A Yogi’s Brief Guide to Moving Through Loss by Way of the Chakras by Denise Payne

Featured

Yoga Alliance (Australia/International) Master Yoga Teacher Denise Payne (Ubud-Bali)

Two years ago, I was in Indonesia preparing to lead a yoga teacher training beginning in 72 hours. My phone rang. On the other end, I was told my sister had just died from a heroin overdose. Speechless and gutted, I pulled my arms in front of my chest. I dropped my head into my hands and felt paralysed.

From my previous experience with loss, I knew these actions were causing a “shaking in” of the trauma. The best thing to do in this situation is to run around, move the limbs and yell— “shake out” the trauma. However, we’ve been conditioned to intellectualise the sadness first. This makes navigating and unravelling the inner workings of our feelings difficult, yet an understanding of the Chakras can help. This knowledge was integral in helping me deal with the loss of my sister. I hope it can serve you in your own unique grieving process.

Grieving Through the Chakras

The energetic system of the chakras defines how we move. Grief affects each chakra individually and the system as a whole. Each chakra (energy center) has its own purpose and receives energy or information from the outside world. Chakras assimilate and integrate this energy, combine it with their particular states and expresses this combination back into the world.

1st chakra, Muldhara – stability and survival: Healing from loss and grief here comes through grounding practices. Silence and slow and methodical movements nurture it. Sink into the support of gravity.

Pro tip: garden, get your hands in the dirt.

2nd chakra, Svadisthana – fluidity and emotions:This chakra likes flow of all kinds. Nurture it by experiencing pleasure through all of the senses. Eat delicious and nourishing foods. Look at the beautiful blue sky. Flow in your yoga practice—combining breath and movement supports the relationship between the first and second chakras.

Pro tip: dance.

3rd chakra, Manipura – power and self-discipline: Nurture this chakra by caring for your first two chakras daily. Consistently roll out your yoga mat and move. This ignites the fire this chakra needs to thrive. 

Pro tip: care for your first two chakras, even when you don’t feel like it. 

4th chakra, Anahata – breath: Grief affects this chakra by making the breath shallow or causing it to be held.  Heal here through deep breathing—especially through the mouth in the early stages of grief. Notice how the body moves with each inhale and each exhale. Let the space between the two begin to lengthen naturally.

Pro tip: match the rhythm of the breath with the rhythm of your heartbeat. 

5th chakra, Vishuddha – creativity, speech, and listening: When grieving, listen to others share their stories of loss and heartache. Meet with people who can relate to your experience without judgement or sympathy, heard by people that understand that it’s your journey, your own healing timeline.

Pro tip: sing.

6th chakra, Ajna – perception of ourselves and others:We can easily allow the perception of a loss to define us. Who are we once someone is gone? Do we feel guilty moving on? Through experience, I know that the sixth chakra will feel supported, if the time has been taken to care for the lower five properly. 

Pro tip: sit quietly with the eyes closed. Bring the gaze up to the space between the eyebrows and connect to your inner wisdom.

7th chakra, Svadisthana – connection and attachment:The healing journey encompasses the attachment to our perceptions and the stories we tell ourselves. Who are we if we are no longer that thing which defined us? Do your grounding practice. Give the first chakra what it needs to build a foundation, then slowly work your way up through the chakra system, to find answers. 

Pro tip: practice stillness. Commit to one minute at a time, then slowly increase the time.

After my sister died, I found safety in my anger and brokenness. It served me until one day it didn’t. If I had rushed the healing process to suit someone else’s timeline, I wouldn’t feel as whole as I am beginning to feel right now. When grieving, take your time. Go through the process of nurturing your chakras, and the healing will find its way. 

Denise Payne Teacher Training School in Bali One Song Yoga has been serving the yoga community as a registered school since 2009. Our guiding principles are steeped in yoga tradition and philosophy and offer bespoke teacher training to fit the growing needs of the expanding yoga community. www.denisepayneyoga.com

Praise of Yoga Gymnastic

Featured

Source: doorofperception.com-michael_oneill-yoga-book-taschen-cover2

Praise of Yoga Gymnastic article by Paolo Proietti Tantra Yoga Teacher, books author-Rome, Italy

Yoga “gymnastics” will be the new tag from now on, to introduce all my classes, courses and seminaries.

This definition has the merit of being simple and honest; nowadays there are hundreds of different Yoga in the “spiritual market” and most of the time they run into contradiction. That’s why I think it’s therefore right and proper to get back to clarity and simplicity.

Yoga is the Art of Human Being; it’s the practical application of Sanatana Dharma teachings’ (the perpetual Indian Philosophy) and it has been turned into a desinence or a suffix that aims at attracting new potential consumers inside the lucrative market of spirituality.

The same happened in the ‘70s with the word Zen:
everybody thought to do Zen meditation and they applied it to all sort of activities, from motorcycling to tennis, from theatre to writing.
Today it’s Yoga turn.

This fact itself it’s not right or wrong; it’s just a fact, a social phenomenon that we can’t disregard. The consumer who embraces spiritual and holistic arts from the East will look for a particular Yoga, so the market will adapt itself to meet specific demands.

Ashtanga, Power or Acro Yoga will be chosen by someone who has a physical approach, otherwise somebody interested in Western gymnastics with low-impact exercises will find Yin Yoga, Mindful Yoga, Yoga Pilates (or Yogiaates) and Postural Yoga.

Somebody else, with a strong passion for philosophic issues, will be fascinated by Advaita Vedanta (more often in the reinvented version of American psychologists), they could also enjoy the Tibetan Yoga and other courses that introduce the word Meditation in their package, another magic word from the Holistic business.

Then we have the Shamanic Yoga, the Yoga related to symbols, the Five Tibetans’ Yoga rites, the Laughter Yoga, and so on. A Yoga for everyone!!

As I already  said before, I personally prefer the definition of “Yoga Gymnastics” (or Gymnosophy) because it’s clear, simple and honest.

During my lessons, we practice a series of physical exercises (gymnastics), positions, sequences, gestures and breathing techniques. We work on perception and the use of Subtle Energies. We study philosophical texts.

It’s the combination of these three components of our work that must or should lead to a series of physical, psychic and mental transformations.Therefore, Yoga Gym.

Then we can discuss between us, in private, about the singularity of Yoga, and we could also talk about the risks of this “spiritual market” and its adhesion. Yes, we speak of risks, because it may happen that many people practice (or even teach) Yoga without ever having read a Yoga Upanisad or an Agama.

They could pass off a simple psycho-physical exercise as an ancient traditional technique; an exercise that might be good for health and state of mind, but at the same time it’s similar to Yoga as the pin-pong is to hunting. This is the risk of inventing new disciplines with techniques and concepts mixed together to meet the taste of the public.

Look at the picture below:

Paolo Proietti in 1978

The hippie man in his underwear it’s me in the 70s. It’s supposed to be in Capraia (a gorgeous Italian little Island) looking at the shape of those rocks. I was there during one of the “voluntary Yoga retreats” organised by a very large group, with manifold practitioners. There were some Babaji’s disciples, some “Orange”, a few Hare Krishna, some Sri Aurobindo followers and a group of people just returned from India.

We met periodically in the island, where we spent one or two weeks doing “gymnastics exercises”, meditation and mental visualisations. We also talked at night about the teachings of some masters, in front of the bonfire. The most knowledgeable showed us some readings written in English, that they brought from India, and we talked for hours about Sanatana Dharma, Vedas, Gods, demons and heroes.

Beliefs and opinions were different, but I remember that everybody knew and practiced the basic asanas, we all had precise ideas on chakras and we could sit for hours meditating in the lotus pose. We named it just Yoga and none of us would ever think to ask someone else “What kind of Yoga do you practice?”. Because Yoga is (or maybe it was) only one. Yoga is one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophical traditions

Source: doorofperception.com-michael_oneill-yoga-book-taschen

Let’s talk about Yoga Upanisad.

Honestly, have you ever heard of them? And if the answer is yes, have you ever studied one of them?

Traditional Upanisad are 108 and they are divided into 4 groups:

1) main upaniṣad

2) upaniṣad of renunciation (or surrender upanisad)

3) Yoga upaniṣad

4) upaniṣad on universal principles.

There are also other groups of religious nature in addition to them, but now we’re going to analyse the third group about Yoga Upanisad.

There are 20 upanisad (or 17 according to some commentators) and they describe the yogic path to Realisation. A very accurate and clear path, with gymnastics exercises, breathing techniques, mental visualisations and meditation.

These are always and every single time the same and they are described with a simple language, details apart.

This language is not absolutely suitable for metaphorical or theological interpretations. Let me give you an example: Parama-Karuna-Devi is an Hindu master of Italian origin and she made a translation of the 108 upanisad from which I’m going to transcribe some passages.

I really suggest my colleagues and the practitioners of thousands different styles of Yoga to read them. (The author does not use the transliteration of IAST, so for instance upanisad is UPANISHAD, Siva will be SHIVA and so on..)

Here you can read two verses from the Varaha Upanisad (composed between the 13th and 16th centuries CE) :

The (fundamental asanas are 11: Chakra, Padma, Kurma, Mayura, Kukkuta, Vira, Svastika, Bhadra, Simha, Mukta and Gomukha.
(5.15 to 16)

It seems to be clear enough, isn’t it?

According to the varāha upaniṣad, which forms an integral part of Yajurveda, the practitioner must know how to do at least 11 asanas, in order to undertake  the path to realisation. They include the following poses:

Cakrasana
CHAKRASANA Source: doorofperception.com-michael_oneill-yoga-book-taschen-
padamasana
PADAMASANA Source: doorofperception.com-michael_oneill-yoga-book-taschen
kumasana
KUMASANA Source: doorofperception.com-michael_oneill-yoga-book-taschen
mayurasana
MAYURASANA Source: https://paoloproiettiyoga.blogspot.com
kukkutasana
Source: https://paoloproiettiyoga.blogspot.com

These are gymnastics exercises, Yoga gymnastics, which are fundamental for a Yogin, according to a traditional Indian text.

It must be said that upaniṣad are not manuals made for buskers or for exhibitions of gymnasts, but they are clear instructions to achieve the yogic path to Realisation.

Do you think varāha upaniṣad is an isolated case?

As if, difficult poses as it’s considered the Peacock one (Mayurāsana) are believed to be basic in almost all Yoga upanisad.

It explains that what it was called to be Yoga, was a discipline made of fundamental poses, without a doubt. Among these essential poses, there were (and there still are) some movements quite complex, but they are part of gymnastics exercises.

Like for basketball or the boxe; have you ever heard of a basketball player who does not know how to dribble? Or a boxer who does not know how to throw punches? No, and the same is for Yoga.

As far as I could see and read, nowadays there aren’t a lot of people who know how to perform the bridge on their arms, the head stand or the Peacock pose. In many of these thousands types of Yoga, we could even hear that it is not necessary to learn how to do Padmāsana (the lotus pose), because it could be dangerous for the knees. Moreover, the Head Stand (the king of asanas) has become an optional, good only for performances.

So, the new tag “Yoga Gymnastics” is welcomed, considering that essential asanas poses of the upanisad are left to gymnasts.

But let’s read another passage from the Varāha Upaniṣad:

“Pranayama must be practiced repeatedly in the following order: inhale, hold the breath and exhale. The main work of pranayama concerns nadis, the channels through which the energies flow”. (5,18)

“The body of every human being is 96 fingers long. In the middle of the body, two fingers above the anus and two fingers under the genital organ, we can find the center of the body called Muladhara”. (5,19)

“Nine fingers above the genitals there is the core of nadis that takes the shape of an oval; it is made of four fingers on each side, surrounded by fat, meat, bones and blood. There is a nadi chakra in it with 10 rays, it supports the body and it’s where Kundali resides.

Kundali’s face covers up Brahmarandhra (the “opening of Brahma”) on the channel called Sushumna. At the sides of the Sushumna there are the nadis called Alambusa and Kuhu”. (5,20-23)

“The next two rays are Varuna and Yasasvini. On the southern ray of Sushumna there is Pingala.

On the following two rays there are Pusha and Payasvini, while on the west side of Sushumna there is the nadi called Sarasvati”. (5,24-26)

“The following ray is Hastijihva, finally there is Visvodara.

In these rays of the wheel, 10 nadis move 10 vayu in a clockwise direction from left to right, and they are intersected in various points like filaments of a fabric. They also have different colors (5,27-28) “

I think the message of the Yoga Upanisad, the practical handbooks of Yoga, is very clear: a yogin, to be a yogin, must be a gymnast and an inner alchemy expert at the same time. This doesn’t mean that psychic and mental well-being cannot be reached in another way; because one’s self could be realise in many manners.

But what it was used to be called Yoga included the following activities: gymnastics, inner alchemy, meditation and knowledge of traditional texts.

Today I’d like to to call it Gymnosophy, or Yoga gymnastics. I’d really appreciate that my colleagues and friends who teach Yoga and practitioners of disciplines with the suffix (or “prefix”) Yoga will read the Yoga upanisad too, when they have enough time.

In order to know what it was meant to be the word Yoga, since ten years ago. When it was considered to be necessary for meditation to tie the legs in the lotus pose while holding the back straight. As well as the head stand was not considered to be the evolution of an exhibitionist, but it was a technique to stimulate precise energy channels, to transform the perception of one’s body and of evident reality.

Greetings Paolo Proietti -Rome,Italy

Paolo Proietti is a Tantra Yoga teacher and books author. Paolo he has been practising yoga and oriental martial arts since 1974. Instructor of ASI / DOS (Discipline Holistic Health – Holistic Arts and Oriental). Member World M.Y.A. (World Movement for Yoga and Ayurveda), World MIFA (World Movement for Indian Fine Arts), E.Y.F. European Yoga Federation.

Yoga a Noble Tradition

Featured

Yoga – a Noble Tradition by Sadhviji Bhagawati Saraswati

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji

The Divine Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji Spiritual Leader, PhD, books author, director International Yoga Festival Rishikesh and much more….

The noble traditions of Yoga, Meditation and Pranayama have, over the last three decades, become a catalyst for transformative and positive changes to the mind, body and spirit. As an example, in the United States, yoga practice increased from 9.5% of the population in 2012 to 14.3% in 2017 according to a 2017 National Health Interview Survey. Involvement by children doubled during the same period.  As part of this increased participation, people are coming to realize that Yoga is more than asanas and meditation.

Yoga, as taught by Patanjali, is an eight-fold path with each limb flowing gracefully and naturally, one into the other, yet flexible enough the limbs may be experienced ordered in a multitude of variations. The first two limbs of Yoga are the Yamas and Niyamas, or the ethical rules for living and interacting within community. This, by extension, can encompass the world at large. The third limb refers to the practice of asanas for keeping the body healthy and supple. Asanas are also critical for preparing the mind for the more subtle practices that come next. The fourth limb is Pranayama, or control of the breath – the vital energy permeating the body. It is said that the number of breaths we are allowed to take on this earth was written at the time of our birth. Yoga teaches that longevity depends on the rate at which we breathe. As we lower the rate of breathing, we can increase the length of our lives. Pranayama has an effect on both body and mind, and is a means of attaining higher states of awareness and consciousness.

The final four limbs help to refine and discipline the mind. They are Pratyahara or control of the senses, Dharana or concentration, Dhyana or meditation and contemplation, and Samadhi or enlightenment. One very powerful Dharana is envisioning the world completely devoid of our presence. This reminds us that we are not this body and nothing material is of substantial importance. Samadhi is the final state of enlightenment and oneness with the Supreme Consciousness.

Yoga is primarily a spiritual process designed to help the practitioner attain self -knowledge and Samadhi. It is rooted in Sanatan Dharma. Millions of people around the world are involved in the practice and spread of Yoga. From its origins as Ashtanga, many asana variations have been developed. Examples include Vinyasa, Iyengar, and Bikram. The essence of the original practices, however, remains intact because no new asanas have been developed.

Yoga is also a science that has been verified using scientific methods. Tests have been conducted for decades on the effect of Yoga on the body and mind. Studies show asanas, pranayama and meditation in combination with allopathic medicine can be an alternative treatment for many health issues. Research is now being undertaken to determine whether Yoga can cure and prevent cancer. Initial findings are encouraging, and show that yoga improves the physiological and physical symptoms of cancer patients and reduces stress, thereby improving quality of life.  Yoga is also being studied to determine its effectiveness in treating issues such as autism, PTSD, trauma, anxiety disorders and issues related to the mind.  On the individual level, yoga is an experiential process because the practitioner can directly observe changes in their body and mind as a result of a sustained practice

A whole world of possibilities is available through Yoga, and new opportunities are being discovered every day. Yoga can be considered one of the most important tools in the twenty-first century for health and well-being – physical, mental and spiritual. We humbly request that all teachers and practitioners treat Yoga as their most precious jewel and protect it in the same manner.

Biography

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Ph.D, was raised in an American family in Hollywood, California and graduated from Stanford University. She was completing her Ph.D. when she left America in 1996 to live at Parmarth Niketan in Rishikesh, India. She has been living there for 22 years, engaged in spiritual practice and service.

She was officially initiated into the order of Sanyas (monastic renunciation) in the year 2000, by His Holiness Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, one of the most revered spiritual leaders in India and the President of Parmarth Niketan.

Sadhviji serves as:

Meet  Sadhviji at the IYF 1- 7 March 2019 Rishikesh – Parmarth Niketan Ashram 

Yoga Alliance (International/Australia Proud Media Partner International Yoga Festival 2018/2019

Yoga Alliance (Italia/International) -Media partner International Yoga Festival 2018/2019

Yoga Alliance (Italia/International) proud Media Partner of the International Yoga Festival 2018/2019

Largest Yoga Championship in the World Beijing 2018

Featured

The largest ever World Championship of Yoga Sports to kick off  Saturday December 1st 2018 in Beijing

The Swiss based International Yoga Sports Federation is organising the largest ever World Championship of Yoga in Beijing, China. This is the first time that the competition is organised in Asia after running in London in 2014 and Italy in 2016 (Pordenone Yogah School).

135 athletes from 32 nations and 5 continents will be participating in this exceptional event, the biggest ever from the foundation of IYSF in 2013, raising interest for Yoga Sports all over the world. Each competitor will be evaluated by 10 international judges on a series of 6 asanas, 1 forward compression, 1 backward, 1 stretching, 1 spine twist, and 2 optional postures. This year the whole event will be placed under the high patronage of Rajashree Choudhoury, who has decided to handover her position of Executive President of IYSF at the end of the competition.

Two Italians are the youngest competitors in the Youth category. One is the 2016 World Champion who will defend “Like a Champion” the well deserved title!   

Let’s see what their Yoga Alliance (Italia/International) ERYT -1500 yoga teachers Nicola De Simone a Bikram qualified teacher and his wife Gabriella Buzzacchi owners of Yogah school in Pordenone with over 40 years teaching experience between them have to say about their young students:

We are glad to bring our champions Davide Toneguzzi and Riccardo Basso, students of the Yogah School since they were five years old, at World Yoga Championships, scheduled in Beijing. Davide Toneguzzi, 15, a student of the “Torricelli” sports school in Maniago, is the current world champion in the Youth category and on December 2nd (at 3 pm local time) in the Chinese capital, he will defend the title won in 2016.

Thanks to the Yogah school and its young athletes, Pordenone has received unexpected planetary visibility. The city and the territory have now repaid the boys of the Yogah School supporting them in this new, exciting sporting adventure. “Pordenone responded with great warmth to our appeal – explains Nicola De Simone, who with Gabriella Buzzacchi directs the Yogah School and is the Master of the two athletes – really a choral participation, almost moving.”

Along with Davide Toneguzzi there will also be a club and contemporary partner, Riccardo Basso. Student of the “Grigoletti” scientific high school, he is twice world and European champion of the Youth category. In short, Pordenone holds world leadership among young yogis.

Yoga Youth World Yoga Champions

Youngest World Yoga Champions from Italy Yogah School- Pordenone and their Master Yoga Teacher Nicola De Simone

Rajashree Choudhoury President International Yoga Sports Federation

Rajashree Choudhoury President International Yoga Sports Federation

For more info, please check:
International Yoga Sports Federation webpage: www.iysf.org
China Yoga Sports Federation webpage : www.cysf.com.cn/?en
Teaser videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-1Kn7T7nYY  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQ-jxB1Dogk
Facebook live stream: https://www.facebook.com/1592501274391801/posts/1913066002335325/

Influential Spiritual Leaders: H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji

Featured

The life and time of on the most influential Spiritual Leader: H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji President of the International Yoga Festival Rishikesh  

H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji  invites you to join him at the IYF 1-7 March 2019. Register Now:  https://www.internationalyogafestival.org/register/

  

“Welcome Home!” – this greeting is offered to every guest and visitor to Parmarth Niketan Ashram, a true spiritual haven, lying on the holy banks of Mother Ganga in the lap of the lush Himalayas. “Parmarth Niketan” literally means “Dedicated to the Welfare of All.” A friendly welcome and this simple mission statement expand into a vast array of programs and services that are led by or inspired by or driven by, or a combination of the three, the ashram. The ashram runs schools, hospitals, ecological programs and disaster-relief projects with no discrimination on the basis of caste, color, creed, gender or nationality.

I first came to Parmarth Niketan in 2013 on a spiritual adventure, attending the International Yoga Festival. I was hooked – Home! One of the aspects of Parmarth most attractive to me is the charity work. Pujya Swamiji says, “it’s culture, nature, and future” – a culture of love and togetherness, focused on our common nature and this one planet we share, to create the future we desire. This vision is further unfolded in the programs and efforts of the ashram or that are associated with Parmarth. This year I made the personal decision to move to India, to live at the ashram as a sevak, in service to the vision and mission of Pujya Swamiji and the ashram’s various programs.

His Holiness, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji serves as President and Spiritual Head of Parmarth Niketan Ashram. Pujya Swamiji selflessly and tirelessly uses every moment as an opportunity to give and to teach others the gift and value of giving. Every day you will find him participating in a multi-variety of activities: Meeting with government officials, faith leaders, and devotees; leading spiritual ceremonies and community programs; offering darshan and inspiring words; and chanting at the inspiring Ganga Aarti celebration held each evening on the banks of the sacred Ganga River in Rishikesh. From His example, countless others are inspired to action in their own communities in the areas of healthcare, education, the environment, and social justice.

The purpose of this story is share with you some of the charitable work of the ashram, seeking to inspire you to make a difference, and perhaps sparking a fire in you to serve in some way or even to come visit us at Parmarth in Rishikesh, India. I have aligned the work with Swamiji’s theme of “culture, nature, and future”.

From a cultural perspective, Pujya Swamiji is part of a global effort to bring faith leaders together for a more peaceful, healthy and sustainable world – a cultural approach for change that is all about nature – the Interfaith Humanitarian Effort. In addition to faith leaders, the ashram brings together Entertainers for Peace, where the stars are inspired to shine for a more peaceful world.

Entertainers have a unique position and opportunity to influence peace and Swamiji challenges them to rise to the occasion. Efforts to bridge business leaders and political leaders are also a piece of the cultural change efforts – all in the name of peace. Lastly, Pujya Swamiji led a labour of love and intellect to create the Encylopedia of Hinduism, sharing one of the most beloved and lasting gifts of the Indian people to the world. The encyclopedia is 11 volumes of more than 7000 entries from over 1000 scholars, bringing together hindu history, scholarship, and contributions to the development of the world. We are One culture, One world – a world that is about Love and Togetherness – if we choose it to be.

Nature is fascinating, complex, ever-changing, and an endless opportunity to see ourselves in relationship to the world around us. Since coming to the ashram, I have learned of some drastic predictions coming from the United Nations around water, global warming, and the impact of food choices on the health of people and our earth. The ashram’s goal is to awaken us all to the difference we make and the changes required. The ashram’s efforts begin at home here in India, where Pujya Swamiji inspires India’s leaders for a clean and green India and a more peaceful world. The ashram’s specific programs include the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA.org), the world’s first initiative to engage the planet’s many faiths as allies in efforts to create a world where every human being has access to safe drinking water, improved sanitation and proper hygiene.

Nothing short of a behavior change revolution is require to insure health, sustainable WASH for nearly half of India’s population. One of my favorite signs here at the ashram is for the World Toilet College, providing classroom and outreach trainings that cover the entire range of sanitation projects. Plus, there’s WASH on Wheels which brings dedicated social workers, volunteers and performers to all areas of India; the WaterSchool used to train and motivate teachers and students to learn the principles of sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene in order to be agents of social change; and  Women for WASH which seeks to develop women entrepreneurs against pollution, hardship and disease right in their own neighborhoods and villages.

I am much more aware today of the significant role women can and do play in making change for the health of communities and our planet – and nature and culture balance and support one another. The Divine Shakti Foundation (DSF) is dedicated to the holistic well being of women, their children, and orphaned/abandoned children, and to all of Mother Nature and Mother Earth. Again, to make is personal, Menstrual Hygience Management was not on my radar screen before getting involved with Parmarth – it is now and the solutions are so simple – but they require me to think differently and to act differently. Creating a clean, green, and serene world means everyone is supported and barriers to health and wellness are removed. The Ashram’s efforts in these areas includes Gurukuls (schools) and Orphanages, education, and a Rural Development Program. There are programs such as Project Give-Back: The Heart of Healing, a health care program with annual free health care camps in Rishikesh.

Nature is a key element to understanding ourselves and I am convinced that any personal spiritual journey requires me to consider nature. What I understand today is that my relationships to people, to Mother Nature, to communities, is beyond borders and boundaries, and beliefs and ideals. It’s a matter of the heart – and about sameness and connection. Hope is our hands, and programs like Ganga Action Parivar (GAP) raise awareness about the need for collective and holistic, solution-based action to address the crucial issues facing the holy river Ganga. And Ganga broadens beyond this sacred river in India to encompass all rivers, all sources of water, all peoples. Briefly, Pujya Swamiji speaks of environmental preservation and 6 T’s: Toilets, Trash, Taps, Tigers, Trains, Trees – you can visit the ashram website to learn more how each of these has an impact on nature, and is influenced by culture and affects our future.

The final call in Pujya Swamiji’s vision is for the future. I think this is where the personal call most comes in – what future do I want? Knowing what I know now, how do my choices change? Choices around water, food, material possessions, care for my body, community, world – and those around me. It’s an interesting path – one that I find support along the way from the community here at Parmarth, through yoga and meditation, and through meeting amazing people from around the world who are involved in the change. So my last thought is – who do I surround myself with? How do I use my senses – what do I watch? what do I listen to? how do I touch? what do I allow my mind to gravitate towards? Ask yourself these questions – and perhaps our paths will cross as walk the path of “culture, nature, and future”.

I feel a sense of pride and I draw inspiration from these programs and initiatives, being called to make a difference in the world. Change really does depend upon each of us – it is a matter of the heart – the heart of me, the heart of you, the collective Heart of one earth! And for me, through the Heart of the One – the Divine – “any name, any form, no name, no form” – together we can. “Welcome Home!”

You can learn more about the ashram’s charitable mission and projects by visiting www.parmarth.org 

Article by Ed Fink a sevak at Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh (Himalayas), India.

Pujya Swamiji receives prestigious Ahimsa award

Featured

H.H Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji &
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji’s historic participation in the Parliament of World’s Religions 2018 

Pujya Swamiji receives prestigious Ahimsa award by Parliament of World Religions TORONTO: Today was a moment of historic pride for India when Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji was awarded the special Ahimsa award by the Parliament of World Religions in Toronto. This evening, Dr. Robert P. Sellers, Chair of Parliament of World Religions, Dr Kirit Daftary, Trustee and representative of the Jain religion, Parliament of World Religions, honoured HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji – Muniji for his exceptional contributions that enhance and strengthen the interfaith community through non-violence, his unparalleled service to humanity, his great example of peace and compassion in action. The award has been sponsored by Jain communities around the world. H.H. Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, one of India’s most renowned leaders, is President of Parmarth Niketan, one of India’s largest interfaith spiritual institutions and co-founder of Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, the first alliance of religious leaders working for water, sanitation and hygiene, launched by UNICEF at their World Headquarters in New York City during the time of the General Assembly of the United Nations,. He also is founder of Ganga Action Parivar, supporting and dedicated to the Clean Ganga Movement, Divine Shakti Foundation, educating and empowering women and girls, and India Heritage Research Foundation, which conceived and published the historic Encyclopedia of Hinduism and built three historic ashrams in the sacred land of Kailash Mansarovar . The Parliament of Religions, founded in 1893 when Swami Vivekananda came and delivered his historic address has gathered approximately 10,000 people from 50 different religious lineages and from 80 regions of the world at the Toronto Metro Convention center for their 7th Parliament. Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, President of Divine Shakti Foundation and Secretary-General of Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, disciple of Pujya Swamiji’s spoke about Pujya Swamiji as an embodiment of Ahimsa. She said, “Ahimsa is not simply an absence of violence. It is a fullness of peace, a fullness of embracing and acting from the truth of our highest united humanity. Pujya Swamiji sees not only bombs, guns and armed conflict as violence. He also sees starving children, homeless orphans, women without access to clean water or toilets, death by diarrhea, polluted rivers and felled trees as violence. His life has been dedicated to eradicating all forms of violence, not only armed conflict, but also universal access to safe and sufficient water, access to health care and education. Wherever Pujya Swamiji goes He embodies ahimsa, whether picking up trash on the banks of a river or picking up people’s spirits, whether building schools, women’s centers, hospitals and sewage treatment plants or building bridges between people in conflict.

Yoga Alliance Australia and Italia Introduced New Standards

Featured

Yoga Alliance® – Australia and  Yoga Alliance® Italia Yoga Industry leaders Introduced New Standards for Yoga Training

As the popularity of yoga in the world grows each year, so does the need for more rigorous yoga teacher training programs. That is why Yoga Alliance® International/Australia and Yoga Alliance®-Italia/International (sister organisations) believe that yoga teachers and training providers deserve a better support system in comparison to what they have had in the past. Let’s see how…

In 1987 the International Yoga Federation (IYF), the largest yoga organisation in the world, under the honorary Presidency of Indra Devi (a.k.a.The First Lady of Yoga) created standards to celebrate yoga teachings of all traditions and the diversity, harmony and integrity of yoga practices all over the world

The IYF implemented three yoga teacher training systems:

1) The Indian Traditional Gurukula System.
2) The American System or Standards by hours.
3) The European System by Programme and years.

Since 2000, the most significant independent world’s renowned Yoga Alliance organisations (Australia/Italy/International/Canada/UK-Professionals/USA) the yoga community’s primary advocacy organisations and Register of certified yoga schools and teachers, have adopted standards for teacher training by hours. The most commonly used and widely accepted 200-hour YTT international standard was created in 2001 to set forth the minimum hours required to become a yoga teacher anywhere in the world.

In January 2017, the Yoga Alliance® International/Australia and its sister organisation Yoga Alliance® International/Italia’s Educational Standards Committee (ESC) assembled a diverse range of experts within the yoga industry for a comprehensive review of the existing yoga teaching standards (most standards are voluntary in the sense that they are offered for adoption by people or industry without being mandated in law) supported by both organisations. The decision was based on the proliferation of low quality yoga teacher training, inadequately trained yoga teachers and unscrupulous providers who deliver substandard training,

The two organisations felt that their existing standards were out of date and restrictive in their breakdown of course content and hours. Rather than requiring a specified narrow curriculum, the ESC decided that keeping the bar high for training programs content, structure, the number of contact hours a program should incorporate, the experience of the teaching faculty, the course entry prerequisites and online learning, within a reasonable period of time would increase acceptance and integration of yoga teachers within the industry.

After exploring a variety of existing credentialing models, the ESC proposed to improve the foundation of the existing credentialing system by raising the Standards of Practice and level of professionalism of credentialed yoga teachers and yoga schools and thus provide consumers with independent assurance that yoga professionals who hold Yoga Alliance Credential possess the knowledge, skill, or ability to practice their occupation competently.

Meaningful Standards for Yoga Teaching from Australia to Europe to China

In April 2017, after receiving input from member schools, world renowned yoga experts and experienced yoga teachers, Yoga Alliance® International/Australia added to its existing credentialing system the 250-PLUS and 500-PLUS hours standards both designed to elevate the profession of yoga teachers a title that has no legal force as there are no legal requirements for yoga teachers and there is no statutory legislation specifically governing the teaching of yoga anywhere in the world.

While the 200-hour widely adhered-to standard is a relatively new concept,Yoga Alliance®-International/Australia and Yoga Alliance®-Italia/International believes that 200 hours is just not enough to teach yoga. Besides, it has become a point of contention within and outside the yoga community.

Although some experts may agree that the 200-hour model is more accessible for aspiring yogis, more studios and experienced teachers welcome the 250 PLUS and the advanced 500 PLUS hour standards instead. The “PLUS” standard enables training providers to incorporate more hours of study, practice and teaching methodologies into their programs so aspiring teachers can go more in depth into the study and teaching of yoga to prepare themselves to teach beginning and intermediate yoga classes.

On September 1st 2017, Yoga Alliance® ItaIia/International signed a “Partnership Agreement” with the C.S.E.N (Italy’s largest National Educational Sport Organisation) and its sister organisation Benessere C.S.E.N to implement the “PLUS” standards in Italy. The C.S.E.N is recognised by the Italian National Olympic Committee C.O.N.I and by the Italian Paralympic Committee C.I.P.

The C.SE.N aims to promote and disseminate sporting activities with high social value, to establish favourable conditions for a wider development of physical education, sports and health as well as cooperating with autonomous organisations from other countries.

In 2015 as part of the organisation restructure, the C.S.E.N established the National Holistic Sector Benessere C.S.E.N www.benesserecsen.it a body engaged in the drafting of national guidelines and reference standards for the training of holistic operators and yoga teachers, defining training courses curriculum and minimum hours. With yoga  been practised by more than two million people in Italy, the Benessere C.S.E.N has become Italy’s largest Register of Yoga Teacher and schools.

The agreement between the C.S.E.N and Yoga Alliance® ItaIia/International has given rise to a series of initiatives aimed at improving many aspects in the international and national Yoga industry. Among the first actions taken was the need of the C.S.E.N to equalise the training standards of the Yoga sector in Italy to the international ones.

Following the important decision by both organisations to raise the minimum training standards from the basic 200 to 250 and 500 PLUS hours,as of September 1st 2017, Italy is the first European country and the second in the world after Australia to have implemented new standards for yoga training courses. Upcoming projects and ongoing initiatives see the two organisations acting in constant and harmonious symbiosis.

The New Standards can be used freely by other Yoga Organisations
Although Yoga Alliance®-International/Australia and Yoga Alliance® ItaIia/International Standards might be a great reference point for other organisations, they are not legally binding. In fact, both organisations permits its standards to be used freely by other organisations if they see fit.
Following the review of the standards scheme from Yoga Alliance®-International/Australia and Yoga Alliance® ItaIia/International, miles away from Italy and Australia, a U.S-based organisation by the name of Yoga Alliance on September 1st 2017 (the same exact date Yoga Alliance® ItaIia/International implemented the new standards scheme) announced on their website: “The New Standards Review Project”.

Yoga Industry Innovators

Yoga Alliance®-International/Australia and Yoga Alliance®-Italia/International were the first Alliance organisations to understand the importance and need for innovation. Bringing innovation meant being open to new ideas and being able to adapt to change.

Offering new credentials such as: RYS 250 PLUS/350 and 500 PLUS hours and new meaningful standards to those who meet the requirements of the standards means that a registered yoga teacher has met certain criteria and has made a commitment to becoming a safe and qualified teacher.

  

  Yoga Alliance e CONI Italia

Yoga Sun Salutation

Featured

Yoga Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) IIlustrated Step by Step

Sun Salutation (Salute to the Sun) or more popularly known as Surya Namaskar (Surya is the Sanskrit word for the sun and  Namaskara derives from namas: “to bow, obeisance, reverential salutation) is a set/sequence of asanas/postures often practiced in a morning yoga session to aerobically generate heat and warmth in the body, which is helpful as one gradually moves into deeper postures.

Sun Salutation is performed in the morning empty stomach in a graceful flow and linked by breath-a method called vinyasa that massages, detoxifies, and stimulates almost every organ of the human body. It can be practised on varying levels of awareness, ranging from that of physical exercise in various styles, to a complete sadhana which incorporates asana, pranayama, mantra and chakra meditation and it is best done early morning on an empty stomach.

Each Sun Salutation round consists of two sets. These 12 yoga poses complete one set of Surya Namaskar.To complete the second half, you need to repeat the same sequence of postures, only moving the left leg instead of the right.

You might find many different variations of the Sun Salutation. However, it is best to stick to one particular sequence and practice it regularly for best results.

Sun Salutation is important for two reasons. One, it can be a great workout for the whole body – stretching, flexing and toning the muscles, an excellent exercise for weight loss. It also offers numerous health benefits beyond the physical level, relaxing the mind, leading it to meditation. Two, Sun Salutation gives us an opportunity to express gratitude to the sun, without which life on earth would be impossible!

Benefits: It’s a perfect asana sequence; it’s a great way to start your daygenerate heat to cleanse your body and mind.


SUN SALUTATION IN 12 EASY STEPS

Sun Salutation Mountain Pose

Stand in Mountain pose with the hands in prayer position, feet and legs together, heals are rooted, firm your legs.

The palms are gently pressed together with the shoulders back and down.

The chest presses in towards the thumbs

 


Sun Salutation Backbend Pose

Inhale through the nose and raise the arms up above the head with your hands in prayer position. Look up at the thumbs.

Gently Bend back.

Lift out of the waist, reaching up towards the sky.

 

 


Sun Salutation Standing Forward Fold

Exhale into Standing Forward Fold.

Press the palms onto the floor; if necessary, bend the knees slightly.

If you have the flexibility, bring the fingertips under your shoulder in line with the toes.

 


Sun Salutation High Lunge Pose
Inhale through the nose
and step the right foot back into High Lounge.

Shoulders are back and down, the chest presses forward, crown lifts up.  Keep the front knee directly over the ankle and keep the back leg firm and straight or knee bent.

 


Sun Salutation PlankPoseInhale and step the left foot back into Plank.

The shoulders are aligned forward directly over your wrists. The body is in one straight lane in a push-up position.

Press the heels back, and reach the crown of the head forward.


Sun Salutation Snail PoseExhale down into Caterpillar/Snail.

Bend the knees to the floor and then lower your chest and chin to the floor. Keep your chest open and your elbows close to the side of your rib cage. Reach the hips up towards the sky, arching the back


Sun Salutation Cobra PoseInhale and raise your upper body into Cobra pose.

Roll the shoulders back and extend the shoulder blades down and press them in towards the chest. Your chest should be lifted and open and elbows should stay close to the body.

Your legs and feet should be well extended. As a variation, you can also do an upward dog.


Sun Salutation Downward Facing Dog PoseExhale into Downward Facing Dog.Tuck the toes under, bend the elbows, and lift the hips up and back.

Press firmly into the hands, spread the fingers and press the palms into the mat, they should be shoulder width apart.

Now, lift your hips up towards the sky, lengthening your spine. Gently straighten your legs, pressing your heels down into your mat as far as you can go.


Sun Salutation High Lunge PoseInhale and step right forward into High Lunge.

Step the left foot forward between the two hands. Adjust the legs so that the knee is directly over the ankle and the toes and knee are pointing forward.

Keep the back leg straight or bent as you sink the hips down. The chest and gaze are forward.

 


Sun Salutation Standing Forward Fold

Exhale into Standing Forward Fold.

Press the palms flat to the floor or hold on the fingertips.

If you have the flexibility, bring the fingertips in line with the toes.

 


Sun Salutation Backbend Pose

Inhale and sweep the arms up with palms together.

Gently arch the lower back

Look up to the sky

 

 


Sun Salutation Mountain Pose

Exhale and bring the palms together in Mountain Pose.

Place the feet together or 2-3 inches apart, parallel and facing forward.

The crown of the head lifts up, the chin is parallel to the floor

 


Standing Heating Breath Bhastrika Pranayama

Featured

Standing Heating Breath (Bhastrika Pranayama) 

Bhastrika Pranayama is an empowering chest/thoracic type of breathing technique that has a very important place in hatha yoga. The Standing Heating Breath benefits are numerous, they range from physiological to postural, mental, psychological and emotional. This type of pranayama has been adopted by Bikram as part of the initial warm up sequence and as a mean to energize/detoxify the body in preparation of yoga practice consequently is now associate with hot yoga, however, this technique of forcefully and quick breathe in from nose and breathe out from mouth exists for centuries.

Blower in Sanskrit is called Bhastrika. Hence exhalation of breath forcibly and quickly is the main feature of Bhastrika Pranayama. One should inhale & exhale breath like a blower. It is in a way a combination of Kapalbhati & Ujjayi. Among all the Kumbhakaras, this Pranayama is considered the best.

Contraindications and Cautions: The Standing Heating Breath should not be performed in case of pregnancy, heart disease and high blood pressure. These are the best way to properly prepare for esoteric forms of yoga breathing exercises.

Bikram Bhastrika PranayamaBikram Bhastrika PranayamaBikram Bhastrika PranayamaBikram Bhastrika PranayamaBikram Bhastrika Pranayama

Yoga Panorama in Oman by Tomoko Kojima

by TOMOKO KOJIMA owner of a wellness company ” Purewells LLC”

Oman, a connection hub in the Arabian Peninsula between the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), about 45 minutes flight distance from the famous Dubai. A country that is fond for neutral diplomacy so to be called the Switzerland of the Middle East, is where you can feel the real spirit of yoga.

A country overflowing with warm hospitality and generous people with good manners based on seniority respect and family care. Beautiful and expressive mountains, coastline of shallow water, colorful garden of flowers blue like a clear sky, and the capital of Oman, Muscat, where you can feel the balance between the new and the old culture all around the city.

I have had the opportunity to teach yoga for 7 years in Muscat with the exquisite balance. I have noticed change in people’s consciousness toward yoga in the last seven years and more are accepting the concept of yoga. Due to development of technology such as social media, people have greater access and understanding the benefits of yoga. In addition, it has become trendy, health conscious and more acceptable by people to practice the Western style of yoga.

I would like to share the three things that I am most careful about teaching yoga in the Omani market that is still expanding.

– It is said that the class composition of a mix gender is not preferred. However, some women who live overseas don’t mind such class, but the majority are not open for such class.
– It is important to get approval if all pictures taken with women in yoga before sharing on SNS.

– Since there is a possibility that yoga may be interpreted as a religion, chanting is best avoided unless it is for advanced practitioners

Along with the growth of yoga populations and the SNS, Oman’s yoga situation changes year by year. I am looking forward to the maturity of the yoga market in Oman.

 

TOMOKO KOJIMA

Tomoko is a RYT, registered Yoga alliance teacher, from Japan.

She is based in Oman for last 10 years and is an experienced yoga instructor with 7 years teaching and conducts open classes. In addition, she teaches private sessions that are custom designed for her clients to meet their different needs by using various yoga techniques and methodologies that she learned from around the world. Her main focus is mental wellbeing, physical strength and detoxification in an effective manner.