INSPIRATION OF THE MONTH - May 2018
For those of you who didn't know, every month Sukha Mukha Yoga focuses on a theme. We explore it by incorporating it in our classes and our daily lives. During May we will look at The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and focus specifically on Chapter 4: The Portion On Absoluteness; Kaivalya Pada.
In this chapter Patanjali talks about absoluteness. The root of Kaivalya is kerala, which means without qualities or conditions, that which is cosmic. The one who had the quality of kerala is called kaivalya. It's an experience of absoluteness, unlimitedness.
This chapter explains how the mind is constructed and veils the inner light of the Self. It describes how the yogi deals with the natural breaches in enlightenment, and how the primal building blocks of the mind resolve back into their cause, allowing final liberation.
The fourth chapter of the Yoga Sutras is entitled Kaivalya Pada. The word Kaivalya literally translates as “isolation.” It is usually taken to mean liberation or enlightenment. However, the way in which “isolation” is a quite effective term is that pure consciousness is now standing alone, separate from all of the manifestations of prakriti, including literally all of the manifestations or swirlings of all levels of the mind field.
In Sutra 1.16 supreme non-attachment is mentioned as a stage beyond the many other levels of attachment. Sutra 4.32 explains how the primary elements called gunas have finished their purpose and recede in perfect equilibrium into that from which they arose. These are aspects or by products of the process of the isolation (kaivalya) of pure consciousness (purusha).
Jump to Inspiration of the month:
As Part of the Inspiration of the month, our teacher, Dana Amir has written a piece concentrating on Patanjali's Yoga Sutra 2.46: the physical postures are meant to contain two seemingly opposite qualities, sthira and sukha; steadiness and ease.
I remember hearing that sutra for the first time. “How can I be at ease and steady at the same time?” I thought to myself… “They are opposites!” I took it as an intension to try and embrace the opposites in my physical practice and learn to trust it. Just by listening carefully to the instructions given to me in class: “left side, right side. Inhale, exhale. Expand, contract. Warm up, cool down…” I realised how so many opposites are already incorporated in our practice and how we just do it, without asking questions, we trust it. Even the word: Hatha (the style I was practicing) - can be translated as ha meaning, "sun" and tha, meaning "moon." This refers to the balance of masculine aspects: active, hot, sun and feminine aspects: receptive, cool, moon, within all of us. Hatha yoga is a path toward creating balance and uniting opposites.
Revolved Triangle Pose - Parivrtta Trikonasana
The pose is a great one to try when you need to spice up your practice. It's heating, cleansing, and invigorating. Make sure your hamstrings, spine
and shoulders are nicely warmed up before you start, and that you have a block nearby.
Some of the benefits of this pose are:
Strengthens and stretches the legs
Stretches the hips and spine
Opens the chest to improve breathing
Relieves mild back pain
Stimulates the abdominal organs
Improves sense of balance
Use this pose for flexibility, strength, to build heat and as a cleansing tool. Revolved Triangle Pose is a grounding and energising pose.
Caution: If you have a back or spine injury perform this pose only with the supervision of an experienced teacher or avoid it altogether.
Tip: A partner can help you stabilize and align this position and get a better feel for the twist.
One of the most common problems in this pose is the inability to keep the back heel grounded, which makes the pose very unstable.
There are various ways to deal with the back heel. First, of course, you can just accept the situation and work diligently to press through the heel (and open the back-leg groin) even though it's off the floor.
Second, you can perform the pose with your back heel wedged against a wall, which gives you something to push into. Or finally, you can raise the back heel on a lift and, over time, work to gradually lower the lift until the heel stays on the floor.
You can also place a block on the inside of your front foot so you can improve balance and open up your shoulder to the sky.
1. Begin in Mountain Pose with your feet hip-distance apart. Step your left foot behind you to about 3 to 4 feet and release your left heel to the ground. Adjust your feet as needed so the heels of your front and back feet are aligned.
2. Place your right hand on your right hip and inhale to lift your left arm to the sky. Draw your right hip back as you reach forward with your left hand. Twist over and down toward your right foot. Place a block on the outside of your right foot and adjust it to any height you need, then place your left hand flat on the block. (If this is too uncomfortable, move the block to the inside of your right foot instead.)
3. Rotate your chest and torso to the right, opening your right shoulder toward the sky as you draw your right hip back. Reach your right arm straight up in line with your left and look up. If this hurts your neck, look down at the ground instead.
4. Stay here for 5 breaths, inhaling to release a little and exhaling to twist deeper from your navel.
5. Press down into your feet to rise up to stand and step forward into Mountain Pose before switching to your feet.
Taken from 'Yoga, Body & Mind' by Jasmine Tarkeshi
Kapalbhati Pranayama - Skull Shining Breathing Technique
Kapalabhati is a traditional internal cleansing technique and detoxifies all the systems in our body. And the obvious sign of a healthy body is a shining forehead which can be obtained with regular practice of this pranayama. A forehead that glows not just from the outside but also an intellect that becomes sharp and refined.
Kapalbhati Breath Instructions:
The guidance of a teacher is always recommended.
If you ever feel unwell or dizzy - stop the practice immediately.
These practices are to be done moderately and with much observation, as they are extremely powerful.
Come to a comfortable seated position, spine long.
Place your hands on your knees, palms up or down.
Take a deep breath in.
As you exhale, pull your stomach.
Pull your navel in back towards the spine.
Do as much as you comfortably can. You may keep your right hand on the stomach to feel the abdominal muscles contract. Pull the navel in.
As you relax the navel and abdomen, the breath flows into your lungs automatically.
Take 20 such breaths to complete one round of Kapal Bhati pranayama.
After completing the round, relax with your eyes closed and observe the sensations in your body.
Do two more rounds of Skull Shining breathing technique (Kapal Bhati pranayama).
Benefits of Kapalbhati Breath
Effective in reducing weight by increasing the metabolic rate
Clears the nadis (subtle energy channels)
Stimulates abdominal organs and thus is extremely useful to those with diabetes
Improves blood circulation and adds radiance to the face
Improves digestive tract functioning, absorption and assimilation of nutrients
Results in a taut and trimmed down belly
Energizes the nervous system and rejuvenates brain cells
Calms and uplifts the mind
Avoid practicing this breathing technique if you have an artificial pacemaker or stents, backache due to slip disc, recently went through an abdominal surgery, or are suffering with epilepsy or hernia.
Women should not practice Skull Shining breathing technique (Kapal Bhati pranayama) during and shortly after pregnancy, as well as during menstruation as it involves vigorous abdominal squeezes.
People with hypertension and heart problems should practice this breathing techniqueunder a yoga expert's guidance.