A Sutra a Day: III-17 – Clean Slate Coming

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Recently I’ve been through a painful situation involving close friends. It would seem that difficulties arose because of miscommunications, faulty memories, and judgments.
Although the unresolved situation has just resurfaced, it has been going on for decades, so long that it would take a private investigator working for months to unravel what was said and what was done.
I tried to avoid the bad feelings I had been experiencing over the years by stuffing them down, and just getting on with ‘the rest of my life’. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-14 – Recommended Reading

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I’ve been going along with my blog theme A Sutra a Day now for five months. Picture me every night sitting down at my messy desk, thumbing through up to eight Patanjali Sutra texts by various translator/commentators.
After reading each interpretation, I think about what I’ve read and then overlay a map of my life to see if there are any points of intersection. Sometimes I’m lucky and, bingo, the fit is serendipitous. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-9 – Alert, Aware and Kind

  One of my first yoga teachers wanted his school to be called ‘Awareness Yoga’. Training peoples’ awareness to notice what they were up to, he reckoned, was what yoga was all about. He was a good teacher, but appeared to be moody and, to my mind, he wasn’t aware of how his angry moods impacted people. Publicly he was inspiring and wise, but privately he could be quite petty. I’m shocked myself at how often I go on automatic and say things that are thoughtless or my behaviour is self-serving. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-7 – Breathing is the Bridge

 A friend and colleague asked me today why I don’t teach pranayama – the yoga breathing – in my yoga classes. I should, I know I should. I was trained in a particular method of yoga that disallowed the practice of breath control until, as Patanjali advises, ‘perfection is attained in asana”. Oh goodness, what a high bar! Nevertheless, when I did yoga teacher training with my first Iyengar teacher, we students would do an hour of pranayama before each asana session. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-5 – Does Age Bring Wisdom?

   I have such a long way to go in my yoga practice. I’m advanced in age and if I subscribed to the traditional Indian model of ashrama — stages of life, I should have by now evolved into more of a recluse, renunciate, or ascetic. But, no, I’m still a teacher of physical yoga postures. I love this way of practicing for myself, and I enjoy passing it on to students. So, to be honest (Ch. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-3 – Yoga and Global Warming

 I’ve been watching an amazing television series called ‘Frozen Planet’, narrated by the incomparable David Attenborough. The series in the main presents stunning film of areas that are considered the last frontiers of our planet – the Arctic and Antarctica. Wildlife and marine life are shown in all the glory of their natural habitats; as inhospitable as these climes seem to us, they are where these creatures have survived for hundreds of years. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-1 – In Focus

A Sutra a Day: III-1 – In Focus

 One of the first balancing poses a beginner in yoga is introduced to is vrshkasana (tree pose). Free-standing on one leg is certainly a challenge to a beginner’s sense of balance, and that’s a useful thing to work on. Of course your teacher will say, ‘find a focal point on the floor in front of you, so that focus will help you stay steady in the pose.’ That is concentration and it will help your stability. B.K.S. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-53 – Give the Mind Something to Do

A Sutra a Day: II-53 – Give the Mind Something to Do


I heard of a good reason why it’s hard for us to concentrate on breathing or to meditate. It’s because we don’t really have much experience with staying focussed on just one thing at a time.
For example, I went for a beach walk today and, at the same time, was listening through my head phones to an audiobook. As I drove to the beach, I was thinking about my shopping list. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-52 – In Stillness, You Discover You

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At various junctures in my life, I’ve been ‘forced’ to do more reflective practices. Illness, medical conditions, surgery, even emotional upsets have done that to me – and I have no regrets. I seem to have to learn things the hard way.
During one of these periods in my life, I discovered the healing audio recordings of Richard C. Miller. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-51 – You Can Be a Prana-Yogi, Too

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My friend Michael went back to Pune, India to do classes at the Ramamani Iyengar Institute a few years ago – his previous visit having been 30 years before.
My impression was that Michael was not overly enthusiastic about the classes he attended; he did, however, receive a great suggestion from one of his classmates. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-50 – The Breath Teaches Sensitivity

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Breathing is one of those things that is just there. Or, is it? Do you always remember to breathe when you’re practising yoga?
It seems to amuse my yoga students when I ask them to breathe – not because I’m trying to be funny but because they recognise it’s so easy to suppress breathing ‘when push comes to shove’. In the effort of attaining a challenging pose, relaxed breathing gets jettisoned.
There are many theories of how to breathe for best results when doing asanas or pranayama. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-48 – Relaxation Lets You See Things Clearly

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Have you ever done a ten-day Vipassana course? I attended a couple of these meditation retreats, which are conducted completely in silence, in the 1980’s.
I didn’t think that the sitting/walking meditations would be challenging for me because I’d been doing yoga and therefore wouldn’t experience much bodily discomfort.
It’s true that I didn’t suffer as much as some people did from the hour-long sitting sessions. What I wasn’t expecting though was that, when the meditation room was quiet and my body was motionless, my mind would go into overdrive. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-47 – Relaxed Effort

A Sutra a Day: II-47 – Relaxed Effort

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I’ve always been intrigued by the human body and wanted to learn about it. Recently, I’ve been enjoying studying an anatomy and physiology course again. This is the 3rd one I’ve done over the years, but the first time on-line.
We’re so fortunate these days to be able to study with video lectures, monographs, articles, textbooks, and so on – no farther away than a click of a mouse. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-45 – Sacred in the Ordinary

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Part of how we’re wired up as humans is that we are meaning-making machines. And part of how we create meaning in life is identifying with religion, God or a Higher Power.
Me, I avoid using the word spiritual or divine to describe myself. I guess I subscribe to the idea that if someone speaks of him/herself in that way that they are big-noting** themselves. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-42 – It is What it Is

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There are yoga concepts which people gravitate to more than others in the same way that we like certain star signs more than others, or colours, or authors.
The notion of santosa is one of these. Who wouldn’t be attracted to the idea of contentment?
It’s not easy, however, to be content. Some of us lean towards perfectionism (not mentioning any names here), which makes it difficult to be happy with the way life is in this moment. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-41 – Pure is as Pure Does

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I don’t know how you feel about it, but I’ve never really come to terms with the notion of having to make myself pure, although this is one of Patanjali’s precepts, called saucha in Sanskrit.
I was raised in Catholicism to believe that human beings were sinful, a state which is certainly impure. I would go to confession to tell the priest my impure thoughts and deeds, which had to be decidedly innocent as I was still a kid. […]

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