namaskar A VOICE FOR THE YOGA COMMUNITY
PILRIMAGE How taking to the road can help transform you.................................................................p19
PETALS OF ASHTANGA Exploring five obvious & subtle components of Ashtanga Yoga .................................................................p21
Angela Muller-Habig in Baddha Konasana, photo by Heather Bonker
March 2019 PRANA Weâ€™ve all heard about the word, but what is it actually?........................................................p26
NAMASKAR - MARCH 2019
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR For years I wondered what prana, or chi, would feel like.
Was I imaging the tingling at my fingertips during savasana? Or was I really starting to feel the subtle energy moving in my body? Now I am confident the myriad sensations – heat, cool, floating, sinking, expanding, contracting and vibrating, which come during hour or longer meditations are prana/chi gathering and moving in my body. The different sensations are so interesting to feel that my time sitting flies by. A far cry from how difficult it was for me to sit quietly for five minutes, 15 years ago! It’s just like the teachers and books I read over the years said – asana will take you so far, eventually you have to sit still to go deeper. If you are interested to learn more about this elusive but ever-present energy, turn to our dristi articles from James, Dr. Hansaji and Andrea from page 26, You might notice we’ve listed dristi topics for the rest of the year on page 5. Hope this gives interested contributors ample time to consider and research their articles. Some might even want to try their hand at a trilogy of sorts, as the three dristis are most definitely connected. Although this issue is smaller than some, it is no less interesting. I really enjoyed Kim’s account on page 19 of how transforming travel can be. This is particularly relevant to me, as my kids and I thrive on our new adventure living in Edinburgh, after a lifetime in Hong Kong. Another surprise perhaps, is Ashtanga presented by long-time Namaskar contributor, Clayton on page 21. This practice is often seen as one of the toughest styles of yoga asana, but the way he describes it is anything but tough.
On the cover - Brazilian yoga & Pilates teacher Angela Muller-Habig currently teaches at BodyTree in the United Arab Emirates, photo by Heather Bonker
In This Issue DRISTI - PRANA PRANA & PRANAYAMA PRANA DECIPHERED PRANA IS A COMPASS
26 30 31
SPECIAL FEATURES PILRIMAGE 19 Seasoned traveller & yoga teacher Kim Roberts explains what she’s learned and how she’s grown from years of travel FIVE PETALS 21 Clayton Horton shows us the beauty & complexity of the Ashtanga practice
Enjoy your practice, whichever you choose. REGULAR CONTRIBUTIONS KULA UPDATES, WORKSHOPS, RETREATS, TEACHER TRAININGS PHOTO ESSAY RETREAT REVIEW BOOK REVIEW MUDRAS MUSIC REVIEW RECIPES DIRECTORY ABOUT NAMASKAR ADVERTISING Carol Adams, NamaskarAdvertising@gmail.com KULA
Wai-Ling Tse, NamaskarKula@gmail.com
SUBSCRIPTION Angela Sun, NamaskarSubscription@gmail.com EDITOR
6 14 35 35 37 37 38 40
Namaskar provides a voice for the yoga community around the world. The publication is an opportunity for practitioners on a yogic path to selflessly offer their knowledge, learnings and experiences with others.
Articles and photographs in Namaskar are contributed at no charge. Advertising income covers production, distribution, administrative costs and discretionary contributions to selected charities and causes.
We welcome unsolicited submissions, therefore the opinions expressed within these pages are not necessarily those of Namaskar or its volunteers.
Namaskar, is published quarterly in usually in January, April, July and October. About 5,000 copies are printed and distributed for free to yoga studios, teachers, fitness centres, retail outlets, cafes and yoga-friendly outlets. Mostly distributed in Hong Kong, with 1,500 copies mailed to readers in 32 other countries.
Frances Gairns, NamaskarEditor@gmail.com
administration, advertising and billing from the United Kingdom. She works from home which gives her the freedom to take care of her son. NamaskarAdvertising@gmail.com
Andréa began her Ashtanga yoga journey in 2006 in Barcelona, and is now is an authorised level 2 Ashtanga teacher. In 2013 she opened Samadi Bali with three others. email@example.com ANGELA SUN
Gabrielle is a life and spiritual coach, incorporating meditation, yoga and Ayurveda. She is based in Byron Bay, Australia. www.bebliss.com.au
James shares programmes on the integrated Yoga of Body, Mind, Heart and Soul globally. www.jamesboagyoga.com
DR. HANSAJI YOGENDRA Clayton teaches at Pure Yoga in Hong Kong firstname.lastname@example.org
Angela takes care of the distribution and circulation of Namaskar. Now based in her home town of New York, has been practicing yoga for 10 years. She currently teaches privately. NamaskarSubscription@gmail.com CAROL ADAMS
Editor of Namaskar since 2003, Frances has recently moved to Edinburgh, United Kingdom. NamaskarEditor@gmail.com
Hansaji is Director of The Yoga Institute, Mumbai, the world’s oldest Yoga center. She is also the President of International Board of Yoga and Senior Vice President Indian Yoga Association (IYA). www.theyogainstitute.org
Carol takes care of the Namaskar’s 4
Kim earned an M.A. in Contemplative Psychology from Naropa University and was authorized as an Ashtanga Yoga teacher, teaching internationally for over 20 years. She leads retreats in beautiful natural settings around the world sharing tools to negotiate life transitions and find inner peace. She’s also an artist. Her forthcoming book, Toward A Secret Sky: A Guide To The Art Of Pilgrimage, will be published in June 2019. www.KimRoberts.Co
Now on-line at: www.issuu.com/namaskarasia
Krishnaa lives in London. She studied with B.K.S. Iyengar and now runs classes in London and teaches Sanskrit and mudras for yoga for the Yoga Alliance and British Wheel of Yoga. She has written 15 books on Bhakti Yoga. email@example.com
Dristi for May 2019:
Natalie is a yoga teacher who teaches in Los Angeles www.nataliemacam.com
Always a Student
Dristi for August 2019:
Teacher Burnout Dristi for November 2019:
Margaret teaches Mindfulnessbased movement courses. An anthropogist by training and lover of languages, Margaret is interested in fine-tuning her teaching to students from diverse backgrounds. firstname.lastname@example.org
Tia teaches yoga and Tibetean Buddhist meditation techniques and translates for Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo at her nunnery in India. email@example.com WAI-LING TSE
Studio Ownerâ€™s Path
If youâ€™d like to contribute on any of these topic, please email Frances at NamaskarEditor@gmail.com with the idea for your article. Contributions are also welcome on other topics. Final articles are welcome before April 10 for May issue; July 10 for August issue and; October 10 for November issue.
Wai-Ling practices and teaches mindfulness, therapy and is Kula editor for Namaskar. NamaskarKula@gmail.com March 2019
Yogathon 15 December 2018 A celebration of B.K.S. Iyengar’s 100th birth anniversary was held at the Iyengar Yogasala with a full day of classes. All proceeds from this event were donated to the Bellur Trust. The Bellur Trust is a charity formed with a vision to serve the village of Bellur with the necessities such as clean drinking facilities, education and health care.
Sound Celebration welcomed 2019 Harbour City, Tsimshatsui 13 January Harbour City celebrated 2019 with a sound celebration experience featuring Asia’s biggest meditation gong collection and a view Hong Kong’s skyline at Ocean Terminal. The day of Sound Celebration, 13 January fell between the Western
and Chinese New Years, symbolising a new cycle of new beginnings and opportunities. Sound Celebration marked the first public showcase of Asia’s biggest meditation gong collection – 28 gongs that create a vibration resonance field said to complement the human body, nature and the universe. Martha Collard, Founder and Catalyst for Emotional Wellbeing of Red Door Studios, led the Sound Celebration experience, alongside world-renowned rhythm and sound musicians Jens Zygar and Alix Decker Hailing from Germany.
Pathways to Inner Peace The Buddha-Dharma Centre of Hong Kong offers a sanctuary for anyone wanting to practise meditation away from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, as well as pursue an internationallyrecognised post-graduate degree
in Buddhist Studies.
uncertainty and chaos.
For more information For more information www.bodhinyana.com (852) 2673 0001 / firstname.lastname@example.org/ www.buddhadharma.co
Ajahn Brahm’s Hong Kong Teaching Tour 2019 14-20 March Born in London and graduated with First Class Honours in Theoretical Physics from Cambridge University, Ajahn Brahm is currently the Abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery in Serpentine,Western Australia and the Spiritual Advisor of the Bodhinyana International Foundation (BIF) inHong Kong, among others. During his tour in Hong Kong, Ajahn Brahm gave various public talks, workshops and led a four-day retreat. He explained how the wise can use wisdom and compassion to find purpose and peace among the
Accessible Yoga for Everyone Yama Foundation Yoga for people with chronic illness, disability, special needs or limited mobility. Held on Mondays 6-6:45pm, class by donation and open to all (16+ years). For more information www.yamahk.org
HKU Master of Buddhist Studies & Master of Buddhist Counselling Explore what life is, the way to be happy and how to serve with compassion. The Centre of Buddhist Studies, The University of Hong Kong welcomes applications for the new intake of the following Master programmes in September 2019. Master of Buddhist Studies: www.buddhism.hku.hk/ admission.htm Master of Buddhist Counselling: www.buddhism.hku.hk/ mbc_admission.htm For more information email@example.com / (852) 3917-2847
Martha, Jens & Alix atop Ocean Terminal in January
Each class is age appropriate and will help them develop focus, strength and flexibility. This program will allow the kids to progress week to week helping them to conquer their fears and build self confidence. For more information firstname.lastname@example.org / www.yogaroomhk.com / (852) 2544 8398
Self-Attunement Meditation PICER, Central For the past 20 years, this community has been assisting people to help bring about change to their lives. Held every Wednesday 8-9:30pm HK$100. First timers HK$50, can arrive at 7:30pm. Room 2502, 73 Wyndham Street, Central. Call to reserve a space. Ajahn Brahm was teaching in Hong Kong in March
Buddhist Values & Economics: Investing in a Sustainable Future Conference 13 & 14 April The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam In the context of Buddhist values, the concept of wealth and the proper means for its generation and application has been addressed by Buddha Uakyamuni nearly 2,500 years ago. The study of the relation between Buddhist values and economics has been the outcome of an evolving interdisciplinary research enterprise which has gained
For more information www.picer.com / (852) 2167 8661
significance recently. This international conference invites leading scholars in Buddhist Studies and Economics as well as, professionals from various fields to engage in dialogue with the aim of sharing their knowledge and insights to this timely and relevant subject. For more information www.buddhism.hku.hk/ conference2019/index.html
New AntiGravity Kids Classes
Asia Yoga Conference 13 - 16 June HKCEC Sri Dharma Mittra, David Swenson, Mark Whitwell and a comprehensive faculty of other yoga and related discipline teachers will be on hand at the tenth Evolution conference. For m ore information www.asiayogaconference.com
The Yoga Room, Sheung Wan Every Monday 4:10-5pm Preteens (9-12); 5:10-6pm Teens (12-16) Every Friday 4:10-5pm Kids (68); 5:10-6pm Preteens (9-12)
100 Year Celebration of The Yoga Institute Harmony Fest was a two-day celebration of The Yoga Instituteâ€™s 100 years of transforming lives. Their aim is to bring about harmony and balance in the lives of people across India. The two days was full of health and wellness experiences including 20 hours of Yoga, panel discussions, meditation pods, workshops, mentorship and guidance talks, higher and novice learning programmes, food stalls, marketplace for sustainable goods, art, musical performances and more. For more information theyogainstitute.org/ harmonyfest/
The Power of the Feminine with Malgo 28 April Yoga Yard, Beijing www.yogayard.com
John Scott Ashtanta Workshop
Weekend Intensive with James Boag 26 – 28 April Jogocvik, Prague www.jogocvik.eu/james HONG KONG
Rose Erin Vaughan 50-hr Acupressure CET John Scott
18 - 22 May Fine Yoga, Shanghai www.fineyoga.com
It’s Yoga Kids Graduate Workshop with Michelle Wing 2 - 4 July Fine Yoga, Beijing www.fineyoga.com
Dive Deep into Ashtanga with Dylan Bernstein 15-23 June Kunming, China email@example.com 8
Iyengar Workshop INDONESIA 4-day Womens’ with Stephane Intensive with Lalo Radha 12-15 April Yoga Central-Iyengar, Central firstname.lastname@example.org
Tibetan Singing Bowl Workshop with Malbert 1 May The Yoga Room, Sheung Wan www.yogaroomhk.com
3-7 April Pure Yoga, Hong Kong www.pure-yoga.com
Yoga Immersion with Sue Everett
Smudging Workshop with Gina Robinson
1-2 June Yoga Central-Iyengar, Central email@example.com
6 April The Yoga Room, Sheung Wan firstname.lastname@example.org / www.yogaroomhk.com / (852) 2544 8398
Yin Yoga Special Class with Chris Su 6 April Pure Yoga, Hong Kong www.pure-yoga.com
5 - 8 May Ashtanga Yoga Bali www.ashtangayogabali.com
Demystifying the Energy Body with Cat Kabira 2 April The Yoga Barn, Bali www.theyogabarn.com
Ashtanga Yoga Practice & Philosophy with Pavithra
David Swenson Mysore-style Practice
28 April Yoga 42, Senayan www.bikramyogajakarta.com
3-7, 17-21 June Pure Yoga, Hong Kong www.pure-yoga.com
Golden Week Staycation with Leza & Em
Active Birth Workshop with Holly Wong 22 June The Yoga Room, Sheung Wan www.yogaroomhk.com NAMASKAR
2 - 3 May Sun & Moon Yoga www.sunandmoon,jp
Nada & Bhakti
Inversion Fundamentals with Joana Medina
Stillness Through Movement
29 June White Space Wellness, Quezon City www.whitespacewellness.com Leza Lowitz
Yoga Immersion with Daphne Tse 24 - 26 May Sun & Moon Yoga www.sunandmoon.jp
Daily Mysore & Sitting Practice with Dylan 3 July-30 August Sadhana Siargao www.tarik.com/siargao/ SINGAPORE
Buddhism, Yin Yoga & Mindfulness with Sarah Powers 14-16 June Tokyo www.sarahpowers.com PHILIPPINES
Jon Cagas Ashtanga Yoga workshop 22 - 27 April Yoga Manila, Ortigas Studio www.yogamanila.com/workshops
Mysore Sadhana with Dylan 26 June - 2 July Ashtanga Yoga Manila email@example.com
25 May Kate Porter Yoga www.kateporteryoga.com SPAIN
Yoga, Meditation & Hiking Retreat with James Boag & Daniel Benito 8 – 14 June Casa Cuadrau, Spain www.casacuadrau.org
10-13 April Space Yoga, Taipei www.withinspace.com
Yoga Anatomy & Therapeutics with Yoga Anatomy Jonas Westring Introductory 26 - 28 April Workshop with Pure Yoga, Republic Plaza www.pure-yoga.com Peter Scott 14 April Stillness Through Space Yoga, Taipei www.withinspace.com Movement 25 May Kate Porter Yoga www.kateporteryoga.com
Yin Yoga Workshop in Mandarin with Victor Chng 10 - 11 May Kampung Senang
24 – 26 May Selkirk, Scotland www.yogafrog.co.uk
Integrated Retreat with James Boag 31 May – 2 June Ampleforth Abbey, Yorkshire firstname.lastname@example.org
Yin/Insight Yoga Workshop 29 June TriYoga, London www.sarahpowers.com
Achieving Optimal Essential Iyengar Functionality Class Series with 27 April Peter Scott Kate Porter Yoga www.kateporteryoga.com
Yoga & The Sun with James Boag
Mysore Sadhana & Further Explorations with Dylan Bernstein 5-9 June Mandala Wellness Saigon, Vietnam www.mandala-wellness.com.vn
Wednesday Evening Gita Course with James Boag 27 March – 10 April Merchant City Yoga, Glasgow www.merchantcityyoga.com
Monica Marini & Samacitta 22-29 June Salento, Puglia www.samacitta.com
Tropical Yoga Retreat with Kat Clayton 21 - 28 September Samahita Retreat, Koh Samui www.samahitaretreat.com
Trekking & Yoga with Priscilla Van VIETNAM Rooyen Yoga Retreat with 12- 18 May Lisa Mak Nepal www.pure-yoga.com Ananda in the Himalayas
THAILAND HONG KONG
A Taste of Zen Meditation Retreat Conducted in Cantonese 18-22 April Hong Kong University www.buddhism.hku.hk/ newsevents.html INDIA
Yoga & Wellness Retreat with Ariel & The Yoga Room
Tushita Meditation Centre, Dharamsala www.tushita.info INDONESIA
Ashtanga Meets Baptiste Yoga Retreat with Clayton & Tryphena Ubud, Bali 6-11 November www.pure-yoga.com
9-14 May Bangalore, India email@example.com / www.yogaroomhk.com / (852) 2544 8398
3-7 May DevaSom Resort, Hua Hin www.pure-yoga.com
BumpnBub Pregnancy Retreat wtih Aliza Carr 4 - 8 June Samahita Retreat, Koh Samui www.samahitaretreat.com
27 July - 3 August Samahita Retreat, Koh Samui www.samahitaretreat.com
26 May - 1 June Ananda in the Himalayas www.anandaspa.com
1 - 18 June
Maria Wongâ€™s Yin Yang Movement & Sound Retreat
The Art of Integration with Daniel Stringer
Ananda Yoga Retreat
Nyung Nay Retreat
5-9 June Fusion Maia Resort, Da Nang www.pure-yoga.com
Yoga Retreat with
Awakening Your Essence with Karina Stewart 24 August - 1 September Kamalaya, Koh Samui NAMASKAR
Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash
In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion. ALBERT CAMUS
Teacher Trainings CHINA
The Yoga Room, Sheung Wan firstname.lastname@example.org / www.yogaroomhk.com / (852) 2544 8398
Samantha Chan’s Pre- & Post-natal Yoga Teacher Training (100-hr)
YogaWorks 200hr TT with David Kim at The Yoga Room
4 - 13 April Pure Yoga, Shanghai www.pure-yoga.com
The Foundation Training for Yoga Teachers with Patrick Creelman & Rinat Perlman 22 April –18 May Pure Yoga, Shanghai www.pure-yoga.com
Children’s yoga 95-hr TT with Karen Wightman 16-26 May Pure Yoga, Shanghai www.pure-yoga.com
27 – 30 April, 2 – 25 May, 25 – 28 May, 30 May – 2 June, 24 – 27 August The Yoga Room, Sheung Wan email@example.com / www.yogaroomhk.com / (852) 2544 8398
School of Healing Arts’ Daniela & Carlos
17 – 28 September, 17 – 28 November, 6 – 16 December The Yoga Barn, Ubud www.danielamandala.com / www.livininspired.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
100-hr Livin’ INDONESIA Inspired Desa Seni School Advanced Yoga of Yoga 200-hr TT TT 7 April-4 May Desa Seni, Bali email@example.com / www.desaseni.com
200-hr Yoga TT with School of Healing Arts 5 - 27 May The Yoga Barn, Ubud www.danielamandala.com / www.livininspired.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
300-hr School of Healing Arts Advanced Yoga TT 12
5 – 15 October The Yoga Barn, Ubud www.danielamandala.com / www.livininspired.com / email@example.com HONG KONG
Unveil the Teacher Within (200-hr) with Samrat Dasgupta 30 March–13 May Pure Yoga, Hong Kong www.pure-yoga.com
Fluid Flow: Vinyasa Yoga
Teacher Training (200-hr) with Angela Lohse 5 April - 2 June Pure Yoga, Hong Kong www.pure-yoga.com
NavakaraGa Vinyasa Hrdayam with Dario Calvaruso 5 April – 5 May Pure Yoga, Hong Kong www.pure-yoga.com
200-hr Foundation, 300hr Advanced Yin Yang & 60-hr Speak Your Truth Yoga TTs with Janet Lau & The Yoga Room 17 – 23 April, 11 – 23 May & 14 – 24 September NAMASKAR
200-hr Advanced Hatha Yoga TT with Yogananth Andiappan 3 May - 28 June Anahata Yoga, Central www.anahatayoga.com.hk / firstname.lastname@example.org / (852) 2905 1822
Pure Air: Freedom and Light Teacher Training (200-hr) with TT Ho 25 May – 4 August Pure Yoga, Hong Kong www.pure-yoga.com
The Foundation Training for Yoga Teachers with Patrick Creelman & Rinat Perlman 27 May – 8 June Pure Yoga, Hong Kong www.pure-yoga.com
100-hour Kids Yoga TT
Certificate Course 5 June-17 July Anahata Yoga, Central www.anahatayoga.com.hk / email@example.com / (852) 2905 1822
www.sivananda.org / www.sivananda.org.in
21–29 September Pure Yoga, Singapore www.pure-yoga.com
Sivananda Yoga TT 26 May – 22 June Madurai, India www.sivananda.org / www.sivananda.org.in
17-26 September Pure Yoga, Taipei www.pure-yoga.com
Upeksha 200-hr TT with Lawrence Pradhan Sivananda Yoga 6 July – 29 September TT Pure Yoga, Hong Kong www.pure-yoga.com
Sivananda Yoga TT
16 June – 13 July Uttarkashi, India www.sivananda.org / www.sivananda.org.in
29 September – 27 October Chiang Rai, Thailand www.sivananda.org / www.sivananda.org.in
Yin Yoga Training with Nicky Hadjithoma (100- Sivananda Yoga TT hr) 24 August – 29 September Pure Yoga, Hong Kong www.pure-yoga.com
200-hr Spectrum of Care TT 23 August-20 January Gecko Yoga, Sheung Wan www.geckoyoga.com/training/ 200-hour-teacher-training/
85-hr Prenatal Yoga TT 6 September-11 November Gecko Yoga, Sheung Wan www.geckoyoga.com/training/ prenatal-yoga-teacher-training/ INDIA
21 July – 17 August Uttarkashi, India www.sivananda.org / www.sivananda.org.in
TAIWAN Kristin Khor & 200-hr Yoga TT Rene Ekeheien with Adarsh Hot Yoga Teacher Williams Training (200-hr) 21 May - 4 June; 15 - 29 July 7 April – 26 May Pure Yoga, Singapore www.pure-yoga.com
Space Yoga, Taipei www.withinspace.com
Children’s yoga 95-hr TT with Karen Wightman
Insight Yoga TT Intensive Primary Level with Sarah Powers
Sivananda Yoga TT
1-2 August Pure Yoga, Singapore www.pure-yoga.com
7 April – 4 May Uttarkashi, India www.sivananda.org / www.sivananda.org.in
Yoga for Pregnancy, Birth & Baby (100-hr) with Michelle Papa & Dr Jean Byrne
Sivananda Yoga TT 12 May – 8 June Uttarkashi, India
Samantha Chan’s Pre- & Post-natal Yoga Teacher Training (100-hr)
200-hr Weekend Essential Yoga TT with Marzena Kierepka 5 April - 28 July Zenith Yoga, Hanoi www.daotaogiaovienyoga.org/el/ weekend-ttc/
200-hr Weekday Essential Yoga TT with Marzena Kierepka 2-31 May Zenith Yoga, Hanoi www.daotaogiaovienyoga.org/el/ yttc-in-May-2019/
29 May - 7 June Space, Taipei SpaceAcademy@withinspace.com
Children’s yoga 95-hr TT with Karen Wightman 16-29 August Pure Yoga, Taipei www.pure-yoga.com
Iyengar teacher Marzena Kierepka
Kadampa is an international center for meditation and modern Buddhism with 1,200 Kadampa Centres and branches in 40 countries around the world. I stayed at the Kadampa Meditation center New York, during its annual winter retreat for the study of The Oral Instructions of Mahamudra. It is set on 82 acres of natural woodlands in Glen Spey (Sullivan Catskills) two hours from New York, in a generous natural playground. Boasting natural streams, free playing squirrels and numerous well marked walking tracks for spiritual seekers, it provides the ideal setting for beginning to clear the mind! Letting go of the outside world and slowly immersing oneself into the retreat is supported with the Buddhist teachings of venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche, as presented by the resident teacher of KMC New York, Gen Samten Kelsang. Based on Mahayana Buddhist philosophies, the teachings I received for the retreat provided great practical and everyday life lessons in recognising our attachments and delusions and how to transform them for our personal freedom. The daily retreat program offers something for the beginner and advanced meditator with guided sits and prayers, topic talks, offerings/practices and silence. Seating options in the temple for meditation include both cushions on the ground as well as comfortable chairs. Itâ€™s easy to slide into the daily routine of sits, eating, talks and personal time. With silence each day until lunch at 1pm, observing what was arising became easier to identify with less daily distractions and busyness. Being reminded to continue the practice outside of actual meditation sits created a positive atmosphere embraced by all. There are numerous tracks through the trees which are breathtaking in the chilly climate. My personal favourites were the Path of Preparation and the Path of Accumulation, where a wooden bear stands at the start to greet and guide you over the meandering stream. I sat for hours in the cold, warmed by the simplicity of the water flowing in and around the ice formed in the edges of the stream. The sound of the water, birds and being in nature was deeply peaceful and mentally transforming. With some snow lining the roads and my gloves and beanie being at the ready once stepping out from a building, the warm and caring community, food and facilities made for a deep and memorable meditation retreat experience for me. Much gratitude. 14
KADAMPA WORLD PEACE TEMPLE
A New York Retreat
PHOTOS & WORDS BY GABRIELLE MCMAHON
for free AYC
Asia Yoga Conference 2019 will be held 13 – 16 June at Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre. Here’s a free AYC four-day pass to the first three readers to send in the correct answers to NamaskarEditor@gmail.com: 1. Which teacher at this year’s AYC is from New Zealand? 2. Which teacher will present a workshop involving the flying skill of bugs? 3. Which teacher will present a workshop inspired by the Hindu monkey god? 4. Which teacher co-authored a book about practicing yoga after 50? 5. What is the first requirement of being a AYC volunteer?
And the Art of Transformational Travel BY KIM ROBERTS
Travel is one of the best practices I know. Travel—especially in a foreign country— forces you to come to terms with aspects of yourself you might not confront in your everyday life. Things come up when your environment is unknown, unexpected, and often challenging. I can’t count how many times I’ve packed up my life, rented out my house and flown to the other side of the planet seeking a respite, only to find that my mind—surprise surprise!—was right there to greet me in the same old way. My hopes of discovering peace of mind were thwarted by the loud Cambodian wedding next door that lasted for three days, or the ambitious jackhammer-wielding construction crew just out the front door of my guestroom. Then there was the monk tasked with delivering my daily meals to my silent retreat cabin, who wanted to come in and chat about American pop stars. Ego did not like this. What starts out as a journey to find peace can sometimes end up being anything but peaceful! Often when we are confronted with things that challenge our outlook of the world, we struggle to maintain our sense of identity. If you are still operating on old beliefs that no longer serve you, that might be a good thing. This is precisely the value of a pilgrimage: it shatters your identity, so that you can re-integrate around a more up-todate sense of who you are. WHAT IS A PILGRIMAGE? Pilgrimage can mean a day-trip to a temple or sacred place, or it can a metaphorical journey lasting decades. It is above all a psychospiritual journey, usually to a place of religious significance or to meet a master of wisdom, with elements of both the inner and outer journey. A pilgrimage is a lesson in letting go. You set out on a journey, looking for something that is not yet clear. You might get exactly what you don’t expect—and this is part of the process. What your higher wisdom has in mind for you might be something else entirely. And you may not always like it.
A pilgrimage is more than just a journey. When you set out on an adventure with the right intention, you set in motion a process that can transform your life. This is the point of pilgrimage: transformation through travel. When you take the first step on a pilgrimage, you put your life in the hands of some divine, higher wisdom. You accept you cannot control outcomes, and surrender to the process of becoming who you truly are. You accept there is some divine purpose to your life even if it is as simple as tending your own garden. It may not be as grandiose as the plans you had laid out for yourself, but it is your unique gift to offer the world. So there is a huge amount of trust involved, and willingness to be with whatever arises along the path. A pilgrimage is always at the least two things—a literal journey and a spiritual journey. Though it involves a geographical moving about, it also requires a psychological shift of the deepest sort. But what makes it a pilgrimage and not a holiday adventure? TRANSFORMATION Pilgrimage is about learning to adapt to new situations. It’s about opening your mind to new possibilities. You have to release expectations of how you thought your journey (or life) would unfold and let the path reveal itself regardless of your preferences. You learn to be flexible in the face of sudden change or conflict. When you can appreciate the ups and downs with equanimity, then traveling becomes a joyful practice of observation. Rather than judging unfamiliar traditions, you start to see there are other ways of doing things. How to eat, to how to relate to death family and intimacy—all cultures treat these in their own way. You can start to question if the way you learned to do things works for you. It gives you options to make changes or adjustments to your own life if you choose. When I spent a year in Mysore, I realized my American culture had ingrained in me certain values I took to be truths. For example, my culture proposes material wealth is a way to March 2019
achieve happiness. When I lived among Indians, I saw a different way of looking at life, that completely changed how I perceive and approach my life. It allowed me to let other aspects of life to take priority. When I made my yoga practice a higher priority than making money, it was the first time in my life I’d actually relaxed fully. WHEN THINGS DON’T GO AS PLANNED You know how to make Goddess laugh right? Make plans. You journey to meet a teacher, then discover he is at the place you just left. You take precautions against respiratory illness, only to get stomach flu. Or you sign up for a private interview with a guru on the day he has fallen ill. You reserve a guesthouse months ahead of time, only to show up and have no room. Then you can’t sleep all night because of the loud music of neighborhood festivities only to get the email the next morning that you were invited to the party. Faced with these events, you have choices. You could scream and shout (as I often do…). Or, you can throw up your hands (as well as the corners of your mouth) and take a deep breath. Pilgrimage is above all an opportunity to see our expectations for what they are— illusions created by conceptual mind. These illusions are what most of us base our entire lives on. Once we see that, we can let go. PILGRIMAGE MEANS FACING FEARS Primarily, I think what characterizes a pilgrimage is being forced to face our fears head on. To expose ego’s sneaky ways to a higher wisdom for transformation to occur. Pilgrimage is not for the faint of heart. But neither is life. It requires a certain amount of stamina and strength. The best made plans can fall apart in an instant, and things rarely go as expected. There is wisdom in learning to let go of our agenda. We learn to tolerate the tension of ego straining against its imagined edges. So if you are up for a wild ride, and an opportunity to push your limits, embark on your own pilgrimage, every day of your life.
FIVE PETALS OF ASHTANGA
Blossom Beautifully BY CLAYTON HORTON
A beginner drawn to the practice of Ashtanga Yoga might think yoga is making shapes with the body. They are inspired to do asana fancy, graceful, beautiful, vital and dynamic shapes. With all kinds of inspiration, goals and expectations, the student sets out on a yoga journey, determined to learn the postures and reap the rewards. Eventually, the dedicated student discovers yoga is much more than making shapes with the body. Like an onion, the practice has many layers. After scratching the surface, one can see there is more than meets the eye. Here are five layers, all equally important, yet some not so obvious to the naked eye. These five elements present an evolution and development of a practitioner as their practice deepens, internalises and matures. The elements are presented from the crude to the subtle, the obvious towards the invisible and mystical. This article intends to introduce dimensions beyond physical asana. 1. EXTERNAL SHAPE The first layer is the external shape, the skin of the onion. This is the obvious dimension of the practice. We draw lines with the body, we twist, bend, extend, close, open, go upside down and much more. The beginner may actually think this external shape is the practice. Yoga is much more than making shapes and taking a photo. Don’t stop here, there’s much more, let’s go deeper.
the abdominal area, specifically between the navel and pubic bone. Uddiyana bandha places slight pressure on the navel area and helps guide prana up the spinal axis. Working with bandhas creates an internal physical and psychic heat for purification. Another unseen attribute is placing the tongue to the roof of the mouth (kechari mudra). This helps our body’s subtle energy circulate efficiently above the throat.
excessive strain. Attention to the breath helps keep us grounded in the present.
As we breathe, our subtle energy circulates throughout our body. This internal movement of prana (vayu or internal wind) has five distinct directions. The most important to recognise are apana vayu and prana vayu. Apana vayu is the downward flow of subtle energy, and is governed by the exhale. While prana vayu is the inwards and upward flow of energy, governed by the inhale.
Timing of the breath, (when to inhale and when to exhale) is of major importance. During the practice, our upward movements are done with inhales. Downward movements are done on the exhale. Our slow, deep even breathing creates a calm, stable mind and body. Breath is the magic ingredient that brings forth a union of all of the different aspects of yoga. Without a strong commitment to experiencing this deep full breathing with the integration of the bandhas, most beginning students will never penetrate the deeper and subtle layers of the practice.
3. BREATH In the Ashtanga tradition of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, we breath through the nose. Deep free breathing with sound means full breathing without restrictions from the body and mind. We listen to the breath. We feel, count, watch, stretch and deepen the breath. When we breathe fully and correctly, we feel better, we can go deeper into our postures without
2. INTERNAL ACTION Underneath the skin is a matrix of not-sovisible activity. Muscles are contracting, relaxing, connective tissue is expanding, softening and extending. Our centre of gravity, weight distribution and balance are being calculated. Multiple muscles are called upon to share the task of activating, while other connective tissue softens and relaxes. Mysterious and elusive internal energy locks, mula bandha and uddiyana bandha, are a foundation of internal practice. Mula bandha is the activation and awakening of the anal and pelvic floor. It helps stabilise and unite the energies of our right and left sides. Mula bandha directs prana up the central channel to our heart, throat and brain. Uddiyana bandha is the muscular control of March 2019
Breath is the carrier of prana, our bodies subtle, vital energy. Correct breathing gives us energy. We harness the power of the breath to help us do strong and dynamic movements. We draw in panic energy from the Sun and Nature on the inhale. We release toxins and tension on the exhale.
4. ATTITUDE Proper attitude is crucial to our progress, happiness and longevity. Why are you practicing? How are you practicing? What are your expectations?
spiritual practice without yamas and niyamas is impossible As beginners, we often find ourselves competitive; full of desire, attachment, self judgement and lacking in humility. We are all drawn to yoga for different reasons physical, spiritual or social. Some of us are lazy. Some are uncomfortable being still and looking inwards. Some are grateful to be able to practise in a healthy body. Often practitioners are obsessive and try too hard to achieve the next new posture as if they were competing in a sporting event or for a job promotion. Over training without rest and relaxation leads to injury and burn out. Could you imagine practicing regularly with an attitude of underachievement? One famous Patanjalim yoga sutra says progress arises from consistent practice and nonattachment. After practicing consistently for a long time the ‘six poisons’ of anger, jealousy, delusion, greed, lust and laziness begin to dissolve and greater self awareness arises. These six poisons are like dirt washed away from the diamond of our inner most heart. What remains is space for greater empathy, compassion, friendliness, real love and higher-minded thought forms.
Proper attitude is also cultivated by observing the yamas and niyamas, the first and second limbs of the eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga. These are suggestions for proper relationship with yourself, others and nature. They are guidelines to keep us on the correct path. They help us to not create negative karma. Simply listed, they are: non violence, truthfulness, non stealing, sexual / energetic moderation, not being greedy, cleanliness, contentment, sacrifice / discipline, self observation and surrender. It is said sadhana (spiritual practice) without the yamas and niyamas is impossible. 5. AWARENESS The Sanskrit root dr means to see. While dristhi is the object of awareness or ‘the seen’. Drushtah is ‘the seer’, or witness consciousness. You are there seer, the one witnessing creation and the dance of life. The Dristhi is the looking place during our asana practice. It is the object of our mental focus. Cultivating this still point of awareness is important in developing concentration, meditation and deeper states of Self realisation. The union and merging of the
seer and the seen is a mystical occurrence that is the topic of countless works by poets, rishis, yogis, visionaries and philosophers. As the practice deepens, internal and external awareness begins to blossom like a flower. The senses are heightened and hopefully a practitioner becomes more aware of the results of their thoughts and actions. The mature practitioner begins to have more control over their mind and senses; as opposed to being controlled by them. Regular and long term practitioners eventually begin to see aspects of themselves in others. As this continues, it creates a sense of respect, reverence and humility among other human beings and all of creation. Continued introspection creates the conditions for the student to see there is a deeper part of themselves than the everchanging body, mind, and emotions. Beyond mind and body, what remains to be identified with is consciousness itself. This consciousness is awareness that is unchanging and eternal. It is at the core of every human personality. Recognising and identifying with this eternal consciousness is perhaps the most noble of efforts of a yoga practitioner. Weaving all five elements together into your practice is not easy, but the fruit is sweet. Do your practice regularly with a sense of beauty, kindness and gratitude and soon, love and wellness will blossom.
DRISTI - PRANA
PRANA & PRANAYAMA
An Anecdote & Some Reflections BY JAMES BOAG
PRANA DECIPHERED .............................30 PRANA IS A COMPASS............................31
Nadi Shodhana practice at Samadhi Bali, photo by Quinn Taplin
I heard an interesting story from one of my Sanskrit teachers, let’s call him the Professor. This teacher is a resident of Mysore, a seat of traditional Sanskrit learning, and also in recent times a place where at certain times of the year concentrations of foreign yoga students come to study and practice at schools in the city. Some of these students are keen to explore teachings of yoga as they are encoded in Sanskrit texts. And some have found their way to Mysore-resident Sanskritists who can help them gain closer access to the teachings enshrined in the glorious poetry of the Bhagavad Gîta, or the ultra pared-down Yoga Sutra for example.
pranayama is breath control, and the extension of life force itself
One such student who had found his way to my teacher was particularly interested in prana, and in pranayama. This term pranayama, like asana, is intrinsic both to the classical, holistic path of Patanjalian yoga: what we might call the yoga of the whole human being; and to hatha yoga: which we
This had also caused him to feel he was in a sense extending his life. Even if these practices were not going to postpone his death, they were already helping him live each day more richly and fully, with greater appreciation for the amazing opportunity of being alive as a human being, with greater relish for the myriad, subtle flavours of life experience. However, this student also had an inkling these pranayama practices could actually extend his physical lifespan, perhaps even dramatically. He had heard stories of rishis, yogic seers, who had mastered prana and were as if immortal. So when he heard of this great Sanskritist dwelling in Mysore, who had a real problem saying no when someone asked to study with him, he thought he should approach him. If this Sanskrit teacher was as great as people whispered, if his knowledge of the Sanskrit tradition was as mind-bogglingly vast as rumoured, then surely he would know of passages that spoke of the secrets of prana, perhaps he would even be able to decode them for him. This student was no newcomer to India either. He had been coming and studying with Indian teachers for over a decade. He knew they operated differently from teachers in some other places. He knew for example, that rather than advertising their knowledge or expertise, the real pukka pundits often shrouded the depth of their learning. He knew this was especially the case around esoteric matters and all the more so if the subject in question could at all be seen to be personal, as prana, the question of our life force and how we relate to it, undeniably is.
Spiritual places with strong energy - Mount Kailash, Tibet photo from Wikipedia
might consider the Tantric technology which seeks to harness and harmonise the potential and energy (prana) of the human bodily vehicle so it can most effectively and efficiently help us move towards yoga, integration and the ultimate aim of life. This student was already teaching pranayama. He had studied it with various Indian teachers, and knew that pranayama was not merely breath control, or breathing exercises, but the refinement and extension of the very life force itself. He knew prana is not mere breath, though breath is one of the mechanisms through which prana, the vital force, the sap of life, moves and circulates in us. He also knew from his experience some of the breathing exercises included under the banner of ‘pranayama practice’ had certainly helped him refine his understanding of his own life energy.
So, the student chose to approach the matter ‘from the side’ as it were, a tactic he had found could bear rich fruit when interacting with some of his previous Indian teachers. He arranged to meet the Professor, and asked him if he might help him read Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra in the original Sanskrit. So far, the rumours proved true. The Indian Sanskrit expert could not say no. Even though he clearly had all manner of demands on his time and expertise: people asking him to translate books into Sanskrit from the local language Kannada, from Sanskrit into English, to write editorials and educational stories for Sanskrit magazines and newspapers, to write textbooks for university courses, he agreed to read Patanjali with this foreign seeker. They began to meet three times a week. The foreign student was thrilled. The text began to take on new significance as the Professor unpacked it, and on days when he was feeling ‘higher energy’, when his prana was
circulating with greater efficiency, he would illustrate the teachings with all manner of compelling and often colourful story. The student also found he could influence the pace with which they moved through the text by how much curiosity he showed in certain words and concepts presented in the Sutras.
Which brought the student to laughter, as it did to some in the audience that day.
Of course, what he was most interested in was asking the Professor about prana, and pranayama, which Patanjali mentions some 80 sutras into his work.
In the Indian system, there are four aims of life: artha, kama, dharma, moksha. Artha means ‘the means’, it refers to the material needs of life, food, shelter, how we make a living. Kama in this context refers to pleasures and how we enjoy ourselves. It is said in the Indian tradition that it is our duty to enjoy this gift of a human birth, for when we truly enjoy, in a deep sense, we can learn more quickly. Dharma is the action which sustains and supports the wellbeing of the whole, it is sometimes rendered as duty, the law, righteousness. Moksha is the ultimate aim of life, liberation.
As they approached this section, the student felt his excitement mount. He felt he had now won, as far as was possible in the circumstances, the confidence of the Professor, and he would be able to draw from him any secret knowledge of prana. When they reached the relevant section of the text, the student was quite direct. He asked his teacher what he knew of the mysteries of praGa. The student had heard of yogic masters of pranayama who lived for centuries, millennia even, who breathed just a single breath of Himalayan air a day, who could burn up and digest mountains of rice and dal, and just as easily live hale and hearty for years without any physical food at all. Did the professor know of any such yogis?
And hopefully it made you laugh too, and perhaps also raise a question: why do some yogis want to live so long? What is the point of extending the life force like this?
Another of my Sanskrit teacher’s gurus has said on this topic: “Do not focus on moksha; instead, focus on making your artha and your kama dharma, then moksha will come by itself.’
“Well, I don’t know, but I can tell you a story.” For the student, the Professor’s stories were almost always his favourite part of their classes together, and he leaned slightly forward as if to be able to more deeply absorb whatever riches the Professor was about to share. “So it is said there Himalayan yogis who live for ages, who know the secrets of prana. One time, such a yogi visited Mysore. He was to give a talk, on the wisdom of yoga. Now being an ancient Himalayan yogi he knew no modern Indian language, and spoke only the language of mountain rishis. However, he had a young assistant with him, who knew the rishis’ tongue and translated his speech into Sanskrit, which I then translated into our local Kannada. After his speech, he asked if there were any questions. One man in the audience piped up immediately: “Er, well, sir, that is all very interesting and I’m sure we are all very grateful for the master sharing his insights, but what I want to know is, is he really 1,273 years old?” I translated the question, putting it to the young assistant in Sanskrit. And do you know what he said? The assistant didn’t even put the question to his master, he just said: “I don’t know, I’ve only been with him for the last 342 years so I couldn’t say.”
But who is able to do this? It seems perhaps easier to meet masters of pranayama who have lived for centuries than people who have become truly free from conditionings and limiting ideas, or who know how to live always in dharma. And this is one reason why some yogis place such emphasis on pranayama. This gift of a human life is so precious we need to cherish it. They say in the Indian tradition a body without a soul is a corpse, but a soul without a body is stuck. When the soul comes into embodiment, it can journey towards its deep longing: the return to wholeness, to freedom from limitation and conditioning, to remembering its essence. The body may be the vehicle for the soul, and the soul may be the underlying animating force of the body, but this bodily vehicle needs prana to run. And so, Yoga, the practical school of Indian Philosophy encourages us to respect and cherish prana, to develop and deepen our March 2019
Spiritual places with strong energy - Uluru, Australia photo by Melanie Dretvic on Unsplash
relationship with our life force and our understanding of how we can work with it skillfully. A long, healthy lifespan gives us more time to research the mystery of life, fathom the depths of who we really are and come perhaps to self-realisation. Ayurveda then, the Indian Art and Science of a long, healthy lifespan is a foundation and companion for Yoga. From a certain perspective, any practice, observance or technique whichh helps us extend life force, invite breath into easier and more efficient patterns, improves our digestive and assimilative capacities, bolsters and sustains our energy can be considered a type of pranayama. Any technique which helps prana circulate more efficiently, encourages true balance and holistic health can be considered pranayama and a type of yoga practice.
A Brief Introduction BY DR HANSAJI JAYADEVA YOGENDRA
True knowledge of prana comes from one’s own experience. It cannot accurately be described in words because it lies in a nonintellectual realm of reality. Chi or Ki or Qi is the same vital force sustaining the physical body as prana. However in the Chinese and Japanese
“Respiration being disturbed, the mind becomes disturbed. By restraining respiration, the Yogi gets steadiness of mind.” As the mind (manas) and breath (prana) are intimately connected, activity or cessation of activity of one affects the other. Hence Sage Patanjali recommended pranayama for achieving mental equipoise and inner peace. Prana means breath, respiration, life, vitality, wind, energy or strength. Ayama means to control. As we develop the ability to control prana, we gain harmony of body and mind. There are five major pranas which with their own functions: • Prana - responsible for the respiratory system • Apana – systems of elimination, i.e. the excretory system. • Samana - facilitates digestion • Udana - regulates thinking. • Vyana - distributes energy to the entire body, i.e. circulatory system. Thus, practicing pranayama helps improve the functions of all our body systems and regulates our energy.
Spiritual places with strong energy - Machu Pichu, Peru
philosophy the energy uses the acupuncture meridians instead of Yoga’s Sushumna Nadi to travel through the body. Patanjali described the purpose of yoga as Chitta Vrtti Nirodha - controlling the modifications of the mind. Chitta (mind, reason and ego) is like a chariot. One of the horses is Prana (breath), and the other is Vasana (desire). If breath prevails, desires are controlled. If desire prevails, breath is disarrayed, mind is agitated and troubled. 30
Pranayama just refers to different ways of regulating subtle life force energy, and it is closely linked to the breath. Pranayama allows us to increase the prana in our body and direct it in the desired way. Pranayama is also a very easy method to quieten the mind. Even when practicing asana, we can be practicing pranayama at the same time. Especially if we practice asana as Patanjali suggests sthiram sukham asanam, steady and comfortable. Paying attention to our smooth breathing while practicing asana, leads to correct postures whereby the mind is also steady and comfortable. Hence both are required for the practice. The prana in each of our individual bodies (Jivatma) is the part of the Universal Spirit (Paramatma). So with regular and consistent practice of pranayama, we harmonise our own breath and energy with the cosmic breath and energy.
PRANA IS A COMPASS
To Help us Navigate Rough Seas BY ANDRÉA DROTTHOLM
Our life is like a ship on the high seas, sometimes gliding smoothly forward, other times, when the storms come, our vessel is thrown violently in all directions. How can we keep balance upon rocky seas, when we are pushed left and right by the elements? How can we steer an even course through the realities of life, the challenges, the ups and downs? A daily practice. Showing up to meet myself on the mat every day gives me good insight to where I am at in that moment.
even painful, I move consciously to see how the breath can support this, I slow my movements, extend my breath and simply lighten my physical practice instead of pushing and forcing. Breath-Prana is a powerful tool which shows us how we feel internally. Typically I breathe shorter when anxious or unbalanced. I then know to direct my breath to become slightly longer and even louder using the Ujayi breath to calm my mind.
menstrual and ovulation cycles. We can notice whether and how the cycles of the moon are affecting these functions. Then experiment with what works for you. In my experience, I meditate instead of practice asana on the first three days of my menstruation and during strong ovulation days. Just as we must learn to read a compass before it can be useful, if we can learn to read the prana flowing through us, we can navigate peacefully through the inevitable changes and challenges in our life.
I may feel heavy, unmotivated and in no mood to practice. My mind tells me to go back to bed, rest, be kind to myself. It’s tempting, but I also know it’s not good for me. Experience has shown me if I give in to my lazy side and return to my comfortable bed, I will be in a foul mood later in the day. I know from my own experience my practice is really good for me, it’s a necessity. Most of the time, I do show up. On those heavy days I focus even more closely on breathing and inward focus (dristi) to is what is happening in my body and mind. It’s like going on an exploration, a field trip! The style of asana I mostly practice is called Ashtanga Vinyasa. A big part of our technique is each inhale or exhale is connected to a specific movement. For example, as I inhale, I raise my arms up, extend, fill my lungs to the rim, feel every muscle stretching out, then I as exhale, I fold forwards, let go, release all tension and surrender to the moment whatever is there, whatever shows up. The more I stay in focus and present to the internal sensations, the movements, and breath, the deeper I go through the layers of my own body and mind. I direct my breath to the tensions in my body, and although I hear much chattering in my mind, I stay focussed and the chattering starts to subdue till the point all I can hear is my breath - inhale and exhale. If my body is still feeling heavy and perhaps
Spiritual places with strong energy - Mount Fuji, Japan
Prana is our life force and we cannot live without it, but we can control its quality. It can be used in so many ways, breath exercises, Pranayama, to work on our nervous system, heating the body internally or cooling the body, strengthening and expanding the diaphragm. Dristi directs attention inwards, guiding prana to do its magic. When I feel attuned to the prana, I feel the energy coming to me. At this time even a light soft gentle practice gives me the same results as a dynamic practice. As women we have a great opportunity to observe the fluctuations of prana during our March 2019
photo by David Edelstein on Unsplash
MEDITATION & YOGA IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE BY MARGARET VAN I didn’t know what “digital detox” meant until recently. For seven days, I was surrounded by pristine nature in southern Thailand atop a freshwater lake. I am grateful for the privilege of practising mindfulness in this absolutely fabulous environment without quotidian distractions in the company of twenty like-minded people. What made it even more special was spending time with Yin Mee, a friend from graduate school, with whom I reconnected in such wilderness after 33 years. The setting was magical. We were about an hour by bus from the city of Surat Thani and another hour by boat from the nearest pier. True to claim, Jungle Yoga where we sojourned floated in the middle of nowhere. The wooden structures that formed the retreat venue wafted on a lake that came to be in 1986 when the area was dammed. The mostly gentle waves rocked us in meditation, swayed us in movement and caressed us in our sleep. The retreat was aptly named The Heart of Yoga. Our three teachers, Anne Douglas, Julie Siebt and Fuyuko Toyota took us through a labyrinth of breath and body sensing practices, yoga nidra, meditation and chanting. A central theme that wove their teachings was non-dualism and how the separation of the heart from the head, our conditioned default mode, causes stress and discontentment in our concept driven lives that celebrate the external and material. Instead of practising traditional yoga poses, we learned to move spontaneously by tapping into the different koshas (metaphorical layers of the body) beginning with the body and breath, progressing to more subtle layers—thoughts, beliefs, images, memories—and finally seeing how everything integrates in the reality of the present moment. It is about pure sensing here and now, responding and moving to that, rather than according to a predetermined pattern or habitual tendency. It was scary and confusing at first to go with my own flow. I noticed how much I wanted to have a prescribed cue and sequence to follow. It was challenging to turn in, while in the company of others, and do my own thing without feeling self-conscious. Here are examples of verbal cues that accompanied
Descending into a nearby cave where we meditated, sang and prayed
body sensing practice: “What would the pose look like without the doer?” “Feel the natural radiance of being.” “As you’re experiencing this pose, is there any modification that would suit your current state of body and mind?” From a mindfulness perspective, I see body sensing as another way of learning to step out of the default mode of being, ruminating about the past or anticipating the future and hardly knowing the present. By waiting for the impulse and allowing movement spontaneously, we strengthen our ability to get curious about each moment, peeling away our conditioning and developing spontaneous action. Throughout the week, we were treated to an ever changing symphony of bird songs, animal and critter calls. Great hornbills, gibbons, boars, bats and cicadas were frequent visitors. Bears, elephants and leopards reside in the jungle nearby. One day, we travelled by boat to a cave filled with wildly dangling stalactites. At the end of the March 2019
cave we assembled to sing and pray for others near and far, in heavenly surround sound and complete darkness. The Heart of Yoga retreat reassured me that peace is everywhere even when I’m in the middle of nowhere.
AMAR CHITRA KATHA COMICS BY TIA SINHA Amar Chitra Katha in Hindi means ‘Immortal Picture Story’. Amar Chitra Katha comic books have captured the hearts of children
erudite lad who, when hated, gave way to hating and his transformation from sinner to saint due to the affection shown to him by the Buddha, is depicted thoughtfully and with great sensitivity, as are the lives of Ramana Maharshi, Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Mirabai, Kabir, Mother Teresa, Babasaheb Ambedkar, JRD Tata, Rabindranath Tagore, Einstein, Marie and Pierre Curie, Jim Corbett and Salim Ali to name a few.
Just a few of the 450 different Amar Chitra Katha English language childrens’ comics
Amar Chitra Katha comics are hard to put down. Amar Chitra Katha comics are addictive. Amar Chitra Katha comics live up to their name. They are immortal. Amar Chitra Katha comics can be relished over and over again, over the years by children and by those who have never grown up or refuse to!
in India for decades. These comics have been around since 1969. The heart and brain behind Amar Chitra Katha comics was the late Anant Pai who wanted to make children in India aware of their own culture. He sought to do this in a fun way rather than in a preachy and didactic manner. With the help of his stories, Uncle Pai, as he was commonly known, succeeded in bringing joy to his young readers. Well written, in simple English, often humorous and always beautifully illustrated, Amar Chitra Katha comics cover a wide range of topics. Recently published issues have a band of a particular colour on their cover. Orange bands are for epics and mythology, beige for Sanskrit classics, green for fables and humour, red for bravehearts, yellow for contemporary classics and blue for visionaries. Fables from the Hitopadesha, Panchatantra and the Jatakas and the exploits of Birbal and Raman of Tenali are forever delightful. There are about 450 tales translated into over twenty languages. However, there are over a thousand titles of Amar Chitra Katha comics as there are also collections of comics (e.g., 3-in-1 and 5-in-1 combos, mega themebased collections) and longer special issues like the ones on Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus Christ, Dasavatar, Valmiki Ramayana, Ram Charit Manas by Tulsidas, the colossal Mahabharat in three volumes and the Bhagawat Purana.
PRANA MUDRA BY KRISHNAA KINKARI
that arise through illness and anxious attitude also fade away. Be still and let prana flow into and through you wherever you are. PRANA MUDRA 1. Sit, lie or stand with balance. 2. Touch the tip of the thumb (which represents the fire element) to the tips of the fourth (earth) and little fingers (water), which are bent in towards the palm. 3. Keep the index fingers (air), and middle finger (ether/space) straight. 4. Turn both palms outwards. 5. Breath regularly, deeply and slowly from the belly. The subtle and light gaseous elements take precedence, while the heavier elements of earth and water are calm. This mudra is held to aid strong prana all over the body, bringing every process of the body into balance - respiration, hormonal secretions, calmed nervous system, even heightened awareness and benevolent thoughts. In Sanskrit all creatures are pranis, having life, while the Divine is Prananatha, the lord of all prana.
Quite simply, prana is the essence of life. It is in everyone and everything. The skill is to recognise the prana and access it whenever needs be. Fortunately through consistent and diligent yoga practice, practitioners can learn to be aligned and at peace in their asana practice and in life. Then prana is easy to access. Practicing yoga postures and pranayama breathing exercises, yoga practitioners learn to perceive, receive and direct the breath first, and then the more subtle prana. Naturally the prana will flow to where it is needed once the energy passages are cleared. In addition to clearing the passages with yoga asana and pranayama, we can also practice yamas and niyamas to ensure clear chakras and optimize senses, glands and hormones function. Yamas relate to diet, ethics and lifestyle; when the conscience is clear, the obstacles
In an age where the internet, television and fancy phones with fancier and fancier applications and games vie for a child’s attention, Amar Chitra Katha comics are a wonderful way of inculcating the reading habit in children and presenting to them in an engaging manner, the lives of great men and women through the ages. The comic books on visionaries, extolling the lives of prophets and saints, nation builders and social reformers, poets and scientists, inspire and offer examples to emulate.
JOSS JAFFE’S DUB MANTRA SANGHA REMIX BY NATALIE MACAM
Dub Mantra Sangha Remix is a follow-up remix album created by California-based musician, producer, and intercultural collaborator Joss Jaffe. His latest album features nine reimagined tracks from his critically-acclaimed album Dub Mantra Sangha. Sangha means community and he’s assembled a medley of musicians and DJ’s including Jai Uttal, Donna De Lory, Dave Stringer, Suzanne Sterling, Silvia Nakkach, Wah!, DJ Taz Rashid, Robin Livingston, and Rara Avis. “Working with all the different artists was a huge learning experience. I love seeing the ways these artists approach a piece of music with different avenues of creativity. Collaboration creates art that is bigger then any one artist and makes it more complex and beautiful.” says Joss.
The story of Angulimala, a brilliant and March 2019
What I personally like most about this album is the mélange of different genres of electronica and dance music it showcases including EDM, Ambient House, and Dub Step. My favorite tracks include “Ganesha” with a Reggaeton soundscape that keeps your feet moving and your spirit soaring “Amaterasu” is a Downtempo musical odyssey which elegantly weaves entrancing vocals and slow sensuous grooves. Joss does a superb job at bringing the world to your ears with influences through integrating world instruments such as Kora (African harp) featured on “Durga”, Shakuhachi (Japanese flute) on “Amaterasu”, and Sarode (Indian lute) showcased on “Moola Mantra”. This album is a blend of world rhythms, contemporary sounds and mantra, and is your passport into deep grooves and sacred chants.
GREEN VEGETABLE DETOX SOUP Flex’s Heather Shalabi shares one of her favourite green soups, which is from Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary in Koh Samui. They say “it is rich in chlorophyll, it is an effective blood cleanser and antioxidant source. This is a very nourishing dish to support your detox or weight loss.”
INGREDIENTS 60 g Asparagus 60 g Carrot Broccoli 80 g 100 g Spinach 3 cloves 2 tbsp Shallot, finely 1 Bay leaf 100 g Zucchini 60 g Leek 25 g Celery 500 ml Vegetable stock Ground black pepper to taste 7 ml Coconut oil 2 tbsp herb garnish chopped (Kamalaya’s is a mix of fresh parsley, tarragon, kaffir lime leaf, galangal, mint, coriander, ginger and lemongrass). You can make your own mix.
Dub Mantra Sangha Remix is very much a delivery of modern sounds, Joss himself has roots in the Classical Indian Tradition. He studied tabla, sarode, and vocal music under respected musicians Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri. Joss translated these elements into the remix album, with each track being made in appreciation of mantras and is an experience of mystic-grooves through portals of pure sonic pleasure. 38
METHOD 1. Place the vegetable stock, garlic and shallots in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. 2. Prepare all the vegetables by chopping finely. The aim is minimise cooking time to preserve the nutrients. 3. Once the stock is simmering, add all the chopped vegetables and the bay leaves. Simmer for 5-6 minutes (until vegetables are soft, but green colour is still preserved). 4. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before blending for approximately 40 seconds on medium speed. 5. Return the blended soup to the saucepan, reheat and season with salt and pepper to taste. 6. Serve the soup and sprinkle each with1 tbsp of the herb garnish mix and a small drizzle of coconut oil.
Guide to yoga studios & teachers
ANAHATA VILLAS & SPA RESORT Ubud, Bali, Indonesia s: group retreats, yoga for private & corporates. Yoga studio available for rent. l: Indonesian & English t: (62) 361 8987 991 / (62) 811 8748 910 / (62) 811 1442 233 f: (62) 361 8987 804 e:firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com w:www.anahataresort.com ANAHATA YOGA 18/F Lyndhurst Tower, 1 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong s: Hatha, Ashtanga, Yoga therapy, Yin and more. Groups & privates t: +852 2905 1822 e: firstname.lastname@example.org w: www.anahatayoga.com.hk Anna Ng Privates d: Hong Kong s: Hatha yoga l: Cantonese t: (852) 9483 1167 e: email@example.com Ariel Tang Yoga & Healing d: Hong Kong, Asia E-RYT500+, Yin Yoga Teacher Trainer, Certified Jivamukti, Reiki Master Teacher; Teacher Trainings, Retreats, Workshops s: Yin, Jivamukti, Yin Yang, Anatomy, Meditation, Life Teachings l: English, Cantonese t: +852 91868225 e: firstname.lastname@example.org w: www.arieltang.com B.K.S. IYENGAR YOGA ASSOCIATION OF MACAU 174, Rua de Pequim, Edif Centro Com. Kong Fat, 7A, Macau s: Iyengar t:(853)2882 3210/6662 0386 40
e:email@example.com w:www.iyengar-yoga-macauchina.com David Kim Yoga E-RYT 500+, Senior YogaWorks and YogaWise Yin Yoga Teacher Trainer; International TTs, Workshops & Retreats d: USA, Asia, Europe, Australia s: Yin Yoga, YogaWorks, Vinyasa Flow l: English, some Korean t: +1 310 480 5277 e: firstname.lastname@example.org: www.davidkimyoga.com FLEX STUDIO Island South Shops 308-310 One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong s: Vinyasa, Power, Detox, Hatha, Pre-Natal, Kids Yoga t: + 852 2813 2212 f: + 852 2813 2281 e: email@example.com Central 3 & 4/F Man Cheung Building, 1517 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong s: Detox, Power, Pre-Natal Yoga t: + 852 2813-2399 f: + 852 2812 6708 e: firstname.lastname@example.org www.flexhk.com YOGA CENTRAL-IYENGAR CENTRAL s: Boutique studio with Iyengar Yoga classes; flexible timings for corporate wellness, schools, small groups and privates l: English, Cantonese, Mandarin, French, Malay t: +852 2982 4308 e:email@example.com w:www.yogacentral.hk
PURE YOGA Hong Kong 16/F The Centrium, 60 Wyndham Street, Central t: +852 2971 0055 25/F Soundwill Plaza, 38 Russell St, Causeway Bay t: +852 2970 2299 14/F Peninsula Office Tower, 18 Middle Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon t: +852 8129 8800 9/F Langham Place Office Tower, 8 Argyle Street, Kowloon t: +852 3691 3691 4/F Lincoln House, TaiKoo Place, 979 King’s Rd, Quarry Bay t: +852 8129 1188 2/F Asia Standard Tower, 59 Queen’s Road, Central t: + 852 3524 7108 Level 1 The Pulse, 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay t: +852 8200 0908 3/f Hutchison House, 10 Harcourt Road, Admiralty t: +852 8105 5838 7/F World Trade Centre, 280 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay t:+852 8108 7889 Shanghai 615 iapm mall, 999 Huai Hai Zhong Road, Xuhui District t: +86 21 5466 1266 335 Plaza 66 Mall, 1266 Nanjing West Road, Jing.an District t: +86 21 6279 1119 Singapore 391A Orchard Road, #18-00 Ngee Ann City Tower A t: +65 6733 8863
30 Raffles Place, 04-00 Chevron House t: +65 6304 2257 #06-02 Asia Square Tower 2, 12 Marina View t: 65 6100 8866 Taiwan 151 Chung Hsiao East Road, Sec 4, Taipei t: +886 02 8161 7888 4/f Urban One, 1 Qingcheng St, Taipei t: +886 02 8161 7868 Ling Yoga and Wellbeing, Private Yoga Teacher, Privates, Groups, Corporates, Free Yoga Community Event: Yoga in the Park with Ling www.meetup.com/ yogaintheparkhk d: Hong Kong, China s: Yoga Therapy, Sivananda, Hatha, Svastha, Mindfulness, Yin, Breathing (Pranayama), Guided Meditation, Total Relaxation (Yoga Nidra) l: English, Cantonese, Mandarin t: +852 9465 6461 e: firstname.lastname@example.org w: www.facebook.com/ yogawithling RADIANTLY ALIVE YOGA STUDIO Jalan Jembawan No. 3 Ubud, Bali, 80571, Indonesia l: English s: Radiantly Alive Vinyasa, Roll & Release, Qigong, Sky Yoga, Hatha, Ashtanga, Yin, Bhakti, Yoga Teacher Trainings, Yoga Therapy & Detox Programm, Healing sessions t: +62 (0)361 978 055 e: email@example.com w: www.radiantlyalive.com
namaskar SHAKTI HEALING CIRCLE 7/F Glenealy Tower, 1 Glenealy, Central, Hong Kong. s: Reiki healing classes, life coaching, Shamanic healing and workshops, Ayurveda, Feng Shui consultations, Angel Cards t: +852 2521 5099 e: firstname.lastname@example.org w: www.shaktihealingcircle.com SPACE YOGA s: Hatha, Ashtanga, Advanced, Flow, Yin, Yin Yang, Restorative, Hot, Yin/Meditation, Pranayama, Mat Pilates, Jivamukti, Universal, Myofascial Release Yoga, Mindful Yoga, Rope Wall Yoga, Yoga Nidra and Yoga Therapy l: English and Mandarin w: www.withinspace.com An-Ho Studio 16 F, No. 27, An-Ho Road, Section 1 Taipei, Taiwan t: +886.2.2773.8108 Tien-Mu Studio #5, Lane 43, Tian-Mu E. Road, Taipei, Taiwan t: +886.2.28772108 Sravaniya DiPecoraro d: Hong Kong s: Barefoot Philosopher Yoga, Vedanta, Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Sutras; beginners and advanced; ACBSP disciple (1971), YA ERYT500, Sivananda Certified (1991) l: English and Mandarin t: +852 9856 0799 e: email@example.com w: www.barefootphilosopher.press
THE YOGA ROOM 3, 4, 6, 16/F (Studios) & 15/F (Office) Xiu Ping Commercial Bldg, 104 Jervois St, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong s: Hatha, Hot, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Candlelight Yin, Yoga Therapy, Jivamukti, Hammock Yoga, Mindfulness Yoga, Detox Yoga, Pre-natal Yoga, Pre-natal Pilates, Mat Pilates, TRX, Kids Yoga and Mum & Baby Yoga l: English, Cantonese t: + 852 2544 8398 e: firstname.lastname@example.org w: www.yogaroomhk.com THE COLLECTIVE, DESA SENI SCHOOL OF YOGA Jl. Subak Sari #13, Canggu, Bali, Indonesia s: Full service resort, Ashtanga, Embodied Flow, Hatha, Kundalini, Restorative, Tantra, Therapeutics, Yin, Yang, Vinyasa, Buddhist Meditation, Vedic Meditation. Teacher Trainings, Intensives, Privates, Workshops, specialising in hosting retreats. t: +62 361 844 6392 e: email@example.com w: www.desaseni.com WISE LIVING YOGA ACADEMY 198 Moo 2, Luang Nuea, Doi Saket, Chiang Mai, Thailand s: Classical Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Yoga Therapy t: +66 8254 67995 e: firstname.lastname@example.org w: www.wiselivingyoga.com
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Free Yoga magazine with news, events and teacher training from Asia and worldwide.