Archives for posts with tag: yin

Life is a cycle of taking and giving… The more we give, the more we take. I have always believed that we should first give in order to take. We should give so that we open a space in our lives and then we fill that space with the new one. Just like the movie “Pay it forward”… Do you remember the movie? A boy named Trevor with a problematic family life creates an ideal word in a homework given by his new  teacher. In that ideal world, Trevor conjures the notion of paying a favor not back, but forward–repaying good deeds not with payback, but with new good deeds done to three new people. In the meantime, some changes occur in lives of every one Trevor knows, particularly his teacher. Every favor paid forward is repaid somehow.

When I decided to focus on giving-taking cycle in the yoga classes this week, I remembered this movie. To give before taking and to open a new space for the new comer. To wish to get rid of emotional and physical problems in our lives and to open a new space for something new and better for us. Is it possible to open a space for something new and better without getting rid of the old one?

Therefore, I focused on stretching the chest with backbends in all yoga classes this week. The peak pose was “urdhva dhanurasana” (wheel) which is the most feared but the most desired pose of all students. All students feel so happy when they see they can really get in the pose. I asked the students to try the “asana” (pose) by getting rid of the emotional and physical burden which prevent them from getting in the pose. Who knows what kind of burden we had in our minds and hearts those days that prevented us from getting into this pose? First of all, I asked the students to focus on their minds and emotions. To realize their mental and emotional burden and then to realize that this burden was no useful to them, to get rid of the burden and to rise in the pose. First give, purify and get rid of and then to welcome the new one… Cycle of taking and giving… The law of circulation…

Some of us are just givers. They like to help every one without expecting anything in return. They prefer to make others happy by giving without expecting anything in return. They become happy when others are happy.

Some of us are just takers. They always want to play the leading role in life. They want every one to love them, like them, be kind to them, be appreciated and loved so much. They always want to draw all the interest and attention. They want to attract all love, material and moral everything on themselves. However, they do not think of paying attention to others and making others happy in return.

In my opinion, to be always a giver or always a taker is not a right thing. If life consists of dualities and if there is “yin-yang” (female and male) energy in life, then we should not just be a taker or a giver. We should somethimes take and sometimes give so that we can live the life in full balance.

What was I thinking at the end of the class? We should first give in order to take. We should get rid of things that give us pain and trouble and open a space for the new comers that might be better for us. We could not take if we do not give. If we do not open a space for the new things, nothing could get into our lives. It was this simple. We could not get a new shirt if we do not give the old one to someone in need. The law of circulation was this simple. We could apply the law to moral and material things, i.e. everything in life. We should open a space for the new comers. This was what I was thinking at the end of class, To live without piling up, to first give in order to take and to open a new space for the new comers.

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I am aware that I am flying once the spring has come. One of Turkish poets once said, “this beautiful weather has messed me up. I am just as the poet said. I did not want to sit in front of the computer and post a blog. Instead, I wanted to go to the countryside, watch the blue sea and enjoy my time there. But surely, this laziness should end, shouldn’t it? Back to real life and back to my posts.

In my previous post, I had wrote that our bodies changed with the spring and told you about what type of yoga we should practice in springtime. This week, our classes were just how I wrote in my blog. In some classes, we only practiced “surya namaskara” (sun salutation) while in some “vinyasa” (flow) classes we focused on backbends and balancing poses. In some “yin” (feminine energy) yoga classes, we focused on liver meridian and tried to purify the liver, which has been affeceted by the cold and long winter.

In one of classes we focused on backbends, I witnessed the progress of some of the students. I have been practicing with the same group for about a year and that day, I decided to try “urdhva dhanurasana” (wheel) as the peak pose. “Urdhva dhanurasana” was one of the poses in which most students have difficulties. Even though how challenging it is, students want to try this “asana” (pose) from time to time and want to get used to it and deepen in the pose.

As usual, that day, we prepared the bodies for the pose by stretching the chest, shoulder girdle and hip flexor muscles. We tried the peak pose in three stages. In the first stage, we tried “setu bandhasana” (bridge pose), in the second trial we got into “setu bandhasana” and then we put the top of the head on the ground and placed the hands on both sides of the head. In the last stage, we tried the full “urdhva dhanurasana.” Some students stayed in the second stage whereas some asked for my assistance and got in the pose that way, In the meantime, I realized the progss in two students. Both of them did the “asana” on their own. One of them was thinking that her chest was closed and her chest was making “weird” noises in backbends. I asked the student to try the pose again. She did it again, rose on her arms, took another breath and opened her chest so widely. This was one of the happiest moments in my life. To see a student progress this much in time and to observe that she was doing a pose she thought she could never do. This was the greatest happiness.

The other student was also one of the students who found “urdhva dhanurasana” the most challenging pose. That day she rose on her arms and opened her chest up. Maybe she could not lift her chest as much as desired but she tried this pose with courage and made a progress. Determination was the most important thing if we wanted to make a progress.

Another student deeply affected me that day. I asked the students to get into “urdhva dhanurasana” from “camatkarasana” (wild thing pose). I realized that one of the students was so flexible and strong to do the transition however she was afraid. I stood by her to encourage her and told her that I could help her when trying. I just stood by her and encouraged. That student got into “urdhva dhanurasana” from “camatkarasana.”

That day, I realized that determination was the most important thing if we wanted to make a progress. We just need to be aware of the power within us and have confidence in ourselves. And of course, we should practice a lot. We should not give up but try and try. One of yoga masters, Pattabhi Jois says: “yoga is 99 percent practice and one percent theory.”

Everybody is tired on the last weekday. Most of us want to go home, watch television and take a rest at home while some of us want to end the week with a yoga class, get bodily, spiritually and mentally relieved and calm down with the last yoga class of the week.

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I prefer to teach a calm and meditative yoga class instead of a flow yoga class on Friday evening. I aim to stretch the full body with “yin yoga” (yoga aiming to stretch deep connective tissues) especially in the lasst few weeks. I make students wait in each “asana” (pose) for at least four or five minutes in order to stretch a different part of the body and get rid of physical and spiritual burden accumulated in that part. The hip flexor muscles and the stomach and spleen meridian, the inner thighs and the liver and kidney meridian, the hamstrings and the urinary bladder meridian and the hip external rotator muscles and the gall bladder meridian.

In the first week, we stretched hamstrings with “half butterfly”, “half frog”, “caterpillar” and “viparita karani” (legs up to 90 degrees) and focused on the urinary bladder to work on the emotion “fear.”

In the second week, we focused on the spine and the upper back. The back of the body was related with the urinary bladder. It was the second time we would stimulate the same meridian however, we focused on spine-strengthening poses because most people were having back problems. We stayed at least for one minute with an erect spine before bending forward and tried to bend forward after we had pushed the coccyx backward. We relieved the spine with twists at the end of the class.

In the third week, we focused on inner thighs and groins. Our aim was to stimulate the liver and observe the emotion of fear and its effects on ourselves. We bent in-between the two legs in “half butterfly” and “half frog.” The other poses were “dragonfly” and “frog.”

I will go on focusing on a certain part of the body every Friday evening. My aim is to stimulate and relieve a certain part of the body instead of stimulating the entire body. Just focus on a certain part of the body, ensure a deep stretch in that part and observe the emotions that came out of the stretch. To close the eyes and turn inward, to close the eyes and see what is instead not outside. To close the eyes and just realize the body, mind and soul… And do everything with a full awareness…

Some students often ask me questions about why there are warrior poses (virabhadrasana) and flows like warrior dance in yoga. How come there can be “warrior” poses, flows and dances in yoga which is a philosophy based on love and peace? Or the war in “Bhagavad Gita” (The Song of the Lord), one of the written documents in yoga? In fact all these wars are between the soul and the mind. And the entire fight in yoga is to bring the mind and soul back together.

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When I went to class last week, students said they wanted to do something different, particularly the “warrior dance” we had practiced long before. In our previous practice, we prepared the body with “yin yoga” (yoga in which we stay in each pose for at least three minutes and stretch not only the muscles but also deep connective tissues) and then performed the dance. This time we would try the dance after a “vinyasa” (flow) practice.

“Warrior dance” is a “yang” practice including balance, lunges and squats. After warming up the body with “surya namaskara” (sun salutation) series, we included “ashwa sanchalanasana” (high lunge), “anjaneyasana” (low lunge), “prasarita padottanasana” (wide-legged forward bend) and “water bug” in-between the “vinyasa”s and stretched the groin muscles and inner thighs. Before starting the attacks of the warrior, we stayed on one leg and tried to establish our balance on one leg. The pullbacks were like squats and so we get prepared for these pullbacks with “golden seed” flow of “yin yoga.”

Why war? Why warrior? An epic of yoga — “Bhagavad Gita” is about a war. Even if it is an epic and even if it seems that it is about a genuine war, “Bhagavad Gita” is about the war of mind and ego. The epic tells the story of a war between the families Pandava and Kaurava in B.C. 3102. When preparing for the dance, I remembered this epic and decided to explain the dance this way.

“Imagine a situation in which you have to make a decision but your heart i.e. your soul and mind talk differently. Your heart and mind are in a battle. They are in a clash. Which one will win? Or which one is telling the right thing?” “First stand on one leg robust and strong before attacking. Then get all your strength and start attacking. After three attacks, get back and look at what the enemy is doing If you decide to make your decision from heart, your enemy is the mind. Keep one eye at the back, the enemy. The enemy can make an attempt back any time. Then turn back on one leg again, stay in balance and watch the outcome.”

As Mahatma Gandhi defined, “Lord Krishna” represents the consciousness, “whipping the horses” represents taking the lust under control, the “chariot” represents the body, “Arjuna” the ego, “the tyres of the chairot” the time and “war” the life itself. Like these symbols of “Bhagavad Gita”, the “warrior dance” tells about the battle of the mind and soul. Will we make our decisions from heart or by our mind? Will we decide with our soul or mind? Will our “ego” or “consciousness” steer us or will we take action with our soul? The whole battle was just about this.

It is the sine qua non aspects of a yin yoga class to inform students about meridians. When students were standing still in poses in a yin yoga group class last week, I was informing them about yin yoga, meridians and emotions as usual. As the students were stimulating their gallbladders in an “asana”, one of the students said she had her gallbladder removed and asked, “so what am I supposed to feel right now? Can’t I feel the emotions you are telling us about right now?” I had nothing to say to the student because I had no idea and I preferred not to comment if I was not well-informed about a subject. I told the student, ” I have not idea about this subject and I do not want to misinform you. Let me look into this subject and give you more information in our next class.”

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Once I got home, I looked into my books but could not find anything about this subject. So I googled. Guess what I had seen? Many teachers were asked this question in their yoga classes.

Even if we had a surgery and had one of our organs removed, the energy of that organ did not vanish. We continued to feel that energy. The gallbladder was related with our courage, action and flow as well as the element wood. The energy of the element wood is clarity and therefore when this energy is in balance, we could see clearly and take action.

The gallbladder and liver are partner organs. The gallbladder is a “yang” organ and the liver is a “yin” organ. “Yang” organs are related with digestion and transmission of nutrients in the body. “Yin” organs are responsible for production, regulation and storage of fundamental substances. The gallbladder produces and releases bile and controls decision-making and planning. It affects our dreams. Emotionally, gallbladder is related with inspiration, passion for life, decisiveness, courage and taking action. If we do not enjoy life and have difficulties in making decisions, it means we may have a problem with the gallbladder energy. If this energy is in balance, we are happy, healthy, decisive and passionate.

The emotion of liver and gallbladder is anger. If we feel anger and we cannot burst it out, then we can have problems in liver and gallbladder meridian. If you are under stress and not eating healthily, you may deteriorate the energy of this meridian. When the meridian is unbalanced, anger shows up and it can have some visible effects on your body. You may have red face and eyes, you may get angry very easily, you may suffer from ringing in the ears and migrane.

Moreover, gallbladder affects sleep. If you have a problem with this organ, you may wake up suddenly in the middle of the night or early in the morning and could not fall asleep again.

According to yin yoga, meridians, acapuncture and Chinese medicine, even if the gallbladder is removed, we continue to feel the energy of this organ. If we go on eating fat and spicy food which is harmful for the gallbladder and do not change our diet, then we go on feeling the damp-heat of the gallbladder. When the gallbladder is removed, we can feel its deficiency in our body since it does not do its duty in the body. Despite everything, we could go on acapuncture treatment on this meridian and benefit from it as if our gallbladder was not removed.

What I learned from my google research was that even if any of our organs was removed, the emotion and effects of it on our body remained. Maybe a little less but the energy was not vanishing. Therefore the energy of the organs and meridians were eternal.

What about trying to observe what you feel inside even if your organ is removed in our next yin yoga session when we focus on meridians? What about laughing if you want to, what about crying if you want to, what about shouting if you want to, what about grumbling if you want to, what about showing your anger if you want to? You and I have altogether learned what will happen if we keep our emotions inside and do not show them. So what about expressing your emotions instead of keeping it to yourself?

I have been focusing on core strengthening flows and inversions in my yoga classes for a long time. I do not know why but if it is summer and if it is hot, almost all students want to focus on flow classes and get the most benefit from that class. We forget to stretch our bodies in those times. And when we start stretching our bodies, the body reminds us for how long time it has been neglected.

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Last week was the week of fall equinox, So we focused on “surya namaskara” (sun salutation) flows and core strengthening flow classes in last week’s yoga classes. One of the groups told me that they wanted to stretch their bodies. However, they did not want to stay long in “asana”s (poses) as “yin yoga” style but wanted a dynamic stretching instead.

Following opening meditation, we sat in cross-legged position and laterally stretched the spine. After bending the spine forward, we got on all-fours for “marjaryasana-bitilasana” (cat-cow strtech) and relieved the spine with a twist.

As the students wanted dynamic stretching, we got into “adho mukha svanasana” (downward facing dog) after the twist on all-fours. In this pose, we stretched calf muscles and then we bent the knees and straightened them in order to extend “hamstring” muscles.

Throughout the class, we mostly did standing poses like “lateral stretching” in “tadasana” (mountain pose), “uttanasana” (standing forward bend), “parsvakonasana” (side angle pose), “ashwa sanchalanasana” (high lunge), “anjaneyasana” (low lunge), “eka pada raja kapotasana” (pigeon pose), “square”, “gomukhasana” (cow face pose) and did the arm position of “garudasana” (eagle) pose when sitting in gomukhasana. After “upavistha konasana” (seated angle pose) we ended the class with a twist and “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose).

As we would not wait long in poses that day, I started to do the flow together with the students. We closed the eyes and felt the warming up of the spine. Then we got into downward facing dog and realized how tense our hamstring and calf muscles were. When dynamically stretching the body, we flew from one pose to another with the help of our breath and as if we were dancing. No interruption between the poses, and a class like a dancing class.

In the poses, I tried to find out for how long we had been focusing on flow classes. Of course we are strengthening the bodies with flow classes but what about the flexibility of the body? We were stretching our mind and thoughts when we stretched our bodies, weren’t we? How tense we got without even realizing. I saw that I was having difficulties in poses which I used to do so easily and it was so hard to wait for even a few breaths in these poses. My body got strongther ok, but it also needed a good stretch. I had forgotten the yin-yang cycle. I decided to always remember the yin-yang cycle in my daily life and my yoga classes, starting from that moment. Life was not just full of excitement, heavy flows and entertainment but it was also full of calm times and the times we turned inward. I once more thank my students for reminding me this very important motto and I bend with respect in front of them. Namas’te.

Sometimes I find myself always busy with some projects and plans. Yoga classes, meetings, hangouts, excursions, trips and a rush. In those days, I do not even think of taking a rest even for a while. I feel like time is flying so quickly and I cannot catch up with it. Can you imagine living your entire life this way? We will get exhausted at one point, won’t we? And I feel myself tired and exhausted after such an active period of time. Yang, isn’t it?

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Then I start to live my days in a calmer way. I start to take a rest, read books and live on my own. I start spending time alone and turn inward. Yin, isn’t it?

Just like in my daily life, my yoga classes are affected with my yin and yang mode. When I feel myself so yang, my classes show up to be yang and especially I teach “vinyasa” (flow) style classes. We flow from one “asana” (pose) to another just like I rush from one place to another in my daily life. In such a time, I focus on core strengthening classes, backbends, arm balancing poses and inversions.

When my yin mode is on, I focus on stretching the body. I teach yin yoga classes, stay longer than usual in all poses and aim to ensure body and mind relief. I use “pranayama” (breathing) techniques and meditation to calm the mind down.

After a busy week, my “yin” mode was on in my classes. I was on “yin” mode but what about the students? Students usually prefer flow yoga in evening classes so we practiced “vinyasa” with them. When I went to one of my morning private groups, students were also in “yin” mode, which pleased me a lot.

Following a long meditation, we practiced “butterfly,” “half frog”, “half saddle”, “dragonfly”, “sleeping swan”, “melting heart” and “twisted roots.” We stayed for four minutes in each pose and tried to accept the body as it was at that moment and surrender that way. We observed how we got deepened in the pose as minutes passed. We ended the class with a long “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose).

What if life was monotonous? What if there was only the night and not the day? What if there was only summer and not the winter? What if the world was just full of women and not men? What if we were living our lives so quickly and in a rush or what if we had a dull and calm life? How boring it would be, wouln’t it? Yin and yang… Feminine and masculine… Sometimes yin and sometimes yang. What is important is to establish the right balance and flow. When we want to act crazy and live our days full of joy, to be “yang” and when we want to rest, calm down and live in serenity, to become “yin”… Shortly yin and yang… Shortly a life in a right flow…

Life is full of coincidences. What if there is nothing like a coincidence but “it is just some things happening just at the exact time they should happen”? Like a riddle, isn’t it? Let me begin to tell from the outset.

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When I went to one of my private yoga classes, I met a person in gym clothes in the hall we were always practicing. I did not care too much because that hall was a conference hall as well as a recreation area where all the staff could use in their spare time. At that moment, my student came and introduced me to that woman waiting in the hall. That woman was supposed to join our yoga class that day. She was a foreigner and I had to teach a yoga class in English. I had not taught a class in English for some time and you know I had posted blogs on this matter. You lose your practice when you do not teach a class in foreign language for some time. You cannot even remember how to say “hand or toe or wrist” in English. Your English proves as you go on teaching in that class and you begin expressing everything easier as the class goes on.

The new student did not have any yoga experience and so I planned something for new beginners. A class full of forward bends and hip openers. The peak pose would be “hanumanasana” (monkey pose). Actually this was a difficult “asana” (pose) however I did not want the old student whom I was practicing for years to get out of the class with an empty hand. In fact, yoga was a journey. What was important was what we had done until the peak. Whether to do the peak was not that important. What was important was to enjoy the journey.

We should stretch the hamstrings, groins, inner thighs and hip flexor muscles for the peak pose. We did some “asana”s to stretch these muscles in the first half of the class and we tried the peak pose. The old student did the pose very well. The new comer was a person who liked to do cardiovascular workout every day and so she had difficulties in getting into the pose. But she was fairly flexible even though it was her first yoga class and she was not so away from “hanumanasana.” I could not stop myself from thinking what could this woman do and how flexible she would be only if she had been practicing yoga for years.

We did some neutralizing poses after the peak pose and ended the class with “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose). Before “savasana”, we calmed down the body and nervous system with twists. At that moment, the old student told me that the new comer had some problems with her gallbladder. This was what happens in yoga classes all the time. The class ends and you can only learn the problems of students at the end of the class. Luckily, we did not do anything that could hurt her that day. When calming the bodies with twists, I started to think why a young woman was suffering from her gallbladder.

According to yin yoga (female energy yoga which stretches the body up to deep connective tissues), gallbladder was being activated with hip external rotator muscles. And with oblique muscles. Then it was related with hip openers i.e. “svadisthana” (sacral) chakra and twists i.e. “manipura” (navel) chakra. “Svadisthana” chakra was related with self-acceptance, loving yourself and being creative. When this chakra did not work well, you may be disturbed with negative emotions like envy, hatred and rage. The negative emotion of this area in yin yoga was “anger.” “Manipura chakra” was related with self-confidence, determination and will. To start a project and the will to end it. It was shining your jewel in the navel and willpower. I was not just thinking but I was saying all this out loud at the same time. Then I found myself asking the new student: “Do you love yourself with all your positive and negative sides? And do you regard yourself distinguished and special? Do you forget feeling yourself worth being loved, forget yourself totally and live just for the others? Are the others more important than yourself?”

When I was asking these questions, the old student said I was on the right track. The new comer was a person who was regarding others more important than herself. So what should se do? Things that would make her happy. First, she should be creative. “Start posting blogs or paint. Take photographs. Start making sculptures or mosaics. Do something that requires creativity.” Then? “Then realize. Be aware. Can you end up the projects you begin or do you leave them unfinished? Do you really have the will and power? What do you do for yourself? Are you really happy? Can you feel that you have a jewel in your body and that jewel shines?” Was that person’s coming to the class that day was just a coincidence or was it because she was ready to open a new page in her life? What’s your idea?

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 as today is June 21, the summer solstice. What type of yoga should we do to celebrate the summer solstice?

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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.

Music is sine qua non for me in yoga classes. Sometimes “surya namaskara” (sun salutation) series performed with “mantra”s (sacred syllables uttered to free the mind) sometimes meditations with “aum” sounds and sometimes “yin” (female energy) yoga classes with classical music. I was so used to yoga classes with music that I had almost forgotten how to practice yoga without music until a day when I had a private and a group yoga class.

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I had forgotten the tablet I was using to play music in yoga classes at home that day. And I realized that I had forgotten the tablet when I arrived at my private yoga class. I planned to play music online from the cell phone however the service was unavailable there. There was nothing to do. That day we would not use music in yoga classes. We would only listen to the noice of our breath.

We would focus on a chest opening sequence in the private class. We would bend backward and try to love more and look at backward and the past. We would stretch hip flexor muscles, shoulders, chest and try “urdhva dhanurasana” (wheel pose) as the peak.

We stretched hip flexor muscles with “ashwa sanchalanasana” (high lunge), “anjaneyasana” (low lunge), “half saddle”, “supta virasana” (supine hero pose). In order to open the chest, we practiced “bhujangasana” (cobra pose), “urdhva mukha svanasana” (upward facing dog) and bend the spine backward in “tadasana” in each “surya namaskara”. We started to stretch the shoulders by interlacing fingers at the back and trying to keep them away from the upper body as much as we could in “uttanasana” (standing forward bend). We went on stretching the shoulders with the arm positions of “garudasana” (eagle pose) and “gomukhasana” (cow face). Just before the peak pose, we opened up the chest with “virabhadrasana II” (warrior II), “viparita virabhadrasana” (reverse warrior) and “setu bandhasana” (bridge pose).

We neutralized the body with “paschimottanasana” (sitting forward bend) and “baddha konasana” (bound angle pose). We ended the class with “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose) which came immediately after “jathara parivartanasana” (abdominal twist). We did not need any music when we were flowing. However, I felt a need for music during the opening meditation and “savasana”. It was not a problem for the student. It was a different kind of experience for her. Just listening to her own breath in silence and a meditation and “savasana” without occupying the mind with any other thing.

In the evening class, we focused on arm balancing poses. “Phalakasana” (plank pose), “phalakasana” variations, “adho mukha svanasana” (downward facing dog) variations, “chaturanga dandasana” (low plank)… “L” handstand on the wall or real “adho mukha vrksasana” (handstand) as the peak pose.

Forwardbends and twists after the peak pose. Then “savasana”. A long deep relaxation and resting pose without music. By just listening to breath. In full harmony and unity of the body, breath and mind. Students just living their own experience. Neither “aum” sounds nor “mantra”s or classical music. Just the noice of the breath.

Everything happens for a reason. Maybe I had forgotten the tablet at home that day so that the students could remember how to occupy their minds with just their breath instead of music. Maybe we were supposed to re-establish body-mind-soul integrity in a class without any music. Maybe it happened because the teacher who had forgotten how to teach a class without music should remember again how to teach without any music. Sine qua non is not a word we use in yoga classes. Either with music or without music. Always and everywhere. Yoga and meditation is possible under any circumstances. This was what I had learned that day.