The Yoga Path • Omaha, NE


{ Practicing Physical, Mental & Spiritual Health }

Home Practice Level I, 2

I’ve been hearing from some of you that in the midst of social distancing and our self-imposed remoteness, you are feeling somewhat antsy and dispersed. Today’s sequence* might help with that feeling. It starts out active with some standing postures, then spirals into a more introspective poses. Give yourself room to sink into these quieter poses. Their simplicity can perhaps mislead one to thinking they are easy or insipid. But stop and dive down into the intricacies of each asana. The stillness offered can sometimes be quite intense.

Trikonasna/triangle pose: Use a block or prop as need be, but repeat 2x each side and see if you can get lower on second attempt. Keep both legs very strong.

Virabhadrasana 2: Repeat 2x each side and see if you can get lower on second attempt. Keep both legs very strong.

Ardha Uttanasana / half forward bend:
With hands on the wall at hip level or higher so you can strive for a concave back. Keep legs very straight. Do 1x but hold.

Parsvottanasana / side-angle forward bend: Leave hands on hips and try to maintain a concave spine. Repeat 2x each side and see if you can you can get lower on the second attempt.

Prasarita Padottananasana / wide legged pose: Start with hands on floor, straight arms, and concave back. Then lower head to floor or block. Repeat 2x.

Sukhasana/simple sit: Simple crossleg position. Do on a folded blanket to get hips the height of the knees. Switch leg position or (if you’re feeling adventurous) twist to each side but be kind to knees. Repeat 3x

Baddha Konasana / bounded angle pose: Get the back supported against the wall or couch. Use your arms behind you as pictured to learn to get spine straight and strong. Get the outside legs supported as needed. Hold for several minutes with back straight; read a poem.

“Yoga does not just change the way we see things; it transforms the person who sees.”

BKS Iyengar

Vajrasana (urdhva Hastasana & Parvatasana): Sit with heals and knees together under you placing a rolled up blanket between calves as needed. Bring straight arms up in line with ears (urdhva hasta) then repeat interlacing fingers and palms turned up (parvata).

Adho Mukha Virasana with support. Try to find a cushion or blankets to get the head the same height at the hips. Legs are apart, arms are forward.

Pavanmuktasana: Remember you can stuff the hands behind the knees. Play around with the legs to going into the happy baby pose rocking from side-to-side.

Adho Mukha Svanasana / downward -facing dog: Repeat 2x after short rest between.

Supta Baddha Konasana: getting support for the back, head, and outer legs too. Should be comfortable because again there is no savasana in this sequence.

*These sequences originate from the Iyengar Institute of New York.

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Home Practice Level I,1

For those of you who are perhaps a little tired of Sun Salutations (if that could be possible?) here is a home practice sequence Level 1. Many of the poses get repeated 2x or 3x. Repeating poses is a very fruitful way to deepen your practice. The first time is stopping (shamata) and the second time leads to insight (vipassana). Enjoy!

1. Tadasana/
Mountain pose. Alternate by swinging straight arms forward up into urdhva hastasana. Repeat 3x.

2. Move from tadasana to urdhva baddh-anguliyasana (interlocking finger over head with palms turned upward). Repeat 2x changing the finger interlock.

Vrkasana /tree pose; face a wall or use a wall, but do try to get the arms overhead as pictured. Do both sides 2x. Notice your breath.

Trikonasna/triangle pose: Use a block or prop as need be, but repeat 2x each side and see if you can get lower on second attempt. Keep both legs very strong.

Utthita Parsvakonasana/ side-angle pose: Use a block or prop as need be, but repeat 2x each side and see if you can get lower on second attempt.

Parsvottanasana / side-angle forward bend: Leave hands on hips and try to maintain a concave spine. Repeat 2x each side and see if you can you can get lower on thy second attempt.

Prasarita Padottananasana / wide legged pose: Start with hands on floor, straight arms, and concave back. Then lower head to floor or block. Repeat 2x.

Adho Mukha Svanasana / downward -facing dog pose. Repeat 2x after short rest between. Rest could be Adho Mukha Virasana / Downward Hero pose.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana / legs up the wall: Back is flat on the floor. come away from the corner if the back hips are not on the floor or legs are bent. Rest quietly here for at least 5 minutes. No savasana.

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How are Sun Salutations going?

“Asana, one of yoga’s most significant “tools,” help the sincere student develop physically and spiritually. The ancient sages believed that if you put your whole heart into your practice, you become master of circumstances and time.” BKS Iyengar

You knew I was going to ask. Now that classes are suspended, I can’t bug you in person before each class as to how’s it going with your 108 sun salutations? But now that we’re all distancing ourselves and settling into the new normal that is our life, the practice of yoga is now available in new ways. Surya Namaskara is the ideal entrance into a daily practice.

For those of you unfamiliar to the Yoga Path history, every March students and teachers at the Path commit to do 108 sun salutations for the month. The shared endeavor has been nicknamed “March Madness.” Some students talk about this event as early as the beginning of the year. Others avoid the subject with a quiet dread and contempt. Some rebel at the idea of keeping score, while the more analytic types, map out their plan to complete the goal on or before deadline.

I don’t remember how this tradition even got started, but was surprised and gratified to discover that, for some, they actually took their practice home. We created a card to track our progress with 108 squares. Some would even come to class earlier than usual to knock off a few before class started. One of my students reported that she would do a couple of them every evening, during the commercials while watching the news.

First completed card 2020

Some resist this regimenting of yoga with all their might. Some just don’t like the sequence. But whatever gets people practicing on their own, to me, is a good thing.

I usually encourage students to use surya namaskara as a starting point for practicing. Don’t worry about the amount you do, but how it feels while doing them. Sometimes the first couple don’t seem very worthwhile, like the beginning of run, but let yourself settle into the flow of the sequence. Or just start with a salutation, but leave it behind if the body needs to do other asanas.

Here is a sheet to see how we practice surya namaskara at the Yoga Path. However, as my teacher Margaret Hahn use to say, “the sun salutation is like potato salad. Everyone has their own recipe.: Just Google surya namaskara / sun salutations to get a couple of thousand variations on a theme. Below is pictured the Iyengar version from the Preliminary Course book.

Just practice it for yourself and for the others in your life. It can do nothing but good! You still have 10 days to go.

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There going to be a Winter Health worksh

There going to be a Winter Health workshop at the Yoga Path on Saturday, Feb.9 from 1 – 3 p.m. If the flu bug is stalking you or has already laid you low. you might want to attend this interactive workshop on Chinese Medicine. Being hosted by Sandra Kreber (Acupuncturist) and Betty Smith (Massage Therapist)

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The Yoga Path is now hosting the weekly

The Yoga Path is now hosting the weekly Monday evening sits of the Honey Locust sangha. This community pursues the practice and study of mindfulness meditation in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. The group sits starts at 7 pm and lasts to 8:30 or 9:00. All are welcome to attend. Free will donation.

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Yoga Rope Wall

A new yoga rope wall has been added to the new Yoga Path location. This is a wall created by B.K.S.  Iyengar to aid students into getting into the poses more deeply. It’s always been a dream of mine to share this method of practice with my students. Enclosed is short video showing some of the things you can do with this wall and photos of wall recently built a the studio.

So with this change comes regrets about moving, but new horizons opening as well.

For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace

Yoga Rope Wall 2

Yoga rope wall 1

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One of the Yoga Path student, who is an

One of the Yoga Path student, who is an astronomy buff, shared this with me. It show that more than just stars can dance around the world. Take a minute to enyoy.

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After the Tango

Just a thank you for all who supported the Hike to Help Refugees Winter Solstice party. We raised close to $900.00 this year which will go a long way to helping those in need. However, our tango skill needs a great of work. Thank heaven it’s not Tango to Help Refugees.

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In Praise of My Bed

This poem came up after a recent workshop with Mary Paffard. It captures the mood many students experience as they lie down into savasana at the end of there practice.

At last I can be with you!
The grinding hours
since I left your side!
The labor of being fully human.
working my opposable thumb,
talking and walking upright,
Now I have unclasped
unzipped, stepped out of.
Husked, soft, a be-er only,
I do nothing, but point
my bare feet into your
clean smoothness
feel your quiet strength
the whole length of my body.
I close my eyes, hear myself
moan, so grateful to be held this way. 
                       ~Meredith Holmes

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Fortnight Footnotes

A fortnight . . . fourteen days . . . seven time two twenty-four hour periods by ordinary conventional time-reckoning made biblically mystical as seven doubled.

High summer commands attention. As July sweats intensely in August, I find it best to be fully in the present, relishing how summer parades in her sassiest reds and purple while cicadas buzz day and night. Prone to live these long days outside, I am warned to stay indoors at midday. My lament about the heat soon shapes into a litany with its cadence nudging another memory to the fore. Last winter’s gigantic and enduring icy snowdrifts. The rhythms of my summer litany, markedly same. The metaphors, unsame. It is, I find, that intensity in the extreme draws forth meteorological litanies of lament, summer and winter alike.

Continuing the annual journey with the Hebrew prophets as they walk with our faith-ancestors, I feel intensely a heaviness of heart not dissimilar to the way oppressive humid heat cleaves to my skin. Their warnings seem as necessary and pertinent to my world today as to theirs several millennia ago. Even as the current notion “globalization” conjures the image of effective communication among people of all nations, wars, poverty, and greed prevail. Global economic institutions, ostensibly designed to regulate trade for the betterment of all, have instead wrought greater disparity between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. The legal sanctions of these same institutions serve as a most efficacious weapon of punishment for non-compliance.

Even while the 21st century is replete with resplendent cities, destitution and homelessness thrive, driving peoples to migrate from their homelands same as in nomadic days. The biblical “alien” is no less prevalent today as in Isaiah and Jeremiah’s era. Last century’s unlikely prophet, President Dwight Eisenhower warned in 1961: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” The deed is done. Some twenty-five years later, corporations became legally defined as “persons” with all the attendant rights and privileges. In the mid-nineties, global corporations began to operate with impunity in ways that frequently and ironically disregarded the rights of “humans” and other species.

It is to these practices that Jeremiah’s words from God resonate original truth in my heart. “Let my eyes run down with tears night and day, let them not cease, for . . . my people (are) struck down with crushing blow, with a crushing blow, with a very grievous wound. If I go out into the field look – those killed by the sword! And if I enter the city, look – those sick with famine!” [Jer.14: 17-18ab] It would seem that God’s heart is closer to the people then to any institution, civil or religious. For Jeremiah, who found the Temple rite and ritual to be a hollow burden for the people, God of the new covenant will not require such a culture or structure. Jeremiah witnesses to God’s most intimate covenant with the People, announcing: “ . . . says the Lord. I will place my law within them, and I will write in on their heart.” As did Jesus, I place my hope here.

Rita Sherman

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