Enjoy the benefits of yoga because yoga is for EVERYONE!
Yoga aims to develop endurance, balance, strength and align the body correctly. Not only does yoga help to improve your physical wellbeing..but also your mental well being. Please check with your doctor before starting any practice, especially if you have prior health issue.
Hello! It is hard to believe it is almost the end of January. I hope 2017 has been good to each of you so far. I just wanted to update you on my February schedule, March retreat and a few other upcoming events that are in the works.
Starting Thursday, February 2nd I am offering a Senior/Modified Yoga class from 1:30-2:30p.m. This class is great for those will no or little yoga experience, working with stiffness. injuries or balance issues or just feel a general class is not for them at this time.
Building Your hOMe Yoga Practice - Thursday, February 9th - 7:15-8:30p.m.
The first class was so well received I have decided to do another. A home practice will change your yoga for you. Getting there can be a challenge though. This class will give tips and some handouts to help you start your home practice journey or inspire you to continue. Even if you attended the first class this one will have something for everyone! Please pre-register. Class is at Yoga Sublime Studio.
Upcoming Retreat: I am excited to be joining Roxanne and Rhonda from Indigo Yoga again this year for their annual Indigo Yoga Retreat. It is March 25 & 26 in beautiful Prince Albert National Park. For more information please email email@example.com. The poster is on my blog also with more information. www.plnyoga.blogspot.com.
Other Things I'm Working On: March 4th - workshop in Saskatoon at JNS Yoga Studio - currently working on details March - Thursday evenings - 5 weeks - Playful Yoga with Chair - for those with yoga experience - must pre-register May - Mother's Day retreat - working on details
Below is my current schedule. Please feel free to contact me for more information, to register or general inquires. There is still room in all classes. Thank you ! Happy February.
TUESDAY'S:No class Feb.21st and April 18th
10:15-11:30am - AM Yoga- Iyengar Level 1/2 - Yoga Sublime
12:00-1:00pm – NOON Yoga- Iyengar Level 1/2 – Forest Centre
Thursday Evening Extras – 7:15-8:30p.m. February 9th – Building a Home Yoga Practice - $17 or class pass can be used March 5th – 30th – Earth, Air, Water, Fire and Space – Experienced with the Chair – must pre-register
SATURDAY: - Yoga Sublime - Begins January 14th No classes Feb. 18th, 25th, April 15th & 22nd 9:00-10:15am – A.M. Eye Opener – Level 1/2
Iyengar Basic/Level 1 – This class is for those with little or no yoga experience. Introduces the foundations of Iyengar Yoga and develops mobility, stability, alignment and flexibility. Classes focus on standing poses, seated poses, forward bends and building up to shoulder stand. Modifications given as needed.
Iyengar Level 1/2 – Suitable for those comfortable with level 1 postures. Will include refinements and new postures and move into other inversions and pranayama. Modifications given as needed.
Iyengar Level 2/3 – Suitable for those with previous yoga experience. Moving into more advanced postures, inversions and pranayama . Asana/Pranayama – This class will include asana that will open and prepare the body, breath and mind for pranayama. This four week class will include supine and seated pranayama. Some yoga experience required.
Gentle/Restorative – With the gentle support of props this class will help to soothe the nerves and restore, recuperate and rejuvenate the body, breath and mind.
Senior/Modified - This class is for those who are working with stiffness or injuries (knees, shoulders, low-back, etc.), loss of balance or feel that a general class pace is not suitable for them at this time.
Please visit website – www.plnyoga.blogspot.com - here you can sign up with your email and not miss any updates posted as they are sent directly to your inbox! Or email:firstname.lastname@example.org or call 306.982.2737/306.981.4703
The benefits of yoga can only be experienced by doing yoga!
The threefold quest consists of the external quest (bahiranga sadhana, inner quest (antaranga sadhana) and the spiritual quest (antaratma sadhana). Geeta has a nice chart in her book to show this.
The chart displays how the External Quest is made up of the moral (Yama and Niyama) and Physical (Asana and Pranayama).
The Inner Quest is made up of the mental (Pranayama and Pratyahara).
The Spiritual Quest is the spiritual (Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi)
These are the 8-limbs Patanjali writes about in the Yoga Sutras.
She explains the threefold quest further though.
Geeta writes about Bahiranga Sadhana that the body is the temple of the Soul. "Just as a clean temple evokes pure thoughts, a clean body leads to a pure mind and is thus a fit abode for the Self."
The first step towards Self-Realization, she says is to keep the body pure and free from disease.
Antaranga Sadhaha - the inner quest comes after attaining the purity of body. To do this Geeta explains that one needs to understand how the mind functions. Controlling the mind and senses helps one to do this.
"The mind desires, and the senses follow the mind for their gratification; thus the mind is caught up in the gratification of desires."
Also affecting the mind, Geeta writes is the six enemies: lust, anger, greed, temptation, pride and jealousy.
Breath control and control of the senses is a way to help conquer these enemies.
Geeta quotes the Hathayoga Pradipika - II, 2
"A disturbed breath leads to a disturbed mind; a steady breath leads to a steady mind. The two go together. Hence, cultivate a steady and quiet breath; thereby the mind is controlled and the life of a Yogi is prolonged."
Geeta calls the spiritual quest the pursuit of the soul. The mind has achieved poise and concentration and has let go of the ego to find eternal bliss.
I am glad to be on this quest, even though if is a hard one, a lifelong challenge.
I take a few steps forward and then often back again, but the quest to be a better person is within me and I am glad to have so many wonderful books and teachers to help me along the way.
As Patanjali helps us understand - practice and detachment are required to control the senses and mind.
This is explained more in Patanjali's Astanga Yoga Sutras - 8-limbs of yoga.
Geeta writes on this next in her book - Yoga: A Gem for Women.
She says that the "proper functioning of the body depends on the several limbs. The absence of sickness in any one limb affects the health of the whole body. The same principle applies to the study of yoga and its branches."
The 8 steps Patanjali writes about are:
Yama - conduct towards others
Niyama - conduct towards oneself
Asana - practice of the postures for physical discipline
Pranayama - breath-control for mental discipline
Pratyahara - discipline of the senses
Dharana - concentration
Dhyana - meditation
Samadhi - self-realization
All the limbs are interdependent.
Geeta quotes 11.28 of Patanajali's Yoga Sutra's:
The study of the 8 limbs of Yoga leads to the purification of the body, the mind, and the intellect: the flame of knowledge is kept burning and discrimination is aroused."
However, in the Yoga Upanisads there is said to be only 6 limbs and was called Sadanga Yoga - Six-Sided Yoga.
They say the six are:
Discipline of the senses
But the texts also state that in order to attain Samadhi yama and niyama are prerequisites, therefore really making little difference between Astanga and Sadanga Yoga.
Geeta does write about what the main differences between the two systems are though.
She says that the Sadanga Yoga was aimed at small groups - members of monasteries, who already practice yama and niyama.
Patanajali's system was for everyone so more instructions were needed on how to lead one's life and gain spiritual bliss.
Next blog will be on the Threefold Quest that a seeker must undertake.
Today, see if you can apply one of the limbs of yoga and see how it relates to another limb.
For example, how in the yamas - ahimsa (non-harming in word, action and thought) can relate to your asana practice. If push to hard in a posture you are harming yourself and doing more out of ego.
In the last post, citta was explained as being made up of mind, ego and intellect and being composed of the three basic qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas.
Geeta explains that according to the predominant quality, the mental states or modifications (vrittis) are formed.
These modifications are five-fold and they are Pramana, Viparyaya, Vikalpa, Nidra and Smrti.
Pramana is proof as experienced by the five senses and mind and obtained either by direct perception, inference or scriptural testimony.
Viparyaya is a mistaken view
Vikalpa is imagination or something without factual basis
Nidra is sleep
Smrti is memory
When unrestrained these vrittis tie us to the material world and the more rajas or tamasic qualities.
Yoga, Geeta tells us teaches us to restrain the five vrittis and to lead a spiritual life.
How are we to do this?
Geeta gives us Patanjali's two fold remedy for controlling the fluctuations of the mind.
Sutra 1.12 - abhyasa-vairagyabhyam tannirodhah - They are practice or study and the absence of worldly desires or detachment.
Abhyasa - Study or Practice
Geeta writes that "without rigorous practice nothing is gained. Without practice, purity of the body and the mind cannot be achieved, fluctuations of the mind cannot be controlled."
This rigorous practice is fourfold - moral, physical, mental and spiritual.
Patanjali writes in Sutra 1.14 that rigorous practice has to be long-lasting and uninterrupted, and performed with dedication and respect; then alone the foundation is well prepared.
Vairagya - Absence of Worldly Desires
Geeta writes that "The key to success is in effort. Vairagya or absence of worldly desires can be achieved by controlling the senses, by carrying out one's duties without thought of reward and by acting with goodness and purity."
Both are needed for success in yoga.
It has been written by B.K.S. Iyengar and by Geeta Iyengar, relating practice and detachment to the wings of a bird. Two wings are needed for flight, as well as the coordination between the two!
Defining yoga is important as the word when said conjures up different ideas for many.
Geeta writes, "The word Yoga has its root in the Sanskrit word "yuj" which means to merge, join or unite. It is the union of the soul with the eternal truth, a state of unalloyed bliss, arising from the conquest of dualities."
"Yoga frees one from life's sorrows and from the diseases and fluctuations of the mind."
This is attained through experience and not just book knowledge.
Geeta asks if Yoga is an art, science or philosophy?
I like how she writes that living is an art, and that yoga enhances the quality of one's life. From that she says therefore, yes, yoga is an art. Yoga lifts one up to face the difficulties that come into our life with equanimity.
Yoga is also said to be a science - Geeta writes Yoga consists of acquiring knowledge through observation and experiment and that it is a science that deals with the body and mind.
As a philosophy, Geeta says that yoga turns one away from the material world to the spiritual world in search of truth - to investigate the nature of Being.
Geeta gives Patanjali's definition of yoga, which is sutra 1.2 as 'yogascittarttinirodhah" - yoga is the control of the fluctuations of the mind, the intellect, and the ego.
Here Self-Realization comes when the fluctuations of the mind have been removed so one's mind is unruffled.
What though is citta that Patanjali talks about?
Geeta writes that the word 'citta" is used to define the mind, but it is more comprehensive then that. The term is composed of the mind(manas), intellect(buddhi) and ego(ahamkara) and the mind is the bridge that connects the physical body with the spiritual.
When we are drawn to the more physical, we get lost in the pursuit of pleasures.
When directed toward the spiritual, it is to reach the final goal - emancipation.
She talks of the perpetual tug-of-war between the two. The mind being pulled depending on the guna (sattva, rajas or tamas) that is dominate.
In the sattva state Geeta says the mind is illuminated to a state of calmness, composure and serenity.
The rajasic state makes a person more active, tense and wilful. The qualities of ambition and pride.
When tamasic the person is in a state of inertia and ignorance.
So the citta is composed of these three qualities.
In the next blog more on the gunas and the fluctuations of the mind.
Chapter II in the Theory section of Gem for Womenis titled "Four Paths to Liberation".
As I continue to read through Geeta's book and write this blog I hope many can also see that yoga is not just a "Gem for Women", but for all.
This book may be tailored to women, but if you read the whole book you will see yoga is for all!
Geeta writes how many sages and philosophers have "compared life to a chariot drawn by two horses - the material and the spiritual - both running in unison. Any imbalance in their speed results in unhappiness." I like this and can put many things into perspective when we start to look at our lives. More technology, less physical labour, more stress, less sleep. Geeta says also, "The trouble with our age is that the material steed of the chariot is running faster than the other - the spiritual."
So, Geeta asks, "Is there a way to balance material and spiritual knowledge in order to create harmony in our lives?"
This leads into the four paths of Self-Realization.
1. The path of Knowledge - which allows one to discriminate between good and evil
2. The path of Action - Considers service to humanity as service to God
3. The path of Devotion - With love for all animate and inanimate objects one attains liberation
4. The path of Yoga - One learns to control the fluctuations of the mind, stabilize the mind and realize the Supreme
Geeta shares quotes from many ancient texts to show how Yoga can lead to liberation.
She writes, "The fact that the path of Yoga has been highly praised does not mean that the other three paths are inferior, but that Yoga has attained a fullness by absorbing the other three paths of knowledge, devotion and action.
Geeta says in the science of Ayurveda the human body is divided into six main parts. Those being, the head, the chest, two arms and two legs.
She then writes," The head is the seat of knowledge, the heart that of devotion, the arms and legs are for action. The path of Yoga combines these three - body, mind, and soul - which act in unison. Therefore, Yoga is the foundation for all the other paths."
I like thinking of Yoga as a path. I can look ahead and envision an actual path and know the knowledge, action and devotion on the yogic path never ends. Sometimes the path I see is beautiful, sometimes cloudy and grey, sometimes - often there is many obstacles on my path, but I know it is there ahead of me, guiding me even when I am not sure where I am going.
Geeta writes about how she began yoga. Like her father she was very ill as a child, almost not surviving at one time during a severe attack of nephritis. This is when her father said that they could not afford the medicines and she must either take to yoga or prepare to die.
Strong words, but a reality. That is when Geeta slowly started yoga and gradually saw her health returning.
Also, seeing many foreign students coming such a long way to study with her father made her realize she must also be sincere and regular. Geeta said she resolved to learn about Yoga and one day be a teacher like her father. She has been doing that since 1961 - 55 years!
Geeta shares her knowledge in this book, writing, "The more I thought about my sisters - women and their particular problems the more I was convinced that Yoga was the answer. This book considers how women can achieve fulfilment in their lives through the practice of Yoga."
In the Preface to her book Geeta tells how it was the publisher of her father's book in Marathi who urged her to write a book on Yoga for Women. Although at first she hesitated, Geeta say this book is the outcome of her mother's encouragement to reveal the gift yoga was to women.
For the book to be published in English a translator was used. This was a hard undertaking as there are so many subtle nuances that must be retained during translation. Mr. Shinde, a valued friend did a wonderful job and Geeta thanks him and Mr. Patwardhan also, the publisher.
Geeta spent time before writing trying to best think of how to present yoga to women of today as they are so busy maintaining harmony in the home and family as well as working outside the home.
The need to withstand the stresses and stains of life are great and Geeta writes how "yoga is capable of giving this needed relief if she devotes a little of her time daily to its practice."
Geeta's true words of how life is an "admixture of happiness and sorrow" makes yoga important to help us face "both happiness and sorrow with equanimity."
In the preface Geeta tells how her father did not impose Yoga sadhana on her, but once she started during her lessons she was a pupil. As B.K.S. Iyengar expected keen attention and discipline from each pupil Geeta has learned from the best and is writing this book from her many years of experience and observation.
Geeta is a humble person also and gives thanks to all that helped her book come to printing.
Soon we will begin the First Steps in Yoga....
Until then, hope you have a wonderful day and can find even a small amount of time for your yoga sadhana.
As I begin to write about Geeta Iyengar's book - Yoga: A Gem for Women, I again am interested in how the book begins.
Geeta begins by giving a dedication to the Guru, Adorations to the Guru. Given in Sanskrit and English, I will give the English translation here.
Adorations to the Guru
The Guru is Brahman, the Guru is Vishnu, the Guru is Lord Achyuta the God;
There is none greater than the Guru in all the three Worlds.
The Guru bestows Divine Wisdom; he is the Spiritual Guide and like the Supreme Lord Himself.
He who worships the Guru with supreme devotion attains Jnana.
God is like the Guru; the Guru is like God;
There is no difference between the two;
He should be worshipped with great devotion.
The Guru should be obeyed at all times;
With single minded devotion.
He should be contemplated upon as God and Atman.
On the next page Geeta has dedicated her book to her mother. She writes that her mother was her guru and gave her the freedom and the moral courage to follow the path of yoga.
"The debt to a Mother can never be repaid."
Geeta has been a very devoted daughter to both her parents and this book is a wonderful way to share the gift of yoga that her parents shared with her.
After the Table of Contents the Forward to the book is given by B.K.S. Iyengar himself.
He is very honest that he had two minds about writing the Forward as he did not want to be seen as not assessing her work with a critical eye.
He tells of how Geeta, when young did not have an interest in yoga until she became sick with nephritis. Medical treatment was not helping and was an expense they could not afford. He asked her to embrace yoga. She understood this and took to yoga.
B.K.S. Iyengar writes that she became a dedicated student and underwent rigorous training.
From the forward:
"Having mastered the subtle techniques of this art, Geeta has presented it, highlighting the importance of Yoga in a woman's life, and giving a variety of asana with their physical and curative values, Pranayama with its Bandhas, and Dhyana - meditation. Their practice will enable the aspirant to lead a peaceful and content life."
"Very few women have obtained proficiency in Yoga. Geeta occupies a unique place and is recognized for her knowledge of the art and for her skilled performance. She is a source of inspiration for others to emulate."
How wonderful to have the support of her father as we delve into the wonderful teachings of Geeta Iyengar!
Last year celebrated the 50th anniversary of B.K.S. Iyengar's book - Light on Yoga.
I enjoyed very much writing 50 days on Light on Yoga to help celebrate this.
Although I may not be able to write everyday I'd like to now share through this blog the book by Geeta S.Iyengar - Yoga a Gem for Women.
Geeta is Mr. Iyengar's eldest daughter. She has been teaching for 55 years and along with her brother Prashant S. Iyengar directs the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI).
As a young girl she was diagnosed with kidney disease. As they did not have the money for medicine with her father's support she turned to yoga.
Geeta is well known for her dedicated work in yoga and in women's health and is generous with her knowledge and compassion for those she helps.
Yoga: A Gem for Women was first published in English in 1983 by Allied Publishers.
This book is as essential to read as B.K.S. Iyengar's, Light on Yoga as it contains much details and photos to help those on the yoga path.
From the back cover:
Yoga a gem for women presents a detailed, practical guide for the yoga student who wants to go deeper with her practice of Hatha Yoga. The book is divided into three sections that create an integrated path of yoga suitable for both the beginner and advanced student:
Theory: Yoga and Women - A natural bridge to health and well-being.
Practice - knowing your Body - Techniques and benefits of over 80 asanas complete with photographs and detailed instructions.
Experience - On the threshold of peace
Relaxation, breathing and the practice of meditation
I hope you will enjoy this journey through Geeta's book with me.
"We are missing the gold if we do asanas as a physical practice only."
As I put away my calendar from 2016 and look ahead to the busy-ness 2017 has in store I am very grateful for all I have and was able to experience this past year.
Thank you to my family for their continuous support of my teaching and trips away for training.
Thank you also to my friends and students who come to classes. I really am so fortunate to have this opportunity to meet so many wonderful people.