November 2010 - Issue 48
Thank you for visiting us at
the Yoga Show in October. Many of you came by the booth!
Some I haven't seen in a long while. It was good to
connect with you.
We just completed our first Transformational Cleanse Challenge.
What a wonderful group of people who worked together and
supported each other on their journey to better health.
Everyone had a great experience and enjoyed good results.
We'll be running another Transformational Cleanse Challenge
in November, but this time it will be 14 days rather than
30. So if you've been considering your health
alternatives, and feel more comfortable committing to two weeks
rather than a month, please consider joining us this time
around. Simply call me at 604.421.9872. For
more info go to
www.intoyoga.ca/cleansechallenge.htm. You could be the
winner of not only better health, but also almost $1,000 in
prizes! Questions?? Email
firstname.lastname@example.org. Get yourself ready and
looking your best before the holidays! Consider
challenging the rest of your office!
Do you know a man who would
benefit from Yoga? Would he like to be lead by a male
instructor in a class of his peers with no women for distraction
(or competition)? If so, let him know that in January
2011, we will be offering Yoga for Men in several
November, we've got many new classes beginning.
Be sure to visit us at
I hope you enjoy this month's Newsletter.
Lolasana - The
Swing of Things
Recipe - White Bean
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Lolasana - The Swing
By Richard Rosen
Be brave! Lift off in Lolasana.
Many beginners avoid Lolasana
(Pendant Pose), which seems to demand the arm strength of a
superhero. But don't worry. Although Lolasana requires strong
arms, a couple of nifty secrets will help transform a wimpy
alter ego into a dynamo. Lolasana is well worth trying because
it will strengthen your arms, upper back, and abdominals. Plus,
you'll feel an exhilarating sense of accomplishment if you
actually manage to defy gravity and take flight.
The Pendant, or Swinging, Pose asks
you to tuck your torso and bent legs (with the ankles crossed)
into a tight ball, then to raise that ball and support its
weight with your arms. Once suspended, the ball is rocked
between the arms like a swing. The ankles are crossed one way to
start, then the pose is repeated with the ankle-cross reversed.
The histories of poses like
Pose) are long forgotten, but we do know something about
Lolasana's past. According to yoga researcher N.E. Sjoman, it
was once known as jhula ("to swing" in Hindi) and belonged to a
system of Indian gymnastics described in the early text "Light
on Exercise" (Vyayama Dipika). The Mysore Palace's yoga teacher,
T. Krishnamacharya, now recognized as one of the giants of
20th-century yoga, used the classic text and probably
rechristened jhula and other exercises, elevating them to asana
status and changing the face of traditional yoga forever.
To prepare for Lolasana, you'll need
to learn how to round your torso, especially your upper back,
and to open what I call the "arm circuit."
Start in a tabletop position on
your hands and knees, with your torso and head parallel to the
floor. Position your knees directly below your hips, set your
hands a few inches ahead of your shoulders at shoulder width,
spread your palms, and press the bases (or mounds) of your index
fingers firmly into the floor.
Focus first on your back torso. On
an exhalation, press your tailbone down (toward the floor) and
forward (toward your pubic bone), and bow your back up toward
the ceiling. Hang your head to stretch the back of your neck,
but don't forcefully press your chin to your chest. Lengthen as
much as you can between the tip of your tail and the base of
Spread your shoulder blades
(scapulas) as far away from your spine as you can, as if you're
wrapping them around the sides of your torso. Resist this
outward movement by pressing your outer arms inward, as if you
were squeezing your arms together. When combined, these two
actions will help to further round your back and strengthen your
Ideally, your back torso forms a
graceful arch. I say "ideally" because there's a small patch
high in the upper back between the scapulas that frequently
sinks into the torso, creating a depression that works against
your fully lifted Lolasana. Have your favorite yoga partner
locate this area and cover it lightly with her palm.
A light touch usually helps you find
and then round this elusive spot. Round this area for 10 to 15
seconds, then release back to neutral.
Armed for Action
Yogis have mapped out thousands
of energy channels in the human body, but they are subtle and
often inaccessible to the average practitioner. Fortunately,
modern somatic pioneers have mapped a couple of dozen or so of
what might be considered modern equivalents of the yogis'
channels. (For more information about this interesting
development, see The Thinking Body, by Mabel E. Todd, and
Human Movement Potential, by Lulu E. Sweigard.) The big
difference between the traditional and modern channels is that,
for the most part, the latter run along the surface of the body
and so are considerably more accessible and applicable to
everyday practice. They help us monitor and adjust our alignment
and create openness along with stability or strength.
Modern channels usually come in
complementary pairs to form a circuit. Take, for example, the
two channels that make up the arm circuit, which you'll use in
Lolasana: The outer arm channel runs from the shoulder to the
pinky (down the arm), while the inner arm channel runs from the
base of the index finger back to the shoulder (up the arm).
From a neutral tabletop position,
round your back again by spreading your scapulas into the
resistance of your outer arms. Imagine a stream of energy
running down your outer arms from your shoulders to the floor,
its counterpart flowing up your inner arms to your torso. Feel
how the outer-arm channel anchors you to the floor (or earth)
and the inner-arm channel hoists you toward the ceiling (or
sky). Hold this circuit in your imagination for a minute or two,
then release back to neutral. Repeat the exercise a few times.
The belly is the final secret.
From the tabletop position, round your back but now initiate the
movement by decisively pulling your navel toward your spine and
closing the space between your pubis and sternum. Counter the
lift of your navel by pressing your index finger bases deep into
the floor. Hold for 30 seconds, release, take a few breaths, and
repeat a few times more. Now you're ready for Lolasana proper.
Almost. Freud once said, "Anatomy is destiny." He wasn't talking
about Lolasana, but the saying certainly applies. If you have a
long torso and short arms, you're destined to use a block under
each hand, because otherwise you have little chance of lifting
yourself off the floor, let alone swinging. Blocks will come in
handy regardless, while you develop the strength to lift into
Lolasana with your hands on the floor.
Blocks for Takeoff Time
Kneel with your thighs and torso
perpendicular to the floor and the blocks on either side of your
hips. Cross your right ankle under your left, set the fleshy
base of your pelvis on your left (higher) heel. Yes, it's
uncomfortable. Try to find a relatively pleasant seat; if not,
simply uncross your ankles and sit on your side-by-side heels.
Save crossed ankles for another day.
Press your hands into the blocks. On
an inhalation, lengthen your front torso. On an exhalation, ball
your torso up, lift your knees away from the floor but keep your
feet on the ground. This modified Lolasana, with the feet still
on the floor, can substitute for the full version for now. Hold
for 15 to 30 seconds with your head in a neutral position.
Release your knees to the floor, take a few breaths, recross
your ankles, and repeat.
If you felt reasonably confident
with this modification, then you're ready to tackle the full
version. Do what you just did, but this time try to lift the
shins away from the floor as you lift your knees on the
exhalation. Here's one more secret (assuming the right ankle is
crossed below the left): In the ready position, lift your left
knee off the floor, then when you exhale into your ball, push
that knee downward, using the right ankle as a fulcrum, and
squeeze your right shin firmly up. The left leg will act like a
lever to lift the ball of your body away from the floor.
This time hold the pose as long as
you canódon't be surprised if it's only a few secondsóand don't
try to swing unless you feel fairly stable. Then release and
repeat as before, reversing the ankle cross. When you're
finished, you might want to sit on your heels, press your palms
to the floor just behind your feet (fingers pointing to your
toes), lean back, and lift your chest. Hold for 30 seconds to a
minute, then sit upright on an inhalation, leading with your
Lolasana can be discouraging, but
with diligent practice you'll develop what you need to do the
pose: arm, wrist, and belly strength. Lolasana is also a
valuable preparation for more advanced arm balances like
Pose). If at first you don't succeed, remember what Krishna
tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita: On this path no effort is
wasted, no gain is ever reversed.
Richard Rosen's most recent book is Pranayama: Beyond the
Fundamentals (Shambhala, 2006). He lives and teaches in Northern
White Bean Dip
1 can (15 ounces) white (cannellini) beans, rinsed and
8 garlic cloves, roasted
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
In a blender or food processor, add the beans,
roasted garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Blend until
smooth. Serve on top of thin slices of toasted French bread
or pita triangles. This is also excellent placed on top of
red (sweet) bell peppers cut into squares.
Dietitian's tip: To roast garlic, cut off
the tops of several heads of garlic exposing the cloves.
Spray the garlic generously with cooking spray. Wrap in
aluminum foil also sprayed with cooking spray. Heat the oven
to 350 F and roast about 30 minutes.
Nutritional Information Per serving:
Serving size: 2 tablespoons
Calories 109; Cholesterol 0mg; Protein 5g; Sodium 105mg;
Carbohydrate 15g; Fiber 3g; Total Fat 4g; Potassium 314mg;
Saturated Fat trace; Calcium 53mg; Monounsaturated Fat 3g
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