Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sat Nam. For the Saturday All Levels we meditated on the chakras of the pelvis, heart, and crown of the head - muladhara, anahata, and sahasrara. These chakras have seed sounds, which are lam, yam, and the vibration after the sound of Om, respectively. We inhaled lam yam om and moved breath from root to crown; we exhaled and quited the brain, softened the heart, and drew the navel to the spine.We stayed with this for some time and then went into the following sequence:
1. reclining uddiyana bandha several times
2. rolled on the back, side to side, back and forth, sat up
3. standing uddiyana bandha several times
4. chest expansion x3
5. reed pose x2
surya namaskar B. with variations - virabhadrasana 1, 2, reverse parsvokonasana, parsvokonasana, reverse again, then cartwheel into vinyasa - we did 4 rounds and then held the last round of vira 2 and parsvokonasana.
6. uttanasana
7. backbend at the wall - like the backbend in reed - we were standing a foot or so from the wall, inhale arms overhead and lean back until fingertips touch wall, exhale and push off wall to tadasana several times
8. we did the same with a friend who was holding a strap around our hips - then some of us walked down the wall into urdvha dhanurasana, supported by wall, strap, and friend.
9. assisted uttanasana - we folded forward and our friend walked into our backs and we leaned into them; then they lifted our hamstrings and kind of "sandwiched" us together
10. down dog
11. child's pose
12. ardha matsyendrasana x2
13. upavistha konasana
14. baddha konasana
15. paschimottanasana
We ended as we began, with lam, yam, and om, but we chanted them out loud and rested our awareness at the crown chakra.
16. back releases
17. savasana
If we had the time, we would have included headstand, shoulderstand, plow, and fish to the mix, between 11 and 12. Nevertheless, we stirred the energy of these chakras quite nicely!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sat Nam,

My friend got married over the weekend, and I read a poem by Mary Oliver called "What Is The Greatest Gift"? She goes on to say, "...that I wonder abut your soul more than I wonder about my own..." and "..."That I find my soul clapping its hands for yours more than my own...". It's so perfect and sweet. I began class with it and reminded everyone how we uplift each other when we practice together. Here's what we did, as far as I can remember:
breath of fire
down dog
uddiyana bandha
agni sara
uttanasana and uttanasana with a twist
chair pose, tiptoe chair pose, utkatasana, eagle
dancer x2
trikonasana and twsiting trikonasana
prasarita padottanasana
1/2 frog, full frog, bow
bridge adn/or upward bow
chakravakasana to child's pose
bent knee forward bend
full seated forward bend
a long reclining twist
supta baddha konasana
I don't believe we had a meditation. But the asana is meditation in action, especially a focused class like this. Everyone was centered and uplifting of each other.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sat Nam. It's been a while.

With it being October, we've been considering the seasons of harvest, gratitude, and generosity - October, November, and December. This is the month of Lakshmi, prosperity, and her blessings make it possible for these seasons to be so rich.

Class started with kapplabhati and nadi sodhana. Nadi sodhana was done in rounds of 4-2-4-2, 6-3-6-3, 8-4-8-4, then 8-8, 6-6, 4-4. When the breath is broken up into its parts - inhale, retain, exhale, hold, the feeling is receiving, percolating, surrendering, and dropping in. This was a very centering practice which brought us all together as one.

We used the breath pattern in chakravakasana. Then we stood and practiced urdvha hastasana, utkatasana, and uttanasana with the breath patterns, which created a deep uddiyana bandha practice.

Next we did a variation of surya namaskar B. After virabhadrasana 1, we went into vira2, leaned back over the straight leg, and into parsvakonasana, lifted to vira 2 again, and then continued through the vinyasa. After a few rounds led, I left them on their own for a few more.

Later we did a take on surya namasker C, adding a "lean-back" where you straighten the lunging leg and lie down over it, a straight leg lunge, a pyramid variation, and then back into a deep crescent moon pose, and continued through the vinyasa. On the last round we took hold of the back leg in crescent lunge, and then slid into hanumanasana, the splits.

3 versions of standing forward bend followed, after which we rested in child'spose. Then we returned to chakravakasana and the breath work.

We finished with shoulderstand, plow, bow, apanasana, a reclining twist, and other back releases. The loveliest part of teaching at noihgt is how dark it gets now! I blew out the candle just to "drop in" to the dark and quiet space around us.
We celebrated Michelle's birthday with chocolate pound cake at the end!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sat Nam.

Some things attributed to Buddha:
"All that we are is a result of what we have thought.We are made by our thoughts; we are molded by them."

What does it take to change our minds? They sometimes spiral in a direction we don't want them to go; but once spiralling, they gain momentum and we become slaves to them. The mind can spiral downward or upwrad. Changing the direction of the spiral is linked to the breath; change the breath and change the mind.

We began class with a simple breathing exercise based on the teachings of Yogi Bhajan. He said to change the mind, inhale deeply, retain the breath for seven seconds, then exhale slowly. While holding the breath we repeated one of our tune-in mantras, Lokha samastah sukhino bhavantu - May the whole world be happy, and may my thoughts and actions contribute in some way. We spent a few minutes with this exercise before we officially tuned in. This was followed by kaplabhati and nadi sodhana for several rounds each. Our opening ensure the upward spiral of the mind!

Asana began with a soft uttanasana, deepening as we held it. It's a semi-inversion which prepared us for sirsasana, the headstand. After that, we returned to uttanasana. Each of these was held for about two minutes, three for those who could hold the headstand that long.
A standing sequence to open the hips, stretch and strengthen the spine was next. We did warrior 2, triangle, twisting triangle, parsvokonasana, twisting parsvokonasana, and wide leg forward fold. Then came balances - 2 eagles, 2 dancers, and a tree (sounds like a fairy tale).

Reminders to check in see where the mind was spiralling came often here, due to the challenge of balancing poses. No matter how "well" they're performed, the after effect feels like the legs were deeply massaged.

Cow's head arms accompanied the next forward bends to prepare the shoulders for handstand. handstand was practiced three times, 10 breaths each. Child's poses sandwiched 1/2frog, two bows,and two camels.

Then came the forward bends - wide leg seated forward fold, double pigeon with cow arms (we called it the freak of nature), and paschimo., the full seated forward fold. We then completed our inversions with shoulderstand, plow, and fish.
We lied down and did our favorite reclining twist, knees to chest, and then fell back into a deep savasana. At the end, we returned to the first breahing exercise with the mantra. It was a hot evening outside, the sun setting earlier, the room filled with calm and focussed sadhakas.

If you don't have time for the asanas, please be sure to practice the breathing exercises and meditation at home. And please call me if you have any questions regarding how to adapt these practices to suit your needs and environment. Love, Rosie

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Monday, August 31
Both evening classes were dedicated to our friend's mother, who is vey ill. We wish you peace, M.C.!

The 6:15 Gentle Beginning class was about cooling down. We sat crossed legged and visualized walking our awareness up the ladder of the spine, lifting each "rung", or vertebra up off the one beneath it; this created length and awareness and prepped us for practice. We sat here for about 5 minutes. Then came chandra bhedana pranayama. Last month we did a lot of sitali; both are cooling and mellowing breathing exercises.

Chandra bhedana means "to pass through the moon". In it, we inhale through the left nostril and exhale through the right, continuing in that loop for a couple of minutes. It's a digital pranayama, meaning the index finger and thumb of the right hand control the opening and closing of the nostrils. We did between 3 and 5 minutes.

Baddha konasana, sitting with the souls of the feet together and the knees wide, followed. We engaged mulha bandha on exhale; mulha bandha is similar to practicing kegals. The pose tones the kidneys and brings circulation to the contents of the pelvis. Then we straightened the legs, keeping them wide, and practiced side stretches over each leg, raising the opposite arm and spinning the belly toward the sky. It's called ardha upavistha konasana; that was followed by upavistha konasana, coming forward through both legs. But we prepped for these by simply sitting long and tall , balanced over the sitbones with the legs in this position. We returned to baddha konasana, interwove the toes, and drew the heart way out over the toes in a long forward folding stretch.

It was then time to stand. Tadasana and urdvha hastasana reminded us to maintain a long spine and brought energy to the upper back and shoulders. All these were perfect preps for trikonasana, the triangle pose. We practiced twice - once in the regular fashion and once with the top arm wrapped around the back of the waist to stretch the chest and shoulder.

Chest expansion was done 3 times. Inhaling, we clasped hands and reached back; exhaling, we bent the knees and folded forward, resting the ribs on the thighs and staying for 3 breaths. The standing sequence ended with uttanasana, the classic standing forward fold.

Heather L., a student teacher who was assisting me, passed out bolsters and we lied back in chest expander, allowing the bolster to support us along the length of the spine. This was our back bend. It's always a favorite in this class! We used the bolster again in child's pose, lying over it.

Bharadvajasana, a classical and beautiful twist, came next. Then Heather taught janu sirsasana and paschimottanasana expertly. We ended with more chandra bhedana, 2 or 3 minutes, and an OM meditation. It's the 1/2 meditation. In it, you listen to the silent sound of OM on the exhale; and on the inhale you can do whatever you want! Eventually, the mind decides to stay with OM on the inhale as well, since doing so was so peaceful. It's a simple and lovely way to start meditating with OM.
Savasana and closing ended our practice.

The Kundalini yoga class at 7:45 came from the book, Sexuality and Spirituality. We did sets for the pituitary and pineal glands. The pituitary is also known as the master gland because it produces hormones which support the function of all the other endocrine glands, as well as producing human growth hormone. The pineal secretes melatonin and seratonin. These were intersting and fun sets. I'll write here just the pineal gland set:
ONG NAMO GURU DEV NAMO (I honor the Guru within and around me.)
1. Interlace fingers overhead in Venus Kyiya (right thumb on top of left for women; other way for me) and bend elbows lightly as if you are embracing your arc line. Try to pull the hands apart with long, deep breathing, inhale SAT and exhale NAM. 2 minutes.
2. Meditate on center of top of head (sahasrara chakra). 5 minutes.
3. Same arm position, but interlace fingers and streth thumbs back as far as you can. 2 1/2 minutes.
4. same as 2.
5. same arm position, thumbs as in the first exercise, stretch the index fingers up toward the sky for 2 1/2 minutes.
6. same as 2 and 4.
7. Stretch arms overhead straight, open fingers apart, arms shoulder distance apart, breath of fire for 3 minutes.
8. Meditate on crown of head as done throughout sequence.

We rested and then began a healing meditation, the last few minutes dedicated to M.C.
Sat Nam.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Morning Pranayama and Restoratives

Sat Nam.

Vibrant tranquility. I love creating sequences which cultivate this very loose translation of sthira and sukha, or even ha and tha.

Today we began with belly breathing. We lied down with our legs draped over a bolster and a blanket folded over our bellies. The blanket gave clarity to the up and down movements of the abdomen as we breathed. We stayed here for about 5 minutes. This is very calming and soothing. Yogi Bhajan suggested that if the belly can't move when you breathe you will most likely experience tightness and lackluster circulation in breast tissue.

We followed with chest expander, reclining lengthwise over the bolster with the blanket used as a pillow. This is a bit more energizing. Sitting up afterward, we practiced deep yogic breathing, allowing all the muscles of respiration, now gently stretched, to fully participate in the breath. After a while, we introduced ujjayi. I find we often push or force the sound of ujjayi, so I suggested we pay attention to the face and relax any unnessessary tension there. That way, we can feel the breath - especially the exhale - vibrate on the roof of the mouth. We listened to the sound of SO HAM on the in and out breath. What could be more vibrantly tranquil than hearing that wisdom flow through you?

We brought ujjayi pranayama into the next postures. First, what I call the big bolster backbend. It's like a wheel pose without any muscular effort. Lie down with the bolster across the mid back, just above the waist. After a few minutes, roll to one side, straighten the legs, and press through the balls of the feet. Clasp the top wwrist with the bottom hans, and side stretch. Roll your upper shoulder blade back toward the bolster now, bending the top leg for support, and enjoy an open twist. Roll over and do these on the other side. Come up and place the bolster crosswise in front of you. Clasp opposite upper arms and lie down in child's pose, resting the forearms on the bolster and resting the forehead between the arms.

Sit up when you're ready and enjoy 3 to 5 more minutes of ujjayi pranayama.

Finish the asana sequence with baddha konasana, upavistha konasana over one leg, then the other, then both legs.

Sitali pranayama is cooling and refreshing after the focus on ujjayi. Stick out the tongue and roll up the ends. If this is impossible or makes no sense, stick the tip of the tongue between the teeth, and inhale over the tongue. Exhale through one nostril, closing the other one off with your right thumb or ring finger. Be sure to change nostrils each time. Practice for only a couple of minutes and you will feel lighter and brighter in the mouth, throat, all over. Now relax into savasana.

This sequence can easily be practiced at home. Use 3 fairly firm bed pillows or a sofa cushion in place of the bolster. If these pranayamas are new to you, call me or your local yoga teacher for further explanation. Otherwise, simply practice deep, even breathing in place of them.

Lush, inspiring poetry by Rabindranath Tagore rounded out this soothing session. I hope you enjoy the practice. Happy Sunday.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sat Nam,

Welcome to Binduclass. My intention is to recreate one yoga class per week here, including theme (if any), pranayama, asana, and meditation. I hope you use it and enjoy it and check in once a week!

We are nearing the end of teacher training. This has been an exceptioanl group. Their ability to integrate the work we've done on the sutras with their student teaching is remarkable! I feel as though they were actually listening all those Fridays!

Watch for the names of this year's graduates on They will soon be available for private, corporate, and group classes!

Talk to you next week. Love, Rosie