Saturday, December 31, 2011

Still Time to Register for 2012 Winter Yoga Session at PLN Yoga Studio!

2012 Winter Session Starts January 7th!

There is still time to register for classes in Christopher Lake and Prince Albert!

I am offering a variety of classes - Noon, Youth, Restorative, Beginner, All Levels, Intermediate, plus special "Sun"day Salutation and Timed Practices.

Check out my website for class schedule or see the Page on this blog that has class information.

Please call or email me to register or for more information!

Happy New Year!

Pamela Nelson

New Year's Words of Wisdom

We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned,
so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

-Joseph Campbell

Happy New Year!
Pamela Nelson

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Words of Wisdom - 12

Whenever you are sincerely pleased,
You are nourished.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Pamela Nelson

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sahasrara Chakra - Crown Chakra

The word sahasrara means dwelling place.  The crown chakra, represented as a thousand petalled lotus, is located like a halo at the top of the head and is considered the center of consciousness where absolute awareness dwells.  This chakra is associated with the brain and pineal gland and the colors white, gold and violet.
Being balanced in this chakra means having a strong foundation with all the other chakras from the root up.  When reached, a true sense of love and peace is experienced and given to all.  There is true amazement and appreciation in all that surrounds you.
When out of balance can feel caught up in materialism and the ego and have feelings of depression, exhaustion and confusion of what life is about. 
Poses that help to to balance the endocrine system, including inversions, plus meditation to help quiet the chatter of the mind.

For meditation there is no seed sound, but Om can be chanted. 

Pamela Nelson

Monday, December 19, 2011

Words of Wisdom - 11

The yogi knows that the physical body is not only the temple for our soul,
but the means by which we embark on the inward journey toward the core.

-B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Third Eye Chakra - Anja Chakra

The Anja Chakra, also called the third eye chakra is located right behind the root of the nose, between the eyebrows, drawing inward towards the centre of the head.  I have read that Anja means command or perception, and that it is this chakra, the wisdom eye, that guides the others.

Associated with the color indigo and the body parts of the brain, nervous system, pineal and pituitary glands and the sense organs (eyes, ears, nose), this sixth chakra, when open one is intuitive, using their sixth sense.  It is said that when open, the past, present and future can clearly be seen and the universal self is connected to the individual self in non-duality.

If out of balance, one might experience headaches, hearing and/or seeing difficulties, difficulty concentrating, poor memory and make choices based on fear and past experiences instead of inner wisdom.

Supported poses, especially forward bending poses that support the third eye, will help balance and stimulate this area. 

Focusing on this chakra while chanting OM helps to balance and draw one inward.
Sit with spine erect and bring hands in front of chest.  Have the thumbs touching and pointing towards the body.  Keep the index fingers pointing up together and all the other fingers bent to the second knuckle pressing together.

Pamela Nelson

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Birthday Special - Celebrating BKS Iyengar's 93rd Birthday

To celebrate Mr. Iyengar's Birthday I am offering a special.
Register for any class in the Winter 2012 session, and come try out any 5 RESTORATIVE classes during the Winter 2012 session for only $45.

The Restorative class is on Tuesday's from 6:45-7:45p.m.

A great class for all levels to help relieve tension and balance the body.

Offer valid until December 31st, 2012.

For more information or to take part in this special please call or email.
T: 306-982-2737

Happy Birthday!
Pamela Nelson

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Vishudda Chakra - Throat Chakra

The vishudda chakra, or throat chakra is of course located on the spine at the base of the neck. It is associated with the color blue and relates to the body parts of the throat, thyroid and parathyroid, trachea, neck vertebra, mouth, esophagus and hypothalamus.

The word shuddhi means to purify. Being directly above the heart chakra, it is considered the first leading to higher consciousness. Moving from the physical energy centers up to the higher spiritual centers. It is the center of communication, governing our ability to communicate creatively and in our own personal way. When balanced creativity flows, either through music, art, etc. The mind is open, one speaks the truth, and speaks in a non-harmful way.

When out of balance, one may talk to much, gossip, stutter, talk excessively or inappropriately, very shy or have either a weak or an overly loud voice. Physical symptoms that may persist is the vishudda chakra is not spinning correctly may be chronic sore throats, thyroid problems, scoliosis, canker sores, gum disease, neck and shoulder tension, teeth grinding and jaw disorders.
Some asanas that help open and balance this chakra are bhujangasana (cobra pose), matsyasana (fish pose), supta virasana (reclined heros pose), salamba sarvangasana (supported shoulderstand), halasana (plow pose), viparita karani (legs up the wall pose).
Also, practicing the jalandhara bandha (net lock) at the throat and ujjai pranayama.

Ham (pronounced Hung) is the mantra to chant to help balance the vishudda chakra. Sitting with a stable foundation, the spine lifting, cross the fingers inside towards the palms and let the thumbs touch at the top. Concentrate on the throat chakra as you chant - HAM.

Pamela Nelson

Friday, December 9, 2011

Poster for upcoming Youth Yoga Class - winter 2012

Hello!  Here is the poster for the upcoming Youth Yoga Class. If you know anyone that might be interested please pass along. For about ages 8-11.  Thanks.

Pamela Nelson

All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten

At this time of year we seemed to be reminded of what is really important, and for some reason this poem came to mind.  It seems to get the essence of what young kids know and as we age seem to forget.  I think we try to make things more complex, but when we go back to the basics it is all right there, we learned it in kindergarten.

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
by Robert Fulghum
These are the things I learned:
Share everything.
Play fair.
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life -
Learn some and think some
And draw and paint and sing and dance
And play and work everyday some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
Watch out for traffic,
Hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.
Pamela Nelson

Friday, December 2, 2011

Yoga to Boost the Immune System

Winter seems to be a time when our immune systems could use a boost. Below is a sequence to help the immune system. It has been adapted from SVADHYAYA, Volume 1, Issue 2 An Iyengar Yoga Newsletter from the C.W.T. Studio, Hong Kong May 2003.

Many of the poses have been a "Pose of the Month" in the past in this blog. I have listed the month so you can go back and read more information. Those that have not been I have given general instructions.

If you don't have blocks, bolsters or straps try using blankets, pillows or belts to help give support and keep the chest open.

All the poses can be held for 5-10 minutes depending on how much time you have to practice. A restorative class can be just the thing to help boost the immune system and relax the nervous system,but ensure you are holding and aligning yourself correctly.

1. Setu Bandha - with four bolsters and strap for around upper thighs.

Lie two bolsters lenghwise and place two more on top. At home could use pillows or trifolded blankets.
Sitting at one end, place the strap around the upper legs.
Sit evenly in the middle of the bolsters, bring hands down to ground and begin to release back so spine even on the bolsters.
Let the shoulders and the back of the head come to the floor. See picture below.
Back of the neck lengthens gently and the outer shoulders release to the floor so the chest can round open. Let the palms fall open with inner arms rolling out. Draw the tailbone towards the heels and keep outer thighs rolling in. Decend thigh bones down and let abdomen softly release towards the spine on the exhalation. Face, throat and abdomen remain soft.
To come up, bring feet to one side of bolsters and use arms to press up. Lift from the breatbone up with a long spine.

2. Supta Baddha Konasana

See December 2010 "Pose of the Month" for more information.

3.Supta Virasana

See September 2011 "Pose of the Month" for more information.

4.Adho Mukha Svanasana - head supported
See March 2011 "Pose of the Month" for more information.
5.Dwi Pada Viparta Dandasana - supported version

See February 2011 "Pose of the Month" for more information on the supported version.

6.Viparta Karani - Legs up the wall
Place a bolster with a blanket on top at the wall. Sit on one edge of the bolser and turn and recline back so pelvis is supported on bolster and legs go up the wall. Let the back body gently move towards the front body and the sternum lift. Broaden the collarbones towards the outer shoulders and release the arms out to the sides with palms up. Keep the face, throat and abdomen soft.
See May 2011 "Pose of the Month" for more information.

To Health and Happiness.
Pamela Nelson

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December Book Review - What is your favorite holiday book?

Trying to pick a book to review for December has been very difficult because there are so many wonderful, inspiring and thought provoking books out there. 
Wintertime though brings me back to simpler times of being a kid, playing out in the snow, being excited about the holiday season, putting on variety shows for my parents and relatives and thinking of great gifts to make for family.  The excitement children bring to the season is contagious - so I am reminded of all the great holiday books I loved as a child. 

So I am not going to review any one book this month, but ask what your favorite holiday book was when you were young and maybe inspire you to go pick it up and read it again to yourself -or better yet- a child!  So many had great holiday messages.  Let me know - I would love to read them.

A few of mine:
one about a frog or toad being lost in a winter storm and his bear friend coming to rescue him - anyone know the title to that one?
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
A Christmas Carol

Peace on Earth.
Pamela Nelson

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

December Pose of the Month - Uttanasana

Uttanasana - Standing Forward Bend
There are two main stages to Uttanasana. Stage one is with a concave back and is important to learn first to bring extension to the spine, correct the position of the spinal muscles and avoid compression of the spine. The final stage, with the head down will then come with more ease in the body, mind and breath.
I have given a few variations, beginning with the final pose and then showing variations.

Begin in Tadasana (mountain pose) - see blog on Tadasana for more information, but make sure weight is distributed evenly between both feet, lift up from the inner ankles and engage the quadricep muscles. The spine lengthens, shoulders move down the back and the crown of the head lifts up towards the ceiling.
Inhale and raise the arms up overhead to Urdhva Hasta Tadasana. Keep the arms straight and extending up and the shoulder blades moving in and down the back so the shoulders move away from the ears.
Exhale and fold forward from the hips coming to stage 1 - concave back. Hands can either be on the floor or on blocks.
Inhale and exhaling fold forward from the crease of the hips bringing hands to the floor beside the feet. If hands don't easily reach the floor place them on blocks. Keep the kneecaps firm as the thigh muscles lift up and the thigh bones press back. Press firmly down into the feet and lift the tailbone up. The abdomen softens and the hip flexors soften so can gently release further forward. On each inhalation, lengthen more throughout the backs of the legs (watching not to hyper extend the knees), on the exhalation let the weight of the upper body draw the crown of the head towards the floor. Press into the floor or blocks to keep moving the shoulders away from the ears and the shoulder blades down and into the back. The legs should be perpendicular to the floor with tailbone in line with the heels. Let the face relax.
To come up, inhale to concave back position, then lift up as if by the sternum, keeping side body long back to Tadasana.

In this variation, begin in Tadasana with the feet hip width apart, inhale and raise arms up to Urdhva Hastasana, then catch the elbows. Exhale and fold forward from the hips. Follow same points as above for actions in legs and torso. The weight of the arms helps to further lengthen the spine and side body and is an alternative if hands don't reach the floor. To come up, inhale and lengthen back up, release arms back down to sides. If have back issues, bring hands to hips and then press to come up.

If difficult to keep legs straight and spine long can also rest arms and head on a bench, chair or counter.
Here is the full pose with hands on blocks. Good to use if hands do not reach the floor without the back rounding and knees bending. The blocks are for support, not to hold all of your weight.
Another variation is to support the head on blocks or if need a bolster (shown below) depending on your flexibility. It allows the brain and nervous system to rest further and to stay in the pose longer.
In this variation keep the feet hip width apart.

If you tend to be a little less flexible and find you feel like you are hanging halfway and not able to fold forward either due to tight hamstrings, hip flexors or tightness in the back and shoulders, sometimes it helps to place a blanket or towel at the hip crease (shown below).
This gives something to rest into. Also bending the knees so the torso can length helps until the flexibility comes to the legs.
To work on stage one - getting the spine concave the following pose can be done. This is especially good if you tend to have rounding forward in the upper back and shoulders.
Stand at the wall, with hands at the side ribs. Press into the wall and step back, keep feet hip width apart. Lengthen through the backs of the legs and the spine. as the thighbones press back relax the abdomen creating space at the hip flexors. Keep the head in line with the spine and don't let the mid-back sag down. To come up, look to wall, inhale and step back in.

Helps to massage internal organs when abdomen compressed. The concave back stage helps to lengthen and strengthen the spinal muscles improving posture and can also help relieve abdominal tension. The final stage, with head down relieves backache, stiffness in spine, neck and shoulders. Also, calms the nervous system as face softens and brain relaxes and improves flexibility in the legs.
Do not do final pose if have herniated disk, keep spine concave to avoid compression. If you feel dizzy use the chair, bolster or blocks to support the head.
Pamela Nelson

Monday, November 28, 2011

Anahata Chakra - Heart Chakra

Moving up from the base of the spine, the fourth chakra is the Heart Chakra or Anahata Chakra, where anahata means unstuck.  Associated with the color green, this chakra is located in the centre of the chest in the heart region of the spine.  It is the midway point of the bottom three chakras and the top three and so is said to play a role in balancing our survival needs with love and compassion for others, going from lower to higher awareness.  
Physically it is connected to the heart and circulatory system, the lungs, diaphragm, thymus gland, upper chest and back.
Balance of this chakra leads to a great feeling of love, trust, empathy and forgiveness for all.  
When out of balance one may experience breathing and circulatory problems as well as rounded shoulders and a collapsed chest which causes strain to the neck and shoulders. 
To open, gentle back bends over a bolster or blanket helps to stretch the muscles of the front chest and move the shoulders down the back.  A feeling of leading with the heart, and not the head, allows the mind to drop down and to choose love and compassion.
If this chakra is to open, one may have feelings of jealousy and possessiveness.  Here going inward with gentle forward bends is best.
To open the anahata chakra with chanting, sit with a erect spine and place the index finger and thumb together.  The left hand rests on the left knee and the right hand is placed to the lower part of the sternum.  With concentration on the heart chant the sound YAM.

Pamela Nelson

Friday, November 25, 2011

Yoga Workshop at JNS Yoga Studio with Margot Kitchen

All Levels Workshop & Teacher Training      


Margot Kitchen

          Intermediate Senior II Certified Teacher

Canadian Iyengar

Yoga Teacher from Calgary

April  20, 21, 22,   2012

Teacher Training

(students must be pre-approved)

Date/Time: April 20

Friday: 5:00 - 9:00 p.m.


Dates/Times: April 21, 22

Saturday:   Noon to 4 p.m.

  Sunday  9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

                    Place: jns Yoga Studio, Saskatoon, SK 


Registration Fees  

Teachers’ Training only (April 20):  $100 after March 31: $125

Workshop only (April 21,22) : $160/after March 31:  $175

Teachers’ Training and Workshop

Early Registration before March 31:  $225/after Oct 31:  $250.

Pre-registration is Required

 Six months Iyengar yoga required

A senior Canadian Iyengar Yoga teacher with more than 25 years teaching experience, she lives and teaches in Calgary. Margot has studied numerous times with world famous yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar and his son and daughter, Prashant and Geeta Iyengar at his Institute in Pune, India, and is certified by Mr. Iyengar at the Intermediate Senior II Level.  Margot is one of ten individuals originally certified in Canada by Mr. Iyengar. A board member and senior national assessor for the Iyengar Yoga Association of Canada, she specializes in the training of teachers for Iyengar certification. Much loved as the "teacher's" teacher, Margot brings levity, depth, and precision to the training classroom.


To Register or for more information please call (306) 665-8133

jns Yoga Studio Bay H,  96 - 33rd Street East, Saskatoon, SK   S7K 0S1

website:    --   email:

 $25 Non-refundable Registration fee on cancellations -  NO REFUNDS 15 days prior to Workshop

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Looking for a Winter Yoga Getaway!


  Margot Kitchen
 Samantha Lopeter Lloyd

Intermediate yoga practice with Margot and Sam.  Learn to deepen your practice of asana and pranayama.

Teacher training week for Introductory I/ II, Intermediate Junior I and II.  Learn to sharpen your teaching skills.  Learn to teach first and then to pass an assessment!

The cost is $1500.00 U.S.

A non-refundable deposit of $300.00 U.S. will save you a spot. 

The deposit can be sent to:

Margot Kitchen

4607 Coronation Drive S.W.

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

T2S 1M5

OR BANK INFORMATION CAN BE GIVEN FOR EASY TRANSFER This is a link to pictures of Casa Dulce Vida

Monday, November 21, 2011

Manipura - Solar Plexus Chakra

The manipura chakra (mani=gem) is located along the vertebra in the navel region, also called the solar plexus and is considered the seat of the emotions.  It governs the area between the navel and the heart where the Manas and the Surya chakras are located.  Manas means mind and Surya the sun.  In Light on Yoga, by BKS Iyengar, he says this may stand for the two adrenal glands above each kidney.

This chakra, associated with the color yellow relates to the abdomen, stomach, upper intestine, liver, gallbladder, kidneys, pancreas, adrenal glands and spleen.  Any dysfunction in this chakra can physically lead to intestinal and digestive problems, as well as dysfunction of the adrenal glands.  Physiologically, a closed manipura chakra can lead to low self esteem and a need for constant reassurance.  If the chakra is too open, a person may become controlling and judgemental. 
Aiming for a balanced manipura chakra leads to feelings of self acceptance and self-respect - feeling at ease with one self.

This chakra is associated with the element fire.  If feeling low, poses that work from the core help to re-energize.  Twists, warrior poses (Virabhradrasana I,II or III, sun salutations (Surya Namaskarasana) and boat pose (Navasana and Ardha navasana) are a few.
If your manipura chakra is open, more calming, restorative postures to cool the abdomen are best.

If chanting, the seed mantra RAM is best used while focusing on this chakra.  The hands can be placed in front of the stomach, just below solar plexus with the fingers straight and the tips touching, fingers pointing away, and the thumbs crossed.

Pamela Nelson

Friday, November 18, 2011

Svahishthana - Sacral chakra

The svadhishthana chakra is located in the lower abdomen between the navel and the periniem. Sva means self or soul and adhishthana is a dwelling place, seat or abode. This chakra is important to connecting in relationships and with family and deals with sexualtiy, emotions, and intimacy. Being realated to the element of water, where water connects us to life, this chakra plays a role in all the watery things about us and is associated with the hips, sacrum, lower back, genitals, womb, bladder and kidneys.
When this chakra is balanced one is trusting, expressive, honourable in relationships and more able to accept things as they happen then try to change or control everything.
For many though, the consciousness must first be purified of negative qualities. The picture above is a six petaled lotus representing the negative qualities of humans that must first be overcome before being balanced in this chakra. Those negative qualities are anger, hatred, jealousy, cruelty, desire and pride.

This chakra is related to the color orange.

Postures that help balance the svadhishthanan chakra are ones that gently open the hips, groins and pelvis. For meditation on this chakra, sit tall and place hands in lap, palms up, with right palm on top of the left. Touch the tips of the thumbs together gently. Chant the sound VAM as focus on the sacral area.

Pamela Nelson

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Words of Wisdom - 10


Chapter one, The Double Comfort Safari Club,No.1 Ladies Detective Club
By Alexander McCall Smith

Pamlela Nelson

Friday, November 11, 2011

poster of 2012 Winter Session

Please note - The Saturday class should say 10-11:30a.m.
Posted by Picasa

2012 Winter Yoga Schedule

2012 Winter Yoga Schedule

This winter I will be teaching 10 classes a week between Christopher Lake and Prince Albert, plus a few special classes once a month.

Join me at my home studio for classes on Mondays or in Prince Albert on Tuesdays, Wednesday or Saturdays at NEW YOGA STUDIO, called PLN YOGA STUDIO located at #3 -3800 5th Ave. E.

Registration open now for classes below. Call Pamela Nelson at 306.982.2737 or email

Location: Pam's Yoga Studio, Christopher Lake, Sk.

A.M. Class - 9:30-10:45 a.m. ($108)
Energize your mornings and add vitality to your day!
9 weeks
January 9th - March 12th

Beginner Yoga - 5:15-6:30 p.m. ($132)
Feel freedom in your movements as you learn proper breathing, posture and alignment.
11 weeks
January 9th - April 2nd

Intermediate Yoga - 6:45-8:15 p.m. ($148)
Must have completed Beginner level.
Learn more advanced poses, pranayama and meditation to help deepen your practice.
11 weeks
January 9th - April 2nd

No Classes Feb.20 and March 19

Location: PLN Yoga Studio
#3-3800 5th Ave. E., Prince Albert, Sk.

Noon Yoga - 12:00-1:00p.m. ($88)
Shake away tiredness, improve posture, and bring vitality into your day!
8 weeks
January 10th - March 6th

Youth Yoga - ages 8-11 - 4:00-5:00p.m. ($72)
Shake away tiredness, improve posture, concentration, strength and flexibility!
-all with yoga!
8 weeks
January 10th - March 6th
Beginner/All Levels Yoga - 5:15-6:30 p.m. ($132)
Feel freedom in your movements as you learn proper breathing, posture and alignment.
11 weeks
January 10th - April 3rd

Restorative Yoga - 6:45-7:45p.m. ($121)
Learn to cultivate deep relaxation and mindfulness. This class can help anyone reduce stress, recharge batteries and restore balance.
11 weeks
January 10th - April 3rd
No Classes Feb.21 and Mar.20
Location: PLN Yoga Studio
#3-3800 5th Ave. E., Prince Albert, Sk.

Intermediate Yoga- 5:15-7:15p.m. ($165)
Must have completed Beginner level.
Learn more advanced poses, pranayama and meditation to help deepen your practice
11 weeks
January 11th - April 4th

Beginner- 7:30-8:30 p.m. ($121)
This class good even if you have never done yoga before.
Feel freedom in your movements as you learn proper breathing, posture and alignment.
11 weeks
January 11th - April 4th
No Classes Feb.22 and Mar.21


Location: PLN Yoga Studio
#3-3800 5th Ave. E., Prince Albert, Sk.

A.M. Class - 10:00-11:30a.m. ($135)
Good for all levels. Energize your mornings and add vitality to your day!
10 weeks
January 7th - March 31st

No Classes Feb.18, 25 and March 17

Special Classes at PLN Yoga Studio
in Prince Albert

Thursdays: 5:30-7:30p.m.- $60 for three classes or $25/class

All Levels Timed Practice:

A sequence of postures held for a specific duration. Designed to add to your regular classes by practicing quietly. Not a class where detailed instruction is given.

2012 Dates:
January 19th, February 16th and March 15th


"Sun” day Salutation: 10:15-12:15a.m. - $60 for three Sundays in a session or $25/class
The classes will focus on the Sun Salutations - Surya Namaskar.
This dynamic vinyasa (flow sequence) is a combination of postures moving together with the breath. The class will focus on these poses and introduce a few other vinyasas.

2011 Dates:
October 23rd, November 20th and December 4th

2012 Dates:
January 29th, February 12th and March 25th

Join me for these other fun events!
December 10th - Amnesty International - write for rights!
10 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. yoga class by donation. Proceeds to A.I.
Stay after for some life-saving letter writing and snack.
Please let me know if you can attend.

December 14th - B.K.S. Iyengar's 93rd birthday!
5:30-7:30p.m. - Yoga class - by donation - proceeds to Bellur Trust Fund.
Stay after for some cake! Please let me know if you can attend.

December 21st - Celebrate Winter Solstice!

5:30-7:30p.m. - Yoga class - by donation - proceeds to Canadian Red Cross Society.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Muladhara Chakra - Root Chakra

The Muladhara Chakra, or the root chakra is located in the pelvic region near the base of the spine at the perineum. It is also called the pelvic plexus and is associated with the physical sheath or annamaya kosa.  Mula means root, source, base and adhara means support.  Connected to the earth element, this chakra relates to our basic survival and relates to how we see ourselves in our surroundings.
It is also associated with the color red.  Mr.Iyengar also writes in Light on Yoga, that it may be that the chakras also correspond to the endocrine glands which supply hormones to the system.  The muladhara chakra associates with the the adrenal glands.  Physically it also pertains to the skeletal system and the sense of smell.
If the root chakra becomes blocked by tension and low-self esteem it can emotionally lead to self destructive behaviour, depression or immune system disorders and phycially may result in back pain and sciatica.
Some poses that help balance the muladhara chakra are uttanasana, standing forward bend and janu sirasana, head to knee pose.  They focus on lengthening the hamstrings and strengthening the quadriceps.  Also, focusing on the soles of the feet and balance will help.  Another good pose is setu bandha sarvangasana or the bridge pose.  Focus on pressing into the feet firmly and lifting the tailbone up to strengthen the pelvic and abdominal areas, while at the same time firmly grounding yourself.  Restorative poses like supta badha konasana (supported bound angle pose) and child's posee help retore the nervous system.
The mantra associated with this chakra is LAM.  In a seated position with pointer finger and thumb touching practice chanting the sound LAM while focusing on the root chakra.

While this is just an introduction into the chakras as you explore more yourself and gain more awareness in your own body and breath I hope you will find balance, openness and happiness.

Pamela Nelson

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The meaning of Chakras

I am not an expert on the chakra system, but the more I delve into pranayama, the more I learn about the chakras, bandhas and nadis. 
The word chakra means "wheel" or "ring" in Sanskrit.  In B.K.S. Iyengar's book, Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health, he says each personal chakra has energy coiled within them.  The main chakras align the spine from the tailbone to the brain and are critical junctions that determine the state of the body and mind. 
Mr. Iyengar writes that, "yogic science recognized this connection from the very beginning.  In order to achieve  perfect physical health, the ancient sages concluded, you must activate the body's chakras."  Chakras are complex and difficult to explain as they are not composed of matter but relate to our body's subtle levels, which include our prana (life force) and consciousness (citta). Where conciousness is made up of mind (manas), intelligence (buddhi) and ego (ahamkara).
Mr. Iyengar explains that just as the brain controls physical, mental and intellectual functions through the nerve cells or neurons, chakras tap the prana or cosmic energy which is within all living beings and transform it into spiritual energy.  This energy is then spread through the body by the nadis, or channels.
There are 11 chakras of which 7 are major.  These seven are the Muladhara chakra, Swadhishtana chakra, Manipuraka chakra, Anahata chakra, Vishuddhi chakra, Ajna chakra and Sahasrara chakra.  We will explore more into each of these seven chakras over the next few blogs.
The practice of yoga is to awaken the divine energy within every human and unite prakriti with purusha.  As Mr.Iyengar states, "asanas and pranayama uncoil and alert the chakras.  In the process, the nadis are activated. This causes the chakras to vibrate and to generate energy."
Since emotions are rooted in the chakras, the energy can become blocked creating physical and emotional issues.  When prana is flowing freely through the chakras we feel a sense of calmness, balance and serenity - at one with the world.

Pamela Nelson

Above picture from:

Peace on Earth

Art by Gabrielle Wieder

Pamela Nelson

Monday, November 7, 2011

Waging Peace

If the Earth were your body, you would be able to feel the many areas where it is suffering.  War, political and economic oppression, famine, and pollution wreak havoc in so many places.  Everyday, children are becoming blind from malnutrition, their hands searching hopelessly through mounds of trash for a few ounces of food.  Adults are dying slowly in prisons for trying to oppose violence.  Rivers are dying, and the air is becoming more and more difficult to breathe. 

Many people are aware of the world's suffering; their hearts are filled with compassion.  They know what needs to be done, and they engage in political, social, and environmental work to try to change things.  But after a period of intense involvement, they may become discouraged if they lack the strength needed to sustain a life of action.  Real strength is not in power, money, or weapons, but in deep, inner peace.

Practicing mindfulness in each moment of our daily lives, we can cultivate our own peace.  With clarity, determination, and patience - their fruits of meditation- we can sustain a life of action and be real instruments of peace.

This excerpt is from Thich Nhat Hanh's book, Peace is  Every Step, The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life.  Read more about this book in November Book Review.

Pamela Nelson

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November Pose of the Month - Ardha Chandrasana

Ardha Chandrasana - Half-moon Pose
Ardha means half and Chandra is the moon.  I actually think the moon is a half moon as I write this!

I have shown a few variations of the pose starting from the full pose to a few variations using the wall, blocks or a chair.

Begin in Tadasana, inhale and on exhalation step or jump feet 4 feet apart (Utthita hasta padasana).
Either come into Utthita Trikonasana first and then step back foot in bring front hand to floor about one foot in front of standing leg foot.  Stay for a few breaths.
Then exhale and simultaneously straighten standing leg and lift up the top leg parallel to the floor.  Make sure the shoulders keep lifting up and drawing away from the ears.  Have the shoulders stacked as the top arm stretches up.  Look up to top hand if can or look forward for better balance or if have hypertension.  The weight is on the standing leg foot and hip.  Make sure the knee and foot is not turning inward. Keep the back of the head in line with the spine and heel of the top foot.
Hold for 20-30 seconds, then come back down reverse of how you went up. Repeat on other side.
Using the wall behind for support of the back body and a block for the hand:

Begin at the wall in Tadasana (mountain pose), the step the feet about 4 feet apart and take Utthita Trikonasana (triangle pose) with hand on a block.

Step the back foot in towards the front leg and bring the front hand onto the block about a foot in front of the standing leg.  Keep thigh, knee and shin of the front leg tracking so the knee does not turn in and the toes stay pointing towards the short end of the mat.
Exhale and simultaneously straighten the bottom leg and lift the top leg parallel to the floor.  Use the wall to press the heel into and the back of the top hand.  Keep the quadriceps engaged and the balance on the standing leg. The block is only for support and to help roll the top shoulder down the back, not to take the weight of the pose.  Look up to the top hand.
Stay for 20-30 seconds and then carefully come back down to triangle pose and then press up to standing and back to Tadasana.
Using the wall for support of the back foot:

Bring the short end of the mat to the wall and place a block to the outer side of the mat.
Bring the outer edge of the back foot to the wall and then step the front foot about 3-3.5 feet out from the wall with the front heel in line with the instep of the back foot.  Press the feet and lift the knees to the thighs and the thighs up to the hips.  Inhale, and exhale bending the front knee and bring the back foot in towards the front foot slightly and the hand to the block about a foot in front of the front foot.
Exhale and straighten the bottom leg and lift the top leg and press the foot into the wall keeping the leg parallel to the floor. Use the hand on the block to keep the side body lengthening evenly and draw the shoulder blades down the back.  Press into both feet evenly and use the wall to engage the muscles in the top leg.  Using that to bring intelligence to the cells of the top leg so when doing the pose without the wall that memory remains.  This also helps reduce stain in the pose so the abdomen, face and breath can be relaxed.
Using a chair to support the front arm:

Place a chair at one end of the mat, start in Tadasana (mountain pose), then step or jump the feet 4 feet apart.  Cut the back foot in slightly and rotate the front leg out 90 degrees right from the hip joint.
Bend the front knee, bring hand to chair and step the back foot in slightly.  As straighten the standing leg, raise the top leg parallel to the floor and bring forearm onto the chair.  Keep elbow directly under shoulder and help lift and lengthen the side body.  Press out through the heels.
Either keep the top arm at the side or lift up pointing fingers towards the ceiling.  Keep chest open and breath sooth.
Another variation that could be done is with the front arm on the chair AND the back foot at the wall.  Just adjust yourself closer to the wall to do this.

Helps strengthen legs and knees and brings mobility to the hip joints and shoulders.  Also tones lower spine and nerves connected to leg muscles helping to relieve sciatica. Helps relieve gastric troubles and increases circulation to the abdominal organs.  The front chest opens to help improve breathing.  A great pose for balance and coordination.  When done with support can help remove fatigue.

Do not practice unsupported if have knee or ankle issues, have a migraine or stress related headache or are menstruating.  If have hypertension do not look up - look straight ahead.

Pamela Nelson