Tuesday, May 31, 2011

June - Book Review - You Are Therefore I Am

You Are Therefore I Am, A Declaration of Dependence, by Sathish Kumar is full of wisdom, and a feeling of loving kindness exudes from the book towards each reader.  I have read and re-read this book many times and never tire of the peaceful reminders of living together as one on this planet.

Satish Kumar was born in 1936 in India and at the age of 9 joined the brotherhood of Jain monks. 
At 18 he helped with land reforms helping Gandhi with his view of a peaceful world.
He has undertaken many peace pilgrimages where he would travel vast distances with no money.  His autobiography, No Destination, tells more about this journey.
He is the editor of the magazine Resurgence.
That is only a small portion of his life.

From the back cover:

This book traces the spiritual journey of Satish Kumar - child monk, peace pilgrim, ecological activist and educator.  In it he traces the sources of inspiration which formed his understanding of the world as a network of multiple and diverse relationships.
You Are, Therefore I Am is in four parts.  The first describes his memories of conversations with his mother, his teacher, and his Guru, all of whom were deeply religious.  The second part recounts his discussions with the Indian sage Vinoba Bhave, J. Krishnamurti, Bertrand Rusell, Martin Luther King and E.F. Schumacher.  These five great activists and thinkers inspired him to engage with social, ecological and political issues.  In the third part Satish narrates his travels in India, which have continued to nourish his mind and reconnect him with his roots.
The fourth part brings together his world-view, which is based in relationships and the connections between all things, rather than the philosophy of dualism, division and separation which are found in Rene Descartes' famous maxim "I think, therefore, I am."  Satish Kumar holds an emergent world-view, encapsulated in a fundamental Sanskrit dictum, So Hum, well known in India but not in the West, which can be translated as "You are, therefore I am".  This mantra underpins all the experiences brought together in this book.

If you have a chance read this thoroughly entertaining, interesting and enlightening book. 

So Hum
Pamela Nelson

Monday, May 30, 2011

Words of Wisdom - 4

When there is strain it is physical yoga. 
When the brain is passive, it is spiritual yoga.
                                                                                                                        - B.K.S. Iyengar

Pamela Nelson

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer Classes - 2011 - Christopher Lake

Join me at the Christopher Lake Curling Rink for some energizing morning yoga classes to start your day or some rejuvenating evening classes.
I am a Certified Iyengar Yoga instructor and have been teaching in the Christopher Lake/Prince Albert area for over 8 years.

All classes can be tailored to suit all levels.

June -
Tuesday 28th -
Thursday 30th -

July -
Sundays - 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st -
Tuesdays - 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th -
Thursdays - 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th -

August -  
Tuesdays - 2nd, 16th, 23rd -
Thursdays - 18th, 25th -

Fees- $14/class or 5 class flex-card for $60

Location: Christopher Lake Curling Rink, Christopher Lake, Sk.

For more information please contact:
Pamela Nelson
Blog: www.plnyoga.blogspot.com

Girls Youth Yoga - How Great is That!

This past spring I was fortunate enough to receive a grant from the Iyengar Yoga Association of Canada/Association canadienne de yoga Iyengar to teach Girls Youth Iyengar yoga classes in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

The Certification Mark Fund is made possible through the generosity of Yogacharya Sri B.K.S. Iyengar and is to be used for the development and promotion of Iyengar yoga in communities across Canada.

In doing this though I was not alone. 

I partnered with the Lakeland District for Sport, Culture and Recreation who provided the transportation from the Prince Albert Northern Buses to the Margo Fournier Centre and a lunch from the Prince Albert Share-A-Meal Food Bank after each class. So, thank you, thank you, thank you to all those who helped coordinate for these classes.

Also, a thank you to the teachers who were willing to come along with the girls to each class.  Without their support the girls would not have been able to attend.

Finally, thank you to the girls who were willing to come out and try something new and participate in the Iyengar Yoga classes.  I can tell you I had a lot of fun teaching them and I think I learned just as much from them.

Starting yoga in the teen ages can help not only build strength and flexibility, it can also promote a better self image leading to more confidence in their own abilities and better decision making.  Yoga can help reduce stress from studies, improve sleep and a general overall feeling of well-being.

Below is a few pictures from the youth classes.

Pamela Nelson

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Warming Help

A warming help is attention and a kind word from someone in a difficult or uncertain moment.  It might even be from yourself to yourself.  It is the right amount of encouragement one needs to take that next step forward.

I really like this idea and have experienced many warming helps throughout my lifetime without really stopping to consider the impact they really made on my life.

Some include the words from the "Steam Engine that Could", that my daughter told me to remember to make it through my first marathon - "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can"  - and my first steps on the path of my Iyengar Yoga teacher training that without my husbands encouragement I would never have taken.

See if you can notice those warming helps when they arise in your life and how they impact you! 
Better yet, see if you can give a few to others so they can make their next step forward.

This idea of a warming help is from this months book of the month - the power of kindness, The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life,  by Piero Ferrucci.

Pamela Nelson

Monday, May 23, 2011

Christopher Lake Farmer's Market

The May long weekend is here and the Christopher Lake Farmer's Market has started for another year.
The hours are 8am- noon every Saturday until around the September long weekend and is located in the Christopher Lake School parking lot.

My family and I will be there again with our unique items from India, Nepal and Tibet. 
The sale of these products not only helps people in these countries but part of our profits go to support other charities.

We have beautiful OM pendants and bracelets, earrings small and large, scarves, wool sweaters, hemp or cotton purses and bags, high quality incense, singing bowls, drums, Tibetan prayer flags, prayer malas...

Check out my website under Products to see some examples - http://www.plnyoga.vpweb.com/

My kids are also selling creations of their own.

Gabrielle is producing Great Gifts by Gabi - a few include large and small stuffed rhinos

Hannah is cooking healthy granola cereal.  Full of nuts, seeds, wheat and oat bran, wheat germ and of course oats!

Aiden will be selling Balloons for Bellur.  This is a fundraiser to help raise money for the small village of Bellur in India.  The birthplace of B.K.S. Iyengar.  

1-$3, 2-$5 or 5-$10

The proceeds will be sent to the Bellur Krishnamachar & Seshamma Smaraka Niddhi Trust (BKSSNT).

BKS Iyengar was born in 1918 in the small village of Bellur, India.  The B in his name actually stands for Bellur.  A vast amount of his life has been spent to improve the lives of others.  This is not only shown from his over 70 years of dedication to the art, science and philosophy of yoga, but in the charitable acts to improve the lives of the underprivileged in his home village of Bellur.

Some of the projects he has undertaken include building the first primary school, RIM Hall for yoga classes, water storage tank and a Special School for Girls.

BKSSNT is a charitable trust and has undertaken as well as completed several projects with focused aim. Click here to know more about the Aim of Project undertaken by this Trust.

We hope to see you at the Market! 

Pamela Nelson

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Importance of Water - A Water Sutra

Some places in the world the people living there get their whole years supply of drinking water during the monsoon season.  They realize how important the collection, conservation and preservation of this precious resource is and learn to use it wisely so it will last until the next season.

Here, at least where I live in North America we can open the taps and have water on demand.  We are not conscious of the amount we even use in a day, never mind a whole year.

So, today I am writing to maybe spark a thought in your mind to consider the amount of water being used and how it is being used.  This idea started a few days ago after reading and re-reading in the book You Are Therefore I Am, by Satish Kumar where he speaks about how for the Jains the wasting of water is a serious matter.  Satish's mother would tell him,
"The monsoon is a great friend of the people and the Earth.  The monsoon comes once a year and brings the gift of water. Our task is to receive the gift with gratitude, to thank the rain god, and make use of water with care and reverence.  Our task is to live in harmony with the monsoon and celebrate it.  God Surya, the sun, and God Indra, the rain, are twin brothers and all life depends on them."
How simple, yet how wise.  Our lives depend on the sun and rain, yet many of us do not even know directly where our water is coming from, what is being put into it or how much we are wasting...daily.

Then being a CBC radio fan it was another connection to hear in the last two days two programs concerning water.
On May 10th, "Your DNTO"(definitely not the opera), had Kevin Freedman on it. He challenged himself to only use 25L of water a day for a certain period of time.  It was interesting to hear how he was able to accomplish this, even carrying the water he would need with him to flush public toilets and shower at the gym.  You can listen to this episode from the CBC website.  Here is the link.


Here is the link to the website for the Water Challenge Kevin takes part in.  The site is full of interesting information regarding water and things we can each do to help reduce our water consumption.  http://www.howlowflowcanyougo.com/

Then, last night on my way home I heard "The Current" where the topic was about Shale Gas and Fracking.  Fracking is a fairly new process where large amounts of highly pressurized water is injected down into shale beds to help release gas.  The water is then pumped back up to the surface to extract the gas, now polluted with the fracking chemicals and other materials.  Andrew Miall was the professor being interviewed and has been monitoring the environmental impacts of fossil fuel development.  He said that in one operation that took place in B.C., they were permitted to use, therefore pollute, the same amount of water the whole city of Victoria uses in a day.  Listen to this if you wish by following the link below.


So, we live in a world where we try to create inventions to save us time.  But, as Satish's mother also said to him, "Is there a shortage of time?", "You are trying to save something which is infinite, and expend things which are finite."

We are depleting our nonrenewable resources at an unprecedented rate.  Creating inventions that exploit the very earth that gives us our life.  Let's bring the conscious awareness we create on our yoga mats to our daily lives, even if only a little and become more consciously aware of what we are using, why we are using it, how we are using it and if we can do something to conserve it a bit more.

Remember, one of the Yamas in the yoga sutras of Patanjali is aparigraha - non-greed, not taking more then one needs.

I will end with the water sutra Satish's mother would tell him:

Waste not water
Nor ever spill it
Water is precious
Water is sacred
The way you use water is the measure of you
Water is the witness
Water is the judge
Your reputation rests on your careful use of water.

We must receive the gift of water with gratitude, and make use of water with care and reverence since ALL LIFE depends on it.

Pamela Nelson


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

YS II.34 Pratipaksa bhavanam - opposite thoughts

Patanjali's yoga sutra II.34 states:

YS  II.34 vitarkah himsadayah krta karita anumoditah lobha krodha moha purvakah mrdu madhya adhimatrah duhkha ajnana anantaphalah iti pratipaksabhavanam

The following translation is from Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, by B.K.S. Iyengar:

YS II.34 Uncertain knowledge giving rise to violence, whether done directly or indirectly, or condoned, is caused by greed, anger or delusion in mild, moderate or intense degree. It results in endless pain and ignorance.  Through introspection comes the end of end and ignorance.

When we continue thoughts and actions that are improper we continue a cycle of pain and suffering.  This sutra states that this pain can be mild, medium or intense.  To counter this, as in sutra II.33 cultivating an opposite action is required.  This would be introspection leading to proper thinking and action.

Although not always easy to do, especially if you are not aware that you are not correct in your thinking. 
That is why practice and detachment is such an important part of yoga.  The more we practice, the more in tune with ourselves we become.  Detachment allows us to see and experience things from an unbiased view.  This introspection on the truth about our true nature can then be taken forward to how we interact in the world.

Pamela Nelson

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

YS II.33 Pratipaksa bhavanam - The Opposite Side

Sutra II.33 in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali says:

YS II.33 vitarkabadhane pratipaksabhavanam

Principles which run contrary to yama and niyama are to be countered with the knowledge of discrimination.

vitarka - questionable or dubious matter, doubt, uncertainty, supposition
badhane - pain, suffering, grief, obstruction, obstacles
pratipaksa - the opposite side, to the contrary
bhavanam - affecting, creating, promoting, manifesting, feeling

The yamas and niyamas are the universal and individual code of conduct in astanga yoga.  They describe the do's and don't and are a moral and ethical code of conduct.  One may find that it is not always easy to follow this.  This sutra is there to say that when this arises one needs to counter those thoughts with right knowledge and awareness.

In Mr.Iyengar's translation of Patanjali's yoga sutras he writes that "when the mind is caught up in dubious ideas and actions, right perception is obstructed.  The sadhaka has to analyse and investigate these ideas and actions and their opposites; then he learns to balance his thoughts by repeated experimentation."

Mr.Iyengar says though that to just think the opposite of what you do think does not always work.  I know sometimes when maybe I am angry, and know maybe I shouldn't be I can think this opposite and say I am not angry, but deep down, I still am angry.  The idea is to analyse the opposite and also investigate the root of that feeling.  Like drugs that give relief by just masking a symptom, the actual problem does not go away.

Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, by B.K.S. Iyengar says that paksa means to take one side or espouse one view, and pratipaksa conveys the idea of taking the opposite view.  Putting them together the result is paksa pratipaksa which brings equipoise, stability and balance in all areas of life as the dualities are no longer there.

Pamela Nelson

Friday, May 13, 2011

Prayer for our food

Stopping to consider where all the food we eat comes from and how it has been produced, transported and prepared is another way to practice astanga yoga.

Also, astanga yoga, the eight limbs can be practiced in the way we choose to use the energy from the food we eat.
We can choose ahimsa- non harming in our thoughts, words and deeds from this food or himsa, a harmful way of life.  We can choose aparigraha - non-greed in how we eat and consume or parigraha.  We can choose satya, truth or to be untruthful. 

Taking a few moments before a meal to be aware of all these things can be another way to bring yoga into your daily lives.
Sankalpa, means intention. We can set an intention to use the food we eat towards good instead of evil.

 I take this food,
to stop all evil,
to practice good,
and accomplish a peaceful way.

Pamela Nelson

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Words of Wisdom - 3

"The Sun is Always Shining."

Today's words of wisdom was said to me in class and is a metaphor for life that I had never really thought of in this way before. 
It is marvelous how things come to us when we are open to them.
It is true.  The sun is always shining, even when we cannot see it.  Fly up above the clouds and you will find the sun is still shining.

This is true with life. We may not always be able to see, or feel the happy, sunny times but they can always been there, even on a cloudy day.  Sometimes we may be in a sunny time and not know it until it becomes cloudy.  The true wisdom of these words is to find the sunny spot no matter what the weather.  To do this takes practice and detachment, which Patanjali tells us about in the Yoga Sutras.

Sutra II.16 says:
heyam duhkham anagatam
The pains which are yet to come can be and are to be avoided.

In Mr. Iyengar's book, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, he explains that with yoga we can build up robust health in body and mind and construct a defensive strength with which to deflect or counteract afflictions that are yet unperceived afflictions. 

Thanks for the wise words!

Pamela Nelson

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Uma - Mother

The Goddess Uma takes her name from the mantra AUM because she is the mother of all creation. 
Uma means mother and the mantra AUM is the Mother Principle. 
Aum is made up of three sounds, A,U, M. 
It is the essence of all existence, it means all, whole and complete, where nothing is left out and everything is included.
This is taken from Satish Kumar's book You Are Therefore I AM, A Declaraton of Dependence.

So celebrate all mother's today, they have helped to make us whole and complete.
Chant 'AUM' if you feel so inspired saying 'yes' to the existence of all, past, present and future.

Pamela Nelson

Mother's Day Haiku

Mom, can you come here?

Why? O.k. I'm coming. What?

I love you mom. KISS.

Happy Mother's Day Mom! 
And to all the Mom's in the world.

Pamela Nelson

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Book Review - May - the power of kindness

This month I have chosen the book, the power of kindness, The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life, by Piero Ferrucci.  It was published by the Penguin Group in 2006.

This book was lent to me by a friend, so thank you.

The preface to the book was written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in which he accurately writes that the fundamental human values need to be on the importance of kindness.  His Holiness says that with kindness as our starting point so many other positive qualities flow.  Qualities like honesty, forgiveness, patience and generosity.

The book is divided into chapters in which Piero writes about a different human quality.  The reminder of the importance of each quality is always welcome and the book is easy and enjoyable to read.

If you have a chance please read this book and let me know what you think.

Pamela Nelson

May - Pose of the Month - Savasana - Final Relaxation Pose

Last week I wrote a few blogs, "A Well Performed Savasana" and "Progressive Relaxation", about the feeling of being in the pose and ways to relax in the pose.
So, I thought it fitting to have the May pose of the month as Savasana.  A seemingly simple pose, yet can be the most difficult to perform because the body, senses and the mind must remain still, yet as Mr. Iyengar says, the intellect must remain alert.
Below is a general description about how to prepare and come out of savasana.  For a more detailed instruction please see B.K.S. Iyengar's, Light on Pranayama.

Benefits: Helps to release tension, sooth nerves, muscles and joints and refreshes the whole body.

Cautions: If you have hyper-tension, high blood pressure, heart disease or emphysema you should support the back body with a bolster so chest is higher then legs.
If you are pregnant you should also raise the chest with bolsters.

Preparation for Savasana begins with creating a space that is quiet and free from draft. 
Have a mat to lie on and a folded blanket or foam block to support the back of the head and neck.
Remove anything that is restrictive like glasses, belts, jewelery and hair elastics.

Sit in the centre of your mat with knees bent and feet together.  Feel both sitt bones evenly pressing into the floor.  Gently hang onto the back of your thighs and slowly roll down, one vertebra at a time onto the mat.  Imagine a line going between the feet, through the centre of the body, neck, chin, nose and forehead.

Keeping the knees bent, gently lengthen the back of the neck and bring the blanket or chip foam block to just touch the tops of the shoulders, support the back of the neck and head.  Rest the back of the head right in the center of the back of the skull.  Do not let the head fall to either side.

Then pressing the feet into the floor, lift the hips and lower back off the floor and with your hands gently move the back of the waist towards the back of the thighs and release back down.  Adjust the back body as needed remaining in a straight line.
Extend and straighten one leg out at a time and keep the legs drawn together.  Your body should be in a straight line from heels to head.

On the exhalation let the feet open out to the side so that the pinkie side toes are closer to the floor.  If you are tight in the legs you may need to separate the legs further apart.

Pin the inner point of each shoulder blade to the floor, move the lower shoulder blades into the body and extend the arms out to the side with the palms facing up.  Allow the thumb side of the hand to move closer to the floor then the pinkie side.  If you are tight in the shoulders and back you may need to bring the arms further away from the side body.  Keep the palms and fingers relaxed.

Once released onto the floor ensure that the back rests evenly on the mat with the dorsal and lumbar areas of the spine even and the ribs spread out uniformly.  Scan the body for any remaining tension and release. Make sure the head is not tilting back, which is stimulating to the brain but allow the skin of the forehead to remain parallel to the ceiling.  Turn the eyes to look inward and down to the heart centre.  Keep the sense organs drawing inward, shrinking away from the outer body.  Keep the breath smooth and even.

If you have any lower back pain or lordosis of the back you may wish to place a bolster under the back of your thighs.  Make sure the legs are spaced evenly apart.

To come out of the pose slowly begin to bring awareness to the body, breath and mind by gently moving the fingers and toes, roll the arms and legs, hips, neck and head.  Bend the knees one at a time and raise the right arm up by the right ear.

Keeping the chin drawn into the chest roll to the right side using the arm as a pillow.  Stay for a few breaths or a few minutes, keeping the brain cool and relaxed.  On the inhalation press the floor to come up to sitting, raising the head last.

End in a seated pose to give gratitude to this great gift of yoga.

Pamela Nelson

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sling into Action!

Have you ever heard of a yoga wall and wondered what this was?  Or never heard of it and are now picturing someone climbing a wall doing yoga.

Below are some pictures of a yoga wall being used with a yoga sling. 

The idea of the wall and sling is to help take pressure off parts that are maybe injured or not yet strong enough.  So it can have therapeutic benefits as it helps release the pressure of gravity on the spine, releasing tension placed on the nerves and opens joints helping with mobility.  The wall and sling also creates traction in standing poses, support in forward bends and weightless inversions. 

The benefits of the wall and sling can also help with alignment, so when one does the pose without props you will be able to feel what corrections need to be made. 

Yoga Sling hooked into yoga wall

Adho Mukha Svanasana
Traction helps lengthen spine and reduce pressure on wrists

Sling helps support body

Salamba Sirsasana
weightless inversion - no pressure on head/neck/shoulders

Adho Mukha Vrksasana
With support full pressure not felt on wrists and shoulders

Utthita Trikonasana
Sling and wall help create traction so can fully lengthen the sidebody

Utthita Parvottanasana

Utthita Hasta Padangustasana

Chataranga Dandasana
no pressure on wrists and shoulders

Urdhva Danurasana
Sling helps support back

Monday, May 2, 2011

mandala - circle

The word mandala in Sanskrit means circle.  It represents wholeness, community, healing, unity, meditation and connection with the idea of a circle having no beginning and no end.  The idea of a mandala is a circle, within a circle, within a circle.  Where we start at the outside and meditate into the inner circles, each with a significant meaning.  Meditating with or making your own mandala can help deepen your practice as it is a way to quiet the mind, bringing focus, attention and clarity.  It is said to remind us of our relation to the infinite and plays a part in many traditions of the world.

Some of these include:
Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Native American and Aboriginal Australian rituals.

In Light on Pranayama, B.K.S. Iyengar says, that in nature's heritage to man there are three characteristics or qualities called gunas.  The gunas are sattva (illumination), rajas (action) and tamas (inertia).

"Set on the wheel of time (kalachakra: kala = time, chakra=wheel), like a pot on the potter's wheel, man is moulded and remoulded in accordance with the predominating order of these three fundamental intermingling characteristics."
                                                                                              -B.K.S. Iyengar

The website, "The Mandala Project" gives information regarding the sand mandalas from Tibet.  As part of a spiritual practice, monks created intricate mandalas with colored sand made of crushed semiprecious stones. The tradition continues to this day as the monks travel to different cultures around the world to create sand mandalas and educate people about the culture of Tibet.
The creation of a sand mandala requires many hours and days to complete. Each mandala contains many symbols that must be perfectly reproduced each time the mandala is created. When finished, the monks gather in a colorful ceremony, chanting in deep tones as they sweep their mandala into a jar and empty it into a nearby body of water as a blessing. This action also symbolizes the cycle of life.
The pictures below are of various sand mandalas being created by Venerable Lama Losang Samten.  He is a Tibetan monk who was at one time a personal attendant to the 14th Dalai Lama.  He has been the spiritual director of several Buddhist centres in North America for over 20 years.  Losang has been coming to Saskatchewan to offer the sand mandala and retreats for over 12 years.  Here is a link to his personal website and his center in Philadelphia.  A more detailed description is given to the Tibetan Buddhist mandalas on his personal website. 


Losang preparing for the kalachakra sand mandala

Medicine Buddha Sand mandala - Regina 2010

Mandala offering

Detail to each sand mandala

Here are a few mandalas that you can print and color yourself.  The possibilities for creations are endless...just like the circle.

Pamela Nelson

Fortune Cookie Wisdom - 3

Love is the one thing that you can not take unless it is given.