Yoga Mandir Learn. Study. Practice. Tue, 28 Jul 2020 00:26:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Yoga Mandir 32 32 Studio Classes resume Monday 3 August Wed, 01 Jul 2020 06:31:27 +0000 Studio Classes resume Monday 3 August Read More »

We look forward to welcoming students back next week as we resume our face to face classes. Our new studio in Oatley Court, Belconnen is ready and studio classes begin on Monday. Bookings are essential as numbers will be limited. No walk in attendance allowed.

Our Virtual classes will continue to be available to those individuals who are unable to join us.

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Twin pillars of Yoga Wed, 27 May 2020 08:34:08 +0000 Twin pillars of Yoga Read More »

I would like to examine the place of action (practice) and stillness (renunciation) in our practice and why they are essential.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras revolve around the workings of the mind and the way the mind becomes attracted and attached to things. It outlines the way to break this link and gain freedom from desire and attachment as well as from aversion and fear. The practices of yoga are examples of watching how the mind interacts with objects whether they be intense sensation or thoughts. Through the practice of asana and pranayama we learn to internalise the senses (pratyahara). This turning inwards requires that we discipline the wandering senses and direct them. Usually we have no choice as to what our senses gather – eyes see, ears hear, etc, but through the disciplines of practice our senses become engaged and often we stop hearing external noises and distractions. The senses steady and focus internally. In directing the senses we have had to do two things :

  • to focus the senses. (Action)
  • to let go of the way they normally operate. (Release)

These two movements are implicit in everything we do – action and release. In the same way that for your elbow to bend, one set of muscles contract while the opposite group relax to lengthen. Unless the opposing group lengthen the joint can not move. In the Yoga Sutras Patanjali calls this principle Abhaysa and Vairagya – Action and renunciation (or restraint). Patanjali observes that we experience the world through our senses (taste, touch, smell, sight and sound). All our experience of the world comes through these doors. In the second chapter Patanjali states :

2:17. The cause of pain is association or identification of the seer (atma) with the seen (prakrti) and the remedy lies in their dissociation

The seer refers to that place within us that is unchanging (sometimes referred to as the soul), while the seen (prakrti) is nature and includes everything of the world including our own body. This sutra describes that our inner discomfort lies in the way that we attach our happiness to objects and people – things which fade or pass, and the way to ease this torment is to see or experience the illusion intimately by studying its effects. The senses either entrap us in an endless search for pleasure and delight or help us to refine our experience and understand ourself. It is only by stilling the senses that we break their agitating effect on the mind and can find inner poise and peace. This is done by searching out the core of our being beyond changing nature. Through our senses we are pulled into desiring objects and wanting other. We become attached to worldly objects. Patanjali again : 1-2 Yoga is the cessation of the movements in consciousness
1-3 Then the seer dwells in his own true splendour
1-4 At other times, the seer identifies with the fluctuating consciousness
If yoga is the act of stilling consciousness and touching the seer (that which sees) then Sutra 1:12 tells us how to proceed…

Download the full PDF article below

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IYENGAR. A BRIEF HISTORY. Thu, 08 Aug 2019 04:13:00 +0000 This video is a brief history of Iyengar and his development as a teacher.

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WHY THINGS HURT – TEDX TALK Sun, 28 Jul 2019 04:10:00 +0000 This TedX talk Lorimer Moseley outlines the pain pathway in the body and makes a compelling case for why pain is an unreliable guide to working with the body. He goes on to describe how mind interprets and mediates the sensations we experience. Things are not always how they first appear.

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YOGA IN PNG Sun, 02 Jun 2019 03:18:00 +0000 YOGA IN PNG Read More »

I recently had the privilege of being invited to Papua New Guinea to teach and see what was happening with Yoga in that country. Fiona Crockford has been living in PNG for the last 3 years and has been supporting the development of Yoga in the region through the Active City Program funded by the Governor of Port Moresby. Active City is seeking to change the health of individuals through group walks (walk for life), teaching yoga, acrobatic and circus skills (Yogabatics), along with cultural change.

As many will know, PNG has high rates of poverty, unemployment and violence. Many young men become part of Raskol gangs and carjackings and shootings are part of daily life here. The more wealthy people use security escorts when traveling outside their compound. Roads beyond the major centres are patchy and services non existent for the majority so many people have little chance of making significant change in their circumstances. Overall the diet is poor and health outcomes too with many dying young (life expectancy men 63 years & women 68 years). Diabetes is growing exponentially.

Violence is a huge issue here both on the street and within families and there are many NGOs seeking to address violence against women through education. The churches are a major influence and provide much of the service delivery into remote areas and are working actively to change this culture of abuse.

What I saw on my visit was extraordinary. Active City was promoting Yoga as upholding the 8 limbs of astanga underpinned by the Yamas and the Niyamas. It’s central message is that through yoga we can be better people: for ourselves, our family and in our community. Yoga is helping individuals deal with stress and anxiety as well make better choices in their lives. Young people through to grandparents participate. The practice of yoga was something that can be done by an individual to give them the physical and emotional strength to cope with, and to change their circumstances. Classes end with individuals standing up to make statements about how they feel or to give thanks.

During my visit I was able to teach alongside local teachers at the International Day of Yoga celebrations in Port Moresby, in a prison in Goroka (Eastern Highlands) as well as a community class for youth. What was evident was that the physicality of the practice provides a stabilising factor in these stressful life situations. Due to scant resources in the prison system there are no structured programs with the inmates simply being held for long hours each day. Boredom and despair are daily challenges. The head warden asked if there was anything we could give them to make practice a part of the daily routine.

In the coming months Yoga Mandir plans to deliver resources to the PNG community by assisting the local teachers in their work. We will support these teachers by developing Q-cards of sequences for specific conditions (sore back, fatigue, menstruation etc), along with short practice videos that can be played on the prison TV (and elsewhere) as part of the daily routine.  

Yoga Mandir does not have the financial resources to sponsor PNG teachers to come for teacher training in Canberra but we will do our best to provide whatever support we can. We will seek partners who wish to work alongside us in the project

We will keep you informed …

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TRIKONASANA Sat, 20 Oct 2018 03:55:00 +0000 TRIKONASANA Read More »

Utthita Trikonasana is triangle pose. It is a pose commonly taught in Iyengar yoga classes right from the first day. From standing in Tadasana (mountain pose), Utthita Trikonasana involves jumping or stepping the feet apart and stretching the arms out to the sides at shoulder height. The feet are turned to very precise angles; the right foot to 90 degrees and the left foot is turned in at about 45 degrees. From this point comes the lateral stretch of the trunk to the right side. The right hand comes down to the shin as the left arm stretches up to the sky. The torso revolves and the gaze is directed up beyond the left hand to the sky.

There are multiple triangles in the pose, although it takes time and effort and a lot of sweat for the lines to be straight and for aesthetic correctness to emerge. Seemingly contradictory forces are at play; the rotation of the right thigh from the inner thigh to the outer thigh to ‘tuck’ the buttock in. At the same time, the right outer calf cuts in and back to create a kind of ‘wrapping action’.

As is so frequently taught in yoga classes I have had to develop an intimate relationship with the pose. But sacro-iliac joint pain has been a part of my life for years. Entering and exiting Trikonasana has frequently highlighted the pain.  

During Trikonasana I have therefore felt:

  1. reluctance to practice to the pose;
  2. determination to do it and push through the pain;
  3. pain but the attempt to deny that I felt pain;
  4. relief to find I could go into the pose from AdhomukhaSvanasana (downward facing dog pose) rather than Tadasanaand not encounter pain;
  5. guilt for entering the pose through this method in my own practice rather than what I perceived to be the correct method;
  6. clarity when I was just in the pose, working the legs moreprecisely and without any pain;
  7. increasingly strong and consistently less pain over time as I have increased my practice of yoga;
  8. stiffness, discomfort or just ‘sensation’ entering the pose and then a sense of confidence about adjusting the body, perhaps taking a hand to a block for support.
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FULL ARM BALANCE Sat, 28 Jul 2018 03:52:00 +0000 FULL ARM BALANCE Read More »

Classes are excellent for learning the correct alignment of poses. However, what lies beyond the physical form of an asana? Here Yoga Mandir teacher Sally Mumford (pictured) shares some of her personal reflections on handstand.

Adho Mukha Vrkasana, translated as downward facing tree pose is commonly known as handstand. The image of an upside down tree is inspiring; it describes the inner energy of the pose. You look back down to earth with your hands firmly rooted to the ground, limbs fully stretched, legs and feet reaching up to the sky.

 Light on Yoga states, “this pose develops the body harmoniously”.  For this reason it is one of my favourite poses. Not that it always brings harmony, in fact it is a pose that seems to bring out in me a wide range of emotional states from exhilaration and excitement to despondency, disappointment and envy. After many years of practicing handstands, they still elude me. They require a certain amount of upper body strength but more so a quiet mental state and focus that involves being fully present. More often than not I get caught up in desire, longing to achieve what “I “ think I should be able to do, (especially after so many years!).

Some days, quiet unexpectantly, when the mind is in complete harmony with the body, the balance comes.  All outcomes and desires are let go of, so the dullness and heaviness is transformed into lightness. However, accepting each handstand, each time for what it is at that moment is the essence. Returning to this lesson again and again is very humbling and one of the hidden joys of the yoga journey.

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TRIKONASANA WITH GEETA IYENGAR Mon, 05 Feb 2018 05:46:00 +0000 Trikonasana with Geeta Iyengar is an excerpt of a class taught by Geeta Iyengar at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune India

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This TED talk examines the link between experience versus memory and is an example of how modern thought and Yogic practice is converging. In the yoga sutra patanjali identifies the 5 vrttis ( the movements or modifications in the consciousness- citta). Of these, pramana ( direct perception) and smrtti (memory) relate closely to the concepts in this talk

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B.K.S IYENGAR 1969 DOCUMENTARY Sat, 12 Aug 2017 05:37:00 +0000 B.K.S IYENGAR 1969 DOCUMENTARY Read More »

Yoga training, 1968 Bombay, from Louis Malle’s documentary Bomaby 1969.This is a fascinating video of B.K.S. Iyengar teaching yoga in 1968, in Bombay. Look at the mix of younger and older students (there’s at least one child, and at least one rather old man). Look at how they’re doing Sirsasana (headstand) in the middle of the room. And look at how the neck is extended in Sirsasana in the man shown at 2:30. He’s not going to hurt himself in headstand. (I’m of course thinking of that recent NYT article saying how people will hurt themselves in scary poses such as headstand and shoulderstand — not if they’re taught well!). Even back in the late 1960’s, Iyengar and his students show such wonderful extension through the arms, legs, and trunk, keeping their chests open and well-lifted.

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