Let's continue our series for yoga poses that are not commonly cued in Sanskrit!
Agnistambhasana or Fire Log Pose. Now this pose is often referred to in class as Double Pigeon but let's try the original Sanskrit: AG-nee-stahm-BAHS-uh-nuh. Agni is Sanskrit for the element of fire or the name of the god of fire. Agni is said to be present in the fire of the sun, in the stars, and the lightning. Build your fireplace and stack your logs - fire is the agent of sacrifice and transformation, and the sacred fire altar is a portal between the worlds. Fire log pose stretches & opens the hips and groins, stimulating the abdominal organs and calms the mind. Breathe & love!
Astavakrasana pronounced ahsh-tah-vah-krahs-ahna. The 8 angled pose dedicated to the sage Astavakra - cursed by his own father for correcting his mantra pronunciation before he was even born! Becoming bent in 8 places, he eventually became the teacher of King Janaka, the father of the goddess Sita. For the 8 angled pose use your core strength to enter and once you’re there, lightly hover over the earth. Love & breathe!
“I started doing yoga a few years ago and I loved the physical aspect of it. This training has connected the physical and the spiritual together. I am glad I fought the fears and did this. I never thought I’d love chanting and meditating the way I do today.”
-George Arniotis from New York City, July 2018, 200 hour training 💚
We love connecting with our students from all over the world! We want you here with us!
Today we start a series for yoga poses that are not commonly cued in Sanskrit!
Sure we're familiar with poses like Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog ;) but what about some of the others like Lizard Pose! Here we go:
Utthan Pristhasana (OOT-ahn preesth- AHS – anna) is what we commonly call Lizard Pose. Try saying it out loud for the vibration! The meaning of the sanskrit is different however:
Utthan: stretch out
Pristha: page of the book; back of the body
You may feel lizard-like doing this as the pose. It strengthens the groin and inner hamstrings while preparing the body for deeper hip openers. Stay steady in the breath and focus. Stay tuned for the next one!
photo: Alexa Carissima
One learns that one's body is the bow, the asana is the arrow, and the target is the soul. (Iyengar)
2.47 prayatna shaithilya ananta samapattibhyam
Perfection in the posture is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and attention merges with the infinite.
By relaxing the effort and fixing the mind on the infinite [ananta], asana is perfected. Ananta, a word meaning “unending” or “infinite,” describes what is timeless, beyond birth, growth, death, and all modifications—a limitless state of joy and contentment. This sweet, natural state of ours, beyond the things of the senses, is embodied by the vast mythological serpent, Ananta, whose coils support the universe and who serves as Vishnu's couch. Vishnu rests on the coils of this great serpent couch floating in the cosmic ocean between incarnations as an avatar on earth.
Think of a hip opener like eka pada raja kapotasana, one legged royal pigeon pose:
-A considerable effort is made
-The pose is held and maintained
-We have to consciously move beyond the initial resistance from the muscles
-The resistance or "tightness" is connected to the movements in the mind, the thoughts
-We may experience a flood of mental or emotional activity
-Through our perseverance and awareness, a stillness of mind and a state of balance is attained when we witness ourselves and let go
-The hip begins to open as relaxation in the mind and body happen simultaneously
-All merges in the seat of the soul.
This feeling of oneness is boundless and universal!
Discussing asana in the philosophy class, we ask the students to begin observing the state of the mind in a pose. The deeper we get into the practice, the more aware we become of the ability to bring ourselves to a place beyond thought. We've all heard before "don't think, just do!" The pose itself offers us a primordial power when we find ourselves nicely aligned in it. That energy, or shakti, awakens and begins to move freely within us. A thought can return and block this flow so we do our best to stay one-pointed and present. The more we visit this state of yoga, the more established we become in the practice for life!
Sādhanā - practice, or spiritual practice, a means to accomplish
Ekāgratā - one-pointedness, undisturbed attentiveness
Shakti - power or empowerment, the primordial cosmic energy that represents the dynamic forces that move through the entire universe
Part 3 of the Yoga Sutras and asana coming up - find out what happens when we perfect the pose...
Chapter 2 of Patanjali's Yoga Sutra's is called Sadhana Pada, the practice to achieve yoga. In this chapter the philosophy of Ashtanga Yoga, or the 8 limbs of yoga, is presented to us. The third of those 8 limbs is āsana and we are given three definitive sutras to explore and practice. Starting with pada 2, sutra 46:
2:46 Sthira Sukham Asanam
The posture is steady and ease-filled
Chanting this mantra together in a class tunes us into the vibrational frequency of the sutra - the teaching is directly transmitted to our heart. Now a yoga class can venture into varying degrees of intensity and our challenge is often to relax once we've put forth major effort. Here comes sthira - stillness, steadiness, stable. Along with sukham - ease, comfort, in a good space.
While the seated meditative posture is essential to have these qualities, what about all the other postures? In each pose, with varying degrees of challenge according to each individual, a continual self-effort will lead one out of places of pain and limitation, to a sense of profound ease and expansiveness - a good space. When the mind becomes perfectly still in the pose, sthira and sukham is the effect of the present moment. Think of the controlled motion moving into dancer's pose, and then the light & grace that establishes you in the center of that asana. The effort, and possibly previous strain, leads to a sense of balance and ease, a realized connection of spirit that makes the body feel light and free. Now let's take that sense of ease into whatever activity we're doing!
In the next post we'll look at at Pada 2, Sutra 47, where effort meets infinity.
April teacher trainees start the day exploring the mind-body-spirit connection
1:1 atha yoga-anuśāsanam
Now in this moment, we begin our practice of yoga
This is the first sutra of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, the 2000 year old guide into the experience of yoga. Chanting this sutra is not only an introduction to that experience but firmly establishes you in the present moment - the power of now. The vibrational quality of the mantra stills the mind so that we are able to expand our awareness infinitely and tune in to that ever present power within, that of the spirit, traditionally called the Self. To begin, also require our presence. In that state of beginning we are open to all the knowledge flowing in.
My yoga mat knows me the best…
I've shed tears
I’ve shed sweat
I’ve poured every emotion of mine into the mat
Whatever I was thinking stays outside the door
my mat knows my emotions
my mat knows my deepest thoughts
my mat knows my deepest secrets
My ujjayi breath carries my vessel to find it self
it shuts my mind
it let’s me be in the moment
it gives me the life force I need
I come to know myself
knowing that I am capable of overcoming and finding myself
Everything I’ve been hiding and running away from catches up to me
And in that moment, I have a moment
A moment of peace
A moment of clarity
A moment to be me
To love every part of me
To learn to overcome obstacles
To laugh it out
I learn to let go and be in the moment
Thank you all for such a beautiful experience.
by Abby Seker, June 2016 teacher training graduate
There is so much more to it than just doing poses on the mat.
Coming back to consciousness from my black out, I found myself underneath a complete stranger. Without finding my shoes or phone, I ran home and did not look back. I was confused as to how I could have blacked out when I only had two drinks throughout the entire night. Ever since that night, drinking and smoking became daily occurrences. I could not face the day unless I had something to numb me, help me forget.
Little did I know that this experience is what would push me to begin my yoga career.
It started as just some research online. I took classes on and off over the years, but never really got into the yoga lifestyle. Then as I was researching, I stumbled upon Maui Yoga Shala. I read reviews for their teacher-training program and something inside of me said this is it Abby, this is what you need to do.
Next thing I know, the semester is over and I’m hopping on a plane to Maui. Not sure what to expect, I pull up to the studio and introduce myself to a woman whom I would soon come to realize is the most influential and inspirational person in my life: Nadia.
Nadia is the kind of person you meet who you fall in love with immediately. The positive energy that surrounds her is incredible. Her kind heart, love, and generosity inspire everyone to be better people. Learning yoga and life lessons from her was an absolutely unforgettable experience.
When you learn to love yourself and find peace within, you can then share it with others and send it out into the world. After gaining a positive mindset, it is so much easier to surround yourself with others who are also positive. And who knows, your positivity can rub off on others and make them more positive people. There is so much more to yoga than just doing some asanas on your mat. Practicing yoga as a lifestyle frees your mind, body and spirit.
Everything always comes full circle – that’s life. Learn to love yourself, your body, and your life. Then the alcohol and drugs become unnecessary. Things become so much clearer, I promise.
Hawaii Yoga Teacher Training, Maui
The Maui Yoga & Dance Shala