Three Jewels Yoga & Pilates

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The Modern Urban Warrior Series – Part 4

Each one of us who lives in a metropolitan city is a modern urban warrior.  Modern lifestyles mean that time has become too short and we keep chasing dreams projected by social media.  This has lead to a reduction in our bearing power – ie the power to withstand when things do not go as one would like.

Part 4: Endurance and Resilience

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The ability to keep going forward even when hard knocks take one two steps back has become increasingly important.  This requires one to be both physically and mentally fit – strengthening the core and channelling mental energy in the right direction rather than letting it dissipate.

 

 

 

Warrior 3 : Virabhadrasana 3

Warrior 3(4) for articleThe qualities of endurance and resilience are illustrated perfectly when doing the Warrior 3 pose.  The pose improves balance, posture, and full-body coordination.  It requires the alignment of physical body and focus of the mind in order to stand on one leg with the arms, back and the extended other leg to remain in a straight horizontal plane.  The intricacies of the pose and how the body and the mind respond to the pose are important observations to make.

Just as it took time to get into the best Warrior 3 on the mat, you know with time and dedication, you can transform the biggest struggles into strengths.  Indeed and just as on the mat, amidst the daily challenges of modern urban living, your inner warrior will rise to the occasion and get you through anything.

 

 

 


The Modern Urban Warrior Series – Part 3

Each one of us who lives in a metropolitan city is a modern urban warrior.  An important quality of such a warrior is humility.

Part 3: Humility

Reverse Warrior quote for article

In a competitive urban environment, it may seem that the only way to get ahead in the rat race is by pushing yourself forward and crushing others.  However, doing this only causes unhappiness and misery.  Instead and to be at peace with oneself, put the needs of others before our own and think of others before yourself.  Perhaps also we need to learn to acknowledge that we may not always be right.

Reverse Warrior : Viparita Virabhadrasana 

We worked on the Reverse Warrior posture to explore humility further.  On one side we reverse-warrior1 for articlereflected on the open palm recalling when we were not so humble in our interaction with other people and the feelings which overcame us then.  On the other side we again reflected on the raised palm recounting occasions when we have been humble and the positive peaceful feelings we were enveloped with then.

So, from a practical off-the-mat perspective, we can practice humility by spending more time listening than talking, giving due credit to others, giving opportunities to others, praising others, seeking advice and admitting when we are wrong, etc.

 


The Modern Urban Warrior Series – Part 2

Each one of us who lives in a metropolitan city is a modern urban warrior.

We continue to explore here the qualities of such a modern urban warrior.

IMG_6267 PICPart 2: Adjustment and Tolerance

The cities are getting more and more crowded and competitive.  We meet many different people all the time.  Despite all our differences, how can we all live together harmoniously and not get overly caught up in the daily grind?  By understanding our differences so as to make adjustments and tolerate these differences.

Warrior 2 : Virabhadrasana 2

The Warrior 2 posture wonderfully demonstrates these qualities.                                                                                          warrior 2 picture for article

The arms are moving away from each other and yet we can remain in posture by focusing  steadfastly into the future along the length of the front arm and without looking back.  And breathing into and tolerating the burn in the biceps. The knee of the bent front leg keeps rolling in and out, constantly adjusting, so as to keep its stability over the heel-ankle.

The yogi is able to hold Warrior 2 for many minutes and it is this very same tolerance and adjustment that helps us deal with modern urban living.

 


The Modern Urban Warrior Series – Part 1

Each one of us who lives in a metropolitan city is a modern urban warrior.

What are the key qualities of such a warrior? This note focuses on some of the qualities of such a modern urban warrior and explores them further in the context the warrior yoga postures.

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Part 1: Strength, skill and courage 

The modern urban warrior needs to be strong both mentally and physically, skilful in their chosen vocation and courageously face the fast pace of life in metropolitan jungle.

 

Warrior 1 : Virabhadrasana 1

The Warrior 1 posture demonstrates these qualities.

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You need to have skill to be able to position the knee above heel-ankle and not let it roll in nor out. You need strength to lift the arms above the head as you’re working against gravity. You need to keep the chest open and have the strength to ‘take’ the metaphorical arrows. These arrows may be those fired by the world eg harsh words said to you; or internally created, eg anger, frustration.

The warrior remains calm and collected whilst holding the Warrior 1 pose.  So must we in our daily routines show these qualities, recalling how we are able to show the same qualities on the mat.


Noble Quality – Forgiveness

~:~ To err is human; to forgive, divine ~:~ by Alexander Pope

Forgiveness

As we come towards the end of the year, it is our chance to reflect on 2015 and what happened within our sphere. Usually we tend to gloss on the nice things and quickly brush off the memories of the not so nice things. But these memories do come back and prick us when we least expect or want. And so perhaps it is better to deal with these unhappy memories now rather than let them simmer and brew within the sub-conscious self and carry the pain, hurt, anger and misery not only on our shoulders but into the New Year as well.

The noble quality of Forgiveness is a unique way of drawing a line on the past. To the extent that people have spoken harshly to us, caused us anger and pain, take this opportunity to forgive them. By the same token, where we have caused unhappiness to others (which incidentally also made us miserable), then we should gather the strength and ask them to forgive us.

Where possible one should try to go physically to the person to seek forgiveness and/or to forgive. However, if this is not possible, then forgiveness can be sought and given in the mind.

Practice of Asanas & Mudras

IMG_0270The twisting postures in our Asana practice are not only wonderful for massaging the digestive system, liver and spleen and so helping remove any undigested material from the body but emotional cleansers too – but they also wring out the negative emotions stored within.  Taking a bind with the hands deepens the twists.

Here the bound Ardha Matsyendrasana (half Lord of the Fish) which energises the spine and stimulates the digestive fire is shown.

 

Mudras are mainly hand gestures which are used to stimulate different parts of the body involved with breathing and to affect the flow of Prana (the life-force) in the body.  In performance of Varada Mudra, the right hand is pointed downward and the palm is turned to the front. The left hand is placed on the lap or thigh. The palm of both the hands should be completely exposed to the onlooker – the palms are open and empty. The five extended fingers in this mudra symbolize generosity, morality, patience, effort and meditative concentration.budhha in varada mudra

Benefits of Varada Mudra

  • Varada Mudra is beneficially linked to the virtue of forgiveness, the open right palm signifies our generousness to forgive the world
  • This Mudra also helps one to control mind
  • It enables one to practice meditation with complete focus
  • It enhances one’s mental state of serenity and harmony
  • This Mudra is capable of reducing anxiety and tension from an individual’s mind when it is practiced regularly

 

And so as we approach Christmas, we end with these beautiful words of forgiveness from the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

 


Noble Qualities – Being Disciplined; Accompanied by Patience and Perseverance

PNS and Pattabhi Jois Photo

 

~:~ practice, practice, and all is coming ~:~ so often softly spoken by our beloved Guruji Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (1915 – 2009)

 

 

Chaturanga Dandasana

Chaturanga Dandasana (or Chaturanga for short) – the four limbed staff pose – embodies in physical form the noble quality of Discipline. It is a challenging pose that requires the co-ordination of many muscles and direct focus to do it correctly.

Therefore, during the Asana practice, there is a strikingly unusual tendency to rush through it leading to the creation of for example the half chaturanga- half up-dog posture; the mat belly flop; etc. Not doing Chaturanga correctly can lead the head of the shoulder rounding forward and stress in the shoulder joint; strain in the lower back; etc.

Hence, it is very important to follow the right technique to get into Chaturanga.

blog36-1Start from plank:

  • Hands under elbows
  • Elbows under shoulders
  • Abdominals and low ribs pulled in; core engaged
  • Thighs pushing up
  • Heels pushing back
  • Neck long
  • Hug all your muscles into the midline of the body
  • Roll way forward on your toes – even more than you think you should. (This ensures you will lower down with your arms in a 90° angle.)
  • Now begin to lower down until your arms form a 90° angle and stop just at that point. Your hands will be near your lower ribs (not under the shoulders). Do not go any lower.
  • Use a block to help you become aware of how low to go

Do this while keeping the following in mind:

  • Keep your core engaged just as in plank—abdominals and ribs really pulled in
  • Hug your elbows into the sides of your body
  • Keep the tops of your shoulders pulled back away from your ears and pointing straight forward, not drooping forwards and down.
  • Keep the chest broad and open up the collar bones to make a big smile

Indeed it does take regular and consistent practice to perfect the Chaturanga but once the technique is set in the memory of the cells, it stays with you.

Life

So it is with life experiences.

In this era of having everything available on tap, it may seem old-fashioned to wait for success, reward, dreams to be fulfilled. And it may sound even more ludicrous that you would have to go through difficulties, challenges and pain to get it. And yet this remains the case. So learning from our Chaturanga experience, by persevering patiently in a disciplined fashion, this should also lead us to achieving our objectives in life.

 

As John Quincy Adams – the sixth President of the USA is attributed to have said – “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”