Archives for posts with tag: savasana

I have not been writing for a long time. I do not know but I think this is a process. I have quit writing for some time, calmed my mind down and started writing again. Can I manage to go on writing without any intervals from this day on? I do not know that. I am not thinking about the future. I just wanted to write now and now I am in front of my computer,

Actually there are many things to write. Many experiences I gained in my classes. All physical, emotional and mental but I cannot make up my mind, relax and calm my mind down in order to write. Today is the right time and now I am writing.

A student who is interested in energy came to the class recently. Even though she wants to join every yoga class, she cannot since that class is taking place at an office during lunch time. Therefore sometimes some students can join and sometimes they cannot. When I woke up that morning, I was sure that this student would show up in class. It was the new moon time and I planned to do something related with the new moon. But in fact, I wanted this student who is dealing with healing and energy to do this. We had earlier talked about such plans but did not schedule any time. That morning I woke up and said, “this is the day.” I knew that the student was not always showing up in class but I had the instinct that she would that day. I was not wrong,

When I was about to enter the gym hall we were practicing, that student was getting out of the hall. She said, “teacher, I am coming today. I will join the class.” I said, “I had known that you were coming. I felt it because I would ask you to heal us if every one agrees. It is the new moon, new beginnings and for everything new.” The student could not object us and accepted the offer.

We began with meditation. Every one sat in a comfortable position. We wore socks and put on blankets in order not to be affected by the cold and the mind which could be affected by the cold. We began the healing with “Gayatri Mantra”, which has always been my favorite. I closed my eyes, focused on my breath, began watching my inhales and exhales and I relaxed my body. I leaned on a wall to feel more comfortable. I had been teaching yoga for so long time that I had forgotten to “take.” I was just giving energy but not receiving any. I reallly was in need of “taking” and “receiving.”

The new moon was happening in Taurus and its planet was Venus. So, we would work on “svadhisthana” (sacral) and “anahata” (heart) chakra, the student said. Listening to mantras and guided by the students, our bodies, minds and souls were flowing. My breath was calm and even stopped, I remember. I could not feel my body as if I had no body. There were colors and geometrical shapes in front of my minds. I thanked god, “my brain waves were moving from beta (stress mode) to alpha (meditation and savasana mode). This was the last thing I realized. Then I let myself totally be present with the mantras, the knowledge of my student and the flow. When mantras were following each other, the shapes and colors in front of my eyes changed. First two red lines came from right and left and hit each other in middle. Then colors softened and turned to parliament blue and just blue. I could not keep my head straight and still. It was dropping to right, left, front and back. Then there was no body. I was like flying. Some say that people rise from the floor when practicing yoga and meditation, which I have not witnessed myself, but if you ask if I had been off the floor, yes I would say I had that day. When my eyes were closed and my body was so light and listening to those mantras, I felt so light. As if I was a feet above the floor. That was really what I felt.

We laid down in “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose) at the end of the healing. When we were resting, the student came beside us. When she was with me, I felt energy spreading to my entire body from my crown chakra (sahasrara), from the top of my head up to the tips of my toes. I shrank and felt a vibration on my body as if my body was electrified. It was an unbelievable and amazing experience. I had not felt such an energy for a long time. Since I was a person who was always giving energy but forgetting to get, this healing was so fruitful and beneficial to me. I think energy givin people should sometimes remember themselves and join such practices.

I did not want to wake up after “savasana.” Unfortunately it was time to return to the real world and get away from that peaceful world. The student said,” actually it is not the right time to do this healing because the new moon has not been realized yet. It is about to happen one and a half hours and the effects will be better then. Normally I would not do this healing before the new moon happens because you cannot healed enough and benefit from it. But I felt that everybody needed this practice and therefore I did it. I had not thought that the outcome would bso good. Actually the moon has not entered the new moon phase and I could not be so giving and fruitful but I think that this is because you were so willing and in need of this energy and therefore we all benefitted. I am so glad.”

After that day, I made up my mind that I would start “taking” and “receiving” from time to time. In order for the cycle to operate well, we should sometimes take not always give. It was necessary to keep the give-take cycle equal. Neither giving more nor taking more. And one should always get healed, purified, refreshed, renewed and give time to herself/himself for peace and to try different practices.

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I have been feeling so lazy since the summer began. I could post blogs every weekend during winter, however I cannot since the beginning of summer. Since then, I have been walking outside, sunbathing and spending time with my friends. This is why I have not been posting for some time. In the meantime, yoga classes are under way. Moreover, the classes are as crowded and enjoying as the winter classes. Every class is a different experience for me and each of them is a topic for my blog. However, as the sun is shining and in the breeze of the evening, I prefer having fun instead of posting. Sorry!

Every yoga class is a new experience for me. Feedbacks from students, communication and interaction with each student. Every day, I learn a new thing and I feel myself rich of knowledge and experience at the end of each yoga class.

I focused on backbends in one of evening group yoga classes last week. When I woke up that day, I was not feeling well. There was something wrong but I did not know. I was upset somehow. Maybe because of the sky and the astrological developments. I am sure you have heard of the solar and lunar eclipse and the Mercury retrogade. Maybe I read a lot and that’s why I am spiritually moved by all these posts? Maybe it is so hot in my city. And that’s why I feel tired and tense. Who knows? Whatever, I decided on practicing backbends that day since I did not sleep well. So, selfish of me. I am feeling like that, and so everyone should feel so.

That day, I decided on a different theme. We would focus the chest by backbending however we should do it in a different way. There may be people who may be afraid of backbending. So, we should try defeating the fear with courage and we should trust ourselves. Or we could get the assistance of our instructor or a friend when we are trying the peak pose and trust those people. The theme would be fear, courage and trust. To fall to the unknown and to fall to the back. From “ustrasana” (camel pose) to “kapotasana” (pigeon pose). One step forward, from “tadasana” ( mountain pose) to “urdhva dhanurasana” (wheel pose). Maybe we used to do the second pose when we a child and we were never afraid. However, in time as we grew up, we have more fear and nothing is that simple anymore. The fear of falling, the fear of being unsuccessful, the fear of the unknown. And many other fear. We could only overcome fear with courage and trust. First trusting in ourselves and then the others around us and supporting us.

Believe me, I used to fall to the wheel pose from standing so easily when I was a child even without any warming up. I had not practiced this flow in my classes for a long time. I was afraid when I was showing it. Instead of trying it on my own, I got the support of two students and asked them to place their arms behind my lower back. Only then, I could fall back and did “urdhva dhanurasana.”

Students tried the pose after me. Some got help from me, some from others. What was important was the “trust.” We could overcome fear with confidence.

I was thinking when everyone was in “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose). Everyone had fears. Some have major fears while some have minor fears . To be afraid of height, to be afraid of snakes, to be afraid of falling, to be afraid of being unsuccessful, to be afraid of the unknown, to be afraid of the future. We may count many more. Fear is one of the negative emotions created by our minds. The opposite of fear is love. It is possible to overcome fear with love. In order to go over fear with courage, we should open and stretch the only area where “love” cand develop. Our heart. That is, we should focus on bending backward and continue trying and trying without yielding even if it is hard for us. And, we should try ourselves and those around when we are trying to defeat fear with courage. We should look in the eyes of those people, see the light in their eyes, trust them unconditionally, and surrender to them. Then, we are neither afraid of backbending, nor falling backward nor any other thing.

When I go to my yoga classes, I usually have some flow to pratice that day and believe me, what I have in mind is mostly what the students need that day. What a coincidence, isn’t it? However, some days I want to just show up in the class and get inspired by the students. I go to the class almost half an hour before the session begins, put my yoga mat and I either meditate or lay down supine to relax and rest. When people show up in class, I chat with them and this conversations mostly ends with a yoga plan in my mind. This is exactly what happened a few days ago.

When I went to class, no one had arrived yet. I put my yoga mat on the floor and I laid down to “supta baddha konasana” (reclined bound angle pose). I closed my eyes and totally surrendered my body on the floor. I calmed my breath down and rested before the class began. The students were showing up one after the other. When they came, I left the pose and started to talk to them That evening, our class was a “yin” (female energy) class. Our aim was to relax the bodies and minds on the last week day.

In “yin yoga”, we do not have so many options. As this type of yoga focuses on the sacroiliac joint, hip joint and the thigh bone and it aims to stretch even the deep connective tissues for a genuine relaxation, the “asana”s (pose) are limited. But that evening, I wanted to practice something different but I did not know what when one of the students helped me find what I was looking for. He inspired me.

Before the class began, one of the students had asked whether we could work on “vishuddha chakra” (throat chakra). We had practiced this chakra in our “vinyasa” (flow) classes before and the students was willing to know whether we could also work the same chakra during a yin yoga session. Why not? Surely, we could.

Meanwhile, a new student with “scoliosis” in her throacal spine arrived in the class. I talked to her and learned about her story. I looked into her spine and made some recommendations to her to pay attention during the class. Surely, I would also keep an eye on her during the entire class.

Suddenly, something came up in my mind. That day, we would not only stretch the chest but also stimulate the throat chakra. I could not only make the new students benefit from the class by stretching the chest but also make the other student happen by stimulating the throat chakra. Also, all students would experience a different type of yin yoga class.

We began the class in “supta baddha konasana” to stretch the chest. We rolled the yoga mats and placed it under the scapulato raise the chest and stretch it this way. I asked the students to close their eyes, direct their breath towards the chest and to fill their lungs with oxygen. After staying in the pose for about five minutes, we dropped the bodies to the right side and came to a sitting position.

We stayed at least four minutes in poses like “melting heart” and “sphinx” to stretch and open up the chest. In sphinx pose, we turned the neck to right and left and dropped it to the chest and lift it up the ceiling to stimulate the throat chakra. We rested in “balasana” (child pose) after all these poses. We were stimulating the “anahata chakra” (heart chakra) and letting the “energy of love” rise out of our bodies.

For the throat chakra and the shoulder girdle, we opened up our arms on both sides of shoulders and worked out wrist flexion and extension. Then we accelerated the blood flow in arms with “finger fans.” With “broken wings” we stretched shoulders and relieved the scapula. We stimulated the lung and heart meridians with these poses.

The other throat chakra poses were “marjaryasana-bitilasana” (cat-cow stretch), “sarvangasana” (shoulderstand), “halasana” (plow pose) and “karnapidasana” (ear pressure pose).

We ended the class with “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose) after “twisted roots”. When everybody was in “savasana”, I got into “supta baddha konasana” , my favorite pose. The lights turned off, the class dark, the class peaceful and the instrumental version of “What a wonderful world.”

It was hard for every one to wake up from “savasana.” What did I feel during the class? Was it so hard to listen to the voice of our hearts instead of our minds? Weren’t we happier and more peaceful when we listened to our hearts? Actually, wasn’t it the heart that knew the very right for us? So why were we always listening to the mind and were unhappy? Could we feel the vibrations of love in our heart? With the love in our hearts, could we speak out good words? Could we express ourselves in a right way? Could others understand what I was saying in the right way? “Let’s wish to listen to our hearts and do what it says as well as establishing right and accurate communication from now on. I bow in front of my dear student for he has become a source of inspiration for me. Namas’te my dear student.”

We had worked on and practiced two different types of classes during yoga teacher training program. One of them was a circular class and the other one was a class with a peak pose. After I had started teaching yoga, I preferred classes with a peak pose. I prepare the bodies and minds to the peak pose in the first half of the class and I neutralize, relieve and make the bodies rest in the second half of the class. Last week in one of the group classes, one of the students asked whether we could do something “mixed” that day, a class that included everything. At that moment, I remembered the circular-style class.

After the opening meditation, we warmed up the bodies with “surya namaskara” (sun salutation) series. Once the bodies were warmed up, we focused on standing asanas. We were refreshing the bodies with a “vinyasa” (flow) after each “asana” (pose) and then we were practicing another “asana.” Moreover, we were doing a “vinyasa” immediately after we did the right side in assymetrical poses. This way, the class was lika an “ashtanga yoga” class. But of course, I was not a professional at “ashtanga yoga” series but when I decided to teach a circular-style yoga, the class looked like an “ashtanga yoga” class.

We went on with forward bends and backbends. We were practicing two or three “asana”s from each asana group. Twists, core strengtheners and hip openers. One “asana” followed by a “vinyasa”… It was hot, the class was hot, the “agni” (element fire) in us was burning and maybe this was the first time that I had ever practiced such an active class like that with this group.

In the end came inversions. Since the class was cosmopolitan with the beginners and the advanced students, I asked the students to choose among “salamba sirsasana” (supported headstand), “salamba sarvangasana” (supported shoulderstand) and “adho mukha vrksasana” (handstand).

We ended the class with “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose). I was thinking just one thing at the end of the class. Why do I love and prefer classes with a peak pose? I guess I have found the answer. I do not like monotonous things. I do not like to know the next move and to act by knowing what is coming the next. I loved the unknown. “To live the moment”, “to stay in the moment”, “to be happy and peaceful without knowing what the next moment will bring but just to live that single moment.” I loved that. When we live by knowing the next step, the mind has already known everything and it moves before the body and the breath, i.e. the mind. Then we become people directed and steered by the mind. We become puppets. However, it is possible to live just the “moment” and be happy. And this is what I am trying to do.

I have been waiting for summer to come for almost two months. As I am waiting, it is not coming. I love hot weather, sun, pool, sea and sunbathing. The more I want all these summer-linked things, the longer it takes for summer to come. Moreover, I want to write an article on what type of yoga we can do during the summer. However, I cannot write it as the summer has not arrived yet. I decided to write anyway June 21, the summer solstice, has passed away. What type of yoga should we do to celebrate the summer solstice?

Before answering this question, let’s try to explain what summer solstice mean and what happens that day. We experience two solstices a year, including winter solstice on December 21 and summer solstice on June 21. It is the time when the movement of the sun’s path (as seen from Earth) comes to a stop before it reverses direction.

The summer solstice or June 21 is the longest day of the year. It is the completion of the cycle that began at the winter solstice. The sun is at its highest point on this day. After June 21, days start to get shorter and nights grow longer until September 23 — the autumnal equinox. I should remind you that all these things happen in the northern hemisphere. It is just the opposite in the southern hemisphere.
Let’s come back to the solstice after this brief scientific information. The solstice is the best time to let the nature embrace us. Particularly during the summer solstice, we can find ourselves dancing with bare feet on grass or sand with the sun warming our bodies and soul. So far, we have only talked about the effects of the solstice on our souls.

If you ask me what type of yoga we could do to mark the summer solstice, I would just tell you to perform 108 “surya namaskara” (sun salutations). The sun is at its highest point on this day, so it is so meaningful to mark the day with sun salutations. This way we can burn the fire within us. We can expand each time we inhale and imagine that the sun is warming us each time we exhale.
Can we only mark the summer solstice with a flow yoga? Of course not. We can also mark June 21 with yin yoga. We cannot burn the fire within us with this type of yoga but we can extinguish the fire and we can calm ourselves down on this summer solstice. These are types of yoga we may perform on June 21 summer solstice. Now let’s try to find an answer to the question “what type of yoga during summer”.
As you may remember from my previous articles, our bodies are divided into three groups according to Ayurveda (Indian science of living). They were “vata, pitta and kapha”. Only one type was dominant on some bodies. On some bodies, two or three types were active. Also, one of the body types can be dominant over other during different seasons. During cold, dark, severe and harsh winter, the “vata dosha” (air and space) in our bodies was increasing. Therefore, we were giving priority to grounding in our yoga practice. During winter, the “kapha dosha” (earth and water) was dominant and to this end, we were feeling heavy and exhausted.

What happens to our bodies during summer? When summer comes, the “pitta” (fire and water) in our body increases. We may feel ourselves tired due to hot weather. Moreover, as the “pitta dosha” increases in our bodies, we may be aggressive and demanding. For this reason, it will be good for us if we begin our yoga practice by lying supine during summer. Starting with “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose) to bring the awareness to our yoga practice, then a lateral stretch and a twist will make us feel well at the beginning of our yoga practice. This way we can balance our internal heat.
Not only at the beginning of our yoga practice but also during the entire practice we may prefer a calmer yoga style than a fast and active yoga style. This way, we can give more priority to relaxation and meditation. But, this does not mean that we should not practice a flow yoga during summer. We can do it in a calmer and more aware way when we practice flow yoga.
Naturally, we can begin the practice with “surya namaskara” (sun salutation) series and go on with all standing asanas such as “trikonasana” (triangle), “ardha chandrasana” (half moon pose), “utthita parsvakonasana” (wide angle pose), “setu bandhasana” (bridge), “urdhva dhanurasana” (wheel), “bharadvajrasana” (sage Bharadvaj pose), “upavista konasana” (seated angle pose), “parivritta janu sirsasana” (twisted head to knee pose), “baddha konasana” (bound angle pose), “paschimottanasana” (east looking forward bend), “halasana” (plow pose), “salamba sarvangasana” (supported shoulderstand), “karnapidasana” (ear pressure pose), “matsyasana” (fish pose). We can focus on forward bends in our yoga classes or own practice in order to calm the mind and body down.
In addition to all these asanas, we can use a “pranayama” technique called “sitali” to cool our bodies down. In short we curl the tongue and protrude it slightly past the lips. We inhale deeply and smoothly through the tongue and mouth and exhale through the nose. This technique calms and cools us. You may feel cooler when you do this pranayama for a few minutes.

Another “pranayama” technique we can use during summer is to close the right nostril and just breathe through the left nostril. Right nostril is the male and solar side of our bodies and named “pingala nadi” (solar energy center). The left nostril is the female and lunar side of our bodies and named “ida nadi” (lunar energy center). When we close the right nostril, we close the male, active and warming side of our bodies and when we inhale and exhale through the left nostril, we use our female, passive and cooling side.

At the end of our yoga practice, we can either rest in “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose) or we can reverse the flow of the body and rest in “viparita karani” (legs up to the wall).

Have you noticed that yoga is such a wide world that you may practice different types and use different “pranayama” techniques in every season. It is possible to warm or cool our bodies during winter and summer with these breathing techniques. So you may ask how to breath during spring or autumn? There is a breathing technique to equalize the right and left energies in our bodies, which can be used especially during spring and autumn. That is, yoga offers us many different things.
This or that way, summer or winter. Or spring or autumn. Not important. What is important is to love yoga and have yoga in our daily lives during all seasons maybe only by asanas; or by asanas, pranayama and meditation; or by asanas, pranayama, meditation and philosophy.

 

 

Anatolian people believe that three radiations of heat fall into the air, water and earth to herald the beginning of spring. The first radiation fell into the air last week. First into the air, then into the water and then the earth… In my previous post, I had written about the yoga classes I thought in the week when the radiation fell into the air and how we tried to prepare our bodies to changing weather conditions and the spring. The radiations herald the beginning of spring. And, we can prepare our bodies to the spring by practicing in line with these elements.

The raditations would start falling into the air, heralding better and warm weather conditions. The first into the air on February 20, the second into the water on February 27 and the third into the earth on March 6 (March 5 in leap years).

We had worked on the element air and water so far. This week was the week of the element earth. The element earth was related with “muladhara chakra” (root chakra) and it was located in the coccyx. The root chakra was life. “Muladhara chakra” was related with our being and body, environment and the world and was regulating the deepest connection with ourselves. This chakra was also about all survival issues like nutrition, shelter, home, family, how to make a living. It was about whether we feel secure, how we survive, how we make a living and our roots.

As this chakra was about the element earth, we should focus on grounding. Standing asanas and balancing asanas (poses). I decided to deep in all standing poses and make a balancing pose the peak pose of that day. We worked on deep grounding under the soles of both feet throughout the class. We stayed long in “tadasana” (mountain pose) at the beginning, middle and end of the class. I asked the students to give all the weight on the toes and then on the soles in this pose and observe the difference. Then, I asked all students to raise their body on the tips of the toes and then put the soles back on the ground. We tried to see how we feel on our roots by shifting the balance to different parts of the feet.

The first balancing pose we tried before the peak pose was “vrksasana” (tree pose) We tried to get rooted well under sole of one of the feet and tried to raise our spine from the top of our head. “Think of the plant lotus. It has its roots in the mud but it has a beautiful flower. Now when staying in this pose, think that we can raise from our roots even if they are muddy and we can blossom flowers. Extend your spine and your body by thinking this way. Even if the roots are muddy or it is clear and clean, we can grow from those roots. Think of a tree and assume that you root it out. It can only survive for a short time. Just like that tree, we cannot survive without the roots. Therefore, we should accept our roots as they are and grow and raise ourselves on those roots.”

The peak pose was “ardha chandrasana” (half moon pose). After the first trial, we bent the up leg and tried to grab the foot with out hand. At the same time, we were grounding from the foot and hand on the floor.

After a “vinyasa” (flow), we sat down and got into “dandasana” (staff pose). “In this pose, just observe which parts of the body are touching the floor.” The heels, calf muscles, hamstrings and sitting bones. Then “paschimottanasana” (sitting forward bend) and the same parts of the body are on the ground. We ended the class with “marichyasana” (Sage Marichi pose). The sole of one of the feet; the heel, calf, hamstrings of the other side and the sitting bones of both sides were on the ground. This meant that one part of the body was always touching the floor. There was always a kind of grounding.

During “savasana” (deep relaxation of resting pose), I asked the students to totally leave their bodies on the floor and surrender to the element earth. Totally get rooted and grounded.

Those with root chakra imbalance were greedy, insecure people with financial issues. When the root chakra was not working well, we were not feeling secure and we could always look around as if something bad would happen. Moreover, we could be deeply affected by fear. If the root chakra is overactive, that person could be so materialistic. But when we have solid roots, we can build a solid life over those roots, just like a building with a solid foundation.

Anatolian people believe that three radiations of heat fall into the air, water and earth to herald the beginning of spring. The first radiation fell into the air last week. First into the air, then into the water and then the earth… In my previous post, I had written about the yoga classes I thought in the week when the radiation fell into the air and how we tried to prepare our bodies to changing weather conditions and the spring. The radiations herald the beginning of spring. And, we can prepare our bodies to the spring by practicing in line with these elements.

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The raditations would start falling into the air, heralding better and warm weather conditions. The first into the air on February 20, the second into the water on February 27 and the third into the earth on March 6 (March 5 in leap years).

We had worked on the element water in the first week. This week, it was time for the element water. Element water was related with being in the flow, action and movement. It was about change. Instead of resisting, to be with the flow and to move. But not a disgraceful move, but moving with grace. As if we are dancing. The flood was also a type of water but it was destructive. However, a brook was also a water but it was calm and serene. To be like a brook, not flood. To be calm and serene and move this way…

The element water was also related with the second chakra, i.e. the “swadisthana chakra” (sacral chakra). Flexibility, elasticity and female energy. Hip opening series… Creativity and to love ourselves. To love and get rid of all negative emotions that take shelter in this chakra.

Flow and action were important in a yoga class on the element water. Change was important. Therefore, we should practice a “vinyasa” (flow) class. To move, to sweat and feel the element water.

The peak pose would be “hamunanasana” (monkey pose). So, we got prepared for the peak pose by stretcting hip flexor, hamstring and groin muscles. After trying the peak pose, we neutralized and rested the bodies in “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose).

The element water was about change. As Heraclitus of Ephesus said, “you could not step twice in the same river. The river changes and so do you.” Isn’t yoga the same? Every moment is a new moment. And when a moment is being lived, it has already become “history.”

What draws my attention in yoga classes is that everybody has a different type of body. Some of them have flexible hips and some are born with a flexible chest. It is so easy for some people to stand on their hands whereas it is impossible for some people to stand upside down. If we leave aside the soul and mind, the characteristics of our bodies help us do certain “asana”s (pose) or refrain from some of them.

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It was an evening class. I wanted to focus on backbends that evening. There were a few new comers. People who had showed up in a yoga class for the first time… Nevertheless, I insisted on a backbend flow and the peak pose. The peak pose would be “urdhva dhanurasana” (wheel pose).

We began the class with meditation as usual. What was important during meditation was to feel comfortable. So, I was not forcing students to sit at a certain pose. What was important to feel bodily comfortable so that the mind also relaxes. Therefore, every one was free to sit either in “sukhasana” (easy pose) or “virasana” (hero pose) or “dandasana” (staff pose). What was important was to sit with an erect spine, without rounding the spine. I asked the students to pick the pose that was comfortable for them, close their eyes, relax the chin and jaw and the area between the eyebrows, to roll the shoulders back and push the shoulder blades down, to extend the spine as their breathe in. I watched the students picking up their meditative poses, either “sukhasana” or “virasana.” Those with knee issues preferred “dandasana.”

That evening, one of the students sat in “padmasana” (lotus pose). I can hear you ask what was so special about that. Yes, nothing special. “Padmasana” is one of the “asana”s we may prefer while meditating. What is interesting is that this was that student’s first ever yoga class.

Following meditation, we started to get prepared for “urdhva dhanurasana.” We stretched the chest, hip flexor muscles and shoulders. It was time for the peak pose. I wanted the students to try the peak pose in three stages. In the first stage, they would do “setu bandhasana” (bridge pose). In the second stage, they would get into “setu bandhasana” and then they would place their hands beside their ears and put the top of the head on the ground. In the third trial, they would exactly do the second stage and then try to lift their body up to fully get into “urdhva dhanurasana.”

All students did the first stage. Some of them tried while some did not try the second stage. And something interesting happened in the third trial. A new student could do “urdhva dhanurasana” with the right alignment.

After the peak pose, we neutralized the bodies with “dandasana, “paschimottanasana” (seated forward bend), “baddha konasana” (bound angle pose) and “jathara parivartanasana” (abdominal twist). The class ended with “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose).

Some of the students took their time to leave the studio after the class ended. What drew my attention also drew the attention of the old students. “Teacher, have you realized the new students today”, they asked. I answered, “yes, I have realized them. I have seen that one of them could easily do ‘padmasana’ at the beginning of the class. However, we try very hard to do that pose but still have difficulties. And the other student could so easily do the wheel pose. How different our bodies are, aren’t they? Some of them can easily bend backward and feel so comfortable in wheel pose. Some of them feel so happy in ‘padmasana.’ Some of them feel happy and comfortable with handstand. When I was a child, I was refraining from handstands in our gym classes. I loved to do wheel pose but I hated handstand. The school ended and I thought that I would no more have to do handstand. How could I know that I would have to deal with this pose again during yoga teacher training program? This means that refraining is not a solution. There is still something I am supposed to learn from it.”

“Every one has a different type of body. Some can stand on their arms as if they are standing on their feet while some of them like to bend backward. Some have flexible hips and no problems with ‘padmasana’ or ‘hanumanasana’ (monkey pose/split). What is important is to realize what our body prevails and not prevails and our talents and just enjoy the journey when our bodies do not let us do some poses.

When we were a child and when we were younger than two-digit ages, the new year was the best time of the year. However there were not so many opportunities like this before. There were not any shopping malls that were decorated with new year lights where you could feel the joy of the new year. You could only feel that the new year was coming from the cake shops. And also from the lunch at the school.

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The new year’s eve was like a holiday at school. The cook used to wear Santa Claus costume and serve us the best food we had ever had so far. There was nothing different with the food that day. They were just serving us the food we loved the most. There were no lessons. We used to have fun all day. At night, our parents brought us altogether in either our place or some other’s place and they went out to have fun in a restaurant. Remember, I have told you that you could only feel the joy of the new year in cake shops. Our parents used to buy us a special cake for the new year from a cake shop in order to please us. When they came home, we would already have been fallen asleep. The new year was to play with friends, eat cakes and to fall asleep before midnight when we were a kid.

Days, weeks, years and years passed by. One-digit ages were over. Two-digit ages came. Everything was so fine at the 20s. Between 20s and 30s, we used to go out to mark the new year. Drink, music and dance till the morning. When we were heading from 30s to 40s, everything started to change. The new year was no more as attractive and joyful as it used to be. We had lost that joy. The house and Christmas tree that used to be decorated with joy in the 20s and 30s were replaced with some sentences like, “oh my God, it’s the new year’s eve again. What are we going to do? How can we have fun? It is more boring than ever.” On the other hand, the new year’s eve celebrated with friends was still fun. The “crazy night out”s were replaced with “chat” and “a dinner table” with friends.

And again we are on the eve of a new year. Am I joyful and enthusiastic? Not really. So what am I feeling? I have goals for the new year. I am willing to learn new things and develop myself. I am eager to read and learn more. I am willing to travel and see new places. I am eager to visit exhibitions, go to seminars and develop myself more. I have the ambition to progress on the path of yoga, practice new “asana”s or at least try the “asana”s I am not good at and enjoy the journey. I am willing to make new beginnings. I am willing to have a new hobby. I wish to write a book, which most of my friends ask why I haven’t started so far. New year, new wishes, goals, willingness and beginnings. And the ambition to achieve all of them in the new year.

A long meditation and “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose) in the last yoga class of the year. What did I wish for? “2017 has come and gone. It is now a history. We do not care about the past in yoga. We cannot intervene and we cannot change the past. The past is over and you should forget about it. 2018… New year, new wishes, new demands, new dreams, new goals and targets… However it has not yet arrived. It is about to come. However, the future is so far away from us. We can only have plans and goals but we cannot know what the future will bring us. So, no need to think about it so much. We can deal with it when the time comes. So what about now? Now, the moment we are just living? We should try to enjoy “now” and the “right now” and the “very right now we are living.” When we are talking or writing, the right now is over. The right now is also a past. So we should have a goal in the new year. Just to live the right now we are living and not to think about a moment before or after. Just to live the right now and realize and be aware that all our wishes, goals, dreams, demands and targets are not so far away from us.

And let there be hope… Let there always be hope… 2018! Be a lovely, more peaceful year in which we face no problems or troubles in our country and in the world. Let us wake up to bright mornings. Let us close our eyes at night peacefully. Let there be love. Let everyone love each other more. Let everyone understand each other… Let us all be peaceful, serene, happy and hopeful… Let there always be hope… 2018! Please bring better and brighter days to particularly my country, will you?

I have been facing the same exhaustion, unhappiness and insecurity in the eyes of the students in my yoga classes recently. Everybody in tense, everybody is afraid and everybody is restless. Terrorist attacks one after the other increase the exhaustion, insecurity, unhappiness and uneasiness of our bodies and souls in these long, dark and gloomy winter days. When I show up in class and ask students what they want to do that day, they always say, “something that can make us relax and something that can make us feel peaceful and happy only if it is for an hour.” For this reason, I focused on flows that would stretch the chest in this week’s yoga classes.

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I aimed to focus on backbends and stretch the chest in three different yoga classes. The peak pose would be “urdhva dhanurasana” (wheel pose). Before the flow began, I told students “today we will try wheel pose. When trying it, we would try to look behind, look at the past and look at the unknown. To look behind, have trust in our arms and lift the body upward is something that requires courage. If we are afraid, if we have something to fear in our lives, we cannot open our chest with courage. But we can try it with confidence and courage and can proceed towards love, enthusiasm and happiness.”

And the class began. We stretched the chest and hip flexor muscles and worked on our shoulder girdle in order to externally rotate the shoulders. I decided to make students try the peak pose in three stages. In the first trial, we would practice “setu bandhasana” (bridge pose). When inhaling, we would lift the spine up to the thoracal area and in our second inhale, we would lift the chest up more. In our second trial, we would again begin with “setu bandhasana” and after we got in the pose, we would place the arms beside the head and put the top of the head on the ground. If this stage was impossible for us for that day, we would again do “setu bandhasana.” In our third trial, we would try wheel pose. We would get in the second stage first and when inhaling we would lift the body on the arms and lift the head up also. If this pose was hard and challenging for us that day, we would stay in the second stage.

There were students who did all three stages, those who only did bridge pose, and those who tried the first and second stages. Everybody tried the pose as much as their bodies and souls prevailed and accepted their condition.

When the students were in “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting position), I was thinking. All students felt unhappy, desperate, sad, disappointed, tired, exhausted and unsecure due to recent incidents in the country. Every one was afraid. Even though we thought that we were not affected, we were feeling unsecure, tired, exhausted and hopeless about the terrorist attacks. Accurate or inaccurate — we were getting tip-offs from social media every day. “Don’t go there, don’t wander around this area.” Even though the bodies were not tired, the souls were. All the incidents caused insecurity, exhaustion and desperation. Even though we bent backward in order to avoid this spirit and stretched the chest, we could not get the desired outcome and effect. Maybe we used to bend backward so easily in the past and now we were facing difficulties. Was it because our souls and hearts were so heavy? What about the fear? New fears every day? And to be deprived of the courage to overcome this fear? And not to feel brave enough to do something? Not to take any steps with courage and confidence. To feel exhausted and not being able to lift the chest up by all these emotions…