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March 24 2024 Exploring The Third Limb and Unlocking the Benefits of Yoga Asanas: Practicing Cow Face and Nourishing with Roasted Squash and Apple Soup"

We are 11 weeks into our exploration of the Eight Limbs of Yoga arriving finally on the third limb, the Asanas, the postures.  This is the limb that every practitioner is familiar with and what many people think of as “yoga”. The word Asana translates from Sanskrit “as” which means “to stay” or “be established in a particular position”.  In Patanjali’s practice, there were likely only 5 positions, all involving sitting.  Later texts, still ancient, added more. The goal of the asanas was to prepare the body to sit still for lengthy meditation. 


As Krishnamacharya (pioneer of modern yoga) said, "Nowadays, the practice of yoga stops with just asanas. Very few even attempt dharana and dhyana (deeper meditation) with seriousness. There is a need to search once more and reestablish the practice and value of yoga in modern times."  Keep in mind that his nowadays was early in the 20th century as he died in 1989 at the age of 100!


Many of you hear me speak of TKV Desikachar, and his book Heart of Yoga often. He was a yoga teacher and the son of Krishnamacharya. I recently found this article which is someone’s website summary of the salient parts of the book. While I highly recommend reading the whole book, the following is a summary of his chapter on the asanas.  Desikachar discusses throughout the book of meeting your body where it is, the power of the breath and linking breath and movements.




Our Practice – Gomukhasana – Cow Face Pose


As mentioned above, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras lists 5 seated poses.   One of the other three primary ancient yoga texts, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, lists 15 poses, also all seated.  Whenever we review this limb, I come back to cow face to invoke it as it is only pose that I can determine that we still practice regularly today.

This is a challenging pose and therefore I remind us, when practicing, to maintain a sense of humor!


I like cow face as it stretches the hips, and shoulders as well as the triceps, chest, and ankles (when you add in the arms).  The following article in Yoga Journal gives step by step instructions on how to do it.



Meditating – On our Yoga Practice


Keeping in mind the totality of a yoga practice, that it involves not only the asanas but the whole mind, body breath connection.


Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self. – Bhagavad Gita


The success of yoga does not lie the ability to perform postures but inhow it positively changes the way we live our life and our relationships. Whenever you are in doubt, it is best to pause. Few things are so pressing that they cannot wait for a moment of breath. – Desikachar

Nurturing with Food – Roasted Squash and Apple Soup


I usually make this soup in the fall or around the holidays. As I looked out on the gloomy rainy day when I was writing this, I felt inspired to make this warming, nurturing soup.


Link to recipe:


See you on the mat!


Julia Anne



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