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How 4 fearless women changed yogas destiny

I N T E R N A T I O N A L

healthy
heart guide
Bust the cholesterol myth
27 yoga and diet tips

Just BREATHE
Techniques to curb
your emotions

Yoga in the
Middle East
Upward Dog:
Roger Cole
has your back
A little help
from an unusual prop

WINTER 2012-13

THE MAGAZINE OF THE HIMALAYAN INSTITUTE

YOGAINTERNATIONAL.COM

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CONTENTS

WINTER 12-13
YOGA INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE . ISSUE 120

ON THE COVER

FEATURES

40

A Balancing Act

46

The Heart of the Matter

54

In Loving Gratitude

Becoming aware of and regulating our breath


helps us achieve a note of harmony between the
body and the mind. By Rolf Sovik

Yoga as we practice it today would not be possible without the


vision and determination of four women who forever altered
the yoga landscape for us all. By Anna Dubrovsky

Cover Photo: Yoga teacher Karina Mirsky, photographed by


Jim Filipski/Guy Cali Associates. Stylist: Jessica Metcalf;
Wardrobe: Top by Vyana Yoga, Bottoms by K. D. Dance

Heidi van der Westhuizen / istockphoto.com

It now appears that inflammation, not high cholesterol, may


cause heart disease. Yoga, meditation, and a diet rich in good
fats and antioxidants can help prevent it. By James Keough

DEPARTMENTS
66 Total Health
Cool the Fire of Heartburn | Try these

9 Yoga Threads

Timothy McCall, MD, blends yoga and


modern medicine; give your kidneys a
little love; yoga and the vagus nerve; in
season with pomegranates; and more
22 Everyday Ayurveda
Tis the Season | By Kathryn Templeton

natural remedies that can soothe and heal


acid reflux. | By Carrie Demers, MD
70 In Practice
A Little Help from an Unusual Ally |

Improve your balance and alignment with


a long wooden dowel. By Cora Wen
74 Living Yoga

24 Conscious Kitchen
Eating in Season | Hearty, warming

foods will keep your body in balance all


winter long. By Lauren Piscopo

Thief in the Night | The inability to

believe in ourselves can rob us of our true


potential. By Irene Petryszak
76 Yoga Basics

28 Points of Practice

Dance of the Gunas | The three es-

The Company You Keep | In order to

sential aspects of nature support and


enhance our yoga practice on and off the
mat. By Cyndi Lee

tackle the Herculean task of spiritual


growth, you need the counsel of the wise.
By Sandra Anderson
30 Skillful Action
There When It Matters | A once-a-week

80 Asana Solutions
Raise Your Dog | Elevate your hands in

(maybe) practitioner reflects on yogas


restorative powers. By Sonya Elliott

upward-facing dog pose to protect your


lower back, then gradually bring the
asana back to earth. By Roger Cole

32 Art of Asana

86 World of Yoga

The Journey Inward | By systematically

Yoga Comes to Lebanon | Asana and

turning inward and tuning out the external world, we can learn to appreciate and
participate in our lives much more fully.

meditation offer a means of transformation during challenging times.


By Moutassem Hammour

By Christina Sell
90 Books & Media
38 Inner Quest
The End of the World | By choosing

The best new releases for lasting


inspiration.

compassion over fear, we can preserve the


world for future generations.

96 Contemplation

By Pandit Rajmani Tigunait

Like Barley Bending | By Sara Teasdale

62 Yoga Sutra 2.26


True Discernment | Translation and
commentary by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait

EDITORSNOTE

I lingered over tea and talked about what we had


experienced in that 90-minute session. The overarching theme of the practice had been connection, and each of us came away with a different
understanding of what that meant.
Susan, a long-distance runner new to yoga,
noticed an almost immediate release of her hamstrings when she relaxed into a forward bend
instead of straining and pushing. Shed had no
idea that the way she breathed could affect her
muscles. Carolyn felt an instant connection with
the others in the room and said the were-all-inthis-together energy enlivened her practice and
gave her more confidence. And Joseph wasnt
so sure he liked the emotions that surfaced so
strongly when he relaxed into shavasana.
The conversation stayed with me after we
went our separate ways that morning. Yoga is
indeed about connection. After all, the word in
Sanskrit means to join or to yoke, in the
sense of consciously directing two apparently
disparate things to come together. This connection happens, as everything does in yoga, in
both internal and external ways. Our muscles
respond, as Susan discovered, when our breath
joins in and encourages them to relax. Our emotions surface from their hiding places when our
minds, riding the waves of the inhalations and
exhalations, disentangle from our thoughts. As

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

Linda Sparrowe, editor in chief


editor@yogainternational.com

IN MEMORIAM
Georg Feuerstein
The yoga world lost
a true friend and tireless champion when
Georg Feuerstein died
August 25, with his beloved wife, Brenda, at
his side, in their southern Saskatchewan
home. Georg was an
indefatigable writer,
penning more than 30
books on yoga philosophy, tantra, and Hinduism, including Tantra: Path of Ecstasy;
The Deeper Dimension
of Yoga; and The Path
of Yoga: An Essential
Guide to Its Principles
and Practices.
After more than
two decades in the
United States, Georg
moved with Brenda to
Canada and set up the
Traditional Yoga Studies center, where they
passionately worked to
bring the ancient yoga
teachings to bear on
current environmental
and social concerns.
Brenda will continue
his work and has
set up a scholarship
in Georgs name to
support incarcerated
practitioners. Go to
traditionalyogastudies
.com for details.

Photo: Bill Knoepfel / Guy Cali Associates; Stylist: Jessica Metcalf; Wardrobe: Top by Prancing Leopard

Connecting the Dots

Joseph noticed, this happened when the various


parts of him coalescedthe mind was no longer
caught up in outside pursuits, the body came to
rest, and the breath was engaged.
This intraconnection between the breath and
our muscles, between the breath and our emotions, can temper physiological responses that
affect our health. Working consciously to allow
the breath to be more even, smoother, deeper,
and quieter is the key.
As Jim Keough notes in The Heart of the
Matter (page 46), a restorative practicewhich
allows the whole body to rest and the breath to
be calm and steadycan have a profound effect
on our blood pressure, and even lessen our risk
of heart disease. Rolf Sovik in A Balancing Act
(page 40) reminds us that emotional reactions
register in the breath in subtle ways, and by
becoming conscious of the breath in meditation,
we can witness these changes, recognize their
importance, and slowly quiet them.
Connection also happens between our inner
and outer worlds. As Sovik says, The substance
and content of worldly life is grounded in us.
We internalize our external experience, and the
emotional response we have to itjoy, sorrow,
pain, feartransforms our breath. Sovik goes
on to show us ways we can awaken the healing
power of our breath and restore inner balance.
When we feel balanced within ourselves, we
can experience more deeply the interconnectedness with the rest of the world. Yoga reminds us
that were a part of something much larger than
ourselves. Generations of teachersexalted yogis and everyday instructorsmade it possible
for us to use these techniques to heal our bodies
and emotions and to share the profound gifts
of yoga with others in creative ways. Anna
Dubrovskys article, In Loving Gratitude
(page 54), profiles four such women pioneers.
After you read it, e-mail me. Id love to know
who the elder teachers are in your own life that
inform your practice and enrich your life. n

CONTRIBUTORS
Yoga was the catalyst for a complete overhaul of my career,
says
in 2006 and now make my living writing about yoga and other
topics that interest melucky me! And shes busier than ever
now, having become a new mom at the end of 2011. Anna has
practiced yoga for 10 years, studying with T.K.V. Desikachar
in India and Erich Schiffmann in LA. Her feature article, In
Loving Gratitude (page 54), honors four women who helped
bring yoga to the West: Indra Devi, Swami Sivananda Radha,
Lilias Folan, and Geeta Iyengar.

winter 2012-13 issue 120


founder
Swami Rama

editor in chief
Linda Sparrowe

managing editor
Sarah Kent

{ editorial staff }
senior editors Sandra Anderson,

Irene Petryszak

magazine, where each dish was either an aphrodisiac or part of a


trendy diet. She eventually became editor in chief of Natural Solutions, a magazine dedicated to the healing benefits of whole foods
and green living. In this issues Conscious Kitchen (page 24),
Lauren explores why eating a mostly vegetarian diet left her with
no energyall winter. I knew I was out of sorts when I craved
a burgerI havent eaten meat since the 80s, she says. Lauren
shares the advice (and recipes) she got from ayurvedic expert
John Douillard, DC, in her hometown of Boulder, Colorado.

assistant editor Constance Molleda


web editor Dakota Sexton
editorial assistants Dulma Altan,

Keith Belcher, Elizabeth Emer, Rusty Moore


contributing editors Carrie Demers, MD;

Anna Dubrovsky; Isabelle Glover; Kate Hanley;


James Keough; Lauren Piscopo; Christina Sell

{ art }
visual coordinator Jeanette Robertson
creative director Jacqueline Bogdan
design associate Darlene Clark
design consultants Janet Cerretani,

Barbara Gerhardt

Institute for a year of residential study when he


was 28and never really left. That very long
year of study encompassed academic work in
Sanskrit, Eastern studies, and clinical psychology, and spiritual work with Swami Rama, Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, and Dr. Usharbudh Arya.
Even with his broad training, Rolf describes the
Yoga Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita as the core
of his practice. In this months feature, A Balancing Act (page 40), Rolf explores breathing
from a physical and emotional perspective. After
running the Himalayan Institute branch center
in Buffalo, New York, for 21 years, Rolf and
his wife, Mary Gail, have recently moved to the
headquarters in Honesdale, Pennsylvania.

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

{ editorial board }
Rolf Sovik, PsyD
Rod Stryker
Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD
Deborah Willoughby

{ patrons }
Dada Doulatram Boolchand
Ramesh Daryanani
Harshadbhai Desai
Beverly Foit-Albert
Indru Malkani
Manu Sawilani

{ business office }
managing director Greg Capitolo
business manager Stephen Moulton
circulation manager Laura Brownell

{ advertising }
Goodfellow Publishers Reps.
510-548-1680
Deena E. Brown, ext. 305
YI@gpr4ads.com
Nicole Simons, 570-647-1451

{ subscriptions }
Phone 800-253-6243, ext. 4
E-mail subscriptions@yogainternational.com
yogainternational.com/subscribe
Published by the Himalayan Institute

Photos, from top: Emily Davis Photography / emilydavisphotography.com; Joe Hancock; Jack Walshe; Andrea Killam

from her hectic corporate lifestyle. She got that, and a whole lot
more. I was hooked at shavasana and became a yoga nut, going
to thirty-seven yoga workshops in the first year and practicing
six hours a day! Wen, who grew up in China, says her yoga
practice has deepened and evolved, helping her reconnect with
her Buddhist roots. She is currently working on the Yoga Bloom
Advanced Teacher Training program; she shares some of her innovative techniques in this issues In Practice column (page 70).

production coordinator Nita Eckert


photo editor Loreda Everett

MAIL

Your reflections on YI covers, homeopathic first aid, and funky yoga pants

Not Just Another Pretty Face


I AM A LONG-TIME STUDENT of Swami Ramas and studied with him in Minneapolis, when he first arrived in this country. His teaching has had a major influence
on my life. I wouldnt even know how to begin to describe it. I think I am an old fogy
when it comes to yoga, but I expected there to be more choices in your Fall 2012 cover surveyyou know, some kind of cover photo with real integrity? But, alas, just another boring model that illustrates the Hollywood version of yogaa girl in tights photoshopped to
perfection. Why dont you choose something that speaks to the heart of yoga? I suppose what
I was looking for were photographs of more traditional yoga gurus, although I do understand
those types of photos wouldnt necessarily sell magazines. Swami Rama had quite a sense of
humor and would probably be pleased that you are doing your best to follow traditional yoga
ways as much as possible in this modern, crazy yoga time. Keep up the good work!

We asked our Facebook fans:


What motivates you to keep a
daily yoga practice?

Diana Wolfe | Stockton, California

Homeopathic First Aid Kit

to reassure everyone who wrote that our


Fall 2012 cover model is no ordinary model.
Giselle Mari is a naturally beautiful 41-yearold Jivamukti teacher who has a deep
spiritual practice, as well as a strong asana
practice. She teaches in the Bay Area.
Fully Cleansed

The cleanse (Everyday Ayurveda, Spring


2012) relieved all my digestive issues. I
ordered the kit, which turned out to be easy
since it gave me everything I needed. Ive
since incorporated many of the suggestions
about diet and lifestyle change. I absolutely
loved it and now use yoga in my life on a
more regular basis.
Thank you!

In Dr. Carrie Demers Total Health article


(Fall 2012), she recommended a homeopathic first aid kit. What are her recommendations for potency? Dorothy Crosh | via e-mail

Richard Cummings

Stephen Copes article, Gandhi and the


Gita (Fall 2012), states that by 1821
Gandhi knew that his
work in South Africa was
complete. The correct
date is 1921.

or 30x) are helpful and adequate for acute


problems like colds and flus, or injuries.

Breathing. Nathalie Dubaud

Funky Yoga Pants

On your Contents page of the Fall 2012


issue, there is a photo of a woman in black
pants and a small purple top jumping.
Where are the pants from, please?
Angelle St.Pierre | via e-mail

Model Shannon Paige was featured wearing a top and pants


from the Om Collection.
Find them and more online at
theomcollection.com.

We welcome your letters and comments. Send them to yi_mail@yogainternational.com or


YI Mail, 952 Bethany Turnpike, Honesdale, PA 18431. We may edit for length and clarity.

Its different every day! Sometimes,


the sheer need to move my body and
detox through sweat. Other times, its
the irresistible urge to drop into feeling
my body in a deep way. The beauty of
yoga = its versatility. Dulma Tara
The certainty that it makes me feel
good. Korinna Elisabet Bauer

Betty A. Aubin | via e-mail


Oops

SOCIAL MEDIA

Today is day 470 of my daily practice.


There is so much that motivates me:
the feeling when Im practicing, the
safety I feel on my mat, the presence
during my practiceits a commitment and a dedication to myself. I am
a mother who works full-time to support my family. I also teach yoga. My
daily practice is my me time and it is
so necessary. Dina Stewart
My well-being! Embracing health
physically, mentally, emotionally, and
spiritually! Michelle Pietrzak-Wegner
Leading my classes keeps me invested in a daily practice. Daily
practice ensures I move through the
poses with the awareness that students have come to depend on.
Diana Shellenberger

Like us on Facebook
(facebook.com/yimag).
Follow us on Twitter (@YI_Mag).

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

YOGATHREADS
Deepen your practice

+ Inspire your life

TIMOTHY MCCALL rests outside a small temple founded


by Shankaracharya in the state of Karnataka in SW India.

Asoka Narayanan / Courtesy of Timothy McCall

The Good Doctor


ably heard him answer: It depends. Not one to jump on the yoga-fixes-everything bandwagon, McCall approaches yoga
therapyhis chosen fieldwith respect, love, scientific inquiry, and a healthy dose of skepticism. After all, he was a doctor
long before he was a yoga teacher.
For more than 10 years, McCall practiced medicine as a primary care physician in Bostonuntil working in corporate health care
settings became unbearable. Once he could no longer spend time getting to know and educate his patientsthe greatest joy in his
clinical careerhe was ready to hang up his stethoscope. In fact, one night in 1997, he came home from work and had what he considers a life-changing epiphany. I remember thinking to myself, What if I dont do this anymore? What if I just write instead? Ten
minutes later he had made the decision to quit medicine, and within six months hed turned his part-time writing into a full-time job.
Just three years before that kitchen table revelation, McCall had taken up yoga and attributes his decision to quit medicineat
least in partto his yoga practice. Im not saying I quit practicing solely because of yoga, he says, but it may not be coincidental that I had that epiphany and acted on it so quickly. When you cultivate awareness, you start to realize things you might not
have realized before. >>
winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

A SNAPS Assessment
No matter what your physical challenge, a yoga therapist assesses five
categories before offering you an
individual treatment plan.
1 Structural. Your postural habits;
bony alignment, including spinal
curves; patterns of muscular overwork and weakness; asymmetries
2 Nervous System. Your stress
levels, sympathetic and parasympathetic systems, heart rate
variability, breathing patterns, and
prana vayus
3 Ayurveda. Your nature (prakriti)
and current doshic imbalances (vikriti), digestive fire (agni), etc.
4 Psychology. Mood, anxiety,
mental properties (gunas)
5 Spirituality. Equanimity, compassion, joy, discipline, sense of
meaning in life
Your treatment would include asana,
breathing and meditation practices,
and restoratives, as well as diet and
lifestyle suggestions. Even though
your back pain may be structural, a
therapist evaluates all areas because
an ayurvedic imbalance or even
unresolved anger may contribute to
your pain. The more elements we
can address, the greater the chance
for success.

10

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

Yoga principles had actually


entered his life long before 1995, although he didnt recognize them at the
time. As an 18-year-old up-and-coming
tennis player, McCall read The Inner
Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey, and it radically changed the way
he approached the game. I started
using yoga techniques to improve my
tennis game, to notice my habits, to
notice the way my mind interfered with
my efforts to achieve certain things on
the tennis court, McCall says, and I
started applying those principles to the
rest of my life.
A year after McCall left medicine,
he began to miss having one foot in
the real world and longed to combine
his love for scientific inquiry with his
new passion for yoga. In 2002, he set
out for India to research the medical
benefits of yoga. He wanted to know
what evidence existed to suggest that
yoga could heal chronic and acute
diseases. And if it could, how? That
researchalong with scores of interviews with scientists, yoga teachers,
ayurvedic practitioners, and studentsbecame the basis of his book
Yoga as Medicine: The Yogic Prescription for Health and Healing.

Although McCall continues to teach


a popular yoga-for-depression workshop
with senior Iyengar teacher Patricia
Walden (coauthor of The Womans
Book of Yoga and Health), he has also
branched out on his own, using Yoga as
Medicine as the foundation for a series of
well-respected weeklong yoga therapy
intensives. Dont expect to find advice
on the perfect pose for every ailing back
or the one way to relieve digestive disorders in any McCall class, however.
Remember: It depends! The right
yogic prescription hinges on all sorts
of factors, he says, and he adamantly
resists cramming yoga therapy into
the reductionist Western model of
one-size-fits-all treatment regimens. No
perfect pose exists that fits everyones
needs, he reminds his students; no
breathing technique will heal everyones
back pain.
His workshops attract doctors, holistic practitioners, yoga teachers and
students, and those simply wanting to
improve their health. Through lecture,
discussion, and supervised hands-on
therapy work in these small-group
practicums, McCall helps his students
look at the whole personher motivation, stress level, ayurvedic constitution,
and life challenges, as well as any physical complaintsand together they map
out an individualized holistic strategy
for healing.
McCalls own yoga practice plays a
prominent role in his self-discovery. His
daily routine includes bhakti practices,
such as chanting and mantra meditation, as well as pranayama and asana.
One of the things about being on this
path and really engaging it sincerely,
McCall says, is that with time you
peel away the layers and start seeing so
much more. Linda Sparrowe >>

Ana Bartlett

YOGATHREADS profile

and breathe

At Kripalu, we invite you to breatheto intentionally


pause the ongoing demands of life, bring your
attention inward, and rediscover your authentic
nature. Conscious engagement with the breath
connects you with the intelligence and power of the
life force within and around you. Whenever you are
faced with a challengeon the yoga mat, in a
relationship, at work, or with your healthyou can
draw on a deep sense of ease, purpose, and mastery
to create positive change. We call it the yoga of life.
read kripalu.org/onlinelibrary/whydopranayama
join the conversation

Stockbridge, Massachusetts

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Joe Dispenza
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kripalu.org

YOGATHREADS wellness

Keeping Your Kidneys Healthy


Most of us dont pay much attention to our kidneys until something goes wrong, but behind the scenes these bean-

shaped organs that sit beneath our rib cage play a critical role in keeping our bodies healthy. They flush out toxins, filter blood,
and produce three hormones: one to keep blood pressure in check, one to stimulate red blood cells, and one to maintain strong
bones. Luckily, we can support these renal workhorses by making good diet and lifestyle choices and, of course, doing yoga.

ing the wastes through the urine. Steven Lamm, MD, an internist and a faculty
member at New York University School of Medicine, recommends drinking
enough water so that the urine is relatively clear, a good indication that youre
hydrating a sufficient amount. Dont overdo your liquid intaketoo much water actually forces the kidneys to work overtime to filter the excess.

sounds, responding to your bodys natural urges


is an underestimated but key aspect of good
health. Honoring your bodys desire to sleep,
hydrate, urinate, yawn, or sneeze connects you to
your physical needs. Holly Lucille, ND, RN (aka
Dr. Holly), an expert in the field of natural medicine and author of Creating and Maintaining Balance: A Womans Guide to Safe, Natural Hormone
Health, agrees. Listen to your body, she says,
Its a great communicator. If you feel the urge to
void, do so as soon as possible.

Did You
Know?

Eat kidney-friendly foods.

The kidneys excrete wastes


but they cant always eliminate all toxins. Too much
protein can increase the burden on the kidneys, so opt for
a low-protein diet and mind
your blood sugar and insulin
levels. Also, says Dr. Lamm,
anything that causes high
blood pressurelike a high
sodium dietisnt good for
the kidneys.

3
12

The kidneys and urinary tract are governed


by the third chakra
the manipuralocated
at the navel region.
Glowing good health,
courage, enthusiasm,
vitality, and self-esteem are hallmarks of
strong kidneys and a
balanced navel chakra.

ursi have anti-inflammatory properties that aid in flushing out the


kidneys and urinary tract. Parsley is a natural diuretic that is
particularly effective when taken as a tea. Simply bring to a
boil 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley in 2 cups of water and
steep for 15 minutes. Strain the parsley and drink the tea.

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

NSAIDS, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory


drugs, like Advil or Motrin or acetaminophens
like Tylenol or Excedrin on a regular basis can damage
your kidneys. Ideally, its best to avoid these drugs, says
Dr. Holly. She recommends turmeric instead, which
she calls one of the most effective natural pain relievers. Try Curamin (Terry Naturals) or Turmeric Force
(New Chapter). Anyone who takes pain medication,
says Dr. Holly, should consider supplementing with
milk thistle, which is a liver-protecting tonic.

From top: julichka / istockphoto.com; Veena Kumbargadde / istockphoto.com; Maria Dryfhout / istockphoto.com

Explore.
Dream.
Discover.
Put Your Kidneys in a Twist
Twists like janu shirshasana (head to knee pose) help keep your kidneys
healthy by using what B.K.S. Iyengar calls a squeezing and soaking action. When we twist, we wring out the kidneys, getting rid of all the stale,
toxic blood; as we release the pose, a fresh supply of oxygenated blood
floods the area. Kapalabhati breathing, with its forced exhales and passive
inhales, stimulates the kidneys through the pulsating movement of the navel.

From top: Gabriele Meermann / dieKleinert; Ruslan Dashinsky / istockphoto.com

The Root
of Life

Chinese Medicine teaches that the


kidney meridian (yong quan, which
means gushing or bubbling spring)
begins on the bottom of your feet.
From there, the chi (life force) rises
up from the earth and moves up the
inside of the leg and into the lower
abdomen. Massage warm sesame oil
into the yong quan pressure point (the
indentation just below the big toe) on
the soles of your feet and cover them
with your favorite fuzzy slippers!

Kidneys do more than


flush toxins and regulate
metabolism. According to
David Scrimgeour, LAc, an
acupuncturist and Traditional
Chinese Medicine specialist
in Boulder, Colorado, kidneys
govern willpower and motivation. When your kidney chi is
weak you may feel:

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Further explore the path of
yoga through three intensives in
paradise.

Susceptible to anxiety
Unable to get anything done
Unable to remember things
Burned out and depleted
To strengthen your kidneys,
get plenty of rest, choose
activities that nourish and inspire you, journal before bed,
and bundle up and take walks
in nature as often as possible.

It takes just one month


to change your life

forever.

Dulma Altan >>

PavonesYogaCenter.com

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

13

YOGATHREADS science

The Study

The Effects of Yoga on the Autonomic Nervous System,


Gamma-aminobutyric-acid, and Allostasis in Epilepsy,
Depression, and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.
(Streeter C.C., Gerbarg P.L., Saper R.B., Ciraulo D.A., Brown R.P., 2012)

e all know that yoga does a body (and a mind)


good. But up until recently, no one could really
say with any degree of certainty whyor even howit
improves conditions as varied as depression and anxiety,
diabetes, chronic pain, and even epilepsy.
Now a group of researchers at Boston University
School of Medicine believe theyve discovered yogas
secret. In an article published in the May 2012 issue of
Medical Hypotheses journal under an impossibly long
title, Chris Streeter, PhD, and his team hypothesize that
yoga works by regulating the nervous system. And how
does it do that? By increasing vagal tonethe bodys
ability to successfully respond to stress.

Vagus Nerve
and Its
Branches

Most of us dont even know we have a vagus that needs


toning, but we most certainly do. The vagus nerve, the
largest cranial nerve in the body, starts at the base of the
skull and wanders throughout the whole body, influencing the respiratory, digestive, and nervous systems. Often
thought of as our air traffic controller, the vagus nerve
helps to regulate all our major bodily functions. Our
breath, heart rate, and digestionas well as our ability to
take in, process, and make sense of our experiencesare
all directly related to the vagus nerve.
We know when the vagus nerve is toned and functioning properly because we can feel it on different levels: Our
digestion improves, our heart functions optimally, and our
moods stabilize. We have an easier time moving from the
more active and often stressful states of being to the more
relaxed ones. And as we get better at doing that, we can
manage lifes challenges with the right blend of energy,
engagement, and ease. When we can consistently maintain
this flexible state we are thought to have high vagal tone.
Low vagal tone, on the other hand, brings with it
a sense of depletion. Our digestion becomes sluggish,
our heart rate increases, and our moods become more
unpredictable and difficult to manage. Not surprisingly,
low vagal tone is correlated with such health conditions as
depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain,
and epilepsynot coincidentally, the same conditions
that show significant improvement with yoga practice. Researchers hypothesize that it is vagal stimulation through
yoga that improves these conditions.
To test their theory, the researchers investigated
practices they believed would increase vagal tone. For example, they found that resistance breathing, such as ujjayi
pranayama, increases the relaxation response, as well as
heart rate variability (another marker of resilience). And a
pilot study conducted on more experienced yogis showed
that chanting Om out loud increased vagal tone and the relaxation response more than chanting it silently to oneself.
Studies such as this one begin to reveal how different yogic
practices impact human physiology in different ways.
Angela Wilson

14

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

Netter illustration from netterimages.com, used with permission of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved

What Is Vagal Tone?

Did You Know that practicing meditative

always
m in d f u l .

yoga for at least 25 minutes a day for 12 weeks can


help folks over 60 get a good nights sleep? And, unlike
the sedatives usually prescribed, yoga comes without
side effects and with an added bonus of reducing anxiety, depression, and stress.

RMIT University (Melbourne, Australia) study, August 2012

GOOD
NEWS for
Top: Troels Graugaard / istockphoto.com; Bottom: Alejandro da Silva Farias / istockphoto.com

Female Vets
For reasons researchers dont fully understand, a group of
women military veterans with chronic low
back pain benefited
from yoga more than
their male counterparts. According to the
study conducted at the
VA hospital in San Diego, women also had
greater decreases in depression and pain, and
bigger gains in energy
and mental health.

A Small
Price to Pay
Sure, turmeric tints your
teeth and gums an unsightly
yellow, but it also may prevent cancers of the neck and
head. A study published in
last years Clinical Cancer Research journal found that curcumin (the active ingredient
in turmeric) not only inhibits
cancer activity, but actually
reduces the molecules in
your saliva that increase cancer growth. You cant just
swallow turmeric tablets,
howeveryou need to chew
thembecause the active ingredients must interact with
saliva in order to work. >>

often
cheeky.

you
sheeky?

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

15

YOGATHREADS in season

the pomegranate
A Treasure Trove of Goodness
To me, the cool, sweet pop of a pomegranate seed has always been worth the effort
it takes to remove it from its husk. The outside may be toughand the inside a veritable
maze of membranesbut once you get in
there, a whole hidden treasure of seeds awaits
you. This abundance explains its role as a
symbol for fertility, generosity, and rebirth.
Perhaps even more immediately useful
than its religious and art historical significance, the pomegranate contains plenty of
antioxidants and vitamins. It is said to help
delay the onset of osteoarthritis, reduce inflammation, and even give the libido a bit of
a boost. Unfortunately, most people, beyond
enjoying a handful of the seeds on occasion,
dont have the slightest idea what else to do
with one. Pity, because as these recipes demonstrate, the pomegranate proves itself to be
a most versatile fruitserved raw in salads
and juices or cooked into stews and sauces.

Spicy Kale and Pomegranate Salad

De-stem one bunch of kale and cut it into thin ribbons. Toss the greens
with a decent slug of olive oil and some salt and massage with your hands
for a couple minutes or more to break down the fibers. Youll know youre
done when the kale shrinks and takes on a silky texture. Add 1 cup grated
carrots, cup pomegranate seeds, and cup chopped toasted cashews.
In a food processor or blender, combine 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon each of tamari and rice wine vinegar, - to -inch piece jalapeo,
-inch peeled ginger, and a clove of garlic. Pour the dressing over the
greens and season with salt and pepper to taste. (Adapted from an original
recipe by Himalayan Institutes Jen Stout.)
Pomegranate Molasses

Put 4 cups pomegranate juice, cup sugar, and the juice of a small lemon
into a big saucepan and turn the burner to medium heat. Stir until the sugar
dissolves. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until youve got a cup of
liquid the consistency of thick syrup. This takes agesprobably an hour and
a halfbut is completely worth it for its versatile awesomeness in savory and
sweet dishes alike.
Pomegranate Glazed Tofu

Fun Facts:
Pomegranates come in
more than 760 varieties
and date back to 1000 bce.
The word means an
apple (pomum) with seeds
(granatus) in Latin.

No idea how to seed or juice


a pomegranate? Find out on
yogainternational.com/pomegranate.
Cole Vineyard / istockphoto.com

This Jewel of Winter


grows abundantly from
September through
February.

Warm up some olive oil in a large skillet, toss in a cake of tofu cut into 1-inch
cubes, and cook until goldenroughly 3 minutes a side. Whisk 1 cup pomegranate juice, a couple minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon grated orange zest, and 1 teaspoon minced
fresh rosemary. Pour the sauce over the golden tofu and let it simmer for 3 to 5
minutes, until the tofu has absorbed some of the sauce and the rest is reduced
to a glaze. Sarah Keough >>

16

Fourth International
KRIYA YOGA CONGRESS
March 7 9 2013
San Jose, California

MEDITATION SEMINAR & INITIATION


with Roy Eugene Davis,

direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda


Cynthia Ambika Copple: Ayurvedic Practices
Dr. Christopher Key Chapple: Patanjalis Yoga Sutra
Phillip Goldberg: Author of
How Indian Philosophy Inuenced the West
Ellen Grace OBrian: Kriya Yoga Traditions
Hatha Yoga Chanting Spiritual Friendship
Gitanjali Band Vegetarian Banquet
All Welcome Donation Basis Reservations Required
Free Illustrated Kriya Yoga Congress Brochure

info@csecenter.org

Tel: 408-283-0221

Read or download it at:

www.csecenter.org or www.csa.davis.org

With Roy Eugene Davis

and special guest presenters

Sponsored by
Center for Spiritual Enlightenment, San Jose, CA,
Center for Spiritual Awareness, Lakemont, Georgia,
and their Teachers and Centers in the United
States, Canada, and Europe

YOGATHREADS culture

Swami Vivekananda
Turns 150

All the powers in the universe


are already ours. It is we who
have put our hands before our
eyes and cry that it is dark.
Swami Vivekananda

May 31, 1893 Sails to America for the first time.


September 11, 1893 Addresses the Parliament of
Religions at the Worlds Fair.

1860
January 12, 1863
Born as Narendra
Nath Datta.

1870

1880

January 1887 Takes formal vows


of monasticism and changes
name to Swami Vivekananda.

1890
November 1894
Founds the Vedanta
Society of New York.
March 1896
Lectures at Harvard;
meets William James.

18

1900

1910
July 4, 1902
Dies at age 39.

April 1900 Founds the Vedanta


Society of San Francisco.
1897 Founds the Ramakrishna Order, still the
largest philanthropic organization in India.

Background: Jill Kyle / istockphoto.com; Swami Vivekananda: dbimages / Alamy

THE FIRST KNOWN YOGI TO VISIT THE WEST, Swami Vivekananda tops the list as one of the most
influential sages of the modern yoga movement. In his opening address at the Worlds Parliament of Religions
in Chicago in 1893, Swami Vivekananda brought 7,000 attendees to their feet for an unprecedented fourminute standing ovation. While his charisma, eloquence, and exotic garb rocketed him to celebrity status, his
accessible yet profound teachings touched thousands in his short lifetime. His wisdom continues to live on in
the hearts and minds of yoga practitioners, scholars, and citizens around the world. Sarah Kent

The Swami
Inspires
Sarah Bernhardt
Mahatma Gandhi
Aldous Huxley
Carl Jung
Vivien Leigh
Henry Miller
Laurence Olivier
J. D. Salinger
Gertrude Stein

Top: khalus / istockphoto.com; Bottom: David Ball / Alamy

Nikola Tesla

Did You Know?


The #1 hit single My Sweet
Lord, written by the Beatles
lead guitarist George Harrison,
was inspired by a passage
from one of Swami Vivekanandas books that reads, If
there is a God, we must see
him. And if there is a soul, we
must perceive it.

A National Holiday
Every January 12, the Indian government commemorates Swami Vivekananda at the National
Youth Festival, which promotes his teachings
through a wide array of cultural performances and
competitive sporting events. Calcutta will host the
weeklong celebration this time to mark his 150th
birthday. More than 5,000 participants from India
and around the world are expected to attend. >>

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

19

YOGATHREADS scripture

The mantra is the bow, you yourself are


the arrow, God is the target of the arrow
your aim. As an arrow pierces a target, so
vigilance pierces ignorance. Be absorbed
in your true aim.
Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.4, translated by Isabelle Glover

praavo dhanu aro hytm brahma


tal-lakyam ucyate
.
apramattena veddhavya aravattanmayo bhavet

COMMENTARY

In our frenetic lives we often feel like

an arrow being twanged by the many


bows shooting us ever onward from morning until night. We like to be neededand
happily respond to the needs of othersbut wanting to be needed can become its own
mantra, acting like a bows driving force. We also have inner mantras of ought, must,
and should playing out in our heads, and these shoot us into yet more activity.
My husband had a way of life that said yes to everything. Seeing how overburdened
he sometimes became with things undone, I responded with my own mantra: Dont
worry. Ill do it. One day, surrounded by a mountain of work that needed our attention, we asked ourselves, how do we continually slip into this situation? We realized that
our targets had been the innumerable activities we undertook, but when we queried
our situation, a deeper, quieter aimmuch more in accord with the way we wanted to
liveemerged. We discovered the intolerable pressure our hidden mantras were causing
usyes I can for him and dont worry for meand from then on vowed to be more
vigilant in their presence. We now had a standard to determine whether or not to go
along with whatever activity or apparent need came up.
One of the meanings of the word upanishad is that which destroys ignorance from
the root sad. Scripture is like a GPS, lighting up the direction we are meant to travel while
illuminating the byways. We are never free from the many imperatives that impel us, but,
if we follow our true aim, we are free
to choose those ways that can help us
Commentary by Isabelle Glover, Sanskrit scholar and
teacher, Christian, and student of contemplative scripture.
achieve our intention. n

20

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

Mundaka means razor, as


well as one with a shaven
head. This upanishad is
named for the higher knowledge (para vidya) imparted
here, which removes the
veil of ignorance obscuring
Atman (the indwelling Self),
just as a razor removes the
covering of hair from the
head of a monk.
The dialogue comprising
the 64 mantras of the Mundaka Upanishad opens when
Shaunaka, a fully prepared
student, humbly approaches
his master, Sage Angiras,
with a burning question:
Sir, what is that, which by
knowing everything becomes
known?
In the chapter containing this mantra, Angiras
explains how Atman guides
the movement of all forces in
human life.

Christian Adams / Getty Images

WHATS IN A NAME?

Buddhism
Taught by Professor Malcolm David Eckel
boston university

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EVERYDAYAYURVEDA

By Kathryn Templeton

Tis the Season


ASKED TO NAME THE SEASONS, hardly any of us in the West would stop at three, unless, of
course, we were thinking in ayurvedic terms: three doshas, three seasons, right? Makes perfect sense
if we remember that the doshasvata, pitta, and kaphagovern not only our own constitution, but
everything else in the cosmos, as well. So instead of winter, spring, summer, and fall, the year breaks
into vata season, which goes from late fall into early winter; kapha season, from the coldest part of
winter into spring; and pitta season, which includes the hottest, longest days of the yearfrom late
spring into early fall.
Understanding the qualities of each of these seasons can help you reduce any adverse effects. Remember that your predominant dosha increases during the season it governs, so take care to choose
foods and activities that will pacify and not aggravate it.

Vata Season

Kapha Season

Leaf-scuttling winds mark the start of vata season,


which ayurveda characterizes as light, dry, rough,
hard, mobile, irregular, coolthe very qualities
we associate with late fall and early winter. The
weather turns cold, winds blow, and the earth
becomes dry, hard, roughmaybe even a bit
icy. Vata is the queen of change, so youll need to
watch out for dry skin, irregular digestion, and
the frenetic, unpredictable energy of the holidaze, which can easily leave you depleted, overwhelmed, and distracted by all the excitement.
Heres what you can do:

Kapha season extends from frigid winter


days, when the ground freezes solid,
to mud-luscious early spring, when
the snow melts, the sap rises, and the
first tentative shoots break through the
ground. These conditions disturb kapha
doshas heavy, dense, wet, gooey, stable,
cool qualities. To pacify kapha during
the early part of this season:

fire or snuggle up with a good book, a cup of chai


or hot tea, and a warm blanket. Warm milk laced
with ghee and honey is a perfect nighttime elixir.
every day, as well as schedule some alone time,
restorative yoga, and meditation practices. Other
daily ayurvedic practices (dinacharya)including
abyhanga, oiling the body with warming sesame
oilwill help you stay steady and feel comforted.

22

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

up and out of the houseearly. Get up


before kapha time (6 a.m. to 10 a.m.),
and get in some exercisebike riding,
walking, or other light aerobic activitybefore 10 a.m. This schedule will
help you fend off seasonal weight gain.
your tongue scraper, neti pot, and nasya
oil will help with seasonal allergies and
keep kapha from building.

Mary Evans Picture Library / Alamy

tra care to keep your internal fire (agni) kindled.


Eat warm, moist foodsthink stews, soups, and
root veggiesand save the salads and cold snacks
for summer.

that are lighter, drier, pungent, and


warming. As soon as theyre available,
eat the first bounty of the season
sprouts, berries, dandelion and other
spring greenswhich naturally support
this time of cleansing. And stick to three
meals a day to avoid overindulging.

HOW TO DO
NASYA
To keep seasonal allergies at
bay, support your meditation
practice, or treat headaches
and anxiety, do either method
twice a day.

Pitta Season

TRADITIONAL

Nature builds heat all through pitta


season until, at the start of autumn,
the leaves on the trees turn bright
orange, yellow, and red, as if they were
living flames on each branch. These
leaves are lighter in nature, only slightly
moist, intense, hot, sharp, and focused
on their goal of transformationjust
like pitta dosha. We can enjoy the passion of the season without burning up by
following this advice.

1 Lie on your back, with a


pillow under your head and
shoulders. Tilt your head so your
nostrils are parallel to the ceiling.
2 Put 3 to 5 drops of nasya
oil in one nostril, while pressing
the other one shut.
3 Repeat on the other side.
Rest with your head in this
position for 1 minute.

aloe vera juice will douse your internal heat. Summers bounty offers
plenty of ways to keep cool: cucumbers, mint, summer squash, zucchini, coconut juice, and mangos.

PRACTICAL
1 Put 3 to 5 drops of nasya
oil in your left hand.
2 Using your right-hand pinky,
apply the oil in one nostril, press
the opposite nostril shut, and
sniff. Repeat on the other side.

ing out of the sun during pitta time


(10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) helps keep your
mental and emotional energy from
overheating.
can become myopic and intense, so add
a cooling breathing practice like sheetali
pranayama to balance things out. Doing
lateral yoga poses like janu shirshasana
(head to knee pose) or utthita parshvakonasana (side angle pose) will dissipate
the internal heat, and a rubdown with
coconut oil will cool your skin.

Did you know...


that your energy may be more easily disturbed
during the weeks between the seasons?
Detox the buildup of elements from one
season before moving into the next.

teacher in the field of drama therapy, an E-500 RYT,


NAMA-registered ayurvedic practitioner, and a professor of human development and general psychology.

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

23

CONSCIOUSKITCHEN

Eating in Season

Creamy mung dal and rice soup sprinkled with warming


Indian spices takes the chill out of a winters evening.

I HAVENT EATEN MEAT since the mid-1980s when I


heard The Smiths cry Meat Is Murder and rebelled against
my butchers-daughter upbringing. Since then, Ive drifted
back and forth along the vegetarian continuum from pescatarian to vegan, but Ive always avoided red meat and felt better
for doing sountil recently. As fall morphed into winter, I was
still eating the same fresh spinach salads that had energized

24

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

By Lauren Piscopo

me all through the previous summer.


But as the seasons changed, I felt a shift
in energy, mood, and focus that I immediately attributed to my first bout
of seasonal affective disorder. My achy
joints, insomnia, and weight gain? I
chalked those up to my advancing age.
No way they could have resulted from
giving in to my strong cravings for potatoes, pasta, and chocolate. I even started
yearning for red meat, after taking a pass
on it for more than 25 years.
John Douillard, DC, PhD, director
of LifeSpa, an ayurvedic retreat and
treatment center in Boulder, Colorado,
says the symptoms Ive described are
common among vegetarians who fail
to eat enough protein and healthy fats
in winter, when their bodies need these
nutrients for energy and to keep warm.
If you do not get adequate amounts of
protein and fat in winter, your body will
start craving the wrong foods, Douillard says. Many vegetarians become
addicted to sugar, carbs, and caffeine
for the energy boost theyre not getting
from a balanced diet.
Carbs, caffeine, and sugar binges
cause blood sugar spikes, which quickly
plummet as the body pumps out insulin
to meet the sudden demand. Douillard
says glucose peaks and valleys like these
lead to more cravings and crashes, leaving the body fatigued and unable to shed
weight, because it stops burning fat
and runs on glucose instead. Douillard
advises eating more slow-burning foods
in a winter diet thats 40 percent protein,
30 percent fats, and 30 percent carbs
about half the carbs we take in from

Cultura RM / Alamy

Hearty, warming foods will keep your body in balance all winter long.

all those fresh fruits and veggies in the


summer. In this context, my meat cravings make perfect senseI needed more
protein, which I could get as a vegetarian
from tofu and tempeh, eggs, beans, nuts
and nut butters, and quinoa.
Ayurveda assigns a dosha to each season. Vata governs the period from late
fall through early winter, a time of drying cold temperatures and winds, which
can contribute to a vata excess in the
body, making us feel anxious, stressed,
or restless. To counterbalance these
effects on your body and mind, follow
a vata diet, no matter your dosha, says
Douillard. Foods that are heavy, oily,
warming, moisturizing, sour, or salty are
the antidote to a vata imbalance. Here
are Douillards tips for following a vata
diet in winter:

rich foods, such as avocados,


almonds, and flaxseeds, which
lubricate dry skin and hair and stiff
jointsand lift you out of a winter
funk with their mood-boosting
benefits.

choose heavier vegetables like


sweet potatoes, winter squash, and
beets.

herbal teas to stay hydrated.


black pepper, cardamom, and even

salt to ease winters chill.

citrus, to stimulate digestion.


For easy ways to add these foods to
your diet this winter, check out these
recipes from John Douillards book
The 3-Season Diet; Heidi Swanson, a
cookbook blogger and author of Super
Natural Every Day; and Diana CullumDugan, RD, nutritionist and certified
yoga teacher. >>
winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

25

Teacher Trainings & Yoga Programs


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yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

Black Pepper Tempeh


Serves 4
3 tablespoons extra-virgin
coconut or olive oil
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
15 small cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled
and grated
3 tablespoons shoyu, tamari,
or soy sauce
cup natural cane sugar
2 tablespoons water, plus more
as needed
8 ounces tempeh, sliced pencil-thick
12 ounces cauliflower, very finely
chopped (a little bigger than rice)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black
pepper, more if desired

bine the coconut or olive oil, shallots, red


pepper flakes, garlic, and ginger. Cook
slowly, taking care not to brown the ingredients and stirring occasionally, until
the garlic cloves are soft throughout,
about 15 minutes.
together the shoyu, sugar, and water in a
small bowl.
skillet to medium-high and add the
tempeh. Gently stir to get the tempeh
coated. Add the shoyu mixture and stir
again to coat. Cook for a minute or two,
and then add the cauliflower. Stir and
cover. Cook for about 3 minutes.

Heidi Swanson 2011

UPCOMING YOGA

R E A C H B E YO N D A S A N A

Asana
Pranayama
Meditation
Devotion
Community
Reflection
Philosophy
Selfless Service

black pepper. Taste, add more pepper, if


you like, and serve immediately.
From Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved
Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen by
Heidi Swanson (Ten Speed Press, a division of
Random House, Inc., 2011). Used with permission.

Perfect Protein Soup


Serves 6 to 8
1
2
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
7
1
1

cup split yellow mung dal beans


cups white basmati rice
tablespoons ghee
inch fresh gingerroot, chopped
teaspoon turmeric
teaspoon coriander
teaspoon cumin powder
teaspoon whole cumin seeds
teaspoon mustard seeds
pinch hing (asafoetida)
to 10 cups water
teaspoon sea salt
small handful cilantro leaves,
washed and diced
Bragg Liquid Aminos (optional)

til the water runs clear.


the ghee and all the spices, stirring for
a few minutes. Add the dal and rice and
stir again.

bring to a boil, then add the farro.


Cook over medium heat (high simmer) until the farro is tender, about
40 minutes.

on the MOUNTAIN

Study with the


Finest Ayurveda
Faculty in the West

Starting Jan 25
on a large baking sheet with the sage,
1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt, pepper,
and pecans.
midway through until the squash
is fork-tender and beginning to
brown.
together with the squash. Sprinkle in
the parsley and lightly toss. Garnish
each serving with slices from of
an avocado. n
Created by Diana Cullum-Dugan. Used with
permission.

Lauren Piscopo, a food and health writer living


in Boulder, Colorado, is determined to eat in balance this winter and not give in to comfort-food
cravingsexcept for a tiny bit of dark chocolate
once in a while.

Priority Application by Dec 14

Ayurvedic Lifestyle Counselor


Ayurvedic Practitioner
Master of Arts - Ayurveda
Ask us about Distance Learning
Visit us online at:

MountMadonnaInstitute.org/yi
info@MountMadonnaInstitute.org
or call 408.846.4060
AD

ONNA I

U TE

From The 3-Season Diet by John Douillard


(Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House,
Inc., 2001). Used with permission.

medium-sized heavy saucepan, saut


the onion in 1 tablespoon of olive
oil until the onions are translucent,
about 5 minutes.

MASTERS

IT
ST

Season to taste with Braggs Liquid Aminos, if desired.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin
olive oil, divided
1 large sweet yellow onion, minced
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup farro
1 medium butternut squash
(yields 4 cups, peeled and cubed)
45 fresh sage leaves or
1 teaspoon dried sage
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 avocado, sliced

boil. Boil for 10 minutes, then turn the


heat to low, and cover the pot. Continue
to cook until the rice and beans become
soft (about 30 to 40 minutes).

Roasted Squash
and Farro Pilaf
Serves 4

MOUNT M

more, and cook until the cauliflower and


tempeh start to brown a bit. If you need
to add a little more water to the pan,
carefully do so, one tablespoon at a time.

Mount Madonna

institute
College of Ayurveda
Watsonville, California

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

27

POINTSOFPRACTICE

The Company You Keep


In order to tackle the Herculean task of spiritual growth,
you need the counsel of the wise. By Sandra Anderson

the way to attain the absolute good. It


dispels the darkness of ignorance. The
company of the wise yields the most
desirable fruit.

W
What made the London Summer Olympics the most watched event in US television history? Very few of us are wrestlers
or archers or even weekend warriors; we
know next to nothing about dressage;
and few of us will ever throw a javelin
not even in jest. Yet we profoundly enjoy
watching such skill in action. Even if we
have no intention of mastering a back
flip off the balance beam, for one moment we are that perfectly focused body
and mind, full of confidence and courage. A bit of the magic rubs off on us.
In yoga, making use of this effect of
association and our capacity for empathy
is known as satsanga. The word literally
means a union or meeting (sanga) with

28

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

truth (sat). Sat also carries the connotation of being, existence, reality, and
higher truth or wisdom. So satsanga is
usually translated as the company of
the wise. Through satsanga we bask in
the presence of those established in truth
and wisdom, and experience that potential in ourselves.
The famous sage Parashurama set
out on the path to enlightenment after a
chance satsanga with the sage Samvarta.
From there, he made his way to Dattatreya, who taught him the secrets of
sadhanaspiritual practice. Listen,
Parashurama, says Dattatreya in the
prominent tantric text Tripura Rahasya,
satsanga, the company of the wise, is

That most desirable fruit is vichara


right thinking or discriminationthe
kind of understanding that gives shape to
the highest meaning and purpose in life.
Those who are devoid of discrimination
are narrow in their thinking, like frogs in
a well, says Dattatreya. A frog born in
a well lives without knowing the difference between day and night. Satsanga
allows us to see beyond the darkness of
our fear, frustrations, hopelessness, and
everyday small-minded concerns.
In traditional satsanga, being in
the company of the wise means sitting
at the feet of a sage or a spiritually accomplished teacher who can unveil
our ignorance and misunderstanding,
reveal the causes of conflict and suffering, and suggest ways to remove them.
This traditional format of discussion
and dialogue plays an important role in
addressing our deepest concerns. But
satsanga can also convey the experience
of embodied wisdom in other more indirect ways. Just as watching the Olympic champions lifts our spirits, merely
being in the presence of wisdom and
self-mastery can be enough to invoke
a new state of awarenessa state of
unconditional happiness, infused with
fearlessness and contentment.

Russell Gillman India Nepal / Alamy

Light the Torch

The Virtues of Satsanga


and destroys ones ignorance and
ones psychological distress. Whatever be the cost, however difficult it may be,
whatever obstacles may stand in its way, satsanga should never be neglected.
For satsanga alone is ones light on the path of life. The Yoga Vasishtha

Satsanga enlarges ones intelligence

Lift Yourself Up

The Tripura Rahasya also describes


how satsanga acts as the antidote for
aparadha vasanathat which pulls us
away from our own inherent joy and
harms the seat of that joy in every aspect of our being. To some degree, at
one time or another, we have all been
plagued by a nagging sense of inadequacy, crippled by fear or anger, or
knocked down by hopelessness. These
are aparadha vasanasinclinations of
mind (vasana) that take away (apa) our
intrinsic happiness (radha). Self-condemnation, not trusting yourself, ignoring the voice of your heart, a distorted
perception of yourselfall qualify.
The cure for aparadha vasana?
Satsanga. In the company of someone
established in the inherently joyful inner
Self, whose happiness is not dependent
on achievement or gain, we experience
deep inner peace and happiness. This
nurtures the creation of a new vasana in
usone that allows for a balanced mind,
positive thinking, and discrimination.
Finding Good Company

Of course, the truly wise are not that


easy to find. Fortunately, the grace
of satsanga can come in many forms:
listening to an inspired lecture on your
CD player on the way to work; spending a few minutes every morning with
the Bhagavad Gita; joining a spiritually
minded book club; visiting a place of
worship; or experiencing moments of
clarity and grace with a few people gathered with a higher intention. This could
even include the pleasure of sharing
Saturday morning bagels after class with
fellow yoga students. Conversations

such as these can reflect an unspoken


understanding that we share something
we may not have in common with our
friends, our colleagues at work, or in
many cases, our own families.
This silent acknowledgment and
quiet nurturing of the tiny tender flame
in the cave of the heart is a precious
giftat least as important as practice
itself. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am
in the midst of them, Jesus promised.
(Matthew 18:20). Gathered in my
name calls on the presence of wisdom
itself and implies an intention to share
an inner state of spiritual awarenessa
state that is to be invoked, cultivated,
and remembered.
Satsanga draws us into the arena of
spiritual training, where we can establish
a relationship with the embodied stream
of knowledge, or a teacher or teachers,
who can guide us to deepen our spiritual practice. In the Tripura Rahasya,
Parashurama describes his life-changing
encounter with the sage Samvarta: His
company gave me immense relief and a
sense of abiding peace, just as a mist refreshes a man overheated by the midday
sun. The company of the wise sustains
and encourages us, until finally, with the
awakening of our own inner Self, we become the silent sage who quietly radiates
inner joy, wisdom, and inspiration. n

j Listen to Pandit Rajmani

Tigunaits satsanga on dealing with


fear at yogainternational.com/fear.
Senior editor Sandra Anderson is coauthor of
Yoga: Mastering the Basics and has taught yoga
and meditation for over 25 years.

Announcing
Vasant Lads
New Book

The Textbook of Ayurveda


General Principles
of Management and
Treatment
Volume Three
Provides comprehensive
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modalities of Ayurveda
including diet and lifestyle
recommendations, palliative
and cleansing therapies,
subtle healing methods, herbal
remedies, and much more.
ISBN 978-1-883725-14-3
Hardcover, 668 pp. $80.00

Visit ayurveda.com for excerpts


and to order your copy
or call us at (505) 291-9698
The

Ayurvedic
Institute

Albuquerque, NM

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

29

SKILLFULACTION

There When It Matters


A once-a-week (maybe) practitioner reflects on yogas restorative powers.
By Sonya Elliott

m holding my trembling body in


downward-facing dog, my arms
extended in front of me, fingers
spread wide, palms splayed out
on my purple mat. My butt
arcs high in the air, but my toes squish
together on the mat, and my heels can
only wave to the ground. My legs ache,
and sweat pours down my back. I am
clearly no yogi.
What is a yogi anyway? A master of
yoga, according to dictionary.com. Well,
I can tell you one thing: I am not that.
But the dictionary also defines a yogi as
someone who practices yoga. Now were
getting closer. Traditionally, this ancient
philosophy advocated and prescribed a
course of physical and mental disciplines
for attaining liberation from the material world and uniting the self with the
Supreme Being. But nowadays, most
Americans think of yoga as a series of
postures and breathing exercises they
practice to gain control of their bodies
and minds.

Does the distinction really matter? Not to me. Im a mom, a wife, a


fashion model, an author, and a high
school basketball coach. So its not so
easy for me to slow down and do what
I know is good for my body and mind.
And yet yoga has helped me survive
both mentally and physically. Perhaps
I should explain.
Yoga has been a part of my life for
more than 20 years, yet when someone
asks if I practice yoga, I usually hesitate. Why? Because I cant bend like a
pretzel, nor do I roll out my mat every
day. In fact, when my agent asked if
I wanted to model for a yoga clothing
company, I hesitated. I could only imagine how perplexed theyd be when they
saw that I lifted my right shoulder a bit
too high in chair pose and didnt quite
square my hips in warrior I. Do I really
practice yoga?
I first tried yoga in college in my
one and only acting class. I didnt understand its relevance to the class or to
my life. I played basketball, after all,
and I loved intense physical exercise. I
couldnt comprehend the importance of

YOGA PRACTICE keeps Sonya


Elliott on the basketball court.

30

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

slowly stretching my body, not to mention quelling my mind. Sun salu-what?


I struggled through every pose except
those requiring balance and strength;
and when the class ended, I easily said
good-bye to yoga.
And then on November 20, 1991, my
life changed forever. Just days before my
wedding, I was hit by a train. I shattered
my right arm and my right femur. My
heart broke when I awoke in the hospital
and learned that my fianc had been
killed in the accident.

Jason Elliott

Yoga didnt help me recover right


away. But as I began to get stronger
physically and move forward with my
lifelearning to survive each day without Markyoga slowly found its way
back to me. Months after the accident,
when I was able to walk again, I stepped
into a yoga class. I knew it would be
nearly impossible to get into most of
the poses; still I felt compelled to try.
Deep in my heart I must have known
that working toward balancing my body
would be good for me, and might even
help me do the one thing I wanted to do
more than anything elseplay basketball again.
With the entire right side of my
body wracked with injuries, I needed an
abundance of blankets and props to shift
myself in and out of awkward positions.
I focused on my breath, and somehow
that focus helped me find peace in a time
of stress and heartache. Day by day,
pose by pose, my yoga got better, my
game got better, and I got better.
Now, 20 years later, I wish I could
say I wake up every morning at 5 and
practice an hour of yoga and meditation
before I start my day. But I dont. I try
to make yoga class once a week (emphasis on try). I do manage 10 to 15 minutes
of yoga after my workout at the Y. With
the help of a good warm-up and a yogainfused stretching routine, I still play
basketball competitively in womens
leagues around Seattlenot bad for a
45-year-old. My body may be a bit lopsided, and I may not have attained liberation from the material world, or union
of the self with the Supreme Being, but
yoga keeps me playing basketball and
goofing around with my husband and
kids, and it allows me a few moments of
quiet and peace in this fun and crazy life.
I am no yogi, but I am happy. And in the
end, isnt that what really matters? n

A Young Womans Triumphant Return to Life,


Love & Basketball. Visit her at sonyaelliott.com.

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

31

ART OFASANA

The Journey Inward


By systematically turning inward and tuning out the external world, we can learn to

32

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

appreciate and participate in our lives much more fully.

By Christina Sell

Have you ever gone grocery shopping when youre really hungry? No matter how committed
you are to a healthy eating plan going in, all bets are off when your nose catches a whiff of the
freshly baked bread on the free sample table. If your senses take over, you reach for the bread,
put a piece in your mouth, and stand there enjoying the yeasty, malty flavor and the soft, chewy
texture. And, before you know it, youve thrown a whole loaf in your basket, completely forgetting that just yesterday you swore off gluten forever.
This not-so-far-fetched example demonstrates just how thoroughly taste, touch, smell, sight,
and hearing can govern our lives. We interact with the world through our senses all the time,
and they exercise more control over our choices than we realize. Truth be told, theres simply
no avoiding them. But most of us need periodic retreats from this sensory onslaught in order to
gain enough clarity to live according to our yogic principlesand our dietary plans.
Patanjali, in the Yoga Sutra, gives us a way to accomplish that end: pratyahara, the fifth limb
of Ashtanga yoga. Often referred to as the withdrawal of the senses from outside objects,
this stage of practice conjures up esoteric images of yogis so absorbed in meditation that
they dont feel the sting of a scorpion or so adept at physical abnegation that they
can lie comfortably on a bed of nails. And however much these superhero yogic
feats may inspire, entertain, and interest us, most of us would prefer to apply the
principles and practices of pratyahara in more ordinary ways. As typical practitionerswho sandwich yoga in between everything else weve got going onwe cant
possibly renounce the senses and cease to be aware of whats happening around us.
For us, pratyahara entails cultivating our inner life consistently and deliberately
through disciplined practice and periods of retreatso we can participate with and
through our senses more consciously and skillfully. >>

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

33

Pratyahara allows us to pull back from


external activity and gather the force and
focus we need to dive back into the fray. It
helps us choose our responses to sensory
stimulation, rather than reacting unintentionally. We can smell the bread baking in
the store without reaching for it, because
pratyahara affords us one or two extra moments during which we can remember our
food plan and our health goals.
Most often this limb is experienced
through a deeply restorative practice, but you
can easily incorporate it into a more active
asana practice. To do so, set an intention to
move your attention away from the external world and focus on your own physical
and emotional sensations. Do your regular
practice, but incorporate more forward folds
(standing or seated), which can help tune
out external distractions and even internal
judgments. Be aware of the rhythm of your
breathing and how your body responds to
each pose. You may notice that the more you
practice withdrawing or going inward, the
more fully you can be present, participate in,
and appreciate the outside world.
I cant think of a more apt symbol for
pratyahara than a turtle withdrawing into
its shell. Kurmasana (tortoise pose) is an
intense forward fold that shuts out sensory
distractions and quiets the nervous system.
Kurmasana, according to B.K.S. Iyengar
in Light on Yoga, tones the spine, activates
the abdominal organs, and keeps one energetic and healthy. Additionally, the posture
soothes the nerves of the brain, he says,
and after completing it one feels refreshed,
as though one had woken up from a long
undisturbed sleep.
Of course, these great effects are possible
only if you have enough flexibility in your
hips, shoulders, and back to practice the
pose safely. So proceed slowly and deliberately, paying attention to your breath and
alignment. Notice how you feel as you move
through each preparatory pose and be prepared to stop anywhere along the way. If you
have any disk problems in your back, I would
recommend abstaining from the final stages
of this deep foldthe rounded shape in the
spine can aggravate that condition.

34

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

Preparation
(Downward-Facing Thunderbolt Twist)

Sit in vajrasana (thunderbolt pose), with your hips on your heels and
your feet and knees touching. Inhale as you squeeze your knees together to tone your inner thighs and lift your chest. Place your right
hand on the outside of your left knee and place your left hand on
your sacrum behind you. Exhale and twist to your left. Maintaining
this twist, bend forward and place your hands and your forehead on
the floor. Draw your tailbone forward and into your body and tone
your low belly to protect your spine. Straighten your arms in front of
you to stretch your spine. In this twisted and forward-bended position, the right side of your back will be higher than your left side.
With every exhale, lower your right breast more toward the floor to
create a lateral stretch along the right side of your back. This stretch
will loosen the muscles
along the back of your
body and begin to prepare your back for the
1
deep stretch that comes
with kurmasana. Hold
for 30 seconds to 1
minute. Repeat on the
other side.

(Downward-Facing Dog Lunge)

From prasarita padottanasana (wide angle forward bend), turn your


right foot in slightly and your left foot out 90 degrees. Bend your left
knee so that it is directly over your front ankle. Stretch your hands
and arms out to the left the same way you did in adho mukha parshva
vajrasana. Straighten your arms. In this position your hips and thighs
will naturally move back and apart. Make sure that your legs are
toned in order to protect your hamstring attachments. Lift your right
kneecap by engaging your quadriceps fully. Move your tailbone
forward and into your body as you lift and tone your lower
abdomen. Move your left sitting bone toward your right
inner thigh in order to line your left leg up straight
from your hip to your knee and to ensure
that your butt is not sticking out.
2

(Bound Side Angle Pose)

Stand in tadasana (mountain pose).


Step or jump your feet wide. Stretch
your arms out to the sides, parallel
with the floor. Place your feet directly
underneath your wrists. Keep your
right foot straight ahead and turn your
left leg out to the left 90 degrees. Line
your left heel up with the arch of your
right foot. Inhale, engage your leg muscles and lift your chest. Exhale, bend
your left knee until the top of your left
thigh is parallel to the floor. Place your
left hand on the floor on the inside of
your left foot so that your torso is along
the inside of your left thigh. Stretch
your right arm up to the ceiling. This is
stage one. If your shoulders or hips are
tight, stay here.
exhale, bend your right arm at the elbow, aim your thumb toward the floor
to internally rotate your arm and place
your forearm along the back side of your
waistline. Make sure you have your
arm at your waist and not around your
hip to make the clasp less stressful for

your shoulder. Slide the left side of your


torso along the inside of your left thigh
to move a littler lower toward the floor
and to open your hips more. Turn your
left arm in and wrap it around your left
thigh, and clasp your right hand or wrist
behind you. If you cannot make the
clasp, bend forward at your hips more
and reach your thighs back like you had
them in the first stage of the adho mukha
shvanasana variation.
Once you have the clasp, take your
tailbone in, lift your low belly up, and
line your front leg up from your hip
to your knee. These actions will help
stabilize your hips. Hold for 30 seconds
to 1 minute. Release and repeat on the
other side.

(Intense Side Stretch Pose)

Stand in tadasana. Place your hands behind your back in reverse prayer. Step or
jump your feet wide. Turn your left foot
in strongly and turn your right foot out
90 degrees. Line your right heel up with
the arch of your left foot. Squeeze your
legs together until you feel your inner
thighs engage, your hips become more
square to the front of your mat, and your
chest lift. Engage your leg muscles and
lift your kneecaps. Keep your legs strong
as you exhale and bend forward over
your right leg.
As you bend forward over your front
leg, lift your kneecap and push through
the ball of your right foot as though you
were stepping on a gas pedal. This will
help you move more weight into your
back leg and help you avoid hyperextending your front leg. First bring your
forehead, your nose, and then your chin
to your shin. Hold the posture for 30
seconds to 1 minute. Inhale, return to
standing. Repeat on the other side.
shoulders, use one of the following
variations: hands on the floor, interlaced
hands behind the back, or clasped elbows behind the back. >>

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

35

(Sages Twist Variation)

Sit in dandasana (staff pose) with your


legs straight out in front of you. Bend
your right leg and place the inside of
your right foot along the inside of your
left thigh. Anchor both sitting bones to
the floor or a blanket, inhale, and stretch
your spine long. Maintaining the length
of your torso, exhale and place your
outer right armpit or shoulder against
your inner right knee. The resistance
powers the twist away from the bent leg
and keeps the adductors toned and the
pelvis stable.
Bend your right arm and point your
fingers straight up to the ceiling. Place

Sit in dandasana with your legs straight


out in front of you. Bend your right leg
and place the inside of your right foot
along the inside of your left thigh. Bring
your knee out to the right slightly like
you would in malasana (garland pose).
As you inhale, stretch your right arm up
toward the ceiling to stretch your spine.
Exhaling, bend forward from your hips
and reach your right arm out toward
your left foot. Inhale again and make
your spine as long as you can and, with
your exhale, turn your right arm in, bend
your elbow, and clasp your right arm
around your right leg, as low toward the
ankle as you can.

Stand in tadasana with your feet and legs


together. Bend forward and place your
hands on the floor in front of you. Put
some weight in your hands and come up
onto the balls of your feet. Stay on the
balls of your feet, keep weight into your
hands to take pressure out of your knee
joint, and bring your hips toward your
heels. Once you have closed the knee
joint, lower your heels to the floor. If
you cannot bring your heels to the floor,
place a blanket underneath your heels.
Keeping the soles of your feet on
the floor, stretch your arms in front of
you and reach your sitting bones back
behind you to encourage a small curve

PRATYAHARA ALLOWS US TO PULL BACK FROM ALL THE


EXTERNAL ACTIVITY AND GATHER THE FORCE AND FOCUS WE NEED
TO DIVE BACK INTO THE FRAY.
your left hand on the floor or a block
behind your back. This may be intense
enough for your body right now.
in, bend your elbow, and wrap your
right arm around your right leg. Bend
your left arm in and place your left forearm along the back of your waistline,
and clasp your hands or your left wrist
behind your back. Create a very strong
upper back backbend here and take your
arm bones toward the back plane of your
body to stabilize your shoulders. Hold
for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Release and
repeat on the other side.

36

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

With your next inhale, turn your left


arm in, wrap your forearm around the
back of your waistline (not your hips),
and clasp your fingers or your left wrist
behind you. Bring your forehead, your
nose, or your chin to the shin of your
outstretched leg. Hold for 30 seconds
to 1 minute. Release and repeat on the
other side.
clasp in this posture if your shoulders
are not ready for such a deep stretch.
Bending forward and placing your hands
on either side of your outstretched leg
makes for an effective modification.

to come into your lumbar spine. Having


established this length along the back
of your body, take your tailbone deeper
into your body, lift your low belly up,
bring your lower ribs closer to your hip
bones to tone your abdominal muscles,
place your arms on the floor behind you
with your palms facing up, and lower
your head toward or to the floor. Hold
for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Move directly into uttanasana.

Photos: Sarah Keough and Bek Andersen; Model: Elena Brower; Stylist: Esther Ahn; Wardrobe: Lululemon

The Peak Pose


8

8
Forward Bend Pose)

From malasana, keep your belly close


to your thighs as you slowly straighten
your legs and come into uttanasana.
At the midpoint between bent legs and
straight legs, take your hands to the
backs of your heels making a C shape
and pull your belly closer to your thighs
as you straighten your legs. It is not
essential to straighten your legs completely, but do keep your belly on your
thighs to support your back in this deep
forward flexion. Hold for 30 seconds
and release.

Kurmasana is given here in three stages.


Choose the one that makes the most
sense for your body. For stage one, sit
in dandasana with your legs straight
in front of you. Place your heels on the
outside edges of your sticky mat. Bend
your legs slightly less than 90 degrees.
With your thumb on the back of your
right calf muscle, place your right
shoulder underneath your right leg.
Now place your left shoulder underneath your left leg. Stretch your arms
out straight so that your arms and your
legs form a 90-degree angle with one
another. Squeeze your legs toward one
another and stretch them as straight as
you can (Fig. 9a). For stage two, move
your arms back behind you with your
palms up, the same way you had them in
malasana (Fig. 9b).
For stage three, turn your arms
in, bend your elbows, and clasp your
hands around the back of your waistline. (Fig. 9c) The tendency in this
posture is for the legs to spread too
wide, which makes the clasp impos-

sible. This posture is the symbol of


retreat and drawing in, so counteract
the common misalignment by positioning your shoulders as far under your
legs as you can and squeezing your legs
together with the strength of your upper inner thighs. The more you stretch
your arms away from your body, the
more easily you will be able to clasp
them. Once you have the clasp, work
your arm bones toward the back plane
of the body as though you were doing a
backbend in your shoulders. Hold for
30 seconds to 1 minute and release. n

and is the author of Yoga from the Inside Out


and My Body Is a Temple.

j To experience a deeply restorative

practice, listen to Sandra Andersons audio


on yogainternational.com/pratyahara.

9a

9b

9c

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

37

INNERQUEST

The End of the World


By choosing compassion over fear, we can preserve the world for

38

Yes, the world really will come to an


end. But only after were goneand
not before thatso its not a big
concern. If the sun is collapsing or a
band of giant meteors is heading our
way, we have no power to prevent it.
But we do have the power to create
catastrophe. If we listen to doomsday
discourses and prophecies and live in
fear, the world may well come to an
end. Why? Because belief, intention,
collective consciousness, rumor, and
propaganda have amazing power. If

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

we fail to do anything constructive


and instead spend our time discussing
apocalyptic calamities, we will make
big trouble for our fellow beings and
for ourselves.
Fear invites danger. If we all
become so frightened that we start
stashing bottled water and hoarding
food, if we tunnel into mountainsides
and move into these dark holes, no
one will be left to protect, nourish,
and nurture the earth. In that case, the
world will certainly come to an end.

teaching yoga philosophy and practice worldwide


for the past 30 years. He is the spiritual head of
the Himalayan Institute.

Kathryn LeSoine

Theres been so much talk about the end of the world lately that
Im beginning to take it seriously. Theres no agreement about
how the apocalypse will be triggered, but the leading candidates
seem to be the end of the Mayan calendar in December 2012,
the massive solar storms predicted for next year, or a meteor
shower in 2014. Will the world really end soon?

When we are driven by fear we


engender calamity. In an attempt to
ward off danger, we become violent
and dangerous to ourselves. Even if
we do not actually destroy the planet
by such actions, we will destroy
much of humanitys strength, vitality,
wisdom, knowledge, peace, and tranquility. We should concern ourselves
with preserving and promoting higher
values rather than worrying about
the end of the world. Damaging selfunderstanding, love, compassion, and
kindness will bring civilization to an
end. That is a very big destruction.
We cannot stop the planet from
being engulfed in powerful solar
storms, but we can use our power to
maintain our values and to strengthen
our faith in ourselves and in a higher
reality. If we lose trust in ourselves
and have no faith in a higher reality, if we no longer trust our family,
friends, or neighbors, we will devolve
into a barbaric society with a barbaric
mind-set. Clearly we see that people
with a barbaric mind-set already exist
in so-called civilized societies. If they
become the majorityand those of
us with higher values and a brighter
vision become a minoritylife will
become miserable. Thats what will
bring the civilized world to an end. n

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A
Balancing
Act
F

or the most part, we travel the planet with confidence


in our ability to breathe. Breathing difficulties certainly
alarm us when they do occur, and yet more than 21,000
times a day, the respiratory system manages to get its job done
right. In the process, our breath flows automatically, sustaining
life with little need for attention.
The close relationship between physical activity and breathing is familiar to each of us. Climb one flight of stairs and
breathing changes slightly. Climb eight flights of stairs, though,
and the change is more dramatic. Take the elevator and breathing is unlikely to change at all.
Not all breathing is motivated by metabolic needs, of course.
Imagine encountering a snake as you walk along a desert trail.

40

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

Hands with string: corbisrffancy / Fotolia.com

Becoming aware of and regulating our

breath helps us achieve a note of harmony between the body and the mind.

Meditator: Matthias Clamer / Getty Images

By Rolf Sovik

You quickly assess the situation: Is it a dangerous snake or a


friendly one? Perhaps, in your mind, all snakes are dangerous.
Should you stay put, keep moving ahead, or go back the way
you came? Do you even have time to ask such questions? These
and similar concerns flash through your mind. But in the moments before they do, your breathing has already become more
rapid. Simply seeing the snake has engaged your breath. With
little conscious awareness, it has responded to the threat of the
snake by preparing you for action.
How could this happen? What sorts of internal mechanisms
change your breathing even before youve begun to exert yourself? The answer is, psychological ones. Your vision of the world,
the information you take in through your senses, your emo-

tional reactions, memories of past experience, and your imagination all have the potential to change the way you breathe.
Suppose, for example, that a letter has arrived from the
bank. It looks official. Short on funds this month, you worry
that it is an overdraft notice. Your breathing quickens with
anxiety as you slice through the envelope. Images of repo men
driving off in your car suddenly flash through your mind, and
you momentarily stop breathing altogether! You open the envelope. Its an offer for a credit card. With a sigh of relief, your
breathing returns to normal, and you are soon pleasantly lost in
the remaining stack of mail.
Clearly, breathing can be fraught with emotion, serving
purposes only distantly related to our basic physiological
winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

41

Modes of Breathing

own. Breathing is fashioned by muscles adjacent to the lungs. The respiratory


diaphragm, doming upward within the rib cage beneath the lungs, makes the largest contribution to breathing efforts. When the diaphragm contracts, its upper
surface is drawn down, and air flows in. When the diaphragm relaxes, it is drawn
back up by the elasticity of the lungs, and air flows out.
Like other muscles of respiration, the
diaphragm is a skeletal muscle. It is enervated by the phrenic nerve, a nerve that
forms the final common pathway for nerve
central tendon
impulses reaching the diaphragm from
of diaphragm
the brain. Traffic along the phrenic nerve
is busy, merging influences from three
distinct modes of respiratory functioning:
involuntary breathing, which satisfies our
metabolic needs; voluntary breathing,
which allows us to control the breath by
holding it, singing, speaking, and yogic
muscular portion
breath training; and behavioral breathing,
of diaphragm
which reflects pain, emotions, and stress.
Scientists have known for decades that cells located in the brain stemthe
most primitive part of the brainproduce the basic respiratory rhythm. These
cells are found in the medulla oblongata, where rudimentary patterns of respiration are generated, and in the pons, where rhythms of breathing are smoothed
out. Nerve impulses originating from these cells produce breathing that is involuntary. If an injury prevented all higher portions of the brain from functioning, the
respiratory centers in the brain stem could continue to produce basic breathing.
When you meditate, you create ideal conditions for simply observing your
breath without trying to change it. As you relax, your metabolism slows and your
breathing becomes deeply rhythmic. Great tidal surges sweep unceasingly through
your lungsemptying and filling, cleansing and nourishing, moving from breath
to breath. Breathing is a deeply emotional experience, satisfying a fundamental
yearning to preserve life. As you sit, you can observe the cycling of respiration
much as you might observe the slow swinging of a clocks pendulum. Your breathing will become increasingly effortless under your quiet observation. Your nervous
system will relax, bringing a sense of harmony to your body and mind.

42

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

Watching
YOUR BODY BREATHE

Read through the following.


Then, when you are ready, either
lie down or sit in a comfortable
position, close your eyes, and
begin to practice.

mic flow of your breathing.


Focus on the sensations
of your breaththe experience of emptying and fillingcleansing and nourishing. Soften the muscles in
the abdomen and between
the ribs.

2
3
4
5
6

After a number of minutes


have passed, begin to pay
attention to the transitions
between breaths. Weave
each breath smoothly and
effortlessly into the next,
gradually relaxing more
deeply.
Let the breath flow at just
the right pace for younot
too fast, not too slow. This
will help you let go of the
need to control your breathing in some way.
Maintain your awareness
of breathing and relax your
mental effort.
Gradually begin to sense
that I am not the breather.
Your body breathes...effortlessly. You are merely a witness, observing the gentle
and automatic flow of your
breath.
Continue for a number of
minutes, softening your
mental effort and allowing
your nervous system to
become deeply relaxed.
Then, when you are ready,
slowly bring your attention
outward.

Illustration: Roger Hill; Asana images: Photos: Andrea Killam; Model: Hanan Jaber; Wardrobe: Models own

needs. But just as with normal breathing, these emotionally charged respiratory
changes occur largely outside our awareness. Even during periods of significant
stress, breathing remains in the backgrounda silent partner to a drama occurring in your mind.
Meditation changes all this. During periods of meditation, metabolism slows,
and the breath cycles in and out with unusual constancy. As your sitting times
lengthen, your awareness of the breath increases. It becomes possible to see, analyze, and understand the process of respiration with much greater refinement.
Meditation reveals that breathing is not simply a means of staying alive. It is
a process that engages every level of your being and adds its own energies to the
mix, as well. By examining the subtle imbalances affecting your breath during
meditation, and learning to systematically resolve them there, you can restore
inner balance and quietude to your mind.

Voluntary Control of Breathing

impulses reaching the diaphragm from


the brain stem, nerve impulses descending from the cerebral cortex can also influence the breath. This means that, within
limits, you can start, stop, and modify
your breathing at will.
Voluntary control allows you to swim
underwater, blow warm air onto cold
hands, sip through straws, sing, and talk.
During periods of meditation, you can use
voluntary control to make adjustments in
your breathing.
The fact that breathing can be consciously controlled means that, with
practice, you can replace unproductive
breathing habits with productive ones.
Yoga uses five criteria to assess the quality
of breathing. Practitioners learn to make
their breath deep, smooth, even, silent,
and without pause. The following exercise
will help you examine these criteria and
make adjustments to your own breath
a process called breath training in yoga.

Adjusting

How we act and how we feel


play a role in how we breathe
and conversely, breathing affects
our actions and feelings.
Your ability to become aware of your breathing, and to sustain that awareness
as you make adjustments to it, will have long-term effects. You will be able to recognize good breathingbut more importantly, you will begin to acquire a healthy
breathing habit.
In addition to voluntary and involuntary styles of breathing, a third force governs
respirationone that both complicates and humanizes matters considerably. Your
emotions. Simply put: how you feel affects how you breathe.
The rather clumsy phrase used to label this third mode of breathingbehavioral
breathingreminds us that not all breathing styles are directly linked to metabolic
needs. How we act and how we feel play a role in how we breatheand conversely,
breathing affects our actions and feelings.
This type of breathing can seem pretty straightforward. Our behaviors influence the
depth, speed, rhythm, or style of breathing in familiar ways. Touch a hot burner and
youll quickly inhale as you pull your hand away. Lose your temper in a rageyoull
breathe out and in sharply. A deeply discouraged mood may cause you to sigh and, in
the process, communicate your feelings and low energy level to others. Reactions like
these may also act to protect us from being overwhelmed by a painful experience. >>

YOUR BREATHING

Lie comfortably on your back on a firm flat surface. Support your neck and head with a thin cushion. Observe the flow of your breathing, sensing each exhalation and inhalation and making smooth transitions from breath to breath. Continue for a number of minutes,
allowing your body to rest. Then begin to shape your breathing in the following way:

1 If your breathing is shallow, gently deepen it.


To do this, deepen the contractions of the
diaphragm and increase the expansion of the
abdomen with each breath.

Soften muscle tensions that create jerks or


otherwise restrict your breathing. Look especially
for tension in the abdomen or in the muscles
between the ribs.

3 If your breaths are of un-

5 Weave each breath into the next, smoothing

equal lengths, make adjustments to equalize them. This


will relax your nervous system.

out pauses in your breath that interrupt its


unbroken flow.

4 Quiet the breath. Let it


flow silently.

6 Finally, relax your mental effort as you did in


exercise 1. Observe your breathing as a relaxed
witness and let your body breathe.

43

Suppose, however, that you are a


sales agent desperately trying to explain
to your supervisor why you should
keep your job despite declining sales
revenues. You have recently bought a
new house, and the thought of being out
of work literally takes your breath away.
Unfortunately, late nights with a colicky
baby have left you irritable, and you are
trying not to let that show in your voice.
In addition, you have a painful cavity
in one of your teeth. The tightness in
your abdomen keeps the pain manageable, but adds a layer of tension to your
breathing that makes matters worse.
As the conversation with your boss
continues, the stress of trying to control
your thoughts, emotions, and breathing
nearly overwhelms you. Your presentation is convincing, but you leave on the
verge of tears.
Behavioral breathing is reactive and
frequently involves, as this example
shows, many layers of emotion, stress,
and pain. The strength of your reaction
generally indicates something about the
level of threat you perceive in your environment. Snakes and lost jobs trigger

ena remains one of the truly neglected


areas of psychophysiology, behavioral
medicine, and neurophysiology,
P. Grossman and C. J. Wientjes wrote
in How Breathing Adjusts to Mental
and Physical Demands (Respiration and
Emotion, Springer, 2001).
More recent endeavors have shown
promise, however. One study in 2008
examined an area of the brain called the
periaqueductal gray. Cells in this part of
the brain are located in proximity to midbrain structures involved in the processing of emotion. Researchers discovered
that stimulating various periaqueductal
gray regions produced significant changes
in the breath, causing it to deepen,
change speed, start and stop, and act as
if under stress. Thus, a broad range of
stress-related respiratory experience appears to be modulated by these cells.
Breathing as a Healing Tool

nize emotional influences on breathing


directly and provides a strategy for
relieving underlying pain. In carrying
out this inner work, however, you need

Accepting disturbances in your


breathing implies actively accepting
the sources of stress, pain,
and negative emotions in your life.
strong reactionscausing breath holding and major changes in your breathing
style. Getting a window seat instead of
an aisleless so.
The complexity of the human brain
and the difficulty of exploring subtle
interconnections within it make research
on behavioral breathing technically challenging. The investigation of respiration in relation to psychological phenom-

44

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

to resist the impulse to seize control of


your breath and make heavy-handed
changes to it. Acceptance is the key to
working with emotional dimensions
of breathing. In order to deepen your
capacity to witness the breath, you must
truly accept it as it is. It is this nonjudgmental openness that transforms breath
awareness into an instrument of selfunderstanding and healing.

During meditation, emotional reactions register in the breath in subtle


ways. They can speed your breath or
slow it down, alter its depth, change
its style, or manifest as minor interruptions in its flow. Becoming conscious of
your breath allows you to witness these
changes, recognize their importance,
and slowly quiet them. The process is
not unlike the practices you have already
tried, but it contains differences as well.
In particular, accepting disturbances in
your breathing implies actively accepting
the sources of stress, pain, and negative
emotion in your life.
The process of opening to emotional experience and its sources lends
gravity to the meditation process. In
meditation, we do not simply observe
thoughts and feelings passing through
us like ghostly images, pushed away by
a shift in attention. The substance and
content of worldly life is grounded in
us. Events that spawn our reactions
pain, stress, and emotionally charged
incidentsenter into the stream of
inner life as actual presences. Anger is
anger. Sorrow is sorrow. Changes in
breathing arising from these emotions
are real as well.
Emotional threads in your life are
subtly entwined with your breathing.
Anger, frustration, anxiety, jealousy,
sadness, and depression transform your
breath. These transformations are not
simply reactionsthey become part of
your emotional experience, part of your
stress and pain. They often occur even
before you are aware of the source of
your discomfort.
In meditation, however, the subtle
disturbances and imbalances we experience in breathing are simply allowed
to be. They pass through us precisely
because we witness them and give them
room within us. When distortions in
breathing are witnessed in this way,
deeper forces of breathing are awakened
and breathing acts as a healing power,
gradually returning to its natural flow.

Healing

AWARENESS

Lie on a firm flat surface or sit in a meditation posture. Shift your attention to your breathing and
soften your abdomen and rib cage, letting your breath flow freely. Feel the breath flow out and in,
cleansing and nourishing you, and anchor your awareness in these sensations. Soften the transitions
between breaths, weaving one breath into the next. Then simply rest, feeling your body breathe.

As you settle into your breath, allow


yourself to sense how your emotional
life is reflected there. Feel the way
in which your discomforts, stresses,
and emotional reactions dwell in the
streams of your breath.

Although there are many approaches to restoring


inner balance, for now stay with the breath, even
in the midst of your pain or negative emotion.
Breath by breath, sense that you can be with
discomfort and use your breath to cleanse and
nourish yourself.

It is not necessary to fully identify or


analyze all the sources of your respiratory reactions. Their causes may lie
behind the veil of your awareness. But
notice any shifts in your breathing,
sensing their very real presence.

Gradually, let the steady stream of your breathing wash away the imbalances that have disturbed it. With that awareness, let each breath
help restore you; by quietly mending your breath
you can transform your inner experience.

Having observed these emotional elements in the breath, now do the unexpected. Accept them. Approach your
breathing with openness. Recognize
that your distresses are already in your
breath, lodged for a time there in the
rhythms of your respiration, yet working their way through.

As you continue, relax your mental effort as you


did in exercises 1 and 2. Observe your breathing
as a relaxed witness, and let your body rest
and breathe.

Finally, when you are ready, slowly bring


your attention outward, grateful for the
experience of relaxed breathing.

The process outlined above can be


used with physical pain as well. Suppose
you have a horrible headache and wish you
could make it disappear. No doubt your
pain, combined with your reaction to it, is
affecting your breathing. Perhaps your abdominal muscles have tightened, and, as a
result, your breaths have become shallow;
or maybe you have artificially slowed your
breathing by overcontrolling it.
Turn toward your headache as you
meditate, open to its presence, and you
will discover that breath awareness is a
tool that reveals new ways of being. It
generates a willingness to coexist with
your headache, to approach it with a
fundamental optimism. It allows you to
soften the way in which you unintentionally grip your discomfort, to unwrap the
stranglehold you have on your headache,
and slowly let the pain move through.

Using this approach, you can let


breath awareness return breathing to
its steady automatic rhythm. Youll recover involuntary patterns of breathing,
minus the scuffle. And once this has
happened, headache or no, you can find
rest within yourself.
Three in One

that: work with it. The three practices


here will help you. Although they have
been presented as distinct exercises,
each addressing one aspect of breathing,
they are considerably more integrated
in intent. In one daily session, you can
explore themes from all three. Lie down,
rest, and tune your awareness to your
breathing. Strengthen the diaphragm,
then soften the rib cage; make your
breaths even, then relax your effort; be

the breather, and then be the witness.


Practicing 10 to 15 minutes every day
will lead to mastery.
You will soon find that most of the
snakes that bother your breathing are
not in the desert. They wait on pathways in your mind. They may very well
rattle your breathing, sometimes before
youre fully aware of their presence, but
they are not as dangerous as you might
fear. By becoming conscious of your
breathing, your unconscious reactions
can soften. You may be left with some
realistic challenges, but fewer ghosts and
shadows. Your breath is free to serve,
not only the needs of your body, but
those of your mind and spirit as well. n

Institute and the author of Moving Inward: The


Journey to Meditation.

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

45

Heart

the

of the matter

Bulls Eye / Getty Images

It now appears that inflammation, not high cholesterol,


may cause heart disease. A combination of yoga, meditation, and a diet
rich in good fats and antioxidants can help prevent it.

By James Keough

y and large, yoga practitioners


are a heart-healthy group. Yoga
provides us with regular exercise
for our bodies and stress-reducing
techniques for our minds. Few
of us smoke or use tobacco, and
those of us who imbibe tend to do
so moderately. And for the most
part, our diets follow Michael Pollans straightforward advice in his
book In Defense of Food: Eat food.
Not too much. Mostly plants.
So why should we concern
ourselves with heart disease? Well,
first off, no one is immune from health issues, and
heart disease is the leading cause of death in the
United States. Second, we all know at least one
person whose annual checkup ended with warnings
about high cholesterol and a prescription for statin
drugs. And, finally, we need to know that cholesterol might not even be the primary cause of heart
disease (that dubious distinction, researchers now
say, belongs to inflammation), which means weve
had our eye on the wrong ball for a long time.
This focus on cholesterol began almost 60 years

ago, when the American Heart Association declared that the cause of coronary heart disease was
butter, lard, beef, and eggs. Mainstream medicine quickly bought into the idea that the high levels
of saturated fat in those foods raised cholesterol levels in the blood, and the excess cholesterol clogged
the arteries. And now, after half a century of low-fat
diets and the staggering proliferation of cholesterollowering medications ($35 billion in sales last year),
the notion is firmly entrenched in the minds of most
health practitioners and consumers.
Maybe its time to reconsider. As nutritionist
Jonny Bowden, PhD, coauthor (with Stephen
Sinatra, MD) of The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why
Lowering Your Cholesterol Wont Prevent Heart
Diseaseand the Statin-Free Plan That Will (Fair
Winds Press, 2012) says, Trying to prevent heart
disease by lowering cholesterol is like trying to
cut calories from a McDonalds supersized meal
by removing the pickle. For men over 65 and for
women of any age, cholesterol levels are practically
useless in assessing coronary heart disease risk.
And, oddly enough, if you step back and look at
the big picture, low cholesterol may actually cause
more health problems than it prevents. >>

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

47

Heart Attack
Warning Signs
Some heart attacks are sudden
and intensethe movie heart attack, where no one doubts whats
happening. But most heart attacks
start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected
arent sure whats wrong and wait
too long before getting help. Here
are signs that can mean a heart
attack is happening:

attacks involve discomfort in the


center of the chest that lasts more
than a few minutes, or that goes
away and comes back. It can
feel like uncomfortable pressure,
squeezing, fullness, or pain.

Discomfort in other areas of


include pain or discomfort in one
or both arms, the back, neck, jaw,
or stomach.

without chest discomfort.

ing out in a cold sweat, nausea, or


lightheadedness. Women are somewhat more likely than men to experience shortness of breath, nausea
or vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

48

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

What doctors rarely admit is that people


with high cholesterol actually live longer;
and at least six studies found that the
lower the cholesterol, the higher the
mortality. In fact, if you look at all the
causes of death in this country, people
with higher levels of cholesterol have
less cancer, a lower risk of dying from
gastrointestinal and respiratory disease,
and fewer automobile accidents and
suicides. Surprisingly, the protective role
of cholesterol extends even to people
with serious heart disease. Studies in the
United States and Europe found that
heart disease patients with high cholesterol levels live much longer than those
with low levels.
Our bodies need cholesterol because,
among other things, it plays a critical
role in the production of brain cells,
and studies have linked too low a level
(below 160) to depression, aggression,
cerebral hemorrhages, and cognitive
problemsall of which may explain
those higher death rates from accidents
and suicides.

How Cholesterol
Got a Bad Rap
Any discussion about cholesterol should
begin by acknowledging that the liver
makes roughly 800 to 1,000 mg of it a
dayall that the body needs to maintain
good health. But if you get additional
cholesterol from the foods you eat (all
foods from animal sources contain
cholesterol), your body scales back
production until it can deal with the
surplus. Furthermore, the body needs
this soft, waxy sterol to help digest fats,
strengthen and repair cell membranes,
insulate nerves, manufacture vitamin D,
and make hormones, including those
that govern our sex lives.
Because its a fatlike substance,
cholesterol cant dissolve in our waterbased blood and flow directly to the
cells. Instead, it has to hitch a ride on
special carriers called lipoproteins. By

now were all probably familiar with two


of those: low-density lipoproteins (LDL)
and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).
The LDLs, scientists discovered, deliver
cholesterol to the cells on an as-needed
basis, and the heavier HDLs act as scavengers, picking up any excesseven
scraping it off artery wallsand transporting it back to the liver for processing
and elimination.
Seen in this context, both HDL
and LDL can be called good cholesterol, because each performs a critical
function in the day-to-day operation
of the body. In the early rounds of the
cholesterol-causes-heart-disease discussion, however, only HDL received that
distinction, because it reduced the level
of cholesterol in the blood. LDL, on the
other hand, was labeled bad, because
researchers in the Framingham Heart
Study deemed it a marginal risk factor
for heart disease.
Its hard to imagine that the body
would make a mission-critical substance
that could also cause death, but thats
what the label bad cholesterol implies,
and it spawned an all-out medical war on
LDL cholesterol, the intention of which
is to drive LDL levels as low as possible.
This premise not only overlooks the
bodys critical need for low-density lipoproteinswithout them the cells cant
get the cholesterol they needit misses
an important fact. LDL turns bad only
when free radicals oxidize it (essentially,
destabilize it) by stealing one of its electrons. It can then stick to an artery wall
and start an inflammatory cascade that
leads to heart-attack-causing blood clots.

Maybe Theres
Something Else
Perhaps the most telling disconnect
about the high cholesterol theory
(called the lipid hypothesis) is the
inconvenient truth that fully half of all
heart attacks occur in people who have
normal cholesterol levels. Most people
would look at that number50 percentand wonder if something other

Great Art Productions / Getty Images

Getting to Know
the Enemy

than cholesterol might account for this


apparent contradiction.
It turns out that the lipid hypothesis
has seriously oversimplified heart disease, according to numerous studies,
and has completely discounted the role
that antioxidants play in preventing
heart problems. Case in point: The
Lyon Diet Heart Study, which occurred
during the 1990s, placed one group of
heart attack survivors on the low-fat,
high-carb, anti-cholesterol diet then
endorsed by the American Heart Association, and a second group on whats
called the Mediterranean diet, which
consists primarily of vegetables, fruits,
nuts, fish, and olive oil. At the end of the
study, both groups had roughly the same
cholesterol levels, but subjects on the
Mediterranean diet had a much lower
number of second heart attacks and
experienced far less chest pain (unstable
angina) and heart disease. Why? Researchers believe it had something to do
with the antioxidants found in fruits and
vegetables and the anti-inflammatory
omega-3 fatty acids found in fish.
And then theres the French paradox,
the puzzling fact that France has one of
the lowest incidences of heart disease
in the developed world, even though its

Even More Complicated


If youre a middle-aged man for whom high cholesterol
is a significant risk factoror if you know your LDLs
are hightake note. Recently, researchers have discovered that the bad cholesterol comes in two flavors:
Pattern A and Pattern B. The light, fluffy, and perfectly
fine LDL-A poses no risk for heart disease, but the
small, dense B is nasty stuff, says heart-health expert
Jonny Bowden, PhD. Pattern B is the LDL that lodges
in the endothelium, gets oxidized, and leads to arterial plaque. So knowing your A and B counts will help
clarify your heart disease risk and may signal a need to
reduce your Pattern B LDL. Of course, youll still need
to minimize the other risk factors that lead to LDL
oxidation and feed the inflammation that triggers
arterial plaque formation.
mation plays an important role in the
development of heart disease and the
onset of heart attacks. How? Lets take
a look at what happens inside the arteries. Somethinghigh blood pressure,
blood sugar spikes from a high-glycemic
diet, or toxins from smoking, pollution,
or pesticidesinjures the endothelium,
the delicate one-cell-thick lining of the
arteries. LDL cholesterol lodges in the

holds, and the only harm the plaque does


is contribute to narrowing the artery.
Unstable plaque, on the other hand, can
burst and cause blood clots that in turn
can block a narrowed artery and cause a
heart attack.
To find out if you have inflammation-related heart problems, your
doctor relies on a number of blood
tests. These inexpensive tests play a

Trying to prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol is


like trying to cut calories from a McDonalds supersized meal
by removing the pickle. Jonny Bowden, PhD
citizens eat rich, high-cholesterol foods
with seemingly reckless abandon and
have an average total cholesterol level
that hovers around 250. Researchers
studying this paradox also point to the
consumption of fresh vegetables and
fruit and to the powerful antioxidants in
red wine, particularly resveratrol.
So what role do antioxidants play in
the body? They reduce inflammation.
And those two studies, along with more
recent ones, seem to confirm that inflam-

injuryperhaps in an effort to repair


the damaged cellsand then becomes
oxidized by free radicals in the blood.
The immune system rushes in to repair
the wound and in the process inflames it
furtherthink of the redness surrounding a cut on your finger. In an effort to
contain this growing infection, the
body covers it with a tough, fibrous cap,
creating whats called arterial plaque.
Sometimes the plaque is stable, meaning
the inflammation calms down, the cap

critical role in detecting heart disease


even before symptoms occur.
So, should you march down to the
lab and get tested? Probably not, unless
you have a number of heart disease risk
factorsespecially a high-stress lifestyle, excess body weight, or high blood
sugar. In short, any lifestyle choice
that promotes inflammation. But you
should turn the page to see what you
can do and what you can eat to keep
your heart healthy. >>
winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

49

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Take Your Supplements

DOCTORS AND RESEARCHERS may never sort out the complex causes of heart
disease, but that shouldnt stop you from taking action now to protect your heart. For
some that might entail major changes, but most of us just need to add the following to
our already healthy lifestyles.

You can counteract the heartnegative inflammatory foods and


free-radical-inducing environmental
toxins and pollutants by adding
antioxidant-rich vitamins and other
anti-inflammatory supplements like
these to your diet.

Reduce Your Risk Factors


Like many of the chronic diseases that plague our collective health, heart disease develops because we make poor choices about diet, exercise, and questionable habits
like smoking and excessive drinking. Most people will say they know this already,
so the first step is to act on this knowledge and make changes in how we eat (see
What You Should Eat on page 52) and cut back on the proven risk factors for
heart disease. Then consider taking these less well-known steps to give your heart a
fighting chance:

1 tors tell us to do this to prevent


diabetes, but high insulin levels also
contribute to heart disease by causing
a biochemical chain reaction that leads
to inflamed arteries. High insulin levels
also encourage the formation of abdominal fat (the all-too-prevalent spare tire).
To lower insulin levels, limit the sugar
you eatnutritionist Bowden calls it a
far more damaging and inflammatory
substance than fat ever wasand avoid
high-glycemic carbohydrates like white
bread, pasta, short-grain rice, potatoes,
and instant oatmeal.

Chronic stress in our bodies


causes our adrenal glands to release a
steady stream of cortisol as part of our
natural fight-or-flight syndrome. This
and other related hormones cause
arterial constriction, increase blood
pressure, speed up our heart rate, and
promote clotting in the blood. Studies
have shown that meditation, prayer,
yoga, biofeedback, and other mind/
body techniques can lower stress levels and reduce heart attack risk.

powerful antioxidants also reduce


arterial stiffness and combat the
formation of plaque.
found in virtually all your cells, Coenzyme Q10 acts as a powerful free
radical scavenger and helps prevent
LDL oxidation.
N-acetyl-L-cysteine. NAC is a wellresearched form of cysteine, an
amino acid that raises glutathione,
one of the bodys most important
antioxidants.
dant itself, alpha lipoic acid (ALA)
helps recycle vitamins C and E and
glutathione in the body. ALAs are
also found in flax seeds and flax
seed oil.
fatty acids appear to reduce inflammation, prevent blood clots,
and even cut down on heart attack
fatalities.

Jonathan Evans / Getty Images

Regular brushing and flossing


will do more than protect your teeth and
sweeten your breathnumerous studies have found a link between unhealthy
gums and heart disease. The most serious form of gum disease, periodontitis,
can increase the risk of cardiovascular
disease by more than 30 percent.

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yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

Keep Practicing Yoga


Studies at Ohio State and Georgia State universities found that yoga reduces levels of the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6), a marker for chronic inflammation. Numerous studies have also shown
that yoga reduces blood pressure (another risk
factor for heart disease) primarily by lowering
cortisol and bringing the central nervous system
into balance.
Of course, yoga experts believe heart disease is
more than just the sum of test results; they see it as
a disconnect among our physical, emotional, and
spiritual bodies. And they say that in order to create a healthful environment for the heart, we must
weave together all the elements of practiceasana,
pranayama, meditation, and selfless service. Here
are some ways to do that.

Photos: Andrea Killam; Model: Joshua Clemens; Wardrobe: Top: American Apparel, Bottoms: Prancing Leopard

variety of poses that will put your body through its


full range of motion. Backbends open the rib cage
to improve heart and lung function; standing poses
strengthen your legs and stretch your whole body;
forward bends allow you to feel safe and nurtured
and help quiet your sympathetic nervous system;
and twists massage your internal organs and increase circulation throughout the body.

Obviously, your blood pressure didnt rise by itself.


More than 20 years ago, Dean Ornish, MD, and
his team of researchers proved to the world that
emotional stress, isolation, hostility, and low selfesteem had as much to do with heart disease as
high cholesterol, oxidized LDLs, triglyceride levels,
and nicotine. And then they surprised the medical
profession by demonstrating that lifestyle changes
which include yoga, meditation, and group support
can reverse the disease.
shodhanam (alternate nostril breathing) pranayamas
into your daily routine to reduce anxiety and agitation. If you have high blood pressure, however, do
not practice kumbhaka (breath retention).

Heart-Healthy Restorative Practice


Include any of these five restorative poses in your
daily practice to calm your nerves and restore
equilibrium. Avoid headstand or other unsupported inversions if you have high blood pressure.
If you have time for only one pose, choose shavasana (corpse pose) or viparita karani (legs-up-thewall pose) for maximum benefit.

Support the
head in
adho mukha
shvanasana
(downward dog)

Sink into your


support in
balasana
(childs pose)

Use plenty
of props for
supta baddha
konasana
(reclining bound
angle pose)

Elevate your
sacrum in
viparita karani
(legs-up-thewall pose)

meditation, all of which contribute to relieving


hypertension and calming your heart, both physically and emotionally. (See the sample restorative
practice to the right.) >>
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51

WHAT YOU SHOULD EAT


Three Ways to
Get Your EFAs
Vegetarians (or people just worried
about mercury contamination and
sustainability) can get the essential
fatty acids they need from plants
alone.

HISTORICALLY, people in the Mediterranean countries of Spain, Greece, and


Italy, and those who live in Asia, particularly China and Japan, have had a fraction of
the heart disease found in the United States and northern Europeand they have
some of the longest life expectancies, as well. The reason? Their traditional diets. They
differ in detailsyou wont find soy in marinara sauce or olive oil in a wok, but both
diets have low levels of saturated and hydrogenated fats, high levels of healthy fats, and
an emphasis on fish and vegetables. Cardiologists Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, and James
C. Roberts, MD, coauthors of Reverse Heart Disease Now (John Wiley & Sons, 2007),
propose combining the two in the Pan-Asian Mediterranean (PAM) diet, which contains these basic ingredients.

nuts contain heart-healthy monosaturated fats and an especially


heart-friendly, non-wheat version of
vitamin E. The skin covering the nut
also contains key phenolic acids,
tannins, and flavonoids, so eat it
too, even though its somewhat
bitter tasting.

Three ways to get your EFAs:


Micro-algae contain high levels
of DHA and EPA that, along with
ALA, make up the three essential fatty acids in omega-3s. The
fish eat the algae and store the
omega-3s in their fat. Micro-algae,
now available in supplement form,
have the same heart-healthy benefits as fish oil, according to a study
in the British Journal of Nutrition.

These compounds combat the free radicals that


oxidize LDL cholesterol molecules and cause inflammation throughout the body. The trick here
is to eat your colors.
blackberries, cherries, red grapes, and strawberries; rich green veggies like kale, spinach, brussels
sprouts, and broccoli; and vibrant red veggies like beets and red bell peppers pack the
highest concentrations of antioxidants. Onions, too, boast a specific flavonoid, quercetin, which blocks the oxidation of LDL. Looking for an antioxidant beverage? Try
red wine in moderation (it contains resveratrol) or green tea, which blocks an enzyme
involved in inflammation.

Rich in good essential


fatty acids, protein, and
fiber, these staples of
our hunter-gatherer past
also contain phytosterols
(plant fats), which help
cut back on the dietary
cholesterol we absorb.
Raw almonds, walnuts, pecans,
Brazil nuts, and sunflower seeds.
What to eat:

these foods contain more fiber than


their high-glycemic cousins, they take
longer to digest and, therefore, help
maintain steady blood sugar levels, reducing the need for dramatic increases
in insulin. The added fiber also helps
cleanse the digestive system and sops
up excess cholesterol. In fact, studies
report that a 10 g increase in daily fiber
intake produces a 29 percent reduction
in heart disease risk.
bread; bulgar; brown or wild rice; pearl
barley, steel-cut oats, quinoa, millet,
and buckwheat.

52

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

From top: Nikola Bilic / Fotolia.com; SunnyS / Fotolia.com; mates / fotolia.com

contain alpha linolenic acid (ALA),


which the body converts to the
essential fatty acids found in fish
oil. Hemp oil tastes better than flaxseed oil, and it contains the ideal
ratio of omega-6 EFAs to omega3s: 3 to 1. A further benefit: hemp
seed oil also contains gammalinolenic acid (GLA), which reduces
inflammation and improves the
health of the skin. Both oils break
down when heated, and they turn
rancid quickly, so refrigerate them
after opening and consume them in
one to three months.

And then theres the French paradox, the puzzling fact


that France has one of the lowest incidences of heart disease,
even though its citizens eat rich high-cholesterol foods
with seemingly reckless abandon.

flower, and sunflower oils contains excessive amounts of inflammation-causing omega-6 fatty acids, and, as a result of our fondness for
these products, the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s in our bodies is
way out of whack. Estimates put it at as much as 20 to 1 instead of a
healthier 3 to 1. Avoid omega-6-rich polyunsaturated vegetable oils
and processed foods, and ramp up your omega-3s.
and flax seeds, soybeans, and sea vegetables. (See Three Ways to
Get Your EFAs on page 52 for more vegetarian options.)

GARLIC. Prominent in both

From top: margo555 / Fotolia.com; HLPhoto / fotolia.com; Schlierner / fotolia.com

Mediterranean and Asian


cuisine, garlic has a long medicinal pedigree. Among other
phytonutrients, it contains
allicin, which boosts good
cholesterol levels while lowering LDL. And it lowers blood
pressure and reduces blood
platelet stickiness.
LITTLE, IF ANY, BEEF AND
DAIRY. Despite their central roles

in the standard American diet,


these two foods contain too much
saturated fat for daily consumption.
Theyre also high in methionine, a
precursor to homocysteine, which
promotes damage to the arteries.
you lean protein and a dose of antiinflammatory omega-3s, and avoiding
animal foods altogether eliminates
the problem.

Greeks thought the olive tree had great


healing power, and studies suggest
that the monounsaturated oilhigh
in omega-9 fatty acidsfrom its fruit
can reduce heart attack risk and lower
blood pressure.
What to use:

Opt for extra-virgin olive


oil, which is minimally processed, unrefined, and low in acidity.

How to use:

Cut up raw
garlic and let it sit for 15
minutes to release its healthy
compounds. You need to eat
the equivalent of about five
cloves of garlic a day to gain
the most benefit.

helps raise HDL and lower LDL and


blood pressure.
What to eat: Use whole or fermented

soy, such as edamame (soybeans),


tempeh, tamari (wheat-free soy sauce),
soy milk, and soy-milk yogurt. n

Contributing editor James Keough writes about


alternative and complementary medicine from his
home in Providence, Rhode Island. Visit his website
at jameskeough.com.
winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

53

Yoga as we practice it today would


not be possible without the vision and
determination of these four women.
They challenged the misconception
that yoga was an inscrutable,
males-only practice and forever
altered the yoga landscape for us all.

In Loving

gratitude

I ND RA D EV I

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yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

S W AM I S IV A NAN DA RAD H A

by anna dubrovsky

Not so long ago, yoga was an esoteric practice, virtually unheard


of in the United States and other Western countries. A powerful vehicle for
enlightenment. For menin India. Fast forward to the mid-20th century:
yoga is now global, mainstream, and decidedly coed. Few people have had as
much to do with that revolution as the four women featured in these pages.
Charged by their revered teachers in India to spread the word of yoga far and
wide, they reluctantly agreed. But then a curious thing happened. At some
point, each woman began to make the teachings her own, creating practices
anyone could do, no matter their limitations. And all four of them taught us
allmale and female, young and oldwhat it means to be fully alive and
truly at home in our bodies. We bow to them here for kicking the doors of
yoga wide open and happily walking on through.

LI LI AS FOLA N

>>

G E ET A I Y ENG A R

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

55

INDRA DEVI

hen Indra Devi


moved to California from China
in 1947, friends
urged her to call her
teachings anything
but yoga. After all, it would be at least
another 10 years before Richard Hittleman would introduce yoga on television
and two decades before B.K.S. Iyengar
wrote Light on Yoga. Post-war Americans would have no sooner signed up for
yoga than for fire-eating.
But Indra Devi remained undeterred. The Latvian-born itinerant felt
right at home in uncharted territory.
Shed cracked a centuries-old glass ceiling by becoming the first womanand
first Westernerto study with Indian

yoga master T. Krishnamacharya,


opened Chinas first yoga school, and
returned to India to teach yoga to Indians themselves before making her way
to America.
It didnt take long to find a fan base
hereand it didnt hurt that some of
her earliest fans were among the glitterati. A great many people seem to
have taken up the study of yoga simply
because Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo,
Jennifer Jones, Marilyn Monroe, Olivia
de Havilland, Mala Powers, Robert
Ryan, and also the world-famous beautician Elizabeth Arden are known to have
been devotees, she noted in her 1959
best seller, Yoga for Americans.
Indra Devi made an ideal, albeit
unlikely, ambassador for yoga, in part

Indra Devi brought a womans perspective to what had been a mans world.
She also brought her background as a dancer and her deep respect for the
nonsectarian teachings of Krishnamurti.
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yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

Previous layout, from left: Courtesy of Indra Devi Foundation; Yasodhara Ashram 1990; Kelly Davidson; Elaine Banister; Background: Niels Poulsen mus / Alamy

First Lady of Yoga

because she wasnt an Indian man.


Born Eugenie Peterson to a Russian
noblewoman and a Swedish bank director, she was every bit a sophisticated
Westerner, comfortable traveling the
world and mingling with newsmakers
and high society. And yet she was never
stern or ceremonious, and her warmth
and quick wit endeared her to everyone
she came into contact with. She attracted and welcomed students regardless of their motivation: from slimming
down to Self-realization.
Devis own interest in Eastern
spirituality began in her teens, when
she came upon the writings of Bengali
poet-philosopher Rabindranath Tagore
and the American occultist who wrote
under the pseudonym Yogi Ramacharaka. In 1926, the 27-year-old actress
and dancer attended a gathering of the
Theosophical Society in Holland, where
she became enthralled with Jiddu Krishnamurti. The next year, she sailed to
India, following the renowned spiritual
teacher from city to city.
For 12 years, she made India her
home, marrying a Czechoslovakian
diplomat, starring in an Indian movie
(the stage name Indra Devi later became
her legal name), and rubbing shoulders
with such notables as Mahatma Gandhi,
Jawaharlal Nehru, and Rabindranath
Tagore, whose writings first sparked her
love affair with the country. It helped to
have friends in high places; when Krishnamacharya refused to accept a woman
as his student in 1937, his royal patron
intervened on Indra Devis behalf.
By the time Devi followed her diplomat husband to Shanghai in 1939,
Krishnamacharya had warmed up to his
sari-wearing student, insisting that she
teach yoga. And so she didfor the rest

of her remarkably long life. Devi died


just shy of her 103rd birthday in Buenos
Aires, Argentina, her home since 1985.
Devis teaching style bore little
resemblance to that of Iyengar or
Ashtanga yoga maestro K. Pattabhi
Jois, who also studied with Krishnamacharya in the 1930s. That could be
because Krishnamacharya was gentler
with her, or perhaps Devi recognized
that rigorous discipline and unquestioning obedience would not sit well with
most Westerners. She certainly recognized the difference in lifestyles between
Westerners and Indians. I have taken
into account not only the pace to which
life in the United States is geared, but
also the fact that most of you have not
had a chance to keep your muscles limber and your joints supple, she wrote
in Yoga for Americans.
Devi brought a womans perspective to what had been a mans world.
She also brought her background as a
dancer, her deep respect for the nonsectarian teachings of Krishnamurti,

start a new fashion


In Yoga for Americans, Devi addressed everything from asana to the
perils of soft mattresses. The section on diet included recipes and
sample menusand a taste of her humor. The Indians claim that people
afflicted with arthritis should always keep a raw unpeeled winter-crop
potato close to their skin, she wrote. I myself have seen a woman, who
previously had hardly been able to move her fingers, open and close her
fists a week after she started playing around with a potato. Since there
is no risk of any kind involved in holding a potato, and since you may
even start a new fashion by wearing one around the neck like a medallion, you could safely try this experiment. And let me know the results.

and, in the latter third of her life, her


devotion to Sathya Sai Baba, the fuzzyhaired holy man who preached, See
with the eyes of love, hear with the ears
of love, work with the hands of love.
Her Sai yoga was not the vinyasa flow
she learned from Krishnamacharya.
She still used the breath to move within
and between the poses, but her characteristic trademark was gentler and
more devotional.

While disciples of Iyengar and Jois


refer to their teacher as Guruji, Devis
call her Mataji, an affectionate and reverent term for mother. And, like the best
of mothers, she taught them about unconditional love. Its not only asana that
she tried to teach us, says David Lifar,
director of the Indra Devi Foundation in
Buenos Aires. The goal of Matajithe
most important thing of her teaching
was to give love to everyone.

The Spiritual Emissary

Left: Stringer / Reuters; Right: Yasodhara Ashram 1995

SWAMI SIVANANDA RADHA

ust two months into her stay in India, Sylvia Hellmans guru made an
unexpected request. Start an ashram or school [in Canada] for the divine
teachings of yoga and Vedanta.
It was a tall order. The year was 1955, and practically no one had heard
of yoga in North America. Besides, Hellman had not gone to India to become a spiritual pioneer. She had gone to see Swami Sivananda Saraswati,
hoping for insight into the meaning of life, which she had good reason to
question. Born in Berlin in 1911, she had witnessed both World Wars and
lost two husbands: the first killed by the gestapo for helping Jewish friends
leave Germany and the second felled by a stroke.
When he asked her to start an ashram, Hellman tried to reason with the former physician. She pointed out that she didnt even know Sanskrit or Vedanta.
She hadnt studied the Bhagavad Gita. It would be the blind leading the blind,
she insisted.
Three months later, Swami Sivananda threw her another curveball. When you
go back to the West, do not work anymore for money, he told her. God will look
winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

57

hidden language hatha yoga


Shortly before Swami Radha left India, her guru handed her a humdinger of an assignment, Swami Lalitananda recalls. He said, Now I
want you to discover the spiritual and mystical levels of the asanas and
report back to me. She said, Gurudev, I dont even know what youre
talking about. You have to give me an example. And he gave her the
example of the headstand, Swami Lalitananda says. He said, When
you go into the headstand, its like youre turning your world upside
down. So what would happen if your world was turned upside down?
Youre seeing the world in a completely different way. Also, from this
perspective, you cant go anywhere. You cant walk away. So in this
position, its like youre making a commitment. And your feet, which are
usually grounded in the earth, are now grounded in heaven.
Swami Radha took it from there, developing a gentle and meditative
style of practice called Hidden Language Hatha Yoga. She would invite
students to choose an asana and ask them to notice what its name
evokes. How do they feel as they move into the pose; what does that
pose reveal about their lives? A twist, for example, may become a metaphor for a twist in one persons life or the way anothers mind twists
things. Students would jot down their observations between asanas and
share them at the end of class. Peoples personal experiences come
forward, and they understand something about themselves in a different
way, Swami Lalitananda says of the practice she still uses today. Its
like unlocking the secrets in their life that their bodys holding.

after you. Hellman, who chronicled


her six-month stay in Radha: Diary
of a Womans Search, wasnt so sure.
America and Canada are very moneyconscious, she said, Nobody would
understand if I start living on alms. But
Swami Sivananda would not be swayed.
You cannot tell people to live on faith in
God alone if you dont do it yourself.
Hellman concluded that days diary entry with a panicked question:
How can I ever hope to get out of
this whole thing?
But she didnt. Instead of shrinking
from her gurus formidable assignments,
she dove right in. Within weeks of returning to Montreal, the newly initiated
sannyasi was teaching yoga classes, lecturing on yoga philosophy, and discussing her experiences in India on TV. The
following year, she moved to Vancouver,
opened the citys first metaphysical
bookstore, and founded the first Cana-

58

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

dian ashram. In 1963, the ashram moved


to its present location on the shores of
Kootenay Lake in southeastern British
Columbia and called itself Yasodhara, a
name which it shares with Buddhas wife
and Krishnas mother.
Swami Sivananda Radha, as Hellman
was known after her vows of renunciation, went on to write more than a dozen
books; create a publishing house, Timeless Books; launch a quarterly journal
that would become the international
yoga magazine ascent; and open a string
of urban yoga centers.
In the early years, most of Swami
Radhas disciples were men. We
called ourselves Snow White and the
seven dwarfs, she told Yoga Journal in
1981. In time, more and more women
found their way to Yasodhara, drawn
by courses like Women and Spiritual
Life and Swami Radhas strength of
character. Today, they outnumber the

men. Two years before she died in 1995,


Swami Radha named a woman, Swami
Radhananda, as her spiritual successor
and decreed that a woman should always
remain behind the spiritual wheel at
Yasodhara. There have been other very
strong women leaders, but they havent
necessarily passed their lineage to
women, says Swami Lalitananda, who
lived and studied with Swami Radha for
more than 20 years. She really wanted
women to recognize their leadership potential as spiritual leaders.
Though inspired by her guru and
informed by her intense training at
his ashram, Swami Radha tailored her
teachings to Westerners. She understood how the Western mind worked,
Swami Lalitananda says. We question.
We dont just accept things. In our culture we are not trained to bow down at
the feet of our teachers. She was more
practical. Rather than focus on abstract philosophies, she guided people
toward a better understanding of
themselves and an appreciation of their
personal strength. The main thing
I try to do is have my students bring
quality into their lives, she told Hinduism Today in 1988. To me, people are
not spiritual if this quality is not there
in their liveseven if they meditate six
hours a day.
Courses and retreats at Yasodhara
combine practices found in ancient
yogic textsthe Hari Om mantra, for
examplewith those found in modern
psychology textbooks, in particular
journaling and dream analysis. And
then there are practices found nowhere
else, such as the Divine Light Invocation, a standing meditation that Swami
Radha learned during a visionary experience in India.
There are many women who have
come and helped. They have stayed and
learned so much about themselves and
their strengths. The ashram still runs
on the very ideals that Swami Radha
wanted, says Swami Radhananda. Its
as though she were still here.

The Julia Child of Yoga


LILIAS FOLAN

had it right. Yoga teachers in the West,


and particularly in the United States,
have put their stamp on the ancient Indian discipline, steering it from fringe to
mainstream, and sparked a billion-dollar
industry in the process. Few have done
more to popularize the practice than Folan, whose 1970s PBS series Lilias, Yoga
and You brought yoga into living rooms
around the country. A handful of sta-

uring a tour of India


in the 1970s, Lilias
Folan struck up a
conversation with a
Ramakrishna monk.
You know, he told the
Cincinnati-based yoga teacher, we have
taken yoga as far as we can in India. Its
up to you in the United States now to
take it and run with it like a football.
The remark confounded Folan, but
several decades later, it seems the monk

both series. People felt that they knew


her as an individual, as a friend, as a confidante, as an adviser. He puts her in
the company of childrens TV host Fred
Rogers and legendary newsman Walter
Cronkite. A 1974 Time magazine article
on the growing interest in yoga (The
Manhattan telephone directory lists 27
yoga instruction centers, the writer
marveled) likened her to the beloved

Its not about the down dog, Folan says. Thats


the outer shell of you and me. Its about answering
the question: Who am I? Who am I really?
tions still carry her follow-up series, Lilias! Yoga Gets Better with Age, produced
in the late 80s and early 90s.
Though Folan reached millions, she
gave the impression of teaching to one.
Lilias had the capacity and talent to
be able to play to the camera as an individual, so the person watching the television set really felt that Lilias was talking
to that person and that person alone,
says Jack Dominic, station manager at
CET in Cincinnati, which produced

cookbook author and TV personality


Julia Child, and the comparison stuck.
At 76, she still receives fan mail.
You have been an important part of my
entire adult life, a 62-year-old Michigan
man wrote in July. Your instructions
wereand arealways the easiest to
understand, and the lessons most valuable to me.
To Folan, whose earliest yoga teachers took a one-size-fits-all approach, the
comfort and safety of her students was

Circe Hamilton

resurrection breath
These days, Lilias starts and ends most classes with a practice she learned from Goswami Kriyananda of
Chicagos Temple of Kriya Yoga. Known as resurrection breath, it helps practitioners focus on the present.
To begin, take a comfortable seat. Draw an imaginary line through the center of your body, through your
brow, chin, heart, and navel. The area over your left shoulder symbolizes dying to the past, and the area
over your right shoulder symbolizes letting go of the future. Turn your head comfortably to the left, and gently blow over your left shoulder a few times, as if blowing out a candle, mentally letting go of the past. With
an inhalation, bring your head back to center, sensing the moment, and then turn your head to the right.
Gently blow over your right shoulder a few times, and imagine that youre letting go of the future. Then
come back to center once again, the heart center, the now, the present moment, Folan says. Breathing
in, let the corners of your lips turn up slightly, smile from the center of your heart, and as you exhale, say,
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am so grateful for this moment now.

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

59

paramount. And because she was in the


unusual position of teaching to people
she couldnt seeunable to gauge their
experience, unable to offer corrections
her instructions had to be clear, detailed,
and accommodating of every body: male
or female, 18 or 80, stiff or bendy, strong
or pain-stricken. I have made 500 televised yoga classes, and I dont think Ive
ever received a letter that said, I have
been injured from watching your television show, she says.
In the early days, not all of the mail
was flattering. I remember getting letters signed by the church choir saying
that yoga is the work of the devil and
does not belong on public television.
There was a lot of misunderstanding
of what yoga was and what it wasnt,
she says. I was determined to make it
normal, to make it useable, to make it
for the young mother who doesnt sleep
well, for the athlete for flexibilityso
that it would be Americanized and still
keep its heart.
Folan was herself a young mother

when she turned to yoga in the mid60s. Not sleeping well wasnt the worst
of her problems. Her back bothered
her, and she tired easily. She smoked
half a pack of cigarettes a day. She had a
fine husband, two sons, a house with a
white picket fence, and even a boat, but
she couldnt escape what she describes
as a gloom cloud. She went to her doctor, hoping to solve it all with pills,
but instead he prescribed exercise. You
are suffering from a case of the blahs,
he concluded.
Before long, Folan was taking yoga
classes at the YWCA near her Connecticut home and making her way to
ashrams in New York, where she met
such notables as Swami Satchidananda,
founder of Integral Yoga; Swami Vishnudevananda, founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres;
and Swami Chidananda of the Divine
Life Society. At that time, India was
coming to New York, she says. There
were all sorts of wonderful beingsswamisand I could sit and listen to their

discourses. It kept the blahs at bay.


Folan was more than a little reluctant
to move to Cincinnati for her husbands
work. But the truth of the matter is,
when I moved to Cincinnati, some really
exciting things began to happen in my
life. Most notably, she was discovered
by the wife of a CET producer while
teaching yoga in a school cafeteria. The
rest, as they say, is history.
Folan is still teaching yoga, though
shes careful not to overextend herself.
Shes focusing on her husband of 53
years, their grown sons, and their seven
grandchildren. Earlier this year she was
diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer
and had to lay off her asana practice as
she recovered from surgery and chemo.
It was a reminder that as much as yoga
has changedfrom the way poses are
taught to the way practitioners dress
its essentially the same. Its not about
the down dog, Folan says. Thats the
outer shell of you and me. Its about
answering the question: Who am I? Who
am I really?

The Other Iyengar

hen Geeta Iyengar (known as Geetaji) began


teaching in the early 1960s, very few Indians
felt that women should practice yoga, much less
teach it to others. She spent a lot of time answering questions like, Will standing on the head prevent a woman from getting pregnant?
Geeta was a mere teen back then, but her words
carried a lot of weight. She is, after all, the eldest daughter of B.K.S.
Iyengar, now 94-years strong, who has taught Indian royals, politicians,
and celebrities, as well as such international personalities as violin maestro Yehudi Menuhin and philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti.
Geeta Iyengar is hardly a household name, and she wouldnt have
it any other way. Since 1973, when her mother died, she has been the
woman behind the man. She has cooked her fathers meals, edited his
manuscripts, and run the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute
in Pune, India, the nerve center of Iyengar Yoga. She sidesteps praise

60

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

Elaine Banister

GEETA IYENGAR

and recognition, redirecting them to


Guruji, her father-slash-guru. But she
has long been a yoga master in her own
right. At a time when women outnumber men in most yoga classes, she is arguably the foremost authority on yoga
for women.
Geeta Iyengars yoga training began
virtually at birth. It was always around
me, she told an interviewer in 1995.
I remember very well how I used to
imitate Guruji while he was practicing.
Guruji used to make me bend and twist
and make me topsy-turvy on his feet
when he did headstand and shoulderstand. But her childhood was far from
idyllic. Like her father, she was a sickly
kid, enduring everything from colds
and stomachaches to typhoid and diphtheria. At 10, she was diagnosed with
nephritis, a potentially deadly inflammation of the kidneys. After a flare-up
left her unconscious for four days, her
father put the list of medicines aside
and said sternly, From tomorrow onwards no more medicines. Either you
practice yoga or get prepared to die,
she recalls in her seminal book, Yoga:
A Gem for Women.
By 15, she was teaching yoga to her
schoolmates. Two years later, some of
her fathers students asked if she could
teach them while he was away in England, and the master consented. Shes
never looked back, dedicating half a
century to supporting and furthering his
workfirst as an apprentice and then
as his successor, directing the institute
along with her brother, Prashant.
The three Iyengars are famously
fierce. They scold, and they yell. Its a
trait thats easily misunderstood, says
Patricia Walden, a senior Iyengar yoga
teacher who has studied with them since
the mid-70s. Some people are confused
by it. They dont get that somebody
could be screaming and yelling at you,
but theyre doing it because they really
care that you understand the material, or
they really care that youre injured and
they want to help you to get well.

never too late


Yoga is a gift for old age. One who takes to yoga when old gains

not only health and happiness but also freshness of mind, since
yoga gives one a bright outlook on life, and one can look forward
to a happier future rather than looking back into the past which has
already entered into darkness. The loneliness and nervousness,
which create sadness and sorrow, are destroyed by yoga as a new
life begins. Hence it is never too late to begin. Yoga, if started in old
age, is a rebirth that teaches one to face death happily, peacefully,
and courageously.
Therefore, nobody is exempted from doing yoga and there are no
excuses for not doing yoga. How useful is yoga can only be understood by practicing it.
from Yoga: A Gem for Women by Geeta Iyengar (Timeless Books, 1990)

They are also known for a sort of allseeing-nessan ability to spot struggling students in a class of hundreds,
to catch you the moment your attention drifts, to call you on your stuff,
Walden says. Studying with them is
like being naked. You cant hide.

Shell stand up
to anybody, says
Patricia Walden.
She stands in her
truth, and dont we
all want to have role
models like that?
Geetaji has distinguished herself
by specializing in the specific needs of
women. First published in 1983, Yoga: A
Gem for Women is an encyclopedic reference on asana and pranayama for different stages of a womans life. Her latest
book, Iyengar Yoga for Motherhood: Safe
Practice for Expectant and New Mothers,
which she cowrote, addresses everything
from fertility issues to post-delivery flab-

biness. Her teachings on how women


should adjust their practice throughout
the menstrual cycle have inspired at least
two books.
Though she has never married
never had any interest in it, she explainsshe is attuned to womens
struggles in balancing family life and
other callings. In fact, the matriarch
of the Iyengar family has admitted to
neglecting her yoga practice. The demands on me have made it impossible
to be completely regular, she once
said. For men it is different. They can
be strict with their programbecause
there is somebody supporting them.
Her greatest gift to women may be
the example she sets. Because she is
such a powerful woman, such a fierce
woman, she has empowered many,
Walden says. Shell stand up to anybody. Shell say whatever she feels like
saying. She stands in her truth, and
dont we all want to have role models
like that? n
A former political journalist, Anna Dubrovsky now
writes about yoga, travel, and green living. Her
first book, Moon Pennsylvania, a travel guide,
was published in 2011. She lives in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, where she also teaches yoga. Find her
at anywherebutacubicle.com.
winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

61

YOGASUTRA

Translation and Commentary by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait

2.26
SUTRA

: ||
viveka-khytir aviplav hnopya

Uninterrupted discerning knowledge is the means to nullification [of the


misery resulting from the avidya-driven union of purusha and prakriti].

RIGHT UNDERSTANDING IS THE MEANS of destroying erroneous understanding. In


simple language, erroneous understanding of ourselves and others is ignorance (avidya); and
acting out of erroneous understanding is also ignorance. Embracing or discarding something
under the influence of ignorance leads to misery. The antidote is knowledge or right understanding (vidya). In other words, vidya removes avidya; correct understanding removes erroneous understanding.
In yogic literature, the terms vidya, ana, darshana, and khyati are used interchangeably to
mean knowledge. Although ana is the most popular of these terms, here Patanjali uses the
term khyati. His selection is highly significant. Khyati is derived from the verb khyai, to tell, describe, explain, expound, so clearly that no ambiguity remains. Thus khyati refers to the aspect
of knowledge that clearly describes the defining characteristics of its object. By using this term,

62

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

Andrea Killam

True Discernment

Patanjali is telling us that avidya-driven


union comes to an end when our knowledge regarding the union of purusha and
prakriti is crystal clear. Merely knowing
that prakriti is the material cause of the
universe and purusha is pure consciousness does not free us from misery. Such
knowledge is purely intellectual, vague,
and devoid of any practical substance.
Khyati is totally different. It sheds
such a powerful light on both purusha
and prakriti that we realize instantly
what we are. In the light of khyati, we
know ourselves. We also know precisely
what purusha and prakriti are, what
caused them to embrace each other
blindly and seemingly aimlessly, and
what holds them together despite the
misery of their union. We know where
and how we became confused. Our mind
and heart are so well lit that we have no
doubt regarding our essential nature.
At the dawn of this knowledge
(khyati), we regain our faith and trust in
ourselves. This gives us the strength to

Patanjali reminds us that this discerning knowledge (viveka-khyati) has to be


strong and mature enough to withstand
the test of time. We attain discerning
knowledge with the help of meditation,
self-examination, self-inquiry, and divine
grace. After attaining this knowledge,
we must make it firm with practice. We
must not become careless. We must
never forget how deceptive and powerful
the veils of maya are; how undetectable
her ways are of influencing our mind;
and how important it is to safeguard and
further nourish our newly discovered
discerning knowledge.
An immature and feeble power of
discernment can succumb to our longcherished avidya at any time. Making
an effort to remain aware of this fact is
called practice (abhyasa). With practice,
our discerning knowledge eventually
becomes firm. It becomes living knowledge. It sits so high in the domain of
our consciousness that it is unwavering
(aviplava) and cannot be swept away

in translation

knowledge
that which cannot be flooded again;
that which cannot succumb to chaos
hnopya = hna + upya
hna nullification; avoidance; the

state free from sorrow; liberation

the means to liberation

tual head of the Himalayan Institute. Fluent


in both Vedic and Classical Sanskrit, he is the
author of more than a dozen books on yoga
philosophy and spiritual practice.

PRACTICE AND DISPASSION TOGETHER


DISCIPLINE AND PURIFY OUR MIND.
distinguish the real from the unreal, lasting happiness from short-lived pleasure,
and true freedom from mere escape.
This strength is called viveka shakti, the
power of discrimination. This extraordinary knowledge (khyati), accompanied
by the power of discrimination (viveka),
here is termed viveka-khyati, the purest
means of bringing this avidya-driven
union to an end.

by the waves of avidya. Seated above the


floodplain, this discerning knowledge
(aviplava viveka-khyati) sheds its strong,
clear light on the lower terrain of our
consciousness, which still occasionally
experiences the effects of avidya. In the
light of this firm and mature discerning
knowledge, we can clearly see the rising tide of avidya and retreat to higher
ground. As an observer (drashta), we

Listen to the Yoga Sutra in Sanskrit


at yogainternational.com/ys2.26.

63

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Richard Miller, PhD


and Senior Faculty

can see what is happening below and


thus return to the floodplain only when
the tide has receded. This is what the
sages mean when they say, Live in
the world and yet remain above it.
Knowledge that can be swept away
by the tides of ignorance is not true
knowledge and has no power to protect
us from getting caught in these tides. It
is only discerning knowledge (vivekakhyati), which can no longer be swept
away, that can bring our association
with avidyaand the misery caused by
that associationto an end.
Elaborating on the vibrant and active nature of discerning knowledge,
Vyasa takes us to chapter one, where
Patanjali explains the role of practice
(abhyasa) and dispassion (vairagya)
in the attainment of samadhi. Practice
and dispassion together discipline and
purify our mind. As the mind becomes
free from its disturbing, distracting,
and stupefying tendencies, it eventually becomes one-pointed and begins
to flow inward. Thus, the mind regains
its innate ability to see everything in its
proximity clearly. It falls in love with
the seeing power of the seer and loses
interest in the world created by the
avidya-driven association of purusha
and prakriti.
As this process is repeated, we
become increasingly established in
our true self and less and less affected
by the fluctuations (vrittis) of the
mind generated under the influence of
avidya. Vyasa calls this state vashikara
sana, literally that which exerts control. Here, in the context of this sutra,
it means discerning knowledge which
controls and eventually arrests all the
samskaras (subtle impressions) and
roaming tendencies of the mind that
prevent us from seeing and experiencing the seeing power of the seer.
As we have seen in sutras 1.15,
1.16, 1.40, 1.47, and 1.50, discerning
knowledge is an active state of selfrealization. Just as avidya is not merely
a lack of knowledge, viveka-khyati

sutra review
Sutra 1.15

Sutra 1.40

Lack of craving for the objects


known by the senses and described
in the scriptures is dispassion or
non-attachment. This level of dispassion enables the yogi to gain a
high degree of self-mastery; hence,
it is called vashikara: self-regulating,
self-controlling, self-guiding.

Thereafter, a yogis mastery


stretches from the smallest atom
to the biggest objects.

Sutra 1.16

The highest level of dispassion or


non-attachment, leading to selfrealization, takes place when the
aspirant is free from all forms of
thirst, including the desires resulting from the interplay of sattvic,
rajasic, and tamasic forces of nature.

(discerning knowledge) is not simply a


lack of ignorance. As described in sutra
2.24, avidya is our unwillingness to see
and know anything other than what our
habits have trained us to see and know.
Practically speaking, avidya metamorphoses into an irresistible desire to identify with our deeply rooted habits and, as
a result, simultaneously veils the truth
and projects what it wishes to see.

Sutra 1.47

From further purification of


nirvichara samadhi (meditation
that transcends the realm of
thought altogether) spiritual illumination ensues.
Sutra 1.50

The subtle impressions born of


that intuitive wisdom cancel all
other samskaras.

into an intense and irresistible desire


(tiara samvega) to see and experience
the absolute independence of consciousness (kaivalyam). The samskara created
by this desire blocks all other desires,
a fact described in sutra 1.50. It grants
us complete mastery over the mind and
the subtle impressions deposited in
the mindas well as the binding and
releasing forces of the mind that cause us

WE ATTAIN DISCERNING KNOWLEDGE WITH


THE HELP OF MEDITATION, SELF-EXAMINATION,
SELF-INQUIRY, AND DIVINE GRACE.
Viveka-khyati, as described here in
sutra 2.26, is the complete opposite of
avidya and is even more active. Discerning knowledge destroys our unwillingness to see the truth. It provides the
courage to see the truth and gives us
the strength and insight to see our
deeply rooted habits (samskaras) and
replace them with the samskaras of selfrealization (purusha-khyati/atma-khyati).
Discerning knowledge metamorphoses

to live in the world either miserably or


happily. In other words, this knowledge
contains an unprecedented level of revelation. When it dawns fully, the whole
range of truth is available in its purity
and perfection.
The most significant stages of this
knowledge, the signs that we have attained them, and what kinds of changes
take place in us at each stage is the subject of the next sutra.

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65

TOTALHEALTH

Cool the Fire of Heartburn


Try these natural remedies that can soothe and heal acid reflux.

By Carrie Demers, MD

GERD or acid reflux; sometimes you experience coughing, hoarseness, and wheezing
instead of pain. When GERD
becomes chronic, lasting over
a period of months and years,
it can cause erosions, ulcers,
and strictures in the esophagus, and even cancer. Most of
the patients I see with GERD
depend on medication to manage their reflux. So theyre
relieved, and sometimes surprised, when I tell them that
they can reduce their symptoms, and eventually resolve
them, with natural medicine.

66

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

Heartburn, a common problem affecting 1 in 10 Americans every day, is


often a symptom of a more complex condition known as GERD. GERD, which
stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease, is caused by stomach acid moving
up (refluxing) into the esophagus and
irritating its sensitive lining. Heartburn
doesnt always show up when you have

When you swallow, food moves


down the esophagus into the
stomach. A valvelike structure,
called the lower esophageal sphincter
(LES), sits just above the entrance to
your stomach and prevents stomach
acid from flowing back up into the
esophagus. If the LES doesnt close
all the wayor opens too oftenthe
contents of the stomach can more easily
sneak back in (reflux). Certain foods
and beverages, as well as cigarette

WHILE YOUR FIRST INCLINATION IS TO REACH


FOR THE TUMS BOTTLE, YOU MAY WANT TO
RETHINK YOUR STRATEGY AND CONSIDER A
MORE HOLISTIC APPROACH.

Greg Ceo / Getty Images

f youve ever suffered from acid


indigestion, acid reflux, or even
heartburn, you know the symptoms well: a searing pain that
shoots from your stomach up
into your throat after a night of overindulgence (maybe that second helping of
lasagna plus a generous slice of tiramisu
wasnt a good idea after all), coupled
with an acrid acidic taste in the back of
your mouth, nausea, and sometimes
even neck and upper back pain. While
your first inclination is to reach for the
Tums bottle, you may want to rethink
your strategy and consider a more holistic approach.

So Whats Going On?

Take It Easy
acid reflux, dont quit cold turkey. Rebound acidity will likely create
worse-than-ever symptoms if you do. Instead, try some of the first-aid
herbs, make dietary changes, and turn to yoga and meditation for stress
relief. You should notice a difference in your symptoms fairly quickly,
and then you can begin to taper your medications. But theres no need
to hurry. Inflamed tissues take time to heal.

Too Much or Too Little?

Most people assume that too much


stomach acid can cause GERDand it
can, even when the LES functions properly. You can blame it on acid-producing
foods like oranges and grapefruits, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and vinegar. Other
malefactors include hot spices, refined
sugar, soda, white flour, trans fats, and
chemical sweeteners. Chronic stress also
plays a part because it causes the adrenal
glands to secrete cortisol, and elevated
cortisol stimulates acid secretion.
However, paradoxically, too little
stomach acid can also cause acid reflux.
Our bodies count on an increase in acidity
to break down fats, starches, and proteins
so we can digest them. Inadequate stomach acid causes weak digestion, which
slows the rate at which the stomach
empties. The longer our food stays in our
stomach, the more reflux we experience.

68

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

So, too much or too littlehow can


you tell? The next time you have heartburn or acid reflux, take a tablespoon
of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. If
your symptoms go away, you need more
acid, not less.
The Conventional Route

Conventional doctors most often prescribe proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs)


to stop the production of stomach acid.
While these can be helpful in the short
termespecially when you have an
esophageal ulcer or significant inflammationthey dont address the underlying causes of GERD and can cause
problems in the long term. When people
stop taking the PPIs, they often experience rebound hyperacidity, an increase

The Natural Approach

Holistic medicine offers a range of


smarter choices. These nonpharmaceutical approaches will also mitigate
the right-now pain and discomfort, but,
equally important, they treat the underlying causes of GERD so that it doesnt
come back.
Healing the irritated tissue. All
the herbs suggested below are safe, have
flexible dosing guidelines, and you can
take them as needed with no ill effects.

lining of the GI tract. It can prevent


heartburn by protecting the mucus
membrane in the esophagus. Eating
a quantity of licorice can sometimes
elevate blood pressure, though, so if
you need to take it several times a day,
choose deglycyrrhizinated licorice
(DGL). These chewable (and tasty) tablets dont contain the chemical constituent that raises blood pressure. Take two
before meals. Alternatively, try slippery
elm or marshmallow root, two other demulcent herbs that calm inflammation.
cools, calms, moistens, and nourishes
any external or internal membrane that
is inflamed. Drink one ounce of aloe
mixed into eight ounces of juice or water
one to four times a day.
These
suggestions help keep the acid where it
belongs: below the LES.
Improve your LES function.

ALOE VERA GEL is cooling,


calming, and nourishing.

nicotine, and alcohol. They all relax the

Ivan Kmit / istockphoto.com

smoking, can cause the sphincter to


relax. So can pharmaceuticals like progesterone, anti-inflammatory drugs, and
some heart disease medications.
Sometimes acid reflux really isnt
your faultit happens because of a
stomach abnormality called a hiatal
hernia. In this condition, the upper portion of the stomach and the LES squeeze
above the diaphragma muscle thats
supposed to keep the abdomen separated from the chest. Although most
hiatal hernias are asymptomatic, some
do trigger acid reflux symptoms by allowing stomach acid to move up into the
esophagus more easily.

in stomach acid that further aggravates


GERD; their doctors too often take
that as a signal to increase the dosage
and keep them on the drugs longer.
However, prolonged use of PPIs is a
risk factor for a variety of diseases, including osteoporosis and anemia from
lack of absorption of minerals, iron, and
other vitamins, as well as infections of
both the GI tract and lungs from overgrowth of bacteria.

LES, making it less effective at preventing acid reflux.


the LES open.
clothing around the waist to ease
reflux symptoms. Dont lie down or
bend over for at least 30 minutes after
youve eaten.

acidity: Ferrum phos (FP), Kali mur


(KM), and Natrum phos (NP). Place
one pellet of each under the tongue four
times a day. You can take them more
often if symptoms recur between doses.
You can also dissolve ten pellets of each
cell salt in eight ounces of water and sip
it throughout the day.

visceral manipulation, which may be


able to correct your hiatal hernia.

stress. Practice yoga or tai chi, or any


breathing and relaxation practice of
your choice.

Decrease acid. These suggestions


will temper digestive juices so they
effectively break down food without
causing distress.

hancing digestion by taking herbal bitters in tincture form. You can take them
before a meal or afterward, if you find
youve overeaten.

and low-fat, high-quality protein sources


to your diet. These health-promoting
foods also minimize GERD symptoms.

digestive herbs, such as chamomile, dandelion, or fennel.

salts (at 6x potency) to counter excess

ing soda in a cup of water and sip it until


your symptoms resolve.

Increase acid. If you have too little


acid, the immediate fix is to take extra
enzymes and hydrochloric acid, both of
which are produced in the stomach to
aid digestion. While not a long-term solution, these supplements will help your
body move in a healing direction:

enzyme supplements (such as papain,


bromelain, pepsin) quell heartburn
caused by inadequate production of digestive enzymes.
give a weak stomach added digestive
power. Take this with food, but not
with drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen,
which will create gastric inflammation.
Reduce the dose or stop taking HCl if
the tablets cause a burning sensation. n
Board-certified in internal medicine, Carrie
Institute Total Health Center.

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

69

INPRACTICE

A Little Help from an Unusual Ally

e all need a little


help from our
friends, as the Beatles
remind us, and we all
reach out for it from
time to time. The same holds true in
our yoga practice, and that support
often comes in the form of props.
Most people think props exist only to
help stiffer or less experienced practitioners, but, in fact, advanced students
gain invaluable benefit as well. The
ability to move deeper and smarter often happens when we can slow down
enough to notice the subtleties in
an asana. We all experience
challenges on the mat,
and props allow us
to extend be-

yond our physical (and mental) limitations with intelligence and greater
ease. Using a prop helps us stay in a
pose longer, and allows the body to
release tensionand the muscles to
stretch a little morewithout worrying about balance or strength. We
can experience the healing effects of a
pose in a safe way and explore specific
actions, aligning the spine or opening
the chest more.
Patanjali reminds us that asana
should be steady and comfortable
(sthira sukham asanam). To find
that ease, we sometimes need a little
alambanaa Sanskrit word meaning
to depend or lean on. Alambana
may sound familiar; thats because
it shows up in pose names like
salambana sarvangasana (supported
shoulderstand), which literally means
with support, all-limbs pose, while
nirlamba sarvangasana indicates an
unsupported version.

Photos: Jim Filipski/Guy Cali Associates; Model: Karina Mirsky; Stylist: Jessica Metcalf; Wardrobe: Top and shrug: Beckons, Bottoms: Lululemon

Improve your balance and alignment with a long


wooden dowel. By Cora Wen

A prop can be any object that helps


stretch, strengthen, relax, or improve
body alignment and balance. Besides
the blocks, straps, bolsters, and blankets
found in most yoga studios, you can use
walls, doors, stairs, tables, chairs, poles,
balls, and even your kitchen counter:
whatever helps you access the parts of
your body that need attention.
Get a Handle on Things

My prop of choice these days is a thick


wooden dowel or broom handle. I use it
to explore the proper alignment of my
torso, head, and neck; it helps me avoid
neck strain and compression. It works
particularly well for people who have
scoliosis or sacroiliac issues because it
can help them noticeand work with
spinal or pelvic rotation.
Dowels come in different diameters,
so make sure you choose a size and
strength that supports your body weight

and fits comfortably in your hands. I


prefer a 5-foot (or longer) dowel, 11/4 to
11/2 inches in diameter (a 5- to 7-inch circumference).
Use your dowel to create support
and stability in your poses as well as to
gather information about your posture.
It can help you get more lift in your chest
in standing poses like utthita trikonasana
(extended triangle pose), utthita parshvakonasana (extended side angle pose), virabhadrasana I and II (warrior I and II
poses), or twist and lift your spine a little
more in revolved poses like parivritta trikonasana (revolved triangle pose) or parivritta parshvakonasana (revolved side angle
pose). This lifting and opening action
prepares you for pranayama and helps you
check your alignment, both in the frontback plane and the left-right orientation.
Play with the dowel, substituting it
for straps, blocks, and even the wall in
any pose you choose. Dont limit your-

The Magic Dowel


Brahmadanda, the great
staff of Vasishtha, represents

all of the ascetics power and


strength. In the great battle
against Vishvamitra, Brahmadanda shows us that true
power comes from tapas (discipline, practice), satya (truth),
and ahimsa (nonviolence). Vasishtha conquered his own anger
and desire and became a guide
to impart knowledge to others.
Use the dowel as a reminder to
unveil the transformative and
healing powers of yoga.

self to the ideas I offer hereuse your


imagination to discover what can support your body and enhance your own
self-awareness. >>

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

71

Utthita Trikonasana

EVEN MORE POSES

(Extended Triangle Pose)

Using a dowel in utthita trikonasana can help align your arms and legs front-toback and side-to-side, and it can give you a sense of stability as you extend out
through the side waist.

Uttanasana (standing

forward bend): Place the


dowel under the ball of your
foot for a nice calf stretch.
Supta Padangusthasana

Clasp the dowel


behind the torso
to open the chest
and support the
head and neck.

Hold the dowel to extend


the arm fully while moving
into the pose.

(easy seated
pose): Place the dowel behind your back and in the
crook of each elbow to help
lift your chest.

Sukhasana

Virabhadrasana II
(Warrior II Pose)

Try holding the dowel behind you and under


your arms to keep your arms and shoulders level.
Or you can place the dowel
at the top of your shoulders
and, with your palms facing the ceiling, stretch your
arms out along the pole.

72

(reclining big toe pose): Use


a dowel instead of a strap to
check the alignment of your
lifted foot.

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

Parivritta Parshvakonasana
(Revolved Side Angle Pose)

Using the dowel in parivritta parshvakonasana can


give you the stability you need to get more opening
in the chest.

To work on proper
alignmentand to open
the chest furtherhold
the dowel with both
hands, place it on the
outside of your front
leg, and twist toward
it. This also works well
in parivritta trikonasana
(revolved triangle pose).

Virabhadrasana I
(Warrior I Pose)

Simply hold the dowel in both hands as you raise


them overhead to align the shoulders in one plane.

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For a deeper
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Pashchimottanasana
(Seated Forward Fold)

Using a dowel and a belt in pashchimottanasana


will help you keep your feet from turning in (pronation) or splaying out (supination).

Wrap the belt


around the top
of your feet and
around the dowel
and gently pull
your torso forward.

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winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

73

LIVINGYOGA

Thief in the Night


The inability to believe in ourselves can rob us of our true potential.

By Irene Petryszak

resentful of others. And we attempt to


plug these holes by taking things to get
attention, or clinging to other people
because we are afraid to be alone. My
experience of this when I was younger
almost led me to commit a crime.

Asteya

(non-stealing), the thirdd of the


th five yamas
(restraints) described in the Yoga Sutra,
counsels us not to take (or misuse)
what doesnt belong to us and not to
crave or be envious of what others have.
When we take something from someone

74

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

elsepossessions, partners, ideas, time,


or energywe are trying to fill an inner
void, the sages tell us. They liken this to
pouring milk into a bowl with holes in it.
No matter how much milk we pour in,
the bowl stays empty. We are like that
bowl. The holes in us, caused by some
deep loss or unfulfilled desire, can leave
us lacking, feeling insecure, jealous, or

Years ago, when I was in college, the


guy I was dating told me over coffee
and bagels that he needed some expensive medical books for his courses but
couldnt afford to buy them. He casually
mentioned, maybe I could help him
sneak them out of the reference library at
another school.
He was asking me to steal. Suddenly
I could see the black-robed nuns of
my childhood holding the Ten Commandments they had drummed into us
kidsthe eighth one being Thou Shalt
Not Stealshaking their heads and
mouthing no. I couldnt steal. On the
other hand, I couldnt say nowhat if
he got angry and broke up with me and
then Id be alone? I wrestled with my
conscience. Every day he would ask;
every day I would answer no and walk
away. Undaunted, he kept chipping
away at my resolve until his persuasive
arguments wore me down.
I began to rationalize to myself: perhaps his cultural values are different than
mine; maybe, for him, its okay. At the
time, I needed his approval more than
I cared about the admonishment of the
nuns, so I told him yes. We worked out
a plan. Once we got there, he would go
into the reference section in the musty
basement of the library, find the books
he needed, and slip them to me, one by

Jeffrey Coolidge / Getty Images

Thou Shalt Not Steal

one, through the upper window. Under


the cover of night, like the thieves we
were, we began our subterfuge.
Resolved to do this no matter how
much my inner voice screamed in protest, I stood alone in the crisp autumn
night, looking up at the stars, my mind
and heart in deep inner turmoil. What
am I doing? I thought. Then I heard
him whisper my name, and I turned to
crouch by the library window. As he
handed me the first heavy medical tome,
my conscience won out. Terrified but
determined, I shook my head no and refused to take the book. He was furious,
and refused to speak to me on the twohour drive back home.
Sometime later, I found out that he
had been unfaithful to me. Not only
had he wanted me to sacrifice my principles for his gain, he had also robbed
me of my dignity. I felt humiliated.
Crushed, I finally ended the relationship. Too alone and scared and vulnerable to be by myself, however, I quickly
got involved with someone else

remembered the book incident. It


made me think long and hard and deep
about why I had almost succumbed to
doing something illegal. The deeper
meaning of asteya, the teacher reminded
us, is beyond not stealing from others. It
speaks to addressing the emptiness we
feel inside.
According to the sages, when we
dont have confidence in ourselves, we
look for it in the approval and attention
of others. By doing this, they say, we
steal from our potential to be the best we
can be. When we doubt ourselves, when
we say, I cant, we dont even try and,
in the process, never learn to say, I
can. Practicing asteya helps us to concentrate our distracted minds and have
the focus we need to attain our goals.
As we further incorporate the attitude of asteya in our lives, we begin to
see that everything we need is within
us. Rather than looking outward to get
what we need, we can choose to stop and
listen to our inner Self, to understand
how to meet those needs in a deeper

peacefulness surrounds a person who


knows this. If you have everything, you
are never in need. Practicing asteya,
then, reminds us to be grateful for what
we do have and to be comfortable with
who we areto fully enjoy life as it is
happening in the present moment.
Reflecting on these truths, along with
asana practice, meditation, mantra, and
the study of yoga philosophy, I began
to slowly develop a solid inner core. I
learned to believe in myself moreto
trust my higher Self to guide me toward
what is right or wrong for me, instead of
being swayed by the opinions and values
of others.
Becoming Whole

According to the Yoga Sutra (2.37),


when we perfect the principle of asteya,
riches come to us. Although material
wealth may unexpectedly appear when
we need it, true spiritual wealth comes
when were complete and whole within
ourselves. We dont have to steal objects, or peoples time and energy, to

THE DEEPER MEANING OF ASTEYA IS BEYOND


NOT STEALING FROM OTHERS. IT SPEAKS TO ADDRESSING
THE EMPTINESS WE FEEL INSIDE.
someone who had a more positive
influence on me. When I was with him,
I felt good about myself, so naturally
I wanted to be with him all the time.
Unfortunately, he had already made
plans to join a spiritual community, and
when he left, I felt empty and adrift.
Suddenly I understood that I had been
stealing his energy and his identity in
order to make myself feel whole. I now
had a choice: I could rush into another
relationship and do the same, or accept
that I needed to learn who I wasby
myself. I decided to take a yoga class.
Finding My Way

In class, our teacher wove the yamas and


the niyamas among the asanas. When
she touched on asteya, I immediately

way. For instance, when you feel lonely,


instead of immediately reaching for the
Hagen-Dazs, do a 10-minute relaxation
in shavasana first. Then observe how
you feel. The more you learn that your
higher Self can fulfill your needs on a
subtler level, the less likely youll feel the
need to take or demand anything from
anyone else.
The power of non-stealing, as Alice
Christensen writes in Yoga of the Heart,
is based in remembering that everything comes from God. Everything we
have is a divine gift, and we can observe
it all with wonder, delight, and astonishment. There is no fear of losing anything. In the same way, if everything is
at your disposal, you dont feel the need
to steal from anyone. A great feeling of

get attention and to feel good about ourselves. We can rest in the unconditional
love and wisdom that reside within us
and experience the wholeness of our true
Self. From this sense of inner fullness,
we naturally want to give to others,
rather than to take from them. And the
more we give of ourselves, the more
riches of all kindsworldly and spiritualcome back to us. n

For more helpful tips on


how to practice asteya, go to
yogainternational.com/nonstealing.
Senior editor Irene (Aradhana) Petryszak has
been practicing and teaching yoga philosophy for
more than 25 years.

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

75

YOGABASICS

Dance of the Gunas


The three essential aspects of nature support and enhance our yoga practice
on and off the mat. By Cyndi Lee

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yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

But then something unusual happened. First I heard a loud sound, and
then everything around, above, and
under me started shaking and rumbling.
I recognized right away that I was in an
earthquake, although I wouldnt learn
until later that it was the biggest earthquake in recorded history.
The lights hanging from the airport
ceiling began swinging wildly, and then
the ceiling itself started to fall down, one

The Path of Stability

In his brilliant book, Light on Life,


the great yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar
writes that stability is something we
can practice and, ultimately, master.
The path to cultivating that stability is
through balance, which he defines as
being present in the here and now. That
sounds easy enough, but we all know we
get out of balance on a daily basis. Our

FIRM GROUNDING (TAMAS), BRIGHT ACTIVITY


(RAJAS), AND BASIC GOODNESS (SATTVA) ARE
THE THREE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS WE WORK
WITH, DAY IN AND DAY OUT.

Ladida / istockphoto.com

had just landed in Japan after


a grueling 15-hour flight that
crossed the international dateline.
My whole body was exhausted,
sleep-deprived, and heavy. I felt
as if Elmers glue had seeped
into my hip joints and, even worse, into
my digestive tract. My face was dry and
my hair clung desperately to my head. I
couldnt even imagine trying to do yoga,
and yet mentally I was hyper-alert. I
was both tired and wired. This strange
combination of bright mind and dull
body is not unusual for me following one
of these marathon flights, so I wasnt too
worried. I knew all these feelings would
change in a couple of days when I got
through my jet lag.

panel at a time. As the jostling of


the ground continued, I leaned
against the immigration counter to
keep my balance. And in a strange
way, it worked; I felt steady both
inside and out.
Since that day, many people
have asked me if I freaked out
when I felt the earth moving so
dramatically. If there were ever a
time for losing ones composure,
it was then! I had felt physically
sluggish and mentally speedy moments before the earth shook so
violently. But when I fully realized
I was in a serious earthquake, instead of panicking, I became calm
and present. My body continued
rocking and rolling, but my mind
remained steady and clear. I felt
oddly stable, even though I was
standing on moving ground.

mind cycles through past memories and


then into future fantasies and then wanders back to the past again and again, all
day long. Now and then we awaken into
a sense of clarity, but, soon enough, we
drift off again.
The good news is that we can shift
this mental pattern by working with our
body. When we can find balance in our
physical setup, it naturally leads to balance in the mind. The ancient teachings
of yoga offer us a map for finding this
elusive balance, which is attained by harmonizing the three essential aspects of
nature. These aspects, called the gunas,
manifest as tamas, fixed or dull energy;
rajas, dynamic or pulsating energy; and
sattva, clear and intelligent energyand
exist within us as well as in the world
around us.
The heavy feeling in my body when
I first arrived in Japan was tamasa
feeling of dense, thick, lethargic stuckness. The wired feeling in my mind

was rajaslots of percolating thoughts


bubbling and bouncing around. My
body remained in New York, but my
mind had already raced ahead to what I
needed to do to get to my hotel and get
organized for the training I was going to
start teaching the next day. I was both in
the past and in the future. There was not
much sattvaclarity or intelligence
until my external circumstances woke
me up and placed me firmly in the hereand-now.
The Gunas at Play

The gunas are always present, and they


show up in all kinds of combinations.
Have you ever felt really bored and, at
the same time, noticed that your leg is
bouncing up and down? This would be
a case of a tamasic mind and a rajasic
bodyjust the opposite of my guna
state when I touched down in Japan. Or
perhaps you have lain in a beautiful field,
gazed up at the stars, and felt a profound

sense of presence, of connection and


peace with all that is. That is sattva.
These examples illustrate the fluid
and ever-changing aspects of the gunas.
On the days that you feel overly rajasicwired, edgy, and maybe a little
impatientyou can reestablish balance
by notching up tamas, the opposite of
rajas. This works because the gunas
have both positive and negative aspects.
The beneficial quality of tamas offers
grounded spaciousness, and rajas gives
us the oomph we need to get things
done. Although sattva might often seem
unattainable, its really not, because the
qualities of luminosity, goodness, and innate intelligence are who we are already,
deep at our core.
To begin to establish the balance and
stability Iyengar writes about, we must
take an honest look at how the gunas
manifest in our mind and body right
now. Yoga asanas provide a perfect vehicle for this investigation. One reason we

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feel so peaceful when we lie on our back in


shavasana is that we can directly connect
to the earth, to our foundation. Since lying
on the earth makes us feel grounded, it
makes sense that the way we consciously
create balance through yoga practice also
involves connecting directly to the earth.
In fact, the Sanskrit word asanaused to
indicate a pose or postureliterally translates as to sit with or to sit down. This
means that whatever part of your body is
touching the ground is called the seat of
the pose.

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Lets take a look at how the gunas are


currently dancing within you. Sit down
on your mat and close your eyes. How did
you get here today? Did you have to rush?
Is your body feeling a little speedy? This
rajasic quality may make it hard to settle
into your practice. Or perhaps you had to
drag yourself to class today, your tamasic
mind resisting the whole way. Simply
notice without judgment. Wherever you
are is fine and interesting. This is just the
gunas at play, and once you make friends
with them, you can play, too.
Once you discover which guna currently dominates, you can use your
breath to shift toward balance. If you feel
mentally or physically sluggish, refresh
your posture and begin this energizing
breath pattern: inhale for 6 counts, exhale
for 4. Emphasizing the inhalation will
give you more rajasic energy and perk
you right up. Do the opposite if you are
overstimulated: inhale 4 counts and exhale 6 or 8. The tamasic exhalation will
help you calm down and feel more stable
and grounded. Repeat the breathing
pattern at least five times. As rajas and
tamas begin to integrate, you might experience a sense of equanimity and wellbeing: the arising of sattva.
Once youve become familiar with the
actual feeling of each guna, you can begin
to explore their aspects in your asana
practice. Lets start with tadasana (mountain pose) and virabhadrasana II (warrior
II pose).

Photos: Sarah Keough; Model: Jenifer Wanous; Wardrobe: Top: Beyond Yoga; Bottoms: Models own

Let Breath Change the Tempo

Tadasana
(Mountain Pose)

Stand with your feet aligned below your


hips. Tune in to the sensations in your
feet. Are your toes long and relaxed or
grippy? The grounded stability of tamas
supports the work of the lower body in
standing poses. But the agitated energy
of rajas may cause your toes to hold on
for dear life or your buttocks to seize
up like crazy. How can you tell? Notice
your breathing, which is governed by
rajas. Does your breath flow smoothly
or does it feel choppy? Can you apply
a tiny bit of tamas to soften the breath?
Now notice if this easier breath helps
your lower body feel more balanced,
too. As your tamas and rajasmuscular
effort and wind energybecome more
equalized, you will likely begin to feel the
bright, relaxed quality of sattva arise in
your mind and provide a gentle lift and
openness in the upper body. Can you
abide with that, resisting any tendency
to grip that state of mind with too much
rajas, or slip away from it through the
laziness of tamas?

Virabhadrasana II

All the Right Moves

(Warrior II Pose)

Paying attention to the gunas in asana


practice gives us a map that can lead to
stability in mind and body. And like any
good map, the directions will be clear,
but it is up to us to pay attention to the
path, continue putting one foot in front
of the other, and commit to the journey.
This is how we practice. Firm grounding, bright activity, and basic goodness
are the three essential ingredients we
work with, day in and day out.
Iyengar is right, of course. My many
years of asana practice showed up for me
when I found myself in the middle of an
earthquake, trying to stand up on a violently shifting surface. Without me even
thinking about it, tamas gave me stability
in my legs; rajas kept my breath flowing
smoothly, to balance my nervous system;
and sattva gave me mental clarity and a
positive outlook, so I didnt get scared.
The practice worked! When the earthquake stopped, I wasnt a mess. I didnt
know what was going to happen next,
but, in that moment, I was stable and
fully able to deal with whatever might
meet me as I walked out of the airport. n

From tadasana, open into virabhadrasana II. Bend your right leg. Step
your left leg back and open it out to a
45-degree angle. Turn your chest to the
side of the mat and extend your arms
out at shoulder height. Breathe in and
out, taking a moment to check in with
the state of the gunas here. Perhaps you
have found a firm grounding in your legs
through just the right amount of tamas.
Wonderful! But that tamasic energy
will be too heavy for your upper body.
Although a warrior pose implies strong,
intentional energy, the yoga warrior is
also open-hearted and never aggressive.
So the quality of sattvic lightness and
radiance will give just enough lift to your
virabhadrasana II chest.
Dont hold your breath here, which
will freeze sattva, turning something
fluid and lovely into something hard
and dead. Check in to make sure that
this uplifted feeling in your torso stays
bright and fluid (through gentle, rajasic
breaths) and clearly connected to the
downward flow of tamas in your lower
body. Try to keep your tamas, rajas,
and sattva in constant communication
with each other. As long as the gunas are
talking to each other, no one guna will
become the boss of the others. This conversation is how we stay present.

acclaimed yoga school, is author of Yoga Body,


Buddha Mind and May I Be Happy: A Memoir
of Love, Yoga, and Changing My Mind (Dutton
Publications, 2013).
winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

79

ASANASOLUTIONS

Raise Your Dog


Elevate your hands in upward-facing dog pose to protect your lower back,
then gradually bring the asana back to earth. By Roger Cole

Dont get me wrong. Doing lots of upward-facing


dogs can be a very good thing, provided you do them
properly. Youll gain strong arms and legs; a broad,
open chest; a supple spine; and a deep, powerful
breath. But if you push beyond your capacity or use
bad technique, all that repetition can put a lot of wear
and tear on your body, especially your lower back. The
same holds true if you practice upward dog fewer times
but enter it deeply and hold it longer.
Feeling the Squeeze

If you feel lower back pain in urdhva mukha shvanasana, its usually because you are compressing vertebrae
at the base of your spine. (There could be other causes,
so check with a health professional if you have doubts.)
The pain of lower back compression stems from either
jamming the rear part of the vertebral bones forcibly
against one another or crushing the soft tissue (cartilage,
ligaments, and disks) between the bones. Pain sensors
in the outer lining of the bones and throughout the soft
structures let you know youre causing tissue damage
or are about to. Some people figure out how to do the

80

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

pose without crunching their back, but many others


simply choose to tolerate a certain level of pressure and
discomforta surefire recipe for injury, especially if you
practice the pose frequently, vigorously, or both.
Its pretty easy to avoid compressing your lower
back in urdhva mukha shvanasana if you practice good
body mechanics, but theyre not easy to learn during
the rapid flow of a vinyasa series, in which you often
strike the pose during a single inhalation and exit as
you exhale. Entering the pose more gradually and holding it longer affords you more time to get it right, but
thats no panacea, especially if youre unclear about
what youre trying to achieve. So whether you practice
quickly or slowly, consider setting aside some time to
learn how to coax your body and mind into an upward
dog that opens your heart without wrecking your back.
Elements of Style

You can avoid jamming your lower vertebrae together


by applying two general principles: put traction on
the spine to increase the overall space between the
vertebrae, and distribute the backbend along the whole

Photos: Andrea Killam; Model: Rusty Moore; Wardrobe: Zobha

ave you done 50 headstands today? How about 50 triangle poses? That would
seem excessive, wouldnt it? But doing 50 upward-facing dog poses (urdhva
mukha shvanasana) a day can be business as usual if you take a vinyasa class.
For example, in the Ashtanga Vinyasa Primary Series of K. Pattabhi Jois, you
move through upward-facing dog 50 times in a single session because its part of the surya
namaskar (sun salutation) sequence that links the other asanas together.

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Taking It to the Mat

You can gradually apply the twin principles of putting traction on the spine
and distributing the backbend along the
whole back and the hips by first tackling
upward dog with your hands on the seat
of a chair, then substituting yoga blocks
for the chair, and finally moving to the
full pose with your hands directly on
the floor. Heres how. (If your low back
becomes uncomfortable at any point,
stop and try the troubleshooting tips in
Stopping the Pain on page 85.)
Roll out a sticky mat so its perpendicular to and touching a wall. Place
a chair on the mat with its back legs
against the wall and draw the free end of
the mat over the chair, folding it twice,
so it covers the seat.

Place your hands on the chair with


your fingers hanging over the left and
right edges of the seat. Bend your elbows and knees and bring your hips
forward until they touch the front edge
of the seat. With your elbows still bent,
pull your hands backward as if to pull
the chair away from the wall; this action
should draw the sides of your chest (the
part thats normally obscured by your
arms) forward, in front of your upper
arms. As you do this, also roll the tops of
your shoulders back and down, and lift
your breastbone high. These actions will
initiate a focused backbend in your upper and mid back.

Illustration: Linda Nye

Experience
a Living
Tradition

spine and the hips, so the base of the


spine isnt forced to do more than its fair
share of bending.
To put traction on your spine you
need to use an outside force to pull on it
along its length. For example, you can
prepare for upward dog by hanging by
your hands from a chin-up bar, using
the force of gravity to pull lengthwise on
the mid and lower spine, or by hanging
upside down from a pelvic sling, which
puts traction on the entire spine. This
pulls the vertebrae farther apart, allowing the flexible disks that lie between
them to soak up extra water and plump
up. If you then practice upward dog,
you have more room to bend backward
before the vertebrae collide.
Distributing the backbend along
the whole spine and the hips requires
making a special effort to focus on your
upper back, mid back, and the junction
between your pelvis and thighbones.
Why? Because the lower back is the
easiest part of the body to bend backward, so if you dont make a concerted
effort to bend from everywhere else,
the lower back will bend first and farthest, while the other parts may not
bend much at all. To avoid this, you
can prepare the upper and mid back for
urdhva mukha shvanasana by arching
back over the edge of a block or the
seat of a chair.
Start by positioning the front edge
of the chair seat just below the base of
your neck and then working your way
down to the middle of your trunk one
or two vertebrae at a time. To prepare
your hips, practice lunging poses such
as virabhadrasana I (warrior I) with your
back leg straight and the heel of your
back foot off the floor. As you lunge, try
to tilt the top rim of your pelvis back
toward a more upright position. Every
degree of increased backbending range
you achieve in your upper back, mid
back, and hip joints lessens the amount
your lower back will have to bend in
urdhva mukha shvanasana and other
backbends.

YOU CAN AVOID JAMMING YOUR LOWER


VERTEBRAE IN UPWARD-FACING DOG
BY APPLYING TWO GENERAL PRINCIPLES:
PUT TRACTION ON THE SPINE, AND
DISTRIBUTE THE BACKBEND ALONG
THE WHOLE SPINE AND THE HIPS.

Now straighten your elbows and


move your shoulders down as far away
from your ears as you can. This will lift
your entire spine higher and create a
strong frame from which your spine can
hang. Allow your abdominal and back
muscles to go completely soft, and let
the weight of your pelvis and legs gently
pull the vertebrae of your lower back
apart. Now move your chest and whole
upper body closer to the wall, so your
arms incline forward. The incline will
direct the force of your arms to pull the
spine more strongly away from your pelvis, enhancing the traction.
Next, initiate a backbend at the hips
by keeping your pelvis as close to the
chair as you can while you straighten
your legs completely. Leave the toes
bent back and the heels up; you will
not flip to the top of your feet in this
variation of upward dog. As you
straighten your legs, keep your lower
front pelvic area soft, both at the surface and deep inside, so your legs move
as independently of the pelvis as possi-

ble. Your pelvis should


remain as upright as
you can keep it, so that
your legs will be more
horizontal and you can
create good extension
of the hip joints.
To finish the pose,
tighten your front thigh
muscles to straighten
your knees as strongly as you can.
Press your heels back away from the
chair, move your sitting bones toward

the chair, and pull back more strongly


with your arms to draw your chest
forward and up away from your pelvis.
At the same time, roll your shoulders
farther back and down, and tuck your
chin down toward your chest. Keeping
your chin down, move your whole head
backward, while your chest continues
to reach forward to create a backbend
at the base of your neck, lifting your
face partway toward the ceiling. Be
sure to exhale freely as you complete
the pose. >>

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

83

Moving Deeper

When you can do the chair version of


upward dog without discomfort, you
are ready to move to the next stage:
hands elevated on slanted blocks. Fold
two blankets to create a rectangle thats
wider than your shoulders and about
two inches high. Place two blocks shoulder-width apart, broad side down, with
one end resting on the front fold of the
blankets and the other on the floor. You
will practice urdhva mukha shvanasana
with the heels of your hands on the high

end of the blocks and your fingers pointing downhill.


Recalling what you just did on the
chair, start with your elbows and knees
bent and your hips as close to the blocks
as you can get them. Although your pelvis will not come as far forward as it did
when you were on the chair, you want to

84

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

get it as far underneath your shoulders


as you can, so it puts as much traction on
the spine as possible. When your hands
and feet are in position, go through the
same sequence as you did on the chair.
Again, if your back hurts at any point,
stop and use the same troubleshooting
tips you learned on the chair.

The Full Pose

Once youre comfortable with the pose


on the blocks, you are ready to graduate to the final pose on the floor. The
instructions are almost identical, with
two key differences. The most important: Unless it is extremely easy for you
to bend back with your upper back, you
must not allow your shoulders to move
behind your wrists at any point in the final pose. If you do, youll force your body
into a position that compresses the spine,
pushing the vertebrae into one another.

So, in the final pose, regardless of how


flexible you are, start with your shoulders
well forward of your wrists. At the end of
the pose, as you bring your chest forward
maximally and your head back, your
shoulders can move back too, but for
most people its still best if they end up
directly over the wrists, not behind them.
The second difference: Place the tops
of your feet on the floor, and, if necessary, drag them forward, so they dont
pull your pelvis back away from your
shoulders. With your hands on the floor,

Stopping the Pain


If your back starts to hurt at any point during
urdhva mukha shvanasana (upward-facing dog
pose), try one or more of these troubleshooting tips,
introducing them in the following order:

Soften your lower back muscles to let your pel-

the key to getting traction on your spine


lies in keeping your hips (and pelvis)
well forward.
We dont usually enter urdhva
mukha shvanasana from the bent-knee
position used in these practice poses, but
you can still apply the same principles to
keep your lower back uncompressed and
pain-free when you go into the pose in a
more traditional way. Just remember to
put traction on the spine and distribute
the backbend. When you do this successfully, not only will your back remain
comfortable and safe in upward-facing
dog, you will also be free to fully enjoy
the strength, exhilaration, and liberation
of this frequently practiced but often
misaligned asana. n
teaches at Yoga Del Mar near San Diego. He
specializes in anatomy and physiology of yoga and
relaxation and has taught yoga as a healing art to
the medical community.

vis dangle farther down.

Lean your trunk farther forward.


Pull your arms back harder to lift your chest up
and forward more.

As a next-to-last resort, tighten the muscles at


the base of your buttocks, where they join the
backs of your thighs, to tilt the pelvis farther
upright (this should be abandoned as you become more adept at the pose).

And, as a last resort, bend your knees.

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

85

WORLDOFYOGA

Yoga Comes to Lebanon


Asana and meditation offer a means of transformation during challenging times.
By Moutassem Hammour

with curly salt and pepper hair, this 50-year-old Lebanese opened up one of the first yoga
studios in Beirut, Lebanons capital.
He settled in the Gemmayze neighborhood, at the time a calm residential
area. On the third floor of a 1930s
building, his studiowith its spacious
rooms and high ceilingshas accommodated yoga classes since 2000.
At the time, we were only four or
five yoga instructors throughout the country, recalls Nabil, who discovered yoga in New York City
where he lived for 15 years before coming back to
Lebanon. Most people were unfamiliar with yoga
at first. Many were even suspicious about it, he
says. They would tell me that their priest or imam
told them its the work of the devil! His students
who had lived abroad and were familiar with yoga
helped him persevere. They gave me
support during the class, and newcomers
were reassured seeing normal people
like them attending a session. But still,
in the early 2000s, the expansion of yoga
was slow, reaching one person at a time.

86

well as in the high-end fitness clubs, discovered yoga


at the age of 15in a book. It was the first Indian
book on yoga translated into Arabic (Al Yoga by Yogindra). I got pulled toward that book, he says, I
picked it up from the shelf and
started reading and practicing
everything that was described
in it. Aaed was hooked. From
then on, he worked on deepening his understanding of yoga
philosophy and his practice of
asana. He traveled to Madurai,
in southern India, where he
took his first yoga certification from the Sivananda
Yoga Vedanta center.
side as Aaed, came to yoga through the practice of
meditation. My neighbor, Mohammed Al Basha,
was a retired professor who practiced
meditation. He was in his late 70s, and I
would enjoy spending time with him, says
Hisham, who was 13 years old at the time.
They practiced together for seven years;
Hisham then traveled to India to attend

Arid Ocean / fotolia.com; Portraits courtesy of author.

YOGA HAS LONG ADAPTED ITSELF to the needs of the population it serves, and Lebanon, a little country in the Middle East, is no exception. In a country torn apart by war and
political crisis, yoga has found a way to not only fit in but also to grow exponentially. Even nowadays, as the whole region is being shaken by the Arab Spring, new studios are opening every
month, and long-established, dedicated practitioners continue to share their art.

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yoga teacher training. He also studied


therapeutic yoga and went on to become a medical doctor. Today, Hisham
spends most of his time teaching yoga,
while taking a few shifts per month at
the hospital.
Embracing the Local Culture

Nabil, Aaed, and Hisham, who were


among the early yoga instructors in
Lebanon, had to learn to convey their
teaching in an acceptable way. Aaed
remembers that in the early days of
his teaching, people were not used to
chanting. When I would have them
chant Om at the beginning of the class,
some would start to giggle, while a few
would stand up and leave.
Aaed and Hisham noticed that the
more classes the students attended
and the more they experienced the
benefits of yogathe more open they

2013

of Saint Charles (called Saint Charbel


in Lebanon), who is a beloved saint
among the Lebanese Christian population. Hisham introduces japa mantra
by talking about the zikr (the repetition
of sacred prayers) in the Muslim tradition and the orthodox Jesus Prayer. As
a result, people show less resistance to
yoga philosophy.
Our three yogis are careful not to impose their beliefs on their students, but
rather to give them the space to explore
more if they wish to. This approach has
established trust between them and
their students, a trust that has been
helpful during times of turmoil.
Support During Times of Crisis

In 2006, Lebanon was at war with its


neighborIsrael. Most yoga classes
stopped but, as Nabil recalls, in certain
relatively safe neighborhoods, some

OUR THREE YOGIS ARE CAREFUL NOT TO


IMPOSE THEIR BELIEFS ON THEIR STUDENTS,
BUT RATHER TO GIVE THEM THE SPACE TO
EXPLORE MORE IF THEY WISH TO.

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yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

were to the traditional aspects of it. It


was for me a matter of finding the balance between Indian mysticism and the
purely physical aspect of the practice of
asana, says Hisham.
Sharing the philosophy of yoga
required putting it in the perspective of the local belief system. Nabil
bridges the gap between Islam and
the philosophical teachings of yoga by
focusing on the Sufi tradition, which
offers a mix of tradition and spirituality. Aaed shows his students how sun
salutations resemble Muslim prayers.
When he shares the eight limbs of
yoga with his students, he compares
pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses
from external objects) to seclusion in
Christianity. Aaed gives the example

students ventured out to attend classes.


Four or five of my students kept
on coming. It created a strong bond
among us. We could hear the explosions as we were going through the
class. Senses became heightened.
During this time Nabil developed
a better understanding of detachment.
As it was mayhem outside, we were
enjoying practicing yoga. I learned that
you dont have to incur the outside situation. You can keep on practicing yoga,
be a vegetarian, and love the people you
do love.
Aaed notes that some of his students continued practicing at home.
One of them, a man from southern
Lebanon, had seen his house and his
field destroyed by the bombing. He

told Aaed that thanks to yoga he kept


his composure.
The Boost from the West

In the years following the war, there


was an increased awareness of yoga
through its media-ization in the
West, primarily in the United States.
In Lebanon, people began discovering yoga as a means to get back into
shape, to tighten up, and to lose
some weight. It also was perceived as
a way to better cope with stress and
to relax.
Nabil and Aaed observed that more
of their students wanted to deepen
their training and eventually teach
yoga. That was the case for Mona, a
vibrant young woman in her late 20s,
who has seen her health drastically
improve through the regular practice of
asana. That made her decide to follow
in the footsteps of Aaed and Hisham
and travel to India to do teacher training. Duna, a Pilates instructor, also
decided to embark on teaching yoga.
She traveled to India and specialized in
yoga for pregnant woman. Both Mona
and Duna believe strongly that yoga
can improve the lives of their countrywomen and -men.
I asked Nabil whats next for yoga
in Lebanon. Its about time to bring it
to the countryside, he said. All yoga
studios are still in the capital. Nabil
is doing his part. He bought an old
house in the area surrounding Tripoli
(northern Lebanon) and wants to turn
it into a guesthouse with six rooms. Of
course, Ill start giving yoga classes.
People over there are very unfamiliar
with yoga, but they will eventually get
it. Im sure they will. n

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winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

89

BOOKS +MEDIA

The best new releases for lasting inspiration

The Great Work of Your Life


A Guide for the Journey to
Your True Calling
By Stephen Cope

In this, his third book, Stephen Cope,


director of the Kripalu Institute for
Extraordinary Living, tackles a subject
that would strike fear in the hearts of
most writers: personal dharma. First,
he explores ways to figure out what
your true calling (the yogic concept
of dharma) actually is, and then, how
you would go about realizing it in some
appropriate manner.
Fittingly, Cope sets as the framework for his guide the world-renowned
spiritual poem, the Bhagavad Gita, the
Lords Song. I say fittingly because
a central theme of the poem is the ultimate importance of doing your own
thing, as we put it nowadays. I wont
go into the details of Arjunas funk and
the avatar Krishnas response, but if
you havent already read the Gita, youll
certainly be moved to do so after reading
The Great Work of Your Life.
Four pillars (traditionally a number
representing both stability and completion) form the basis of Copes dharmasearching strategy: Look to your dharma;
do it full out; let go of the fruits; and turn

90

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

it over to Godwhich, not surprisingly,


is essentially the message of the Gita
itself. Each of the first three pillars is
fleshed out with the exemplary bios of
a trio of famous Westerners, such as
Jane Goodall, Henry David Thoreau,
and Walt Whitman. An additional
pairabolitionist Harriet Tubman and
the lone Indian representative, Mohandas
Gandhiillustrate the fourth.
Cope weaves together the big-name
stories, which serve to demonstrate the
full power of harmonizing your life with
dharma, with anecdotes from the lives of
ordinary folks, which ground the message in the everyday and remind us that
dharma comes in all shapes and sizes.
Whats gratifying is that Cope spells
out his lessons mostly through figures
great and small from our own culture,
many of whom knew nothing about yoga
and yet conducted themselves in very yogic ways. A minor gripe, however, is that
the roster seems top-heavy with artists
and social activists, no doubt types close
to the authors heart and not at all bad
choices, but we have to wonder if people
like scientists, athletes, and entrepreneurs have a true calling, too.
Consistently well-written and getup-and-go inspirational, this book

should go right to the top of your


reading list, especially if you are
seriously searching for what Cope
calls a lit-up life. Yet, a caveat:
the idea of a self-defined dharma
makes me ever-so-slightly nervous, there being so much room
in our modern worldmore than
2,000 years removed from the
Gitas compositionfor self-deception. The difficulty of using Arjuna as
your basic model is that he was born
to his dharma; there was no question
about what he was supposed to do in
life, while questions for us abound.
Still, approached and applied with attention and reason, this valuable book
should help you bring the great work
of your own life into sharper focus.
Richard Rosen
India: A Sacred Geography
By Diana L. Eck

Indias geography, a vibrant landscape


of mountains, rivers, lakes, forests, cities, plains, and seacoasts, traversed by
pilgrims in both ancient and modern
times, created a vast web of sacred sites.
By referencing the Puranas and other
sacred texts, Diana Eck, in her comprehensive new book, India: A Sacred
Geography, describes a multitude of
these sitessuch as tirthas, or crossing over places, and pithas, or seats
of the goddessesand brings the myths
surrounding them alive. These myths
tell of our deepest and most resonant human questions about life and
death, our human experience, and our
glimpses of transcendence, Eck writes.

Madalasa Baum
Being Different
An Indian Challenge to
Western Universalism
By Rajiv Malhotra

The modern world is shaped by the


dominance of Western cultural and philosophical values. As a consequence, the
traditions of India tend to be rolled under
the syncretic blanket of Western Univer-

salism: Christ and Krishna are the same;


Vedic texts anticipated the conclusions of
Western science; everything is equal; and
we all live happily ever after.
But Being Different challenges
these assumptions, offering the dharmic traditions as a counterpoint to
the blanched notion of a too-agreeable
universalism. Its an academic text,
presupposing intellectual familiarity
with the difference between Western
and dharmic traditions, so the casual
reader may find it slow-going. However, the thesis is provocative, well
argued, and persuasive. The dharmic
tradition has its own cosmology,
and to tuck it away so blithely under
the cover of Western Universalism
doesnt do justice to its complexity.
Its an interesting conversationone
that Malhotra explores intelligently,
and encourages us to do the same.
Keith Belcher

Lightening Up
The Yoga of Self-Acceptance
By Tony Wolff

I doubt that many people have heard of


Tony Wolff. I certainly hadnt when his
book Lightening Up: The Yoga of Self-Acceptance landed on my desk. I finally had
an opportunity to
pick it up recently,
and my only regret
is that it took me so
long. I must admit
that the cartoonish cover gave me
pauseI thought
it was going to be
one of those annoying books of aphorisms, reminding us
all to laugh too much, forgive freely,
and love like youve never been hurt.
Im happy to report that I was wrong.
Wolff blends just the right amount of
neuroscience, yoga philosophy, personal

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Thirty years in the making, A Sacred


Geographys myriad chapters cover
Indias sacred rivers; the landscapes
associated with Shiva, Shakti, Vishnu,
and Krishna; the trail of Rama in the
Ramayana; and the forest years of the
Pandavas of the Mahabharata. To find
in one resource such a rich compilation
of Indias sacred sites, their stories, and
their origins is a pilgrims gift. Travelers to India will want this companion to
guide them along the way.

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

91

Gifts for the Little Ones


Jeeva Finds Courage

Instrumental Dreamland

Ganeshas Sweet Tooth

By Edie Fischer and

CD by Putumayo World Music

By Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes

Leeanne Robinson

Parents looking to instill a sense of


tranquility and relaxation in their
children before bedtime will find this
latest offering from acclaimed recording label Putumayo Kids well suited
for the task. Putumayo has collected
an eclectic selection of both traditional
and unexpected tunes. Soothing instrumental renditions of classics like
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and
Brahms Lullaby are accompanied by restful
world music
Komoriuta
(Japan) and The
Lark (Ireland).
Instrumental Dreamland will usher
the entire family into a state of
peaceful repose. Judy Moulton

Ganesha is a Hindu god. Hes very


important and powerful. And a tad
chubby. So begins Ganeshas
Sweet Tooth, a playful rendition of the Mahabharata.
Haynes rewrites the popular
Hindu legendin which
Ganesha breaks his tusk in order to write the epic poem
as an accessible tale of a young elephants love for candy laddoos and his
dedication to the poet Vyasa. Patels
illustrations complement the ebullient
text. A Pixar animation artist, Patel
uses bold colors, abstract designs, and
minuscule details to create endearing
scenes and lovable characters. Ganeshas Sweet Tooth is a beautiful work of
art, sprinkled with humor and important life lessons. E.E.

A courageous young boy embarks


on a quest to help his injured canine
friend and, in the process, teaches 14 classic
yoga poses to his friends.
In Jeeva Finds Courage,
the authors present one
pose at each stop on
Jeevas journey (think
downward dog, fish, and
tree pose), and provide
the full sequence at the
end of the book for everyone to try.
The illustrations and instructions,
if somewhat plain, are sincere and
understandable. Jeeva Finds Courage
teaches kids five years old and up
important lessons about compassion
and teamwork. Elizabeth Emer

with

Nicolai Bachman
books cds posters workshops webinars
Presenting the ancient sciences of
India directly from the Sanskrit in a
clear, authentic and accurate way.

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yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

reflections, and anatomy to make me


want to whip out my notebook and start
jotting things down. Which is, of course,
to miss Wolffs point: Trust in your own
process, he says, and welcome whatever
comes up without fear, judgment, or
justification, and with a healthy dose
of humor. Wolff gently admonishes,
encourages, loves, and inspires his readers every step of the way. This wise and
funny book should enjoy a prominent
place on everyones yoga bookshelf.
Added bonus: Wolff is donating all
profits from Lightening Up to Spirit Rock
Meditation Center and the Yoga Dana
Foundation. Linda Sparrowe

canon of yin yoga, a decidedly anti-power


yoga practice. She provides detailed
asana instruction for a host of yin poses
and offers sample 60- and 90-minute
sequences. Clark also explains how yin
yoga benefits specific physical issues and
disorders, and how it seamlessly blends
influences from Eastern, Western, and
Taoist traditions. For those interested in
the therapeutic applications of this technique, this book is the next best thing to
getting personalized instruction from a
certified yin yoga instructor.

The Complete
Guide to Yin Yoga

Digital Album by

By Bernie Clark

The goal of The


Global Bhakti Project is both an ambitious and an inspiring one: bring friends
together from all over the world to
accompany David Lureys guitar and
kirtan vocalswithout anyone leaving

In a scientific, methodical manner,


Bernie Clark guides
her readers through
the fascinating

Everett Orbit
The Global Bhakti
Project
David Lurey

home. Nineteen musicians heeded the


call, laying down tracks via the Internet to produce seven mantras and two
heart songs. Since the project features
a disparate collection of world musicians, you might expect a wide range of
styles, but Lureys digital album manages a consistent tone and sensibility
mellow, relaxed, at times plaintive, but
always sweet, low-key, and sincere. The
idea behind The Global Bhakti Project
is compelling, and the music, though
uniform, is well executed. Pick up a copy
and help support The Global Bhakti
Project (findbalance.net).

healthybut sometimes the


older folks and the not-sohealthy ones get left behind.
Yoga teachers Kimberly Carson and Carol Krucoff have
rectified this with their new
DVD, Relax into Yoga: Finding Ease in Body and Mind.
They have designed practices
specifically for people who are older or
have health challenges, such as osteo-

porosis, cancer, and arthritis.


With four main sequences
and three skill-building ones
to choose from, users will
find the practices easy to
customize and the resources a
snap to navigate. This DVD
works perfectly for those
wishing to safely add yoga
into their overall wellness routine.
Constance Molleda

K.B.
Yoga Is
A Transformational Journey
Documentary film by Suzanne Bryant

After the death of her mother, filmmaker Suzanne Bryant turned to yoga
to help heal
her grief. That
heart-wrenching
introduction led
her on an impressive journey to
discover what
yoga is all about.
Bryants 64-minute documentary
chronicles her studies with well-known
teachers and even takes her to India in
search of the deeper meaning of yoga.
Interviews with Alan Finger, David
Life, and Sharon Gannon, along with
many other teachers and students,
are featured. This heartfelt offering is
intriguing fare for anyonebeginning
students and seasoned practitioners
who wants to delve a little deeper into
this practice called yoga.
J.M.
Relax into Yoga
Finding Ease in Body and Mind
DVD with Kimberly Carson
and Carol Krucoff

Yoga is for everybody: the young and


the old, the healthy and the not-sowinter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

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TRIPLE GEM SCHOOL OF


THAI MASSAGE
CEs for yoga teachers, bodyworkers.
500+ hour curriculum. (413) 664-8686.
Promo: YI-TG1.
www.TripleGemThaiMassage.com

CLASSIFIEDS
Copy & prepayment deadlines:
Spring 2013: Dec. 6 (on sale Feb. 21)
Summer 2013: March 1 (on sale May 24)
See form on next page for details.
To place an ad contact:
Liz Dalbianco
Goodfellow Publishers Reps.
(510) 548-1680 Ext 301
Liz@gpr4ads.com

94

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

RETREATS
YOGA VACATIONS
SEDONA, SPAIN, COSTA RICA
Not your typical vacationsyoga, meditation,
hiking, exploring! Lynn Matthews, E-RYT500,
certified ParaYoga teacher.
Workshops, teacher trainings.
lynn.yoga4life@gmail.com
www.embraceyoga4life.com

SWIMMING WITH WILD DOLPHINS


The ultimate HumanDolphin Connection.
Meditative, healing Caribbean Island Retreats.
Yoga, healthy food, Atlantean legends.
A Free Massage with promo code yogaint
for 2013 programs.
800-326-1618; www.wildquest.com

VISIT

shop.himalayaninstitute.org
for a healthier you!

AKUPARA YOGA RETREATS


Authentic yoga and vegetarian food
in natural settings worldwide.
Private, personalized classes in Sedona, AZ.
www.akuparayoga.com

SILENT RETREATS
Classical Hatha and yin yoga, Vipassana
meditation, nature, simplicity, solitude. 100-acre
retreat center overlooking coastal Maine hills.
Dec 2-7; Dec 27-Jan 1.
(888) 666-6412
www.rollingmeadowsretreat.com

RETREAT IN TULUM MEXICO


March 2-9. Classical Hatha and yin yoga,
pranayama and Vipassana meditation retreat
on Tulums spectactular beach at
out of the ordinary, eco-aware venue
w/Patricia and Surya. (888) 666-6412
www.rollingmeadowsretreat.com

APPAREL

YOGA SUTRA T-SHIRTS


Organic cotton T-shirts, mens and womens,
short and long sleeve, assorted colors,
water-based eco-printing. (954) 525-7726
www.yogawarehouse.org/store/tshirts

Yoga
International
(ISSN0-71486-02880-2)
is
published
every
quarter
by
the
Himalayan Institute, a nonprofit organ
ization. The offices of Yoga International are located
at 952 Bethany Turnpike, Honesdale, Pennsylvania
18431. (570) 253-4929. Yoga International is published
to promote the authentic teachings and practices of
yoga, the harmony of existing faiths and religions, and
self-discipline for individual growth on three levels:
spiritual, mental, and physical.
Subscriptions are $15 annually in the USA.
For international rates, call the number below.
Subscriptions are payable by International Money
Order or credit card (MasterCard or Visa). For
subscription orders and information, please call (570)
253-4929 or 800-253-6243 ext.4.
Send all editorial mail, manuscripts, letters to
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address. Manuscripts, photography, and art work
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envelope. Yoga International cannot be held responsible for loss or damage of unsolicited material. The
publication of advertisements in Yoga International is
not an endorsement of any specific practitioner, product, or healing modality. The reader should properly
investigate any service or product offered in claims
made before making a health care decision. 2013
by the Himalayan International Institute of Yoga
Science and Philosophy of the USA. All rights
reserved. Reproduction or use of editorial or pictorial
content in any manner without permission is prohibited. Printed in the USA.

CLASSIFIED AD ORDER INFORMATION


YOGA JEWELRY
IMPROVE YOUR
MENTAL CLARITY
with Ayurvedic Gemstone Bangles.
31 day money back guarantee.
Watch testimonial videos at:
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Yoga Teachers & Yoga Studios


Sell Yoga International magazine to your students
and receive great wholesale rates.
For more information e-mail
SMoulton@HimalayanInstitute.org

CATEGORIES: Books & Periodicals, Communities, Health Products, Holistic Tools, Schools &

Training, Retreats, Audio & Video, Ayurveda, Yoga Jewelry


ISSUES

SPRING 2013
SUMMER 2013

(FebruaryApril)
(MayJuly)

DEADLINE

ON SALE DATE

December 6
March 1

February 21
May 24

Rates and deadlines/dates subject to change. Yoga International reserves the right to final formatting/positioning.
DISPLAY CLASSIFIEDS: 4 Color: 1=$250, 2=$400, 3 =$525, 4 =$600. Black/White: 1=$190,

2 =$340, 3 =$465, 4 =$540. First insertion must be prepaid. Frequency discounts available. Contact for specifications/details.
REGULAR CLASSIFIEDS: $85 for 20 words + $2.00 for each additional word. 20 word minimum.
Regular Classifieds must be prepaid. Frequency discount 10% for 3 issues, 15% for 4 issues (one
year)must be run in consecutive issues, using same copy, and all insertions prepaid at one time.
Email: Liz@gpr4ads.com
CONTACT: Goodfellow Publishers Reps, Liz Dalbianco (510) 548-1680 x301; Liz@gpr4ads.com

winter 2012-13 yogainternational.com

95

CONTEMPLATION

Like Barley Bending


By Sara Teasdale

Like barley bending


In low fields by the sea,
Singing in hard wind
Ceaselessly;

So would I softly,
Day long, night long,
Change my sorrow
Into song. n

From Flame and Shadow by Sara Teasdale (Macmillan, 1920).

96

yogainternational.com winter 2012-13

Nuno Silva / istockphoto.com

Like barley bending


And rising again,
So would I, unbroken,
Rise from pain;

2013

SUMMIT

A 3-DAY SUMMIT IN THE


BLACK HILLS OF SOUTH DAKOTA

SEPT. 13-15, 2013

Kate Holcombe | Leslie Kaminoff | Gary Kraftsow | Richard Miller


Sonia Nelson | Larry Payne | Keynote Speaker: John Kepner
Register at WWW.YOGATHERAPYSUMMIT.COM