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October 01, 2005

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Simply Shiva


Shiva Rea takes advantage of the Estes beauty and takes her class outside for meditation practice.

See video of Shiva answering the question "How do you keep your practice fresh?"

morning sadhana

night sky.jpgThere is always something magical about waking at 3:45 a.m. for morning sadhana. Walking under a starry sky through the early morning stillness feels sacred and peaceful.

I was grateful this morning to see more than 30 yogis from many different yogic traditions come together with the universal intention to connect with the soul. It served as a good reminder that we may choose different paths, but we're all headed in the same direction.

By the time we finished our meditation, yoga, and chanting, the morning sky was dimly lit as the sun started to creep over the mountains. I walked to breakfast, grateful to have met the most challenging task of the day.

May your day be joyful.

September 30, 2005

Jivamukti Yoga: Living Liberation

This morning I practiced in class with David Life and Sharon Gannon. As founders of Jivamukti Yoga they are well-known for their unique medthod of practice which focuses on teaching and practicing yoga as a means to enlightenment.

They are very earth-centered and speak of getting and giving energy to the earth through the practice of asana, and they are very outspoken on the importance of vegetarian diets and the need to respect all creatures.

The class opened and ended with chanting which brought us into a place of community and concious intention.

Here are the chants...

Continue reading "Jivamukti Yoga: Living Liberation" »

September 29, 2005

Beginners' Wisdom by Kathryn Arnold

julie.jpgIn the process of creating each issue of Yoga Journal, I read Julie Gudmestad's (http://www.gudmestadyoga.com) column on anatomy. Each of her articles focuses on a specific part of the anatomy and how it moves in yoga poses and how certain poses effect parts of the anatomy. So over the years I've gotten an education in anatomy from reading Julie's articles. But it wasn't until I took her Yoga Anatomy 101 course in the Beginners' Conference that I got the whole picture. I hadn't realized how disjointed (no pun intended!) my view of the body was until I heard Julie describe the relationships between the various muscles, bones, and ligaments that constitute our skeletal bodies.

I'm someone who suffers from low back pain, so I practice Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) regularly. Today I learned from Julie that it's very common to overly contract the gluts in Bridge Pose, which inhibits movement of the tailbone in the pose. Splayed knees are a sign that this is happening. This is exactly my challenge. To correct Julie suggested pressing down through the big toes, which forces the inner thighs to work and the gluts to release. I often practice the pose with a belt around my thighs to keep my knees from splaying, but I never understood until now that I was improperly using this tool. I was using it as a crutch instead of an aid to help me find the action my inner thighs. Practicing Julie's way has helped me find much more space in the pose than ever before. Thank you Julie!

September 27, 2005

Iyengar Intensive Pranayama

On Tuesday morning, Mr. Iyengar concluded the class session with a talk on pranayama.

"We do pranayama to store prana [energy]," he said. Primarily, we store it in the trunk, especially in the upper chest, the area at the top of the breast below the clavicles. And one of the touchstones of a proper pranayama practice is the softness of the skin at the temples. "The temple is the door to go inside the mind," Guruji said. "Soft temples are necessary for meditation. Meditation is passive reflection. And pranayama is half way to meditation! It is the gate to come closer to the self."

Guruji told us that one key to pranayama is properly lifting the spine--not by lifting the top of the sacrum into the body as many people have been taught, but by a much subtler movement: a gentle lift of the anterior spine that begins with the anterior surface of the tailbone.

Mr. Iyengar went on to compare the three parts of the breath--inhalation, retention, and exhalation--to the triune godhead of Brahma the originator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. As we inhale, the breath touches the atman, the self or soul, and moves it from the core of the body toward the surface, toward meeting the outer world. In the kumbhaka--the retention--the self is held in contact with the inner surface of the body. (When this contact recedes, Guruji said, you are no longer doing kumbhaka pranyama; you're merely holding your breath.) Finally, in exhalation, the body follows the self back toward the core.

"The spiritual value of pranayama is not [measured by] the length of the three segments of the breath," Guruji told us. What is important in pranayama is not the length and depth of the breath, but the contact between the body and the soul.


In the afternoon pranayama session, Manouso Manos elaborated in great detail on Guruji's instruction. He explained how instead of the harsher action of lifting the spine from the back body, which shifts us onto the front edge of our sitting bones, we should instead slighty increase the natural curl of the tailbone by drawing its front surface slightly back. "How big is this movement?" he said. "An eigth of an inch, a sixteenth of an inch, a fingernail."


But this tiny movement can help us find a perfect balance on the exact middle of the sitting bones. And this in turn creates a foundation that sets up the posture in which true pranayama can occur. When we get this posture just right, Manouso said, we realize that pranayama is not something we make happen, but something that we allow to occur naturally.

Beginners' Wisdom by Kathryn Arnold

Even though I've been practicing yoga for 30 years, I still consider myself a beginner. So today I sat in on the beginners' conference with Judith Hanson Lasater. Judith has an amazing ability to put me totally at ease in my body. Instead of expecting students to conform to her concept of an asana (pose), she asks us to think of her as a "consultant." She urges us to see for ourselves whether her suggestions are true for our bodies. But more than that, she sets me mentally at ease by interweaving humor and wisdom with detailed asana instruction. I left feeling like I had done more than asana: I had done true yoga. During class I jotted down these dharma nuggets of Judith's to share with fellow yoga bloggers.

Continue reading "Beginners' Wisdom by Kathryn Arnold" »

September 24, 2005

Patricia Walden

For Patricia Walden, yoga is a path of transformation and joyful awakenings. Renowned for her international retreats, teacher trainings, and workshops, she is one of only two Americans to hold a senior advanced teaching certificate in the Iyengar yoga method. She was cited by the Yoga Journal as one of the "25 American Yoga Originals who are shaping yoga today", and she was featured in Time magazine for her work with yoga and healing. Patricia has a special interest in yoga for women and yoga for depression.

Mary Taylor

Mary Taylor an avid student of yoga and meditation since 1981, has been involved in the culinary profession for 28 years. She trained at L'Ecôle Des Trois Gourmandes in Paris and is the author of three vegetarian cookbooks. She co-authored the book What Are You Hungry For? with Lynn Ginsburg and is a frequent contributor to the “Eating Wisely? column in Yoga Journal.

David Swenson

David Swenson began practicing yoga in 1969 and made his first trip to Mysore in 1977, where he learned the full Ashtanga system as taught by K. Pattabhi Jois. He is one of the world’s foremost practitioners and instructors of Ashtanga Yoga, and has produced numerous videos, DVDs, and the book Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual.

Rod Stryker

Rod Stryker has taught Tantra, hatha, and Yogananda’s kriya yoga for more than 20 years. In addition to leading trainings and retreats worldwide, Rod specializes in the art of personalizing yoga and meditation practices for individuals. He lives in Los Angeles.

Mary Bischof Stoede

Mary Bischof Stoede has been a certified Pilates instructor for 11 years and is currently on the Pilated Center’s teacher training staff in Boulder, CO. She is also co-owner of the Moving Center Pilates School.

John Schumacher

John Schumacher founded Unity Woods Yoga Center, the largest Iyengar center in the United States. He has practiced yoga for more than 30 years and taught in the Washington, D.C., area since 1973. A longtime student of B.K.S. Iyengar, John is a senior certified Iyengar teacher.

Desiree Rumbaugh

Desiree Rumbaugh is co-owner of Arizona Yoga and has been teaching yoga for more than 15 years. A senior certified teacher studying with John Friend, Desiree is the leader of global workshops and retreats that celebrate the transformational healing power of Anusara Yoga.

Natasha Rizopoulos

Natasha Rizopoulos, who is the featured teacher in the video series Yoga Journal's Yoga Step-by-Step, has been teaching at Yoga Works in Santa Monica, CA since 1997. Her primary practice is Ashtanga, which she studied in Mysore, India, with K. Pattabhi Jois. Natasha has also appeared in magazines, on TV and in the photography book Yoga: A Yoga Journal Book.

Shiva Rea

Shiva Rea explores the art of yoga in practical, creative and life transforming ways. She is known for bringing the roots of yoga alive for modern practitioners through the integration of movement meditation, yogic philosophy and art, nature's vitality, and spontaneous humor and joy. She is a leading teacher of vinyasa flow yoga worldwide, writes for Yoga Journal, and is the author of home practice CD's, videos, and DVD’s.

Sarah Powers

Sarah Powers blends the insights and practices of yoga and Buddhism. She incorporates both a Yin style of holding poses and a Vinyasa style of moving with the breath, blending essential aspects of the Iyengar, Ashtanga, and Viniyoga traditions. Sarah has been a student of Buddhism in both Asia and the United States. She lives in Marin County, CA.

Elise Miller

Elise Miller is a Senior Certified Iyengar Yoga teacher who has been teaching yoga since 1976. As a founding director of the California Yoga Center in Mountain View, CA, Elise teaches classes and workshops specializing in back and sports-related injuries. She is a faculty member at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco and has published numerous articles on scoliosis and other yoga-related subjects in Yoga Journal and other national magazines.

Manuso Manos

Manouso Manos, one of the most senior Iyengar Yoga teachers in the United States, has traveled to Pune, India for over 25 years to study with B.K.S. Iyengar. His understanding of the body, skill in therapeutics, and energetic and motivational teaching style provide both a challenging and energizing experience for his students.

David Life

David Life is cofounder of the Jivamukti Yoga method, which integrates asana practice with an ethical lifestyle focused on attaining enlightenment through compassion for all beings. Coauthor of Jivamukti Yoga and The Art of Yoga, David also codirects the Jivamukti Yoga Center in New York with Sharon Gannon and is a renowned teacher of yoga around the world.

Judith Hanson Lasater

Judith Hanson Lasater holds a Ph.D. in East-West psychology and is a physical therapist who has taught yoga since 1971. One of the founders of Yoga Journal, Judith is also president of the California Yoga Teachers’ Association and the author of Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life. She lives in San Francisco.

Gary Kraftsow

Gary Kraftsow is the founder and director of the American Viniyoga Institute on Maui. He began his study of yoga with T.K.V. Desikachar in 1974, and two years later, he started teaching yoga and practicing yoga therapy. Since 1980, Gary has been a teacher trainer in the Viniyoga lineage. His second book, Yoga for Transformation, was published in 2002.

Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa

Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa is cofounder and director of Golden Bridge in Los Angeles, where she teaches Kundalini yoga and meditation. A yoga teacher for 32 years, she is the author of The Eight Human Talents: The Yogic Way to Restore the Natural Balance and Serenity Within You and the video Kundalini Yoga with Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa.

Lynn Ginsburg

Lynn Ginsburg has been a student of Hinduism and Buddhism since 1983, incorporating both traditions into her writing on yoga, holistic nutrition, and alternative health. She co-authored the book What Are You Hungry For? with Mary Taylor and is a frequent contributor to Yoga Journal’s “Eating Wisely? column.

Sharon Gannon

Sharon Gannon is cofounder of the Jivamukti Yoga method, which integrates asana practice with an ethical lifestyle focused on attaining enlightenment through compassion for all beings, and codirects the Jivamukti Yoga Center in New York with David Life. She is also the author of Cats and Dogs Are People Too, Jivamukti Yoga, and The Art of Yoga.

Richard Freeman

Richard Freeman began the practice of yoga asana and meditation in 1968 and found an integrative vision in the Ashtanga vinyasa yoga of K. Pattabhi Jois. His teaching style is unique in that it continuously restructures and reframes the biomechanical and perceptual forms of the asanas and movements. Richard is the founder and director of the Yoga Workshop in Boulder, CO.

Ana Forrest

Ana Forrest has been teaching yoga since 1974 and is the creator of Forrest Yoga®, a powerful and intensely mindful yoga practice that teaches students to awaken, heal, and strengthen both body and spirit. She is recognized worldwide as a pioneer in yoga & emotional healing and founder of Forrest Yoga Circle in Santa Monica, CA.

Mary Dunn

Mary Dunn has been practicing yoga under the guidance of B.K.S. Iyengar since 1974. Her passion for the subject, her teaching skill, and her care for her students have made her a pivotal force in the establishment of Iyengar Yoga communities throughout the United States. Mary teaches at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of New York and leads trainings and workshops worldwide.

Dr. John Douillard

Dr. John Douillard is author of Body, Mind, and Sport and The Encyclopedia of Ayurvedic Massage. He co-directed Deepak Chopra’s health center for eight years, and is currently the director of LifeSpa, an Ayurvedic health center and school in Boulder, CO.

Krishna Das

Krishna Das, who leads chanting sessions and workshops around the world, has released many audio and video recordings, including CDs on the Triloka/Karuna label: One Track Heart, Pilgrim Heart, Live on Earth, and Breath of the Heart, Door of Faith, and Greatest Hits of the Kali Yuga.

Seane Corn

Seane Corn has devoted more than 16 years to various healing modalities, including yoga, meditation, psychospiritual therapies, and sacred ritual. In 2000, she created the yoga program for Children of the Night, a shelter for adolescent prostitutes. Seane is the resident yoga expert for www.myss.com, Dr. Caroline Myss’s Web site, and has recently released her first video, Vinyasa Flow Yoga: Uniting Movement and Breath.

Baron Baptiste

Baron Baptiste has studied yoga and meditation since childhood—his parents opened San Francisco's first yoga center 60 years ago. The best-selling author of Journey into Power and 40 Days to Personal Revolution, Baron is also the owner-director of two Baptiste Power Yoga Institutes in Massachusetts.

Cyndi Lee

Cyndi Lee,director of OM Yoga Center, practices both hatha yoga and Tibetan Buddhism. A yoga teacher for more than 20 years, Cyndi is the author and artist of the best-selling OM Yoga in a Box series as well as Yoga: A Guide to Daily Practice and Yoga Body, Buddha Mind.

Ike Lasater

Ike Lasater draws inspiration from his intensive study of nonviolent communication with Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, more than three decades of yoga practice, 20 years of law practice, his daily practice of yoga, Zen meditation and aikido, his marriage to Judith Hanson Lasater, and their three children.

September 21, 2005

Welcome to Virtual Estes Park

We're delighted to welcome you to our Estes Park blog. It is fitting that YogaJounal.com's inaugural blogging venture is one that commemorates our 10th Annual Estes Park Yoga Journal Conference.

Our blog team's coverage will include highlights of events and classes at the conference, including the highly anticipated presence of Sri B.K.S. Iyengar-the man whose work has defined yoga in the West.

Whether you tune in from home or from the conference, during or after the event, we are confident that our blog will bring you the community connection, information, and daily inspiration necessary to keep your practice strong.

John Abbott, CEO



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