Avidya – ignorance

Categorized as Uncategorized

“We all sense the presence of soul in our origin and our end.  Looking at the world around us, we are torn between feelings that “soul cannot be in this” and yet, “if the soul exists at all, it must be in this also”.   It’s existence is to be unlimited to our notions of space and time. It’s existence is not defined by or confined to the span of our years between cradle and grave.  It is democratic, if in us then equally in others. (The soul) is not personal; if anything, it is we who belong to it.

If we mistake this separate, necessary but temporary “I-awareness” for our true and abiding identity, if we confuse it with soul, we are in a cleft stick.  What we all most desire is to live and to be a part of life. By choosing to identify with a part of ourselves, that MUST die, we condemn ourselves to death.  By embracing a false identity, accepting the confusion at face value, man places himself in a position of almost unbearable tension. Yoga calls this state “ignorance” and sees it as our fundamental affliction…from our ignorant identification with our ego and its mortality arises  man’s creativity and his destructiveness.

…yet in innumerable ways we endeavor to perpetuate a part of ourselves whose days are numbered, or to comfort ourselves in advance for the coming loss.  

Consumerism cannot be the gateway to immortality.  It is an ineffective and temporary balm against mortality.

The endure the fears of impermanence and to struggle against the inevitable is a tiring business, so at the same time we long equally for loss of self, for fusion, for submergence and transcendence, for release from the burden of the ego.  The egoic self is an exhausting traveling companion, forever demanding that his caprices be pandered to, that his whims be obeyed (though they can never be satisfied), and his fears be calmed (though they never can be).

The lovely asmita, single awareness in single body, is thus, transformed into an insatiable, paranoid, vainglorious tyrant, although this is phenomenon we normally notice in other people.

The reason for this sad transformation is ignorance, the misperception whereby a part of us is taken for the whole.  Much of yoga practice is concerned with cutting the ego down to size and removing the veil of unknowing.”

BKS Iyengar.  Light on Life. pg 121-122.

. . .

New beginnings, resolutions, and ahimsa.

Categorized as Uncategorized

The yamas and parighasana

Every time I teach parighasana – gate pose.  I get confused, bewildered looks from students as the pose moves from what you think it should be to something that you can’t believe BKS Iyengar described and explained in Light on Yoga.

Life can be like this.  It throws a curveball that you hadn’t planned on.

The 5 yamas in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are a moral compass for life.    A quick translation might be: non harming (ahimsa), truth (satya), non stealing (asteya), not wasting energy (brahmacharya), and not being greedy (aparigraha).  Stephanie Quirk writes that “searching for the yamas (and niyamas) is like searching for the lines painted on a road at night driving a car with lights that barely work.”  They cannot be studied. They can only be experienced as guides. What does she mean?

Let’s explore the first yama – ahimsa: non harming. BKS Iyengar says that himsa (harming) comes when we lose ourselves in untruth, stealing, wanton waste of energy, and greed.  They all cause harm to ourselves, others, our community, and our planet. Society states that we should not kill, steal etc. We can all agree on this. It is illegal to kill someone or steal from someone.  Our laws and religions make it clear. But to not cause harm is quite different. I want to pollute the world less, but yet, I need heat in my house when it’s zero degrees; I know I’m stressed and should go to sleep, but I can’t get this done in time otherwise.  These examples cause harm in some way, to oneself and to the environment.

Stephanie say “ The sense of shame and awkwardness we feel at the mention of the yamas is why we find a conflict in grasping the subject”.  As yoga practitioners, we like to think of ourselves “from a place of purity, piety, and innocence…..but the signs point that that not being where we are beginning from”.  (Stephanie Quirk).

January is a month of new beginnings, and of new resolutions: The  I shall NOT, or I shall do x. Studies show that most people give up on their resolutions before the middle of January.   Why should this be the case? I would argue that it’s not only a matter of willpower, but more of perspective.

Let’s take this example: I shall not drink coffee in 2019.  OK – when it rolls around to 7am when you usually have your coffee, what happens?   Your mind, even your body is craving and crying out for coffee. Clearly there are chemical addictions to coffee as well, but nevertheless, you are stressed,  even without the coffee! This may go one for a week or a month and then it’s too much. Your 7am craving becomes a lonely, empty, stressful, and harmful space in your day.  You dread it. Coffee becomes the only solution to the problem. Stephanie goes on to say: “Herein, lies the difficulty for us. We can’t relate easily to the empty himsa (harm) shaped space”.”  This leads to an internal conflict that you may or may not be able to resolve. Our nature as humans is to harm – we do it all the time, to ourselves, others, our environment. She says “ we cannot skirt around the harm.  We cannot cut out, rub out, paint out the harm in ourselves. If we were able to, we would end up with an empty “harm-shaped space” or the ghost of harm.”

BKS Iyengar writes in his book Light on Life that, if even ONE cell in your body is craving (he talks about chocolate), in this case, coffee, then, you are harming yourself; (the second of the yamas is truth) you are hiding the truth of the situation from yourself, or stealing the truth (the third yama is non stealing), wasting energy not being honest (the forth yama) because you are not able to detach and let go (greedlessness is the fifth yama) of your craving for coffee.  This sounds very heavy stuff.

BKS Iyengar says that the Yamas are the most destructive forces in our lives.    Patanjali must have known this because, instead of finger pointing – Do NOT do this, do that.  We are invited to use a different perspective. It requires us to observe, and learn more about ourselves.  Patanjali offers an approach “ that counters the harm by doing the opposite.” (Stephanie Quirk).

When it’s coffee time, do something else, go for a walk, have tea instead.  You may not be able to eradicate the craving, but you are filling the sad-empty-what-used-to-be- coffeetime vacuum. Nature abhors a vacuum.  With practice, coffee time will have been replaced by something else, or you will reach a solution of having coffee twice a week instead of every day, and the craving might not be a craving, but just a once in a while cup of coffee.  

Back to parighasana (gate pose).  Is it a side bend, a forward bend, a twist?  If I decide it’s only one of those things, then I’m stuck with the coffee situation: either all or nothing.  To do the opposite creates confusion initially: When I take my hands all the way to the foot, I can’t keep my chest open; if I keep my chest open I can’t do the pose.  And, yes, there are stages in this pose. But to get to the classic pose it cannot be only one thing or another. The “I shall do this, and only this, or I shall not to this, are not available.  It IS a forward bend, it IS a lateral bend , it IS a twist. You have to the opposite of what you think it is. And the guidelines are rather like the lines on the road at night with bad lighting. The pose is more demanding of our hard core desires and avoidances.  As Geeta Iyengar said – If you think your body is stiff, try looking at your mind. If I twist too much, i have to do the opposite, if I bend forward to much I have to twist, if I bend sideways too much I have to bend forward. Because the net effect of your effort will be to bring you to nothing you ever thought it would be.

Manouso said that the process of practice refers to the constant necessity for us to relinquish the preconception we have of ourselves and our capacities – our I shall do or I shall not do. He says again and again that we must go beyond our preconception in order to be in the the truth of our experience—right here in the NOW.

Mary Dunn once said “Yoga is not an either/or subject. It is a both subject”.  To think of life, yoga and parighasana as and either this or that subject can only cause himsa.

. . .

Notes and quotes from various lectures

Categorized as Uncategorized

Geeta on Guruji: December 13th

She is tired from teaching for 5 days and giving talks.  When the speech is tired, everything is tired; body, mind and breath.

My mother and father have guided me throughout.  Guruji was a different child.  He had a way of looking, observing, watching. Everyone thought his life would be short.  He had a limited education.  But education is not as important as we think.  Yet he touched everywhere.  He was hardly with his Guru Krishnamacharya.  Only 2 and a half years and a few asanas.  He couldn’t touch his knees in forward bends. 

If you are stiff you can follow Guruji and your stiffness will be broken.

His knees and elbows were always bent.  He had to start yoga from his body – his first instrument.  It was in a poor state.  Physical exertion and physical weakness was there.  Except for physical exertion, he knew nothing. Everything was exertion.

Guruji was a very angry person.  He will give a short hit exactly on the part that is not working. The touch of his had a close relationship with many.  In front of nourished bodies this un-nourished body was in front of them trying to teach them in college.  Try to picture this.  So many jumpings and backbendings.  Nobody taught him sequencing but he knew.  He never used the wall for sirsasana to balance but when students said they could not balance, he told them to go to the wall.  He invented the wall as a prop.  It had not been done before.  Please understand this.

He was very disciplined.  What had to come after started with his own body so people could start to understand their own body.  He has already discovered what to do because he has practiced it and understood it.  He won’t accept your practice if is not in the box of  the yamas (non violence, truth, non stealing, not wasting energy, not to be greedy), and the niyamas (burning zeal, self study, cleanliness, contentment, devotion).  Dharana (focus) is connected with the body and dharana is connected to dhyana (meditation).  One aspect affects the other.  Be inside yoga.  In the beginning of your practice yama and niyama are big, but eventually they become subtle. Non violence is not only on the outside but also on the inside.

Abhyasa (disciplined practice) and viaragya (detachment, removing the obstacles from practice).  No one can become desireless without practice.

We neglect this.  This concept of yoga is not understood.  Viaragya has to be developed.   It is not giving up.  It is an inner disassociation/desirelessness that comes from an absolutely practiced yogi. 

Our consciousness has everything in it.  The good, the bad, mostly bad things! we are bad but project ourselves as very good.  This is why we behave impurely.  Convert the impure consciousness with practice.

Guruji did this.  He never used the word exercise.  An asana is a cleansing.  His philosophy is not based on academic philosophy.  He was a healer, teacher, philosopher, friend.  He talked in aphorisms.  He showed how the consciousness (citta) can move from vyutthana (rising thoughts), to nirodha (restrained thoughts) to ekagra (one pointed thought) to santa citta (peaceful thought)  Yoga is a consultation process until we reach this sharp end of citta. 

Sirsasana, sarvangasana is a must because the body has to be cleansed.  There have to be forward bends and back bends.  They affect our consciousness in different ways.   There is no question of likes or dislikes.  Somewhere, the asana will help you.  Some people ask me if Iyengar yoga will continue – why worry about such things.

The siddhis (powers): let’s not think of them as accomplishments or not.  Look at them as a step.  At every level of our practice there are siddhis.  Even in the yamas and niyamas.  One muscle has the depth to connect all the levels of our consciousness towards samadhi (total absorption).  Each has it’s own depth.  Cells that have that inner energy.  The chakras connect from the body to the transformation of citta.  But it didn’t happen for him – he left before he could reach that. 

There is a divinity in him.  He will be reincarnated.  What we know is only a quarter of him.  He did his practice and his sadhana and experienced everything. 

Prashant said that Guruji was like an ocean and we are specks.  

. . .

Celebration days

Categorized as Uncategorized

On Thursday we arrived in our non yoga clothes and were treated to a talk by Geeta which I will write up tomorrow.  Then we had a talk by the CEO of Deloitte and Touche – a successful businessman and student of Iyengar Yoga.  He talked about how yoga has helped him with his position of managing a huge company.  Here are a few of the highlights:

My least favorite pose is supta virasana but I do it: the long term benefits are worth the short term pains.

I try to balance out the auditing section of the company with the advising section.  After the government instilled new laws restricting our license to perform audits, I had to figure out how to make the company work.  You can’t just cut off a part that isn’t working – you have to look at it and integrate it.  You can’t let you ego get away with you.  For example, when you are balancing in Ardha Chandrasana – if you become smug and your ego takes over, you will lose your balance.  You have to connect and communicate.

Greed is like holding an asana for longer than you should.  Or wanting to do more asana, like wanting more money.  Artha should flow in the waters of moksha – your wealth should allow you to be spiritually free.

Corporate dharma (duty) – to profit, and people and planning.  Courage is not just about doing the right thing, but allowing people to speak out without fear.

in this world there is fear and insufficient empathy.  Truth only comes at the grass roots level.  You have to learn something new every day.

Prashant summed his talk up with this…which I thought was quite brilliant.

The Management of life:

  • Passion management: desires, games, wants and needs
  • Emotional management: relations, people and the world

If you don’t have passion and emotional management, your life will be a mess

  • Intellectual management.


The part of ourselves that is the locus of our identity are the shoulders.  They carry the crafty brain. It is not easy to manage the brain. Below is the heart and emotions, and below is passion.  Each of these areas has polarities of likes, dislikes, hates, loves etc.


For one’s own management – not MAN – AGE – ment yoga has schemes to create compatibility and union of the head and heart.  It is important for our worldly life. The Business of life has a CEO at the top of our embodiment. Sometimes the CEO is in the heart, or in the belly, but the third locus is the SPINE.  The spine connects all three parts of brain, heart and belly. It relates them to each other.


You only consider the things that are in front of you, whereas the things that are behind you are unidentified. The spine is the same.  Everything is in front of the spine. In uttanasana, you are facing forward but the pose identifies what is behind you – your spine. The spine is more circumspect.  Neither the brain, nor heart, nor passion are circumspect.


In Yoga, the spine is given a position of CEO.  THe spinal faculties and potentials coordinate and manage.  We call a person spineless as a stigma of someone with not glorious potentials.  The spine gives a pan embodiment sweep. Everything comes into its realm from ego to identity.  We have a greater brain below the brain. Yoga knows this.


. . .

Prashant’s talk on open mindedness

Categorized as Uncategorized

Guruji said “Iyengar Yoga is for one and all

In my case it is me.  In your case it is you.

But what about the “all”

A restaurant has a menu and on the menu are many dishes, and flavors.  Some people like some of these, and some do not. What someone likes, you may not like.  What someone doesn’t like, you may like. But the restaurant serves it all. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it is removed from the menu.  

What happens when we are asleep? the delimitations fall aside.  The likes and dislikes, the young and old, the loves, the loathes, the polarities fall away.  

We all depend on our likes and dislikes to define us but these are all peripheral conditions.  

“Iyengar Yoga is for one and all” Guruji said.

Guruji studied with Krishnamurti.  He was a very critical man, an intellectual weightlifter.  How did he learn from him? He also taught sportsman who were interested in the corporeal advantages of yoga.  He taught them all.  He understood them all.

We are not able to reconcile our differences.  

You need to be open minded.

Don’t believe that it is JUST THAT that was taught to you.

What he taught was not what we learned,  and what we learned we learned.

When he was asked “Is that what you said sir ”” he would never give a positive nod.  

There is a huge gap in what was learned and what was taught by him.  Different people heard and saw differently. Therefore, we MUST be able to reconcile.

The sun is one and the same but it appears differently in the world.  In places it is scorching, and others it is not.

You have to have an open mind to study Iyengar Yoga.

We must understand this and certainly not misunderstand it.

We should not be so corrupt.

The  attitude of “what I learned is what he taught and what he taught is what I learned” is only our subjectivity and it will interfere with your open mind.

Don’t just love what you love and not let others love what they love.

Yoga is for one and all.

. . .

Geeta’s teaching

Categorized as Uncategorized


Geeta last day: Back bends

How important is this body instrument? It seems negligible.  Problems can only be in the body. Even a small tilt in the pelvis can lead to heart palpitations as we found out yesterday.  How you extend your toes? Where do you place the weight on your outer heels? One side sinks, the other extends.

You think yoga is for the soul. Why don’t you try to touch your soul.  Then my job will be done.

The soul never pulls or says “come to me”.  The responsibility is on you. You can’t hear the soul.  It will invite us. If you don’t go, it will say “carry on” and you will go through this life, the next life, the next and so on.

This is why the body, prana (energy) has to be under control. What we search for is prakriti (nature), what we don’t search for is the soul.

Balance your mental nature.  We should always try to do and when it’s impossible, we should know where our limit is.  How much attention is your strength? How much awareness is your energy? You have to study, Fear stops you.  Intelligence stops you.


Seated ujjayi

Take dorsolumbar in.  Back floating ribs push forward.  Thoracic up from abdomen. Too much inhale will irritate the throat and make you cough.

The diaphragm becomes tight as you celebrate your birthdays!  It becomes hard, hard hard as we age.

First you have to know the dorso lumbar, and thoracic away from the diaphragm,  Abdomen downward.

To keep the diaphragm healthy there is an internal curvation of the back.  

The area below the nipple band shortens. Take the arm pit from back to front and keep nipple area lifted.  Semi circular action of armpit chest.

Chalana means movement – in hindi the words for movement have this “chala” as the root word.  Keep lifting flesh of chest to skin. If you sink it will go down. If you talk to yourself it will go down. The brain thinks and the chest drops.  You need to be quiet.

The enemy standing in front of you in pranayama is that you are meant to be quiet, but there is always movement and adjusting.

If there is a back ache – do some twistings.

If your face and jaw become rigid you have to do simha mudra – tongue out and down.  Eyes wide.

Vitarkabhadane pratipaksabhavanam: do the opposite

If my back is aching, it is violence not to relieve it.  I have to correct. Even though you are told to not disturb your pranayama, you have to pay attention and disturbances lead to others, so you have to act.

The chedhana kriya is for pieces stages and pauses – viloma is this.  Kumbhaka also.

Not a question of how long the breath can be, but for how long the chest stays lifted.

Don’t consider how intelligent you are.  Consider how unintelligent you are.
Manage yourself.  Satisfaction is one thing.  Contentment is something else.  To be satisfied is short term and not complete.  Contentment is complete fulfillment. No more desire.
If there is a will there is away. If there is no will, there is no way.

Asana class last day

    • Supta baddha konasana unsupported
    • Supta virasana unsupported.  Extend arms. Outer calves down, inner thighs down.  Outer thighs down. Then baddha hastasana with arms. Hold elbows tight and pull back.
    • Prasarita padottanasana concave and head down.  Lift shoulders.
    • Uttanasana concave and head down.  Hold ankles and come to concave spine.
    • Sirsasana: middle buttocks in and thighs back.  Bent legs. Mid buttocks in and in, resist with thighs.  Parsva sirsasana, straight legs and then bent legs. Parivrtta eka pada sirsasana.  Move back leg more quickly.
    • Tadasana: one arm baddha hastasana.  Right arm bent first, turn to right. Swing torso right. Repeat on left and then repeat with both arms folded behind.
    • Paschima namaskar
    • Feet wider: drop back preparation.  Repeat. Legs straight at first.  Drive middle buttock forward hard. Repeat 6-8 times,  Side chest lifts. Coordinate the different parts of the chest that move.
  • Repeat and bend the legs.  Hands down the backs of the thighs.  
Your chest looks like a flat dining table.  I could eat off a plate on your flat dining table!

Chalana kriya- move the dorsal spine in and in and in.  go, do, more.

Use the 4 kriyas to change the body, to change the citta.  Transform yourself.

  • Ustrasana: Press the thighs forward and patella down

Buttocks forward.  Take dorsal to buttocks to thighs to patellas to shins. X 6

  • Dhanurasana: shins up: Repeat one leg at a time
  • First.  Hit heel to mid buttock with right leg.  Many times do this. Repeat on left
  • Then raise right thigh and heel to buttock.  Hold ankle and lift up and press pelvic down. Repeat on left and repeat dhanurasana again
  • Buttocks are subtle areas in these poses as the legs do all the work.  You have to FIND your buttocks. The legs can overpower. It is not a mechanical action.
  • She had us go up and up and slowly down and surprised with another up and up and slowly down, only to repeat again!
  • The spine is a highway.  How many lanes do you have to learn and understand the direction of until you reach the highway.
    • Urdhva mukha svanasana
  • Knees down and walk knees forward to get pelvis between hands.  Lift sternum lift thighs, buttocks engage. LIFT and keep going. Why do you stop?  X 3
  • Urdhva dhanurasana

Go to legs.  Do not walk in.  dorsal to lumbar, lumbar to buttocks, buttocks to legs.  Notice how light the chest is. She had Raya demonstrate this.  The pose has to be in the legs to keep the spine safe until the spine is strong enough to walk in and work on the chest.  It is less strain on nerves. X 6

The neck and coccyx/sacrum are complex areas.  In between the lumbar suffers. If the dorsal, buttocks and legs don’t work in backbends the lumbar and neck will feel pain.

Chatush padasana

Hold ankles.  Front thighs forward, shins back.  Buttocks up.

Roll onto shoulders and move away from ears.  Walk in and go up.

Third time: bring hands to ribs and hands parallel. Walk right leg out straight for setu bhanda. Bend right leg and extend left.  Then both legs slowly straighten. Keep sternum lifted. Buttocks lifted .


God knows that we are all fools.

Geeta day 9: Forward bends

Adho mukha virasana: lengthen all sides.  Take the side ribs forwards the sides of the abdomen forwards, the dorsal spine in.  Palms facing each other.  ” The skin has incredible elasticity but you don’t use it”.

Parvatasana in padmasana

Forward and up. Buttocks down.  Mountain can be climbed from all sides – go up, go up go up.  Take upper arms behind the ears. Move thumbs to pinky fingers back and back and back.

“The pain comes when you move a little more.  Let it come.  All the margas: the paths – karma marga, jnana marga, bakthi marga.  Doing, knowing, with inspiration. Look to your eyebrows, hairline. Go up.  Elevate your consiousness.  The hardest path is yoga marga. 

Yoga is a perfect mixture of everything.

Dandasana: urdhva hastasana – go foward and up and forward and up, then forward and down to paschimottanasana.  Keep going forward. Lift up and go forward. Take the elbows up and out wider.

When the body stops, the mind stops, the intelligence stops, the consciousness stops.  You need body awareness, mind awareness consciousness awareness.  When will you find the soul. The goal is the soul.

Janu sirsasana: buttock is most tamasic: darkness, stupidity. – lift bent leg buttock and go.  Shuffle your buttocks and change the bhoga vrttis of the buttocks to yoga vrttis.  Can lift straight leg sit bone to take bent knee down.

We want to be forward in everything, except yoga.  The body, mind and brain are dull. What can i do for that? What solution can I give?

Yoga vrtti not bhoga vrtti.

You forget your tapas (burning zeal) so quickly.   I have to shout.  Shouting itself is an OM for me.  The last of the three OMs is to embrace God.  Hold your foot like a god. Because you don’t treat it like a god, it doesn’t come to you.

Stopping the mind is an impurity.  You forget your tapas so soon. The sound of the voice has to remain ringing like an OM. This was Guruji’s approach.

You have to catch purity step by step.  Burn your impurities.

How did the expert come to Guruji?  Just tapas, svadhyaya. What are your defects? Learn them.

The potential of guruji was understood by Krishnamacharya. He said “Sundara understands what I say” This was just before he died.

Parivrtta janu sirasana: turn towards bent leg. Turn turn turn.  Lift buttock of straight leg to turn to bent leg then reach. Lower ribs down and away.  Upper ribs up and back. Turn.

Sutra 1.17:  vitarka  vicara asmita rupa anugamat samprajnatah – these are techniques for your practice: repetition, evolution, involution.

Paschimottanasana: vitarka state: I do some of this and some of that.  It is an investigation.

Take buttocks forward.  Side ribs forward. Dorsal in.  bend elbows up and out. How much you have to do to take chin to shin.  Keep going. Keep looking. Every rib is like a shop – you like shopping.  You stop to look at each shop and then you go to another shop – this is vitarka shopping.  Looking, deciding, not this, not this, not this etc. You keep looking until you lengthen the 12th rib.  This is vicara state where confusion has gone and you are quiet. The asmita rupa – the I-ness. Vicara state is specific process of logical thinking.  Confusion is taken out.

You need to understand but you avoid.  When you don’t understand a book, you put it down.  I’m not blaming anyone but the understanding has to come.

Triangamukhaikapada paschimottanasana: take outer thigh and outer calf down,  Lift buttocks up and take outer thighs and calf down as you descend. Repeat many times.  Did it help find evenness? Now go up and forward and up and forward and up. And down and up with the chest.

Krouchnasana: take leg up.  Lift trunk before you lift leg.  Take forehead to shin.

Ardha baddha padma paschimottanasana: the big toe of the padmasana leg has to be up.  It is like a baby in a crib. Love your foot in padmasana. It is a baby in your lap.

Swing the arm around 5 times to catch big toe.  Use whole trunk to turn and move. Whole torso is involved otherwise the shoulder is caught.  Beginners can only bend forward in this pose. The parivrrta helps the toe hold. If beginners do too soon, they get pain in the chest.

Bend forward and take right shoulder up as right side ribs come down.  This is the action you need in yoga mudrasana.  Raya demonstrated yoga mudrasana and parsva yoga mudrasana.

After this pose we did bharadvajasana 1 and 2 with and without binding.

Lolasana action to ardha matsyendrasana side to side repeatedly.   Jump up with legs and switch sides. Do repeatedly.  JUMP!


Utthita ardha baddha padmottanasana without and with bind. Arms up. Then forward bend.

Urdhva prasarita eka padasana with arms wide and hands on floor.

After a break she gave us savasana on a thick roll.  Tail bone, sit bones, and head were on the roll. Arms and legs hanging off the roll.  “Savasana requires flexibility”.

The pranic energy is from the toes to the crown of the head.  There are kriyas

    • Chalana kriya: movement.  Childish movements. Loosens the body and gives knowledge to differences between the sides.
    • Chedhana kriya: is part by part.responds to breath.
    • Bedhana kriya: The expert understaning. A deeper understanding and breaking of hardness of one side.
  • Sodhana kriya: knowing how to work with the differences within ourselves.  Cleansing, purifying, seeking.

Yoga has to proceed with a subtle understanding inside.  The four kriyas help to reach the higher properties.

Geeta day 8: Twisting asanas, paryankasana, and 4 therapy sessions

We started sitting and one woman was sitting with one leg in swastikasana and one leg out straight.  Geeta asked her why and she said she had a hip replacement 8 years ago. Geeta said that she should be able to bend her leg in simple cross legs.  The woman did. Geeta added that we must not be attached to what came before, or past conditions.

“Do you really question yourself?  Do you really look at yourself? Do you think when  I practice I say “I had nephritis age 10 and jaundice, then typhoid, the malaria, then I nearly died last year? And on and on…NO.  I don’t do that. Every day is a day 1.. One step forward and two steps back.


Inhalation we can control.  Exhalation not so much. The inhalation is simpler because we can feel it.  The exhalation is much harder. We don’t feel.

Remove the spectacles for pranayama.  I keep mine on so I can see you. You don’t need to keep yours own to see you!

Eyes open seated

Inhale and Breath to the top of the nose. Just where the specs are placed.

Exhale from that same place.  It is the root of the nostrils.  Do you notice your nose? You only think of the nose when it is blocked.  Have you even thought about your nose at any other time, or seen the beauty of it?  If you are a true yogi, you will notice everything.


With eyes open and head up.

The breath moved from the nasal region first to the top of the throat on an exhalation

Then to the middle throat on the exhalation

Then to the bottom of the throat on the exhalation

She demonstrated each one – they sounded different

Then we were to use all parts of the throat cavity.

Bhramari is the most external of the pranayamas

Nadi Sodhana is the most internal of the pranayamas

kapalabhati and bhastrika are more external and are the ENT of pranayamas!

She said that after pranayama we lie down for savasana.  Either you lie on the floor or on a cot – she said. “So now we do paryankasana – the cot”

    • Legs in dandasana: arch back with elbows down.  Lift chest with thighs down and pull head in.
    • Legs in swastikasana: repeat
    • Legs in padmasana: repeat but have hands in urdhva dhanurasana and lift chest more pull head in
    • Legs in virasana: same arm position as above
  • Legs bent: sacrum to tailbone and heels close: repeat as above

Then she gave us two cooling breaths: sitali – make a tube with the tongue and breath in and out through the mouth.  Sitkari – in and out through the mouth as if you have burnt your tongue!  That is my image.  it makes a slurping sound.


I asked about glaucoma and she gave a 10 minute lesson on how Guruji changed the condition on students.  She had us place fingers on the eyelids just below the eyebrows and lift up. Wide eyes. Keep head straight and look up and to the right and up and to the left.  It is in this way you must practice she said .She gave me specific instructions on the use of the eye wrap which allows me to include sirsasana in my practice again.  

It was my private class with Geetaji and has restored sirsasana into my practice!

She had four students come onto the stage who did not do sirsasana for reasons of neck pain. She then gave them a 5-10 minute impromptu therapy class where each person was visibly transformed before our eyes.  Quite incredible to watch.

Then we did an intense twistings class:  parivrtta trikonasana, parivrrta parsvakonasana and parivrrta ardha chandrasana

Parivtta trikonasana: from parsva hasta padasana take middle buttocks in and keep front leg hip compact as the back leg hip swings to the right.

Parivrtta parsvakonasana: bend to V2 and take middle buttocks in.  turn and turn. Repeat with back knee down and move left hip right to turn more.

Parivrtta ardha chandrasana from parivrtta trikonasana as above,

Each time she said to take the dorsal spine in and move it towards the person you are looking at.  Throw the head back and become taller than the person in front of you

Sarvangasana on four thick blankets with belt.

Long halasana.  Arms back. Move right foot further away and push buttocks to feet.  Repeat left side

Eka pada sarvangasana long hold.  Mid buttocks in. repeated several times.

She said – you all say you love yoga.  You must be prepared to die for yoga! Go on, keep going,  find out what you can do. Don’t give up. I see mrdu, mrdu, mrdu – mild practice, mild practice, mild practice.   I took the phrase “to die for yoga” to mean the parts in me that hold back, or are lazy, or ignorant, or fearful – it is these parts that have to die.

Geeta day 7: children’s class and long sirsasana (15 minutes)

The children entered the room and were situated in front of Geetaji.  She conducted the children and we were to follow along.  It was jumpings in to all the standing asanas and asanas with movement such as parighasana, ustrasana, and variations on stambhasana with buttocks forward.


bend legs as in virasana: take middle buttocks forward and extend front thighs.  This was done repeatedly for long periods.  Both Abhi and Raya demonstrated this and we repeated.

Bent leg parsva sirsasana with same actions as above except the right buttock had to work harder when turning to the right etc.

Repeat parsva sirsasana with straight legs.  Repeat again with bent legs.

She was relentless with buttocks forward and thighs up.  Take buttocks into the body.  Your buttocks belong to YOU!

Salamba sarvangasana:

Chatush padasana: push buttocks up.  hold ankles.

halasana: push the buttocks to the legs.  PUSH, PUSH.

Eka pada sarvangasana: keep buttocks pushed in.  many repetitions.

Supta konasana: push buttocks to heels.

Uttanasana with heels raised on sarvangasana blankets: hands down.  Move buttocks forward. Pump. Move.

uttanasana with feet on floor:

Geeta First day (day 6 of event)

Geeta enters the room in a wheelchair.    She struggles to walk from the chair to the alter and to the chair from which she teaches.  She is a force of nature.   She is on fire.  She inspires the fire within each of us and yet show compassion and caring for every one of us.  Her eyes on all 1300 as she instructs her assistants to help even those in the farthest corner of the room that has caught her eye.  She doesn’t miss anything.  It is humbling to be in the presence of such a masterful teacher.  Manouso says she is the best yoga teacher in the world at this time.   I have not included the asana from the first day.  I will add as it comes to me.

“Friends – from today it is my turn to teach

But any confusion has to be solved by yourself.  For me, only Guruji was the master and we are all his students.  When I started practicing, nothing was known to me. Whatever I could see from Guruji, that is how I started.  But I thought about it and realized many things.

Guruji’s own guru (Krishnamacharya) demanded certain things which he never refused.  Guruji didn’t force me. I watched him and picked it up. After my nephritis, Guruji told me there was no other road for me except yoga or my life would be miserable.

Then I started reading the yoga sutras to see what Patanjali was trying to convey and the first sutra that caught my mind was Abhyasa Viaraghabhyam tannirodhah (1:12 – Practice and detachment are the means to still the movements of consciousness.)

For me, it was just practice.  Whatever may happen, I should practice, without desire for achievement.  Pure mindedness.

Second was sraddha virya smrti samadhiprajna purvahah itaresam (1:20 – practice must be pursued with trust, confidence, vigor, keen memory and power of absorption to break this spiritual complacency.)

I needed to have strength and the heart to face everything.  After my nephritis, the doctor warned that the brain might be affected. Luckily, I was able to study and did well – smadhiprajna – have the awareness that yoga is for samadhi.

The meaning of samadhi is having the buddhi (intelligence), ahamkara existance without asmitha – ego – I- ness.

Start reading the sutras from the sadhana pada

Tapasvadhaya isvarapranidhani kriyayoga (2:1 – burning zeal in practice, self study and study of scriptures, and surrender to God are the acts of kriya yoga)

It is a kriya yoga.  Yoga in action. A practical understanding in three stages.

Tapas – burning the impurities to purify ourselves and the faulty nature within us.  Can we bear the tortures of life? Like a child who thinks homework is a torture, they learn as they grow that it is not torture, they can bear these pains.  

Svadhyaya – understanding – the child learns that homework brings knowledge and they learn to do things.

Isvarapranidhana – the higher state. The intellectual argument whether God exists or not is irrelevant.  Whatever you get, surrender and give up the fruits of action. That is isvarapranidhana.

Samadhi bhavanarthah klesa tanukaranarthasca (2:2 the practice of yoga reduces afflictions and leads to samadhi).

There is an emotional feeling to it.  The feeling and sensitivity, sensibility is important during the practice of yoga.  The body is seen by us, the mind is seen by feeling. The soul cannot be seen. Yoga is the union on these three things.

Klesas (afflictions) abhinivesa – fear of death. Clinging to life.  Are you afraid of your knee or is it that you are afraid of me? Instead of avoiding, find out how to do with those conditions.  The answer is in yoga. Many problems you can solve. Have freedom of the body, mind and intelligence. Bring the consciousness close to the soul.

. . .

Geeta’s birthday

Categorized as Uncategorized


Geeta birthday notes

These are taken after the event and are all from memory.  I know they are incomplete.  It was very moving to listen to her talk about her father, her mother, and her life.

We sang happy birthday to Geeta.  Abhi then said to her and to us – “we are going to have a chit chat with Geetaji”


Geeta laughed and replied – I have never had a chit chat in all my life!


Abhi asked the first question: Do you love us Geetaji”

I definitely love you.  But my love is not of that kind, kissing and hugging etc.  I will just do namaste. I love those who come to me to learn from my heart.  And that’s a lesson I learned from Guruji. I love you and that’s why I can shout at you.  I shout at you because I love you. But if I”;m angry I shout and then still I teach. How to be done, what has to be done etc.   But definitely my anger is hidden behind that love, because it comes from my heart – you should get the whole information about it, not going half way.  That half mindedness and learning something is not acceptable to my heart, And that is why I take the freedom to shout at you and then I teach you. I inform you this is not the way, this is the way, that I am sure.

Do you miss your father?


Very much.  I was numb for one whole year.  Tears didn’t come in my eyes. I went to silence. Not one single tear.  My heart and lungs they were burning. When he died in the hospital Gurujis chest was in an elevated state and not sunken.  His legs were straight. I have never shared this with anyone.


I was always expecting him to be here on this birthday.   More than father and daughter, he was my guru. I always listened to him.  I was not well. We both went to Bellur in May. I was sick but didn’t want to die in front of his eyes.We went to China in July.  Guruji expired in August. There was no energy in me after he died.


I dreamt.  In a mountain temple with Patanjali temple.  I was cleaning the feet of the statue.Guruji said he would do the puja.  He did the puja. I cleaned it.I brought flowers. He climbed the steps. Women of the temple were pouring water. I try to assist him. The priest says no you can’t come up.  Meaning I can’t go with him. I can’t die in front of his eyes. After the dream I got energy. It brought a different realization to me. Guruji brought this new understanding to me.  


In my next life I want the same parents.


Q: tell us about your mother


She was always very kind. My father was stern.  When he was in the room we had to be quiet, totally silent (she put her fingers to her lips in a gesture of closing them completely).  


Q: Were you born in Pune?


No, as is the custom, I was born in the same town where my mother was born.  Where my grandmother lived close to Bangalore. Our custom is the first born child is born in this place – the home of my mother.  My father was not there. He had malaria but had to give a yoga demonstration.


Q: Tell us about the photos in Gem for Women?


They were simple.  Guruji was there all the time when the photographs were taken.  He was correcting this and that. It was not like for him. He had to do his pictures alone.  He was always helping me.

He was practicing urdhva dandasana and I went to practiced opposite him so our feet touched.  He kept pushing his feet into my feet and I fell over backwards.  I asked him why?  He said, you must push your feet forwards in urdhva dandasana. 

Q: from Abhi: What can we do to make you happy?

All who have studied with Guruji.  Give a little shadow. Give a little light. After his expiring

I am reading his books and the depth of his writing is so deep for me.  I insist that all of you read his books. That will make me happy. If you read his books to under stand the depth of his knowledge.


These notes are from writing after the lecture.  They are by no means complete as I know I didn’t catch everything.

. . .

Notes from Pune: Classes with Prashant

Categorized as Uncategorized

Last Day with Prashant

The Guru or the realization of the Guru is not what we consider it to be.  Guruji could not have been a guru without his guru, and his guru could not have been a guru without his guru. It goes back to the beginning.  The prayers that we do have to encompass the magnitude of the lineage.

The guru principle is part metaphysical.  Do not have a shallow perspective on remembering.  The Guru principle is embedded in us. The words Guru and purusa  (the soul) are connected by a metaphysical entity in us. To say we got wisdom from Guruji is a narrow perspective.  For example – the camera is in front of me, it is here in me, does it get wisdom? How is it that you are getting wisdom from him?

Chapter 15 of the Bhagavad Gita Krishna says “I reside in the heart of all, memory, knowledge, reasoning from me comes not because you have a brain but because of the metaphysical.

In this room each of you are listening to me, there are 1200 different types of knowledge recording what I am saying.  2400 ears hearing, but not one wlll be the same. It depends on your reservations. It is that entity in you that is wisdom. Don’t you have a guru component in you.


The metaoutlook within you is not worldly.  The guru principle, according to Patanjali is not limited by time.


The nature of exhalations

Let the first be an exhalation of expulsion, the second of supplication, the third of surrender.


Expulsion is not noble.  SUrrender is nobel. If you are exhaling to throw away something then it is only every disposable.  The exhale is like a swiss army knife. It has many heads that serve many funcions. Your exhalation is like this.  Do not always just throw away. The surrender exhale is not throw away. Why did the archetypal plan of humans give us the exhalation? To explore, to seek.


We only do – learn – to be perfect?


Our embodiment is a marvel to be explored. Explore space of the exhalation. Don’t just interfere with space. Discover, don’t dabble.  Doing is not exploration. The yoga process is exploration.


Exhalations have multiple heads and functions from phenomenal and as an internal wash.  What do you dispose of? Have an explorers mind not an attainers mind.


We don’t watch the sky to possess the sky.  Just to observe. What has to be evacuated and let go of in the skin, bones, organs, senses, identifiers, emotions.  The volume of exhalation will take you to all of these.


We say to beginners before practice – empty your bladder, your stomach, your bowels but there is so much more. Every cell has a bladder, a stomach, lungs, emotions, identifiers.  Every cell eliminates. Exhale so profoundly. The abdomen is a major organ in pranayama.


Beginners should be taught pranayama from the chest.  In sarvangasana you do not breath into the chest. From where do you breath? Do you notice these things? Don’t get caught in biomechanics.


If Light on Yoga is the magnum opus it means that Iyengar did not evolve after 1966. That he never evolved after that time.  This is not true. He was ever evolving until his last breath. Light on yoga has a magnitude of thousands of miles reduced to a couple of inches.  THe content of Light on yoga never gave him contentment. You can do sirsasana for the wrists, hands, ears, eyes, legs, lungs, depression etc. Light on Yoga could not go into all this.  Yoga cannot be taught and taught and taught all the time. You have to explore and experience it. Yoga is a “YOU – alistic” subject.


Prashant said he could have sunk in yoga but he is still floating.  You ask me the same question a hundred times and I’ll give you a hundred different answers.  


Viloma 2

Ist exhale – nominal

2nd exhale – substantial

3rd exhale – significant

Then reverse it.  Make it a project.

Prashant’s experiments with viloma 2 had him lose track of time.  It’s a marvelous pranayama.


Digital pranayama

The breath rate decreases without you even trying because of the aperture.  It is like playing an instrument. First there is sound, then with practice it becomes a musical sound.You can never have a totally regular breathing pattern  when you’re awake or asleep. Yawning doesn’t just happen because you are tired or bored. When you yawn on an inhale, it is to increase CO2. When you yawn on an exhale, it is to increase 02.


Civilization has poisoned naturality.  It don’t know why it’s called civilization.  Civilization is not culture and culture is not civilization.



BKS Iyengar was that kind of teacher. Dharma – duty.  Asana you can dial up your dharmendriya and be duty minded.  If you have all your attachments, how can you discover what your duty is.  You can’t be internal if you are always attached. Even love means attachment.


Yoga leads to zero gravity: no love, no hate, no like or dislike – no percentages.  NO creeds, religion. There is no such thing as a jewish dog, or muslim cat. You can change these limitations – you are still there beneath, or behind them.


In our temporal condition we can never find out what is essentially right or wrong because of our attachments.


Yoga will give you dharmendriya  – a neutral state.


You and I don’t qualify for a non dual state. When  zero gravity is working on you then you know what is essential, right and wrong.  Guruji was in a separate caliber.


The marvel of yoga is that it can take you into that state.  You are birthless, deathless, beyond your horizon. On top of the hill or the ocean – yoga will increase your magnum opus nature.

Dharmendriya is transcendence.


Today we did only pranayama.   The details of this I will go into this in more detail in the next week or two because they cannot be described in a few words.  It is not fair or appropriate to simply write it down because it cannot be experienced this way and the notes are only “journalism”.  Prashant was clear that we are not to go back and teach this work.  Yoga is not just about knowledge.   The following are notes taken in between the various pranayama practices.

Philosophy is the reality of the world in the realm of the known and unknown, the tangible and intangible, the visible and non visible.You have to have perspective to look at the world.  

Guruji said that you have to take care of your body like a child.  What did he do?

He took care of himself.  Not clinically, as we might do to keep fit. He took care of himself at every layer.  Every minute trillions of cells die and are born. We have baby cells arriving all the time, and trillions that are of different ages.  We are a mass of life and death.

What does it mean to take care of your body like a child?  We are stuck in the corporeal advantages of a yoga practice – we practice for health, strength, fixing our injuries etc.  This is limited.

Taking care of your body like a child requires a playground psychosis. Guruji would practice 12-14 hours a day. He couldn’t be serious the whole time. For Geeta and I it was a different kind of teaching certificate that we attained: It was the LOYO method – learn on your own. Teaching is not just about learning, it is about embodiment.   Can you be playful? Can you explore? Hard work changes in perspective when you have a playground psychosis. You think you should be serious about yoga.  But you miss many things because of being serious.

You know there is “yoga for children” – what about “yoga for when children are around”? (Prashant was telling us about when Guruji would practice all his children were around – climbing on him.  How would he stop them from falling when he did urdhva dhanurasana? He would hold them on his abdomen doing setubhandasana. He would do kapalabhati when they were on his abdomen and they would laugh.).  

You have to have a discoverers mind, a playful mind, an explorers mind to practice yoga.

Be fascinated with instead of serious about.

With ourselves and for ourselves we have to be the mother and the father and friend to our inner community.  You think that the ultimate goal is to be “global”. The earth is a particle of dust. Within you is a whole universe. Through asana and pranayama you are given the ability to deal with any condition in the community that resides within you.  Yoga is training to deal with this entire internal community. This is the depth that Guruji took to take care of himself. It was not just to do yoga better. How do you deal with your own embodiment?  

Each breath is a birth.   Asana is a beneficiary OF the breath as well as FOR the breath.  How is the child in you in savasana? In hanumanasana?  In sirsasana?

You can make someone come into a pose like kandasana, but you cannot make someone come into the realm of the breath.

The touch of the mother and the touch of the father is in our breath.  Can your breath touch you like a child, the mother breath, the father breath?

We are more preoccupied with activity than THE activity.  We are BUSY, BUSY.  Activity only produces reactivity. Reaction with reactivity, reaction with activity.  We become only reactive instead of active. How much time do you use in reacting to something not related to you  We become occupied by reactions. We live in a world of only reactive consciousness.

You can’t just close the door to it.  The yogis went to the mountains to get away from reactive consciousness but it stayed with them.  It is in your mind.   We become stuck in the “right way” of doing and understanding as a way of overcoming reactive concsiousness.  This is misguided.    Get out of that fanaticism that your teacher should always teach right, or that you are always doing right. It it’s only about doing things right you will never know the world. If you become preoccupied with your teacher only giving you “right instructions”, you will lose.  It is reactive consciousness Not making mistakes did not take guruji to where he went.  Yoga does not allow anything to be done mechanically.   Yoga is open architecture.

People become wise because of madness.  Unless you are mad you won’t get corresponding wisdom,  We are here to become mad. Mad and madness are not the same.  What we want, the wise person doesn’t want. What we don’t want, the wise person wants, what we understand the wise person does not.  What we like, the wise person does not like. Let us proceed to become mad.

Guruji was mad.

Guruji had an amazing memory of how he breathed today as different from yesterday.  He cultivated a “breath craft”. Pranayama is not deep breathing, it is breath craftsmanship. You have to have the mind of a poet, not the mind of a technician.

We give bolster to a beginner in pranayama.  We think it was to open the chest but it was to open the abdomen.  The abdomen is more important as part of your breathing apparatus. Don’t be lung crazy.

Dogs are honest.  Cats are a cheat.  They sneak into your home and steal the milk and yet you let them into your house and pet them on your lap.  Divinity, however,  is the greatest thief in the world.  It will rob the heart of the devotee.    It is so great a thief that the robbed doesn’t even know he’s been robbed.

Yoga is not just knowledge, knowledge, knowledge,  You must also have a good appreciation of all things.  Be fascinated, as if under a spell, not a rigidity of discipline of what is right.  Real yoga is karma consciousness. It cannot be done mechanically.

You have the opportunity to come to me and open me out to see the gems I might have inside, and some of them might give light to you.



. . .

Notes from Pune

Categorized as Uncategorized



Sheila and I sit in our hotel room reflecting on how it seems no time has passed since we were last together in India.  Typical to our experience here, our room is cluttered full of complicated light switches, and the hotel staff are the  kindest people imaginable.  Our room is clean, simple and, for and city in India, surprisingly quiet.

1600 people are here from 56 countries, at the Balewadi stadium 12 km outside of Pune to celebrated the 100th birthday of Yogacharya BKS Iyengar.

Prashant Iyengar has taught the past three days of classes.  He said about his father:

…we thought he practiced, but he was an explorer not a practitioner.  Exploration within one’s own embodiment will never end. He appeared dogmatic but this is incorrect. He was an explorer.  Practice is when you are unprepared and uneducated.  He didn’t practice sirsasana for 80 years, he explored sirsasana for 80 years. You have to explore.  Yoga is networking for the body. Also a process of human making..  Yoga asana prepares you for the mundane conditions of life.  Can you use it to increase your understanding of the philosophy to help you through the nonsense of life?    

The actions in the poses are not simply done as a list of points, they are driven.  The whole process is driving to seek conditions of awareness and the practice fructifies by happenings and doings.   Educate yourself.   Yoga asanas are an academy of how to get into yoga.  Become fascinated  – when you are fascinated with something, it is not complicated.

Have a thought about a thought.  This is our practice.  A lion, dog, cat etc. have a thought and that’s it.  What makes us different is that we have a thought about a thought.   But remember that you can’t become a thought, you can only have a thought.

So be circumspect not just focused.  Focus is what is directly in front of you.  To be circumspect is to look all around you – like driving in India. You have to look everywhere except up – maybe one day we will also have to look up!   

(as Sheila says, it takes all 4 eyes for us to cross the street!  We cannot falter in our circumspection even for a moment.)

About breath……

The breath is a conative and cognitive organ.  Cognitive has to do with intelligence and deals with emotions.  Conative drives how one acts on thoughts, emotions and meanings.    The breath has limbs and it can move you and be moved.  

The breath will animate you.  The breath will hibernate you.  We regulate the breath to get ourselves regulated.

When Guruji was around you could never breath normally.  It was the “G” (Guru) factor. You never noticed until afterwards that you were not breathing normally.  He would push you to the highest level in asana and the breath would be used to do it with you.

I can’t say to you – think a little more slowly.   But I can say to you  – breath a little more slowly. The breath will slow the thoughts.  The non yoga person will say inhale inhale inhale, it will calm you down.  The yoga practitioner and Patanjali say exhale, exhale, exhale.

Inhale gives energy.  Exhale gives power.  The inhale is like electricity, the exhale is like the light bulb.  The weightlifter and athlete moves either on or just after the exhale.   The exhale is always where the power is.

The breath is for you but it is not yours.  Your body and brain are yours but not the breath.  It comes in and goes out. It doesn’t stay. It is not yours.  All that is yours and remains yours is only yours because of something that is not yours.

Thank you Prashant.


. . .