Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Warrior" Yogis?

Warrior pose (2)
Everyone knows that yoga is a pacifist, introspective and blissful practice. Traditional poses are named after animals in most cases. When I first began to study yoga in the late 1960s, there was no such thing as a "warrior" pose; or at least I had never heard of such poses at that time.

So when Iyengar popularized the "warrior" poses that were relatively recently introduced by Krishnamacharya, I have to admit I didn't readily come on board. I had to be convinced.

Now, my fav instructor comes from a "yoga fit" background, so she is big on these darn standing "warrior" poses. Initially, at my rather late-middle-age state, I found the standing poses exhausting and overly strenuous. Hey, they still feel that way, but at least now, I have the strength to hold the pose for a few minutes. I've found my strength. And that, I suppose, is the whole point of integrating the "warrior" persona into a peaceful practice.

Strength is just as useful as serenity, or flexibility, or meditation. Strength has given me my youth back. 

And that's a war I can live with. 

Warrior 1

Friday, March 30, 2012


As in Hawaii, where the word "Aloha" is a greeting for meeting or parting, so "Namaste" (nah-mahs tay) is the Sanskrit version.

I was drawn to this image as I am extremely fond of lotus imagery!

Now in Yoga class, you may be hit with a bunch of gobbledy-gook about how the word "namaste" expresses a very long and complicated thought such as "the light in me salutes the light in you", or "the spirit within me honors the spirit within you". Something along those lines. I searched online and even found many sites which claim that "Namaste" means:

"I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells, and I honor that place also within me, and when you are in that place and I am in that place, we are one."

Wow. That's quite an involved sentiment. Amazing how the vedic masters can express so much thought with one tiny word.

In reality, "Namaste" translates literally as "I bow to you."

That's it! 

The word is accompanied a specific gesture; hands together in the universal prayer gesture, meeting at the heart center (or heart chakra), head bowed in respect and sometimes eyes closed. And just as a wave of the hand can indicate "hello" or "goodbye", so the hand-to-the-heart prayer and a gentle nod imply the word "namaste" even when that word is unspoken.

As a sign of even greater respect, the hands can meet at the "third eye" area; the brow or mid-forehead. The "first eye" is said to refer to vision and other senses, the second eye represents reason and reflection, and the third eye represents enlightenment. The third eye is also referred to as the "mystic eye". 

So we begin a group yoga session with this salute, and also end with it. When you repeat "namaste" back to the instructor, you are expressing respect, admiration and thanks for your session which hopefully brought you a bit closer to the desired state of blissful enlightenment.

Of course that's a tall order for those of us who have not fully developed a sense of mystical, universal consciousness. But it definitely gives us a goal to strive toward!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New Moon Meditation

'Twas a glorious "new moon" day, accentuated with meditation classes. The new moon period occurs every four weeks when the moon is not visible to us mere mortals here on earth. The sky is dark, and stars shine brightly without the competitive glare of moonlight. This dark time is felt to be a time of renewal, a time of regeneration, a time for rest and for new beginnings. More active, so-called "yang" forms of yoga are temporarily replaced by "yin" activities....the soft feminine endeavors of introspection, yielding, softening, stretching, and contemplation.
"Yin" yoga is a perfect complement to meditation and sets the stage for a practice centered on awakening to your true self.
Let a new blog begin!
The Occidental Yogi....devoted to a classic form of yoga, blending elements from oriental philosophies, while remaining ever mindful of the root of yoga that rests in the Hindu tradition.