Welcome to our August newsletter. Wishing you open shoulders…

Asanas of the Month
Article of the Month – Using Asana (yoga postures) to Break Habits
Embarrassing Question of the Month
Patanjali Yoga Sutra of the month
Quote of the Month
Upcoming Events
Previous newsletters


Asana of the month- Urdhva Danurasana
Regular practice of Urdhva Danurasana keeps your body supple, and creates a feeling of vitality and lightness. The asana stimulates the adrenal glands, strengthening your will power, and increasing your capacity to bear stress” BKS Iyengar.


Coming into the pose from a lying down position

Lye down on your back.

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Bend the knees and place the souls of the feet on the floor, heels near buttocks.

Place hands under the shoulders with the palms on the ground.

Bring elbows towards the head and don’t allow them to splay out to the sides.

Exhale and lift pelvis, lower back and ribs off the ground, then place the crown of the head on the ground.

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Reset your arms more towards your feet.

Then exhale again and continue to press up into the pose.

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Come up onto the balls of your feet in order to concentrate on extending the arms

Establish the maximum lift in the hips without externally rotating your legs and hips.

Don’t allow the knees to splay out to the sides

Once you have achieved height in the pose then take the heels back down on the ground. But maintain the height in the hips.

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Photo From ‘Light on Yoga’ BKS Iyengar  pg 298 (published 2001)


Action of the hands, arms and shoulders

Align your armpits directly over the waist so that your arms are vertical. This alignment requires you to bring your chest forward over your arms.

Straighten your arms and fully extend them.

Turn your hands outward if that’s what it takes to get the elbows in and parallel, and your arms straight.

Spread your hands and fingers. Lengthen the middle finger towards the heel.

Keep your weight more in the base of your fingers and not so much in the wrists

Draw your forearms towards each other, and draw your triceps inwards towards each other.

Take your shoulder blades deeply into the back, and lift them away from your hands towards the ceiling.


Action of the torso, hips and pelvis

Lift your tailbone up towards the ceiling.

Raise upwards from the bottom of your buttock, not the top, and not your lumber spine or your navel.

Even though you are contracting and lifting your buttocks, continue to separate your seated bones.

Your buttock muscles will engage towards the pelvis- but do not squeeze themtowards one another. Lift them towards the ceiling using the power of your legs and hamstrings.

Keep your thighs moving inwards to prevent restriction in the movement of your pelvis.

Move the tops of your buttocks away from your lower back. Draw your frontal hip bones (anterior iliac crests) towards your abdomen and tuck your sacrum and buttocks underneath towards the legs, so there is a circular action, or rolling under of the pelvis.

Create more space in the front groins, and draw the buttocks and the hamstrings towards each other by moving the quadriceps and the frontal hip bones away from each other. This action creates more height.

Lift side ribs and front ribs up towards the ceiling. Eventually your frontal hip bone (anterior iliac crests) should be at the same height as the prominent ribs in the front lower part of the chest

As you rise up higher and deeper, continue to keep your spine extended by lengthening the back of your torso from your arms to your groins. Move your lower spine away from your middle and upper spine. Lift tailbone upwards.

Separate your pubic bone and sternum away from each other.

Broaden your chest side to side, and open as deeply as possible. Like the circular action of the pelvis, there is also a circular action of the chest.

Take the back ribs upwards strongly, while drawing your front ribs downward toward your head

Strength should come from the back of the body- keep the front relaxed

Make sure you are not holding your breath in the time of exertion, instead breathe softly.

Turn your head to look at the floor or let it hang so you look towards the wall;


Action of the legs and feet

Keep the feet on the floor a hips width apart, knees also a hips width apart. Keep knees over heels, so shins remain vertical. Generally keep feet parallel to one another.

Spread toes and press down more from the inner sides of the feet than the outer to ensure your ankles aren’t rolling outward.

Roll thighs, shins and knees slightly inwards. Lift shins and thighs upwards by lifting your tailbone.

Rotate inner heels outwards on your mat to help rotate your thighs inwards.

Periodically, lift heels up, stretch arms to obtain more height in hips and torso, then lower your heels back down on floor maintaining the extra stretch established in the arms

As you progress, walk your hands and feet toward each other as much as you can while maintaining the alignments you have established.

Walk your feet out before coming back down out of the pose.



Use 2 blocks placed against the wall. Place the palms of the hands on those rather than the floor. This makes lifting the chest easier, and takes some of the physical effort out of the pose. The wall offers stability.

Use straps around the thighs to keep your feet hips width apart.

Place a block in between the feet to help them from turning outward or inward.

A simple variation is to bend backwards over the seat of a chair,

Below BKS Iyengar uses a stool to move deeper into the pose.

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Cautions Avoid if you have constipation, diarrhea, are overly tired, have a migraine/ severe headache, have high or low blood pressure, or if you have a cardiac condition. Use simple variations if you are menstruating.


Article of the Month – Using Asana (body postures) to break habits
Daniela Casotti


Yoga asana reveal our habits by highlighting areas in our body that aren’t doing their job effectively. In the West, we see ourselves in terms of one body- the physical body. However, for over 3000 years, yogis have seen the human being in terms of five bodies, the physical body being the most obvious. All five bodies are independent, but intimately connected with each other. These bodies, known as Koshas are:

Annamaya Kosha-             The Physical Body
This body includes our bones, muscles, organs, flesh, blood etc. It is the easiest body to perceive.

Pranamaya Kosha-            The Energy Body
This body animates all the other bodies. It has over 72000 intricately weaving pathways (nadis) through which energy flows with varying intensities. More subtle than the physical body, this complex body has an anatomy and physiology of its own!

Manomaya Kosha-             Mental Body
This body is made up of cognitive (thinking and planning) systems that analyze information it receives. Here decisions are made about how to respond, and behavior is activated accordingly.

Vijnanamaya Kosha-         Wisdom Body
This body contains a mechanism which translates and expresses harmony and peace from the core of our being. Intuition is found here – tuition from within.

Annandamaya Kosha-      Bliss Body
This is the core of our being. It can be experienced as pure vibrant stillness, and cannot be described intellectually.

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Putting this philosophy into practice

Practicing asana, mindfully, and over time, is one way to penetrate all of these bodies and eliminate traces of useless habits all the way to the core of our being. By looking at ourselves in terms of five bodies- we are able to access these habits from different perspectives. Taking our asana of the month- Urdhva Dhunurasana- as an example:


Annamaya Kosha- The Physical Body- We may find restrictions in the shoulder blades, thighs or soreness in the back etc. This recognition gives us something clear and defined to work with.


Pranamaya Kosha – energy body – becoming aware of our breath is the most obvious way to access this body. In this asana, we may find our breath becomes labored. A strenuous breath will result in further tension and strain. To achieve a more rhythmic breath, we can lift the tip of the tailbone slightly up with the help of the inner side of the hinges of the heels. The only way to reach a supporting breath in this posture is to breathe softly in a relaxed manner. In this way we align the physical body with the energy body. Added to this, because the energy body animates all the other bodies – managing the breath in this posture is the start of bringing a sense of harmony to all bodies.


Manamaya Kosha – mental body– A physically challenging posture such as this one, requires acute presence of mind to make sure that the physical body is being used appropriately, and the breath is co-operating. When used in this way, asana is a powerful training ground to strengthen the mind, and bring it into focus. However to sustain this state of mind, habitual responses to challenges may need to be reviewed.

The job of the mental body is to analyze information it receives, and then respond to it. For those of us that find this posture challenging, information it receives during this asana may come across something like this:

“I’m aware that my physical body (Annamaya kosha), appears to lack the flexibility to perform this posture. I’m aware that I’m starting to grunt and groan, and my breath (Pranamaya kosha) is starting to feel labored. I’m aware that I’m starting to get overwhelmed by my feelings of inadequacy… I’m now processing this information to see how I should respond, and behave (Manamaya kosha)”.

One person’s habitual response to stress may be to push harder and faster. Somebody else’s habitual response to stress may be to give up. However, if we are working on eliminating or managing specific habits, we may question whether the response to the information it is receiving supports our progress and evolution in the posture.

Mental analyses and response takes less than a split second. An actively present mind can allow the thought to pass. When we loose our presence of mind, we can get stuck in the thought, and fuel the habit. By remaining actively present in the pose, we can employ the mental body to provide the wisdom to progress.

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Guruji to Abhi: Are you totally attentive? Can your mind wander? Was what you were doing a back bend or is this backbending?…


Vigyanamaya Koshathe wisdom body. When we are able to unify the physical, energy and mental body, the posture becomes refined. Self doubt begins to fade. Clarity looms, and all the haziness of past judgments fade.


Anandamaya Kosha – The bliss body.  Then there is a spontaneous giving up of what we are not, and being what we are.


Bending back and opening the chest also unlocks the spirit within. Practicing those postures takes you along preciously untravelled paths, challenging you to overcome fear and frustration, teaching you to move with ease and grace and to live with an open heart and a passion for life
J Chapmen

Embarrassing question of the month – If yoga is about feeling good, why do I have to do such difficult postures?
Yoga is about growth, development, connection and harmony. Growth and development does not always feel good, especially when we are working with deep seated habits that limit our ongoing and long-lasting experience of harmony. Sometimes we have to step beyond what feels comfortable and easy to progress. Postures are a way of doing this. Shaping, molding and transforming our physical body, is one way we can access deeper dimensions of our being.


It is important to realize that ‘difficulty’ is relative. Some people find physically demanded postures difficult because they may lack flexibility and confidence to explore their body.
Some people may find straight forward postures difficult because they like to push themselves.


By looking at the Koshas (refer to article of the month), we can gain many insights as to why we would ask the above question in the first place. By looking at ourselves in terms of having five bodies, instead of one,we find that it isn’t just the physical body (anandamaya Kosha) that restricts us, the mental body (Manomaya Kosha) can also get in the way. In this case, we may discover that our habitual response to stress may be to expect immediate results or it may be to make excuses. It’s up to us to work out whether the above question supports our progress and evolution in the posture, and ultimately, in our daily lives.

Postures can be challenging, but developing the patience, courage and strength of mind to move beyond our limitations may be worthwhile exploring.

Patanjali Yoga Sutra of the month
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Chapter 2 verse 14
te hl?daparit?paphal?? pu?y?pu?yahetutv?t||14||
According to our good, bad, or mixed actions, the quality of our life, its span, and the nature of birth are experienced as being pleasant or painful” BKS Iyengar. Light on the yoga sutras of Patanjali pg 149


Quote of the month

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Love, labor and laugh
BKS Iyengar

Upcoming events
Free meditation session (The second Sunday of every month)

Sunday 11th August
4pm to 5.30pm

Last month ’s free meditation session went very well. We’d like to invite you to our next one on Sunday 11th August. See you there!

Later, you can carry the stillness away with you, or join us for a quiet cup of tea.

Bookings essential call 0438 837 244 or email


Spring Intensive with Maurice McCann 16th – 28th September.
for more information


Bali Retreat 14th – 27th October.
For further information…Bali 2013 Yoga Retreat