It’s summer in Berlin, even though the weather isn’t quite hot here yet.
Nonetheless, when the heat does turn on, sweating through a yoga class could feel like heating your body too much.
To address overheating, two yogic breathing / pranayama techniques called sitali and sitkari use your breathing to cool your body down. Not only do these two breathing / pranayama techniques cool your body down physically, they also cool down any heated emotions you may have, like anger or resentment. They both calm the mind, cool the body, and lower blood pressure.
The first breathing / pranayama technique sitali asks you to sip air through your rolled-up tongue. If you can’t roll up your tongue like a straw, the second breathing / pranayama technique sitkari is when you suck air through your teeth.
Watch the video below to see how to practice these two cooling breaths.
ACTION STEP : The next time you feel overheated either physically or emtionally, try a few rounds of sitali or sitkari breaths as I show you in the video above.
If you feel light-headed, dizzy, or in any way uncomfortable during these breaths, stop and breathe normally for several rounds. Begin again when you’re ready.
Let me know if you have any requests for a short yoga routine and/or questions about yoga or meditation!
Currently I’ve been publishing an interview for Yogis Talk the first Friday of the month and Q and A video posts on the second and fourth Thursdays. When I have something written to publish, that comes out on the occasional Tuesday.
I realize, however, that I’m gifted by a wonderful community of awesome yogis, and so I’m opening up Active Hands Yoga to the community to share their valuable wisdom and experiences. Are you a yoga teacher or a yoga student? Or just yoga-curious?
I’m specifically looking for….
* …”My Favorite Asana” posts where you tell us your favorite asana and why, especially if you have a story
* …Real Life Yoga Style Icon where you show us with photos or videos how you dress for yoga class and your daily life
* …‘Traveling Yogi’ posts where you share your experiences in a yoga ashram or meditation retreat
* …any other guest post (it can be written, video or image-based) that my readers’ll love….
As long as you have something valuable and unique to share, you’re so welcome here. And it’s so easy!
To submit a post, please email me at info at activehandsyoga dot com, and tell me what you’d like write / film / interview about. After you submit an idea, I’ll work with you to create something that works well for our readers and for you. As necessary, I will also edit the piece with your feedback, so we can all be 100% happy about our work together. For more information, I’ve created some submission guidelines for guest posts here.
Like many other entrepreneurs, we yoga teachers get together to share business and life stories. When I met Erinbell Fanore, a fellow yoga teacher in Berlin teaching hatha and yin yoga, at one of these casual get-togethers, I was most impressed that she made her own yoga DVD on the sunny island of Malta. She talked about it like it was easy to pull off, so I had to ask how how she did it with such ease as one of my Yogis of the Month.
Even if you don’t want to make your own yoga DVD, listening to how simple and easy it is to tackle a big project once you break down into steps and ask for help is helpful for any project. You would imagine that producing a DVD would take months to do, right? But knowing that Erinbell produced hers in just two weeks completely changed my mindset of what’s possible. And expanding possibilities is always a good thing.
Listen to my interview* above with Erinbell (or download it!) to find out about:
her introduction to yoga through…Cindy Crawford in the desert?!
retraining your muscles through two somatics exercises she shares
I’ve been diving deep into yoga history by reading. One book I recently read, The Poets of the Powers: Magic, Freedom, and Renewal by Kamil V. Zvelebel, has translations of Tamil Siddha poetry. It’s a thin volume, only 144 pages with footnotes included, so it was a good introduction to this group of yoga practitioners I had only heard of in passing before.
Tamil is one of the languages in South India and refers also to the culture of the people who speak the language. The Tamil Siddha school of thought is a branch of tantric yoga, with a distinct character of social radicalism and an emphasis on magical powers. A distinction of tantric yoga is the belief that liberation is possible in your human body and not just at death, which lead to technique of yoga to ensure a healthy body. The body is the seat of the experience of liberation. If your body was weak, in pain, or unbalanced, how could you experience bliss or become liberated?
What is the sign of absolute and true liberation?
The physical body aglow with the Fire of Immortality.
(Uroma risi nanam 12) p. 58
Even though Zvelebel says that the first Tamil Siddha poet was active between the seventh and eleventh centuries, it would be a mistake to think Tamil Siddhas were only active in medieval India. Zvelebel claims that the Siddha doctrines are still a vital undercurrent in modern-day South India albeit hidden from public view.
Written in an intentionally enigmatic language, where words embody multiple meanings, the Tamil Siddha poems can be mystical or vulgar and direct. For example, Civavakkiyar who was writing immediately before the tenth century wrote (p. 87):
Why, you fool,
do you utter mantras,
murmuring them, whispering,
going around the fixed stone
as if it were God,
putting garlands of flowers around it?
Will the fixed stone speak–
as if the Lord were within?
Will the cooking vessel,
or the wooden ladle,
know the taste of curry?
The misogynist language in some of the Siddha poems really bothered me. All of the poets translated in the book were men, and women, specifically the bodies of women, were temptations for them.
9. Breath deeply, rhythmically, slowly, regularly and relaxedly. Be conscious of the speed and rhythm of your breath.
10. Walk at least two hours daily.
11. Regular and frequent sexual intercourse is beneficial. However, be master, not slave of your sex-life. Oral-genital sex is not harmful; on the contrary, it is often desirable. Visualize yourself as the creative Siva, and your partner as your (i.e. Siva’s) sakti, energy. Let her lie on you, and drink your sperm; let you suck her discharge of pleasure (curatanir).
12. Never give up. Never be idle. Try to maintain always a cheerful and positive attitude. There is no harm in satisfying a desire, when the satisfaction destroys it. Do not suppress forcibly any desire. Liberation is always here and now with you. If you cannot believe in god, it does not matter. Believe in yourself, in your own existence. Find out the source from which you came.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to meditate for ten days on a silent meditation retreat? I definitely have.
During my yoga teacher training in India, we were not supposed to speak during meals. The idea was that we were supposed to be fully conscious of our food rather than getting distracted by socializing. Some people took it further and did not speak for an entire day, wearing a little sign around their neck that they were observing silence aka mouna. Some people say observe silence so that you save your energy to turn inwards rather than focusing outwards in idle talking. Once you quiet speech, the mind quiets down too. Others say that there is no need for communication if you realize the great truth that there is no other–‘they’ are no other than me. Whatever the reason, observing silence is a powerful practice especially in conjunction with meditation.
I decided to connect with Alessandro Aliosha Pedori, teacher of contact improv and yoga in Berlin, who meditated in Thailand for ten days at the Buddhist International Dhamma Hermitage of Wat Suan Mokkh. Even though their website is quite comprehensive, even giving out a detailed 11-page description of their yoga classes, I wanted to know what it was really like to experience and live there for a silent meditation retreat.
Listen to my interview* above (or download it!) with Alessandro to find out:
What he would have done differently at Wat Suan Mokkh knowing what he does now (hint : bring a pillow!)
Who would be your fellow meditators and the leaders / facilitators?
Was the food good?
The lasting effects of meditating for ten days in Thailand
If you want to meditate for 10 days at Wat Suan Mokkh, here are your ACTION STEPS:
Pack a yoga mat, a pillow, tiger balm, and some paracetamol. No pretty clothes allowed, so leave them at home.
Get yourself to Thailand by plane, train, automobile, boat, foot in outside the months of January and February.
Make it to the Buddhist hermitage by 3pm on the last day of the month to register for the next ten days.
Meditate, practice yoga, soak in the hot spring, and eat delicious Thai food for ten days.
Celebrate with a Thai iced tea upon your ‘graduation’ from meditation.
Stay at the main monastery in the woods for a few days.
Escape to a tropical island in Thailand.
Interested in finding out more about Alessandro? His soon-to-be-launched website is aliosha.info.
* I apologize for the poor sound quality. My skype-to-skype interviews sound fine, but my skype-to-phone interviews get a lot of static and interference. My new microphone is in the mail; stay tuned to hear the difference with a Zoom microphone.
Have you attended a silent meditation retreat or ever wanted to?
Share your experiences–critical and cynical or blissed out–in the comments below please.
Photos (from top to bottom): Hot springs at Wat Suan Mokkh and Alessandro Aliosha Pedori
Recently I made a custom yoga video for a vegan chocolatier so that she could get in 30 minutes of yoga whenever she gets a chance rather than going to a scheduled class. I designed the yoga practice to challenge her and address her needs, and so she had a question about one of the yoga poses that challenged her : How can she keep her balance in mermaid pose?
If you’re curious too, watch the video below to find out. Even if you’re not interested in mermaid pose, the 3 tips I share in the will help you with pigeon pose and its variations.
Plus, I got some great compliments on my gold leggings–watch them in action!