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Lately I’ve been reading a lot of Yoga philosophy.  The stories of the asanas.  The significance. During practice I find myself going inwards to observe myself more closely.  My practice these days is focused on the basics.  So even if I practice Adhomukha Vrikshasana (handstand), I’ll start from Uttanasana. Last weekend I attended a workshop at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram.  It was a two day workshop where we learned about Krishnamacharya, and his contribution to modern yoga and the style of yoga taught at KYM. On the first day of the workshop the teacher spoke about the 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga.  In his lecture he asserted that the 8 limbs grow like a baby.  Equally and in all directions.  So as you work on Yama and Niyama, you also work on Dhyana, Dharana etc.  This is a new idea for me, but the more I think about it, the more I see the similarity between this statement and asana practice. A good friend of mine (also a yogi) told me once that when you’re struggling with a particular asana, it sometimes helps to go beyond that asana to one which is a little more advanced, and then come back […]

The post How Your Practice Grows appeared first on Yoga With Pragya.

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A few weekends ago I attended a friend’s house warming party.  In India there is always an element of ritual.  So while a housewarming can be a little party for a bunch of close friends, here it becomes an event of larger significance.  So a purohit is called.  You get the stuff for the puja together, you plan for caterers, you send out invites…. When we celebrate a house warming or a ‘griha pravesh‘ we celebrate new beginnings.  We hope that the new abode brings the owners good luck and prosperity.  Some incense, a few mantras, a coconut and some ‘lucky’ plants and we actually start to feel better about the house.  These are all the accoutrements of the ritual of cleansing a space of any negative vibes so that the new owners can live peacefully. A yogi’s abode is the body and mind.  Since we get only one body and mind per lifetime, we need to exist within them peacefully and authentically.  A yogi is constantly torn between one more drink or slice of pizza and an early morning twists or backbend practice.  You control yourself from snapping at a pesky sibling and try to stop fuming at the […]

The post Practice Yoga Like You Practice Life appeared first on Yoga With Pragya.

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The other day one of my students mentioned (rightly so) that in my class he spends a lot of time in Adhomukha Svanasana. Other classes he’s attended didn’t repeat asanas as much our class. Why the repetition? The thing is, we might be doing the same asana over and over again, but we’re not actually repeating it. Emotionally, physically and mentally, the asana is different every single time we redo it. Each time we execute it, we go deeper. We look at nuances, uncover hidden depths. It’s a new asana every time. In Trikonasana, for instance, I can focus on the alignment of my ankles, or on my shoulder blades, or the rotation of my spine, my drishti, or the alignment of the femur and shin, or even the extension of the metatarsals and soles. To maintain awareness simultaneously on all the factors that build the Trikonasana is hard, and we practice to achieve that. And, if for a moment we attain that state, we meditate upon what it taught us, what we learned. I frequently come across posts on social media about ‘flipping your perspective’ or ‘get a new perspective’ and usually such posts are usually accompanied by pictures […]

The post Repetition of vs Repeating (an Asana) appeared first on Yoga With Pragya.

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A couple of weeks ago I read ‘The Art of Stillness’ by Pico Iyer and thought it was a cute little read. As a yoga teacher I’ve given and received spiels about the topic innumerable times. I understand the importance of being still, that’s why we have Savasana at the end of every class. The thing is, you may understand something theoretically, but it’s only when you experience it that you actually know it. And this weekend I actually got to know stillness. My sister in town and we decided to spend time at the Navadarshanam farms, situated right outside Bangalore (actually in Tamil Nadu). Wilderness surrounds the entire acreage of the farm. It’s a no fan zone. It’s a pleasure to walk barefoot on the red oxide floor of the huts. I saw a charcoal rice cooker for the first time. The tea was amazing. The air was clean. The sky was clear. We watched the evening rain from the coolness of our veranda. Bougainvillea grew in abundance and after the rains there was lavender all over the ground. The most striking thing, though, is that there is absolutely no agenda. There are walks, but no fixed time for […]

The post Yoga and the Art of Stillness appeared first on Yoga With Pragya.

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Yoga With Pragya Blog by Pragya Bhatt - 4M ago

I think of myself as a yoga student first, and then a teacher. When I don’t practice, I feel like I’ve missed something. If, on a rare day, I have no classes, I feel like I’m on vacation. I make it a point to go to my teacher twice a week. It’s a big class, with at least thirty of us at various levels of practice. The average age of students must be between 45-50. So I find arranging my limbs into an asana a little easier than the rest of the students. However, yoga goes beyond your expertise at making shapes with your body. And every once in a while, specially when I’ve drifted away from the here and now, I’m pulled back and propelled towards new insight. Doesn’t happen very much, but frequently enough. Forward Bends denote our ability to surrender to situations that Life brings forth. The Kurmasana has been on my ambitious pose list for years. As a teacher I believe that with consistent practice, any pose can be conquered. As a student there are poses that I judge. I will never ‘own’ this pose. Will I ever own this pose? It’s too difficult for me. […]

The post Becoming the Asana appeared first on Yoga With Pragya.

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for a yoga bag… Whether you are a yoga teacher or a yoga student, chances are you are lugging more than just your mat to class.  The basics in a yogi’s bag are: phone, water bottle, towel, car keys, house keys, money.  As a teacher I carry a little notebook with my class plan, belts and sometimes even blocks. Most of us have a yoga bag and also lug around our mats.  That might be fine for you, but I’ve been doing it forever and it’s getting a tad bit tedious.  Just as I was browsing online for a bag which could work for me, Meraki Decors contacted me!  Megha, the woman behind this quirky venture spoke to me at length about her journey and passion, and the connection was instant. And, Meraki Decors decided to customize a yoga mat for me and send it for review! When I looked up the term Meraki, I found out that it’s one of those words in a language that can’t be literally translated.  They describe a mood or a behavior. You can bring Meraki into pretty much whatever you’re doing, be it cooking, decorating your home or your table, and (in my case) creating […]

The post Always on the Lookout… appeared first on Yoga With Pragya.

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Many years ago, before I started running, I would dream about going on vacation and having fitness as an integral part of the plan.  I moved to a new house and dreamt that I would start a weekend running group that would meet to run around the lake. I’m one of those who believes that if you really want something, it manifests. Both these fitness desires have manifested for me right at the beginning of this year!  Last year around this time an old acquaintance of mine moved back to Bangalore and started coming to class.  Somehow the bond grew deep and when I tentatively suggested we go to Lovedale for a run, to my utter surprise I said yes.  We got two more friends together, another student offered us his cottage, I tanked up my car and off we drove into the hills.  We spent three days re-visiting the hills and exploring new joints.  We bought comfortable pajamas at the factory surplus shops.  I bought some Eucalyptus oil.  The night before what would become our first 10km, we affirmed to ourselves that we would complete the run successfully.  We would give it our 100%.  In the morning as soon […]

The post Of Manifestations and Fitness Resolutions appeared first on Yoga With Pragya.

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Most days between classes you’ll find me writing.  Always on the lookout for calm, quiet and interesting places, nothing works better for me than a cafe where I can have some delicious tea, and some lunch.  Last week a friend of mine and I decided to go to Carrots in Koramangala to get ahead on a bit of work.  Note to writers: Change your location.  I find it kills writer’s block instantly. Eating at a vegan restaurant ensures that most of the stuff available is also ‘clean’.  We ordered a Greek salad and a pizza, and as I write this I’m hungry again!  The salad and pizza are to die for.  The vegetables are fresh and smell of healthy goodness.  Those who know a bit about veganism will know that vegans don’t eat cheese.  I’ve met many a pizza lover who won’t believe that it’s possible to have extremely yummy pizza sans the cheese.  Go to Carrots and taste just how delicious a vegan pizza can be. Luckily Susmitha, one of the owners and a vegan for the last 15 years, dropped by our table for an informal (and informative!) chat. We spoke about how Operation Flood (White Revolution) completely […]

The post Carrots – Eat Clean and Green appeared first on Yoga With Pragya.

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Yoga With Pragya Blog by Pragya Bhatt - 4M ago

A few days ago a friend of mine showed me a video clip that she found inspiring.  It was about being interested in your goals vs. being committed to your goals.  The video was a montage of footage of a man talking about the pursuit of his goals and a people busy in physical pursuits.  As this man speaks about commitment we see a boxer practicing.  As he speaks of doing whatever it takes to achieve your goals, we see someone surveying the terrain, presumably to run through it.  As he talks about upgrading your knowledge, we see a someone running through the snow. When the video finished I said that it’s quite interesting that they’ve used fitness to illustrate the main idea of the video.  There are many ways to depict smashing and achieving goals.  We can show people in a boardroom bagging a successful deal.  We can show an actor executing a scene perfectly.  We can also show a student getting an acceptance to a prestigious university.  So why is fitness the preferred approach to depict motivation and dedication? Associating fitness with achievements in other aspects of life is not a coincidence.  Think about it, when you think […]

The post It Starts With You appeared first on Yoga With Pragya.

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It’s the middle of January and by now it would be pretty clear to you whether you are on track with your fitness goals or not.  Face it, if you haven’t started working out already, then you aren’t on track.  Staying on track, smashing your fitness goals, sticking to your New Year’s resolutions is easier said than done, and I do understand that.  But I’m also a huge fan of staying on your game with some help.  I find that what helps me is my own personal fitness group.  A group of like-minded people with whom I can discuss fitness related news and ideas and who can answer my queries and give me new insight into my interest.  I feel it’s a great idea to cultivate a group of like-minded individuals because it helps you stay motivated. I recently came across sheroes.com, a platform specifically for women.  I browsed through the site and through its various communities and realized that it’s a great platform for women from all walks of life.  There are communities dedicated to writing, for career advice and even for relationship advice!  It’s definitely a useful platform where women will feel supported and empowered.  The community that I promptly clicked […]

The post Think Women Think Sheroes appeared first on Yoga With Pragya.

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