Shanmukhi Mudra

Sarva Dvara Baddha Pranayama: all doors closed

(another sneak peak from Mug’s book)

Sarva means “all”, dvara means “door”, and baddha means “bound.”  All the doors or gates where prana can escape are closed.

Sit comfortably and apply shanmukhi mudra (cover the ears with the thumbs, eyes with the index fingers, nose with the middle fingers, upper lip with ring fingers and lower lip with the baby fingers.) Keep the finger pressure light the nostrils to allow for breathing.

Breathe in slowly through both nostrils, visualizing the prana flowing all the way down to the muladhara chakra and filling the space up to the throat chakra. During the “pause” at the top of the inhalation, concentrate on the ajna chakra. Then begin a slow, controlled exhalation through both nostrils, releasing the power of the senses with the breath. Repeat several times, if comfortable.

00 LettersYogaMastersCoverA more advanced version of this pranayama is to have intentional breath retentions while visualising the ajna chakra. This pranayama leads one to pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses). As we withdraw the senses from the outward-moving consciousness, we awaken the inward-moving consciousness and the divine light of the third eye. Awakening the third eye gives us knowledge of the Self.


Excerpted from Letters from the Yoga Masters: Teachings Revealed through Correspondence from Paramhansa, Yogananda, Ramana Maharshi, Swami Sivananda, and Others by Marion (Mugs) McConnell, published by North Atlantic Books, copyright © 2016 by Marion (Mugs) McConnell. Reprinted by permission of North Atlantic Books.



Grow superfoods on your countertop:

by Jools Andrés, E-RYT200, RYT500, SOYA lead trainer in Vancouver. Used with permission from Jools’ blog, 

If you want to improve your nutritional habits and eat more fresh, raw food, nothing beats sprouting. Sprouts are rich in vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that aid digestion and protein assimilation, and are a true living food. You can have a continuous supply of salad and saute vegetables cycling through your daily intake at all times with very little outlay of money, time, or materials.

What you need:

  • wide-mouthed jars
  • cheesecloth
  • sturdy rubber bands
  • a colander or strainer
  • seeds (always use organic seeds)

If you have never sprouted before, start with easy alfalfa. Put 1.5 tablespoons of alfalfa seeds in a litre/quart-sized (or larger) jar. Add an inch or two of cool tap or filtered water. Let soak for a maximum of 4 hours. 
Cut several layers of cheesecloth to fit generously over the mouth of the jar and secure tightly with a rubber band.

Drain the seeds, rinse with fresh water, and drain again. Invert over a strainer or colander placed over a bowl or in the dish drainer over the sink. Rinse and drain morning and evening for 4-5 five days. Try to keep in a darkish area of the kitchen.

To refine the presentation of any sprouts, submerge them (fully grown) in lots of cool water in a large pot or stainless steel bowl. Swirl them around gently but thoroughly with your fingers to remove as many seed husks as possible, then gently return them to the jar. Take a moment to regard how they sparkle with life. There will be a little production loss, but it is worth it as it makes the sprouts extra tasty and they tend to stay fresh a little longer.

Drain the sprouts well and place them in a brighter location (never in direct sunlight) for a few hours to let them green up, then cover with a tight lid and place in the fridge.


Mung bean sprouts

Add variety

clover (similar to but sweeter and paler than alfalfa)

lentil (can be eaten raw or lightly cooked; nice in mixes)

mustards: canola, radishes, broccoli, etc. (some can be very zingy!)

fenugreek (strong “curry” overtones; best in mixes in small proportions; can be bitter when cooked)

garbanzos (excellent lightly cooked or in raw hummus)

black beans (crunchy and potent; best cooked lightly)

mung beans (excellent in stir fry or lightly steamed for warm salad)

buckwheat (sprouted and re-dried; great over your favourite breakfast cereal or sprinkled on salads)

Find mixes you like. I prefer beans, buckwheat, and lentils just barely sprouted, probably within 48 hours of initial soaking. The exception is mung beans, which take about 7-8 days. I grow them in complete darkness to reduce bitterness and maintain a pale colour. I sprout brassicas and mustard in very small amounts (1 teaspoon or less of seeds) and start new batches every 4-5 days.


Sunflower seed sprouts


A couple of years ago I started growing microgreens, indoors and out, and manage to easily produce year-round greens for salads, sandwiches, and smoothies. Microgreens are much easier to digest than fully grown plants, so their nutrients are assimilated more readily by the body. Soil is needed as a medium for growing these potent and incredibly delicious sprouts, which can create minor involvement with composting and soil recycling. This is a rich process that brings its own rewards and takes very little time or space–more on that another time.

Start with sunflower sprouts. Plump and substantial, I love these in smoothies at breakfast or a handful as garnish for any dish.

Use a flat, drainage-efficient growing vessel with trays underneath to protect from leakage. (I use dense compostable paper trays that I save from organic nursery bedding plant purchases. You can also use plastic trays cut from blueberry or strawberry packs from the supermarket.) Purchase a small bag of organic soil if you don’t have access to the ground somewhere. A spray bottle is nice to have on hand for frequent misting.

Purchasing online with West Coast Seeds or another seed supplier is more economical over long term than buying the expensive, tiny packets available (when you can find them) in health food stores. Find a supplier that honours heirloom seed integrity (non GMO/GEO) and uses organic growing practices. Try arugula, beets, Chinese cabbages, kale, peas, and others for a great variety of tastes and textures. Harvest when the first leaf pairs are fully opened and before the secondary leaves form.

It takes me about half an hour a week to have a constant supply of these scrumptious dietary powerhouses. Be patient and learn from any unsuccessful attempts. Once you get the hang of it, it can become a pleasing ritual. Best of all, you will be blown away by their goodness.

Thank you for reading.


joolsJools Andrés, E-RYT200, RYT500, is a lead trainer for the SOYA Yoga teacher training in Vancouver. She and artist Kathleen Ainscough are holding an immersion retreat entitled “Creative Embodiment: Portal to the Present” combining yoga and creative expression on April 8-10 on Bowen Island. Visit the website at

Mung bean and sunflower sprouts photos by Jools Andrés.

Yoga Sutra

Samadhi Pada

The Secret of the Yoga Sutra, “Samadhi Pada”,

by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait

A book review by Robert McConnell

Sutra 1:33

“Transparency of mind comes by embracing an attitude of friendliness, compassion, happiness, and non-judgment toward those who are happy, miserable, virtuous, and non-virtuous “

For those of us who have walked down the path of yoga, we find the answers to our questions appear before us (whether we consciously or unconsciously ask), and usually they appear in unexpected places.

Last fall Mugs and I were struggling with the actions of one of our neighbours. We really didn’t know how to react. We didn’t want to have emotions of dislike, fear or loathing, but his presence beside us was creating turmoil in our life.

Five months earlier I had begun reading the commentary on the first chapter of The Yoga Sutras by Pandit Rajamani Tigunait. As I delved into the book, I read this sutra and it changed our attitude toward our neighbour. It truly brought peace to ourselves and to the relationship with our neighbour, because despite what he had done, he still was hoping for our compassion.

Yoga SutraDue to the fact that this one sutra made such a large impact in my life, I started reading the book again from the beginning – this time with a pencil in hand and sticky notes to tag all the wonderful jewels that appeared on every page. I don’t tend to read a lot of yoga books, but when one captures me I embrace its teachings and allow them to become a part of my yoga and life.

It took me another 4 months of reading to get through the book. It gave me a winter of study and yoga practice, and I look so forward to sharing these learnings at the upcoming SOYA 300hr Teacher Training in God’s Mountain in April.

Pandit Rajmani Tignault is the spiritual leader of the Himalayan Institute which is where I have been studying yoga since 2012. Panditji is the author of 15 books based on Tantra, specific to the Sri Vidya Lineage.  He holds two doctorates, has studied under great yoga masters, and has acquired the siddhis (spiritual powers). His awareness of God came to him at an early age. His intellect, spirituality and whole being is what commands so much respect throughout the world and from myself.

This is a book that is written from the heart reflecting his years of training, experience and practice. He is sharing the techniques as he himself has learned them. As he says in the book, “I have strictly followed the guidelines Patanjali himself has set forth”.

Although I have read and studied other commentaries on the sutras before, none has ever changed my thoughts, feelings and practice as this one has. The depth and insight Panditji has shed on chapter one of the sutras is exceptional – I do believe I will be reading it many more times before chapter two comes out.

If you decide to read this book, make sure you have a pencil and sticky notes in hand. Take your time, reflect upon how his words relate to yourself, try the techniques he shares, and as Panditji says, “Remove the veil of darkness and allow your intrinsic luminosity to illuminate both your inner and outer worlds.”


DSC09973Bob McConnell is a 500hr yoga teacher (SOYA, HYI). He is a SOYA owner and graduate who has been practicing yoga since 2009, and following the Tantric teachings of Pandit Rajmani Tigunait since 2012. Bob will be teaching a six class series which includes meditations for the Ajna Chakra, at Breathe Yoga Studio in Sorrento, BC on Wednesdays 7:00 to 8:30 starting April 27th. Click here for more info.