Viparita Dandasana: Supported Straight Rod Pose

Viparita Dandasana: Supported Straight Rod Pose. Feeling a bit tired after a long day of activity? Viparita Dandasana creates mobility in spine and shoulders, releases tension in diaphragm, and increases circulation throughout adrenal and thyroid glands. As a side note, it counteracts depression and mood swings while it relieves fatigue.

Please note, if you are suffering from a migraine or undergoing chemotherapy, Viparita Dandasana is not recommended.

Required Props for Viparita Dandasana:

  1. Two Rectangular Bolsters (One Horizontal/One Vertical).
  2. Four Foam Blocks.
  3. Five Blankets.
  4. Two Chip Foam Blocks.
  5. Yoga Strap.
  6. Elastic to fit your feet.

PropsMethod for Viparita Dandasana:

  • Place two vertical foam blocks together at the wall.
  • Place one rectangular bolster horizontal across the middle of the mat.
  • Place a second bolster vertical on top of it with the widest and a foam block under each end of the vertical bolster for support.
  • In front of the vertical bolster (the end away from the wall) place two narrowly folded vertical blankets. Ahead of these stack 1-2 foam blocks with a folded blanket on top of them.
  • Have 2 folded blankets on each side of your mat for your hands to rest on. Now you are set up!
  • Apply a strap to your mid-thighs to hold thighs in place.
  • Apply a toe elastic to each big toe to hold your ankles in place
  • Recline into the pose as shown above, with your feet against the wall.
  • Make sure your shoulders fall off the bolster onto the blankets.

 Modification #1:  If you have back pain, then raise the height of your heels by stacking two more foam blocks under the heels. Still pain? Then add another two foam blocks to the stack.

Modification #2:  If you have neck pain, then place another folded blanket under your head. The spine should be effortlessly in a concave position thanks to the support of the bolster and blankets.

By Helen Mikuska, SOYA, E-RYT500

Contentment

Understanding Contentment

Dr Ananda offers insights into understanding contentment from a yogic point of view. Unexcelled ease and bliss awaits those who manifest the virtue of contentment.

Reprinted with permission.

Santoshdanuttamah sukhalabhah (Unexcelled ease and bliss awaits those who manifest the virtue of contentment)- Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras II:42

Santosha is contentment. When one achieves that “state” of contented oneness, unexcelled ease and bliss is the reward. Un‑ease and non‑bliss are the result of dichotomy, division, duality. Oneness is contentment.

If we are able to be content with whatever we havephysically, emotionally, mentally, spirituallywe will be at ease (sukha) with ourselves, wherever we are. This is not the contentment of a tamasica nature. Tamasica contentment is for those who do not do anything (or those clever enough to have someone else do it for them). The rajasica contentment is the quality of those who seek recognition. The sattwica contentment is of those who act without showing that they are doing. From the outside the sattwica sadhaka looks as though they are not doing anything at all. The extremes seem to the external, superficial view to be the same. Both the tamasica and the sattwica approach towards santosham may look the same (as they are not seen doing anything) but the sattwica are acting without seeming to act and thereby attain santosha. Contentment is not complacency or stagnation. Those stuck in a comfortable rut are not experiencing santosham. They are simply sleep‑walking through life. True santosham is vitally awake and alert.

Unexcelled joy comes when one is at peace with oneself and totally at ease. When we are content with whatever we get, we get everything we need. Dichotomy and duality disappear in contentment as one becomes the Universe. If we are united at the universal level, at one with the cosmos, then everything and everyone in the cosmos is “us” and we possess all. What is there to gain? What is there to lose in such a state? Hence, supreme contentment ensues. When the Divine knows that we are not after anything, it will give us everything.

Why do people want a degree, a job, a wife, children, a house, a car? Because they believe such things will bring happiness. But, they make a drastic mistake. These desires only feed discontent and fear. Discontent comes because the object does not bring the happiness we sought! Fear comes because we are afraid we may lose what we have gained. The moment we realize that we can have happiness with whatever we get, we get all. Interestingly in the Dravidian Tamil language, santosham also means happiness.

Discontent is a synonym for unhappiness.

As my beloved Swamiji said, “You do not have a problem, you are the problem!” When we help ourself by ourself, we no longer have problems and experience contentment.

Discontent is being cultivated by modern advertising media and the business interests. This is also true in the world of yoga. Instead of saying “Yoga will solve all your problems” one should say “Yoga can help you cope better with your condition”. This is more correct. Otherwise, one only feeds more and more discontent. In the world of yoga today the market is for gadgets: mats, straps, bricks, belts and trendy toys. What nonsense! If you do not have the right gadgets you cannot practice yoga! Isn’t that the most absurd thing you have ever heard? Contentment is being able to say with honest feeling, “I know I have got enough”.

Santosham is the inner attitude of being content with who we are, where we are and with every life situation we face. This is the key to tuning into anandamaya kosha, the universal blissful existence. Think about the concept of nishkama, as espoused by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita: do not be attached to the fruits of the action but only concentrate on making the best effort. Let go of the results. Why do we do things? If it is in anticipation and expectation of the result, we will never be content. The curse of discontentment will follow us like a dark shadow until we wake up to the reality of love and life. The truth is that: everything we need will be given to us when we are ready for it.

When we live in contentment, we will be able to fulfill our dharma, as we will be able to live as ourselves.

Do things out of love. Do them out of profound and deep spiritual interest. Do not be motivated by limited and mundane material interest. One’s life will then be blessed every moment by santosha.

Yogacharya Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani is presenting at the SOYA Annual Retreat June 1-3, 2018 at Sorrento BC.  He is a Certified Yoga Therapist with IAYT, the Director of CYTER, and the Chairman of ICYER at Ananda Ashram in Pondicherry, India.

Hindu Trinity

Kumbhak Pranayama with Bhavana

Practicing kumbhak pranayama with bhavana is a technique of loving kindness, where we develop a mental attitude that is rooted in compassion and love toward ourselves and others. Love is the ultimate expression of God, the Creator. Bhavana means “concentrated thought,” or a loving mental attitude focused on God.

This technique on page 68 in my book, Letters from the Yoga Masters, is from Swami Shivananda Saraswati of Assam. It assists us in developing this loving kindness through concentrated thought, focusing the mind and extending love to the gods of the holy Hindu trinity. If one prefers, substitute another aspect of God to fit your personal spiritual path.

Swami Shivananda Saraswati of Assam described this technique as follows:

Indian Sadhaks generally think Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva—the Gods of Trinity. When they practice these pranayam, with inhale they think Brahma, the Creator, whose colour is like Fire. Fire is the symbol of Creation.

When they retain the air (Kumbhak), they think Vishnu, the Preserving Deity, whose colour is Blue. Blue is symbol of Infinite.

When the air exhaled, they think Shiva, the Deity of Destruction, whose colour is white.

Bhavana of Brahma should be in navel region, Bhavana of Vishnu in heart region, Bhavana of Shiva in forehead region or Bhrumadhya.[i]

The Hindu Holy Trinity: Right is Shiva, Centre is Brahma, Left is Vishnu.

Hindu Trinity

Pranayama can sometimes cause one to feel anxiousness, so be gentle with yourself. It is easier at first to break this pranayama down into stages. You can use a gentle sukha purvak (alternate nostril) breathing, or breathe through both nostrils (in the technique described below I am using sukha purvak). Simply watch the breath in the process, without controlling it. Let the breathing just happen. Practice with a concentrated mind, feeling loving peace extended toward the sacred within yourself.

Technique

Begin with a few rounds of gentle sukha purvak (alternate nostril) breathing until your mind and body relax.

 Using Vishnu mudra to seal the right nostril. Inhale slowly through the left nostril and lovingly bring your attention to the solar plexus or manipura chakra.

Close both nostrils and retain the breath briefly while loving bringing your attention to the heart region, the anahata chakra.

Open the right nostril and exhale slowly through it, and lovingly bring your attention to the space between the brows, the ajna chakra.

Now inhale slowly through the right nostril and lovingly bring your attention to the solar plexus at the manipura chakra.

Close both nostrils and retain the breath briefly and lovingly bring your attention to the heart at the anahata chakra.

Open the left nostril and exhale slowly through it, and lovingly bring your attention to the space between the brows, the ajna chakra.

Now let’s add to this technique using the same pattern of breathing, alternating between nostrils:

Inhale slowly through the left nostril and lovingly expand the colour red like fire at manipura chakra. This is where the personality resides.

Retain the breath briefly and lovingly expand the colour blue at the anahata chakra. This is where the soul resides.

Exhale slowly through the right nostril, and lovingly expand the colour white at the ajna chakra. This is where the personality and the soul merge as one.

Repeat, completing the round by first inhaling through the right nostril and exhaling out the left nostril.

Adding further to the technique, we bring in the holy Hindu Trinity, representing the cycle of creation, preservation and transformation, which all manifestation experiences:

Inhale slowly through the left nostril and lovingly think of Brahma, the creator of all. Sense all of creation around you.

Retain the breath briefly and lovingly think of Vishnu, becoming aware of all that you preserve in your life.

Exhale slowly through the right nostril and lovingly think of Siva, the destroyer, who removes and transforms all that is no longer needed in your life. Feel yourself lovingly letting go as you exhale.

Repeat, completing the round by first inhaling through the right nostril and exhaling out the left nostril.

Putting it all together now:

Inhale slowly through the left nostril red flowing prana to the manipura chakra. Lovingly think of Brahma, the creator. Create and expand your loving, compassionate personality.

Retain the breath briefly with Vishnu at the heart, expanding the colour blue at the anahata chakra where your soul resides. Lovingly think of Vishnu, preserving your infinite soul and all that is good within you and around you.

Exhale slowly through the right nostril the colour white from the ajna chakra. Lovingly think of Siva, transforming the personality as it merges with the soul as One.

Repeat, completing the round by first inhaling through the right nostril and exhaling out the left nostril. Continue doing as many rounds as you feel comfortable with.

This technique engages the mind, so it does not wander or become distracted. The purpose is to connect the heart and mind through focused attention. Pure love is extended for each of these aspects in one’s life—creation, preservation, and letting go of that which is no longer needed. It is very purifying, and it helps us to accept this natural flow of creation, preservation, and destruction as it occurs in all things manifested, including our personal lives.

MugsMARION (MUGS) MCCONNELL is a founder of SOYA and published author of her book, Letters from the Yoga Masters. She will be leading a workshop in Ft McMurray in April, Calgary in May and the SOYA Yoga teacher training in Calgary in July. This article is reprinted from her book with permission from North Atlantic Books.

[i] Swami Shivananda Saraswati of Assam, Shivananda Yogashram, 471 Netaji Colony, Calcutta, 50, India, Letter to My dear Dickman, April 4, 1966, p.6.