Wednesday, January 30, 2013


PadaHastasana is one of the twelve postures that Swami Sivananda considered to be the most important for complete health of the body and mind.  Known as the hands to feet or standing forward bend, I think it looks simpler than it is.  Often I see mistakes in this posture; that there is tension held in the neck and shoulders, the knees are bent and weight kept back on the heels and the back is rounding.  I had one practitioner recently approach me regarding this posture saying she found it so difficult.  And I agree it can be difficult, but if we approach it with the right intention and try to relax within the posture then it will become easier and we can start to enjoy it.  For me I love the release I feel in my upper back when I’m in padahastasana, and to feel the energy flowing downwards brings invigoration. 
Every posture has its benefits both physically, mentally and spiritually and all postures should be performed slowly with deep breath, using the breath properly during your practice will enable you to relax more and hold the posture steadily which in turn will enable you to hold it longer therefore receiving more of the benefits of the pose.  Using the breath correctly will also replenish all the oxygen that is being used from the muscles preventing the build up of lactic acid which is caused when the muscles are overworked and the oxygen is not being replaced, this is a common problem whilst playing sport.  This build up of lactic acid causes fatigue and is difficult for the body to expel, so always remember to use your breath and to relax between postures, or after a heavy game of sport lye down in our relaxation pose; savasana, and breath deep abdominal breath.  Our body is our vehicle for our soul so we should take great care of it, it is a blessing to have it and the practice of yoga will bring great health and vigour to not only your body but also to your mind giving a greater sense of balance and harmony, greater ability to concentrate and focus and generally a better sense of well being. 
Infact the yoga system can be compared to no other in the sense that it completely rehauls the entire being, both externally and internally, where all the internal organs, glands and hormones are receiving stimulation and will begin to work more efficiently also balancing our emotions.  We focus greatly on the health of the spine; we are as young as we are flexible right?  The spinal column houses the spinal cord, the telegraph system of the body, and the main nerve of the body so it is vital we take care of it.  By maintaining the spine’s flexibility and strength the circulation is increased and the nerves are ensured their correct supply of nutrients and oxygen, leaving you feeling refreshed.  So there is every reason to practice yoga and the more you practice the better you will start to feel. 
So here is how to do the padahastasana
1.Stand in mountain pose with the feet together pushing down into the mat.  Spread your toes to ground yourself, the spine is up straight, shoulders back and down.
2.Inhale and raise the arms up over your head, next to your ears, palms face front.
3.Exhale slowly as you stretch the body forward, bending from your hips, try to keep the spine and knees as straight as you can.
4.Don’t worry about how far you are coming down but try to keep the alignment of the pose and breath; you are still receiving all benefits of the posture regardless of flexibility.
5.Hold onto the backs of the legs without just letting the arms hang and relax your neck completely.
6.Bring the weight slightly forward on the feet and feel the hips pushing upward toward the sky.
7.Breathe deeply and remain in the posture for as long as it is comfortable.
8.Inhale until you have come up to the original position.

Physical benefits of the posture:
1.The spine becomes supple and is lengthened, joints are mobilised and everlasting youth is obtained.
2.The whole nervous system is invigorated
3.The hamstrings and other muscles in the back of the legs and lower body are stretched.
4.A complete stretch to the posterior of the body is given
5.There is an increase of blood supply to the brain, increasing memory and intellectual capacity.
6.Excess fat around the abdomen will be reduced.
7.Bad posture will start to be corrected and any shortening of the legs due to fracture will be corrected.

Mental benefits of the posture:
1.The body becomes light thus reducing feelings of inertia and laziness
2.The sushumna nadi, the most important of the astral nerves that runs through the centre of your spine is purified.
3.The energy is helped downwards bringing balance.

So roll out your mat and practice your padahastasana!
See you all on the mat
Om Lokha Somasta Sukhino bhavantu
May all living entities find balance, harmony and peace
Om shanti

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Join me for Mother Earth

As temperatures are rocketing in Australia we cannot ignore the signs that Mother Earth is again giving us.  Staying close to nature means looking after her too.  We can no longer waste time leaving the problem of our suffering planet in the hands of others, we have to start at home and be aware of what we are doing, how much power we are using and what we can cut down on.  Living here in Nepal we experience load shedding, which means we have no electricity for a certain amount of hours each day.  This can range from maybe 3 or 4 hours up to maybe 18 hours at times.  Unfortunately this isn’t for environmental reasons but I think it’s a great idea, it’s amazing how you get used to it and find yourself using electricity much more wisely and being much more aware of not leaving unnecessary things on etc.  I propose that every house hold take one hour a day to turn the electricity off, all those little red lights on standby, everything off.  Don’t worry the freezer won’t defrost in an hour!  Lets help our Mother Earth by making a real effort, she gives us all our nutrients, isn’t it time we all started to give something back.  We can also apply this to other areas as well, using less gas, recently I bought a pressure cooker and it is amazing, what used to take maybe an hour to cook, like soup or dhal, now takes 10 minutes of gas use and it tastes better too!  Think about all the gadgets you have, do you really need all of them?  And try to cut down on the amount of packaging you are consuming, plastic bags are a definite no no, try to buy vegetables from the fruit and veg shop or stall where it is not all sealed and made to look perfect and shiny.  Try to cut down on the amount you are eating, just by a little bit.  Walk some places instead of driving and you will feel better for it too.  Get some fresh air.  Lets really make an effort to make a difference and think of the money you will save on your bills, maybe you could put that money to a really worthy cause that needs your help, or treat someone you know that needs cheering up.  And maybe that hour will give you time for reflection, instead of staring at a screen; you could have a conversation or play a made up game with your children.  So I invite you to take an hour out of power, and invite all your friends, family, work colleagues and anybody you know to do the same.  Lets really start to make a difference.
In yoga we don’t use much but our bodies, breath and minds, however those mats do wear out sometimes pretty quickly so here are some tips with what you can do with your old ones, and when you buy a new one try to go for one with a life time guarantee.
  1. Donate to homeless shelters for sleeping pads
  2. Put under a rug to make it non-slip
  3. Donate to an animal rescue shelter they can be used to line kennels etc
  4. Use as a non-slip surface whilst using drills or power tools
  5. Line kitchen shelves to prevent glass wear from slipping
  6. Use to kneel on to protect your knees when you are gardening or decorating
  7. Cut it up to make a mouse pad or several!
  8. Cut if up for drawer liners
  9. Cut it up to make grip pads for opening jars etc
  10. Cut it to size and use for footpads for furniture
  11. Use under your sleeping bag whilst camping
  12. Use for a protector whilst shipping/ packing
  13. Make children’s toys, masks, letters of the alphabet, shapes for the bath or pool
  14. Plug up drafty places, windows and doors
  15. Makes a great liner under house plants
  16. Keep in the car for those spur of the moment picnics
  17. Use as a liner in the boot of the car to stop your shopping sliding about

Have fun thinking of other ways you could use that old mat, and looking forward to seeing you all on the mat for its other use and that’s to exercise properly, relax properly, breath properly, meditate and to think positively

Om Lokha Somasta Sukhino Bhavantu
May all living entities find peace and balance, and may we help Mother Earth find it too.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Shanti Salad

My Shanti Salad is a carrot and raison salad and is great by itself or served as a side dish to any meal. Here is what you need:

2 large carrots - grated
1/2 cup of raisons
poppy seeds
coconut powder or grated
olive oil
black and white pepper

Heat the oil in the pan or wok for a few minutes and add the ground black and white pepper to taste.  Add the carrots and raisons and keep stirring for about a minute.  Add the the coconut and poppy seeds (how much is up to you!) and stir for another 30 seconds or so.  Simple!  You can serve hot or cold, delicious any time!! Enjoy and find your shanti whilst you eat!

Our next Satsang will be held at Pranamaya Yoga Studio, Moksh, Patan, on Feb 2nd at 4.30-5.30pm.  Do come and join me for a beautiful meditation in company, and the chanting of Kirtan, devotional songs to uplift yourself and feel your heart opening like the lotus flower in bloom.  Looking forward to seeing you there.

For now Om Lokha Somasta Sukhino Bhavantu
May all living entities find happiness, balance and peace
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti 
mangala, nicky.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Yoga Tastes Good

Svagatom! Welcome to 2013, my thought for the year this year is going to be 'Yoga Tastes good!'  After talking to practitioners during a philosophy class on the 5 points of yoga and the 4 main paths of yoga and discovering what yoga is to different people I decided on this moto for the year.  For all of us we may have different reasons for our practice, but it is very apparent that for all of us, yoga makes us feel good, it brings more balance back into our lives, more confidence and space to breath.  The benefits to our practice are endless and are also a personal thing.  Through our five senses we gain knowledge of the world, when you hear about a beautiful place, you want to go there, well through our practice of yoga you can reach a very beautiful place, full of joy, peace and stillness.  So make this year a year of feeling good, tasting the effects of the beautiful practice of yoga, be you more a karma, bhakti, raja or jnana yogi or yogini, take time to really dive into the joy that is there for the whole of humanity and in return share it with as many others as you can.  It is our duty to help others on their journey towards endless happiness however we need to be happy first ourselves to do this, how can we spread peace if we don't know peace ourselves.  So embark on a year or better still a lifetime of practice and share all those wonderful benefits that you are receiving.  YOGA TASTES GOOD!  I leave you with a quote from Swami Tattvarupananda one of my guiding lights who has taught me much, here is what he says:
'Yoga is more personal than public.  A yogi should be able to focus more about his or her growth.  Practice should be able to give him or her more confidence.  It is not really about standing on your head, we should be able to learn to handle our mind and emotions.  It may look difficult in the beginning, but if there is a sincere effort anybody can reach there.  What we want in life should be clear, with the help of prayer and self effort we will be able to reach the goal.  Be sincere in our practice, that is enough, the rest he will take care of.'

looking forward to seeing you all on the mat for a bit of feeling good!
om om shanti om
mangala / nicky