namaskar A VOICE FOR THE YOGA COMMUNITY OF ASIA
Dristhi Japan Wanderlust
Inside October 2011
Just Looking, 10
Riding the Storm, 18 Leza
Kim explains dristi from a physical and mental perspective
Vision or Insight, 12 Don’s experiences with dristi
Happy Gazing, 14
interviews nine yoga teachers who stayed in Japan after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster
Pay Attention, 26 How does our brain help or hinder our ability to focus, Chris explains
Neil draws comparisons between yogic dristi and similar concepts in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Bhagavad Gita, 37 In the first of
Experimenting with dristi, 16
Letting Go, 40 Pascale gives practical
two parts, Sankirtana introduces som basic concepts from this important yogic text
Dristi techniques from Inge
ideas for letting go in death and of relationships
NEWS, WORKSHOPS, RETREATS & TEACHER TRAININGS, 5 TEACHER’S VOICE, 23 RETREAT REVIEW, 29 FESTIVAL REVIEW, 32 KIDS YOGA, 33 AYURVEDA, 38 RECIPE, 42 CROSSWORD, 43 TEACHER & STUDIO LISTINGS, 45
Janet’s growth through practicing mindfulness
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Namaskar provides a voice for the yoga community around Asia. The publication is a vehicle for practitioners on a yogic path to share their own knowledge, learnings and experiences with others. Namaskar, is published quarterly in January, April, June and October. We welcome unsolicited submissions, therefore the opinions expressed within these pages are not necessarily those of Namaskar or its staff. Namaskar is distributed at no charge through yoga studios, fitness centres, retail outlets, food & beverage outlets and other yoga-friendly locations throughout Hong Kong and elsewhere. For more information, to contribute or to order Namaskar, please contact:: Carol, Administration firstname.lastname@example.org Wai-Ling, News Editor & Copy Editor email@example.com Frances, Editor & Publisher firstname.lastname@example.org /+ 852 9460 1967
Deadline for January 2012 issue: 15 December 2011 3
Patrick Creelman, a gifted Anusara teacher and friend, first introduced me to the concept of Spanda. This constant pulse of expansion and contraction affects everything in the Universe, from the largest sun to tiniest human. Our sun is currently expanding and will eventually engulf Earth on its way to becoming a red giant (in 7.6 billon years), then it will collapse on itself becoming a white dwarf. Similarly for the past two months work and family have pulled me in a myriad of directions, requiring me to expand my energies. Though once this issue has gone to the printer, I’ll have time to pause and reflect before expanding again to prepare for Christmas. And so the rythym of Spanda continues. In years past, I’ve been stressed when at either extreme, but now with a slightly clearer dristi (focus), I’m better able to maintain my centre through these times. Perhaps you have experienced something similar. And hopefully the dristi (also spelled dristhi, dhristi) articles by Don, Inge, Kim and Neil will help you find the value in dristi and how to see clearly through crises and downtimes. Related to this subject, Chris sheds light on how our brain benefits from setting a dristi, while Kimberly asks what role dristi plays in a raging yoga extravaganza called the Wanderlust Festival in the States. Certainly a group of yoga teachers with a very clear dristi are those Tokyo-based teacher Leza interviewed for her article on the aftermath of the Japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters. Thanks also to all the other contributors - Tia, Janet, Moosa, Pascale, Shakta, Vinod, Deva, Sankirtana, Wai-Ling and Carol for sharing their time and love through the pages of this last issue of the year. On an administrative note, I call your attention to our new advertising rates for 2012. We’ve limited the increases to about 5%, with small studios and budget-conscious individuals in mind. Many of you know Namaskar is staffed entirely by volunteers and all the advertising monies received just cover the cost of printing and distribution. If you would like to list your contact details next year, please let me know. It’s a set price for the whole calendar year (HK$530 for individual teacher and HK$1,050 for a studio), so to get your money’s worth send us your details from January. As 2011 comes to a close, many of us will move into another phase of expansion professionally, socially, financially, emotionally. And if this takes you away from your centre, I hope our cover image of the serene gaze of a Buddhist statue, taken at Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos by Paul McKenzie (www.wildencounters.net) will serve as a reminder of your personal dristi. FRANCES GAIRNS Editor
NEWS BEGINNERS 10-WEEK COURSE Shakti Healing Circle, Hong Kong 10 October-12 December Suitable for beginners and experienced beginners. This course will improve your breath, strength, flexibility and concentration. You will master basic standing poses, gain experience and confidence in twists, inversions and backbends, and feel more freedom within your body. Breathing techniques to calm the mind are an integral part of the course. Taught by RYT200hrs Lorraine McLelland. Monday 9:30 -11am; Wednesday 9:00-10:30am HK$2,000 Monday OR Wednesday course; HK$3,600 Monday AND Wednesday course For more information www.shaktihealingcircle.com; or +852 2521 5099
Vikasa Yoga opens its doors and gardens 11 November 2011 in Koh Samui, Thailand
at Piyarom Sport Club on Sukhumvit Road near Punnawithi BTS station. The teachers: Aisah, Chomcheum Sidthivech, Janya Wongsopa, Jimmy Yuttana Poncharoen, Jonas Westring, Luke Cassady-Dorion, Ori-Yah Avri, Prasad Rangnekar, Sebastian Pucelle and Tarik Thami For more information www.yogajournalthailand.com; or contact Chanidapa Choovet +66 2 635 5185 ext 24; email@example.com
Tarik Thami join many other local and international yoga teachers at the Thailand Yoga Festival 2011
THAILAND YOGA FESTIVAL 2011 29-30 October Yoga Journal Thailand magazine presents the annual biggest yoga event of Thailand. This 2-day event will take place
YOGASUTRAS ONLINE PROGRAM WITH A.G. & INDRA MOHAN A.G. Mohan and Indra Mohan originated Svastha Yoga & Ayurveda. Mohan was a personal student of Sri. T. Krishnamacharya for almost two decades (1971-1989). He was the co-founder of the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai. Indra is one of the few people who received a post-graduate diploma in Yoga from Sri Krishnamacharya.
For more information www.svastha.net; or firstname.lastname@example.org Access the teachings of Sri T. Krishnamacharya and free online resources on Yoga and Ayurveda at Facebook.com/ Svastha. RADIANT CHILD YOGA CLASSES SOL Wellness, Hong Kong Yoga is one of the most effective natural methods in helping children with sensory integration challenges. In Radiant Child Yoga we are building good brain/body communication and that is exactly what sensory integration is all about! Held on Thursdays for Mums & Toddlers (20mths to 3yrs): 33:45pm; 3-6yrs: 4-5:00pm HK$150 at SOL Wellness, 16F Tin On Sing Commercial Building, 41-43 Graham St, Central, Hong Kong For more information +852 2581 9699 or email@example.com
LIFE MANAGEMENT YOGA CENTRE CELEBRATES 13 YEARS This non-profit yoga centre is one of longest-running studios in Hong Kong. Located 11/F 35 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, they offer asanas practice as well as free lectures by prominent guest teachers from overseas on subjects from alternative therapy fields, ranging from Nature cure, Ayurveda and Acupressure to Hypnotherapy. VIKASA YOGA LAUNCHES IN NOVEMBER Koh Samui, Thailand Vikasa Yoga is a new boutique Yoga studio created by Konstantin Miachin and a team of professionals, opening itâ€™s doors on 11.11.11. Daily classes will be led by a team of international teachers. The location is an authentic Thai House, with an open air shala, situated in a real Zen garden! Workshops and retreats by guest teachers will be held regularly, as well as comprehensive teacher trainings. Also features a gourmet organic and raw food restaurant and cafe. 5
WORKSHOPS For more information www.vikasayoga.org; firstname.lastname@example.org/ +66 831077397 ENERGY OF MIND: A SAUHU THERAPY Offering practical counselling online, inspired by the timetested traditions of Yoga, Ayurveda, and meditation. Specializing in the theories and practices of the 5 Elements and the Six Realms, an action-based methodology applied to your actual situation. Log on for “Natural wisdom for Optimal Health and Happiness!”
MONTHLY KIRTAN Pure Yoga, Hong Kong Kirtan is a Bhakti Yoga practice of chanting Sanskrit mantras with music. Chanting Kirtan is like an active, effortless meditation that helps you dissolve thoughts and releases you from the preoccupations of everyday life. Held on the last Friday evening of the month. It’s a complimentary event. For more information call +852 2971 0055.
NEW LINEUP OF YOGA CLASSES AT FLEX THIS AUTUMN Flex, Hong Kong For more information Flex offers a new schedule of www.energyofmindtherapy.com Yoga classes this autumn. KookHee Andersson is offering INAUGURAL INTERNATIONAL YOGA Detox Flow on Mondays at 9am. This vinyasa sequence is CHAMPIONSHIP, HONG KONG designed to stimulate the 2-3 December lymphatic, digestive and This event is organised by the Hong Kong Yoga Federation (in circulatory system by opening, compressing and twisting co-operation with Indian Yoga Federation) and Dayal Leisure & internal organs. Cultural Association. This is the first time a Yoga competition at KookHee also brings Core an international level will be held Power Yoga to the mat. With in Hong Kong. The aim of this the help of breath and specific asanas, she aims to build Championship is to promote strength, balance and flexibility consciousness of Yoga around with emphasis on the back and the world. abs, and stability with flexibility in the hips and pelvis. For all For more information levels held on Fridays at www.internationalyoga 10:30am. championship.com; or email@example.com Jenny Rockowitz leads a new NEW CLASSES AT THE YOGA ROOM, one-hour Express Flow yoga class on Thursdays at 1 pm. HONG KONG Open to all levels, this is the Yoga for the core on Saturdays perfect lunchtime class for those 3:45-4:45pm living or working on Southside Basic inversions on Thursdays of Hong Kong island. Jenny’s 1:15-2:15pm class will challenge as well as Post natal Yoga on Fridays 2:30respect each student’s abilities. 3:30pm Free Yoga class on the beach 30 For more information October and 27 November at www.flexhk.com; +852 2813 Repulse Bay 5-6pm 2212 or firstname.lastname@example.org For more information www.yogaroomhk.com; or +852 2544 8398
LAUGHTER YOGA AND BREATHING MEDITATION WORKSHOPS Hong Kong Every Friday in October to December (except for 30 December) Laughter Yoga Workshop 89pm; Breathing Meditation Workshop 9-9:45pm Regular: HK$680/4 lessons, Early Bird: HK$580 (2 weeks before the workshop) Join both Workshops at the same time to enjoy HK$200 discount. Instructors: Helen Tsang and Seetal Sharma. For more information www.radiantspirit.com; email@example.com or +852 2332 0861/9665 3968
Pure Yoga Hong Kong – Tsim Sha Tsui – 29-30 October Join Kathryn for a fun and inspiring 4-day program that will help you to clear your body and relax your mind, leaving you feeling more awake, aware, healthy and prepared to face the challenges of everyday life. Sign up before 29 September to catch the early-bird discount! For more information www.pure-yoga.com; or firstname.lastname@example.org UNIVERSAL YOGA WORKSHOP WITH ANDREY LAPPA Pure Yoga Hong Kong – Tsim Sha Tsui – 28-30 October For more information www.pure-yoga.com; or email@example.com
Peggy prepares couples for childbirth in a workshop at The Yoga Room
COUPLES BIRTH PREPARATION WORKSHOP WITH PEGGY CHIU The Yoga Room, Hong Kong 22 October and 14 January 2012 3:30-6:30pm HK$600 regular, Early Bird (two weeks before workshop date) HK$500 For more information www.yogaroomhk.com; or +852 2544 8398 SPRING INTO ACTION, DETOX AND DESTRESS WITH KATHRYN MCCUSKER Pure Yoga Taipei – Urban One – 24-27 October
LOUISE ELLIS ASHTANGA YOGA WORKSHOP Purple Valley Retreat Centre, Goa, India 29 October-11 November Louise is one of the few women to have been certified by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois to teach Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Her background spans over 35 years of both practice and teaching in several systems of Yoga. American by birth she is currently based in Rishikesh, India and travels extensively to share her love of this powerful and healing practice. Her years of experience are evident in her individualized approach to teaching, which centres on the development of Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses) and ease in daily practice through the use of breath, Drishti and an attitude of surrender and bhakti. For more information www.yogagoa.com
FULL MOON KUNDALINI SERIES FULL MOON IN TAURUS Shakti Healing Circle, Hong Kong 5 November, 2-6 pm HK$500 Green Energy and Prosperity with KRI certified yoga instructor Neil Irwin will teach about letting abundance come to you. For more information www.shaktihealingcircle.com; or +852 2521 5099 RHYTHMIC YOGA WORKSHOP WITH YOGARAJ C.P. The Yoga Room, Hong Kong 5 November 3:30-6:30pm; HK$500 For more information www.yogaroomhk.com; or +852 2544 8398 YOGA WITH MASTER OM ANANDJI Yogasala, Hong Kong 10-11 November Yoga therapy is a new and emerging field which offers tremendous potential as an alternative health modality that draws upon the ancient wisdom of Yoga to bring forward tools for health and well being. In this workshop you will learn: - Techniques to control over 15 diseases - How to heal High/Low Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Back and Body Pain, Stress, Migraine, Insomnia, Acidity, Gastric, etc… - Energy–harmonizing and spirit-enhancing yoga therapy techniques and practices. Master Om-Ji is the author of ‘A Journey Beyond Diseases with Yoga Therapy’. He is also the Honorary Chairman of Paramanand Yoga & Vedanta Institute USA and academic advisor/inspirer to 52 Yoga PhD students. (For more information ulia www.paramyoga.org/) Full workshop - Regular Price: HK$2,280
- Early-bird: HK$1,950 (enroll and pay before 6 October) Individual Drop-in - Regular Price: HK$520 For more information call Ms. Lee +852 6756 9130 or firstname.lastname@example.org FINDING EASE IN INVERSIONS WITH TAMIKA SAVORY The Yoga Room, Hong Kong 12 November 2-4:30pm; HK$500 For more information www.yogaroomhk.com; or +852 2544 8398 TANTRA WORKSHOP WITH JULIA TINDALL Shakti Healing Circle 19 November 11am-6pm; HK$980. Learn to move your energy. For more information www.shaktihealingcircle.com; +852 2521 5099 FORREST YOGA WITH ANA FORREST Pure Yoga Singapore – Ngee Ann City – 11-13 November Pure Yoga Taipei – Urban One – 15-16 November Pure Yoga Hong Kong – Tsim Sha Tsui – 18-21 November The Forrest Yoga Workshops are asana-focused practices. Forrest Yoga helps you connect to your core, get strong and centered. It uses heat, deep breathing and vigorous sequences to sweat out toxins. The long holds in the pose progressions help you flush, oxygenate and rejuvenate every cell. For more information www.pure-yoga.com; or email@example.com ALIGNMENT AND ENERGY IN YOGASANA WITH PETER SCOTT Pure Yoga Hong Kong – Tsim Sha Tsui – 11-17 November Pure Yoga Singapore – Ngee Ann City – 18-20 November This workshop is best joined in
its entirety as a complete and comprehensive workshop that builds from start to finish, so that you can achieve the inclusive and embracing the wonder of Yoga. For more information www.pure-yoga.com; or firstname.lastname@example.org YOGA AND ANATOMY WITH CHRIS KUMMER Pure Yoga Hong Kong – Central – 12-13 November Pure Yoga Taipei – Urban One – 18-20 November Enlighten your understanding of yoga practices with this series of workshops that will build a stronger foundation for your actions. Sign up before 10 October to catch the early-bird discount! For more information www.pure-yoga.com; or email@example.com ADAPTIVE YOGA FOR SPECIAL CHILDREN WORKSHOP HOSTED BY GECKO YOGA 26-27 November Taught by Fezia Tybally - a licenced practitioner in Yoga for The Special Child and Yoga Therapy, CranioSacral Therapists, KYT, & RCY Facilitator. This workshop will introduce parents, carers, special needs centres, and schools to the concept of Yoga Therapy for children with special needs. For more information firstname.lastname@example.org; or +852 9135 8502 UNDERSTANDING BIRTH PAIN: MIND-BODY APPROACH WITH PEGGY CHIU The Yoga Room, Hong Kong 26 November 3:30-6 pm; HK$500 regular, Early Bird (before 12 November) HK$400
+852 2544 8398 TARIK THAMI ASHTANGA YOGA WORKSHOP Purple Valley Yoga Retreat, Goa, India 26 November-9 December Tarik specializes in traditional Mysore style teaching and for the past 5 years has been teaching in central Tokyo to a full range of students from beginners to advanced. Tarik specializes in hands-on adjustments with students of all levels and abilities so you can expect to get help with your practice in all the places you need it. With the right breath and awareness you can reach places you thought unreachable; and finally discover that with a little bit more awareness and intention you may need no help at all. For more information www.yogagoa.com PARTNER YOGA & YOGIC MASSAGE WORKSHOP WITH YOGARAJ C.P. The Yoga Room, Hong Kong 3 December 3:30-6:30pm; HK$500 regular, Early Bird (before 19 Nov) HK$450 For more information www.yogaroomhk.com; or +852 2544 8398 FULL MOON KUNDALINI YOGA WORKSHOP - FULL MOON IN GEMINI WITH NEIL IRWIN The Yoga Room, Hong Kong 4 December 2-6:00pm; HKD500 regular, Early Bird (before 26 Nov) HK$400 For more information www.yogaroomhk.com; or +852 2544 8398
For more information www.yogaroomhk.com; or 7
RETREATS POWER AND PRECISION: SMART, MINDFUL VINYASA YOGA WITH JASON CRANDELL Pure Yoga Hong Kong – Tsim Sha Tsui – 1-4 December Pure Yoga Taipei – Urban One – 5-7 December Pure Yoga Singapore – Ngee Ann City – 9-11 December In this workshop, you will learn how alignment, attention to subtlety, and mindfulness cultivate greater depth in your flow practice. Jason will help you deepen your practice — teaching you to expand your edge, refine your knowledge, and cultivate mindfulness in your flow practice. Sign up before 1 November to catch the early-bird discount!
TANTRA 1 WORKSHOP AgamaYoga, Thailand 14-18 December Explore your sexuality from a Tantric perspective.
For more information www.pure-yoga.com; email@example.com
METAPHYSICS WORKSHOP AgamaYoga, Thailand 17-21 January 2012 Explore Yoga from a metaphysical standpoint.
SACRED INDIAN DANCE WORKSHOP AgamaYoga, Thailand 7-12 December Don’t miss this opportunity, as Gwenda brings these rare teachings about Sacred Indian Dance to Thailand for the first time this season. For more information www.agamayoga.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or +66(0)892 330 217
For more information www.agamayoga.com, email@example.com or +66(0)892 330 217 TANTRA 2 WORKSHOP AgamaYoga, Thailand 3 -7 January 2012 Follow-up to the Tantra 1 workshop. For more information www.agamayoga.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or+66(0)892 330 217
For more information www.agamayoga.com, email@example.com or +66(0)892 330 217 YOGA FOR THE SPECIAL CHILD Hong Kong 3-9 March 2012 This Basic Certification program enhances the natural development of children with special needs. It offers a learning environment for children and their parents, Special Education teachers, Yoga teachers, and health care professionals. Sonia Sumar, founder of the program, has 39 years of teaching experience. Her therapeutic Yoga is gentle and safe for babies and children with Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Microcephaly, Autism and other disabilities. Cost HK$7,650. For more information www.specialyoga.com or Hersha Chellaram firstname.lastname@example.org; +852 6103 9642.
EVOLUTION OF FORM Soulshine, Bali 23-30 October Konstantin Miachin and Tingting Peng at Soulshine retreat in Ubud, Bali. Intensive Yoga retreat with 2 yoga classes per day, meditation, strong pranayama practice, radiant and delicious food, and lots of fun. For more information www.evolutionof yoga.com; or email@example.com WILDLOTUS YOGA RETREAT WITH PATRICK CREELMAN Thailand 13-20 November Join Patrick for an uplifting week of renewal in the jungles of Thailand. For 7 nights and 8 days enjoy Yoga, massage, good food, great sleep, and some playful afternoons at the beach. The practice will be fun and progressive. Sign up before 9 October to catch the early-bird discount! For more information www.pure-yoga.com; firstname.lastname@example.org FOUNDATIONS OF ASHTANGA Phuket, Thailand 18-20 November Weekend retreat with Kimberly Roberts For more information www.thanyapura.com/yogaretreat; or K. Napapen + 66 (0) 76 336 000, Ext. 3354; email@example.com NEW YEARS’ RETREAT AgamaYoga, Thailand 23 December -1 January 2012 Choose silence instead of party this year, with this wonderfully inspired retreat, led by Swami Vivekananda Saraswati. For more information www.agamayoga.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or +66(0)892 330 217
Michael Boyle (above) and Dharmanidhi Sarasvati leads a transformational retreat in Thailand
RELAX INTO THE TRUE YOU Villa Bali, Mae Phim, Thailand 10-14/18 March 2012 Discover, transform and release hidden or difficult mental, emotional and behavioral barriers to knowing and being the True You. Relax and unwind at the beach in a nurturing, fun, supportive and engaging environment and program. Energy of Mind uses Yoga, meditation and Ayurveda methods that yield profound psychological insights. These in turn will be integrated through practical application to your specific life situation. Enjoy the beach or pool, daily massages, Yoga & meditation, and a full range of Thai & European cuisine. This retreat will be led by the experienced team of Yogi (Michael Boyle) (Masters in Transpersonal Psychology from JFK graduate school of Psychology, Graduate of the 7 year Advanced Yoga Studies Program, Trika Institute) and Dharmanidhi Sarasvati (30 year teacher of Tantrik Yoga & Meditation and the Founder of The Sauhu method of Tantrik Psychology). For more information www.energyofmindtherapy.com
TEACHER TRAININGS RCYP LEVEL 1 & 2 TEACHER TRAINING WITH JENNY SMITH White Lotus Therapy, Hong Kong 2-4 December Cost: HK$5,500 (includes HK$1,750 materials) The Radiant Child Yoga Program® is a comprehensive training designed to bring peace, creativity and joy into children’s lives through the ancient practice of Yoga. It is designed for anyone who is interested in teaching Yoga to children. All levels are welcome including yoga novice beginners, no prior training in yoga required. In this training you will learn: • Guidelines for teaching yoga to toddlers through teens, including sample classes • Yoga stories and games that ignite creativity & compassion • Yoga for children with special needs such as SPD, ADHD, Autism • Adapting yoga for the school setting • Meditation and breath-work appropriate for children • Self-transformational practices for you
500-HRS-AGAMA YOGA TEACHER TRAINING AgamaYoga, Thailand 9 January-31 March 2012 & 28 May-18 August 2012 Learn how to teach Yoga in this very intensive, 500 hrs.+ training on a tropical island paradise! For more information www.agamayoga.com, email email@example.com or +66(0)892 330 217 MYSTICAL DANCE TEACHER TRAINING AgamaYoga, Thailand 30 January-10 March 2012 Become a teacher of Mystical Dance classes in this 6-week long, immersive training with our beautiful Shakti, Monika Nataraj.
For more information www.juliamccabe.com EVOLUTION OF YOGA TEACHER TRAINING Vikasa Yoga, Koh Samui 15 April-13 May 2012 This intensive 200-hour teacher training is a collaboration of 5 great international teachers coming together on the beautiful island of Koh Samui. Take your understanding, practice, and teaching skill to a new level with this comprehensive training. For more information www.evolutionofyoga.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information www.agamayoga.com, email email@example.com or +66(0)892 330 217
All course materials are created by founder Shakta Kaur Khalsa. Jenny Smith is a RCYP Facilitator, RYT200, and Founder of Gecko Yoga
Wai-Ling Tse compiles and edits this section of yoga news, workshops, retreats & teacher trainings. Please email her firstname.lastname@example.org with your or your studio’s news.
For more information www.childrensyoga.com; or email@example.com 40-HR PRENATAL & POSTNATAL YOGA TEACHER TRAINING The Yoga Room, Hong Kong 9-11 & 17-18 December With Michelle Papa (YTAA Member, E-RYT 200 & Childbirth Educator) For more information www.yogaroomhk.com; or +852 2544 8398
A beautiful and compassionate teacher, Julia will be offering a teacher training on Maui next year
200-HR YOGA ALLIANCE IMMERSIONS WITH JULIA MCCABE Maui 1-21 May 2012 For students looking to deepen their practice and have a great time or prospective teachers. 9
JUS TL OOKING JUST LOOKING Kim Roberts
WHEREVER OUR SIGHTS ARE SET, THE ARROW WILL FLY. OUR VIEW FORMS our intention and guides the trajectory of our path. The practice of yoga is to simply observe: the play of the mind, the patterns of the breath, the sensations of the body. The way we observe affects the quality of our attention. So our view is key. Whether focusing our gaze on the tip of the nose or envisioning a new direction in our life, how we “see” things is a primary indicator of the depth of our yoga practice. Dristi is a tool to settle the mind and refine our view. It helps to keep coming back, checking in to see if your vision needs focusing. It’s sort of like an attitude adjustment. Our dristi can help calm or motivate us. It helps us focus and become aware of what is happening on more and more subtle levels. We start with the grossest level, the physical, and gradually, with patience and discipline, we start to tune in—to see - the more subtle aspects of our experience. FOCUS On the simplest level, dristi refers to our gaze. On the mat or cushion, dristi keeps our practice focused and stable. Dristi can compensate for imbalances in the asana practice; different gazing points are often suggested for the same posture, depending on the particular student. In a forward fold, for example, looking toward the big toe can help extend the spine and create a sensation of more openness. For those who are hyperflexible, however, gazing down toward the nose can help encourage grounding. If you find yourself falling asleep during meditation, raise the gaze slightly to refresh and uplift the prana. If you feel agitated, lower the gaze to an area just down the line of the nose. You can even close the eyes for short periods, as long as this doesn’t induce a private theatre experience. We are trying to cultivate a sense of receptivity, allowing whatever is in our field of vision to rest there, undisturbed. We are not staring, or analyzing. Be honest with yourself about what you need in order to maintain even and steady presence. Eyes are attached to the spinal column via the brain, and so eyes and mind are closely linked. BKS Iyengar notes the crucial role the gaze plays in yoga practice: “eyes control the fluctuations of the brain.” Steady gaze equals a steady mind. So if we wish to effectuate certain changes in the subtle body, then directing the gaze can help a yoga posture sing. Dristi creates the mood of a posture. It’s like the icing on the cake; you may think it’s just extra fluff on top, but actually it’s what makes it delicious, and, some say, the whole point of cake.
Steady gaze equals a steady mind
REFINING THE VIEW Off the mat or cushion, dristi translates into our view. If we pay too much attention to the nitty gritty details of daily life, we can get bogged down with heaviness. But impermanence is reliable, and if we can lift the metaphorical gaze, allowing a larger view, then things often look more cheerful and bright. An expanded gaze uplifts the mind and broadens the horizons. When I get too scattered, it is often from having an exaggerated vantage point, looking too far into the future, obsessing on plans, hopes, and dreams. When that happens, it’s good to pull the reins in a bit, lower the gaze to bring the awareness back to the present. Closer gaze quiets and subdues the mind. So the dristi can help us work with states of mind. If the goal of yoga is to settle into a state of deep meditation, then to prepare the ground for that to happen, we need to look at all aspects of our lives. Yoga provides us with a handy tool bag, but we have to know how to choose the correct tool. In that tool bag, we find antidotes to the habitual reactions that flame up in the midst of daily life. Ultimately it is our view that determines how we respond to life situations. So if we see clearly, we know which antidote to apply. Yoga Sutra 1:33 offers a helpful guideline: “By cultivating an attitude of friendship toward those who are happy, compassion toward those in distress, joy toward those who are virtuous, and equanimity toward those who are non-virtuous, lucidity arises in the mind.” The brahma-viharas, or as they are called in the Buddhist world, the four immeasurables,
provide a guideline for navigating the path in daily life. Maitri, loving kindness, toward those who are happy, dispels jealousy. Karuna, compassion, toward those who are suffering dispels hatred or desire to inflict harm. Mudita, joy, toward those who are virtuous spreads virtue. Upeksa, equanimity, toward those who are not virtuous removes intolerance. By responding to life situations with this guideline, we reduce our habitual reactions to situations that may throw us out of harmony—situations that push our buttons. When we reduce anger, pride, jealousy, ignorance, and craving, we are essentially reducing the tamasic and rajasic energies in the body, which allows the sattvic energy to blossom. When this happens, the body becomes a ready container and meditation arises effortlessly. Essentially the path of yoga is about stilling the mind by working with the tools of yoga including asana, pranayama, bandha and dristi - to set the stage for meditation to dawn. If practice is the map, we have to know where we are on the map, and we do this by looking around at our surroundings. Do our acts, speech and thinking support or hinder our progress in yoga? Unless we know where we are going, we risk floating along just hoping that these practices will influence other aspects of our life. It’s not very realistic. If we are serious practitioners then we need to think a little bigger; we need to look at the 22 hours we spend off the mat or cushion each day and observe how our view may sabotage the peacefulness we spend so much time cultivating during formal practice. So dristi could be considered in the larger context as this: to become aware of what is manifesting around us, so we can respond appropriately, rather than getting sucked in to the heat of the moment.
Once the mind is stilled, we are ripe for insights about the nature of the universe THE LOOK OF LOVE Eyes are the windows of the soul; they betray our true feelings. So when we practice directing, softening and steadying the gaze, we are directly working with our internal environment. We say breath and the mind are flip sides of the same coin; perhaps dristi is the opposite side of the emotional coin. It’s pretty hard to hide your true feelings with your eyes. Consider the vast difference in meaning when someone asks, “what are you doing?” with kind soft eyes full of compassion versus that same question delivered by someone with a hard cold glare. The words (breath) are the same, but the meaning is completely different. Same thing in a yoga posture — our gaze sets the tone of the posture. If the gaze is full of ambition, desire to succeed, or preoccupation, then these qualities will be manifested in the posture. We could say the inverse as well—whatever our intent is will be reflected in our eyes. Perhaps the practice is to simply gaze on the world with kindness and love. So next time a clerk approaches you in a shop, you can say honestly, “just looking.” Kim Roberts teaches in Phuket, Thailand. www.papayayoga.com
If the gaze is full of ambition, then this will be in the posture
VISION OR INSIGHT Don Peers
ONE BRIGHT SUNNY DAY THE KING OF SVANANDA WAS TRAVELLING through his domain, when he came to a forest glade. Huge trees shaded the clearing, branches drooping towards the earth heavily laden with ripening fruit and colorful birds. In this calm surrounding among flitting butterflies, an old man worked with vigor; bent over, removing scrub and weeds. He would scoop down, clear the ground, dig a small hole and drop a tiny seed. Then placing his hands on his hips to help a creaking bent back straighten, he would mop his brow and move on to repeat his task. As the old one toiled away in the hot sun, the kind king felt pity; why should one so ancient have to toil for so little reward? He was perplexed too, for the old man seemed strangely happy and content with this back breaking task. Approaching the old man, the King saw that indeed the man’s face radiated happiness and contentment. “Old Man” said the king; “What do you plant on this hot day, why not rest under the cool branches of the trees?” “They are oak and mango trees your majesty, I plant trees”. With an amused smile, the king replied “Old man by the time the trees grow tall enough to bear fruit and shade, you will be long dead. Come; sit in the shade under the canopy of this tall tree and talk. Now is the time to pick this wonderful ripe fruit and enjoy life”. “You are right, oh wise King”, the old man said as they sat down. “What wonders we enjoy, and what blessings other travelers will enjoy in the beauty of this glade. “Oh King, he continued, “Many years ago my grandfather planted the seed of this very tree we now sit under, the fruit we eat comes from the tree my uncle planted many a year ago when I was but a boy; are we not harvesters of the gardeners of the past? And so now I plant fruit and shade for our children and their children, Oh wise king,” Drishti is vision or insight. What I see with my eyes and hear with my ears is not always the truth, what I feel with my emotions and think with my mind is not always the truth , what I know with my knowledge and intellect is not always the truth but what I realize through wisdom is truth. This is Drishti.
I first encountered the concept in Ashtanga Vinyasa with Dena Kingsberg and later to be reinforced more vigorously with Guruji (Pattabhi Jois) in Mysore. Dena taught me how my spine changed in asana, as I took my gaze to the physical drishti points. Using these gaze points in union with my breath, I started to flow in and out of poses (Vinyasa). This link of body and breath drew my mind inward; as my breath softened and awareness grew, there was a sense of freedom. This allowed me a taste of surrender (from my busy mind) a small oasis that many practitioners find on the mat (and one of the reasons we return to the mat). My pranayama gurus; Clive Sheridan and O.P. Tiwari taught me how to become intimate and comfortable with my breath then to be comfortable when not breathing (kumbhaka) to feel the energy move and a taste of the emptiness of vast space. At my meditation seat, the discovery was the drishti of focus. I found the soft intimacy of concentration, following my breath and allowing mind to be as I watched it. Finding insight within the emptiness, the place of beginning and end. These practices brought me full circle, back into the world my early yoga practice took me away from. As I started to become clearer and less driven to find meaning, I started to truly see my life and the ability we have to rationalise and deceive ourselves. Here using the Yama and Niyama of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and the Buddha’s five hindrances to life and meditation , I started to see and accept life for the first time, allowing it to be. A clear, calm still pond that reflects our true being, is a metaphor used by many spiritual traditions to describe the result of practice. Here, the pond is reflected in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra (YS) 1:3: “The pure awareness can abide in its own nature” Here we encounter drastuh (the seer or pure awareness and the true nature of being) from which the concept of drishti evolves. Yoga (the noun) is to gaze into the pond
and the practice of Yoga (the verb) is the methodology to purify the waters (energies) of the body and mind, to gain the clarity of insight into our relationship with the universe. To gain this clarity, the path has many ways, understanding the Buddha’s five hindrances are one. The Hindrances are functions (or dysfunctions) of our mind, they stop us from being present in the now (creating impurities, similar to Patanjali’s Viksepa (disorders of the mind YS1:30) and Klesah (afflictions of life YS 2:2). The five named hindrances are: sensual desire, ill will or irritation-anger, sloth and torpor, restless and doubt. They not only have an effect on the mind but manifest in the physical body. To refer back to our pond metaphor: sensational desire is akin to pouring dye in the water , as our emotions color the events of our life; Ill will can come in many forms, from irritation, anger to hate making the water of the pond simmer or even boil; sloth allows algae or weeds to grow and obscure the pond; restlessness and worry are like a wind that creates ripples on the surface of the pond; doubt is a muddying of the pond, so we are unsure of where the bottom is. Each hindrance can be a separate entity or is often the case, they blend and merge with each other, the Buddha and the Yoga Sutras give us methods to see and overcome these problems. The beginning of dissolving them is to first recognize we are in the grip of the hindrance, be they mild or out of control. Like an alcoholic at an AA meeting, we first must acknowledge the problem before we can look for solutions. Sensual desire is overcome by letting go. Letting go of what we believe are the bodies and minds needs (i.e.: what we believe will make us eternally happy). Try to contemplate on the result of succumbing to these desires and what will be the final outcome of the desire, for there is always a debt to pay. It could be from loss of
health, friendships, self worth, integrity etc. For many, the key is to start with moderation, slowly weaning our self of the want . We can also look for support in the form of teachers (Guru) and community (sangha). Ill will (a sickness) is overcome with loving kindness and compassion. It is to first accept that we are human and not perfect and extending this allowance to others, forgiving ourselves and them,
us stronger; this is the nature of a fully lived life. For drishti, in all its manifestations, allows us not only to see the world with great joy, magic and wonder but to see the underlying currents and essence that our eyes and mind don’t fathom. The last word comes from an old Buddhist teacher I studied with in Cambodia. He had been disrobed, sent to a
drishti allows us to see the world with great joy, magic and wonder and the underlying currents our eyes and mind don’t fathom understanding or placing ourselves in the shoes of those who seem to annoy us or those we dislike. Small deeds will lead us to a larger life.
work camp and tortured by the Khmer Rouge. His advice to me: “treat life with a touch of humor, for everything will pass and the sun will shine.”
To free us from Sloth; (the prison of inertia) change the environment, instead of sitting, go for a walk or roll out the mat. Allow energy to come by moving, break the pattern of inertia using enthusiasm, attitude and practice.
Don has been practicing yoga since 1993 and teaching from 1995. He has lived in India studying pranayama, kriya, meditation, Vedanta, Samkhya and Yoga Darshana with Swami Anubhavanda, O.P.Tiwari and Srahhalu Rande and Meditation with Theravada teacher Moonsoiroon in Cambodia. Don runs teacher training programmes and retreats in Asia. www.akashayoga.asia
Restless is not being able to sit in the present moment, the slavery of having a tyrant as a boss (the monkey mind) pushing us onto the next task, then the next. Find contentment in the present moment; don’t look for faults, stop and truly see the beauty around you. Be grateful. Look at a flower, cloud or tree (nature allows the mind to slow and brings rest), appreciate the world you live in. Doubt can paralyse us and stop growth. Look to your teachers and other practitioners as role-models. Read and be modified by scripture and the story of other path seekers. Become inspired by life and the world. Have shraddha or faith, this comes from experience, each time we are tested or problems call upon your faith. Each experience and test of our faith makes
HAPP YG AZING HAPPY GAZING Neil Barker
PATANJALI GIVES US A VERY CLEAR DEFINITION OF YOGA, ‘YOGAS CHITTA vritti nirodah’ - yoga is the channelization of those mental modifications. So if we understand the source of those modifications to be the sensory information and perception brought back to the mind through the outgoing of the senses, then we understand the importance of Pratyahara, sensory withdrawal, the fifth limb of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs (Ashtanga). To begin to train this aspect we use drishti. There are many interpretations of the Sanskrit word dristhi, to perceive, attitude, point of view, vision, to look, to gaze, focal point, these are just a few. Within Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, we are encouraged to develop tristanam, the three efforts of practice, breath (which includes the correct application of the bandhas), dristhi and posture. In our modern world and for the modern practitioner it can be said our eyes and ears are our most developed and distracting sense organs. We have trained our visual addictions since the advent of television. Everywhere you go in a modern city you are overloaded with visual advertising boards, lights, and big screens. In our yoga practice we can give these overloaded senses a break by tricking them into submission. In Ashtanga yoga we employ the breath as the main aspect of practice, and we breathe with a soft sibilant sound, known as Ujjayi. The sound gives the ears something to go out towards but in fact turns the listening within. Ujjayi can then be said to be a form of dristhi, we use the ears to look at the quality of the breath. Traditionally in Ashtanga Vinyasa practiced taught in the lineage of Sri Krishnamacharya and Sri K Pattabhi Jois, each posture has a specific drishti. There are nine external drishtis employed in the practice: 1. Nabhi Chakra – the navel centre 2. Nasagra – the nose tip or nostrils 3. Ajna Chakra or Broomadhya – the mid eyebrow centre 4. Hastagra – the hand 5. Angusta Ma Dyai – the centre of the thumb 6. Padhayoragra – the big toe 7. Urdhva – upwards 8. Dakshina Parsva – far right 9. Vama Parsva – far left 14
These are the nine external dristhis, but there is also Antara Dristhi, the internal dristhi. So there is an external gaze with an inward vision. At the most basic level the practice of drishti is to develop sensory withdrawal (pratyahara), and concentration (dharana), leading to full focus and one pointed attention (ekagra chitta). Which would eventually lead a successful aspirant towards nirodah chitta. In this way, once we have gone through the learning how to learn stage, the actual learning takes place, then we can begin to head towards mastery, where the practice begins to become softer and lighter; a moving meditation on the rhythm of the breath and the internal flow of the pranic currents. For me however there is a further aspect of dristhi, something I feel is a lost art in today’s yoga - the ability to work consciously at the pranic level. There is a Chinese saying, ’Yi dao, qi dao, xue dao.’ Yi is the wisdom mind and the intention of the mind, so the translation is, ‘where the intention is placed, the energy follows, where the energy flows the blood follows’. The ancient Chinese yoga practices are known as Dao-Yin, which means to lead or guide the life force. Many of our practices are designed to improve energy circulation, including physical circulation of blood and lymph. If we comprehend the meaning of Hatha Yoga, and study ancient texts like Vasishtha Samhita, we see the ancient masters knew how to guide the prana through the nadis. They were able to map out energy pathways and note the specific Marmansthanas- vital points. Vashistha recommends 18 points one should be able to guide the prana through. The true practice of asana is to clean the impurities within the body and then clean and clear the nadis, achieving Nadi Shuddhi – purification of the subtle life force pathways.
In Ashtanga we have the Yoga Chikitsa of Primary Series, the yoga therapy of detoxification and realignment of the body structures. The intermediate series, known as Nadi Shodana, nerve purification, not just of the physical spinal nerves but more importantly the subtle pranic pathways. Before we are born and in fetal development the Prana arranges itself around the nabhi chakra and the kanda, likened to a bulbous root, as the source of all 72,000 nadis. This is the centre of the umbilical cord. Around the seventeenth day of gestation the cells divide forming the neural tube or sushumna. The seven body chakras are then formed from mulhadhara to sahasra chakra. At birth, when we take our first inhalation and inflate the lungs for the first time, the post-heaven qi (Huo Tian Qi), enters the body and the Prana separates into the left and right, and front and back channels. This is known as the Karmic Breath. The wheel of Samsara then begins to spin, until the breath is
reunited (Yoga) within the Sushumna, and the Shakti is reunited with Shiva at the crown of the head. As long as the breath remains divided in the two channels of ida and pingala, the karmic patterns, vasanas and samskaras continue to effect us, keeping the cycle of birth, death and re-birth going. So for the more sincere practitioner seeking liberation from this mortal coil, a deeper level of dristhi is required to lead and guide the prana through the various nadi pathways and Marmani. With this in mind let’s briefly explore some of the external dristhi mentioned above. Nabhi Chakra, is believed by the ancients that the life force arranges itself at this center first, as the root of all the nadis. This is the main drishti for Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward Facing Dog. Other postures too, like Pachimottanasana preperation or Dandasana, seated staff pose, Baddha Padmasana, bound lotus, to name a few.
It does not literally mean your physical eyes should see your navel, your external vision rest your eyes softly towards your navel, whilst your Antara Dristhi, internal gaze penetrates the breath and bandhas. Nabhi literally means center or umbilicus. It also means the center or place of no fear. It is the seat of Prana vayu, and the root of all the nadis. It is also considered the seat of Samana vayu, which regulates the timing of digestion and assimilation. It enhances blood flow and lymphatic circulation in the abdomen. It strengthens the digestive fire, jathara agni, regulates samana vayu, strengthening digestion and absorption through the stomach, small intestines and colon - a very important center in the body, physically and energetically.
It is also interesting to note the big toes have three yin meridians associated with it, the liver and spleen on each corner of the toe nail, as well as the kidney meridian at the root of the big toe on the underside of the foot at Yong Quan – Bubbling or Gushing Spring. These three important yin meridians meet at the Hui Yin – Yin Meeting point in the centre of the perineum, i.e. muladhara chakra.
Nasagra Drishti – the nose tip focal point. The breath being the most integral aspect of the practice makes the nose drishti important and the default drishti if you’re not sure where to look. One should be careful not to fix the eyes too rigidly on the nose tip as this could lead to becoming cross eyed and dizzy. Instead one should fix the left eye on the left nostril and the right eye on the right nostril and watch the Swara, the flow of the breath.
drishti is to develop sensory withdrawal and concentration, leading to full focus and one pointed attention
Ajna Chakra or Broomadhya Drishti – the mid eyebrow centre. Ajna means order or command. It is said to be the seat of the higher will. When the mind and prana are focused here the fluctuations (vrittis) are made steadier. Thoughts and emotions are calmed bringing about a sense of inner peace and steadiness of mind. Ajna creates a bridge between the pineal and pituitary gland, regulating hormonal balance, relieves stress and insomnia, improves concentration and memory. Hastagra Drishti – Hasta is hand, Agra is tip. There is a little confusion over this dristhi because it does not specify which of the many hand marmani one should focus on. Personally I recommend two important points, the first is a minor chakra of the palm, known as Tala Hrida or Lao Gong (Labor Palace) in Chinese. Tala is palm and Hrid is heart, so it is the heart of the palm center. In Chinese medicine is relates to the pericardium channel of the heart sac. Functionally it is related to the heart through vyana vayu, the lungs through prana vayu, and the diaphragm through udana vayu. In Ayurveda it is indicated in the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias, especially tachycardia brought on through anxiety. It balances the heart and mind, relieves stress and balances the emotions. In TCM it is used to treat depression, sadness, fear, anxiety, anger and restlessness. It regulates the functioning of the heart, lungs and diaphragm as well as excessive heat in the blood. The second point is on the pericardium channel and extends to the tip of the longest finger. Zhong Chong – Middle Rushing point. It is also said to restore consciousness when the spirit is separated from the heart. It is an extension of the palm chakra. Angusta Ma Dyai – the centre of the thumb. Angusta is thumb. The thumb of the hand is Hasta Angusta and the thumb of the foot, i.e big toe, is the Pada Angusta. The specific point is located at the mid point of the base of the thumbnail; Hasta Kshipra is the marma point. Kshipra is translated as immediately effective or instantaneously acting. It immediately enhance the flow of prana to the lungs and brain, so relieves headaches., especially sinus, frontal, temporal or occipital headaches.
The kidney meridian has a very prominent relationship to the Sushumna or Zhong Mai – Thrusting Vessel, and is said to be the storehouse of the original qi, after that first inhalation, when the prana separated into the left and right channels. Urdhva Drishti – or upwards drishti, generally moves the prana upwards. Parsva Drishti – Far right and far left (Dakshina & Vama, respectively), sideways gazing, generally moves the prana into the right and left lateral channels of the body. Hopefully through this brief exploration of dristhi you may have gained deeper insight into its purpose and internal effects. First we develop concentration through the discipline of practice and then we work with the inner intention to guide and lead the prana through the subtle pathways clearing and purifying the channels. With correct understanding, the right method, right practice and the grace of God, success awaits you as you elevate your practice beyond the physical body. Happy gazing! Neil teaches Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga at Pure Yoga, Central in Hong Kong.
Padhayoragrai – the big toe. The marma is called Pada Kshipra, Pada is foot and Kshipra again is instantaneous. It mirrors that of the hand; the exact location is the mid point at the base of the big toe nail. This marma is said to activate prana. The big toe is related to the head due to a nadi that runs from this marma directly to the brain. It regulates disorders of the head, headaches and balances the pituitary gland. It is said the right big toe stimulates pitta, the left kapha and both together vata. Through apana vayu it regulates the testes in men and ovaries in women. This marma is also said to directly influence Kundalini and there are many asanas where the big toes are held and stimulated. 15
Dristi Dristi EXPERIMENTING WITH DHRISTI Inge Shantidevi
STHIRA SUKHAM ASANAM. WHEN ASANAS PERFORMED CORRECTLY, THE result is joyfulness and good intelligence. (Patanjali Sutra, from “The Light of Yoga” by BKS Iyengar). Central to this is dhristi or focus point for the mind and emotions. Doing yoga correctly as a moving meditation and not just for mere physical exercise, involves training the mind to focus. Twenty years ago when my husband and I separated, I started yoga at the local Berkeley YMCA. The teacher was soft and compassionate. And I felt I was being hypnotized into relaxation in savasana. Then at the Sivananda, San Francisco Center, I learned how to do asanas with mantra recitation (Asana-Japa) while focusing the mind on the third eye (Bhrumadhya-Dhristi). We would hold the postures while reciting our mantra, breathing in and out synchronizing the movements with the sound of the mantra. Then at Ticht Naht Hanh’s annual retreats in the Bay Area we practiced mindful awareness in walking meditation. He taught us to return to the awareness of the present moment by focusing on the simple activity of walking and feeling our feet on the ground. Just listening to the sound of the morning can be quite pleasant as there are many birds reminding us to return to the present moment. I find walking meditation to be a good practice when one has trouble sitting. Throughout my two year separation, I was prone to great emotional swings. The only time I had rest was when I practiced my asana with mantra chanting. The mental and emotional chattering stopped immediately as got into the flow of Surya Namaskar. At the Sivananda Center, we were also taught meditation with Mantra Japa. One can sit in Padmasana, Siddhasana, Swastikasana or Suksasana. Keeping the head, neck and spine in a straight position, facing East or North if possible. One can recite Mantra Japa, again fixing the mind on Bhrumadhya-Dhristi to begin with for 20 to 30 minutes. I am a thinking, analytical person and it is very difficult for me to meditate. However another dhristi I found helpful is to focus on the third eye as though there is cleansing bright light. I have a photo of Sri Anadamayi Ma Devi with bright light on her third eye. Imagining a soft bright light of the Sun, Moon and Stars of the Universe on the Brumadhaya-Dhristi is pleasantly cleansing. Whenever I have extreme mental fluctuations I gaze at her picture, try to establish contact with her energy by focusing on the cleansing light on her forehead. Later I started practicing Ashtanga Vinyasa in which there are several dhristis, such the thumb or middle finger. Also just synchronizing the breath with the postures and feeling each posture also helps to shift the mental focus from inner dialogue to quietitude. Now I live in a very crowded city - Jakarta. I constantly chant mantras as I go through traffic jams. It gives me the feeling of stillness amidst the noise of the busy traffic. Otherwise, my mind would go off on a tangent again, and I’d start analyzing why there’s so much graffiti around town. Just looking at the silent trees or the leaves along the busy streets helps me return to the present moment. These are dhristi points I have experimented with to quiet my mind. There’s plenty of room to practice, until breath and asana work like a bow and arrow bringing me to the onepointedness of Samadhi.. Inge is a long-time practitioner of Yoga and Meditation. She has compiled a collection of spiritual poetry and writings. She also designs unique spiritual jewelry, yoga and casual wear. firstname.lastname@example.org
Free P as Pas assses Namastte for Namas tival Festiv al Namaste Festival is a yoga and healing festival which will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia from 2 – 4 December 2011. We are giving away 5 free Full Festival passes if you can answer the following question: Name three of the teachers who will teach at Namaste Festival 2011 and their respective styles of yoga Submit your answer and contact information before 11 November 2011 to email@example.com. Five correct answer will be randomly selected as the winners. Winners will be contacted by email and will be responsible for their own travel and accommodation expenses during the Festival. You can follow the Festival on: Twitter (@ namastefestival) Facebook (Namaste Festival) www.namastefestival.com
Yoga off the Mat
Riding the S Sttorm Leza Lowitz
PEMA CHODRON SAID, “ONLY TO THE EXTENT THAT WE EXPOSE OURSELVES OVER AND OVER TO ANNIHILATION can that which is indestructible be found in us.” This rings especially true for myself and other yoga teachers who stayed in Japan after the massive 9.0 earthquake, tsunami and four nuclear meltdowns struck on March 11, 2011. Friends and family members worried, questioning our sanity. During the crisis and even now, we had to ask ourselves: Why would we stay in presumed danger when we could head back home to safety? And what about the whole concept of home? For me, the crisis woke me up to my mortality in a visceral way, made me face my fragility and my fears. My sadhana led me to inquire: Do I let my fear control me, or can I try to turn my emotion into actions that might be useful and helpful to others? The answer was clear. If I couldn’t use my yoga practice now, when could I ever use it? Although each of our experiences was different, we all had to call upon our practice in deeper ways than ever before. New Zealander Jenni Uzuki, 36, Japan in 2003, was at his studio. He and his students ran down 6 is an Ashtanga teacher who’s flights of stairs to the street. “I realized nature is very strong, and lived in Japan since 1995. If nobody can fight back,” he said. His wife returned to Nepal to give anyone had reason to leave, it birth, but Gyawali stayed to teach and has gone to the shelters to was she. Uzuki was eight-and-a share yoga. half months pregnant when the earthquake hit. When the trains American Iyengar/prenatal yoga stopped running, she had to instructor Ronna Fujisawa, 42, walk home. Prior to the quake, a was with her 1-year-old. Cradling 15-minute walk from home to her baby, she walked home for the train station was tiring; she over an hour through the never imagined she’d have to crowded streets, in awe of what walk 25km 3 weeks before her had happened. Fujisawa, who due date. But her practice helped has lived in Japan for over 15 her focus. “I directed my breath years and is married to a into the joints and muscles Japanese man, took refuge in her which started to ache several hours in, and keep walking for the practice, though she’s realistic seven hours it took me to reach our apartment,” she recalls. about the dangers and tries to remain positive to support her Uzuki, who is married to a Japanese, had no idea about the students. “As they’re all tsunami or destruction in Tohoku until arriving home. Then the pregnant, there is a lot more nuclear crises erupted. Yet, she decided to stay. “I looked at the concern with pregnant women and mothers with small children.” information available, chose to disregard the more obviously The classes are a vital way to talk about the issues and share sensationalist media, and was reassured that respected scientists information. considered Tokyo not to be at immediate risk. The main reason I stayed was I was close to my due date—the safest thing for myself Ashtanga teacher and artist Barry and my baby was to stay near the hospital. My husband’s family Silver, 47 was high in the sky on lives in Tokyo. There is no way I would have asked him to leave a plane to Fukuoka when the while they remained.” earthquake struck. Checking his phone on landing, Exactly one month after the EARTHQUAKE popped up in earthquake, Uzuki gave birth to a an email. He decided to offer his healthy baby boy; “a wonderful workshop as planned. Later, reminder that life goes on.” She heading back to Tokyo, he saw says she wants to volunteer in footage of the Fukushima Tohoku, but for now, “being the nuclear plant and wondered if he mother of a newborn baby takes should return. Then, Silver, who up almost all of my time.” came to Japan five years ago for a two-month teaching assignment and never left, remembered 9/11. Pregnancy was also in the forefront of 34-year-old Hatha Silver was in New York City then, taking a workshop from Sri K. Yoga teacher Nirmal Raj Gyawali Pattabhi Jois. “We expected him to return to India, but he stayed of Nepal. His wife was 5 and taught,” Silver recalls, adding the classes were very grounding months pregnant when the quake struck. Gyawali, who came to and profound. “They gave us a sense of hope, a feeling that life 18
would continue at a time when we felt that existence as we knew it was over. These memories encouraged me to get back on the plane to Tokyo and continue teaching daily Mysore classes.” The classes helped Silver and his students remain optimistic and unified in a deeper way than before. For now, Silver continues to teach daily, travel throughout Japan and offer workshops. Though he had not experienced the quake itself, “needless to say, I was still terrified,” he says with characteristic humor. Terror was also real for Dylan Robertson, a 36-year old Power Yoga teacher from Brisbane, who came to Tokyo in February 1997 after graduation. He was in the office of Hugger Mugger’s Japan distributor when the temblor hit. Robertson used Hello Yoga, his social media site, to spread information and unify the community. He stayed in Japan working with the Tyler Foundation’s Shine On! programme for children in Tohoku. Iraq-born Haidar Ali, who was in India when the quake struck and came back to be with his family and students, said his teaching has included more prayer and meditation than before. “I want to stay calm, strong and positive, encouraging everyone to help each other.” In fact, so many people want to help out that volunteer centers are overrun with requests. “I sent an application to a relief organization, and they replied that they have more volunteers than they can use. They asked me if I wanted to go help out in Haiti!” Silver says. He might even consider it. One of the most active teachers in organizing charity yoga for those affected is British Vinyasa and Yin yoga teacher Em Bettinger, 37. Bettinger stayed in Japan throughout, offering daily yoga classes and support. Many students credit Em’s quiet strength, support and powerful yoga and meditation classes with helping them get through the crisis. For Em, staying was not exactly natural. “I’ve been living in Japan over 11 years, and although I have a life I am grateful for, the last couple of years I’ve struggled with the complexities of Tokyo. I loved Japan, but Tokyo was my nemesis. 2.46pm, March 112011 changed that.” If there was ever a time for her leave her struggle behind, 3-11 was it. Mother Earth was offering her a ticket. She didn’t take it. Instead, she used the crises to look more deeply at herself, leaving her internal struggle behind instead.
“When the quake struck, I was teaching yoga to high school students at an international school. The students had asked for a relaxing class, and as they rested their legs up against the wall, the earth began to move. They innocently laughed the wall was giving them a massage. But within seconds we knew the school had to be evacuated.” Bettinger stayed at the school overnight. “It wasn’t until I got home on Saturday morning and watched news reports that it hit me what had happened,” she continues. “Sitting with my husband, I sobbed.” A decision was made to open Sun and Moon on Sunday and hold classes. Bettinger recalls when the students walked in for the morning class smiling, there was also great sadness. “That first class was hard to teach. I needed to choose my words carefully. For the meditation at the end, we sat in a circle and held hands. I tried not to cry,” she recalls. Each had their own story to share. Mainly, there was a relief in having a space to talk, to share, to offer and receive comfort. But because so much more needed to be done, Bettinger got to work right away to set up a charity drive with her friend Paul at Sun and Moon. “People walked in with bags, rucksacks, and suitcases full of supplies. They stayed to help put together boxes, sort out the supplies and then pack them up again. The flow of people did not stop. People with cars kindly drove all the boxes (96 in total) to Second Harvest Japan, who would distribute to the affected areas. We hadn’t imagined we’d have a collection of this size.” It was the largest non-corporate donation in Japan. Bettinger was very moved by the outpouring of support. “As people left, they thanked us for giving them the chance to help.” For Bettinger, the quake and the aftermath were the greatest teachers yet. “Aren’t we given challenges everyday? Our living yoga is to help us through those challenges. Nothing comes easy in life.” The disaster’s lesson was also personal and profound. “I saw my attitude towards Tokyo was a lot of my making; not meeting my wants, my desires, my expectations. That isn’t yoga. Yoga teaches us the practice of non-attachment. Aren’t those the major principles of the Yoga Sutras— Abhyasa (practice) and Vairagya (non-attachment)?” “I’ve been given so much in my 11 years in Japan. It’s now my turn to give back,” she says. “Three months on I am still here, with a newfound love and respect for a city I once battled with.” Like Bettinger, Hawaiian-born Kundalini teacher and DJ Miles Maeda has also been active organizing charity music events & yoga workshops. Maeda, 41, had been coming to Japan as a DJ and yoga 19
teacher for six years before moving here in 2010. He was in a Tokyo cafe when the quake struck. “We ran out the door and stood out on the street where the trees were shaking, the power lines were swaying, and the street beneath our feet was shifting side to side, for several minutes. I was just starting to get used to all the little quakes, but this one literally rocked me to the core.” After the quake, Maeda went to California to visit his teacher. “Having numerous aftershocks daily for an entire week was unnerving,” he recalls. “I didn’t realize how much stress I was under until I landed in the U.S. But after having time to look at the situation with my teacher, I felt confident about returning. And when the plane cleared the clouds and Narita was in sight, my body took a huge sigh of relief; the kind you feel when you’ve arrived home.” Changes with the earth are inevitable, Maeda notes, so it’s important for us to assist students in taking care of their mental, emotional and physical health to be able to handle these
transformations we all experience. “It was the perfect time to activate Kundalini meditations for helping deal with earthquakes and even radiation,” he recounts. Through the crisis, Maeda, like Bettinger, realized Japan was his home, he came here “to teach and to learn, to share my experiences, to make new ones, to live life with the people of Japan.” That’s why he stayed. Duncan Wong, 43, creator of Yogic Arts, is philosophical about his family’s decision to stay in Japan, but relocate from Tokyo to another island. “I suppose in many ways it could be said the small measure of peace we all seek in our lives might be achieved by remaining true to our inner feeling—that intuitive voice from our heart song which calls us to some unexplainable duty.” When Wong landed in Japan a few hours after the triple disaster to rendezvous with his pregnant Japanese wife in Kyoto, the magnitude, scale and implications
of the disaster were difficult to process, “even after having survived direct impacts from 911 in NYC and the 1986 earthquake in San Francisco,” he writes. “Complete destruction of an entire region and a nuclear meltdown was a daunting reality to face, and although a full Evac. Op to Hawaii or Miami was put into place within 48 hours, Wong was, in the end, able to relocate his family of “a Japanese woman from Kanto, an American man from both coasts, their unborn identical twin sons, and their ojiichan (grandpa) toy poodle” to the southernmost island of Kyushu. It was Wong’s Japanese partner who gave him strength. “My wife Junko taught me to live selflessly and to trust destiny in the face of a panicked inner and outer world.” “Being available to provide immediate financial ground relief to the Fukushima and Tohoku communities through charity yoga events across Japan provided me with the ability to be a symbol of unity and courage to others;” he says. Today, Wong makes regular trips to Tokyo to “show up and teach.” He says he “finds heart in the faces of my brave Love Warrior Yoga Family who perhaps, in many ways, have already overcome the obstacles of fear and negativity that pose the greatest health risks of all.”
In the aftermath of the trifold disasters of the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear catastrophe, many of us understood the opportunity we’d been given anew to use our collective power and compassion to respect our fragile planet, to curb our outrageous consumption, to help those less fortunate, and to heal. The crisis helped us to understand home is where we are right now, in this moment, and our practice is being with whatever arises, even if it’s the earth, the ocean, or even the end of our physical incarnation. We are all truly connected, and in times of disaster, we feel it strongly. And through this disconnect we are reminded of the power of connection—to the earth, to each other, to the humanity in all of us—and reminded to strengthen this connection. This is the heart of karma yoga—unity in action, coming together as one, for the future, for our planet, for each other. That is why so many of us decided, for now, to stay in our adopted country of Japan. American writer and yoga teacher Leza is the owner of Sun and Moon Yoga in Tokyo. Her newest book is Yoga Heart: Lines on the Six Perfections (Stone Bridge Press).
Teacher’s Voice asana when I was a kid and it was a fun to and at the same time challenging because my mother used to make me sit to settle me down- when I was naughty or during regular evening prayer. Padmasana is the first posture in my life. With the growth of time and age, it started blooming its petals, and it became more and more challenging to me.
Debdat is was Debdattta B Bis isw WHAT IS YOUR MOST CHALLENGING ASANA AND WHY ? Padmasana - Lotus posture is the most challenging asana to me. In Sanskrit the word asana means to sit. I started practising
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM THIS ASANA? Like many other Indian kids, I started Padmasana out of fun during my childhood. That time it was not at all a challenging posture. It started becoming challenging when I actually started learning yogasanas. Bending the knees and dropping them on the ground, placing the heels close to the groin, keeping the spine straight, shoulders balanced but relaxed, grounding into Mother Earth, finding out the most centred balancing point of the body. This is the root of Muladhara Chakra and to generate the energy flow from that very point like the serpent standing up on its tail and opening up the Chakras one after the other - this is extremely challenging. Now in my 28 years of asana teaching life, it is another everyday
challenge for me to make my students understand the beauty of a Lotus, the effect of keeping the spine straight, how it works on the knee joints and pelvis, how to ground down on the hips and finding out the finer balancing point, and to explore the one lotus posture to hundreds of variations. Sitting quietly and settling down in this fast pace world is challenging and Padmasana is the tool to handle the challenge in both my student and teaching life. WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF YOUR PRACTISE? The most challenging part of my practise is ‘to be in the present moment’. I don’t want to keep my Yoga practise confined to a 6’x2' yoga mat. What you learn on the mat, if you cannot explore it off the mat, then it’s useless. I understand the meaning of perseverence (practise) on the mat. The result is - success and the meaning of success changes in life , because it’s relative. My challenge is to face that success. And that’s what I am doing everyday. Deva teaches at Pure Yoga in Hong Kong firstname.lastname@example.org
Pay Atten tion ention Chris Kummer
Desìa bandhahò cittasya dharanòa Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3:1. Concentration (dharana) is binding the mind to one place. In dharana there is awareness, of which meditation is a higher quality. Multitasking is a necessary tool for many of us in every day life. Several different responsibilities and skills require coordination, while at the same time we might be checking messages on Twitter and Facebook. During yoga practice we notice the mind juggling numerous contemplations and ideas simultaneously when
neuroplasticity - neurons, nerve cells, change shape and increase connections to other neurons attempting to access quieter internal spaces or balancing postures. This article explores the effects and benefits of using attention and focus (dristi) during yoga practice and life from the perspective of what happens in our brain. Part of our problem is the vast amount of brain capacity at our disposal. To put this into perspective, let’s look at the brain of a rat: Almost all a rat’s brain capacity is committed to programmed functions. This is alike an old computer with an operating system occupying almost the entire hard drive space. Humans have well over half of our brain available for memory, problem solving, creativity, analysis, and thinking. The ability of the brain to learn, to change and adapt, is called neuroplasticity, or plasticity of the brain. Here neurons, nerve cells, change shape and increase their 26
number of connections to other neurons. Learning, and with that plastic changes in the brain, can occur at any time, regardless of age. Increased learning periods are interspaced with periods of consolidation and gradual slow down of learning functions with age. Any thought, movement and action creates nerve impulses in the brain. Unregulated impulses create, to some extent, ‘monkey mind’. Any reduction in impulses, or reduction in range of impulses and frequency, lead to more harmonious brain waves with improved potential for learning. Traditionally, the suggested approach to stilling mental vacillations is slowing and directing the breath, as indicated by Swatmarama in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika verse 2:2; Respiration being disturbed, the mind becomes disturbed. By restraining respiration, the Yogî gets steadiness of mind. For our purposes this means steady and rhythmic breathing creates steady and rhythmic nerve impulses in the brain, resulting in a quieter mind as well as a more energized endocrine system. In modern yoga practices, which are dominated by physical asana practice, focusing on the breath as the lone tool for calming brain waves may preclude practitioners from the full benefits. During asana practice, the mind is bombarded with nerve impulses relating to changes in shape, tone and gravitational effects on body parts. Harmonizing and quieting these information bundles assists the mind to a calmer state. When we make the effort to pay attention to, and focus on, a particular area of our body, the act of paying attention physically suppresses influences of nearby distractions. This is much like shutting a door or window to a noisy environment to better concentrate on the task at hand. Paying attention means to create awareness. Imagine yourself practicing urdhva dhanurasana (upturned bow pose), wondering why your legs and knees keep turning out. A friendly reminder is given by the teacher to release your tightly-squeezed buttocks. But with hands and feet firmly on the ground, how do you know if your butt is the one in question? Paying attention is more than being present in class and listening to the instructions. It is about being present within your self. Or as the saying goes: Yoga is not a work out, it is a work in! Once we become conscious of an action or association, we can be change or unlearn it. Start with the simple understanding of how far apart your feet might be placed. Then begin including your overall spacial perception, your proprioception, into your awareness. Know where you are in space relative to the rest of your body. How is your body balanced in the asana against gravity? What is the spinal alignment? How even are the shoulders, arms, tilt of the head etc.? Intention setting assists with directing attention. At the outset of our yoga practice, or any practice for that matter, setting a clear, but not necessarily fixed, intention keeps the practice on track and the mind directed. Focus changes the response to the incoming information, paying attention determines the activity of the brain. Combining intention with attention is the foundation for creating real change. Let’s look again at an example, adho mukha svanasana. An intention to improve spinal alignment by preventing excessive reversal of the lumbar curve [rounding the lower back] can be
noticed and checked by keeping the heels slightly off the floor, or knees bent until, over time, the tension at the back of the entire body reduces. This applied awareness permits healthy practice with integrated spinal curves and (eventually) heels on the ground. What we don’t notice we can’t modify. Education is a key in creating awareness. Especially when we are searching for parts of our body or mind that cannot be seen or felt from the outside. Often it is helpful to only have some detail pointed out to us. For instance informing students of hyper-extended knees in certain standing postures, often receives the response: “Oh, I was not aware of it.” From this moment on, the choice is to either continue practicing as before, or to learn to make changes for better posture. What can I do to change the hyper-extended knees? And what are the results and advantages? Simply responding in the moment to an instruction does not guarantee the knee won’t hyper-extend the next time that posture is taken. Our posture, the way we stand and move is just a habit. As we grow up and learn to sit, stand and walk, we do this according to our limited abilities at the time. If these activities are repeated inattentively, childhood patterns, and any overlaying postural compensations become our resultant body shape and physical means. These habits correspond to a complex array of experimental learning and assumptions made to the best of our abilities. The repeated use of these patterns reinforces neuronal pathways in the central nervous system. In the case of unwanted patterns an analogy would be of digging one self into an everdeeper hole. To make changes to patterns entails recognition of the hole, and a conscious effort to not fall in it, while simultaneously building a new pathway. Being attentive to details of our body in an asana, especially details we normally do not focus on, brings awareness to underused muscles, joints and sense organs. From this point we can explore smaller movements, changes in breath and muscle tone. Instead of finding our posture ‘not quite right’ or ‘needing an adjustment or correction’, or judging ourselves ‘not being quite strong or flexible enough’, we are looking for further possibilities about how to be in the pose. This creates choices for us in the context of our momentary capabilities and intentions. In the beginning, the practice of physical awareness to familiarize oneself with the body can become a chore. Drifting into a long checklist and becoming engrossed in thought processes becomes detrimental to success in calming the mind. It is almost as if we are substituting one form of mental business for another. Now, balance is called for to maintain an enjoyable practice. Alan Questrel in his introduction to the Feldenkrais Method® describes this process of familiarization: “We often have little or no attention on certain parts of ourselves or we tend to notice the same parts over and over. The fact is our whole self is involved in everything we do, but we only sense certain parts of ourselves in our actions and it generally tends to be the same parts. By producing a more complete self image in our actions and a more even distribution of effort and force throughout our whole self there is an enhancement of our movement, action and thought.” Effortful attention is the prerequisite for learning. So is the nature 28
of our asana practice important when looking for learning effects in the brain. We need to distinguish between simple activity and mindful action. In mindful action, each movement is done thoughtfully and with deliberation, indicating attentiveness to the practice. This in turn sends coordinated nerve impulses to the central nervous system contributing to harmonious brain waves. Nineteenth century psychologist William James noted: “Effortful attention would deepen and prolong the stay in consciousness. Which else would fade more quickly away”. Activity, moving while distracted, by loud music, TV, computers or phones and conversations, does not bring about the focused and coordinated nerve impulses and attention necessary for restructuring the brain and learning. This kind of exercise of course still retains the benefits on muscular fitness, metabolism and cardiovascular activity. Multitasking also falls in this category because its absence of focused attention does not help learning. By consciously focusing attention, we influence our brain to make changes for learning new skills. Unfocussed or scattered attention prevents the brain from being receptive for setting up new skills. When learning, it is best to learn correctly before a ‘bad’ habit establishes mental pathways. We progress from mostly mechanical connection of movements, to more smooth and elegant actions requiring less mental involvement. Any new physical skill is gradually integrated in this manner. New learning is integrated by making new connections between nerve cells. In fact, when shortterm memory is converted to long-term memory, the connections of a nerve cell more than double. The opposite also holds true. If we neglect learning it leads to wasting of brain systems that regulate, and control plasticity. Similarly, learned non-use, the ‘I can’t do it’ attitude also wires into brain neurons. Training the brain to learn and fine tuning our ability to pay attention can be practiced anywhere with any action and body part. For instance feeling grounded and steady on our feet is influenced by the feedback from nerve receptors on the soles of our feet to the brain. The soles of our feet are densely packed with nerve endings registering information about the surface we stand on, and the subtle changes our bones, soft tissues, and joints undergo to adjust to the surface. Modern living with all level floors and surfaces, cushioned and tight fitting shoes limits the amount of feedback the brain receives. Ultimately we are being cut off from connecting properly with the earth and feeling grounded. A recent outdoor yoga practice on a natural granite rock formation was surprisingly more stable and steady compared to practicing in our wood floor studio. When practicing asana we need awareness of the areas of our body that are lengthening, contracting or even compressing. This focus enables us to be both more engaged in the posture and hold a comfortable, steady space, while committing the improved alignment to learning memory. Chris is a naturopath and yoga teacher. After medical studies in Germany he completed his degree in complementary medicine / naturopathy in Australia. He will be at Pure Yoga in Hong Kong & Taiwan in November. www.chriskummer.com
Retreat Review My Journey of Transformation and Self Discovery YOGA FOR SVASTHA RETREAT WITH A.G. AND INDRA MOHAN - YOGA PSYCHOLOGY FOR PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION Wai-Ling Tse
IT WAS MY SIXTH TRIP TO INDIA BUT MY FIRST TIME on a yoga retreat. After having experienced this one, I think everyone should go on a yoga retreat, it gives us time to recharge and reflect. I was extremely keen to meet the Mohans after having trained in Svastha Yoga with their son Dr. Ganesh Mohan last year in Hong Kong, it was such a treat and honour to learn from both A.G. Mohan (Mohan-ji) and Indra. They glided effortlessly in and out for our daily lectures and classes. It was such a delight to hear Mohan-ji talk backed by so much knowledge and history and I was pleasantly surprised by his sense of humour, an extremely funny and jolly man, he loved to crack jokes and it was most heartwarming to listen to him speak and watch him chuckle. Indra-ji was elegant, poised and a great storyteller, always illustrating a point with a story from the ancient scriptures. Both were strong and grounded within yet soft and approachable on the outside. “Yoga is Svastha” was how Mohan-ji started the retreat. Quoting his teacher of 18 years, Sri T. Krishnamacharya, when he asked him what was the most important in life: the 3 A’s - Arogya - health;
Ayus - longevity and Atma Sakshat Kara - self realization, refering to the state of absolute peace and tranquil mind. This term Svastha has been adapted from the Yoga Sutras to represent a state of health and peace of mind, which is the state of Svastha, no health and peace of mind is Asvastha which is the state we are all in. So yoga is the means to bring us into svastha. Since all of us are in a state of Asvastha, until a person has reached that state (Svastha), there should be clarity and certainty of the path and the goal. This is where Patanjali presented the goal and the path clearly and systematically in the Yoga Sutras. Classes were held in an outdoor hut which was basic but adequate and breezy, though we encountered
what is the use of studying philosophy if it is not practical in our lives problems with flies, lots of them! Maybe they had come to test us to see whether we would be distracted by external forces beyond our control! I did my self yogasana practise on the beach every morning to the soothing sound of the ocean wave, the soft touch of sand under my feet and the warmth of the sunrise. It was such a beautiful and exhilarating start to the day and afterwards, I always looked forward to joining my friends at the buffet breakfast which had a full array of both fresh and tasty Indian and Western vegetarian delights. I was happy, very happy. 29
Their teachings were straightforward, simple and as Mohan-ji expressed so aptly ‘’no wishy washy, mumbo jumbo”; it was as good as it gets! Most importantly extremely practical, “what is the use of studying philosophy if it is not practical in our lives, the accumulation of knowledge should be useful and help to bring more clarity.” Mohan-ji drummed into us that transformation does not take place without our own constant effort and we must first “apply it (the teachings) on yourself and see how it transforms you. See how you can apply it on your daily life - that is what is important. First fix our mind and our lives, then comes the other things.” For example; the principle of the breath in the asana practise, we should not let the cycle of the mind’s thoughts come into the practise - keep bringing it back to the breath. The asana practise should always have a component of awareness. One of the things Mohan-ji said which really struck me was that ‘thinking is behaviour’. We are often mistaken into believing whatever we think in our mind does not matter, and the thoughts that arise in our uncontrollable mind belongs to us, whether it be positive or negative, the thoughts we have for someone, something or even for ourselves has no repercussions, that it’s just a thought, but that is not true. ”Thinking is behavior”, if we dwell on these thoughts and feeding energy to that thought, it will become real and manifest into our reality. So be very careful of what you allow to arise in your mind. Be constantly mindful to watch your thoughts as a silent and passive witness instead of allowing them to thrive with judgement, attachment and possessiveness, blowing things out of proportion.
We must pause, reflect and make a conscious choice to control it [our thoughts] instead of allowing it to control us I returned to Hong Kong on a mental high, I felt energised and relaxed and on returning to teach, very much aware of the deep inner calm I had not felt before. I went about my daily routine with incredible ease and no matter how chaotic it got inside the MTR during rush hour I was not fazed, I was able to connect to that inner peace. Thoughts still came and messed with my mind but I was able to look at it more objectively and instead of reacting learning to pause, reflect and not judge but to remain equipoised, even if it was just for a second or a minute. I often feel bound by responsibility and duty to family, friends, boss, teachers, students but if I don’t bind myself with a limited perspective, then I am free. So no more ‘airy fairy, mumbo jumbo’ - just back to basics the breath, body and mind. Starting here and right now. To conclude quoting Mohan-ji “We can always free ourselves from our mind, we can do it, it’s in our own hands; because it’s our own mind, nobody else’s. If you do it, you will be better, if you don’t you will be worse, that’s why we have to do it!” To learn more about the Mohans and their current courses, visit www.svastha.net Wai-Ling is a freelance Yoga teacher based in Hong Kong and volunteer News Editor of Namaskar. email@example.com
Festival Review Drish ti ffor or P ar anderlus estiv al Drishti Par artty Animals – W Wanderlus anderlustt F Fe tival Kimberley Reid
YOGA TEACHES US TO KEEP OUR gaze within our mat, cast downwards or inward toward the heart or toward the third eye. The soft, single-pointedness of yogic drishti is a returning inward, a withdrawal of the eyes and the “I” from the outside world and the seductions of surface and sensation. If the attainment of steady drishti is one of the tools we cultivate in yoga then the Wanderlust yoga and music festival, which is becoming a huge phenomenon in the US, may be the ultimate test because it is jam-packed with lures and distractions at every turn. With its very title – Wanderlust – the festival seems to scorn a steady, inward focus. Seane Corn at Wanderlust Vermont, image from www.wanderlustfestival.com
Established in 2009, each event combines dozens of daily classes by the rock stars of yoga – Shiva Rea, John Friend, Desiree Rambaugh, Elena Brower, Rodney Yee,
even the lustiest wanderer must eventually choose a tree to sit beneath and still her gaze Seane Corn and many more etc. with performances by the rock stars of indie music – Krishna Das, Michael Franti, Andrew Bird and a cornucopia of dazzling food, retail and performance art including fire twirlers, stilt-walkers, costumed circus performers, puppet shows and an open invitation to walk the slack line tightrope draped over a glassy mountain pond. The 3 or 4-day yoga and rock parties take place in beautiful natural settings. This one was at an off-season ski resort in gorgeous Vermont bursting with new summer life. Founder of Wanderlust, Jeff Krasno, reckons it packs the best of all worlds: “To go to a three-day fairly hedonistic experience where you’re going to be drinking, probably, and smoking a joint, maybe, and dancing all night, and then do yoga and walk away feeling good, how cool would that be?” Judging by the mushrooming of Wanderlust festival events in the US, the party-going yogis concur with many 32
putting their wanderlust in action and following the festival through Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Miami and Dallas dashing between rock gigs and outdoor yoga stages picking up the latest yoga pants and mat brands on the way. Fun and gratifying as it is, the abundance of choice at Wanderlust sets up a consumer dynamic between the student and the yoga. The yogi is first a foremost a shopper - of stuff, classes, poses and experiences. The hankering to taste the next experience and witness the next spectacle calls the discerning “yoga buyer” to assess each celebrity teachers’ spiel and their actual products – DVDs, retreats, studios, brand endorsements (every teacher flogged products at each class I attended). Where in this is the soft inward gaze? It’s easy to see why Wanderlust is such huge phenomena in the States. It distils and translates US culture of individualism, consumption and fun into a roving yoga community with sublime US landscapes thrown in. The mix is beguiling. How long will it be before the sassy brand is calling you to “Chose Your Adventure” on the Peak in Hong Kong? But amidst the glamour and sparkle can we hold our gaze on what drew us to yoga in the first place? Dana Flynn from Laughing Lotus in NY reframed the experience when she opened her funky, funny, celebration of a class by decrying the instinct to judge and “shop” yoga experiences. Instead she called on us to think of the abundance of choice at Wanderlust as a life-giving walk in the mountains. We don’t rank and critique each tree. Instead, we breathe in the subtlety and generosity of each individual limb that makes up the beauty and grace of the forest. But yoga teaches us if transformation is to begin. Maybe that work starts only long after Wanderlust party has passed. Kimberley is a yoga student and mother currently living in Cambridge Massachusetts.
Heart & Soul Work with Children
challenge with grace and success. And yoga, our dear friend, will come to the rescue when we are in a tight spot.
Shakta Kaur Khalsa
PARENTING HAS BEEN CALLED “THE HIGHEST YOGA”, and for good reason. Where else do you have the challenge and opportunity to be your most mindful at each moment? Where your every communication has the potential to create conflict or upliftment? Children respond either consciously or unconsciously to the vibratory energy of each moment. Much of the time, we adults have lost our sensitivity to the energy that vibrates between us all. Children can make us painfully aware of our gaps in awareness. On the other hand, I have found greater motivation to stay on target since having a child. I use yoga, meditation, prayer, whatever it takes! Nothing beats a consistent daily spiritual practice to “tune up” to higher consciousness. In other words, if you touch and verify your own soul regularly, you won’t stray too far in your interactions with your child. Whether you’re having trouble with your child, or your life, it won’t be so serious, and you won’t take it so seriously. When difficulty comes, your attitude is less “This is a big problem.” and more “Where’s the lesson here?” Many of us use yoga and meditation to improve the quality of our lives, and the lives of our children. Still, I’ve not met any parent, including myself, who would say that life with children is perfect. Nor do I believe it will ever be. There will always be new challenges to keep us on our toes! However, we can learn to meet each
FROM DRAMA TO DHARMA Every parent can recall a time of emotional crisis in progress. Imagine for a moment that your child is bugging you, whining, perhaps screaming - pressing on you for something he or she wants. You can excuse yourself, go to the bathroom, have a seat on the only one available, and close your eyes. Listen to your long and deep breath coming in and out, instead of the chatter, nagging or screaming from the other room. Don’t feel pressured to do anything about the situation, or to say anything at all. Go into an inner space where drama doesn’t exist. Only you and your breath exist in this space. Now open your mouth into an “O” shape and inhale deeply through your mouth. The lips are slightly pursed, as though you are drinking from a very large straw. Close your mouth and exhale slowly through your nose. Look in the mirror to get it right, then close your eyes and concentrate on your breath. Do this for two minutes and see how you feel. This exercises slows down your mind and emotions, allows you to return to your full self. It at once calms and strengthens the nervous system. Take another few moments to assess the situation you will be returning to when you open the door. Have confidence from deep within that you know what to do and how to do it. Your communication will come from your essential self. Your child will feel it, and relax. The two of you will come to a common meeting
ground. If your child chooses to resist, you can still remain neutral, open, and centered in your decision. Allow your child to go through whatever changes she needs to. Give her that right. Give both of you Bach Rescue Remedy in water, or just a drop straight into the mouth. It will calm her and let her know you are on her side. You are the kind and merciful master of yourself, and the helper of her soul. The trauma will lose its power and fall flat, leaving you both in a clearer place of understanding.
In parenting sometimes breathwork and strong physical activity can melt problems away PASSING IT ON One wonderful way to create more harmony and happiness in the home is to teach your children to meditate. The “O Breath” exercise above is perfect for children too. Initially try it at a time when there is a real camaraderie between you. It is hard for a child to follow your direction when he is in conflict with you. Patience pays - wait for a good opportunity to give him these tools of change. It becomes easier to use yogic techniques to bring balance when there is imbalance when you have a daily yoga practice. Your child sees that you rebalance yourself each day. His unconscious mind tells him, “This is what we do each day to set ourselves for the day.” Rebalancing through yoga in troubled times will seem most natural for him. THE CALM HEART Chanting and singing are wonderful tools to bring peace to the heart. A very simple and 34
effective meditation uses the sounds, “Sat Nam” (pronounced like “but mom”). It literally means, “Truth-Identity, or Truth is my identity” in Sanskrit. To practice this meditation, bring the hands into prayer pose, with palms and straight fingers pressed together. Then bring the hands to the heart center and press the thumbs into the sternum. You will find an indentation in the upper center of the chest. Press there with about five pounds of pressure. This will connect the meridians of the head and heart. Then inhale deeply with the eyes closed. “Saaaaaat”, then a very short “Nam” at the end when you have only a little breath left. You will begin to notice that Sat has “waves” of sound to it. Make Sat have six waves, and Nam one. Taking it one step further, on each wave of sound, thread the sound through each consecutive chakra (energy centers). Begin at the base of the spine (rectum), move to the sex organs on the second wave, then circulate the sound at the navel on the third, the fourth resounds at the heart. Move upward to the throat on the fifth wave, the sixth resonates between the eyebrows (third eye), then with “Nam” move the sound through the top of the head through the crown chakra. Keep going for five, ten minutes or more. Feel yourself as the instrument of the Divine. Children love the sound of chanting. Maybe it’s because they are attuned to sound vibration. When I taught school I used song to catch the attention of a noisy classroom. It worked every time. The seven-wave Sat Nam meditation is a very simple and fun way to
introduce children to chanting, and helps them develop the ability to direct their focus and awareness—an invaluable tool for life. SPARKING AWARENESS Share the wealth of breath and sound with your child. Not all at once, but at just the right time. Light a candle before bed and create a beautiful sound together. Sit outside in the fresh air and show him how to breathe long and deep.
See who can breathe slower When our son was seven, my husband taught him a yoga exercise that incorporates blowing out strongly through the mouth and encouraged his
enthusiastic participation in a clever way. The breathing pattern is a long inhale through the nose. The exhale is powerfully blown out through the mouth. My husband put a plant between himself and our son. He challenged him to make the leaves of the plant move. Our son worked on moving that plant, and the exercise worked on moving him - into an internal place of fearlessness, for that is the gift of this exercise. If you would like to try this exercise, the mudra, or hand position, is as follows: first the right elbow is bent at a 90degree angle. The arm is out to the side, with the palm facing forward, as though taking an oath. The left hand position is the same with the exception that the elbow is tucked into the side, so the hand is close to
the left shoulder. After three minutes, the position is reversed. Then after three minutes both hands are over the heart center with the left underneath and right on top. Press hard for two minutes. Continue blowing on the out breath. Blow hard! FUN IS GOOD FOR YOUR SOUL In parenting children, sometimes the answer to challenging situations is breath work, and sometimes strong physical activity can melt problems away. It is as if the sun of strong movement turns the icy blocks of tension to water. And water? It flows! Practicing Bear Walk, you will ground yourself with the earth element, and “walk off ” tension. When you don’t feel like yourself, do this exercise. Get into Triangle Pose, also know as Downward Dog Pose, and begin walking all around the room, or better yet, outdoors. You will find yourself walking in a natural pattern of right arm forward, followed by the left leg, then the left arm, followed by the right leg. Keep the legs and arms straight, but not locked. The bottom is up in the air. Go for three to five minutes. Get primal, get earthy. Let yourself growl if you want! This is a perfect exercise to share with your child. He never needs to know how fantastic it is for him. That can be your little secret! Just let it be fun. In our family, one person (usually my son) initiates some fun physical activity, such as blasting the Beatles while we all dance and sing at the top of our lungs. We have pillow fights, jump on the trampoline, have running races, and tickle until it turns into a wrestling match. I find I have to consciously drop all my excuses for not joining in (“I don’t really feel like it.” “I don’t have time for this.” etc.), and just realize spontaneous fun is good for my soul.
What’s good for my soul is my yoga BLESS YOURSELF, BLESS YOUR CHILD If our goal in raising children is to create whole, happy, and healthy children who know how to love, share their radiance, and keep their center no matter what life brings, then we will want to act in our highest consciousness at each moment. They learn what they live. That means they learn what you, as their parents, live. Give yourself that yogic edge. The science of yoga is a tool you must pick up to use it. So pick it up. Make it your routine. It will deliver you to your soul. It will bless you, and it will bless the soul that comes in the form of your child. Shakta Kaur Khalsa has over 30 years of experience as a Kundalini yoga teacher, teacher trainer, and Montessori educator. She travels nationally and internationally presenting The Radiant Child Yoga Program (RCYP). For more information on The Radiant Child programme visit www.childrensyoga.com. In Hong Kong the Radiant Child Facilitator is Jenny Smith. firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.geckoyoga.com.
Philosophy A Primer tto o the Bhaga vad Git a Bhagav Gita Sankirtana Dasa
THE GITA HAS INSPIRED PEOPLE ALL OVER INDIA AND the West. Many people think the Gita’s wisdom is a key for peace and happiness for humanity. In the 700 Sanskrit verses of the Gita the word Yoga appears 103 times. However, the Gita is not an easy book and contains concepts foreign to the modern mind. As renowned scholar Klaus Klostermaier says, “a careful study of the Gita very soon reveals the need for a key to this key book.” In this primer we offer such a key. The key will enable readers to access these concepts and show them how to apply the Gita’s teaching into their everyday lives. The presentation is in two parts: part one focus on Dharma and part two (in January 2012) on Yoga.
block that ensures a sustainable mode of living, we now look at the next floor where attempts to transcend the material world take place. There we find a variety of processes described throughout the Bhagavad-gita: karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, astanga-yoga and buddhi-yoga. Each brings equilibrium to the mind enabling one to overcome the binding forces of the material world. History has shown no society can long sustain itself without proper application of Dharma. Dharma, symbolized as a bull, is the father of economic progress, sensory fulfillment, liberation, and ultimately perfect union (Yoga). When Dharma is neglected, troubles begin. Not only are the bull and cow symbols of Dharma and the Earth, both are also important animals in human progress.
Progress entails advancement in transcending this world. For this, good bodily and mental health is vital. Dharma ensures it. For example, the Dharma of a farmer is to produce nutritious food. PART ONE: DHARMA For this, he is duty-bound to An essential feature of the key carefully look after the soil so to that allows one to penetrate the hand over the plot of land in a mystery of the Gita is an good condition to the next understanding of Dharma generation. He uses the bull to because Dharma and Yoga are plough and the manure to intrinsically interlinked. Thus the fertilize. In modern society cows Gita, although a classical text on and bulls are mostly raised for Yoga, speaks much about meat. Tractors are used instead of Dharma. Throughout their bulls and harmful chemical conversation, Krishna and fertilizers replace cow dung. People Arjuna used the word Dharma 57 live in big cities and food has to times. Arjuna expresses his be transported at great expense bewilderment about Dharma and and endeavor. The energy needed he calls Krishna the maintainer to make this all work comes from of dharma. Summarizing his fossil fuels. Shortages, rising instructions, Lord Krishna refers prices, and mounting discontent to the conversation between him are the future of the globe’s and Arjuna as dharmyam energy supply. Furthermore, the samvadam. use of such fuel enhances climate change. This is one only one Dharma as a concept is no doubt example that shows how difficult to understand for the deviating from Dharma (adharma) modern mind. There is neither a brings about unhealthy direct nor an adequate translation conditions. Not that every human for the word in any of the Arjuna consults with Krishna, image from www.bhagavad-gita.us is meant be a bio-farmer, but each world’s other languages. Dharma person based on his nature has does not match the contemporary concept of religion, although the duties. The Gita informs us what they are and in what word Dharma is often translated as ‘religion’. On the contrary, many consciousness to perform them. of the current faith-based religious practices are opposed to Dharma; they contain many elements from the realm of Adharma. How does Dharma (the foundation of the building) mature into Yoga? When our motivations for actions are elevated from the The word Dharma stems from the Sanskrit root dhr, which means plain utilitarian to a desire to attain eternal existence, the work to ‘hold, have or maintain.’ Dharma incorporates the ideas of becomes karma-yoga and leads to spiritual ‘truth’, ‘duty’, ‘ethics’, ‘law’ and even ‘natural law’. The prefix ‘a’ perfection. Besides karma-yoga, what about the before the word Dharma as in Adharma renders the opposite other Yoga systems? Do they depend on meaning, ‘untruth’, ‘unlawful’ etc. Dharma? More about this in the next issue. One can envision these unchanging principles (Dharma) as the foundation of a building. Only when the foundation is solid, is it safe for the next phase, the next floor to be constructed. Pursuing the metaphor of a building where Dharma is the first building
Sankirtana holds a degree as Yoga teacher from the Vrindavan Institute for Higher Education. He works with a travel agent in Beijing to take Chinese Yoga students to holy places in India.Sankirtana.email@example.com
Uncontrollable Urges Vinod Sharma
According to Ayurveda, there are two types of urges â€“ those which should be controlled to maintain good health, and those which should never be controlled. There are 13 of the latter, non-suppressible urges, namely: 1. Urinating 2. Passing stool 3. Emission of Semen 4. Flatulence 5. Vomiting 6. Sneezing 7. Burping 8. Yawning 9. Hunger 10. Thirst 11. Crying 12. Sleeping 13. Panting
Before detailing the adverse consequences which can result from suppressing any of these urges, we should try to understand what these urges are. According to Ayurveda, whatever we eat is processed by Pachaka Pitta or Jatharagni (digestive fire) in our stomach. When our food is well digested, one or more of seven tissues required for our sustenance are formed. These tissues are called saptadhatus (seven sustainers). At each stage of the formation of these seven tissues, some waste products are also formed, which then need to be expelled from the body. The part of the food which is not processed properly and thus not absorbed in our bodies, becomes toxic if it remains in our system for a long time. Therefore, for our bodies to be healthy and function optimally, it needs to be eliminated. Mother Nature has created our bodies in a wonderfully systematic way. Unwanted waste and unprocessed food is eliminated from the body through different ways, eg. urine, stool, sweat etc. When unprocessed
food or waste matter is to be eliminated through a particular channel, we feel a corresponding urge to do so. For example, to eliminate excess mucus and catarrh from the body, we want to sneeze. And when we are attend to that urge, we feel better. If we ignore these urges, our bodyâ€™s natural functioning is disturbed and this could result in health problems. We live in a society where many of the above non-suppresible urges are expected to be suppressed, due to socially acceptable norms. For example burping or yawning in public can be considered bad manners. But if we suppress any of the above urges, Vata (air element) becomes quite imbalanced and it adversely affects the functioning of Pitta (fire element) and Kapha (water and earth elements). In other words, when any of the non-suppressible urges is suppressed, it will first cause imbalance of Vata and eventually disturb Pitta and Kapha as well. Now letâ€™s explore health problems which can arise when urges are suppressed:
1. Urinating: When the urge to pass urine is suppressed, it will disturb Apana Vayu (air which circulates in the lower abdomen). This can cause infection in the urethra, bladder and even kidneys. It can cause swelling and pain in the urethra, penis, lower abdomen and lower back, also formation of kidney stones. If the person already has Vata imbalance, suppression of such an urge can cause very acute pain in his lower back and lower abdomen and also severe head ache. 2. Passing Stool: When the urge to pass stool is suppressed, it can cause discomfort and pain in the duodenum. It can reduce appetite and enthusiasm. This can also cause pain or cramps in the calf muscles. 3. Semen Emission: Unlike urine and stool, semen is a substance which helps us to maintain our health, strengthen our immune system, enhance our vitality and stamina. For this reason, Ayurveda encourages us to conserve this vital fluid by observing celibacy. However, we are living in a society where we are surrounded by material objects which agitate our mind continuously. Once someone’s mind is agitated and chemical reaction takes place in one’s body, semen accumulates (either by continuous agitating thoughts or by actual physical indulgence) in the genitals. If at that time, one suppresses seminal emission by squeezing the penis at the tip to prevent ejaculation, taking drugs, or other unnatural means, it can cause pain and swelling in the testicles, vas deferens and prostate gland. It can adversely affect the motility and health of sperms. In the long run, it can cause swelling in the prostate gland and even prostate cancer. (Ayurveda encourages practicing purity of thoughts and actions to avoid agitating sex organs).
activity, our body uses up oxygen quickly and to compensate, we are forced to breathe quickly and heavily. If we suppress this natural urge, our body will experience a lack of oxygen, resulting in pain in the chest, weakness of the heart, sweating and trembling of limbs. Sometimes people can even faint. In the original Ayurvedic texts, the whole subject of “Urges” is explained very elaborately. Here I have mentioned very briefly about the non-suppressible urges, but I hope it gives you an introduction into this aspect of Ayurveda.
If we ignore urges, our natural functioning is disturbed which could result in health problems
4. Flatulence: If this natural urge is suppressed, it will immediately cause Vata imbalance and related problems such as stomach ache, headache, anxiety, palpitation, fatigue, fear, depression. 5. Vomiting: First of all, this urge cannot be suppressed, because the force is very strong. So when someone tries to suppress this urge, it can cause fever, rashes on the skin, nausea, dizziness and even jaundice. 6. Sneezing: This urge is also difficult to suppress. Nevertheless, many times people try to suppress it – this can cause facial paralysis, hemicranias, sinusitis, migraine and sleeping disorders. 7. Burping: If this urge is suppressed, it can cause trembling of limbs, pain in the chest, breathing difficulties, hiccups and congestion in the chest. 8. Yawning: Suppression of this urge can cause slouching of the back, convulsions, lethargy, dullness of mind and lack of motivation. 9. Hunger: If this urge is suppressed, it can cause weakness, anaemia, darkness of complexion, dizziness, irritability and sadness. In the long run, it can even cause premature death. 10. Thirst: If this urge is suppressed, it can cause dehydration, constipation, depression, deafness and excessive fatigue. 11. Crying: If tears are suppressed, this can cause heavy head, weakness of the eyes, cold, catarrh, weakness of heart and loss of appetite. 12. Sleeping: If this urge is suppressed (by drinking stimulating drinks like tea & coffee), it can cause excessive tiredness, lack of enthusiasm and motivation, irritability, nervous exhaustion, memory loss, insomnia and depression. 13. Panting: When we do any physical exercise or exert ourselves through any physical
Vinod is an Ayurvedic practitioner with some 20 years experience consulting in Hong Kong. firstname.lastname@example.org
Letting Go is the Only Answer Pascale Seiler
OUR SOCIETY TEACHES US HOW TO ACCUMULATE AND build things, but we’re never really taught how to let go. Ironically it’s the most powerful thing and the only thing we can do. We are consumed and addicted to resolving everything immediately. Often the best course of action is to surrender and let god take this one. Drop the emotional rucksack you have been carrying, just let it fall to the ground.
not a linear process, there will be levels to the letting go. The sooner you can feel the feelings and step into it, the easier it will be in the long run to experience a deep let-go. 4. Connect with their spirit through lighting a candle or sitting silently with their spirit in prayer. Commune with them and speak to them to let them know you want them to join the light and for their soul to rest in peace. This opportunity to connect with spirit hear where they are and to help them transition into the light.
Letting go allows us to see there is a higher force at play in our lives
We have to learn to let the dust settle, give the situation space to grow in its own good time.I guess you could say it’s like keeping a fine vintage wine till the time comes to open up, cork the bottle and drink it. We have to listen for when the timing has come and learn not to forge ahead and rush things. Give ourselves and the situation space to breathe. We have no idea what god has in store for us and quite frankly it’s not our job. Letting go allows us to see there is a higher force at play in our lives if we just get out of the way and trust. Often we’re confronted with situations that are out of our control, like a death of a loved one or the breakup of a relationship. LETTING GO IN DEATH Letting go allows us to release our ties and attachments into the ether so the love can be allowed up to the heavens. Letting go allows our relationships to take shape, change form and blossom lovingly into the ether. Letting go is accepting what is. Here are five steps to letting go of someone who is about to pass on. 1. Consciously let their spirit go, release them so they can leave you. Put your hand on your heart and say ‘I love you, I let you go now. We have to be courageous to let their soul be released so they feel free to go. 2. Then keep your hand on your heart and say ‘I trust this process is the way it needs to be, there is a purpose and a synchronicity to all that is transpiring. I let the process takes its natural course.
3. Be present to the spirit releasing itself and just let up the feelings that letting go evokes, such as tears or feelings of sadness.Grief is
5. Honour your loved ones by remembering who they were for you. Focus on remembrance and honoring their memory in a special and sacred way. Make a family collage at their Remembrance Day, make a loving pillowcase out of their old clothes, buy an art piece that reminds you of them or grow a plant and sprinkle their ashes as a sign of their eternal presence in your life. LETTING GO OF RELATIONSHIPS Another important form of letting go is cord cutting. This is particularly important with relationships where we feel stuck, heavy or tied. It’s important to cut the energetic ties that keep us shackled. It’s natural to form attachments with situations and people that arise in our life. The trick is knowing when and how to let go of those people. Cutting the cords of negativity or attachment allows for a much lighter, clearer and freer space to appear. Our relationship to love and the bonds we form can be just as deep whether physically present or not, letting go lets us experience this deeply. Let’s not be so attached to the form, or shape love takes in our lives either way it’s always right there beside us. If you’re confronted with a situation and you really don’t know what to do best to put your hand on your heart and say ‘I surrender and trust everything will work out for its highest good, and I thank you god. Let go and let god and see your world transform for the better. The universe is always working behind the scenes. Remember it will happen but sometimes not on our timing, but on god’s timing. What one thing are you going to truly let go of today? Like a bird in the hand it’s time to set yourselves and the situation free. Set your inner dove free and you’ll allow others to do the same. Pascale is an Intuitive Coach and Transformational Healer. email@example.com +852 9808 1453
Sowing the Seeds of Mindfulness Janet Lau
When I was young, I used to get sick all the time - pills and cough syrups were my friends. I don’t get sick as much now, but I still catch a cold from time to time. However since I started to practice mindfulness, I’ve started to see a shift. Mindfulness is a practice of being a neutral observer of what’s in front of us in the moment, whether it’s good or bad, with total receptivity and complete openness. The other week I had a sinus infection which gave me a pounding headache for almost four days. Instead of focusing on the joy I missed due to the infection, I focused on my reactivity, my breath, and the wonders of life around me. Although the physical discomfort was still present and I could not practice my favorite vinyasa yoga, I did not feel any need to fix myself (with drugs) any quicker than the body’s natural healing process. And from this I felt tremendous joy and peace. I am thankful and humbled about how powerful the mindfulness practice can be, which is why I share it with you today. One of my teachers Sarah Powers taught us a phase to use before we start our asana or meditation practice:
engaged with the practice. Knowing the body, heart and mind are inter-related, physical discomfort can lead to mental formations which are followed by emotions in our hearts. We are determined to examine the nature of this interrelatedness. This first sentence allows us to not just pay attention to our thinking mind, but allow the physical sensation of the body, the emotions from the heart, and the thoughts from the mind to be at the background, with the neutral observant attitude at the foreground. With enough practice and right effort, we gain more clarity about our habits, energies and reality. The second sentence reminds us how everything is inter-connected. We think whatever we go through in our lives only has to do with ourselves, but it actually affects everyone around us. For example, if you see a calm and peaceful person who gives you a warm smile, you immediately feel better. And then your friend calls you seeking your advice, senses your positive energy and feels better for it. And it goes on. The more we can be in tune with our true nature (peace), the more people will benefit from our transformation, not just our immediate self. The third sentence tells us the mindfulness practice will bring positive influence to us in a way we could have never imagined. When we are mindful, we are in the moment the way it is without trying to change it. We cultivate openness to the unknown and, slowly, the seed of trust germinates in us.
trying to interrupt with my own ideas. I started enjoying a more harmonious relationship with my husband. I was not caught up in my own emotions. The last phase reminds us that even when we are sick or when our lives are being challenged, we still have the capacity to practice mindfulness. Many students approach the mindfulness practice because there are unwholesome seeds or unpleasant events that bother them. Of course it is important to transform the unwholesome seeds within us, but it is a lot easier to start watering the wholesome seeds. Even when we are sick, we can be mindful of our breath, reactivity (see the sickness as a teacher showing us how we push away unpleasant sensations), and also touch the other parts of the body that are pleasant (sowing wholesome seeds). In doing this, my teacher Frank Jude Boccio says we make ourselves a bigger container, able to embrace everything that happens to us without reacting with emotions, but rather responding with wisdom. When our seed of mindfulness is not strong, we might not have the capacity to face our emotional storm, so it is best to start practicing touching the wholesome seeds (e.g. joy, love, understanding, compassion) on a good or even neutral day. So when the storm arrives, we are fully ready. With practice, we will be able to ride through the emotional storm and still be able to stand tall without being destroyed. Try for a month to include the four simple
I vow now to practice mindfulness in my body, heart, and mind. For the benefit of myself and others. I appreciate its immeasurable value, and I know it is possible to include any condition and circumstance in my life This is a powerful phase. The first sentence sets a determination rather than an attempt to be mindful. We are determined to be present to our physical body, feeling heart, and thinking mind with a non-judgmental and a compassionate attitude. When we make a vow or verbalize our intention, we claim more ownership of our action which fuels our motivation. We become more
The more wholesome karma seeds we sow in ourselves and others, somehow, somewhere, and someday, it will all come back to us, not just our own self, but everyone else.
sentences before you start your yoga or meditation practice and again when you end your practice.
I remember when I took on the mindfulness practice, I was curious to see how powerful it could be. Slowly I noticed I was able to listen more deeply without
Janet teaches at Pure Yoga, Causeway Bay in Hong Kong.
A Bowl of Memories Moosa Al-Issa
I love to be reminded of the sights, sounds and tastes of island vacations. I created this salad to evoke my wonderful memories of the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia. I hope this salad takes you to an island you love.
Island Salad INGREDIENTS Salad 200 grams mixed baby greens ( kale, arugula, spinach, beet, etc.) 1 ½ cup peeled jicama cut into thin ½ x 2 inch pieces 1 large red pepper ribs and seed removed and cut into thin 2 inch sticks 2 cups organic dried coconut ribbons ½ fresh pineapple peeled and cut into bite sized cubes 1 lbs organic tempeh 1tbsp soy sauce 1 tbsp agave 1 tsp lime juice chilli flakes to taste 3 tbsp olive oil DRESSING ½ cups olive oil ½ cup fresh basil ¼ cup lime juice 2 tbsp agave syrup 1 tbsp chili sauce 1 tbsp fresh ginger finely minced
PREPARATION Crumble the tempeh into a bowl and add the soy sauce, ginger, agave, lime juice and chili flakes. Toss till the tempeh is evenly coated. Heat a non stick frying pan to medium heat, add the olive oil and tempeh and fry till the tempeh is nicely browned and crispy, spread the tempeh on a plate to cool. Reserve. In a blender combine all the dressing ingredients and pulse till the ingredients are smoothly pureed. In a large bowl combine the greens, pineapple, jicama, red pepper and the dressing. Toss till the salad is evenly coated. Portion the salad evenly between four salad bowls and add the coconut and tempeh crumbles on top of each salad. Serve.
Moosa is the Executive Director of Life Cafe and Director of Just Green Organic Convenience Stores in Hong Kong
Tia’s Crossword Although men can also get enlightened, this crossword is dedicated to a few celebrated yoginis of yore, whose lives continue to inspire us. ACROSS 1. Eleventh century Tibetan dakini (sky goer) who developed the Chod practice for understanding egolessness and developing compassion for all sentient beings. (6, 7) 4 & 7 DOWN. Renowned dakini who died in Tibet aged 115 years, a yogic death of course. (3, 6) 5. Eighth century Iraqui slave and prostitute turned mystic poetess who wrote, ‘What a place for trials and tribulations did my Lover put me in, but never did He look upon me as if I was impure’. (5) 10 & 13. Twentieth century saint from Haridwar, India. (10, 2)
11. See 12 DOWN 13. See 10 ACROSS 15. Mystic, reformer, poetess from Avila, Spain. (6) 16. Jumble ‘dig better’ to give the Irish saint of poets and writers. (9) 17 & 14 DOWN. Thirteenth century dakini whose name, in Tibetan, means demoness nun. (4, 4) DOWN 1 & 6. Indian princess turned mystic poetess, singer and, reformer. (4, 3) 2. Jumble ‘lama pair’ to give a courtesan turned yogini in Gautam Buddha’s time. (8) 3. Another 11th century Tibetan dakini. Forced to marry despite her desire to practice the dharma, she was killed, yet returned to life. (6, 4) 7. See 4 ACROSS 8. Canonical title given to 15
ACROSS, 16 ACROSS and 9 DOWN. (5) 9. Fourteenth century yogini from Siena, Italy, who penned these words, ‘We know nothing until we know everything’. (9) 12 & 11 ACROSS.
Padmasambhava’s consort who hid many spiritual treasures in eighth century Tibet, to be rediscovered later in the earth, rocks, trees and water. (5, 7) 14. See 17 ACROSS
Yoga Teachers & Studios AGAMA YOGA SCHOOL @ ANANDA WELLNESS RESORT 16/3 moo 6, Koh Phangan, Suratthani 84280, Thailand s: Tantra Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Workshops, Retreats, Meditation l: English t: (66) 892 330 217 e: firstname.lastname@example.org w: www.agamayoga.com
AMICO STUDIO 2-4/F, 167-169 Hennessy Rd Wanchai, Hong Kong s: Hot, Hatha, Ashtanga l: English, Cantonese t: (852) 2827 9233 e: email@example.com w: www.amico.com.hk
ANAHATA VILLA & SPA RESORT Ubud, Bali, Indonesia s: various styles, group retreats, yoga for privates & corporates. Studio rental available. l: Indonesian and English t: (62) 361 745 3267 f: (62) 361 989 7804 e: promo@ anahataresort.com w: www.anahataresort.com
George Dovas The Iyengar Yoga Centre of Hong Kong d: Sheung Wan s: Iyengar Certified (Junior Intermediate I) t: (852) 2541 0401 e: george@ iyengaryogahongkong.com
FLEX 1/F Regency Centre (Phase II), 43 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aerdeen, Hong Kong s: Iyengar, Ashtanga, Hatha Vinyasa t: (852) 2813 2212 f: (852) 2813 2281 e: firstname.lastname@example.org w: www.flexhk.com Timy Hui Private & Group Classes d: Hong Kong, KLN, & NT s: Hatha, Ashtanga,Yoga Therapy & Vipassana Meditation, Yoga Alliance 200hr Certified l: English,Cantonese & Putonghua t: (852) 9032 3382 e: Timy99@gmail.com Facebook: Timy Yoga http://Timy.mfYoga.org
IYENGAR YOGA CENTRE INDONESIA
18F Lyndhurst Tower, 1 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong t: (852) 2905 1822 e: email@example.com w: www.anahatayoga.com.hk
Jl. Kemang Raya 18D, Jakarta, 12730, Indonesia s: Iyengar t:(62) 21 739 3101 e:firstname.lastname@example.org w: www.iyengaryogaindonesia.com
Michel Besnard Yogasana s: Hatha Vinyasa l: English t: (852)2511 8892 / 9527 6691 e: email@example.com
IYENGAR YOGA CENTRE OF HONG KONG
Chris Broad Yo Yoga s: private, corporate Anusara influenced, yin & Ubuntu flow t: (852) 9307 1086 e: firstname.lastname@example.org Kathy Cook Retreats, workshops, privates d: Hong Kong, Bali &Thailand s: Iyengar (Junior Intermediate) l: English t: (852) 6292 5440 / (62) 811 387781 e: email@example.com w: www.yogawithkathy.com
Room 406 New Victory House, 93- 103 Wing Lok St., Sheung Wan, Hong Kong s: Iyengar t: (852) 2541 0401 e: info@iyengaryoga hongkong.com w: www.iyengaryoga hongkong.com
IYENGAR YOGA CENTRE SINGAPORE 149B Neil Road, Singapore s: Iyengar t:(65) 9052 3102 & 6220 4048 e:firstname.lastname@example.org w: iyengaryogasingapore.com
Hari Amrit Kaur (Kaldora) Privates, workshops d: Central, Discovery Bay s: Kundalini, Radiant Child yoga l: English, Cantonese t: (852) 6428 5168 e: email@example.com w: www.kundaliniyogahk.com
KATE PORTER YOGA Yoga for normal people Small public classes & luxury yoga holidays 5000G Marine Parade Road, 0429 Laguna Park, Singapore s: fusion of Hatha, Vinyasa, Iyengar and Yin classes l: English t: (65) 9781 3403 e: kate@KatePorterYoga.com w: www.KatePorterYoga.com Ming Lee Privates, workshops s: Iyengar Certified teacher l: English, Cantonese, Putonghua t: (852) 9188 1277 e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hong Kong, LRC d: Central s: Iyengar Certified (Junior Intermediate I) l: English t: (852) 2918 1798 / 9456 2149 e: email@example.com
NAMASTE YOGA STUDIO 8A, Minden House, 13 - 15 Minden Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong s: privates, Hatha, Iyengar, Sivananda, Satyananda, Kriya yoga t: (852) 9763 4105 e: firstname.lastname@example.org w: www.namaste-yoga.com.hk Anna Ng Privates d: Hong Kong s: Hatha yoga l: Cantonese t: (852) 9483 1167 e: email@example.com
Kate Leung Privates d:Hong Kong s:Hatha, Yoga Therapy, Pre-natal & more l: Cantonese t: (852) 6696 1802 e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hong Kong 16/F The Centrium, 60 Wyndham Street t: (852) 2971 0055
LIFE MANAGEMENT YOGA CENTRE
14/F Peninsula Office Tower, 18 Middle Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon t: (852) 8129 8800
Non-profit Classical Yoga School d: Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong s: Patanjali yoga, Kids, Seniors, Corporates, Teachers’ Training, Specific Needs, Private Coaching l: English, Cantonese t: (852) 2191 9651 t: (852) 6349 0639 (Chinese) e: email@example.com w: www.yoga.org.hk Master Luke s: yoga therapist for chronic diseases, M.Sc.(Yoga therapy), P.T.D.N.Y.S.D.Y.SC.ED.,Y.I.C., Experienced Hatha yoga therapist &instructor in Basics, Intermediate, Advance, Privates l: English t: (852) 9763 4105 e: firstname.lastname@example.org w: www.namaste-yoga.com.hk
25/F Soundwill Plaza, 38 Russell St, Causeway Bay t: (852) 2970 2299
9/F Langham Place Office Tower, 8 Argyle Street, Kowloon t: (852) 3691 3691 4/F Lincoln House, TaiKoo Place, 979 King’s Road, Quarry Bay t: (852) 8129 1188 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 Taiwan 151 Chung Hsiao East Road, Sec 4, Taipei t: (886) 02 8161 7888
Ursula Moser The Iyengar Yoga Centre of 45
176 Orchard Road #06-016/07 The Centrepoint, Singapore s: Hatha, Power, Ashtanga and Gentle Yoga l: English t: (65) 6734 2853 w: www.realyoga.com.sg
Singapore 9 Scotts Road, Level 4, Pacific Plaza, Singapore 228210 t: (65) 6733 9555
SOL WELLNESS 16/F Tin On Sing Commercial Building, 41-43 Graham St, Central, Hong Kong s: Kundalini Yoga, SOL Kundalini Kids, Hatha Yoga, Menâ€™s Only Yoga, Qi Gong Group classes, private classes, Workplace Movement Exercise, Raw Food, Detox t: (852) 2581 9699 e: email@example.com w: www.sol-wellness.com
SPACE YOGA 26 / F, 27 An-Ho Road, Section 1, Taipei 106, Taiwan s: Hatha, Ashtanga, Anusara Inspired, Flow, Yin, Restorative, Power, Hot, Meditation, Pranayama, Virya Sadhana, and Yoga Dance l: English, Mandarin t: (886) 2 2773.8108 e: firstname.lastname@example.org w: www.withinspace.com
KUNDALINI YOGA @ SHAKTI 3/F 34 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong s: Kundalini Yoga, Qigong, Guided Kundalini Meditation, Pilates (privates), Energy Healing, Life Coaching. Also Studio & Healing rooms for rental t: (852) 2521 5099 e: email@example.com w: www.shaktihealingcircle.com
THE YOGA ROOM 3 - 4 /F (studio) 15/F (office) Xiu Ping Commercial Bldg, 104 Jervois St, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong s: Hatha, Ashtanga, Yin, Yin Yang, Hot Yoga, Vinyasa, Asana & Pranayama, Yoga Therapy, Pilates, Pre-natal, Post-natal, Mom & Baby, Yoga kids, Belly dance and more. t: (852) 2544 8398 e: firstname.lastname@example.org w: www.yogaroomhk.com
10 Collyer Quay, Level 4, Ocean Financial Centre, Singapore 049315 t: (65) 6536 3390 Taiwan 563 Chung Hsiao East Road, Section 4, 1st & 2nd floor Taipei, Taiwan t :(886) 22764 8888 No. 337 Nanking East Road Section 3, 9th & 10th Floor Taipei, Taiwan t: (886) 22716 1234 s: Hatha, Power, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Yin, Gentle, Flow, Yoga Dance, Pre-natal e: email@example.com w: www.trueyoga.com.sg / www.trueyoga.com.tw Wai-Ling Tse Freelance, Privates and Groups d: Hong Kong s: Sivananda certified, Hatha, Svastha Yoga, Power, Hot, Yin, Pranayama and Meditation l: English, Cantonese t: (852) 9465 6461 e: firstname.lastname@example.org
YOGA CENTRAL 4/F Kai Kwong House, 13 Wyndham Street, Central, HK s: Hatha/Iyengar Yoga classes, yoga teacher training workshops; suitable for private group classes and corporate health programs t: (852) 2982 4308 e: email@example.com w: www.yogacentral.com.hk
YOGA on CAINE ROAD @ COSMO KIDS 1/F, Jadestone Court, 138 Caine Road, Mid-Levels, HK s: Pre-natal, Kids yoga, Family yoga, Private yoga, Yoga studio rental t: (852) 2915-8138 e: firstname.lastname@example.org w: www.cosmokids.net
HK$530 for individual teacher
& HK$1,050 for studio for the all four issues of 2012, email@example.com for details.
NAMASKAR DISPLAY & LISTING ADVERTISING RATES FOR 2012 (IN HONG KONG DOLLARS) Outside back cover Inside front cover Inside back cover Full page 1/2 page horizontal 1/2 page vertical 1/4 page 1/8 page
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Advertisements should be submitted as high resolution (300 dpi) .tif files (no pdf or ai files please). Advertising fees are payable in Hong Kong dollars only to: Namaskar c/o Carol Adams, 1/F 46 Leung Fai Ting Lower Road, Clearwater Bay, Hong Kong For more information contact: Carol (852) 9137 9992 /firstname.lastname@example.org or Frances (852) 9460 1967 / email@example.com
A voice of the yoga community of Asia