“The King Pose – Sirsasana”

On the first day of the continuing students 5 day course we teach a very important position, hanging Sirsasana, also known as The King of all the poses. Doing regular Sirsasana on the floor can cause a lot of compression and tension in the neck area if it is not done correctly. In the world today, we have entered into the age of excess comfort. This age of comfort, has negatively influenced the shoulders to go forward and the spine and overall posture to be rounded or crooked. Having this kind of rounded posture, also known as ‘sofa pose’, and attempting  to do head stand free balancing just don’t mix together well and does more damage than good.  Therefore eliminate ‘Sirsasana’ on the floor and safely do it with the belt, suspended from the belt getting all the benefits of head stand and inverting without causing any harm. The hanging Sirsasana also allows a student to safely be upside down for a much longer period of time. “Inversions are the highway towards spiritual development and growth”.

There is an exact spot where the hanging belt is to be placed on the back. At the very bottom of the spine is the tailbone which is a knobby bone that goes inwards. Just above the knobble of the tailbone is a flat boney area – the sacrum - which is the start of the spine. On the upper part of the bone and the start of the knobbly part is where this belt has to be precisely placed. If the belt comes too far up and rests in the lumbar spine, i.e. lower back, this will cause discomfort and even problems. And if it’s too far down on the buttocks it won’t allow for the full elongation of the spine to occur and the student may slip out. So, the location of where to place the belt is important. Therefore, for the first few days on the continuing class the teacher and assistants will monitor and check the students to make sure they are finding the right spot.

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“Be in the Centre!” The Secret of Alignment in Iyengar Yoga

“Now my buttock bones are talking to your buttock bones.”  Yoga Master Teacher Sharat Arora  

The art of honest speaking as well as the art of attentive listening takes place when you are clearly on your buttock bones. In order to speak meaningful truth and be able to listen in totality - be in your buttock bones.  You become stable and grounded so are ready to speak from your heart and or listen fully alert. If you are sitting on the back of your sitting bones, i.e. doing sofa pose, your concentration is lost and your thoughts may wonder into the past. If you are sitting on the front part of the sitting bones you tend to move toward imagination and the future, so be in the centre, always be straight, so you give full attention to the present moment and alignment. You know when you are in the correct spot because the trunk ascends and the breath becomes full and free flowing. There is only one centre, and when you find it you will know. Do not make any local movements in the chest or shoulders, let the body grow from the aligned base. Making local movements is just encouraging more ‘action’ which comes from the mind.

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Being In The Body

Hatha yoga means that from the time you begin your yoga practice till the time you leave the room you’re going to be conscious in yourself, especially the body. Eckhart Tolle calls this ‘being in the body’ which means having your awareness in the body. You are in your body, you are aware of your body, not as an outsider looking at your body, but as an insider feeling the body. As you stretch your toes are you feeling the stretch on the sole of the foot? You are doing to feel and then being aware of that feeling. This is yoga practice. By being in your body you come to be present. Now, when stretching your toes you take your arms to the side and press down through the centre of the heel into the floor. Presence is totally there and stays there. You make other movements but you don’t take your awareness from the foot.

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Awareness Is The Healer

Wherever your body is unaware there is darkness there, ignorance. That part has to be brought to light. Awareness heals everything because when we become aware and conscious of our problem it’s then that we start to deal with it. Therefore, as soon as we become conscious automatically the body has a mechanism and it starts to move. It is the same as nature. If I leave nature alone it has the power to heal itself. This is the amazing power of nature. And we are of that nature. We just have to become aware and the body starts to heal itself. This is why the practice of yoga is the best healer, the subtlest healer. If you are sick and you always need a doctor what is the use? Grow awareness in yourself and the nature of your body automatically heals.

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The Art of Relaxation

The art of relaxation is to learn how to completely surrender. If it was easy, we would be very relaxed people. Therefore, yogic relaxation is to be conscious of all those things, which are taking us away from surrender. Surrender, letting go, letting go…. Therefore not holding on. In our body there are many places where we hold on, without our knowing. So, yogic relaxation is about recognizing these places by being conscious and then dropping them. We experience that tensions are felt as tightness, as something hard. So when we do relaxations we’re watching in our body for anything that feels hard and we are letting that go, letting that go…

In our face, it’s a mask that we’re conscious of it and give it, therefore, our full attention. This is where we start off, the lips and the whole area around the lips. As soon as we start to become aware of the tightness there, then that takes us into the cheeks and down where the jaws meet, where the upper jaw and the lower jaw meet, a lot of tensions reside there permanently. Being fully aware there and letting go may involve making some movements between the upper and the lower jaw. The moment we give that area our attention and it starts to become soft, straight away it takes us to the area around the ears and down into the throat. It’s almost as if when one door opens, we’re able to see what is beyond that door. The throat is related to the tongue and of course the jaws. Being completely and absolutely relaxed in the tongue also involves watching, or making movements and watching what tightness there is. When the tongue is quiet it has the quality of smoothness as it flattens on the lower palate.

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Yoga is About Silence

Yoga’s primary emphasis is upon general well-being. Yoga employs a broad holistic approach that focuses on inspiring people to live consciously, adopt an aware way of thinking and interacting in the world. In the process it brings about a myriad of healing effects and health benefits.

To access emotional pain through the brain, one must in some way access or attend to the body. Our bodies communicate imbalances or discomforts to us whenever they arise. This can be experienced through feelings of anxiety, discomfort in the abdomen or difficulty with natural breathing. Many people feel stressed and experience neck and shoulder stiffness or feel sad and as a result feel closed in the throat area.

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Part 2: Finding Peace in the Poses (Resolving Conflict)

Yoga Master Teacher Sharat Arora
Philosophy Paraphrased, Adapted and Edited 10 December 2013
Combined Introductory and Continuing Class, Day 5

To be quiet and peaceful is our right. Exercise this right by dropping things, by doing less, by being less busy in your daily life. A Yogi is one who remains connected, focused within and in a state of peacefulness while doing everything in life. This is the path.

In life, as in the asanas, there is work to be done. The question is how much should we do? The answer is simple. We should do enough and not more. According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the final of the seven stages of Samadhi is to experience a pure state of peacefulness in the body for extended periods of time. When you are completely peaceful in a position, or in life, that is the final pose, there is nothing left to do. In the one or two minutes you stay in an asana, you experience perhaps a few seconds of peacefulness.  Enjoy this time. When it passes and again conflict arises, continue to work towards resolution.

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Part 1: The Magic of the Feet (Awareness)

Yoga Master Teacher Sharat Arora
Philosophy Paraphrased, Adapted and Edited 10 December 2013
Combined Introductory and Continuing Class, Day 5

People say they do not have enough time to meditate, but the truth is that anyone can meditate anytime, anywhere.
Focus is the first step on the path of meditation - the spiritual path. In Buddhist tradition, Samadhi means to be in one place.  In Yoga, it means the state of awareness is in one place.  When we look at something, naturally we begin to analyze it, and are thus in two places, causing disturbances in the mind and body. Therefore, in Yoga practice, we can be in only one place. When we focus, our awareness is in only one place, this is meditation.

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HIYC - Meta Awareness & Attention - Yoga Master Teacher Sharat Arora

3./8.10.14 BACK BENDS CLASS

Depending on the technique we apply in a pose, depending on what we are concentrating on, makes the effect of a pose completely different. So if our focus is not right, we can be very miserable. Same in life: if we focus on what is good, life is great because we don’t focus on what’s not right – it’s very important on what we focus. We can have dinner together with our friends but we are so busy with talking that we don’t even notice how delicious the food is. The food cannot be absorbed properly because it did not get appreciation and afterwards we even get stomach ache. But if we eat quietly, concentrating on the taste and chewing the food well, it can be absorbed. Same in life and in Yoga poses: we need to concentrate on the right thing and it will bring the right effects – that’s a law of nature. When we start to give full attention to everything we do, we learn how to apply and then things will change in our lives. An example: maybe we don’t like to wash the dishes – what’s the energy behind it? We HAVE to wash them, so we better bring our full awareness in the activity, enjoy it and do it with a positive energy. A Japanese scientist made an experiment: he filled samples with water. Water is very sensitive. He put some different energies to the water like hatred or love. Then he made different tests and found out that the water particles changed depending on what kind of energy they got. The same happens if we make this experiment with plants. Depending on the focus of our attention we can change physical matters. This is how powerful attention is: we change physical matters depending on how we look at them.

Yoga master teacher Sharat Arora
at the Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre

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HIYC - Meta Practice - Yoga Master Teacher Sharat Arora

16.10.14

When we do a practice like we do in our Iyengar Yoga centres, we gain understanding, so we increase our awareness about ourselves and about the world. We go inside and the mind slowly stops its hyper-activity and becomes quiet. From being silent we become peaceful – which is the very purpose of a human being. When there is peace in the body, there is peace in the mind. And from this peace shines a light which is love. In this very moment we automatically share our peacefulness, love and kindness with other beings. But we can also consciously spread it to the people who are with us, to our family, friends, and neighbours, to the people in our country and in the whole world. We can let it go to all who are still suffering, who are still in darkness. Actually we can share our peacefulness and love with all beings and the nature, with the whole universe. We are not the source of this – it just comes to us and it goes out again into the universe. By doing Yoga we can boost this qualities and they will go everywhere. When we sing OM together we can even spread the waves with the sound. Go on the path of light and be happy. And your happiness may become infectious and spreads.

Yoga master teacher Sharat Arora
at the Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre

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"Everything that we are doing is about bringing awareness," Sharat Arora

Our job is to be aware without judgment. Whether I am able or not able to be on the centre of the heel is simple. Knowing what to do is important and it has nothing to do with judgment. I know this is right or this is wrong, but the mind is constantly deciding between like and dislike.

The one who is judging the other part of myself is causing conflict within. This conflict takes us away from freedom so in the end we have to resolve it. Don't allow it to come to fruition and become a reality, keep observing without any reaction. We already have enough conflict so don’t make anymore. When we start to do yoga practice we begin to think that this should be right, and this should be done. Rather let it grow slowly and organically. When you make a judgment of it you only make it worst.

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Pranayama Part 8 The Way to Understand Ourselves

27.02.2010

The basics of the Pranayama is to understand the true nature of the inhalations and the exhalations. For that we use a method of watching it. As the breath comes through, some areas don’t allow the breath to come in. They are our tensions, these areas are closed. Slowly, slowly, as you exhale and you are relaxed, you start to understand the keys to get in there. When you start to understand getting in there and opening it, your breath is becoming also open and the parts which were obstructed – restored in balance, harmony.

What have you done by bringing balance and harmony? All the old stuff, which is sitting there in the form of conditioning, is slowly being washed out. Its content is in the same way as imprint. Those imprints are left in the body, of all the things that has marked us, all the things that we run after constantly. Pranayama is a way of getting inside it on the deeper level. By doing Pranayama we are understanding energies, this physical form of the mind. Then we understand the energetic body. And that brings us to our intelligent body.

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Pranayama Part 7 The Nature of Inhalations and Exhalations

27.02.2010

Let us look at some more detailed aspects of Pranayama. I start the whole process by exhaling and when I exhale what is in fact happening is that I feel the breath going down. The rib cage, which has been expanded in the inhalation, in the exhalation is going back. The diaphragm is going up to expel the air and the abdomen is contracting.

In order to make the exhalation complete, one has to feel that downward movement fully. Where the awareness has come, this is where we are connected with the movement of our breath. So when the awareness has come down, what we feel as a downward movement, from that point the inhalation starts.  

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Pranayama Part 5 Body scan

24.02.2010

On a day when we have practised the back bends we cannot do more inhalations in Pranayama because they are also stimulating. Therefore today during the session we are going to do just three to four inhalations and for the rest of the session we will concentrate on exhalations.

We begin by scanning the body from bottom to top. First check the face: allow the eyes to become free and the facial muscles to become less tensed. And then start to scan the rest of the body from bottom to top.    It is absolutely necessary to drop all issues before the practice, put aside all preoccupations. In the same way as we dream about our issues, about the day time, in the same way these issues keep coming back when we relax. Once everything is in order in my world then there is a possibility of settling down.

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Pranayama Part 6 Guided session

24.02.2010

After finishing the body scan we can proceed to Pranayma, guiding our breaths. I mentioned it before that on a back bends day we don't do more inhalations in Pranayama as they are also stimulating and bring the energy upwards. So today we will make only few inhalations and then focus on exhalations.

We start with three to four inhalations and we do them with clear awareness, feeling the physical opening in the chest. Then we move on to the exhalations and we make them long. We exhale fully until we get to very foundations of inhalation. This is similar, but now breath is fast to come up to that fullness of the chest. Then the chest is open and we keep that fullness of the chest by keeping the awareness under the breath, just below the nipple. As we exhale our awareness continues to be there. If we hold that awareness muscularly the whole rib cage becomes hard. The rib cage drops, it is natural in the exhalations, but because our awareness is there, it drops less. And that is that exhalation done in Pranayama. While making inhalations we have to be clear about the energy not moving into the head. In the exhalations we have to be clear that the physical body does not drop. Keeping this very clear, we will make exhalations. Just four-five of them. And then that is going to be our Pranayama. Two to three inhalations. Four to five exhalations.

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Q&A session. Correcting imbalances in the body & the teacher’s qualities.

27.02.2010

Correcting imbalances in the body

When someone is young we can sort out the imbalances in 4-5 years. Once you reach 40 it is more difficult because of the ways we get. The cells renew every 7 years. When you are young your body can readjust much faster. You grow until there is a plateau at 40, so the first 20 years you will heal quickly, then during the plateau less quickly, than after 40 it is even slower.
When you find what is wrong with the feet then you find what is wrong with the body. This is a science and it is an art to see it. It is a physiological problem how you use your body, not an anatomical one. It is all so logical. How did we loose it?  
Hanging can help to correct the top half of the body, standing poses for the bottom. If the problem stems from the feet, the body compensates with the problems. The weight in hanging will take away the effects of the imbalances.  

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Pranayama Questions and Answers

27.02.2010

Students: What do you recommend to focus on between the intentional breaths?
Yoga Master Teacher Sharat Arora: Focus on the movement. Check for yourself, where is your awareness when you are in the action of breathing? It is with the movement. That movement you are making is making awareness. So this is where you are.  

Students: In unintentional breath, where is the best place to keep your awareness?
Yoga Master Teacher Sharat Arora: When your breath is in between the intentional inhalations or exhalations – calm yourself. Make sure that everything is dropped, that all energy that went to your head is now gone. You exhale, exhale, and if any place needs attention - if it became tensed - this is where you exhale, drop everything, you create space there and neutral atmosphere. Sometimes it takes one breath, sometimes it takes ten. There is no measure. Your job is to be ready for the next breath. If not taking precaution like that, you are gone.

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Pranayama Part 4 The Breath

20.10.2010

When we prepare for Pranayama we want to settle our body to neutrality, so we put ourselves in the Shavasana following the steps previously described. Only then we are able to calmly watch the breath going in and going out. The breath shows us those parts in the body that are not letting go. So therefore breath and body become instrument for us to let go at the deeper level.

Enlightenment is a state where there is no holding on to anything, it is a state of nothingness. So in our body when we make that freedom to come about, this influences also our energetic system. Pranayama is using the breath as a tool to free everything through the touching of the breath in the trunk. When it becomes free-flowing, this is it.

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Pranayama Part 3 Relaxing the Throat

20.10.2010

Letting go of facial muscles is an art, as these are the muscles which are the most connected with our mental movements. By dropping that, we are able to go beyond. With awareness we will get rid of those pathways that have been created in the face. That is where all relaxation starts and that is what we check it in the middle of the process and we continue to check it every time we feel disturbed. Those pathways have to be eroded with awareness. If your throat is tight and tensed, you know that it is all your attachment with the world. All your attachment have its mark in certain areas. All the things – whether it be the ideas that you are attached to, the objects, maybe your house – all that which you hold on to and you are afraid of losing have its mark in the throat. The energy which that attachment creates causes movements and they are visible in the eyes. So in fact in the eyes it is showing you what the present state is.

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Pranayama Part 2 Shavasana

20.10.2010

Shava – is dead body and dead mind. It means that it is not moved, it is completely quiet. The principle of Shavasana is, that when we lay the physical body in harmony, without any conflictual body posture, we are able to penetrate in it and free it. Therefore we become “dead” during that time. It is the most hard to do. In fact it symbolises the whole of the Yoga practice. This is the ultimate posture that there is – Shava – to be dead. When you are dead like this, not moving, it is then that you realise who you really are.    

The art of lying down in the Shavasana is to eradicate all conflicts in the body. When after a while your body starts to say, “I am uncomfortable”, the intention of Shavasana is at least to put away all conflicts and to learn more about your body if conflict arises. Then there are many means to erase them and so the technique to lay down in Shavasana consists of few key steps.

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16.10.14 When we do a practice like we do in our Iyengar Yoga centres, we gain understanding, so we increase our awareness about ourselves and about the world. We go inside and the mind slowly stops i...