Friday, October 31, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Gomukhasana



The Cow Face Posture (whose original Indian name is Gomukhasana) in Yoga is suitable for toning the muscles in the arms, legs and back. To assume this pose Place your right arm at the back, bend it at the elbow and lift the forearm upwards. Next, lift your left arm over the shoulder, bend it at the elbow and place the left hand at the back below the neck. Try to lock the fingers of both hands behind the shoulder blades with your head upright. This asana is quite intense for many of us and should be practiced only after a warm up. Initially and often for a long time after one may not be able to connect the hands in back of the body. Use a towel or strap to assist. The hands may be placed at the base of the spine and the axis of the head with a towel or strap in between. This modification gives 100% benefit without causing injury. Remain in this final posture breathing normally for about 15 seconds, 30 seconds or one minute. Start slow and increase with time. Since the posture is not symmetric, repeating the above steps by interchanging the words 'left' and 'right' will ensure that both sides receive a stretch.
The Cow Face Posture (Gomukhasana) helps in mainly developing the arms (biceps, triceps and brachioradialis), and trunk (latissimus dorsi and pectoralis major). It increases strength of bones and flexibility of joints in the arms. The total expansion of the chest helps the lungs and heart, whereas the complete extension of the spine helps the back.

Practice this posture only after a good warm up and begin slowly. Many of us find this asana difficult and uncomfortable. Go slowly and be gently with yourself. Time and patience are essential when practicing Gomukhasana.

Shine bright and be well!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Crank up the heat and clean the house

The beautiful and amazing Sianna Sherman
demonstrating a backbend.

Autumn is a great time to crank up the home fires and clean house before the snowy cold days are upon us. Backbends and twists incorporated into the practice are most beneficial in the Autumn season. Backbends open the heart chalkra and invigorate the body. As daylight decreases many of us find our energy has diminished somewhat from the Summer and need a little extra lift. Twists are a counterbalance for the spine after practicing backbends. Twists wring out toxins stored in our abdominal organs adding fresh oxygenated blood back in. This squeeze and soak action is nourishing and strengthening, preparing us for the long cold days ahead.
Backbends bring flexibility to the spine and build strength along the muscles of the back. Benefits include stretching the quadriceps (front of thighs), opening the groin area, stretching the chest and opening the shoulders. As a result of stretching the front of the body, the lungs, liver, stomach and intestine are lengthened which improves the efficiency of these organs. Breathing is also easier and posture is improved. It is helpful to prepare for backbends with postures that open the shoulders, quadriceps and hips. After a backbend, counter pose with a gentle twist or if you prefer downward dog.
Twisting poses are excellent when trying to maintain health, cleanse the body or return to a healthier state. Benefits of twisting include stretching the muscles of the back and chest, adding flexibility to the hips, improving digestion and massaging internal organs. Twisting poses rotate the torso vertically the length of the spine. There are two factors to remember when engaging in twists; One is a sense of foundations. While one side of the body is twisting the other side must ground itself as a counterweight. Use props such as blocks when necessary to help maintain a counterweight. Second, when twisting, work on maintaining a long spine. In the beginning this may not be possible. As you continue to practice lengthening the spine, the back will strengthen and there will be an increase in range of motion making the spine more flexible and amiable to stretching out. When engaged in a twist the abdominal organs are compressed and contracted. As the body moves back to center the organs are released adding fresh oxygenated blood in while squeezing out toxins. This is both stimulating and cleansing for the organs.
Next time we'll explore Gomukhasana, an excellent way to open up the shoulders and heart while preparing for backbends.
Be well,
Miss. S

Sunday Peace Prayer

October

Into the tail-feathered sumac
all light is absorbed
except for the red.

which crows its color
as the bird that wakes us
throws morning

from his throat
while he struts his plumage
among the leafy hens.

Elizabeth Tibbetts

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Part III The Culture

Local boy saying Hello as we passed by

Here it is the middle of October and I'm finally able to sit down and write a little about the culture of India. I tried when I first got home but found it too overwhelming and daunting a task. When I got back I had to report to work the next morning and every day it seems I'm making my way through lists, stressing out over something or struggling with exhaustion. This past Summer all the things I worry about and stress over evaporated as soon as I stepped off the plane in Mumbai. Partly due to the immense change of atmosphere but also the vastly different attitude of the people who lived, worked, loved and carried about their day to day existence around me. It would be fair to begin any discussion about India with the immense population and crowds. By the very nature of how many people are trying to get from point A to point B one has no choice but to slow down. I found myself slowing down and thinking more. At this point I'm supposed to say how refreshing and enlightening it was, but in truth, used to having everything in a Mcsecond, I struggled with my impatience and felt frustrated a lot. I wanted to do it quickly and be done with it. As time passed I was able to enjoy a slower pace and find peace in knowing I'll get there eventually. Unfortunately this feeling didn't last long. As soon as I got home it was time to ramp up. I've been finding it difficult to merge the slower pace of India with the frenetic steps of life in the States. I think I'm a little lost these days. That said here's some observations I made while in the land of Shiva. In the village and surrounding city nearly everyone gave a salute like the one the little fellow in the picture is giving my roommates and I. It may be a silent gesture or accompanied with a Hari Om which means God is All. This could be used as a greeting to say hello or goodbye. I loved that, if someone greeted me by saying God is all in the states I would probably cross the street and hope they didn't follow me but in India I found a giddy joyful happiness in the exchange.
The "can do" attitude was prevalent everywhere. It was always possible, and everyone was always willing to share information. The problem was it wasn't always possible and the information could well be totally inaccurate. Indians have a hard time saying I don't know and no that can't be done. This meant really needing a full understanding of all information from the beginning. I never heard the words I don't know or just plain... no. I would wait unbelievable amounts of time while people asked friends, neighbors and a passerby to find the answer. For example, "Excuse me madam do you know where Anands book shop is? Oh yes! Anands book shop. One moment please." At this point a long discussion in Hindi would commence via people passing in the street, the shop owner who's store you were standing in front of and someone on a cell phone saying, "Hindi Hindi Hindi Anand's book store.... tiga, one moment. Excuse me miss do you know the address of Anand's book store?" I shake my head no. "No... OK one moment." And so it would go, on and on. Eventually through discussion, consensus and just plain nosiness to find out why you wanted to go there, and what you wanted to buy with a suggestion to go to another place, you would finally get an answer. It may not be the answer you wanted or the information you needed but you would receive an answer. Satisfied, everyone would Hari Om and you were off usually in the wrong direction!
I have countless photos with people I don't know in them. Indians loved to have their photo taken. This crossed all barriers, age, socioeconomic classes and genders. Either people would ask you to take their photo, or they would gather in the photo when you were taking a picture of your travel companions People would see you were taking a group shot and just jump in. I have countless photos of my travel companions huddled together smiling brightly with three Indians behind them huddled together with equal bright, shiny smiles. Children would coming running down the road shouting, "One! one!" always wanting to see the digital photo they talked you into taking followed by hilarious giggles. On the day we took the photo of the little boy in the above picture we found a group of children playing. We all gathered for a good natured round of photos and fun. We were having a particularly great time taking pictures of one of our roommates posing with the kids when a woman with a large stick slowly and deliberately made her way toward us. She must have been................. really, really old, but brandished that stick like a swordsman. She was swinging in every direction lookin' to whoop some ass! There we were, six kids and four adults running from this woman and her flying stick. I thought "Wow! are you serious?" This would have been a 51a write up and a call to child services but in Tiwadi India it was just another day in the country. Young men wanted photos of you with them, which they would take from their cell phones. One of my fellow yogi students from Belgium had a friend who then found herself on the Internet, Sarah Palin style, in some compromising positions. After this, friendly boys who wanted photo's were polity refused. It also freaked me out that people would follow us when we walked around town. Not children, grown men. This happened to all the women when they were in town. This completely freaked me out and made me feel venerable and exposed. I never thought I would be one to understand how an entertainment star feels when they are stalked by the paparazzi walking in public but I do now, and I can honestly say its creepy.
Rickshaw drivers gave me a special delight. My roommate from Thailand and I would argue and argue and argue with the driver until we reached a fair price. I actually really enjoyed it. One day we had a particularly aggressive rickshaw driver. We argued and walked away. He followed us and we argued with him and a shopkeeper. We actually settled on a fair price , we all got in , he started up the rickshaw, exclaimed, "India is the best!" and we bounced down the road swinging to the sound of really good Indian music from his little sound system. Halfway through our journey he stopped at a gas station and refused to go any further till we paid him for the gas and a lot extra. An incredible argument followed. We were out of the rickshaw and in full force when Aom turned to to him and said, " can you take a picture." She gave him her camera and (three of us total) climbed back in and he snapped away. He smiled at the pictures and shared what he had taken with us and we all agreed they we very nice photos, smiles and and thank you all the way around. Aom then put the camera away and immediately what felt like an intermission passed and we started arguing again. Mind you this was an incredible fight we were having. In the end we came to a compromise with speculation based on the tunes played continuously during our journey. He even waited for us once we reached our destination and gave us a ride back to town. No hard feelings on any any one's part and of course before we parted , Hari Om, hope to do business with you again.
Welcome to India!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Peace Prayer

There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on,
and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings,
as now in October.
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Friday, October 10, 2008

My Love

Happy Birthday Baby
You make my heart go thump, thump thump!

Book Review

Tales of a female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman are the incredible true journey's of one woman's life. Gelman divorced in her forties and decided to take a trip to Mexico and study an indigenous village. She found true delight and enjoyment in the experience and decided to just keep going. To date Gelman who must be in her late sixties is still traveling. From Mexico, to Bali, New Zealand, Israel, India, Canada and every continent, country and Island that takes her fancy. On her website she states, "I am a modern-day nomad. I have no permanent address, no possessions except the ones I carry, and I rarely know where I’ll be six months from now. I move through the world without a plan, guided by instinct, connecting through trust, and constantly watching for serendipitous opportunities." I read this book during my travels throughout the Summer. I found it both inspirational and exhausting. During my travels in India I had the great fortune of meeting quite a few female nomads who had been on the road for years with few thoughts of really settling anywhere. I found their experiences rich beyond words and their attitudes toward life fascinating. I also discovered this is not a lifestyle I would choose to live. Although my love of travel will never diminish I find I'm firmly grounded to family, home and profession and it suits me well, with no complaints.
Many blessings and safe travels to all the ladies who travel this big blue marble. You shine bright and give us all inspiration and make the world a more humane place.
Peace and Love to you all,
Miss. S

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Looong week

I'm beat!