Monthly Archives: June 2015

International Yoga Day Everyday

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Happy International Yoga Day! In some parts of the world it is June 21 already. We are very fortunate to live in a time when the world can recognize India’s gift to humanity: the art, science, and philosophy of Yoga. Here is the UN’s official statement on this day:

Addressing the UN General Assembly on 27 September 2014, the Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi had said: “Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”

To commemorate this day, Geeta Iyengar constructed a sequence. Some of the poses here can be found in my blog’s “Asana-s” page.

  • Tadasana – Mountain Pose
  • Namaskarasana – Palms together (prayer pose)
  • Urdhva Hastasana – Extend arms upward
  • Uttanasana – Standing forward bend
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward facing dog pose
  • Urdhva Mukha Svanasana – Upward facing dog pose
  • Uttanasana – Standing forward bend
  • Tadasana – Mountain pose
  • Utthita Trikonasana – Triangle pose
  • Utthita Parsvakonasana – Side angle pose
  • Virabhadrasana I – Warrior Pose I
  • Parivrtta Trikonasana – Revolved triangle
  • Parsvottanasana – Intense side stretch forward bend
  • Prasarita Padottanasana – Wide stance forward bend
  • Dandasana – Staff pose
  • Janu Sirsasana – Head to knee seated forward bend
  • Adho Mukha Upavishtakonasana – Upright wide angle seated pose
  • Virasana with Parvatasana – Hero pose, clasped hands up
  • Swastikasana with Parvatasana – Cross-legged pose, clasped hands up
  • Parsva Dandasana – Staff pose twist
  • Bharadvajasana I – Twist named after the sage Bharadvaja
  • Marichyasana III – Twist named after the sage Marichi
  • Urdhva Mukha Svanasana – Upward facing dog
  • Dhanurasana – bow pose
  • Ustrasana – camel pose
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana – downward facing dog
  • Sirsasana – head balance
  • Sarvangasana – shoulder balance
  • Halasana – plow pose
  • Chatushpadasana – bridge pose variation
  • Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – bridge pose
  • Savasana – corpse pose
  • Sit in dhyana (meditation)

May you have a peaceful and happy International Yoga Day!

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Required reading for the student who is new to Yoga

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I was watching a video of B.K.S. Iyengar during the 2013 Guru Poornima, which is an annual observance and celebration of all of our teachers. In the address, he showed two books that were recently pressed from the Institute. He commented that when he started Yoga, there was no written material on the subject of Asana. Now it has gone the other way. There is now so much information about Asana on the internet and in books, that a new comer to yoga may be easily overwhelmed.

I often reflect on the reading materials that I first encountered when I came to Yoga and what continues to guide me on my path. The clear text would be introduction in LIght On Yoga. It is not just written well, it draws from a series of classical Yoga texts and digests it into an easy to understand essay coupled with Iyengar’s experience.

One does not need to be an practitioner of the Iyengar style to appreciate this text. Renowned Ashtanga Yoga practitioner Chuck Miller writes:

One day in 1974, I was in a bookstore and picked up a copy of Light on Yoga. A girl whom I’ve never seen before just looked over and said, “That’s the book.” I took it as a sign from above and bought the book. I went home that night and read the introduction, fifty-five pages, and it blew my mind. It changed my life. I felt I had my hand on the operating manual for the human being.  – From Iyengar, The Yoga Master 2007 Kofi Busia Shalamba Publications, Inc.

One of the gists of the text that I remember every day is that he views the ability to work as a gift. He draws this concept from the Bhagavad Gita, and links it wonderfully to how we integrate our daily practice as our dharma.

He also gives a brief overview of the limbs of Ashtanga Yoga (the classical eight limbs from Patanjali Yoga Sutras). In subsequent texts, The Iyengar family asserts that Ashtanga Yoga is the ABCs of Yoga, and that the other forms like Hatha, Laya, Jnana etc. need a firm rooting in Asthanga Yoga before other forms can successfully be commenced.

In Light on Yoga, Iyengar also gives a brief overview of the obstacles on the path and how to overcome them based on the Patanjali Yoga Sutras. Iyengar had many obstacles that he overcame in his lifetime including childhood diseases, poverty, the early death of his wife, and two auto accidents just to name a few. He practiced Yoga up until he passed away last year at 95 years old.

Keep in mind that Iyengar Yoga style was not my first choice when I started Yoga. I went though many of the different systems until I have decided to pursue Iyengar as my path. Perhaps you may have another system of preference. But there is one common agreement among many practitioners is that the introduction of Light On Yoga is one of the classic passages.