Sunday, October 18, 2009

Happy Diwali

Yesterday was Diwali, the Indian celebration of lights. My children spent a whole day creating these beautiful crafts as decorations and parting gifts for close friends we had invited for an evening of dinner, pooja and lighting of diyas (clay lamps from India) and candles.
There was a gathering at my house. The pooja mandir was set, dinner was cooked (well made by a generous friend who has the gift of healthy cooking), the house was scrubbed clean, old keep sakes and lamps of diwali taken out, new keep sakes and diyas purchased - all the traditiona of Diwali I experienced from my childhood repeated. It started a week ago and the day before spent with children preparing for the auspicious evening the next day. So much of my childhood repeated but with some modifications of my own. Even though I am no longer in India, that spirit and joy of recreating my own life as a child repeated with and through my children.

It was a magical evening, something that has now become somewhat of a tradition in my household since the children were born. Its a tradition I inherited from my own parents.We had hoped to save one of these crafts, but the children just handed them out to everyone who came till nothing was left for them to keep as a memory. A school book report and a show and tell at her class was interrupted as a result younger one had nothing to take anymore.. Suddenly her desire and inspiration was gone. But this was such a pure and generous gift to our guests, that I now realize that there is no better book report or show and tell than the generosity and giving expressed by my children in that moment.

Perhaps it is this virtue of unadulterated giving that is the true spirit of Diwali, even though the history tells us it is the day of the win of the good over the evil and the return of a king to his homeland (amongst many other reasons and traditions).

Yesterday there was joy, laughter, music, lights in my household. Tonight, there is silence and quiet and yesterday feels like a distance memory. The only evidence left in the house of yesterday is the pooja mandir created by my kids and the sweet incense they loved to burn, and the colourful moong bean rangoli the children created with help from a friend "Kaye". I had no idea what she meant by making rangoli by gluing "beans" to paper - but it was simply divine. It created a new tradition in my family.

The makeshift pooja mandir will be left in its place and will stay for a while, till it is respectfully put away in its historical place on a kitchen nook. But this is a memory I will cherish always in my heart, because there was a lot of love and joy that was shared last night. I am wiser for it, because despite my loneliness and sadness of not having my munchkins tonight with me, I am comforted with the knowledge that they deeply share my joy and love of giving and the love of Diwali. These seeds are well planted, along with the seeds of yoga and when my young ones grow up from little seedlings to trees, this value shall blossom and I will have done my part of imparting my culture, language, tradition, and love of yoga to them, so they then can perhaps carry the same family tradition and history.

My hired help Erika left with her own special keepsakes of Bean Rangoli from the children had the most inspiring parting words.. "It was a magical evening!"... Yes Diwali is magical but not just for children, but for anyone of any age as it inspires you to spark that light in yourself and allowd you to experience the joy of giving so you too shine your own light in your unique way...

Happy Diwali to you all and I hope you too can shine your light with others...


The Yogi

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fight the pain!

My writer's block has continued. It has been hard to motivate myself to collect my thoughts and put the "electronic pen" to the "electronic paper". I had prepared a synopsis of my India trip, especially 5 days I spent in Pune where I had the opportunity to visit Abhay's studio and get 2 hours of yoga every morning. It did wonders for my sciatica and lower back. I also took a very fun "Sports yoga" class where we did "fast poses" and the whole class.

I arrived in India and spent the first week in excruciating pain and the last 5 days were bliss despite long hours and nights at work. I got a chance to say goodbye to some friends from Chile, who had not only spent a year in Pune practicing at the institute, but travelled extensively and absorbed the culture to the fullest. I highly recommend this to folks who want to come and practice at the institute. I know many come for a month and have a packed schedule. But experiencing the people and culture is as important as 5-6 hours of yoga at the institute where you live in a bubble.

In addition to being in Pune, I had the pleasure to connect with my past from 28 years, my classmates from grade 10 and visiting the place I grew up. I left with a profound message from Abhay as I struggled with chronic back pain. "Don't try to avoid it, fight it"! I am fighting it..


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Docked with the mother ship - India

I landed in Mumbai very early this morning. Getting out of the Mumbai airport was a breeze and a pleasant surprise to see a lot of the outside of the international airport reconstructed.. I could smell the musty air - monsoon is in full swing but the rain gods have not been too generous leading to a drought. "Mumbai only as 200 days of drinking water in reserve" says the driver of the car who picked me up. Hundreds of people are walking the streets barefoot at 2 am in the morning. Its Ganesh Chatruthi on Monday - the celebration of Lord Ganesh and thousands will walk to the Sidhi Vinayak Temple mid town Mumbai barefoot, a walk that may take them an entire day. I will seek spiritual blessings from a distance, as I will be recovering from jet lag. Thousands of colorful effigies of Lord Ganesh will be immersed in the Arabias sea and rivers all over. Its symbolic... but with scarce drinking water and pollution I wonder the logic behind it in the present time.

My yoga has been scarce. I had two yoga sessions with Nuvana. All to work on my sciatica and back ache, which she has helped dissipate. I tried to get into a class in Bandra with Jawahar tomorrow, but its to early in the AM. I will have to wait till I get to Pune next week. In the meanwhile the Swine Flu scare hype has really been blown over the top. The airport had a whole horde of masked medical examiners sitting at a desk, just collecting a form which we were required to fill out on the plane. We were warned of a 5 min medical check when we landed to see if we had symptoms of swine flu and could be quarantined for 5 days. The list of suspect countries included USA. You had to mention if you were coming from a country experiencing Swine Flu epidemic. Guess what everyone answered that as!!!! I wondered what the logic was - India is one of them now.

So I hope that the swine flu hoop la will subside soon. I plan to reconnect with my yoga practice, detach from the stresses of life in America and have a productive trip. There will be lots to write about, so hopefully I will have more frequent posts. I expect to connect with interesting people and have a challenging task of getting my Pune work force out of the Swine Flu fear and back to productive work. There are milestones to be met thanks to the Obama Health Care Technology Incentives.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Another day another _________________

The last few weeks have been hectic and full of travels and trips. I call them escapist trips, but incredible time with my children. I was in Hawaii last week for work and attend a coworkers wedding on the beach. I also had a chance to practice yoga at the Hatha Iyengar Yoga center of Honolulu. My sciatica had returned (the biking I think) and Ray Madigan was amazing in his instructions to help with it. It was a fun class. I wish I was there longer to take more. I learned a few new tricks in addition to what Nuvana had taught me on how to take care of it.

Then the nightmare began. I flew to Maui and took a class on the beach (a wet uneven grassy yard) organized by my coworker. The teacher was of a different style, one of those fusions of Iyengar and others. One student collapsed by the heat. I twisted my back and the showers of pain came from all directions. I have been in pain since. I had resisted going to this class, as I know I cannot handle Vinyasa, but fell to temptation. So I deserved this pain.

So here I am back to square one. Another reset. But tomorrow is my session with Nuvana and I expect some relief. My battles with pain and stress begin, especially since Pune is now the epicenter of Swine Flu in India and I have tickets to travel on the 21st.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

The balance is back - 7 days of yoga and counting

It was imminent that I would wake up one day and realize that I had gone astray. I had let myself go again! Over the last six months I had become complacent and let the stress consume me inside. Outwardly, I was starting to eat my stress out and had let my physical practice or yoga and walking slip to the sidelines. I was starting to balloon.

I had the usual excuses - too busy, too much work, travel, bad food. It all hit me at once, when I hit 210 pounds in June 2009 and then by June end I was 214 pounds. I couldn't fit in my pants, my asthma returned, and I was starting to slip into the hole of depression.
Finally there is a realization and eureka moment! "Just take care of yourself first"! In that awareness I made a pact with myself. I had planned Munoso's intense one week workshop in the first week of July in San Franciso at Abode of Yoga. I couldn't attend it as one of the days was a day with my children. That was more important that any yoga in the world. So I made a promise to myself - I would practice yoga every day I was denied time with my children starting July 1. That was a 14 day stretch. Not only would I practice yoga, but I would restart my walking, watch my food intake and let the stress go away from within.

It has been 9 days. I have taken a yoga class for the last 7 days. I have walked 2-3 miles every other day and I have restarted the healing of my mind, body and soul. I went on the scale today. I am down to 210 pounds. The soreness from the first few days has dissipated. I have gone back to the path of centering myself. It has been a re-learning of what I learnt for the last 3 years - how to calm your mind and how to connect to your mind and soul through your body.
Everything I learnt is steadily coming back. There is no more sadness as much as there is no more happiness . There is no more an expectation of where I "should" be in my life right now. I am where I am, and I couldn't be at any other place. So I accept where I am, and I just go with the flow of life, with the only one end goal and that is to remain in my neutral space. Everything else including the weight will simply melt away. The balance is slowly returning and I felt it in my sirsasana yesterday. I can really balance on my head now, better than I had ever before.

That was my realization today and with it melted away my writing block......I am back to blogging.. slowly but surely!


The Yogi

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Strengthen Shoulders? Hike 10 miles with a 20 pound back pack

I went on a camping trip as a chaperon with my kids' class earlier this week to a heavenly place called Opal Creek. A 2 hour drive into the foot hills of the Cascade Mountains south of here, this is an old growth forest reserve. From the entrance of the park its a 3 mile hike. Imagine that in the middle of pouring rain and carrying about 25 pounds of camera equipment, including the heaviest tripod you can ever carry. Add 3 layers of clothing and protective rain clothing, you're talking some serious weight being carried up the mountain.

It was an exhilarating experience, both in physically and mentally. Along with the sponge brained 6-9 year old kids, I too learnt about the flora and fauna of the area, including a valuable lesson on how important it is to preserve the forests and the associated wildlife. I had no idea how inter dependant the ecosystem is. I learnt about OWLS including the spotted ones....

It was three days of hiking, walking, listening, picture taking - I was exhausted by the time I returned. I was looking forward to a restorative yoga session with Nuvana. Nothing like that. She wanted me to work on my Adho-mukha vriksana instead, once I told her my shoulders were sore from carrying all that weight. "You never know how this may help you finally overcome your recent loss of ability to get into hand stand" !. After a few rounds of AdhoMukha Svanasana, with head firmly on support, which allowed me to experience the stretching back of the shoulders, I made the first attempt to kick up. With just a little tug to my thighs, there I was back on my shoulders, with enough strength to stretch up and get my elbows straight.

This accomplishment after nearly 9 months generated enough excitement that all kids too were up on their hands! So there were 4 more successful attempts interspersed with shoulder work, including half head stands and using weights. I finally had broken the barrier and I was right, it was not the hips, it was my shoulders that were the Achilles heel.
Connection to nature and your surroundings is extremely important to recycle your energy, your mind and your body of the junk we put into our selves every day. 3 days at Opal Creek made me realize I didn't need to travel two hours from home to do that. I live in such a paradise, right here in a place called Forest Heights. I just need to put on my rain gear and restart my daily hiking and walking, with a caveat - I need at least 20-25 pounds on my back and keep my shoulders rolled back. Its all interconnected to my ability to get back on hands and my favorite pose AdhoMukha Vriksasana.
The Yogi

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Keeping it real - yoga or not!

Recently I connected with school friends of mine, graduating high school class from St. Joseph's Convent in Faridabad India, a suburb of New Delhi. The year was 1981. I cannot forget that time and even though faces were forgotten, some names were forgotten, we kids all had a bond, and its amazing how those connections come right back after a deep sleep. The internet has connected us again, and the folks who connected were folks who you were connected with then, your circle of friends and some enemies, but at the end of the day they were all friends. Of all them most changed was me... no one could recognize my picture.

My connection to yoga started in that school. We would have a yoga class once a week in PT. Simple poses, like padmasana, not simple anymore for me... but the seed was sown. In grade 8, I wrote a play based on a yoga show that would come on TV every week. A Swami Dhiren Brahmachari would run it - he would rattle off the asanas, their benefit and two demonstrators would show them. My script was based on that show, and one of these circle of friends, Arun became Swami and two others become the demonstrators. The play was a hit and it one an award. And then yoga became history as other sports became more important.

As I connected with these friends the last few days and went down the memory lane, I realized those seeds of yoga never left me, just as these friends never left me. We started right back virtually and through pictures. Nothing has changed, but everything has changed. Those memories remain. It was a time of my life I cannot forget, and its a time I share with my children in form of stories, so they can then share it and the stories become family legends. That is so reminiscent of how yoga has evolved too. Passed down from generation to generation.

To the memories of times gone by....


The Yogi

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tadasana is standing up for yourself to withstand adversity in life!

One of the most amazing poses of Iyengar yoga is tadasana and how you are taught to execute and perform tadasana. The instructions flow in the following manner:

1. Join your feet together and firmly plant your feet evenly on all your toes, the ball of your feet and your heels
2. Pull your knees up (or in Pune speak "suck up your knees")
3. Roll your shoulders back to open up your strenum and pull your trapeziums down
4. Your head is straight in a neutral position
5. Your fingers pulling down and straightenyour arms all the way.
6. Your glutes tightened

Tadasana translates into the mountain pose. You are standing tall, sturdy like a mountain, that can withstand storms, rain, snow even when it blows its top off, the raging lava just flows down, it doesn't stick. Tadasana translates to that inert strength we have to stand up and withstand all adversity, and helps us be fearless and calm.

So if you are ever being beaten down in life, you feel overwhelmed, you lean too much on one leg or the other in stress and lethargy, just remind yourself to get into Tadasana and let all that negative energy, fear and lethargy, flow out of your body, from the tips of your fingers, the crown of your head, the gaze of your eyes, the opening of you chest, soles of your firm feet, and even spread of your toes. Then let your intelligence just permeate through and little you know it you will find that spark to withstand any adversity and help you to stand up and withstand it. This is how you stand up for yourself and your rights!

This is the power of Tadasana, the king of standing poses.


The Yogi

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fighting the battles - learning to conquer Adho Mukha Vrksasana

Well folks my bloggers block has persisted though I have been writing but on other blogs and for other reasons so that preoccupation has taken away time from this blog. I am continually challenged by the loss of the ability to perform arm balances, such as Adho Mukha Vrksasana. My sessions with Nuvana have been all about building the strength in the arms and upper back needed for the lifting, but the added weight of about 20 pounds mostly around the belly has been restricting the lifting of the hips. But something interesting happened in class the other day. She had me go to the ropes instead and jump up holding the ropes in Sirasana form. You are upside down, but holding the upper ropes in your hands, and you are in lying down prostrate position flat against the wall, but inverted.
There is tremendous pull on your arms as you literally stand upside down, but the head is in the air. After a few seconds, your legs come down to the floor, over your head, like a high angle dog pose. You are ready for lift off again.

Believe it or not my legs went right up, just as if I was performing an Adho Mukha Vriksasana. The hips felt light, and the inversion was almost in slow motion. What helped? It was the support of the hands and arms with the ropes. That provided the energy and the support to lift off.. Eureka! Its not the hips, its probably not the weight, it is the ARMS and SHOULDERS! That is my nemesis.

Imagine if you could do the same in life, clearly understanding and identifying your challenges, how much more access you have to resolving them. Ironically I am on a parallel track of another challenge, a fight, a battle.... I need a similar exercise to find the source of the problem that is creating this battle and how to overcome. I think I have a good teacher to help me with that, but at the same time I have to keep trying....


The Yogi

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Where has been the yogi been???

I am sure many of the regulars are wondering what has happened to my blog posts. I am suffering from writers block I think in addition to a very hectic travel schedule that included a week of R&R with my munchkins for Spring Break in San Diego and Disneyland. My yoga practice has deteriorated to once a week. My weight is up 10 pounds adding to my struggle with arm balance poses. My hips are just not moving, yada yada yada... and I have been spending more time reading blogs, including that of the a famous Indian movie star Amitabh Bachchan and a Mumbai based writer Shobhaa De, whose book Superstar India I read last year.

Amongst all this I end up in San Francisco for a trade show and it opens up an opportunity to find the best Iyengar yoga studio in town. I had already done that research when I met Rita Manuso, Manos Manuso and two other teachers from Abode of Iyengar Yoga. I had to take a class from Manuso, now matter how intimidated I was made to feel by others. And what a class it was. It reminded me of Pune and the intensity. This was an experience I will not forget. I introduced myself ahead to him and he basically encourage me to absolve myself and take it as it comes. This class was all about shoulders and neck and he made us do some very interesting poses, including a paired up Shirsasana on a pole. Manuso gently corrected me a few times. I had already warned Rita I had trouble with lifting up on arm balances, so when it came to Pinchmayurasana, she was right there assisting. me.

Instructions were rapid fire, blankets and blocks were Punesque and the studio large, airy, aesthetically designed with a great sun roof, natural light, even though it was cold and windy as hell outside. The class couldn't have been more perfect, we were all huffing and puffing, and some guys stripping of their shirts, which was a first as the heat emanated out of our bodies going from pose to pose. It was an amazing class to say the least. I would highly recommend anyone visiting SF to take one of Manuso's public level 2-5 class. Show up early, he turns away late comers.

I had promised David I would come to his class next day at 7 am. I couldn't make it, I was sore as if I had 3 days of uninterrupted weight training. I am still sore, so I am resting again today. Maybe I will go tomorrow afternoon.

Off to my trade show now....


The Yogi

Monday, March 16, 2009

A new post finally - new yoga props.. new level of experience ....

What a struggle its been to write the last few weeks but today I mustered the energy and write. My last post was nearly a month ago on Feb 17th discussing "Igomania" and a snapshot of my one on one session with Nuvana. I took off for Pune the next week on a very short 5 day trip for work. I packed three private sessions with one of my intermediate teachers Abhay at his studio in his house and what an amazing experience it was. He read my body and my mind without me saying much. I have been unable to perform handstands and pinchmayursasan for the last many months. He had me in Pinchmayurasana in minutes. I grabbed the rope hooks at the base of the wall, he pressed my right lower arm with his foot and off I flew.
"You need to feel light in the hips" and "I want your calves to be soft"! We did a lot of hip work and leg work, lots of variations of uttanasana, adhomukha svanasana, navasana, pagangusthana, wall, floor chairs, round blocks, ropes, Abhay standing on my back while I was in a restorative adhomukha virasana. There was a lot discourse on yoga philosophy, my doshas, improving my tejas etc etc etc. Three sessions of complete enlightenment. I had little jet lag on this trip. I packed in 15 hours of work per day and I mustered the courage to bring back some great props, including my favorite "Viparita Dandasana Bench" in lieu of luggage. I travelled light and that allowed me to replace baggage with props. All made it back in one piece.

So finally it all got assembled last Friday with Nuvana's assistance. I am still learning to use them, but 15 minutes on the bench was amazing and well deserved... there will be more coming in the future but enjoy the following pictures for now.

Life has been its usual self for me lately, it seems like there is no end to my misery and pain, but that is the test of the universe and it the test of my resolve to bear it, take it, all for my two munchkins, who I care about and love the most. As Nina said in her tough level 3 class today "try to be still in the pose a bit longer and try to bear the pain as the sutras say..."! I am trying ... my best... In the meanwhile Iyengar yoga keeps moving forward and not look back and the props just make this journey more interesting than ever. I do know one thing for sure, it has given me strength to bear and not react, but observe, be still and try to be neutral.


The Yogi

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Engaging in Meaningless Battles - Unyogic Igomania!

War is nothing but a battle of selfish and mindless egos that loose sight of compassion love and care for others. At the end even the winner loses - the destruction is bi-directional as war spares no one! Yoga teaches us to deflate our egos by going inwards to the I and beyond.

But occasionally going to the "I" sounds selfish to me. Should we not be going inwards to "us" which I term that as SMS - Shared Memory Space. I started using this term back in 1993. I picked it up from my software programming vocabulary and I first wrote about the idea of SMS in my personal journal. I lost the journal in a computer crash, with no backups. I have yet to learn my lesson of making regular backups - I still dont! Shame on me as I am a certified computer geek...

Shared Memory Space was my way of describing the notion of collective consciousness. In my world the notion of ego, self and collective consciousness are all interlinked. It is easy to break this link and simply let the "I" become the major ahamkara - ala the freaking mayhem causing devil in our lives which I call "Igo" rather than ego. It leads to utter blindness, failure and misery in our lives. We all suffer from Igo-mania. Why do some engage in such meaningful battles and conflict ? I am still uncertain, but Igo has a major play in it. But does Igo have physical manifestations?
Despite some expert opinions I don't believe knee and back aches are physical manifestations of inflated Igos. They are purely physical and generally posture related or for instance when you blow up your knee through a bad slip on a ski slope which I VERY much avoid.
You wonder why I write much about Igo and war. Well last I checked it's a daily occurrence in my life. I deal with battles daily and its a challenge to keep my Igo in check.

War has been a cornerstone of the history of the world right from the great epic of Mahabharata described in the bhagvatgita. We want peace. But peace is impossible unless we are peaceful inside with our Igos and negative reciprocity in check and deflated, while love and compassion is inflated. Unless you keep your Igo in check, you cannot bring the love and compassion into yourself and start seeing "Clearly". You will remain clouded till the war destructs you and who you engage the war with. Its a vicious cycle of negative reciprocity. You see that daily in the war in the mid east. Its simply never-ending.
Yoga helps you connect with the collective conscious - your SMS. The more you are connected to the SMS, the more likely you are to be thoughtful, calm and able to withstand dysfunction in your life. You get the power to understand not only yourself, but the universe around you. That understanding can be helpful in you respond to battles and attacks. Rather than reciprocate, sometimes pulling your sail down and not showing up for the battle may be the best diffuser. But that requires a major check of your Igo value. It needs to be at its lowest point.
So, when I am attacked or have a strong desire to let my love and compassion be blocked by my Igo and negative reciprocity, I rely on some of the following postures that help me it keeping it in check and restrain me from engaging meaningless battles:
1. Half uttanasa
2. Paschim uttanasana
3. Adho mukha paschim uttanasana. This is great to do at 35000 feet on a cramped seat of a zooming jet.
4. Supported backbend - Viparita Dandasana This will open up the well of tears in your eyes and gush those emotions out. You need that once in a while.
5. Adhomukha Svanasana - This has lately become my favorite pose. Be a relaxed dog and stretch your tailbone up to make a perfect triangle out of your body! Here is a near perfect rendition from my teacher Nuvana...

The Yogi

Watch it from the expert herself....

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hang upside down and let your aches and pain dissipate...

On Saturday I attended Nuvana's back care class at Sunset Yoga after a Friday evening back care regiment in private session with her. We determined that forward bends were aggravating it, so there were a number of supported back bends performed, along with twists. She avoided the traction with belts. My back pain was isolated to the lower left and heavy lifting was responsible in aggravating an old injury many years ago playing racquetball. Nuvana has no background in human physiology or anatomy, but she has a knack for isolating the area and using her skills to twist, stretch and turn you to relax the area. It is interesting to observe and feel your back pain slowly disappearing albeit for a short while.

Back to Saturday morning. The pain had moved to the center of the lower back and any forward bending would aggravate it. It was bearable. The class had many who were in some sort of pain. We started with some sitting poses and I could feel my shoulders tighten. Did I sleep wrong. The class was hard and eventually we ended up at the ropes. The best 10 minutes were hanging down in sirsasana. I had done rope sirsasana in some time and that just relaxed me completely. I would highly recommend it....


The Yogi

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lower back pain - A revisit

I received a nice comment from an anonymous reader on an earlier lower back pain post - his lower back melted away I guess!!! Well little did he or she know that my lower back pain re-appeared on my left side. There was heavy lifting of 60 pound munchkins and that did the trick to my lower back. Old injuries have an interesting way of re-appearing when you think yoga took care of it. Coincidentally my knee pains disappeared. Its like a see-saw. Knee pains goes Back pain comes and vice-versa.

Monday night advanced yoga was hard, I failed miserably on the arm balancing poses, the poses I love the most have become my nemesis and my back hurt horrendously. Its been a horrendous three days till this evening. But I have chosen not to be miserable and didn't give permission to my backache to make me miserable nor the person who threatened to make my life miserable in utter mindless behavior. I rejected the pain both in my back and landed in my Wednesday night class with Nuvana at the gym. There is back ache, but there is resolve to get through the class.

I cannot bend to properly complete Uttanasana, so I bend as far as I can. The poses are challenging, but I choose not make them my nemesis, especially revolved triangle pose. Nuvana is great in moving the class along, there are many new yogis, all jazzed by her precision. The class has ballooned from about 10 to 25. I manage a good Vriksasana on my left foot, but not the right. It was an hour class - there were several variations of the triangle poses from Adhomukasvanasana. We ended with a small resting pose. I had kept my backache at bay, but it would appear in sharp intervals. So I checked in with Nuvana at the end of the class.

"Get into Adhomukhavirasana" she remarked! "Now!" Yeah right now she said. So off I went in the middle of the class dismissing itself. She walked over and stretched my spine. It felt good. Then she asked me to grab her ankles and while holding my lower back down she pulled her legs back. It It resulted in an intense stretch of the spine and the back. She asked me to get up and asked if it helped. "Of course it did!" I let out... The backache just melted was a 30 second yoga therapy session with long lasting effects.

I learnt another lesson - by not giving permission to the pain and misery I have permission to myself to be relieved from the pain. Fear of pain is the cause of misery in life - I freed myself from it today.


The Yogi

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bad Knees equate to bad posture....

The clicking and pain in my knees while performing standing poses returned after the new year. My right knee is especially bad. Any sort of step climbing or squats makes my brain automatically go into protection mode and my leg avoids extreme pressure. The knee clicking got bad enough, that it was time to get a yoga therapy session for knees this Friday with Nuvana.

We did several modified poses. The whole idea was to relax the knee and there are several poses such dandasana, supta padangustasana, badha konasana and a half form of dhanurasana that Nuvana combines with traction using belts and ropes to achieve relaxation of the knee. The stretching of the calf muscles and the muscle at the back of your leg right behind the knee lets the knee reposition. She also observed my bad posture. I was putting more weight on the right leg and it was possible that my really bad knee was the left one, forcing me to use more of the right and overwork it. She based it on another interesting phenomena. After the first round of knee traction, my painful right knee felt better, but the left knee became tight. I was reminded of an earlier post on bad knees I wrote in August 2008.

A balanced standing posture is important in maintaining balance of work our body has to do including the knees. I am very aware of it, and ever since I started practicing yoga, I make efforts to maintain a balanced standing posture described in the Tadasana pose in Light on Yoga. But its easy to fall back to the old habits, so its important to observe yourself standing. I guess there is a life lesson in what I just wrote - "be observant of your bad habits and make ongoing efforts to correct them or avoid them!"

Back to the Friday session, by the end of the 90 minutes, I was climbing stairs with no pain in either knee. This is the magic of Nuvana's Iyengar yoga therapy. Its been three days, no pain in the knee, and I am very observant of maintaining a balanced posture while standing.

I have re-learnt another life lesson. To get to a balance sometimes requires gentle tugging. You may think you have the bull by the horns, but sometimes gentle tugging is required on both sides to tame a rowdy bull.


The Yogi

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A year later - where is my yoga journey?...

On Jan 5th last year I wrote my first post entitled the Power of Yoga. I finally share why I started this blog. It was on a whim and in reaction to an attack to my ego - very un-yogic I say. I was appalled to see a celebrity trying to teach overweight folks yoga, more specifically "Power yoga" on her blog. So that was my inspiration - not to teach yoga but share my journey and possibly inspire others.

I have to admit, that inspiration has transformed into an avenue where I can express myself and how I see the world, with yoga becoming the filter I put in front of my camera lens. I gave up many things in the last year, but I have to say with pride, I have not given up yoga and it has stuck with me like a loyal friend. Yoga has made me more aware and made the idea of pratyahara real for me, where I am able introspect and withdraw myself from the noise around me, by first simply becoming aware of through observation and then slowly becoming tranquil and start disconnecting by going inwards.
It has made an amazing transformation in my life and my ability to deal with stressful situations and individuals who create stress in my life. This blog has helped articulate and understand that better.

Despite this transformation, I am not above anything - I am as vulnerable as anyone else. I have my demons, and there are days when these demons come to life and start attacking me and distracting. Just tonight in my advanced class with Nina, I was distracted by thoughts that caused me to lose my concentration and with that you lose your physical strength and will to stay in poses. It is these stress missiles that are hard to get away from and I have found that back bends and inversions tend to bring these out even more.

But despite these distractions, I remain firm and committed to my yoga practice, my growing interest in the interpretation and understanding of sutras and most of all to get on the path of clarity and acceptance of my life the way it is now with a sincere hope for happiness to return someday to me and my two girls, who along with me sustain grief and struggle with the marginalization and deprivation they have been subjected to from my life. Nothing could be in their worst interest than marginalization of their loving dad from their lives.
Yoga has helped me tremendously to deal with this loss and I know deep down, some day the universe will change it. In the meantime we make the best use of the time we have together with a hope to a better future, as life can only get better when we have optimism and determination to sustain the pain with a smile.

I have been out of my posting frenzy for a few weeks. This is my restart - slowly but surely to write again. Thanks Nina for a great class tonight! And thanks to all of you readers who come frequently and the ones who send me comments. Thank you Karin Payson for the great picture with the Bellur School Kids. Its inspires me to write more..


The Yogi

Thursday, January 1, 2009

You are my gods - BKS Iyengar on Dec 14th 2008

As promised Guruji's address on Dec 14th evening at Govinda Gardens. It was touching and inspiring.... Happy new year to all of you. Theyoginme blog is completing 12 months. Thank you all for visting, reading and commenting.


The Yogi