Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Please Join me at PLN Yoga Studio
November 5&6th, 2011-
All Levels Yoga Workshop
with Jo-Ann Sutherland.

Dates: November 5&6

Times: Saturday 9am-noon & 2-5pm
Sunday 9am-1pm

Cost: $190/person

Pre-registration is required.

$25 Non-refundable cancellation fee.
NO REFUNDS 15 days prior to Workshop

Jo-Ann Sutherland is a nationally certified Iyengar yoga teacher and is the owner and director of the JNS Yoga Studio that she opened in 1990. Jo-Ann has been practicing yoga since 1971. In1984 she began studying under the teachings of BKS Iyengar and since that time has been a committed student of this method. She made her first pilgrimage to India in 1997 and since then she has traveled to India many times. jns Yoga studio offers classes for all levels of yoga as well as classes for problem backs and gentle yoga for the chronically fatigued and physically challenged. Her understanding of yoga asana, her quest foreknowledge, and her zest for life make her classes precise, enlightening and fun. Jo-Ann is a firm believer in the age old adage,“When the body is fit the mind will naturally follow”.
For more information or to register please call me at 306-982-2737.
It will be a great yoga weekend!

Pamela Nelson

Benefits of Using a Mantra

There is more chapters and much more information in Swami Sivanada Radha's book, MANTRA Words of Power, but I will end today with a bit from Chapter 5 in which Swami Radha gives more on the benefits of Mantra. 
Although repeating mantras may not be something you incorporate into your daily yoga practice and may not seem comfortable to you at this time, I thought just introducing a different way to practice yoga would be beneficial.
Swami Radha writes that the repetition of a mantra is a means of improving the powers of concentration.  It also helps to purify the subconscious and regulate the breath.  When the breath is regulated it is easier to control emotions, giving a safe way to release negative feelings.  When greater awareness is created through chanting those negative feelings can be replaced with positive affirmations.
To end, Swami writes, "if you repeat it while doing Hatha Yoga you will be able to penetrate the deeper levels of the asanas. Holding an asana, chant mentally, becoming absorbed in what you are doing.  Gradually you will become aware of your pranic flow in the body, the deeper aspects of the asana and finally you will experience its mystical meaning."

Pamela Nelson

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mantra Practice

In Chapter Three of Swami Radha's book, MANTRAS Words of Power, she says that when you begin to recite and practice Mantra you need to clarify to yourself what it is you want to achieve. 

During chanting it is also important to observe the mind.  The mind is easily distracted, becoming bored and lazy and as Swami Radha says, "you may begin to doubt your sincerity."  Swami talks about how one might begin to wonder if doing a different charitable act would be a more worthwhile way to spend ones time, but she says then you are missing the point when your thoughts go this way.  Swami Radha expresses how you will be of much more help to others when you have gained some spiritual power.

Once you have been given a mantra by your Guru, or you have chosen one for yourself that you feel naturally attracted to, it is important to stay with it until you experience some of its power.

Sometimes in Japa mantra practice a mala can be used to help in counting the repetitions and also to help give the body some activity helping to release nervous energy.  A mala is a string of 108 beads.  Swami explains the importance of the number 108, saying it is a holy number.  1 means one line, symbolizing God, the Supreme Energy, the power from which all other lines, circles or movement comes.  0 is completeness, a circle representing God's creation as complete and perfect.  8 is the sign of eternity.
Because the mind is so easily distracted, mostly with past or future events, a lot of energy is used unproductively.  Swami writes how life is a chain of cause and effect, and how the beads of the mala are also endless, but now the endless thoughts, with each bead, can be given a specified, significant meaning relating to the particular mantra chosen.
On each mala is a special bead called Mount Meru where the mala is tied together.  When chanting and the fingers reach Mount Meru, the mala is turned and the mantra continued the other way.  This bead represents the realization of a greater Self and that you need not continue the chain of cause and effect.

Much more information is given in chapter three on when is best to chant, how to chant, etc. but to summarize it is important to sit tall and relaxed in a quiet place, left leg crossed over right with hands in your lap and palms facing up.  Centre yourself for the practice ahead.  If you are using a mala, it is best to hold at heart level and move the beads with the thumb and ring finger.  Stay with it for a set period of time.  Come out of the practice slowly and gently, keeping the peace and quiet and sensitivity you have created for as long as you can.
To end, Swami Radha says that, "Time is needed following spiritual practice for the effects to be absorbed."

Pamela Nelson

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Love, Hope, Optimism

I am sure this quote will be quoted many times, but I felt to need to do so also. The words are so pure and powerful.

"Love is better than anger.
Hope is better than fear.
Optimism is better than dispair."

Jack Layton
July 18, 1950 - August 22, 2011

Pamela Nelson

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mantra and Japa Yoga

The second chapter of Swami Sivananda Radha's book, Mantras, Words of Power, is called "Mantra and Japa Yoga".  Swami Radha discusses four types of Mantra Yoga,Vaikhari Japa, Upamsu Japa and Manasika Japa and Likhita Japa.

Vaikhari Japa is when the mantra is spoken out loud.  Upamsu Japa is when the mantra is hummed or whispered.  Manasika Japa is a mental repetition of a mantra and Likhita Japa is when a mantra is written.

It is through constant repetition of a mantra, with devotion and concentration, that one becomes like a magnet attracting the spiritual power of the mantra to oneself and becomes aware of the Self.

Mr. Iyengar writes about Japa also in Light on Pranayama, saying the purpose of mantra japa is to check and focus the disturbed mind upon a single point and is linked to a single thought.  He also states that it has to be done with sincerity, love and devotion, which develops the relationship between man and his Maker.

Mr.Iyengar says that Japa (the repetition of a mantra), is used to disengage the mind from idle talk, jealous ideas and tale-bearing, so that the mind turns towards thoughts about the soul and God.

Both Swami Radha and Mr.Iyengar write of the benefits of receiving a mantra from their Guru, saying that the power of the mantra increases after initiation.  Swami Radha says that by reciting the mantra you carry its force and power, and this will be a blessing for all those you meet.

Swami Radha ends the chapter saying that Mantra leads the Spirit, lost in trivialities and worldly pursuits, back to pure Essence.

Pamela Nelson

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What is Mantra?

I am currently reading and enjoying the book, Mantras: Words of Power, by Swami Sivananda Radha.  Swami Radha opened an Ashram in Kootenay Bay, BC in 1963.  She has since passed away, but the Ashram continues.  You can view more information about it at

 I thought over the next few blogs I would share some of the information from this book, one of her many books.

The first chapter is called, "What is Mantra?"

Swami Radha explains that a mantra is a combination of sacred syllables that form a nucleus of spiritual energy.  The root word man in the word Mantra means in Sanskrit "to think", tra comes from trai, meaning "to protect or free from the bondage of samsara or the phenomenal world."  So, Mantra means, "the thought that liberates and protects."

Understanding this concept intellectually though only encompasses a small part of its meaning.

When one chants or recites a mantra, it is said to activate and accelerate the creative spiritual force, promoting harmony in all parts of the human being.  The energy created can then be directed to benefit the one chanting and others around.

Swami Radha also explains how each Mantra has six aspects.  They are a Rishi or seer, a raga or melody, a Devata or presiding deity, a Bija or seed sound, Sakti or power and Kilaka or pillar.

The Mantras have been transmitted from generation to generation, from Guru to disciple.  The power of each mantra increases each time it is passed on and as the great Rishi's knew, they are intended to be used in the service of others and as a guide to mankind.

The raga is very important in each mantra.  It is a sequence of sounds that create a specific vibration and is important not to be changed.  Each mantra has not only an outer audible expression but it also carries a subtle essence or vibration, with a meaning that arises from the eternal Spirit.  The repetition of the mantra being repeatedly chanted gives rise to the form of a specific deity (Devata).

Each Mantra also carries a Bija or seed.  This seed is the essence of the Mantra and gives it special power, a self-generating power. So, the energy in each Mantra starts with the seed and grows a beautiful spiritual being.

The Kilaka, or pillar is explained as the driving force, the will power to pursue perfection in each Mantra.  Once the power begins though it continues with a self-generating force so the kilaka becomes a way to join the power of the mantra to the Guru and to the Deity until all become one.

The consciousness within the mantra is called Sakti or Divine Mother, the power or energy present in pure form.

Swami Radha says that through repetition of these words of power, the goal of Mantra Yoga is achieved.  This is the goal of all Yogas - to unite the individual consciousness with the Universal Consciousness.

And this was only from the first chapter!

Pamela Nelson

Monday, August 15, 2011

Four Cups or Four States of the Mind

This is a teaching told to me by my husband, who heard it from his teacher, Losang Samten. 
Losang translated this teaching from his teacher.  So, you can see the importance of the teachings being passed down from one to another. 

I was told about the 4 cups that represent the mind.  These cups are states of the mind that we don't want our mind to be in.

The first cup is turned upside down.  This represents a closed mind, a state when we have either already made an opinion about something or when we are not willing to even entertain another point of view.

The second cup seems to have a hole or crack in it, so that even though we might be taking in information, we are not retaining that information.  We have not taken the time to internalize or integrate the knowledge, and it is quickly gone.

The third cup appears to be dirty on the inside.  It has not been cleaned first before we have received teachings so an incorrect understanding takes place.  The mind is not pure so correct knowledge cannot be reached.

The fourth cup is in some ways similar to the first, but is turned right side up and is filled to the brim.  It is so full that we think we already know everything, that there is nothing else we could possibly learn, so the teachings again escape us.

Before a practice begins, where correct knowledge can be integrated and assimilated into each cell of the body, we must come with a pure, compassionate and open mind.

Pamela Nelson

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Yoga Intensive in Victoria, BC

I am halfway through an Iyengar yoga teacher training intensive in Victoria, BC at the Victoria Iyengar Yoga Centre. It has been a wonderful learning experience so far and great to meet with other Iyengar teachers.

Although I am still trying to integrate what I have learned I found a quote in a book I borrowed from their library that expresses how sincere and open the teachers are with their knowledge.

The quote is from the Bhagavad Gita and found in Swami Sivananda Radha's book, Mantras words of Power.

Know that by prostrations, by question and service, the wise who have realized the Truth will instruct thee in that knowledge.

I feel very fortunate to be here and grateful for all the teachings.
Pamela Nelson

Sunday, August 7, 2011

From the Heart

The best and most beautiful things in life cannot be seen, not touched, but are felt in the heart.

Quote by Helen Keller

Friday, August 5, 2011

Course of Study

In Geeta Iyengar's book, Yoga: A Gem for Women, she says that in practicing yoga the physical body, the sense organs, the emotions, the mind, and the consciousness are trained slowly and gradually.
It is important first to work on the body's anatomical structure of the body. Then build into the anatomical range of movement of the spine and body. This will lay the groundwork for the benefits to body and mind.
To work to quickly, or try to bypass any stages one may actually miss the truth yoga has to share with us.
In, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, by BKS Iyengar, he explains in sutra I.14, that long, uninterrupted, alert practice is the firm foundation for restraining the fluctuations.

Enjoy yoga, even if the path is long.
Pamela Nelson

Monday, August 1, 2011

August Book Review - Mom, What Can Be Done? - Author Lori Nunn, Photography Jason Leo Bantle

This month I have chosen a children book for my book review.  Both are Canadian and both spend time in Saskatchewan, even in Christopher Lake where I live!

The book is called, Mom, What Can Be Done?, by Lori Nunn and photography by Jason Leo Bantle.

Showing animals from the north, the book tells of the changing environment and asks what can be done to stop the loss of habitat of much of our wildlife.  At the end many suggestions are given so kids and families can support the three R's - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and help curb global warming with their own actions!

This book speaks to me not only as a mother and teacher to my kids but having an environmental studies degree, to many of the concerns I remember writing papers about...many years ago.

Lori is a wonderful writer who is able to teach with prose to kids interesting facts about nature and the environment.  I have many of her other books too.  Lori lives in Canmore, Alberta.

Jason's photos capture the feeling of the Arctic for this book and also help show that even the animals are worried about global warming.  He is also a wildlife biologist and you can learn more about Jason, his many other photos and books at  He has galleries in Christopher Lake, Sk.; Saskatoon, Sk.; Waskesiu, Sk. and Canmore, Alberta.

Even if you don't have kids, or don't have young kids at home any longer, there is a lot that can be learned from many children's books.  They often can have the effect of bringing us back to those basic and important things that can get lost as we "grow up".

Happy Reading..another important R!
Pamela Nelson