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March 26, 2023 – Asanas – Gomukhasana (Cow Face) – Crunchy Granola

We arrive this week at the third limb of yoga, the Asanas, the postures. Finally, one of the limbs that is easy to pronounce and easy (?) to understand. Maybe. This third sutra is the one most known in modern yoga practices and the one that takes up the bulk of time in most classes.

As Krishnamacharya 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!

The word Asana translates from Sanskrit as posture, “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. At that time, the goal of the asanas was to master the body to sit still for meditation. ‘Sthira Sukham Asanam’ is phrase that many yogis may have heard quoted from the Sutras. In class you may hear me talk about finding the Stirha (the strength) and the Sukha (ease) in a pose. Whether in ancient times practiced seated, or today while we are more active in much of our practice, the body should be balanced and free from suffering and the mind be steady. The physical asanas purify our bodies in preparation for the remaining limbs. Thousands of years later, nothing has really changed!

I refer to Heart of Yoga regularly in my practice. I was excited to find the link to the following excerpt from this book which describes some of Desikachar’s thoughts on an asana practice.

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. In reviewing the list, the only one that I can determine that we still practice regularly, is cow face pose.

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; there is also a video.

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.

"For many years I mistook discipline as ambition. Now I believe it to be more about consistency. Do get on the mat. Practice and life are not that different." — Judith Hanson Lasater

"In asana practice we learn to cherish each breath, to cherish every cell in our bodies. The time we spend on the mat is love in action” — Rolf Gates

Nurturing with Food – Crunchy Granola

I have been lazy about making granola, and once I do I wish I did it more often. This one is sweet enough but does not have sugar but gets its sweetness from the bananas and figs. Enjoy!

See you on the mat!


Julia Anne

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