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Notes along the Path

Yoga Teacher - James Bryan

Written by experienced yoga teacher James Bryan from Knoff Yoga School in Cairns, Queensland

If we use the metaphor of hiking in the wilderness as an example of our yogic adventures, then we understand that a relatively small amount of time is spent on the mountain tops – the ah-ha moments, and the majority of the time we are down in the valleys – on the mat slogging away. Becoming clearer on the yogic path and dropping social and mental limitation is comparable to reducing the weight of our backpack – lightening the load!

Physically we take the uplifting path (light/vibrant body), but mentally we must descend through the beta, alpha, theta and delta mental states. As we learn to focus the mind more and more to illuminate the hidden parts of ourselves, we start to release the suppressed contents of our sub-conscious and eventually approach the threshold of the unconscious and eventually the super-conscious mind.

This spiritual evolution is not linear and contains both steps forward and partial retreats. We are told by the ancient yogis that any effort extended is never wasted. Obvious signs of progress are increasing feelings of compassion and clarity.

Feelings of isolation and separation are signs of experiencing the world through the predominance of one cerebral hemisphere; in our culture normally the left (analytical, linear, fight or flight activation, etc.). As we progress and learn how to access and activate both hemispheres simultaneously, not only do we access more brain power, but we also experience profound feelings of unity and harmony – because we are no longer divided within ourselves. Moving from beta… alpha… theta… and finally to delta brain waves… results in complete co-operation and utilization of our separate selves and is the end game of yoga = Samadhi.

When we designed the Knoff Yoga program of 5 levels: Beginner, Foundation, Intermediate, Advanced and Master, we wanted a clear path for our students to follow. Our experiences taught us that most students (and teachers for that matter) are stumbling along in the dark and are very lucky not to trip and fall. One of the pitfalls of the Western approach to yoga is to make asana the total focus and omit the synergistic tools of the rest of the 8 Limbs of Yoga. Another is the window shopping approach, i.e., yoga this week and pilates the next. We designed our program to include 5 elements: Meditation, Pranayama, Asana, Relaxation and Philosophy. If any of these integral and essential parts of the yogic path are missing, then our students will not receive the promised benefits they read about in yoga books.

In feudal Japan, the Samurai warriors had only 8 sword movements to fight with. Their techniques had to be totally practical because their lives depended upon it. Today in Kendo there are 100’s of sword movements – what has happened? We kept this in mind when designing the Knoff Yoga program and see great value in the K.I.S.S. (keeping it straightforward and simple) approach to yoga – providing it works of course.

Our passion is to share the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of yoga. Our goal is to offer training that is transformational, and imparts the techniques and philosophy of yoga as well as the enthusiasm to make yoga a life-long choice. We understand that Knoff Yoga will grow and prosper in direct relation to the positive impact it has upon the lives of our teachers and students.

The path of yoga is not easy, nor is it always fun, but it is always worthwhile. 95% of the effort required is in just getting on the mat with no compromises and no excuses. You will always be glad you made the small effort for a substantial return of good health and well-being.

James has a range of products available for you – from Chair Yoga for all levels to Pranayama for beginners and intermediate:

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Jivamukti Yoga School New York

Written by Doug from Sydney. This post is part of a series that showcases our favourite yoga studios.

Jivamukti Yoga School - Broadway New YorkWhether you are new to yoga or you are totally immersed in your practice, when you walk through the doors of Jivamukti Yoga School’s downtown centre (841 Broadway, New York) it is impossible not to get caught up in the spirit and love that is Jivamukti Yoga.

The place is alive with people getting ready for class, chatting amongst friends, chilling out over vegan cookies and chai in the cafe or getting lost in the boutique shop and library.

As co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga, Sharon Gannon says “if you want to uplift your own life then you need to uplift the lives of others”. It is obvious to me that this yoga center embodies this statement.

Address
Jivamukti Yoga School, 841 Broadway , 2nd floor, New York, NY 10003

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Samadhi Yoga Studio Sydney

Written by the staff at Live Yoga Life. This post is part of a series that showcases our favourite yoga studios.

Samadhi Yoga Studio is one of our favourite yoga studios in Sydney. It offer yoga classes in a range of styles suitable for all from beginners to advanced students. Whatever your style, you will find something to suit your needs at Samadhi.

Every time we go to Samadhi it feels like we never left. You see familar faces, the space is welcoming, and the classes are always fun. They offer the full spectrum from restorative yoga to dynamic vinyasa practice, and a wide range of workshops and events.

They also offer teacher training which has a good balance of theory and practical work. Highly recommended if you want to be teach yoga or just want to expand your yoga practice.

Locations
Newtown – Unit A, 76 Wilford Street, Newtown NSW 2042
Camperdown – 24 Lyons Rd, Camperdown NSW 2050

Samadhi Yoga Studio - Newtown Sydney

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Balancing a Vata Dosha: Suggested Diet and Lifestyle

Ayurvedic texts recommend the principle of opposites for reducing the level of a dosha that has become aggravated. Since the characteristics of Vata include dryness, coolness, roughness, lightness and constant motion, qualities that are opposite to these in diet and lifestyle help restore balance to Vata dosha.

Dietary recommendations – Vata Dosha

Include foods that are liquid or unctuous in your daily diet to balance dryness, some “heavy” foods to offer substance and sustained nourishment, foods that are smooth in texture to offset roughness and foods that are warm or hot to balance the cool nature of Vata. So what exactly does this mean in terms of foods you should choose and foods you should stay away from? Here are some specific dietary tips:

  1. If you need to balance Vata, a fat-free diet is not for you. Cook foods with a little ghee (clarified butter) or include some olive oil in your diet everyday. Olive oil cannot be heated to high temperatures without destroying its healing value, so drizzle olive oil over fresh soft flatbreads, cooked grains, or warm vegetable dishes. Ghee can be heated to high temperatures without affecting its nourishing, healing qualities, so use ghee to sauté vegetables, spices or other foods. Avoid too many dry foods such as crackers, dry cold cereal and the like.
  2. Cooked foods, served hot or warm, are ideal for balancing Vata. Pureed soups, cooked fruit, hot cereal, rice pudding and hot nourishing beverages such as nut milks or warm milk are excellent “comfort” foods and help pacify aggravated Vata. Avoid or minimize raw foods such as salads and raw sprouts.
  3. The three ayurvedic tastes that help balance Vata are sweet, sour and salty, so include more of these tastes in your daily diet. Milk, citrus fruits, dried fruit or salted toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds make good snack choices. Eat less of the bitter, pungent and astringent tastes.
  4. Nuts are wonderful Vata-pacifiers. Soak ten almonds overnight. Blanch and eat in the early morning for a healthy burst of energy. Walnuts, hazelnuts and cashews make good Vata-pacifying snacks.
  5. Carrots, asparagus, tender leafy greens, beets, sweet potatoes and summer squash such as zucchini and lauki squash are the best vegetable choices. They become more digestible when chopped and cooked with Vata-pacifying spices. Vegetables can be combined with grains or mung beans for satisfying one-dish meals. Avoid nightshades and larger beans.
  6. Basmati rice is ideal for balancing Vata. Cook it with a little salt and ghee for added flavor. Wheat is also good-fresh flatbreads made with whole wheat flour (called atta or chapatti flour and available at Indian grocery stores) and drizzled with a little melted ghee combine well with cooked vegetables or Vata-balancing chutneys.
  7. Most spices are warming and enhance digestion, so cook with a combination of spices that appeals to your taste buds and is appropriate for the dish you are making. Ayurvedic spices such as small quantities of turmeric, cumin, coriander, dried ginger, black pepper and saffron offer flavor, aroma and healing wisdom.
  8. Drink lots of warm water through the day.

Suggested Food Choices for Vata dosha

The following list of suggested foods is by no means all-inclusive, but offers starting guidelines if you are new to ayurvedic dietary principles. We will add to this list regularly, so please check back often!

Grains: Rice, wheat, quinoa, oats, amaranth, all cooked until tender

Vegetables: Asparagus, tender greens, carrots, peas, green beans, white daikon, zucchini, lauki squash, parsnips, sweet potatoes, all cooked

Fruits: Avocado, pineapple, papaya, peaches, plums, grapes, mangoes, oranges, cherries, all kinds of berries, limes and lemons, apples if stewed, coconut, fresh figs, raisins (soaked)

Lentils: Mung beans, urad dhal, mung dhal, masoor dhal, toor dhal, red lentils, all cooked until butter-soft

Dairy: Whole milk, cream, butter, fresh yogurt (cooked into foods), lassi, cottage cheese, fresh paneer cheese

Oils: Ghee, olive oil, sesame oil, cold-pressed nut oils such as walnut

Herbs: Fresh ginger root, cilantro, curry leaves, parsley, fresh basil, fresh fennel, mint

Nuts and Seeds: Almonds (soaked and blanched), cashews, walnuts (soaked), pistachios, hazelnuts, pecans (soaked), pine nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds

Spices: Ajwain, dried ginger, asafetida (hing) in small quantities, fenugreek, turmeric, cumin, clove, cardamom, coriander, fennel, black pepper, basil, Chinese cinnamon, nutmeg, mustard seed, mint, rosemary, thyme, lemon and orange zest, oregano, rock salt or sea salt, black salt, dried mango powder, pomegranate seeds or powder

Other: Rice milk, soy milk, poppy seeds, sucanat, turbinado sugar, raw honey, and tofu in moderation (diced small and cooked with spices)

Lifestyle Recommendations: Balancing Vata dosha

Ayurvedic texts recommend the principle of opposites for reducing the level of a dosha that has become aggravated. Since the characteristics of Vata include dryness, coolness, roughness, lightness and constant motion, qualities that are opposite to these in diet and lifestyle help restore balance to Vata dosha.

  1. Since Vata dosha is characterized as restless, constantly in motion and irregular, the primary lifestyle recommendation for balancing Vata is to maintain a regular routine. That means rising and going to bed at roughly the same times each day, eating three meals at about the same times each day, and following a similar pattern of work and rest from day to day.
  2. Do not skip meals. Eat a nourishing lunch at mid-day and lighter meals at breakfast and dinner. Sit down to eat each meal, eat in a peaceful atmosphere with your attention on your food, and sit quietly for a few minutes after your meal. If your digestive fire is irregular, practicing these eating habits will help make it more regular.
  3. Daily elimination is very important to prevent ama from accumulating in the body.
  4. To pamper dry skin, to promote circulation and to nourish and tone muscles and nerves, indulge in an ayurvedic massage every morning before you bathe or shower. Use almond or jojoba oil for your massage. If you like, you can add 3-4 drops of a pure essential oil such as lavender or sweet orange to 2 oz. of massage oil. Mix well before use. Two or three time a week, massage your scalp with warm oil, and let the oil stay for an hour or two before you shampoo. After your shower or bath, apply a generous coating of a pure, gentle moisturiser all over your body to keep your skin feeling smooth all day long.
  5. Protect yourself from the cold and wind. Stay warm and toasty in cold weather by wearing several layers of clothing. Wear a cap and scarf when you go out to protect your ears and throat. Wear lip balm to prevent lips from getting dry and chafed.
  6. Walking is the ideal exercise for balancing Vata. Walk in the early morning, for about 20 minutes every day.
  7. You may have to woo sleep if Vata dosha is aggravated. It is important to get to bed early, so that you can get adequate rest each night. A cup of warm milk, with a pinch of nutmeg, can be helpful before bedtime.
  8. Set aside about 30 minutes each day for meditation, to help calm the mind and enhance body-mind-spirit coordination.

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Sun Salutations

The Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) – which is also referred to as “Salute to the Sun” is a series of postures that you perform in a flowing sequence.

The whole sequence is coordinated with your breath. The basic approach is to inhale as you extend or stretch, and exhale as you contract or fold.

Some schools of yoga have their own variations of the Sun Salutation. The version below covers the core steps of a Sun Salutation A (Surya Namaskar A) which is the easier of the two main versions. It is typical of what you may experience in most Ashtanga Yoga or Vinyasa Hatha Yoga classes.

The benefits of this series of poses are that it is great as an effective warm-up practice, increases your flexibility and tones your all-important abdominal muscles.

There are two series of poses for the Sun Salutation. They are referred to as Sun Salutation A (Surya Namaskar A) and Sun Salutation B (Surya Namaskar B).

We offer the following range of high-quality yoga classes which include the Sun Salutation postures:

Sun Salutation A

The following series contains the postures typically found in a Sun Salutation series. We have also added in several transitional poses to assist in transitioning between the main poses.

Tip: On days when you think you have no time for yoga, try and do at least one or two rounds of the Sun Salutation. You’ll feel the difference.

Yoga Pose Samasthiti Yoga Pose Hands out to Side Yoga Pose Urdhva Vrikasana
Start in Mountain Pose (Samashti) – feet hip width apart, your weight evenly distributed, hands by your side Raise your hands out to the side (inhale) Continue until your palms are over head (Urdhva Hastasana)
Yoga Pose Uttanasana A Yoga Pose Uttanasana B Yoga Pose Step One Leg Back
Exhale as you fold forward into a standing forward bend (Uttanasana A) Inhale into head-up forward bend (Uttanasana B) Exhale and step one leg back
Yoga Pose Plank Yoga Pose Chaturanga Dandasana Yoga Pose Urdhva Mukah Svanasana
On the same inhale, continue to step the other leg back into Plank Exhale into a low Push-Up (Chaturanga Dandasana) Inhale into Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
Yoga Pose Adho Mukha Svanasana Yoga Pose Bend knees look forward Yoga Pose Walk one leg forward
Exhale into Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasna) Inhale and bend your knees and look forward Continue inhaling and walk one leg forward (or jump both feet to your hands if you are able to)
Yoga Pose Hands out to Side Yoga Pose Urdhva Vrikasana Yoga Pose Samasthiti
With both legs together, inhale as you move your hands out to the sides Raise your palms over head (Urdhva Hastasana) Exhale as you drop your arms by your side and stand in Mountain Pose (Samashti)

Check out the following range of high-quality yoga classes which include the sun salutation poses:

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Balancing a Pitta Dosha: Diet, Suggested Diet and Lifestyle

Balancing Pitta Dosha: Diet

Ayurvedic texts recommend the principle of opposites for reducing the level of a dosha that has become aggravated. Since the characteristics of Pitta include sharpness, heat, and acidity, qualities that are opposite to these in diet and lifestyle help restore balance to Pitta dosha.

Dietary recommendations

Include a few dry foods in your daily diet to balance the liquid nature of Pitta, some “heavy” foods that offer substance and sustained nourishment, and foods that are cool to balance the fiery quality of Pitta. So what exactly does this mean in terms of foods you should choose and foods you should stay away from? Here are some specific dietary tips:

  1. If you need to balance Pitta, choose ghee, in moderate quantities, as your cooking medium. Ghee, according to the ancient ayurvedic texts, is cooling for both mind and body. Ghee can be heated to high temperatures without affecting its nourishing, healing qualities, so use ghee to sauté vegetables, spices or other foods.
  2. Cooling foods are wonderful for balancing Pitta dosha. Sweet juicy fruits, especially pears, can cool a fiery Pitta quickly. Milk, sweet rice pudding, coconut and coconut juice, and milkshakes made with ripe mangoes and almonds or dates are examples of soothing Pitta-pacifying foods.
  3. The three ayurvedic tastes that help balance Pitta are sweet, bitter and astringent, so include more of these tastes in your daily diet. Milk, fully ripe sweet fruits, and soaked and blanched almonds make good snack choices. Eat less of the salty, pungent and sour tastes.
  4. Dry cereal, crackers, granola and cereal bars, and rice cakes balance the liquid nature of Pitta dosha, and can be eaten any time hunger pangs strike during the day.
  5. Carrots, asparagus, bitter leafy greens, fennel, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, green beans and bitter gourd (in very small quantities) are good vegetable choices. They become more digestible when chopped and cooked with Pitta-pacifying spices. Vegetables can be combined with grains or mung beans for satisfying one-dish meals. Avoid nightshades.
  6. Basmati rice is excellent for balancing Pitta. Wheat is also good – fresh flatbreads made with whole-wheat flour (called atta or chapatti flour and available at Indian grocery stores) combine well with cooked vegetables or Pitta-balancing chutneys. Oats and amaranth are other Pitta-balancing grains.
  7. Choose spices that are not too heating or pungent. Ayurvedic spices such as small quantities of turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom and fennel offer flavor, aroma and healing wisdom.
  8. Drink sweet lassi with lunch to help enhance digestion and cool, not ice-cold, water to quench thirst.

Suggested Food Choices for Pitta dosha

The following list of suggested foods is by no means all-inclusive, but offers starting guidelines if you are new to ayurvedic dietary principles. We will add to this list regularly, so please check back often!

Grains: Rice, wheat, barley, oats, amaranth, sago, all cooked until tender

Vegetables: Asparagus, tender and bitter greens, bitter gourd, carrots, fennel, peas, green beans, zucchini, lauki squash, artichoke, parsnips, okra, celery, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, sweet potatoes, all cooked, small quantities of raw lettuce, carrots or cucumber

Fruits: Avocado, pineapple, peaches, plums, grapes, mangoes, melons, pears, pomegranates, cherries, all kinds of berries, apples, coconut, dates, fresh and dried figs, raisins (soaked), all ripe and sweet

Lentils: Mung beans, mung dhal, red or brown lentils, small portions of garbanzos, lima beans, black beans, all cooked until butter-soft

Dairy: Whole milk, cream, butter, fresh yogurt (cooked into foods), lassi, cottage cheese, fresh paneer cheese

Oils: Ghee, olive oil, walnut oil

Herbs: Cilantro, curry leaves, parsley, fresh basil, fresh fennel, fresh mint

Nuts and Seeds: Almonds (soaked and blanched), sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds

Spices: Turmeric, cumin, cardamom, coriander, fennel, small quantities of black pepper, Chinese cinnamon, mint, saffron, dill, sweet orange zest

Other: Rice milk, soy milk, sucanat, turbinado sugar, date sugar, and tofu in moderation (diced small and cooked with spices)

Balancing Pitta Dosha: Lifestyle

Ayurvedic texts recommend the principle of opposites for reducing the level of a dosha that has become aggravated. Since the characteristics of Pitta include sharpness, heat, and acidity, qualities that are opposite to these in diet and lifestyle help restore balance to Pitta dosha.

Lifestyle recommendations

  1. Stay cool–both physically and emotionally. Avoid going out in the heat of the day, especially on an empty stomach or after you have eaten tangy or spicy foods. Avoid exercising when it’s hot. Walk away from situations that make you see red.
  2. Do not skip meals, do not fast and do not wait to eat until you are ravenously hungry. Start your day with cooked fruit, followed by some cereal. Eat a sustaining meal at lunch, and a lighter meal for dinner. For snacking, choose sweet juicy fruit–fully ripe mangoes, sweet pears and sweet juicy grapes are excellent Pitta-pacifying choices. Delaying meals can cause excess acidity, so eat on time every day. The Amalaki Rasayana helps enhance digestion without aggravating Pitta dosha. It also helps balance stomach acid.
  3. Daily elimination is very important to prevent ama from accumulating in the body. Triphala Rasayana helps promote regularity as well as toning the digestive system. Since Triphala is gentle, not habit forming and not depleting, it can be taken indefinitely to maintain regularity.
  4. To soothe sensitive skin, to balance the emotions and to nourish and tone muscles and nerves, indulge in an ayurvedic massage every morning before you bathe or shower. Use coconut oil for your massage. If you like, you can add 3-4 drops of a pure essential oil such as lavender or rose to 2 oz. of massage oil. Mix well before use. Two or three time a week, massage your scalp with warm oil, and let the oil stay for an hour or two before you shampoo. After your shower or bath, apply a pure, gentle moisturizer all over your body or spray your skin with pure rose or sandalwood water to keep your skin feeling cool all day long.
  5. Protect yourself from the heat. Stay cool in warm weather by wearing loose cotton clothing. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes when you go out. Drink lots of room temperature water.
  6. Water-based activities are ideal exercise for Pitta-dominant people. Try swimming or aqua-aerobics to stay fit but cool. Strolling after sunset, especially along a waterfront, is also a soothing way to fit some leisurely activity into your day.
  7. If Pitta dosha is out of balance, you may find that you can fall asleep without much trouble, but you wake up in the very early hours and find it difficult to get back to sleep. It is important to get to bed early, so that you can get adequate rest each night. A cup of warm milk, with some cardamom, can be helpful before bedtime.
  8. Balance work and play. Set aside some time for R&R everyday, and do not get so absorbed in a project that you are unable to detach from it.
  9. Set aside about 30 minutes each day for meditation, to help balance the heart and emotions and to enhance body-mind-spirit coordination.

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