Philosophy

A Sutra a Day: III-43 – Action & Reaction

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I’ve said things I regret saying. I’m not talking about ancient history. This is something that happened just yesterday. And, to someone to whom I profess love – my husband.
Do you know that feeling of wishing you could take back your words? The best thing you can do is to redeem the situation is say sorry, but the problem is the words have been said. They’ve disturbed the person’s aura. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-40 – Do You Diet?

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Opinions on what constitutes a good/perfect diet abound, not the least in the yoga world.
One diet that’s had a lot of press is the severely restricted calorie diet; it’s meant to promote long life, although it may limit your opportunities to socialise.
The low carb diet is popular around here because those pesky carbohydrates are reputed to stack weight on your body. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-39 – Levitation and More

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The Sutra of Patanjali are full of interesting constructs and concepts which might just be every bit as helpful in modern times as they were in ancient history.
For instance, Sukhasana and Sthira – ease and firmness – are reminders of how to balance our lives when we’re off the mat as well as on it.
Ten Yama and Niyama add up to a code of ethics that can help us sail through life in a skilful way.
Today’s sutra is a rather strange sounding one but it is better […]

A Sutra a Day: III-38 – Responsible Teaching

A Sutra a Day: III-38 – Responsible Teaching

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Over the years, I’ve tried to sublimate my personality to my teaching. This hasn’t been an easy process as I like to be the centre of attention, and I know that especially in my early years of teaching, I had to overcome being a show-off.
Yoga teachers have a big responsibility to their students. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-35 – Sneaking Up on the Perceiver

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We Westerners, having grabbed hold of yoga at the end of the 1800’s, have been in a slow process of moulding it into a size and shape to suit us. We tell ourselves that yoga is big enough to handle being refashioned, but, at the same time, there are plenty of discussions around regarding whether we are doing a good thing, or not.
In recent times the process of modifying this ancient system has quickened, and almost all of us are a part of it. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-34 – Hearts and Minds

A Sutra a Day: III-34 – Hearts and Minds

I’ve spoken in earlier blog posts about the workshops that I’ve been involved in for two decades that are produced by the Human Awareness Institute. This last weekend Daniel and I were at one of these HAI workshop in the Hunter Valley.
What are they? I could describe them in various ways. The levels of the workshops have different themes, the first one is called ‘Love is a Miracle’. Level 2 is ‘Loving Yourself’ and the next level is ‘Living at Choice’. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-32 – What is Intelligence?

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When I was in grammar school, it was common for students to submit to an IQ  test (Intellectual Quotient). I don’t know whether this is done any more, but I felt pretty proud of my score and didn’t mind telling others who asked what it was.
Those who didn’t score well didn’t confess their scores as readily. Was a high IQ a marker for success or happiness? I’m not sure it was.
In recent times, we read about different kinds of intelligence, as in emotional or social IQ. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-31 – Bridge to Serenity

A Sutra a Day: III-31 – Bridge to Serenity

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In the backbend ‘family of poses’, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)  has been dubbed ‘a boon to mankind’ by the yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar. Apart from its capacity to wake up the senses, Setu Bandha strengthens the legs and hips, massages the spine, and opens the heart.
Holding this pose offers an opportunity to explore the body and its movements with attention and care. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-30 – Diet Freedom

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Tonight I was teaching the students some abdominal work . One area that gets stressed when people do abdominal exercises is the neck and throat. Have you experienced that yourself? I certainly have, and one antidote to release the neck and soften the throat is to keep the backs of the armpits engaged – as in squeezing in. The trapezium releases the shoulders and pressure is alleviated.
The throat is such an important part of one’s body. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-29 – Be Firm, Be Yielding

A Sutra a Day: III-29 – Be Firm, Be Yielding

I’ve been enjoying doing my yoga practice recently a la Vanda Scaravelli. She’s the Italian yoga teacher who created a style based on simple, natural principles of gravity and the breath.
Vanda wrote Awakening the Spine which is not so much an account of her particular form of yoga as a book of poetry and images.
Although Vanda died in 1999, Diane Long carries on with her work and message. I did a 5-day workshop with Diane and I must say I couldn’t figure out from the way she taught what she was on about. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-27 & 28 – Moon, Stars and Yoga

   In a city environment, you have to work hard to connect with Nature. For instance, I tried to stay in tune with the cycles of the moon when I lived in Sydney, but living in such a dense environment, I often found it hard to get even a glimpse of the sky. As a Nature exercise, I would try to observe the moon’s cycles and plan my yoga classes to fit in with the full moon, the new moon, and in-between moons. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-26 – Sun Worship

A Sutra a Day: III-26 – Sun Worship

 What is it about the sun? It is the centre of our solar system, of course. But the sun is a big deal in so many cultures, systems, and media: mythology, religion, romance,music, literature, and art. In the Hindu tradition, the sun, surya, is one of the gods. Sun gods feature in ancient pantheons in Greece, Rome, Mexico, Peru, Egypt, and Persia, and countless more. Human beings will complement someone’s child, saying they have a sunny disposition. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-25 – The Heart's Ascendance

A Sutra a Day: III-25 – The Heart's Ascendance

Tonight I was part of what I would call a healing circle. Once a month my husband’s men’s group invites their partners to join them in one of their meetings. The structure of the night varies, but it seems that it always provides a place where we can come together to share deep feelings – some joyful, some soulful, some sad. It’s a safe haven where all emotions are welcome.
I’m always amazed how such profoundly transformational work can occur just by dint of careful listening and being with whatever is. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-24 – Concentration as a Muscle

   Is it possible to think your way into being strong or flexible or healthy or kind or rich? Lord knows, wouldn’t we would like to think our way to being independently wealthy, handsome and adored? Or any number of other wishes to be granted. We might want be immortal or a perfect weight or successful in our careers. In this chapter of Patanjali’s Sutra on the cultivation of exceptional faculties, III-24 says that when one has perfect concentration on an elephant, for instance, one can gain physical strength. T.K.V. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-23 – Strengthening a Quality

  I’ve been with Daniel, my husband, for 20 years now. We met in a workshop called ‘Love, Intimacy and Sexuality’, became friends, and fell in love. These workshops, organised through the Human Awareness Institute, are led by Americans, and the one that I attended had a married couple as facilitators. I’d come through years of difficult romantic relationships and was ready to learn how to have a successful one. I admired the facilitators’ relationship and, I’m a little embarrassed to admit, put them up on a pedestal. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-21 – Invisibility: A Power or a Weakness?

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If you are a teacher, you may have had similar experiences to mine when I’ve tried to remember after a class I taught who had been in attendance.  When I’ve engaged in conversations with students as they were paying at the end of a class, I’d tend to forget to mark them off the role. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-20 – Dropping Assumptions

A Sutra a Day: III-20 – Dropping Assumptions

For part of my very early childhood years, my home was a dangerous place. Without going into details, there were often violent scenes. I learned a survival strategy which in psychological terms is called ‘hypervigilence’, and it carried over into my adult years.
I was adept at scanning my environment for perceived threats, whether they were sights, sounds, people, behaviours, or smells, and I would do this even when there was little likelihood of danger. […]

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