Monday, October 31, 2016

Light on Yoga - Day 32

Image result for aum

 Tribute to Guruji and Light on Yoga - Day 32

Mr. Iyengar writes in Light on Yoga about the Sanskrit word AUM and the Latin word Omne both being derived from the same root where both words convey the concepts of omniscience (all knowing), omnipresence (all-pervading) and omnipotence(all-powerful).

He writes that another word for Aum is pranava and is derived from the root nu meaning praise and the pra prefix means superiority, so the meaning is the best praise or prayer.

The symbol AUM is composed of three syllables and carries many meanings.

The A symbolizes the conscious or waking state, the U the dream state and the letter M the dreamless, sleep state.
The entire symbol with the crescent and dot stands for the fourth state which transforms all the states and transcends them to the state of Samadhi.

The letters also represent speech, mind and breath of life and the entire symbol is the living spirit.
The letters are also said to represent length, breadth and width, while the whole symbol represents Divinity going beyond the limitations of shape and form.

Mr. Iyengar gives many more meanings of the word and symbol AUM. 
A few others are:
A,U, M symbolise the absence of desire, fear and anger and the whole symbol represents the perfect being.

A, U, M represents the three gunas of sattva, rajas and tamas and the symbol represents the gunatita or the one who has transcended the pull of the gunas.

There are a few more references regarding the meaning of AUM and from this Mr. Iyengar writes that the yogi realizes the importance of AUM and focusing on it with one-pointed devotion to experience the feeling and meaning of the mantra.


Image result for aum meaning
Pamela Nelson

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Light on Yoga - Day 31

Image result for dharana

Tribute to Guruji and Light on Yoga - Day 31

The sixth stage of yoga is called Dharana or concentration.  Mr. Iyengar writes that this concentration on a single point or task comes after the mind has been stilled.

"When the body has been tempered by asanas, when the mind has been refined by the fire of pranayama and when the senses have been brought under control by pratyahara, the sadhaka reaches the sixth stage called dharana."

The mind, Mr. Iyengar writes, is like an instrument.  To get the best out of an instrument one must know how it works.  The mind classifies impressions from the outside world as well as those that arise within so very difficult to restrain. 

Mr. Iyengar says that mental states are classified into five groups.
They are:
Ksipta state - mental forces are scattered and in a state of neglect and one hankers after objects of desire.
Viksipta state - the mind is agitated and distracted. One can enjoy the fruits of one's efforts, but the desires are not controlled.
Mudha state - the mind is dull and foolish and does not know what it wants.
Ekagra state - Mind is more concentrated on a single point and the sadhaka knows what he wants.  This state brings much intellectual powers but one must be careful that they do not become egotistical.
Niruddha state - here the mind (manas), intellect (buddhi) and ego(ahamkara) are restrained and offered to the Lord.  So there is no "I" or "mine" for the sadhaka becomes one with the universe.

To achieve this concentration it is recommended the sadhaka concentrate on AUM. 
More on this in Day 32's post.

Pamela Nelson


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Fall updates


Fall Schedule Updates

Seems like the fall session just started a few weeks ago, yet we will soon be into November and December.

I just wanted to send a quick note with reminders about dates when there are no classes in November with me at Yoga Sublime.

There is No classes Thursday, November 3rd or Saturday November 5th.
I will be attending a three day workshop in Edmonton at the Iyengar Yoga Centre with Marlene Mawhinney.  Marlene is one of Canada's most senior teachers and holds a Senior Intermediate III Certificate.  She has been teaching since 1972 and has taught classes all over to all ages.  She has worked extensively with Mr. Iyengar and his daughter Geeta over the years and is internationally recognized  for her research and expertise in yoga for people with health challenges.

I have been fortunate to attend a few of her workshops and look forward to this upcoming one next week.

Once I return some of my kids are on a school break.  I will not be teaching the Tuesday morning class - November 8th from 10:30-11:45a.m. 

All other classes will run as usual and I look forward to having the remaining of the fall session continue without any other breaks due to weather or travel.  I do thank you for you understanding for classes that are cancelled due to bad weather or for me to attend training workshops.
Upcoming Workshops or Special Classes
November 10th - Timed Practice - 7:15-8:30p.m.
A fun way to challenge your body and brain.  Pre-registration requested to know how many might attend.

November 20th - Calm the Breath, Calm the Mind: Linking Asana, Pranayama and Meditation.  1:00-3:30p.m.
This is the last of the series of three.  Although one does build a bit on the previous classes the class is still open to all levels to explore Patanajali's 8 limbs of yoga and see how a consistent and proper asana practice leads to a stable pranayama practice and with that a clear and calm meditation.  Please contact me to register.

December 15th - Build a Home Practice - 7:15-8:30p.m.
Tips and handouts will be given during this class to help you build a successful home practice.  Please pre-register so I know how many to expect.
Other Updates
One last update.  In a previous email I sent out a few months ago I was inquiring if there was interest in the local or even global community for a yoga retreat in Costa Rica in early 2018.

Some plans of mine have changed which include me now attending RIMYI - the Iyengar Institute in PUne, India in August 2017 instead of January as well as beginning another one year training that begins this January.
With these changes, plus family life I felt maybe I would not cancel my idea but maybe postpone it another year.  Hopefully there will still be some interest for yoga, travel and fun in a few years!

If you want to see posters for my classes and schedule please check out my website/blog:
Sene me an email too @ with questions, comments, feedback, etc.

 My winter schedule will be out shortly.  Until then thank you for your support in attending classes.
 And on a last note. This year makes the 50th anniversary of B.K.S. Iyengar's book - Light on Yoga.  I decided I would blog for 50 days from pages from this book of wisdom.  I am already on Day 30, but you can check out all the other days on my blog. 
Even subscribe and you won't miss a blog post or update!

Pam Nelson
Certified Iyengar Yoga Instructor


Light on Yoga - Day 30

Image result for pratyahara               Image result for pratyahara

Tribute to Guruji and Light on Yoga - Day 30

Pratyahara - Withdrawal of the Senses

The fifth limb of Yoga where the senses, instead of running after external desires turn inward with the rhythmic control of the breath. 

Mr. Iyengar writes, "The mind, in truth, is for mankind the cause of bondage and liberation; it bring bondage if it is bound to the objects of desire and liberation when it is free from objects."

He goes on to say that when the mind craves, grieves or is unhappy that is bondage and the mind becomes pure when all desires and fears are gone.

This is not an easy path because at the beginning it may seem very hard, but the end result is liberation.  It is much easier to pick the path that seems easier and more enjoyable but the end result may not be liberation.

Mr. Iyengar speaks of the gunas or qualities according to Hindu philosophy that the consciousness manifests.
They are Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.
Sattva is the illumination, pure or good quality that leads to mental clarity
Rajas is the quality of mobility and makes a person actve
Tamas is the dark and restraining quality. That of delusion, inertia and ignorance.

Mr. Iyengar writes about the different attributes that one may have depending on their combination of the gunas.

He says also," The yogi who is also human is affected by these three gunas.  By his constant and disciplined study (abhyasa) of himself and of the objects which his senses tend to purse, he learns which thoughts, words and actions are prompted by tamas and which by rajas."

One must constantly work or practice (vairagya) to achieve a sattvic frame of mind and go beyond the pull of the gunas.

Pamela Nelson

Friday, October 28, 2016

Light on Yoga - Day 29

Image result for bks pranayama

Tribute to Guruji and Light on Yoga - Day 29

The word Vayu translates to mean wind energy.  In the body there is said to be five main divisions.
They are prana vaya, apana vayu, samana vayu, udana vayu and vyana vayu.
Prana Vayu - moves the vital energy in the region of the heart and controls respiration
Apana Vayu - moves in the sphere of the lower abdomen and controls the function of elimination urine and faeces
Samana Vayu - aids in digestion by stoking the gastric fires
Udana Vayu - moves in the thoracic cavity and controls the intake of air and food
Vyana Vayu - pervades the entire body and distributes the energy derived from food and breath.

Image result for vayus
Mr. Iyengar also describes 5 subsidiary vayus.  They are naga, kurma, krkara, devadatta and dhanamjaya.
In Light on Yoga he describes these as:
Naga: relieving abdominal pressure by belching
Kurma: controls the movement of the eyelids to prevent foreign matter or bring light from entering
Krkara: prevents substances from passing up the nasal passages and down the throat by making on sneeze or cough.
Davadatta: provides intake of extra oxygen - yawning
Dhanamjaya: remains in the body after death and sometimes bloats a corpse.
I find the meeting of the different vayus very interesting when you consider how the elements can interact in our outer world.  I love the idea of the aura - Vyana which integrates all the vayus.

Pamela Nelson


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Light on Yoga - Day 28

Image result for pranayama bks images

Tribute to Guruji and Light on Yoga - Day 28

Pranayama is the fourth limb in Patanajali's 8 limbs of yoga (ashtanga yoga).
I will write a bit about pranayama from Light on Yoga over the next few days.

Patanjali has stated that only after mastery of the asanas can a sadhaka move onto pranayama.  Here the nostrils, nasal passages and membranes, the windpipe, the lungs and the diaphragm are the only parts of the body that are actively involved.  Prana means breath, respiration, life, vitality, wind, energy and strength.  This breath of life is not to be taken lightly as one is generating internal energy or force.  It is the science of the breath.

The "ayama" part of pranayama means length, expansion, stretching or restraint.  So it is the extension of the breath and the control of the breath. Control of the inhalation, exhalation and the retention of the breath, either at the top of the in breath or after the exhalation.  The retention is termed kumbhaka.  It is antara(inner) kumbhaka if retention is after the full inhalation and bahya(exterior) kumbhaka is retention at the end of the full exhalation.
A kumbha is a pitcher or water pot.  Mr. Iyengar writes, "A water pot may be emptied of all air and filled completely with water, or it may be emptied of all water and filled completely with air.

The rhythmic breathing must be carefully controlled to strengthen the respiratory system without irritating the nerves.  By regulating the breath the mind is calm, desires are brought under control and one will be at peace.

Image result for pranayama bks images

"The yogi's life  is not measured by the number of his days but by the number of his breaths."

Pamela Nelson

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Light on Yoga - Day 27

Image result for bks iyengar doing asana

Tribute to Guruji and Light on Yoga - Day 27

The third and most well known limb in Patanjali's ashtanga yoga is Asana or the postures. Mr. Iyengar wrote quite a lot on asana in this first part of the book beginning with stating how the postures "bring steadiness, health and lightness of limb."

Mr. Iyengar clarifies that asana are postures, not merely gymnastic exercises and are done to bring steadiness, mental equilibrium and prevent fickleness of the mind. 
He also writes that to perform them all one needs is a clean, airy place, a blanket and determination. :)
The postures can be done alone and the limbs of the body act to provide the necessary weights and counter-weights. By practicing them one develops, "agility, balance, endurance and great vitality" by exercising "every muscle, nerve and gland in the body."

As you can see there are many physical benefits, but Mr. Iyengar is clear that this is required to free the muscle-bound body from disease and mental fatigue because only then can one train and discipline the mind.

"The yogi conquers the body by the practice of asana and makes it a fit vehicle for the spirit."

When we cherish both the body and the mind and know that health cannot be bought we treat the body as divine and work hard to know the Inner Self, that Divine Spark.

Mr. Iyengar also writes about the significance of the names of the asanas as they illustrate evolution.  Postures are named after vegetation, insects, aquatic animals, birds, mammals as well as the human embryonic state.  Many legendary hero's are also included to show that one should see the unity in all.

Pamela Nelson

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Light on Yoga - Day 26

Image result for isvara pranidhana

Tribute to Guruji and Light on Yoga - Day 26

The last of the niyama's is Isvara pranidhana, or dedication to the Lord.  It is a letting go of attachment and greed that lead to sorrow by turning to the Lord.  When love for all beings is equal there is a release of any feelings of "I" or "mine".

The word bhakti means love or adoration. Mr. Iyengar explains that, "Attempts to practice bhakti without emptying the mind of desires is like building a fire with wet fuel. It makes a lot of smoke and brings tears to the eyes of the person who builds it and of those around him.  A mind with desire does not ignite and glow, nor does it generate light and warmth when touched with the fire of knowledge."

Pamela Nelson


Monday, October 24, 2016

Light on Yoga - Day 25

Image result for svadhyaya

Tribute to Guruji and Light on Yoga - Day 25

Svadhyaya - is the study of the self.  "Sva" means self and "adhyaya" means study or education.
Mr. Iyengar writes that ignorance has no beginning, but an end but education has a beginning but no end.  Self study is a way for the practitioner to understand the nature of his soul to gain communion with the divine.  For this Mr. Iyengar advices that one study the sacred books of the world to put an end to ignorance and bring knowledge.

He always uses great analogies. For svadhayaya he writes, "As bees savour the nectar in various flowers, so the sadhaka absorbs things in other faiths which will enable him to appreciate his own faith better."  This leads him to say that, "Yoga is not a religion by itself.  It is the science of religions, the study of which will enable a sadhaka the better to appreciate his own faith."

We often busy ourselves from self-study with external distractions.  Take the time to sit with the breath, relax the mind and study your own self for ways of improving the world.

Pamela Nelson

Image result for svadhyaya

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Light on Yoga - Day 24

Image result for tapas yoga

Tribute to Guruji and Light on Yoga - Day 24

Next of the niyamas is Tapas, which Mr. Iyengar explans comes from the root "tap" meaning to blaze, burn, shine, suffer pain or consume by heat.
So it is a burning zeal or effort to achieve a definite goal in life and all worthy goals require self-discipline, purity and austerity.

Mr. Iyengar writes, "Tapas is the conscious effort to achieve ultimate union with the Divine and to burn up all desires which stand in the way of this goal."

Tapas relates to the body, mind and speech and when practiced without any selfish motive or hope for reward a yogi will, "gain courage and wisdom, integrity, straightforwardness and simplicity."

Sometimes the best thing one can start with is getting on the mat and moving with the breath to release and relax the body and mind.  Think of it like burning off toxins to clean and brighten the internal body and mind so your true self shines forth.

Pamela Nelson

Image result for tapas yoga