YOGA THANKSGIVING BREAK CHALLENGE 2013 #YOGATBC

Hello darlings!

I freaking love Thanksgiving break. Every year it comes reluctantly — and then arrives with a yeehaw and a party. I can’t believe I have a whole week to figure out my life– This is a serious win!

Fortunately for us at CU Boulder, we are supremely blessed to have an entire week of break, none of those two-days-off crumbs for us. When we break at CU, we mean business. Well, I certainly mean business, anyways. I’ve got loads of my own research and writing to do. And a mountain of papers to grade.

However, none of that is going to stop me from getting out and taking Yoga classes here in B-town!

That’s why I’m initiating the Yoga Thanksgiving Break Challenge 2013

#YogaTBC !!!

The challenge is to get out to a Yoga class other than your personal practice. Now, for me this can be tough, cause I have an ongoing love affair with my practice, and often it just doesn’t feel right to cheat!– However, it’s truly more polyamorous situation. You can attend an actual, in-person class, or even check out an online class.

Again, the point is to get out of your usual practice and dive into the awesomeness of community, the local and the online. Then tell me how it’s going by tweeting at me.

I’m @inasahajaa  and use (#hashtag) #YogaTBC so we can start this new practice revolution!

Feeling grateful for the practice and our growing community!

Love,

Ina

(art by Eliza Lynn Tobin of Art Asana)

HOW TO SAY YOGA-ASANA NAMES PARSVAKONASANA PARSHVAKONASANA = PĀRŚVAKOṆĀSANA

I was recently challenged to stop talking so much about what Embodied Sanskrit is, and just show you instead.

You ask, you receive.

Here’s the breakdown for how we chant pārśvakoṇāsana — parshvakonasana — paarshvuh cone aasana …

The ṇ in koṇa is retroflex, which means that the tongue doesn’t strike the back of the teeth, like we are used to in English. When making retroflex sounds (indicated by the dot beneath the letter, as seen in the Roman transliteration), the tongue actually strikes the hard palate at the roof of your mouth, about an inch behind the backs of your teeth. I talk more about this mouth position here.

Now, listen closely and take your time practicing chanting in the āsana.

Chant it like you mean it, feel how it feels to you right now, then take this handy vocab word straight into your next Yoga class.

(okay, for real — now I’m zippin’ it.)

Enjoy!

MY STORY WITH SANSKRIT

So in my last video, Amanda Jade Fiorino, of Empower Shakti International (ESI) and I talked a bit about the importance of personal experience, in embodying the role of a Yoga teacher or  practitioner in service of the life force.
I’d briefly like to state for the record that I don’t see these two terms (Yoga teacher and Yoga practitioner) as mutually exclusive.
In my experience, even if you don’t teach in a studio, you end up teaching, in some way or another. Even if it’s just how you deal with your relationships at work, with your children or father, or whatever…
Anyone on her path is on the path.
So I want to share a little snippet of my personal path, my experience with Sanskrit and sacred sounds, with you…
I was always interested in texts, and language since I was little.
Indiana Jones had a lot of appeal, too.
The excitement lay in discovering something unknown, unique and different…
something of seemingly no value to a whole lotta people,
 but, in reality, absolutely priceless
(kind of like the unspoken gems of spiritual practice).
So my first self-appointed initiation into sacred sound was in my teens, as a student of Kundalini Yoga in Austin, TX.
Later I became more deeply immersed into mantra and classical rāga (Hindustani) singing, while studying Sanskrit at university. This led to discovering a whole new way of understanding the postural Yoga and Ashtanga invocations I was so extremely fond of.
Sanskrit at university, as anyone who’s done it can affirm, wasn’t such an easy-breezy ride.
There was lots of academic grammatical jargon, and prescribed texts that rendered me choiceless in the matter… There was a real rigor to it, a tapas, a discipline.
But this experience is what fueled my passion for continuing the great trend of Modern Yoga — making Yoga more accessible to all — by developing Embodied Sanskrit, as a body-based, movement method of learning the essentials of Sanskrit for Yoga.
Not everyone wants to translate the Rāmāyaṇa.
Most of us will settle for being informed, well-educated Yoga teachers and practitioners —
– which on its own requires a great expanse of knowledge:
from Sanskrit and philosophy,
to anatomy and sequencing,
to knowing how to tell a joke while everyone’s butt is in the air.
Truly, it’s an art.
And so is the Sanskrit language.
Learning the paradigms, the declensions, the rules – and the exceptions – led me to deepen my experience with the language, specifically the vowels; which are frequently seen as the starting point, the building blocks for learning any language, and for good reason…
These vocallic syllables are anāhata, or unstruck.
As in, the tongue does not actually contact the mouth when pronouncing them.
And, these are the same life-affirming seed vowels (bīja) mantras, that make up the constantly rumbling, vibrating source of sacred sound.
These are the eternal unborn (“unstruck”), liberating  vibrations of Shakti.
When we practice movement (āsanaʼ) while chanting, these vowel sounds are sequentially placed in the body (nyāsa), a corresponding and related innovation of the Tantrik tradition.(read more about that here)
For me, learning Sanskrit and diving into sacred sound has been a game changer.
It is an academic project, a creative process, a constant journey
– and ultimately, an offering,
so that I can contribute to the badass, radiant brew we’re cooking up here in the Modern Yoga world.

 

So, I want to invite you to tell your story…
How does sound resonate for you, in your body, and,
        what aspects of that experience intuit more exploration?