After practicing yoga for over thirty years down in the big smoke we felt called to move back into nature into an environment ideal to go deeper into the higher limbs of yoga practice. The Vedas suggest that when one comes to the middle of ones life (around 50) to change ones mode of life and spend more time on spiritual practice in nature. This mode of life is called vanaprashtha (forest dweller). This same mode of life is suggested in many yogic texts. We took that quite literally and live now on a mountaintop surrounded by ancient rainforest. Living in nature inspires our practice greatly, which we can then share when we come back into the cities to teach workshops or retreats.

This blog will give you updates of what we are currently working on and it will give us the opportunity to stay in contact with the many people and students we have worked with throughout the last few decades. Of course if you want to post any questions, your mountaintop yogis will do their best to answer them.

Bound Half Lotus Forward Bend

Today unfortunately many students hurt their knees when performing postures and as the main culprit often the lotus and half-lotus postures are singled out. These postures, however, are completely safe as long as two things are observed:

They are attempted only if the student is well-prepared through the performance of other postures in which she is to become proficient first (ideally assessed by a capable teacher).
When lotus and half-lotus postures are performed scrupulous attention is paid to minor details concerning the way in which the leg is placed in and taken out of half-lotus.

Why neither asana nor meditation are enough

Have you ever noticed how even exulted meditative experiences can quickly decay into tamasic (dull) or rajasic (frantic) states of mind? This is because your predominant conditioning (vasana) consisting of millions of subconscious imprints (samskaras) does not simply go away by you thinking good thoughts or superimposing a layer of meditative experiences onto it.

Forward Bending/ Pashimottanasana

I still find that the basics of forward bending are often poorly understood. Especially the importance of sacrum nutation and active release in forward bending are frequently ignored. Let’s have another look at Pashimottanasana:

How Does One Become Firmly Established in Practice?

Practising with devotion also means that our practice is performed with an attitude of prayer. Asana practice truly should be prayer-in-motion. Once we become aware of the fact that our life is nothing but a cosmic intelligence enacting itself through. With this awareness then we can surrender to the breath and find that the breath moves us and that we enact neither breath nor movement.

Karandavasana

In this article I have described Karandavasana in a way that it can be learned without a teacher lifting us up from the floor. While this may provide good exercise for the teacher I don’t think that it does much towards the student being able to perform the posture themselves. The key is to no not let it get to the point were you fall down to the floor and then can’t lift up anymore. Instead of that stop right before you would loose your composure, hold it there for a few breaths and then pull up before you fall down. By practising this daily this “point of no return” can then be gradually lowered.

I.12 The Suspension of Thought Waves is through Practice and Disidentification.

Patanjali says here that the mind waves will cease through the application of the combined means of practice and disidentification. The important word here is ‘and’, since the application of only one of the two leads into extremes of the mind. If we practise only, then we tend to develop beliefs like ‘Our practice is the only correct practice’, ‘Only Ashtanga Yoga is the correct yoga’, ‘Only Mysore style is the correct form for a yoga class’,…

The Secret of Vinyasas

The secret to being able to jump through in a vinyasa is not in the ability to jump but in the ability to brake! Everyone can jump. In fact you hold yourself back from jumping if you do not have the strength to brake your jump. Your body inherently knows if you do or do not have that strength and will even override your conscious attempts to jump in order to protect you. Luckily! How brilliant is that?!

Pincha Mayurasana

With Pincha Mayurasana starts the strength section of the Intermediate Series of Ashtanga Yoga. This first posture focuses on stabilizing of the shoulderblades (scapula).

Contraindication:

In case of an existing shoulder injury, jumping out of the posture (vinyasa nine) may need to be modified.

The Two Meanings of the Term “Yoga”

The term “yoga” etymologically can be derived from two different Sanskrit roots. Each root assigns completely different meanings to the term. One of the meanings is predominantly used in the system of Vedanta, the other in the historical school of yoga, called Yoga Darshana. But which meaning is the one that the school of yoga assigns to its own name?

Core Sequencing

A common cause of low back pain is when our deep core muscles do not fire before we actually move our trunk or limbs. This can easily happen from prolonged sitting, from too many forward bend postures or even after an episode of low back pain, where the hip flexor muscles override the stabilising role of the deep transverse abdominis muscle.