Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Human Being

"The human being is divided into five: the physical, the physiological, the psychological (the mind), the intellect, the spiritual.  There is no spiritual joy (ananda) unless all is united and happy."
-B.K.S. Iyengar

Pamela Nelson

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ancient Teachings in Modern Times - Talk and Slide show by Losang Samten

This is an early advertisement, but I am excited to announce that Venerable Losang Samten will be coming to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan on September 5th and 6th, 2012.

On September 5th, Losang, a former attendant to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, will be giving a brief talk on his book - Ancient Teachings in Modern Times, accompanied by a slide presentation with images of the ancient tradition of Sand Mandalas.  Sacred music from the Himalayas will accompany the slide show.  The creation of the sand mandala is a wonder to watch.  This will take place at the John M. Cuelenaere Library Auditorium.

September 6th - Venerable Losang Samten will offer a introduction to the teachings of the Buddha, with the focus on the universal principals of loving-kindness and compassion.  This will take place at the Prince Albert Forestry Centre.

Everyone is Welcome to Attend!

Pamela Nelson

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Words of Wisdom - 17

Learn serenity of the body before you learn serenity of the mind.
When you struggle, the brain jerks.  Presence of body and presence of mind should unite.

-B.K.S. Iyengar

Pamela Nelson

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Back from the IYAC/ACYI AGM and Conference

I have just returned from a wonderful week in Toronto after attending the annual conference of  Iyengar Yoga Association of Canada / Association canadienne de yoga Iyengar (IYAC/ACYI).

This year the conference was entitled Iyengar Yoga Today - From The Source.  The teachings we received were definitely from the source, as two senior teachers were sent as ambassadors directly from Pune, India to share B.K.S Iyengar's teachings.  The teachers - Dr. Rajlaxmi Nidmarti and Raya Uma Datta led a very intensive schedule, with over 30 hours of teachings, demonstrations, lectures and yoga asana and pranayama practice.  Although this will probably take me years to truly incorporate all that was brought into my body during the five days there, I hope I will be able to bring this forward to my home practice and teachings.

The teachings from Dr. Rajlaxmi and Raya were expressed with such sincerity and respect for Guruji (B.K.S. Iyengar) and given with extreme clarity.
Mr. Iyengar has always said there is no Iyengar yoga - it really has been the students of Guruji that have coined this term.  Raya stressed this again and again explaining why Mr. Iyengar has never applied for a patent for his creation of props.  Guruji says, " I designed props so people can benefit. Thousands are benefiting and will continue to benefit from them.  Does God ever file a patent for his creation?  Then what right do I, a mortal have to do so?"  Raya talked about Iyengar Yoga as an open source - where no one owns and it is free for all to access.  In this though we need to individually learn and know what is our source.  Guruji has spent over 75 years of his life exploring and experimenting in yoga and has always been willing to share his knowledge with everyone, but we have to be willing to internalize this and get acquainted and comfortable with our own bodies. To have a relationship with ourselves.
Raya said, "Don't go for action, go for interaction."  Yoga should not just be going to class - like a transaction in a store, but should be an interaction with ourselves at a deeper level.

A guru is one who takes the seeker from darkness of ignorance to the light of the soul.  Thank you to Guruji, his family and  teachers.  I am truly grateful to have received the teachings from those so close to an amazing source.

Pamela Nelson

Friday, May 4, 2012

May Book Review - Zen Shorts

Zen Shorts, by Jon J. Muth tells the story of Stillwater the panda bear and the young friends he meets when he moves into a new neighborhood.  There are three short stories inside the story that help to give wisdom to the young children he befriends so they each can overcome..or come to understand a situation more clearly.

In the Author's Note at the back of the book he writes, "zen shorts", are short meditations, or ideas to puzzle over, which hone our ability to act with intuition.  Jon writes that, "they have no goal, but they often challenge us to reexamine our habits, desires, concepts, and fears."

For me, the simplicity of the stories are wonderful for children and adults, and who can not love a giant panda bear?

Hope you get a chance to enjoy this book.

Pamela Nelson

Thursday, May 3, 2012

May Pose of the Month - Dandasana

Dandasana - Staff Pose

Sitting on the floor is something not done that often anymore. The invention of chairs has created a loss of flexibility in knees, ankles, hips and the spine.

Staff pose is a great fundamental pose to improve posture and rest the legs.  Like Tadasana (mountain pose) for standing postures, Dandasana is the pose to come back to between other seated postures to realign the body, breath and mind.

Sit on mat and extend legs out in front of you.  Sit evenly on the buttock bones, keeping the thighs and feet together with toes pointing up to ceiling.  Lengthen through the back of the legs and press out through the heels.  Roll the outer thighs inward and engage the thigh muscles by pulling the kneecaps up.  Then descend the thigh muscles towards the floor.  Use the fingertips to lift the spine, abdomen and truck up and then press the hands to floor, releasing the shoulders down the back. Keep the chest lifted up and the collarbones broadening to the outer tips of the shoulders.  Keep the crown of the head parallel to the ceiling, face, eyes and throat soft.
If lower back rounding and shoulders slumping add height under the hips as in pictures below.  Also place height under the hips if you cannot keep the torso perpendicular to the floor.

With folded blanket..
Or bolster.  If you need quite a bit of height, place a folded or rolled blanket under the backs of the knees so no strain is felt there.

The back can also be placed at the wall in any variation to help support the spine.
Then, inhale and extend the arms overhead by the ears.  Keep the spine lifting up and the sacrum and dorsal moving into the body.  Draw the shoulders away from the ears and down the back.  Legs are firm and the diaphragm is free of tension. 
Stay for a few breaths and then release arms with the exhalation.

Another variation of this pose - great to do if legs or spine is tired is to lie on back with buttock bones at the wall and legs extending up the wall.  Same key points as in the seated version.  Here the abdomen and diaphragm can release even more.

As in the seated version, draw the arms up by the ears on the inhalation and release on the exhalation.

Turn the pose 180 degrees and practice the same pose, now with the torso parallel to the floor.  Press the hands firmly into the wall and keep hands level with the shoulders.  Don't let the head hang, but keep the back of the head in line with the spine.  Keep the tailbone in line with the heels, tighten the quadriceps and press the thighbones back.  Shoulder blades still move down the back.
After a few breaths, look up with the inhalation and step towards the wall.

The strength, balance and equanimity found in the breath in this posture will come into play in many other postures.

Benefits: Strengthens spine and chest muscles, rests legs, tones kidneys and abdominal organs, lengthens ligaments of the legs, reduces heartburn and flatulence and relieves breathlessness.

Cautions:Use back at wall and sit on height if spine sags

Pamela Nelson