Surya Namaskar to the Divine

Source of Prayer Unknown. Submitted from Dariel Vogel & Mugs McConnell. Graphics free from Yogafont. 

As we move more deeply into our own home practice, here is a beautiful Sun Salutation that I hope will inspire you to connect to the Source within you while your body flows gracefully.

ToSurya NamaskarTo download a copy to print click Surya Namaskar Prayer to the Divine

Radiance Sutras

Radiance Sutras Meditation


Dr. Lorin Roche is the founder of two related meditation systems: The Radiance Sutras®, which utilizes the richness of the Sanskrit language and is oriented toward the yoga community, and Instinctive Meditation™, an approach that uses common sense language and is designed to match one’s individual nature. Here, he shares some of his teachings.

You don’t have to sit still.

Nothing in this universe is ever still. Physics teaches us that everything in the universe exists as a wave: light, sound, atoms that make our body. Don’t force yourself to sit still – move if you need to. Be refreshed by the flow of energy (pranashakti) in your body.

You don’t have to make your mind blank. Or quiet your mind. Or get rid of your thoughts.

Your mind is a mystery, a brilliant network of billions of neurons working together seamlessly to allow you to experience life.

In meditation, we can allow our mind to expand into the vastness of the universe. Melt into the space where all thoughts come from. Learn to be so immersed in meditation that thoughts fade away on their own.

Do I need to be detached to meditate?

No. Detachment can be harmful for people with families, jobs, lives.

Instead, meditation can lead you to discovering that everything in the world is connected. Meditation gives you the state of fullness, where you feel in touch with your Soul and the Soul of the world. Meditation is about connection.

Do I need to suppress or kill my ego?

“Ego” is the sense of “I am”, the sense of individuality. There is no need to kill your individuality in order to meditate. Celebrate your unique self. Dare to be your unique self. Let your meditation match who you are.

No need to sit cross-legged either.

Very few people can sit cross-legged for prolonged periods of time. The rest damage their knees. Be kind to your body. Give yourself the freedom to choose the position that allows you to be comfortable and give into rest and release.

What Will Happen When I Meditate

What Will Happen When I Meditate?

 Used with permission from Dr. Lorin Roche

The main thing you will experience is rhythm, the continuous ebb and flow of many intersecting rhythms, because that is what life is. Your body and mind are composed of complex symphonies of rhythms.

The sensuous texture of meditation is infinitely varied: there are all kinds of subtle sensations, internal imagery, and sound effects. Experience changes moment-to-moment and is always sort of a surprise, like a good movie. One moment you will be in the bliss of an inner vacation, then suddenly you will be thinking of your laundry list. You will never have exactly the same experience twice.

In general, your experience will probably move among the following:

  • Relaxation and relief.
  • Sorting through thoughts about your daily life.
  • Reviewing the emotions you felt during the day and giving them a chance to resolve.
  • Brief moments of deep quiet and inner peace.
  • Near-sleep and dreamlike images.
  • Healing: re-experiencing and then letting go of old hurts.
  • Tuning up: your nervous system fine-tuning itself to the optimal level of alertness.

Every thirty seconds or so, you will probably find your body shifting from one to another of these moods or modes.

You may feel relaxed during all these phases, but the aim of meditation is not relaxation. Meditation is an evolutionary instinct that works to make you more alert and capable of adapting after meditation.

Excerpt from Meditation Made Easy book by Dr. Lorin Roche. Dr. Lorin Roche will hold a free Global telegathering meditation on Thursday, March 19th at 5pm PT. To sign up go to



From Natasha Scott’s Collection of Short Stories – her Journey on the Yoga Path.

I am writing this in Melaque, Mexico, while setting up to lead the SOYA 200hr Teacher Training. I find myself thanking the Divine for every step that has led me here.

The day I signed up for the SOYA yoga teacher training, a lifetime ago, I was following something inside of me that I couldn’t define. Something that was BIG. I found myself handing over 24 post-dated cheques for a 2 year extended 500hr training.

As I drove home after handing in the cheque’s on the first day of training I clearly remember the conflict inside of me. My head was telling me, “How in hell are those cheques not going to bounce? What have you done?”

I felt tears running down my cheeks as I drove home because I didn’t have a good come back for my mind. All I had was this clear, strong, deep feeling inside my heart, leading me to this training. All I could hear from my heart was….. “trust”. I would later find out this word “trust” was to be one of my favourite Sanskrit words: Ishvarapranidhana, meaning surrender to the Divine flow.

When I got home my husband was waiting for me at the front door, along with our toddler and newborn. He had the beautiful news that the property we had been trying to sell….SOLD. And that is how I paid for a teacher training that would pay me be back a million times over. The training that would change the entire path of my life, and allow me to live my dharma. The path that would lead me to this moment in Mexico.

I imagine that if you are reading this, you too have experienced a call, a leap of faith for something you can’t verbally describe to others. When you start connecting to your true self you live in better alignment with the “I” that is undefinable. The true you (awareness) feels amazing, like coming Home, or should I say like coming OM.

OM is often described as saying YES to life, saying yes to your dharma. I often find myself wishing for everyone to experience this. However, everyone must find their own path here. I am so incredibly grateful for all those who have inspired me to listen to something BIG so I don’t have to pretend to be small. Because none of us are small. None of us are definable. How amazing that I get to witness people coming OM. Let the training begin. Swaha❤ 🕉 ⭐

TrustNatasha Scott is the owner of Starlit Yoga and a Lead Trainer for SOYA She specializes in yoga for chronic pain, prenatal and children’s yoga. Natasha will be leading the 200 hour Foundation Immersions at the lovely God’s Mountain Estate from April 13-29th near Penticton, and at Villa Xochipilli in Melaque Mexico Nov 20-Dec 6th. She will also lead the 300 Hr Professional Immersion at God’s Mountain Estate in two modules beginning in Oct 2020.

Chair Yoga

Teaching Elders Yoga

Many graduates from the SOYA Teacher Training find themselves out in the community once teacher training is complete, receiving requests from all walks of life for yoga classes. In 2014, I was asked to teach yoga to Elders at the Prince George Native Friendship Centre.

After my first attempt to teach a conventional class to some of our Elders, one of them politely told me, “If you make me get down on the floor, I won’t be able to get back up again!” After a bit of trial and error we collaborated to create a class that is fun, accessible, and useful for seniors with a broad range of physical limitations and challenges. Here is an outline of things to consider when running a class for seniors.

Do create a welcoming environment! Your class may be a new and unfamiliar activity for your participants, and you will want them to feel safe.

Do consider providing water. It is easier for Elders to become dehydrated than it is for younger yogis.

Do consider reviewing the health survey with each Elder orally, rather than asking them to complete it in writing and hand it in. This is a great opportunity to get to know each participant better, to listen to their story of how they have come to participate in the class.

Do consider providing snacks or food. This is helpful for participants with blood sugar issues, and can provide valuable social connection for Elders who may be isolated, or living on modest incomes.

Do be open to questions and feedback during the class. Elders will be candid if they are not connecting with a pose or a cue, which is a great learning opportunity as a teacher to see if you can approach your description or demonstration in a different way.

Do be prepared for modifications! Elders with kyphosis / scoliosis, joint replacements, arthritis, or restrictions arising from injury or stroke may not be able to move readily into difficult hand mudras, backbends, etc.

Do be open to running classes that blend chair-based and non-chair based poses for Elders who may or may not be able to come down to the floor.

Do be ready to use props! Blocks and straps are helpful for modifying poses to allow for greater success. Blankets are a nice way for everyone to feel settled and grounded during a seated savasana.

Do be mindful of plans for coats, shoes, socks, etc. Elders who have not done yoga before may not know that it is traditionally done in bare feet, and will appreciate a “staging area” where they can store belongings. Be considerate that some participants, ie Elders with ulcer conditions in the feet due to diabetes, or heightened sensitivity to touch due to stroke complications, may find the bare foot expectation stressful, so make room for exceptions to the rules!

Do have fun and be real! Elders appreciate humor and levity in their classes.

Do move slowly in and out of poses, to allow tight and restricted joints and muscles to slowly release, and give Elders permission to stop in the pose at the point that feels best for them. Help them to learn about the first edge and deeper release points.

Do include simple hand mudras, pelvic floor engagement, breathing cues, resistance and release techniques, visualisations, pranayama, reading and meditations. Elders are very receptive to the “going within” aspects of yoga.

By Emma Faulkner, E-RYT500, SOYA Lead Trainer in Prince George. Emma will be co-leading the 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training in Prince George with Cindy Szekely this coming March. 

Empowered or Overpowered

I shouldn’t be writing this article, I don’t really want to, but I need to in case it will help someone – even just one person.

Over the 42 years I have been a certified yoga teacher, I have read about abuses of power from rock star yoga teachers, Swamis, and others leading yoga. We read about these in magazines and newspapers, on the internet and social media, but nothing seems to stop it. When I read these articles I feel sick to my stomach, thinking of these innocent people being taken advantage of in horrific ways.

Recently though, it all struck a much deeper cord. Several women who lived and worked for the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre (where I completed my initial yoga teacher training) have come forward about being sexually and emotionally abused by Swami Vishnudevananda, my teacher. An investigation is underway. Now I really feel sick to my stomach – it is so close to home.  (link to article is below)

(Notes: The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre was created by Swami Vishnudevananda, and is not related to the Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh ashram in India. Swami Vishnudevananda died in 1993.)

In a discussion with a few people about this, my husband Bob decided to research a bit more about Swami Rama, the source of his teachings from the Himalayan Institute. There had been hints of abuse, but he didn’t know to what extent. Sure enough, horrific abuses from him too (link to article below). It left Bob feeling disturbed, with an extreme disappointment over the massive cover-up while the Swami continues to be praised.

I don’t need to tell you all the stories of abuse – at the end of this article there are links to several. Some are from long ago and some very recent. I encourage you to read at least a few and educate yourself. If you have been benefiting from the well-being and peaceful feelings yoga practice gives you, you will also know that the yoga world is not perfect.

When students love yoga, they often want to share that with others, they get more involved in the center, and some get trained as a yoga teacher. That is exactly what I did. I was fortunate to have my teacher Dr. Hari Dickman, who was incredibly patient and kind, and not for one minute overpowering. I felt empowered by him and ready to share the incredible teachings he taught me. I continue to do that today. I only went to study at Swami Vishnudevananda’s ashram in the Bahamas to get the foundation and vocabulary in yoga so I could receive Hari’s teachings – otherwise I wouldn’t understand them. I am sure Hari would be horrified to learn of these abuses that occurred there, and would be grateful that I was not a victim to them.

In 1974 there was an article written about Swami Vishnu’s ashram in Maclean’s magazine (link below). Had I seen that article I would not have gone to the ashram. But I didn’t see it. As much as I was in my glory soaking up the studies in yoga at the ashram, it was not unusual to hear “Swami Vishnu” and staff yelling at each other. Orders were barked on and off throughout the day. Occasionally I was yelled at also, as were other students in the training. Of course there was also plenty of laughter, but still, I couldn’t help question how yogis could justify treating each other that way when the very substance of yoga is to be kind, to see the Divine in everyone, and to be at peace with oneself. These qualities are what had drawn me there in the first place. I was surprised the ashram was not the utopia I had expected.

After two months in the ashram and completing my advanced teacher training, I still didn’t feel confident about teaching, so I stayed with the organization for 3 more months to obtain more knowledge and practice. I was sent to the San Francisco center, the Hollywood center, and then to the Montreal center. While in Montreal we would go to the headquarters in Val Morin on weekends to help there. Staff often argued with each other at some of these centers too – it seemed to have become a way of communication among the staff.

I was fortunate in Montreal, because it was just me and the lovely young female Swami there. This female Swami was incredibly kind and never spoke with harsh words. We lived and worked closely for a month, teaching classes and cooking vegetarian meals for students. Unfortunately, she was one of the women who has come forward about being sexually abused by Swami Vishnu. I was living with her, never knowing. Sometimes it keeps me awake at night.

It was during these time when I worked at these centers that Hari invited me to study in person with him. That immediately became my priority so it was easy for me to leave Swami Vishnu’s organization. I was so ready to study in an atmosphere of kindness and respect.

Now, I need to point out the fact that celibacy is a requirement in many yoga lineages for people to become Swamis. It is equal to taking the vows of being a nun, priest or monk. It is supposed to be beneficial to reaching enlightenment. However, my teacher Hari was not celibate – he had been married up until the time his wife passed away in his 70’s. Nevertheless, Hari was regarded a very advanced yogi by many of the great yoga masters and Hari’s lack of celibacy was not a hindrance for his success in yoga. I wrote a chapter about celibacy in my book, Letters From The Yoga Masters, and how chastity is considered a sensible option for yogis as well.

The point is, I could trust the results of Hari’s hard work with yoga because he obtained a state of mastery using yoga techniques learned from the masters. He didn’t pretend he had lived a celibate life.  He empowered me to succeed, and my success took nothing away from his success or mastery. He never abused me or was unkind. He never lied to me.  I would have to say his tremendous ability to be humble, kind and ethical was much more effective in his mastery of yoga than any requirement to be celibate.

Which leads me to the teachings of Swami Vishnu. As much as I value everything taught to me by Swami Vishnu, how can I trust that his actual experience and knowledge is true? If he taught that we had to be celibate to succeed, while he himself wasn’t being celibate, or kind, or humble, then how can we trust his teachings? He didn’t follow the rules, and this applies to all who have fallen due to their inability to actually follow the teachings. It is a betrayal of our trust and it causes doubt when you realize your teacher wasn’t living the yamas and niyamas while implying they were. They were teaching from the ancient texts, implying they were experiencing the benefits of doing so.

Once you are living in an ashram or deeply involved in an organization it is often very difficult to get out. You have no money, no job, and often nowhere to go. You have dedicated yourself to the ashram or organization and then you find you have been betrayed. You feel powerless or trapped. I wish I could tell you every yoga ashram was honest and good like we want them to be, but they are not.

The ancient teachings of yoga in the classical texts are magnificent. The Yoga Sutras give us the tools to find our power. These sources teach us to be honest with ourselves and others. They teach us to give credit to the sources of your teachings – it keeps us humble and empowers them. They teach us to notice our thought waves, and if they are truth. The teach us to notice if we are making excuses for another’s inappropriate behaviour when they are in a position of power – this is delusion.

Buddha taught the Four Reliances:

  • Rely on the message of the teacher, not their personality
  • Rely on the meaning, not just the words
  • Rely on the real meaning, not on the provisional one
  • Rely on your wisdom mind, not on your ordinary, judgmental mind

Source: Rigpa Glimpse of the Day, Jan 23, 2020

No one in a human body is perfect, and it seems the more renowned they become, many abuse that power. Embrace the teachings, not the teacher. Study them and meditate on them to find their true meaning.

We are so fortunate to benefit from an abundance of access to yoga today, however, we must protect ourselves (and others if we can) from being misled or overpowered by a yoga teacher or organization, leaving us completely powerless. Please, let’s educate ourselves and investigate the school or the teacher we choose to learn from. There are many outstanding ones out there. Good ashrams too! It often only takes a few minutes to research. Make the time. We owe it to ourselves to invest in ourselves wisely. We deserve it.

In closing, I must thank three of my most influential teachers for being kind and joyful, never unkind, never flirtatious, and never abusive: Dr. Hari Dickman , Erich Schiffmann , and Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani

Thanks for listening.   Mugs McConnell

Below are some useful resources.

RAINN – an excellent resource on anti-sexual violence. RAINN  National Sexual Assault Hotline

Report any abuses to Yoga Alliance. They work closely with RAINN and can direct you to support systems. They are implementing a very strict Code of Ethics for all registered teachers. They have a Sexual Misconduct Policy, and a grievance department to do investigations.

Find Your Power. A helpful article to be empowered but to prevent ourselves from losing humility as we succeed at our teachings is to follow some of the wisdom in this article from The Greater Common Good.


Articles referred to and others reflecting numerous abuses in the Yoga World, both recent and past.

Matthew Remski interviews the women who have come forward stating they were abused by Swami Vishnudevananda.

MacLean’s Article on Swami Vishnudevananda, 1974

Julie Salter: one of the women who has come forward regarding abuse from Swami Vishnudevananda. She was his personal secretary

Pattabhi Jois: NYT

Bikram: watch the movie “Yogi, Guru, Predator” on Netflix. He has resumed teaching in Mexico and Spain, in spite of losing a massive lawsuit and did not pay the settlements to those he abused.

Bhagavan Shri Rashneesh/OSHO: Watch “Wild Wild Country” on Netflix

Swami Rama, Himalayan Institute:

Rodney Yee: He has since apologized for his behaviour, divorced and remarried.

Jonny Kest: Unwanted touch

Shambhala leader Sakyong Mipham:

John Friend of Anusara:

Swami Satyananda Saraswati and others of Bihar School of Yoga branch in Australia:

Radiance Sutras

Meditating with The Radiance Sutras

Meditating with The Radiance Sutras: Sutra 18, The Rapture of Music by Dr Lorin Roche.

Used with permission from Dr. Lorin Roche, who will be leading our SOYA 25th Anniversary Retreat June 5-7, 2020. Article from

In a song, in the space of a few minutes, we can let go, lose ourselves, and then return, refreshed, with a deeper sense of self. Listening to music, we ride our passions into the vibrating core of energy from which they arise. Life is rhythm, and music invites us to surrender to the rhythm of life and love.

On the surface, one would think that rocking out and meditation are opposites. Totally incompatible. Fortunately we are yogis, and Yoga is the art of making harmony between opposites. Yoga is the action of yoking things together, developing union between body and soul, sound and silence, individuality and universality, passion and serenity.

The Vijnana Bhairava Tantra sings of the interplay of song and silence, calling attention to the musical qualities of the life force, pranashakti, flowing in our nerves.
This is Sutra 18, Verse 43:

Immerse yourself in the rapture of music,
You know what you love. Go there.

Tend to each note, each chord,
Rising up from silence and dissolving again.
Vibrating strings draw us
Into the spacious resonance of the heart.

The body becomes light as the sky
And you, one with the Great Musician,
Who is even now singing us
Into existence.

tantryādivādyaśabdeṣu dīrgheṣu kramasaṃsthiteḥ |
ananyacetāḥ pratyante paravyomavapur bhavet || 41 ||

Or, for those of us who do not enjoy diacritical marks and do enjoy spaces between words:

tantri aadi vaadya-shabdeshu deergheshu krama-sam-sthiteh
ananya–chetaah pra-tyante para–vyoma vapuh bhavet

Looking in the marvelous Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English dictionary we see:

tantri – musical stringed instruments, also the strings of the heart, or any tubular vessel of the body;
vadya – aloud, to be played or spoken aloud, also, music instrument or instrumental music;
shabda – sound, OM, the Eternal Word;
dirghesu – prolonged (continuous),
krama – series, order, method, arrangement, step-by-step;
samsthiteh – is established; ananya – single focus, without deviation;
chetah – awareness;
pratyante – in the end;
para vyoma – the transcendental sky, the spiritual sky, (associated in Tantra with parabrahman and Shiva);
vapuh – the body, having form or a beautiful form, embodied, wonderful, nature, essence;
bhavet – becomes.

The text invites us to begin by listening to external music and then follow the impulses into the inner world. People who love music already know the truth of this sutra, and they are surprised and delighted to see it affirmed in a classic yoga text.

Any form through which we can hear music is wonderful, but live music is especially powerful for this dharana (concentration). Go to that concert, listen to that band. Find the music that strikes a chord in you, and immerse yourself in it. When a song ends, the silence throbs, and we can follow that throbbing into a silence louder than the music.

In the late 1960s and much of the 70s, I missed out on the full power of this dharana because I didn’t go to concerts. I was spending every penny on meditation teacher training, and one concert ticket was the same price as two days on retreat. Also, I didn’t do drugs or smoke anything, and in those days, the group would be deeply offended if you did not take a toke off the joint. Concerts started around the time I usually went to sleep, so I missed all those legendary performances. I did get the Dawn Patrol, though. I got up each day around 4 AM, practiced yoga, meditated, did my homework, then drove to the beach to be in the ocean by first light and catch a few waves before the day began. To do that, I had to be in bed by 9 PM.

One evening in 1976 I went to a great concert, and realized what I had been missing. Some friends called me up and said, “Come on Lorin, let’s go to the Hollywood Bowl and hear Leonard somebody conducting the something orchestra, playing the something concerto. We have tickets.” I was so utterly into all things Indian that I had not been paying attention to Western culture at all, except for science. I’d never heard of these people so I had no idea what was about to happen to me.

My friends were classy, so we had seats up front, and wine and crackers. The orchestra came out and got settled. Then after awhile the conductor and two guys with violins walked out and greeted everyone.

The conductor raised his arms and then the first notes hit the silence and sent a wave of thrill through the air. Emanating from the conductor, the two violinists, supported by the whole orchestra, was a waterfall of incandescent brilliance. Time stood still, and then danced.

In a moment, I was transported into deep meditation, similar to where I would get after maybe a month of a silent retreat, but this was combined with an awareness of the outer world. The woven texture of sound was so divinely intelligent and evocative that I was able to hear an ocean of silence and simultaneously witness each note arising, playing around and then dissolving.

After an hour, the thought came to me, “Oh, if this brilliance is happening, there must be a current of revelation, a tradition of wisdom in Western culture.” This was news to me. The conductor was Leonard Bernstein, the band was the New York Philharmonic, and Yehudi Menuhin and Itzhak Perlman were on lead violin. Clearly these were masters, and they were playing the Brandenburg Concertos. This was one of the great performances, and I remain permanently changed. The world is a larger and better place for me because of attending this event.

I am one of those people who require a Yoga practice to stay tuned enough to fully appreciate music and enter the rapture with every cell of my body. I need to approach music from both sides – from silence coming to music, and from outer music leading me toward silence. If I don’t meditate every day, engage in pranayama, and do asana, I slowly lose my “attunement” and after awhile music does not touch me so deeply. What a shame that would be.

What methods tune your body and nerves so that you are able to enter music with the mind of a yogi? What is the music you love so much you want to dissolve into it? What music is so ravishing that it leaves you in a stunned and pulsating silence, the “aesthetic arrest” James Joyce identified, in which your mind goes silent in awe of the presence of great beauty?

The Vijnana Bhairava Tantra describes 112 Yogas of wonder and delight for touching the divine in the midst of daily life. The teaching is framed as a conversation between lovers, Shakti and Shiva, the Goddess Who is the Creative Power of the Universe, and the God who is the Consciousness That Permeates Everywhere.

Dr. Lorin Roche has been practicing and teaching these methods since 1968. He has a PhD from the University of California at Irvine, where his research focused on the language meditators generate to describe their inner experiences. The Radiance Sutras, a new version of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, is available from Lorin’s website,

Feel free to email your comments and questions to


Dr. Lorin Roche

Meditating in the Body of Love

SOYA 25th Anniversary Retreat

Meditating in the Body of Love

With special guests Dr. Lorin Roche, Author of The Radiance Sutras, and Camille Maurine

Asana Sessions begin at 3:00pm and are themed around the Radiance Sutras which are led by our SOYA Teacher Training Faculty, a huge part of the success of SOYA Yoga Teacher Training
June 5-7, 2020 at Sorrento Centre, Sorrento BC.
Arrive Early and Take It All In!
Friday Noon: Registration Opens

For complete details and schedule, click on Meditating in the Body of Love – SOYA 25th Anniversary Retreat Agenda.


Lavender cookies

Lavender Lemon Shortbread Cookies

A few years ago when Bob and I lived in the Shuswap, we would visit a café in Armstrong that had great tea and excellent shortbread lavender cookies. They were a unique treat! I really like shortbread, but tend to avoid wheat, so have found a way to make these shortbread cookies with almond flour. Try them out and see what you think!

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups Almond Flour
1/3 cup stevia or sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tablespoons lavender flowers (I got mine at Bulk Barn)
Mix these all together with a whisk to be sure they are blended.

Wet Ingredients:
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 tsp Vanilla
Juice of 1 lemon (about 5 tsps)
a bit of lemon zest
Mix all these wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.

Pour the wet ingredients into a well in the dry ingredients and mix well, so it forms a nice dough. Form the dough into an even roll on wax paper, wrap and put into the freezer for about 45 minutes (till good and firm).
Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut the dough into 24 pieces and place on a greased cookie sheet (I use silicone on a cookie sheet). Bake for 15 minutes. Enjoy the delicious aroma of lavender and lemon!


Cobra Pose Modified for Low Back Pain

Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose Modified for Low Back Pain.

Do you have difficulty with prone spinal extensions? Does your lower back tend to jam when you practice them?  If so, try out this pose out.

In this variation of Cobra utilizing a blanket and strap, it can help to strengthen your back and facilitate fuller use of the legs to provide space in your sacroiliac area.

CobraAsana Instruction:

Bind a strap to make a large loop out of it. Fold or roll a blanket and place it horizontally on mat ahead of you.  Kneel and place the looped strap to encircle your lower legs, keeping them hip width apart. Make sure to place the strap to the thickest part of your calves.

Lower to the mat (prone) resting the pubis below the folded or rolled blanket.  Lift one leg up an inch and pull it back.  Repeat other leg. This is to keep good length in your back. Roll the legs slightly outward so that the heels, thighs and pelvis widen in back.

Push out strongly enough to feel the resistance of the strap. Pull tailbone toward heels and floor. This is to stabilize your low back, so you can stretch forward strongly and maintain that outward rotation down the legs.

Inhale and lift up onto your forearms briefly to pull your upper body away from your legs. Exhale and rest back down. Place your hands to sides of chest and lift shoulders away from floor, with your head still touching floor. Keep the shoulders square across. Contract the upper back muscles and move the scapulae in toward the spine.

To come into the full cobra pose, inhale and curl-up slowly with the head and chest, keeping the shoulders back and down.  Press through the arms to lift more, but keep the arms bent with elbows beside the ribs as you lift into a comfortable range of movement for you. Continue pushing the thighs apart into the resistance of the strap. Breathe. Stay in the pose for several breaths, then soften and exhale as you release down to the mat.

Repeat if you like. When done, rest in childs pose.

Contraindications:  Fused ankylosing spondylitis, Chiari malformations, bridging spondylitis, cervical spinal stenosis.

CobraHelen Mikuska, E-RYT500, is a lead trainer for the SOYA 200 hr and 300 hr Advanced Yoga Teacher Trainings in Calgary, AB during each summer. She has been teaching yoga for 15 years, with an extensive background in Pilates, Nutrition Management, Ayurveda and Mantra. For more information on the upcoming 200 hour Foundation training and the 300 hour Professional training, go to yoga-teacher-training/200hr-immersion-calgary-alberta