without a break.  We did the entire sequence on both sides taking a break in between.  It took us only about 10 minutes.  Abhijata then told us that we can do the entire sequence of standing poses every day and in only 20 minutes.  In Iyengar yoga we start with the standing poses.  These poses are sort of like the entry point to other poses and also the entry point to start correcting alignment issues.  Structural and postural defects can be corrected only once the corrections from basic standing asanas are experienced by the body.

Another reason we begin with standing asanas is because while doing the asanas you focus on nothing but the asana.  It’s difficult to think about how much you hate your boss when your thighs are screaming in Virbhadrasana 1.  So for 20 minutes (while you are performing the sequence of standing poses), you get a mental break from whatever thoughts disturb you for the rest of the day.  This state of focus and concentration is what meditation tries to get you to.  In Iyengar yoga we use the asanas as a means to attain the meditative state.

When you try to sit and actively concentrate on emptying your mind or focusing on an object/word/thought, it’s difficult.  It could lead to frustration as well (the opposite of what we hope to achieve through meditation).  However, practicing asanas with consciousness and with an attention to detail ensures that for the time you are practicing you are also in a meditative state.

Perhaps this explains why I feel a sense of lightness here.  (Starting to wonder if I want to make it back to Bangalore….)

 

Lifestyle Uncategorized Yoga

Nightlife of a Different Sort

September 13, 2016

Lord Ganesh would probably be the poster boy for Hindu mythology.  I’ve rarely met a foreign yogi who hasn’t heard at least one legend about how he got the head of an elephant.  I’ve rarely been to an Indian or an Indophile’s house which doesn’t have a picture or a statue of Ganesh-ji.  I don’t profess to have more than a rudimentary knowledge of Hinduism and am not in the least iconoclastic.  But I also have a beautiful statue of Ganesh in my house.  One of my favorite pieces of jewellery is a gold Ganesh pendant that a friend of mine gave me when I was about to embark on an import journey in life (thanks Lakshmi).

I guess it was destiny for me to come to Maharashtra when the most special festival is going on.  Ganesh Chaturti here is celebrated like Dusshera in Mysore.  The festival has been immortalized in numerous Bollywood songs and last night I had the pleasure of visiting the 5 famous Ganesh mandals here in Pune.  These are so famous in fact, that it is rumoured that Bollywood celebrities come all the way here to offer their prayers.  Going to the old city and walking through the crowds to make your way to the Ganpatis is no easy feat, and I guess it was destiny once again that I had a group who was kind enough to think of me when they made their plan.  Had it not been for Hariharan, Shivangi and Subbu I don’t think I would ever have had the chance to participate in the festivities.

 

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The route.

We had a very capable and organized navigator.  Hariharan did the groundwork.  We had the names of the famous Ganapatis and the walking route printed out.  We knew that it was going to be crowded, so we left our bags behind in the car and ventured out on foot.  Don’t get too close to the venue to look for parking because you won’t find any.  We parked on the other side of the  Mula Mutha river and crossed the bridge.  The area is cordoned off for vehicles.

 

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Have to go back to this.  I’ve heard there is a sound and light show here.  Also, it looks very different from how it does in Bajirao Mastani.  I will have to go back for a closer look.

The Ganapatis we wanted to visit were:

  1. Kasba
  2. Tambdi
  3. Guruji Talim
  4. Tulsibaugh (we missed this one)
  5. Kesriwada

So the Ganapatis, in no particular order are:

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The oldest Ganapati.

While here I want to make sure that I have as much vada pav and pav bhaji and other local fare, and in keeping with that we stopped at JumboKing for their famous Wada Pav Burger.pomelo_20160913161647_save.jpg

 

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Mario Miranda on the wall.

 

Fortune tellers, old and new friends, phenomenal yoga teachers and amazing practice sessions…what else will Ganesh-ji bring my way during the rest of my Pune travels and in my life?

 

 

 

Lifestyle Travel Yoga

The Yoga Mat

September 12, 2016

 

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A photograph at the institute.

 

A tip for all of you travelling to Pune to study at RIMYI:  Don’t take your yoga mat.  I know many people are attached to their mats, and they can’t imagine practicing on any other mat.  (Letting your yoga mat go would be a good lesson in Vairagya or non-attachment.)  Anyways, I was unaware that mats are available in the institute, so I brought along my own.  But I find I’m too lazy to lug it to the institute daily, so now I just use the mats there.

The institute has a wide collection of mats.  So depending on what you want to practice,

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Electric salad and Top Hats @Malaka

you can choose the thickness and stickiness of the mat.  The thing is, my mat gets very dirty (maybe because of my park classes), and I simply can’t get over how clean these mats are.  Even though hundreds of people use the mats daily, the mats are clean and tidy, so you don’t feel all icky about using them.

 

You probably use your mat daily.  Probably sweat on it a lot.  Probably walk across it with dirty feet, or others will walk across it with dirty feet.  No wonder people find their hands and feet slipping in Adhomukha Svanasana.  But a little care for your mat can ensure that it lasts for a while.

If you use your mat in the park (like a lot of my students do), then try to wash your mat weekly.  The best practice to wash your mat is to lay it down on the floor and wipe it down with a sponge and soapy water.  And then rinse the soap away using the same sponge.  Be gentle, because you don’t want to loosen and weaken the fibres of the mat.  I suggest you be eco-friendly and use water and vinegar mixed together.  In Wellington I used to spray Eucalyptus oil on my mat which would keep it smelling fresh and energizing.  You could also spray some essential oil on your mat.  Leave it out to dry.  Also, try not to use too much soap as you don’t want any residue on your mat.

Don’t wring the mat.  Again, it may loosen the fibres and you may end up wringing the mat out of shape.

I know there are special yoga mat wipes which you could use to clean your mat.  I know of one case where someone used baby wipes, which was a bad idea because it moisturized the mat.  Which is not ideal if you want to practice Adhomukha perfectly.  Some people use witch-hazel as well.  I’ve never done this.

What I usually do is put my mat in the washing machine and leave it out to dry in the balcony.  Simple and time effective.  However, I learned the hard way that you shouldn’t put in anything else with your mat.  One of my mats came out torn on one end.  Learn from my mistakes.

 

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Sunday agenda: Catching up on rest with Aston and scary movies on Netflix.

 

 

 

 

 

Lifestyle Travel Yoga

Stretching – Then and Now

September 11, 2016

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@Malaka Spice

 

It’s been close to 10 days here and my routine here is as challenging as ever.  I realize that if it’s your first time here, then it does take a while to adjust and adapt.  The first time I had a 4 hour practice I was incredulous … and didn’t know how to deal with it.  Rather, I didn’t know how to make the most of it.  When I practice at home it’s only for an hour and a half, and by the end of it I’m drained out.  So the first few days here, I was always exhausted.  So much so that I felt I couldn’t give the best in the asanas and always felt sloppy and ungainly throughout the practice.  Mondays and Tuesdays specially, since practice on those days is almost 4 hours long, and by the time I’m done with practice its an ordeal just to walk home.  My fantasies these days centre around buying an apartment next to the institute so that I can crawl home in no time and surface again only for the next class.

However, now I’ve started to get used to the routine.  I’m actually able to make the most of the extended practice sessions.  In fact, 2 hours is just about enough time for a satisfying practice…how I’m going to sustain this when I’m back in Bangalore is the stuff other blog posts are made of.

Yesterday I had my class in the evening (where I’m referred to as ‘Bangalore’, and another

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Milk tea just this once?

girl is called ‘USA’, oh and then there’s ‘Madam China’ in the 6 am session).  It was an amazingly intense session.  The class was fast paced with a focus on stretching the lower body (Janu Sirsasana, Paschimottansana, Baddhakonasana etc).  Finally we did the Upavista Konasana, which is a challenging pose for me.  I slowly made my way down and eased my torso onto the floor.  I remember the days when I started practicing yoga and this pose was a big challenge.  I wouldn’t be able to extend my back and my hip joint was stiff.  As the years went by, I was still pretty reluctant to practice this pose because it didn’t come naturally at all and it was frustrating.  Even now, sometimes I’m able to execute this pose well, and sometimes I feel like lead.

Yesterday I was able to ease myself down and placed my forehead on the floor.  I stayed there kind of happy and satisfied with myself.  There’s always an element of pleasant surprise also, because some days your body can extend and some days it just doesn’t.  This reverie lasted until I heard, “BANGALORE!  You’re sleeping!  Extend more!  Walk forward with your hands!!!  That’s it, that’s good.  Trance mein chali gayi thi phir se.”

And I realized that for the most part, this is how I practice.  I arrange myself into a pose and then my mind says, “This is it, you’ve done well.  You’re done.”  And then my pose goes dead, and progress stops.  Or, as the teacher said, I fall asleep.  So when I was told to extend more, I had to push through the limitations of my mind (kind of still the internal dialogue) and discover if I could, in fact, go further.  I realized that I could, and for that little bit of time I experienced new life.  And received a bit of enlightenment.

The Halasana is a pose that we do daily in class.  We use props to ensure that the spine and neck are straight.  The picture is of me doing the Halasana many years ago.  When my internal dialogue was loud and overpowering.  I’m sure it’s improved over the years.  And after this class, I know how to work in this (and in all other asanas).

Halasana (Plough Pose)

How To

  1. Lie down straight on your back making sure your head lies on the floor.
  2. Exhale, bend your legs at the knees and bring your knees close to your chest.
  3. Lift your buttocks off of the floor supporting your back with your hands.
  4. Make sure to plant your elbows firmly on the floor.halasana
  5. Bring your body perpendicular to the floor, until your sternum touches your chin.
  6. Gently extend your legs out behind your head.
  7. Keep your face and neck relaxed.
  8. Practice with your arms stretched out behind and fingers interlocked to relive pain and cramps in fingers, hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders.

Benefits

  • Relieves fatigue.
  • Helps to calm down the mind.
  • Relaxes your eyes and brain.
  • Controls hyper tension.
  • Improves digestion.
  • Lengthens the spine and improves alignment.
  • Reduces insomnia and anxiety.
  • Relieves stress-related headaches and migraines.

Contraindications

  • Don’t practice during menstruation and if you have cervical spondylosis.
Lifestyle Travel Yoga

Yoga and the Menstrual Cycle – Pune Day 8

September 8, 2016

To practice or not to practice – even the most devoted yogini asks herself this once a month.

Here in Pune, women on their period are given a different, more restful sequence to follow.  So they will do all the standing and seated asanas and the twists with the rest of the class.  When the class goes into inversions (which is what we practice towards the end of the session), the menstruating ladies go into either forward bends or restful supine positions.

When I was in Mysore last year I found out that in the Ashtanga tradition, women are allowed 3 rest days while on their period and these days are called the ‘Ladies’ Holiday’.

Now that we know that two very old traditions of yoga recommend rest during this time, it’s worth dwelling on why.  I’m sure I’ve talked about it in a previous blog, but the most obvious reason is that inversions force the flow of blood to go against the natural course, which may lead to unhealthy periods.  Also, when you start to integrate bandhas with your asanas, the mula bandha opposes the flow of blood again.

Mensturation is also the time when a woman’s body regenerates and gets ready to procreate again.  This ability to procreate is held holy and revered in many cultures.  This is a time for a woman to slow down and give time and space to her body, spiritually and physically.

When I first started practicing yoga, I admit I thought not practicing when you’re menstruating was just a myth.  And so I practiced all the time.  A lot of us can get away with intense challenging practice sessions even while we’re on our period.  However, your body will change and it’s important to be attuned to these changes.  Your flexibility levels vary day to day, as does your stamina and state of mind.  As your body and your practice change you can expect that one day you may just want to relax during your period.  Listen to your body, don’t just obey your mind.

How did I make peace with easing up on my practice?  I decided to take it the Iyengar way.  During my self practice I spent a lot of time in Supta Baddhakonasana and in various forward bends.  I did a lot of hip openers because I find that feels good.  I worked on my Hanumanasana as well.  My back feels relaxed and flexible and I still feel like I did a good practice.

On to other related topics.  Lately I’ve started looking into having a zero-waste period.  As many readers may know, sanitary napkins and tampons are non biodegradable or recyclable and end up in landfills.  There are reams online about TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) but my primary interest in a zero-waste period is the environment.  Pads and tampons started to feel like the deep-fried, coated in refined sugar, unhygienic sweet that I didn’t even want to look at.  I discovered alternatives.  Here’s a video that will shed more light on this:

 

And if you’re interested in getting your own set of re-usable pads, you can get them at the link below.  The reason I like this organisation is because they are involved with lots of rural initiatives.

https://ecofemme.org/domestic/

Lifestyle

Book Review – Indian Superfoods

September 7, 2016

Today was the first day I had an early morning session.  I’ve become used to waking up around 7, so 5 am was a challenge (funny how easy it is to get into the habit of waking up late).  I got ready quickly and hurried to the class.  As usual the class was full, even at that early hour.  We went through the usual rigmarole of standing poses, inversions etc.  Not much to report.   Except that I continue to read voraciously.

What I like about Rujuta’s books is that they are very relevant to our lives and times.  She talks about local food.  And essentially, she makes health and fitness accessible to the masses.  By masses, I don’t mean the vast majority of Indians who don’t have access to Acai seeds.  I mean those of us who are so busy with the mundanity of life, that we don’t have time to hunt down the best quality goji berries or chia seeds available to us.  So this book is a great resource for those who would like to eat well with the least hassle.  For me it was great because I believe in simple food and wholesome health.  To stay in  optimum health and shape is more a function of eating simple unadulterated food, instead of exotic produce and unpronounceable ingredients lists.  My idea is simple.  If you focus on quality, then the most commonly available ingredients will have you glowing a la lightbulb.  I believe this and try to eat like that, and I do enjoy good health for the most part.

In addition to this, Rujuta has also brought to light lots of fruits and vegetables from different regions in India.  It helps in us becoming curious and a bit more experimental with our food, and also inculcates a sense of awareness of the richness of what our land has to offer.  From ghee to something called the ambadi fruit, her book makes local produce come alive and become tempting.  This blog isn’t a summary of the book, but just a little bit of info.  The book has a lot more information to offer and I would really suggest that you read the book.  However, here is a little bit of information to pique your interest:

  1. Ghee – It’s a myth that ghee is fattening.  In fact, it is lipolytic, it breaks down fat.  So if you eat ghee you’re helping in breaking down stubborn fat.  Helpful advice that she gives for women:  If you get skin breakouts before or with every period eat ghee at least three times a day.  Plus she has a bonus recipe for how to make ghee.
  2. Kokum – this is a fruit I haven’t had, but I had a drink made out of this at Dastkaar.  Rub kokum butter on the soles of your feet right before you sleep and you will sleep deeply, regardless of how stressed and frazzled you are.  Definitely on my shopping list.
  3. Banana – here I have a banana before every class.  Actually, in Bangalore as well.  It’s a myth that bananas are fattening.  They are low on fat and in fact help in fat burning and in reducing cholesterol!
  4. Kaju – good to combat PCOD and hypothyroidism.  Prevents adult acne and improves fertility too!
  5. Ambadi – I’ve never had this plant nor heard about it.  Another item on my shopping list.  If you know how to pronounce this word, do let me know.  Interestingly, this local green (and other’s like it) are called ‘orphan crops’, crops that no one grows because there is no demand for them.  You can make it into a sabzi and get your iron, vit B and folic acid from it.  The stems of the Ambadi plant are used to make jhadoos and fabric.  I wonder if they make yoga mats out of this…
  6. Rice – prevents premature wrinkling and supports good hair growth.  Need I say more?
  7. Coconut – doesn’t contain cholesterol because it’s a plant based food.  Plus it actually helps in reducing ‘central adiposity’ (fat in the middle) and so helps in ensuring a slim waist.
  8. Aliv – used in laddoos!  Great for skin, it evens out skin tone, gets rid of patches and naturally brightens the complexion.  Wonder if Diwali laddoos contain this seed…
  9. Jackfruit – low in fat and rich in fibre, so it helps in reducing cholesterol levels.  Also, the fruit has a lot of anti-oxidants.
  10. Sugar – don’t replace with jaggery as both have different properties.  Jaggery adds heat to the body while sugar is a coolant.

If the above points were interesting, you should go out and get a copy of the book.  It does give you food for thought and even if you’re unable to apply everything she talks about into your life, it still helps to be aware of what we are eating and what are the food choices that are available to us.

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Lifestyle Travel Yoga

Stretching – Then and Now

January 16, 2014
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@Malaka Spice

 

It’s been close to 10 days here and my routine here is as challenging as ever.  I realize that if it’s your first time here, then it does take a while to adjust and adapt.  The first time I had a 4 hour practice I was incredulous … and didn’t know how to deal with it.  Rather, I didn’t know how to make the most of it.  When I practice at home it’s only for an hour and a half, and by the end of it I’m drained out.  So the first few days here, I was always exhausted.  So much so that I felt I couldn’t give the best in the asanas and always felt sloppy and ungainly throughout the practice.  Mondays and Tuesdays specially, since practice on those days is almost 4 hours long, and by the time I’m done with practice its an ordeal just to walk home.  My fantasies these days centre around buying an apartment next to the institute so that I can crawl home in no time and surface again only for the next class.

However, now I’ve started to get used to the routine.  I’m actually able to make the most of the extended practice sessions.  In fact, 2 hours is just about enough time for a satisfying practice…how I’m going to sustain this when I’m back in Bangalore is the stuff other blog posts are made of.

Yesterday I had my class in the evening (where I’m referred to as ‘Bangalore’, and another

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Milk tea just this once 🙂

girl is called ‘USA’, oh and then there’s ‘Madam China’ in the 6 am session).  It was an amazingly intense session.  The class was fast paced with a focus on stretching the lower body (Janu Sirsasana, Paschimottansana, Baddhakonasana etc).  Finally we did the Upavista Konasana, which is a challenging pose for me.  I slowly made my way down and eased my torso onto the floor.  I remember the days when I started practicing yoga and this pose was a big challenge.  I wouldn’t be able to extend my back and my hip joint was stiff.  As the years went by, I was still pretty reluctant to practice this pose because it didn’t come naturally at all and it was frustrating.  Even now, sometimes I’m able to execute this pose well, and sometimes I feel like lead.

 

Yesterday I was able to ease myself down and placed my forehead on the floor.  I stayed there kind of happy and satisfied with myself.  There’s always an element of pleasant surprise also, because some days your body can extend and some days it just doesn’t.  This reverie lasted until I heard, “BANGALORE!  You’re sleeping!  Extend more!  Walk forward with your hands!!!  That’s it, that’s good.  Trance mein chali gayi thi phir se.”

And I realized that for the most part, this is how I practice.  I arrange myself into a pose and then my mind says, “This is it, you’ve done well.  You’re done.”  And then my pose goes dead, and progress stops.  Or, as the teacher said, I fall asleep.  So when I was told to extend more, I had to push through the limitations of my mind (kind of still the internal dialogue) and discover if I could, in fact, go further.  I realized that I could, and for that little bit of time I experienced new life.  And received a bit of enlightenment.

The Halasana is a pose that we do daily in class.  We use props to ensure that the spine and neck are straight.  The picture is of me doing the Halasana many years ago.  When my internal dialogue was loud and overpowering.  I’m sure it’s improved over the years.  And after this class, I know how to work in this (and in all other asanas).

Halasana (Plough Pose)

How To

  1. Lie down straight on your back making sure your head lies on the floor.
  2. Exhale, bend your legs at the knees and bring your knees close to your chest.
  3. Lift your buttocks off of the floor supporting your back with your hands.
  4. Make sure to plant your elbows firmly on the floor.halasana
  5. Bring your body perpendicular to the floor, until your sternum touches your chin.
  6. Gently extend your legs out behind your head.
  7. Keep your face and neck relaxed.
  8. Practice with your arms stretched out behind and fingers interlocked to relive pain and cramps in fingers, hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders.

Benefits

  • Relieves fatigue.
  • Helps to calm down the mind.
  • Relaxes your eyes and brain.
  • Controls hyper tension.
  • Improves digestion.
  • Lengthens the spine and improves alignment.
  • Reduces insomnia and anxiety.
  • Relieves stress-related headaches and migraines.

Contraindications

  • Don’t practice during menstruation and if you have cervical spondylosis.