As I look at my own life, and as I look around at other people, it is obvious that there is a dire need for deep relaxation. We are so caught up in the drama of “us against the world” that it makes it impossible to know how it feels to drop our guard and feel the life force surging through us at no cost and with no effort.
Sun Salutations are a perfect ritual with which to greet the day, using the rhythm of your heart and the song of your breath to conduct the body into being awake. The beauty of the salutations is that they require the entire physical body to be utilized. From the neutrality of mountain pose, to the inward turning of the deep standing forward bends, to the enlivening openness of the back bending, upward facing dog and the grounding, invigorating downward facing dog, the salutations draw our minds into the temple of the body.
Recently, I heard that around $50 million was raised during a telethon for Haiti. This raised my spirits enough to get me through another round of sun salutations. Sometimes I feel so helpless when dealing with the larger tragedies of life that it puts me into a depressed tailspin.
The first exposure to yoga is crucial. Most of us identify and define subjects so quickly — we build an entire framework for our understanding of a subject sometimes within our first couple of encounters.
You may know you want to seek enlightenment, but how exactly do you define it and know what you’re looking for? One astute attendee at the Vancouver Yoga Conference, where Colleen and I were answering questions about our online yoga site the Gaiam Yoga Club, asked us for our insight. “That’s the question we’re asking every day,” says Colleen. “What is enlightenment? What does it feel like? How do I get there?” Get our answer in this video that’s not what you might expect.
OK, I admit, I have been captivated by the media blitz around Michael Jackson. Our TV has been tuned to countless MJ videos and news commentaries. Sure, he was a big part of my music and dance history, which accounts for some of the fascination, but it still leaves me wondering …
There are an infinite number of exercises we can do with the breath, but the fundamental one that we yogis all come back to time and time again is to lie down in savasana (relaxation or corpse pose) and observe the breath with as little manipulation as possible. In this video from our online yoga club, Colleen and I walk you through three versions of savasana, with do’s and don’ts plus tips on using a simple prop and adjustments to help completely relax your body and mind.
Cobbler's pose benefits and how-to from The Practical Power of Yoga
I’ve been wondering for years when the time would be right for this collaboration to take place. In times of crises, yoga has a great deal to offer, so this PBS program, The Practical Power of Yoga with Colleen Saidman and myself, is timely. It’s airing right now across the country on many PBS stations.
From the ages 46 to 51, there have been some apocalyptic changes in my body. My hair is graying and receding; my arm is not quite long enough to read fine print; and my pants are not as loose… Yoga is definitely helping slow this inevitable aging process and I’m happy to say that it is a practice that will be taking me (and Colleen) all the way to the last breath.
When I went to Pune, India, I had seven years of arduous practice under my belt. It was 1987 and I was on my way to study yoga with the master himself B.K.S. Iyengar. I thought I was ready, but I was secretly worried about two basic postures: Reclined Hero’s Pose and Shoulderstand. Maybe I could hide in the corner or go to the bathroom when these poses were addressed. Fat chance! Geeta, Iyengar’s daughter, had me demonstrating Reclined Hero’s Pose on the first day. And B.K.S. Iyengar looked at me with massive disapproval during Shoulderstand. To my delight he manually adjusted my pose making it light and aligned.