• Posted on April 18th, 2014 Alice G. Walton No comments

    The Language of Yoga: Bandhas

    The term “bandha” in yoga has several different meanings, some more philosophical and others more literal. The word itself translates as “bind,” “bond” or “bondage,” which can obviously signify a lot of different things, positive and negative, mental and physical. Nikki Villela, of Kula Yoga in New York City, says that “the more literal translation of bandha is bondage or lock. However, at Kula we like to refer to them as valves, as they regulate the flow of pranic energy as a switch would control the flow of electric current.” Sometimes called the “yogic locks,” bandhas are different ways of locking or contracting the body, and are said to direct the flow of energy, or prevent it from escaping. Other connotations of the word have more to do with the human condition, and yoga’s powerful capacity to help us understand and navigate it.

    There are three main bandahs: Jalandhara, Uddiyana, and Mula. “Jalandhara means a netting or mesh,” says Villela. “When employing Jalandhara bandha the chin drops towards the notch between the collar bones as the side waist of the neck pulls back.” The chin can rest gently on the sternum, if possible, as the sternum reaches up towards it. Jalandhara bandha is generally done along with breathing practices, and, says Villela, is thought to regulate blood flow and energy from the constriction of the structures and vessels of the neck.

    Uddiyana, known as the abdominal lock, actually translates as “flying up,” says Villela, and is thought to help energy rise upwards. “When employing uddiyana bandha, the navel draws towards the spine and the abdominal organs are lifted towards the heart (and away from the pull and effect of gravity).” Uddiyana bandha is done after exhaling, and while doing a “mock inhalation” – that is, you open your rib cage as if you were inhaling while the abdominal muscles are drawn strongly towards the spine. This bandha is also said to increase “gastric fire,” and help digestion.

    The last bandha is the Mula bandha, known as the “root bandha.” Says Villela, “This bandha corresponds to working the pelvic floor. It can be helpful to think of the pelvic floor as a second diaphragm or a parachute that contracts and lift up.” Mula bandha is thought to redirect the flow of energy upwards towards the heart, and prevent energy from leaking out through the base of the spine or pelvic floor. ”Awareness of mula bandha helps to organize the organic body and give it support from the bottom up, much like working the feet helps to organize the entire body above them,” says Villela.

    Maha Bandha, or “the great bandha,” is when all three bandhas are done together, begun one at a time and then released in the same order. “For me personally,” says Vilella, “I like to think of the bandhas as a way to assist in one of the yogi’s primary goals: how to channel and then conserve energy. How do we work more intelligently so that less effort is exuded and less energy is lost? How can we conserve energy? How can we get our energy, which is said to lie dormant at the base of the spine, to percolate so that we can channel it and use it more efficiently? The bandhas.”

    As mentioned, bandha also has other meanings. Its translation as “bondage” can also refer to our original state – the state of “unenlightenment,” which yoga seeks to help us undo. In other words, the “bondage” refers to our own spiritual ignorance or unknowingness, and it’s yoga that helps us peel back the layers to reveal a more enlightened self.

    Another meaning from classical yoga is that it signifies the “correlation” or bridge/bond between our two selves, the ego self (the finite) and the transcendental self (the infinite). In this way, it is related to the term samyoga, which suggests that this “correlation” between the two selves is actually the root of all suffering, or dukkha. Through study and practice, it’s possible to break the “bond” – so in some ways, bandha is not only the source of suffering, but it’s also the key to enlightenment.

    Finally, as Patanjali says in the Yoga Sutras, the sixth limb of yoga, dharana (concentration), is about bandha of another kind. With dharana, the goal is to focus on something visual (e.g., a flower) or auditory (a mantra). Since the mind naturally wanders from the object of attention, the task is to bring our attention back to the object, again and again. So here, bandha represents the bond that forms (after a lot of practice!) between the mind and its object of focus.

    So, bandha can have a lot of different connotations. In yoga class, it typically refers to the more advanced practice of the yogic locks. Philosophically, it has different meanings, which, in various ways, all conjure up the larger aims of yoga: To break down the bonds that hold us back, to connect with things outside ourselves, and to move from a limited form of awareness to a more encompassing one. Removing the bonds that limit us and creating new ones within and outside ourselves is, after all, what yoga is all about.

    Alice G. Walton, PhD is a health and science writer, and began practicing (and falling in love with) yoga last year. She is the Associate Editor at TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow.com and a Contributor at Forbes.com. Alice will be exploring yoga’s different styles, history, and philosophy, and sharing what she learns here on the YogaGlo blog. You can follow Alice on Twitter @AliceWalton and Facebook at Facebook.com/alicegwalton.


  • Posted on April 17th, 2014 YogaGlo No comments

    In this week’s Overheard in Yoga Class, Darren Rhodes encourages us to practice without judgement and reminds us that to observe our practice without judgement is a practice in and of itself.

    Take this class with Darren: http://bit.ly/1irjwzn


  • Posted on April 16th, 2014 YogaGlo No comments

    Seane Corn at the YogaGlo Studio

    Marla Apt

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    If you Glo in LA or in the surrounding area, please join us next week as Seane Corn & Marla Apt will be in town teaching free classes at the YogaGlo studio! You will not want to miss this.

    Seane’s Class Schedule:

    • Tuesday, April 22nd: 5:30-7:00pm: Vinyasa Flow-Level 2

    Marla’s Class Schedule:

    • Wednesday, April 23rd: 4:30-6:00pm: Iyengar-Level 2
    • Thursday, April 24th: 10:00-11:30am: Iyengar-Level 2

    Don’t miss this opportunity to take these amazing classes with these amazing teachers. Please check out our class schedule for more info and head on down to the Glo!


  • Posted on April 10th, 2014 YogaGlo No comments

    In this week’s Overheard in Yoga Class, Stephanie Snyder explains that pratyahara helps us turn in and reconnect with our inner enviornment because these days it’s becoming more and more important and also harder to do

    Take this class with Stephanie: http://bit.ly/1n5Y6YY


  • Posted on April 7th, 2014 YogaGlo No comments

    Stephanie Snyder

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    If you Glo in LA, come join us this weekend as Stephanie Snyder will be in town teaching FREE Vinyasa Flow classes at the YogaGlo studio. You do not want to miss this!

    Stephanie’s Class Schedule:

    • Saturday, April 12th: 10am-11:30am – Vinyasa Flow, Level 2
    • Saturday, April 12th: 12pm-1:00pm – Vinyasa Flow, Level 2
    • Sunday, April 13th: 10am-11:00am – Vinyasa Flow, Level 2

    Don’t miss this opportunity to take these amazing classes with this amazing teacher. Please check out our class schedule for more info and head on down to the Glo!


  • Posted on April 4th, 2014 Alice G. Walton No comments

    The Language of Yoga: Sadhana
    Sadhana is often translated as “spiritual practice” or “discipline leading to a goal.” Most people are on board with the idea that it takes some work and repetition to get to any kind of goal. But what’s really interesting about sadhana is that while it has a large element of discipline, it’s also wonderfully vague, which underlines the fact that there’s any number of practices that can get you to that goal. Larissa Hall Carlson, who teaches at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, says that “Essentially, sadhana means simply to accomplish something. It is discipline leading to a goal, or dedication to an aim. The word stems from root sadh, ‘to bring about.’”

    So sadhana is as simple as that: it’s any practice that can foster change. It’s encouraging, then, that sadhana can be just about anything that works for you. Carlson, says that now, “a contemporary sadhana generally includes asana, pranayama, meditation, reading of wise words and scriptures, and perhaps time for reflection, or contemplation. [Sadhana] is a precious time of self-care, contemplation, mindfulness, spiritual study, and even devotion.”

    Once upon a time, a dedicated yogi would have included a medley of these practices every day, spanning several hours of the day. But today many people prefer to focus on one or maybe two types of practice: Asana, meditation, mantra, running, walking, praying, journaling, or even volunteering – any of these endeavors could be a sadhana, depending on what speaks to you, and what works for you. It’s also important to keep in mind that your practice doesn’t have to be hours a day; many people just do what they can – an hour a day or even ten minutes a day – and that can certainly be enough to have an effect on your brain and body over time.

    And this gets to the other part of part of sadhana – the strong element of discipline that’s associated it. This isn’t surprising, though, since most any aspect of yoga (and lots of other realms of life) involves discipline. Even if you’re just doing ten minutes of meditation every day, it’s the repetition – the habit of coming back to something again and again – that’s the key. This works whether you’re trying to change your behavior, develop new ways of thinking, or even get to samadhi. Most of us have experienced the fact that practices are more effective when you do them regularly than when you do them sporadically, and this is what sadhana gets at.

    Carlson also makes the good point that sadhana is very much related to the niyama, tapas, which reminds us that we have to “burn” away the bad habits to make way for the good stuff. “Discipline is connected to the niyama tapas, which actually means ‘heat.’ Tapas is connected to the internal heat and mental fire generated from regular personal yoga practice and the discipline required to maintain that commitment.” It’s powering through the unpleasant parts of a practice that can give us the energy and the space to embrace the changes we want to make.

    Arriving at a goal doesn’t happen overnight, and it can take a lot of practice to generate that change. But the good news is that we can choose the practice – as long as we come to it again and again, those repetitions will eventually pay off. “Just like an elite athlete who trains dedicatedly and consistently to get to the Olympics,” says Carlson, “a yogi uses tapas and many other eight-limbed tools to attain samadhi.” Making sure your practice, whatever it may be, has that mental/spiritual element to it (i.e., that it’s not just physical for the sake of being physical) is important. You may find that the discipline of your practice, over time, can lead to just the kind of freedom you always wanted.

    Alice G. Walton, PhD is a health and science writer, and began practicing (and falling in love with) yoga last year. She is the Associate Editor at TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow.com and a Contributor at Forbes.com. Alice will be exploring yoga’s different styles, history, and philosophy, and sharing what she learns here on the YogaGlo blog. You can follow Alice on Twitter @AliceWalton and Facebook at Facebook.com/alicegwalton.


  • Posted on April 3rd, 2014 YogaGlo No comments

    In this week’s Overheard in Yoga Class, Claire Missingham explains that in Ayurveda, routine, ritual and process are important for creating health and balance. Similarly, sometimes we need to allow ourselves to undo habits as well, perhaps we may get stuck or not challenge ourselves enough. By acknowledging how we need to create change, the yoga practice can be the catalyst for renewal.

    Take this class with Claire: http://bit.ly/1ktOIgf


  • Posted on April 1st, 2014 YogaGlo No comments

    Jo Tastula

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    If you Glo in LA or in the surrounding area, come join us this weekend as Jo Tastula will be in town teaching FREE Vinyasa Flow classes at the YogaGlo studio. You will not want to miss this!

    Jo’s Class Schedule:

    • Saturday, April 5th: 10:00am-11:30am – Vinyasa Flow, Level 2
    • Saturday, April 5th: 12:00pm-1:00pm – Vinyasa Flow, Level 2
    • Sunday, April 6th: 10:00am-11:30am – Vinyasa Flow, Level 2
    • Sunday, April 6th: 12:00pm-1:00pm – Vinyasa Flow, Level 2

    Don’t miss this opportunity to take amazing classes with this amazing teacher. Please check out our class schedule for more information and head on down to the Glo!


  • Posted on March 31st, 2014 YogaGlo No comments

    Spring is officially here (according to the calendar, at least) and transitioning gracefully from one season to the next can be a bit of a challenge — especially from winter to spring when most of us are still feeling sluggish or “stuck” from being cooped up indoors. As the seasons change our bodies change, so it’s important that we don’t become stagnant — we need to create balance and healthy circulation in order to move with the seasons. Think of the changing of seasons as time for renewal, a time to wipe the slate, undo some habits and start anew. This constant shedding as the seasons change help us to let go so we continue to grow and transform.

    Ready for an internal renewal? This week’s featured classes will restore and balance your body, mind and spirit so you can renew your commitment to your wellness, to your heart and to yourself.

    Spring Renew and Restore

    • Catalyst for Renewal with Claire Missingham: In Ayurveda, routine, ritual and process are important for creating health and balance. For instance, creating an evening routine to establish good sleep patterns or waking early for pranayama and meditation practice at dawn. Similarly, sometimes we need to allow ourselves to undo habits as well, perhaps we may get stuck or not challenge ourselves enough, especially when it’s cold outside. By acknowledging how we need to create change, the yoga practice can be the catalyst for renewal. Inspired by the urge to change things up, so we don’t become stuck in our practice or in our lives. This freeing and enlivening class of detailed alignment, specific hand positions in poses (mudra), breathing techniques (pranayama) and kriyas for an inspired multi-dimensional Vinyasa Flow. This yoga practice uses intelligent, creative and disciplined sequences, that unravel repetitive patterns and leave you feeling free and refreshed. We do variations of arm positions and transitions between poses and become more aware of using alternative clasps of the hands and fingers. This will free up the 14 main joints in the body, and open the spine in all 3 planes of movement (saggital, coronal and transverse).
    • Renew, Restore, Rebuild with Twists with Tara Judelle: Using slow steady twisting poses ranging from Standing to Seated, this class mindfully uses the two halves of the body to unwind the center and rebalance the nervous system.
    • Revitalize & Restore with Tiffany Cruikshank: A yummy restorative class, a refresher for the legs, chest & spine and a nice way to transition into sleep. This class is great at the end of the day if you stand on your feet or sit at a desk to revitalize the tissues and can be done when you get home or just before bed. If you’re using it for sleep try crawling into bed right after this class. Props: Thick mat or towel, wall space.
    • Yoga Nidra for Healing & Inspiration with Rod Stryker: Deep rest is key to healing and rejuvenation as well as improved focus. Enjoy this twenty minute Yoga Nidra session, the ancient yogic science of relaxation, and experience how twenty minutes of guided, systematic, relaxation practice can replenish and renew you. Use it to start your day, rest in the middle of it, or just before falling asleep and unlock your innate capacity for healing, inspiration, and peace. Props Suggested: Blanket to lay on or cover up with. Blanket or pillow for head, Bolster under the knees.
    • Revive, Refresh, Renew with Elena Brower: This class will highlight your power center, your solar plexus. Poses will be sequenced in order to focus you fully in your 3rd chakra, open it up, and bring it back to life so you can renew your commitment to your wellness, to your heart, to yourself.
    • Retreat with Marc Holzman: A very special class that honors the holistic nature of Yoga and is perfect to refresh, revive and go deep into the body/mind/heart. 30 minutes of slo-flo asana to move energy and open hips. Five minutes of japa (mantra repetition) to manifest our desires, three minutes pranayama to move to deeper into the subtle, seven minutes meditation to steep in the delicious heart space and five minutes savasana to restore. Props Recommended: A blanket, two blocks, a chair, or whatever you need to sit comfortably for 20 minutes.


  • Posted on March 27th, 2014 YogaGlo No comments

    In this week’s Overheard in Yoga Class, Rod Stryker explains that the navel center is the center that’s key to perception, our ability to see clearly. It is the center for processing — it’s how we break down what we experience mentally and emotionally. It is directly related to confidence, vitality and our relationship with the world and life. So yoga has great potential to expand us, but if we cultivate the navel it allows us to really be a force for the good, a force for what we experience in that expanded state and to be able to effortlessly express it into the world.

    Take this class with Rod: http://bit.ly/1rCyrdQ