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.

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.

Leg-behind-head postures: importance and warm-ups

Leg-behind-head postures are some of the most important, effective and beneficial yoga postures. They open the hip joints, a work that will continue later on through the extreme hip rotations. This process is essential in releasing life force from its reservoir at the base of the spine, it’s ascent leading to divine involution.

Leg-behind-head postures are also instrumental in developing the organs of the thoracic cavity, viz the heart and the lungs through producing a strong oscillation of intrathoracic pneumatic pressure and the weight that they make the ribcage strong and supple through weight and pressure that they apply. […]

What Are We Stretching?

There seems to be a lot of confusion around stretching and I am often asked the questions, “What are we actually stretching?”, “Are we stretching muscle or fascia?” and “Should we stretch ligaments?”. One important principle we first need to understand is that stretching will be a different experience depending on your degree of mobility.

Rotation pattern of the Primary Series

The term rotation in this article refers to the rotation of the thighbone (femur) in the acetabulum of the hip joint. These actions are important to keep your knees and hip joints healthy and in the long term to open the hip joints so that lengthy sitting in Padmasana and similar postures becomes possible.

Kapotasana

During my recent workshops I noticed that there is still a lot of confusion about the importance of nutating the sacroiliac joints in various forms of back-bending (but also in forward bending). Here is a modified passage from my 2009 text Ashtanga Yoga The Intermediate Series that sheds light on sacrum nutation during Kapotasana. This is something that any natural backbender will do automatically but even if you do not belong to this group, the actions can be induced by understanding and learning. This will improve your backbend significantly. This passage is shortened as the original has over 5500 words.

Natural Breathing – What is it?

Our breath represents life and is the basic movement pattern that enables us to exist and experience. Just as breathing is our most primal, natural movement pattern, so is dysfunctional breathing our most significant aberrant movement pattern. Our primary muscle of respiration, the thoracic diaphragm, is central to our functional core. Its ability to move freely has far reaching consequences on our health from posture, to movement, to spinal stability and visceral function as well as mental health and wellbeing.

Getting the most out of Baddha Konasana

In previous posts I have written on the importance of Padmasana (lotus posture) and how the right actions needed for this posture have to be imprinted in Janushirshasana A. Today we are connecting the dots. This new post implements the lessons learned in Janushirshasana while performing Baddha Konasana, which then prepares us for Padmasana.