Twist into Spring with these Yoga Poses

Spring Yoga Poses: Twists Spring is a great time to incorporate more twists in your yoga practice. They can be sitting, standing or reclining postures. Twists are beneficial for so many reasons – they improve digestion by increasing blood flow to the digestive organs, they help maintain normal spinal rotation and mobility, and they’re energizing and de-stressing. The jury is still out on whether they are actually detoxifying or not – many still abide by the old adage of twists ‘wringing out the internal organs,’ but there are reports that this may not be 100% accurate. That said twists are extremely beneficial for neutralizing backward and forward bends, and should be practiced after these folds.

 photo-6Jathara Parivartanasana or Belly Twist A is great basic twist. To practice this pose: 1) Lay on your back and bring your arms out in a T shape. 2) Bend both knees and bring them into your chest. 3) Exhale and release both legs to your right side. 3) Head relaxes to the left and the gaze is on the left fingertips. 4) Keep the shoulders and upper back flat on the floor while the lower spine twists and the legs just fall to the floor. 5) This is a relaxing pose, and shouldn’t require any effort, let gravity do the work. 6) Inhale and exhale slowly for 10 breaths. 7) Release and practice on the other side.

image-2Marichyasana C is an advanced twist and should be incorporated into your practice slowly as you begin practicing more advanced twists. This pose can be done as in the photo or for a more advanced version a bind can be taken behind the back. To practice this pose: 1) Sit in Dandasana (back straight and legs out in front of you). 2) Inhale and sit up tall. 3) Exhale and twist towards the right, placing your right hand on the floor behind you and wrapping your left arm or hand around your right thigh. 4) Don’t force it! 5) Inhale and straighten again. 6) Exhale and twist further, possibly bringing your left elbow in front of your right thigh. 7) Turn your head towards the right to complete the twist. 8) Inhale and exhale slowly for about 10 breaths. 9) Release and practice on the other side.

Contradictions: Remember to straighten on the inhale and twist more deeply on the exhale, and never force the twist! Do not practice if you are pregnant, have spinal disc injuries, chronic digestive issues, or  SI joint pain. As always, listen to your body and practice according to what’s possible for you today.

DISCLAIMER: Please check with your health care professional before starting any exercise or yoga program. The information provided within is intended to be used under professional instruction and guidance. It is not a substitute for medical care and attention. Please use common sense and walk the middle path as you develop your spiritual practice. We are not responsible for the consequences of the exercises and practices. The same applies to all the other material provided here, it is provided as is with no warranties or guarantees. We are not responsible for, and will not compensate in any way, for loss or damage related directly or indirectly to the information in these pages.

Happy Holi from Ashi Box

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HAPPY HOLI!

What is Holi? Holi is the festival of colors and welcoming of spring. It’s a time of play and laughter and of forgiving and renewal. It is a festival of love as well as a celebration of good over evil. It’s most commonly celebrated by greeting friends and family with colored powder and a friendly water fight. Holi is always festive, and kids and adults alike get in on the fun. It’s the perfect time to visit friends and family and share gifts, sweets, and well wishes for the year.

When is it celebrated? Holi is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Phalguna, which is generally in March, but fluctuates between dates. This year Holi will be celebrated on March 23rd and March 24th.

How to Celebrate Holi begins the night before with a huge bonfire where people gather, sing, dance and celebrate. In the morning the color and water fight take place. Anyone and everyone is fair game; there is no prejudice as to who gets colored on this day. After taking a bath, cleaning off, and dressing up, it’s off to family and friends’ houses to deliver gifts and sweets. These visits also serve as a time to mend relationships that might have had struggles over the past year in order to start with a clean slate. Holi is also a time to settle any old or outstanding debts. It’s a day full of sharing, celebrating, forgiving, and healing.

Spring Cleaning In addition to all of the fun, an important aspect of Holi, and spring in general, is spring-cleaning. After the winter months it’s important to clean all of the dust and stagnant energy out of the household, but it’s also a time to rid ourselves of any emotional dust that’s accumulated over the year. It’s a time to clear out all of the things (literally and metaphorically) that aren’t serving us, and replace them with new things that do. The bonfire of Holi also represents the burning of emotional impurities, old grievances, and allows us to start fresh.

Story of Holika Holi is another holiday celebrating good over evil, and the story begins with the influential, egotistical, and renowned king, Hiranyakashyap, who commanded his kingdom to worship only him. His son Prahlad was a strong devotee of the Lord Vishnu and thus refused to worship his father. His father was so upset by this that he tried many times to kill his young son, but Vishnu saved him every time. Finally, he came up with the great idea of putting his son Prahlad in the fire with his sister Holika, who had a boon of being fire resistant (or in some versions had a fire-proof cape protecting her). What she didn’t know was that the boon only worked if she was alone, so as soon as she entered the fire with Prahlad, who was chanting Vishnu’s name, the flames engulfed her, while the young boy was left unscathed due to his intense devotion (and the fire-proof cape that Vishnu transferred from Holika to him). It’s said that the following day, the people went out and put ash from the fire on their foreheads to represent the triumph of good over evil. This eventually evolved into using color rather than ash.

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Krishna and Radha

Story of Krishna and Radha Holi is also the celebration of the immortal love between Radha and Krisha. Krishna was always a playful child, constantly performing pranks on the gopis (cowgirls). Krishna was envious of Radha’s fair complexion, so his mother suggested he throw powder on her fair skin to see how she might look with a complexion like his. He learned that Radha loved him no matter what, and this became one of his favorite pranks, and one that evolved into a tradition with all of the young gopis. The tradition of lovers applying colors to their beloved as an expression of their love and affection developed from this story.

Holi and Yoga Holi, the full moon, and the spring equinox are particularly great times to practice 108 sun salutations, and have become a popular practice among yoga groups in the west. Although 108 is a significant number in India, 108 sun salutations is not necessarily a traditional practice. Many resources including videos, articles, and teachers that guide the “Yoga Mala” can be found online or in your community. There are a few variations of sun salutations, so practice according to your level.

DISCLAIMER: Please check with your health care professional before starting any exercise or yoga program. The information provided within is intended to be used under professional instruction and guidance. It is not a substitute for medical care and attention. Please use common sense and walk the middle path as you develop your spiritual practice. We are not responsible for the consequences of the exercises and practices. The same applies to all the other material provided here, it is provided as is with no warranties or guarantees. We are not responsible for, and will not compensate in any way, for loss or damage related directly or indirectly to the information in these pages.

Holi Ashi Box Unboxing

HAPPY HOLI!
March’s Holi Ashi Box was a box ready to help you welcome spring and celebrate the festival of colors. The contents of the box included the following: image

Holi Colors – Enjoy the full lila (play) with these non-toxic and non-irritating colors. Lightly swipe color on the forehead of your friends and family, or amp it up by throwing color at each other outside, or just get crazy and add a water fight to the mix, while wearing white! Caution: Color may stain clothing, carpets, and furniture. Please play with caution outdoors only, and wear clothes that you would be happy to have permanently tie-died if the colors don’t come out. Launder separately.

Sacred Chocolates – Sweets are involved in just about every Indian holiday, and Holi is no exception! Sacred Chocolate is the marriage of exceptional flavor and superior nutrition, and is certified raw, organic, vegan, and made with love from fair-trade certified cacao. www.sacredchocolate.com.

Yoga Headband – The athletic Imeganation headband is super versatile and can be used as a headband, doo-rag, or hair tie. Stretchy enough to fit most heads, the non-slip fabric is perfect for holding back those wisps while doing yoga, running or chasing kids around the house. www.etsy.com/shop/IMeganation.

Flower Perfume – This adorable flower tin is filled with jasmine perfume. Dab on a bit when you’re getting ready in the morning or keep it in your purse for a touch-up through the day. It’ll keep you smelling springy fresh all day!

Palo Santo – Although Palo Santo is not related to India, we’ve included this South American incense and smudge to represent the bonfire that’s burned the night before Holi. Palo Santo is extremely versatile and is effective in clearing energy.

Copper Lota – Just like our gardens, we also require more water in spring. According to Ayurveda, water stored in a copper vessel has the ability to balance all three doshas by positively charging the water, as well as killing certain viruses and bacteria. Before using, wash the copper pot with lemon and salt. After cleaning, allow the water to sit in the lota for 8 hours before drinking. An easy practice is to fill it before going to bed and drink first thing in the morning.

Wildflower Butterflies – Plant these colorful butterflies and watch them turn into wildflowers! Made of plantable paper, embedded with wildflower seeds, these little guys are guaranteed to brighten your day, and your garden. Instructions are included.

Recycled Varnasi Silk Sari – Repurpose or use in your sacred space.

Boxes are available for purchase at www.ashibox.com!

Hanuman Chalisa with Translation

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This translation of the Hanuman Chalisa comes from Krishna Das. Visit his website to read more about his experience with Hanuman at http://www.krishnadas.com/notes.cfm?CID=onetrackheart&TID=one5.

Shree Guru charana saroja raja nija manu mukuru sudhari
Baranaun Raghubara bimala jasu jo daayaku phala chaari

Having polished the mirror of my heart with the dust of my Guru’s lotus feet
I sing the pure fame of the best of Raghus, which bestows the four fruits of life.

Budhi heena tanu jaanike sumiraun pawana kumaara
Bala budhi vidyaa dehu mohin harahu kalesa bikaara

I know that this body of mine has no intelligence, so I recall you, Son of the Wind
Grant me strength, wit and wisdom and remove my sorrows and shortcomings.

Bhajelo Ji Hanuman! Bhajelo Ji Hanuman!
Oh Friend! Remember Hanuman!

(Verses)
1. Jaya Hanumaan gyaana guna saagara
Jaya Kapeesha tihun loka ujaagara
Hail to Hanuman, the ocean of wisdom and virtue,
Hail Monkey Lord, illuminater of the three worlds.

2. Raama doota atulita bala dhaamaa
Anjani putra Pawanasuta naamaa
You are Ram’s emissary, and the abode of matchless power
Anjani’s son, named the “Son of the Wind.”

3. Mahaabeera bikrama bajarangee
Kumati niwaara sumati ke sangee
Great hero, you are as mighty as a thunderbolt,
You remove evil thoughts and are the companion of the good.

4. Kanchana barana biraaja subesaa
Kaanana kundala kunchita kesaa
Golden hued and splendidly adorned
With heavy earrings and curly locks.

5. Haata bajra aura dwajaa biraajai
Kaandhe moonja janeu saajai
In your hands shine mace and a banner
And a sacred thread adorns your shoulder.

6. Shankara suwana Kesaree nandana
Teja prataapa mahaa jaga bandana
You are Shiva’s son and Kesari’s joy
And your glory is revered throughout the world.

7. Bidyaawaana gunee ati chaatura
Raama kaaja karibe ko aatura
You are the wisest of the wise, virtuous and clever
And ever intent on doing Ram’s work.

8. Prabhu charitra sunibe ko rasiyaa
Raama Lakhana Seetaa mana basiyaa
You delight in hearing of the Lord’s deeds,
Ram, Sita and Lakshman dwell in your heart.

9. Sookshma roopa dhari Siyahin dikhaawaa
Bikata roopa dhari Lankaa jaraawaa
Assuming a tiny form you appeared to Sita
And in an awesome form you burned Lanka.

10. Bheema roopa dhari asura sanghaare
Raamachandra ke kaaja sanvaare
Taking a dreadful form you slaughtered the demons
And completed Lord Ram’s mission.

11. Laaya sajeevana Lakhana jiyaaye
Shree Raghubeera harashi ura laaye
Bringing the magic herb you revived Lakshman
And Ram embraced you with delight.

12. Raghupati keenhee bahuta baraaee
Tuma mama priya Bharatahi sama bhaaee
The Lord of the Raghus praised you greatly:
“Brother, you are dear to me as Bharat!”

13. Sahasa badana tumharo jasa gaawai
Asa kahi Shreepati kanta lagaawai
“May the thousand-mouthed serpent sing your fame!”
So saying, Lakshmi’s Lord drew you to Himself.

14. Sanakaadika Brahmaadi muneesaa
Naarada Saarada sahita Aheesaa
Sanak and the sages, Brahma, gods and the great saints,
Narada, Saraswati and the King of serpents,

15. Yama Kubera digapaala jahaante
Kabi kobida kahi sake kahaante
Yama, Kubera and the guardians of the four quarters,
poets and scholars – none can express your glory.

16. Tuma upakaara Sugreevahin keenhaa
Raama milaaya raaja pada deenhaa
You did great service for Sugriva,
Presenting him to Ram, you gave him the kingship.

17. Tumharo mantra Bibheeshana maanaa
Lankeshwara bhaye saba jaga jaanaa
Vibhishana heeded your counsel
And became the Lord of Lanka, as the whole world knows.

18. Yuga sahasra yojana para bhaanu
Leelyo taahi madhura phala jaanu
Though the sun is thousands of miles away,
You swallowed it, thinking it to be a sweet fruit.

19. Prabhu mudrikaa meli mukha maaheen
Jaladhi laanghi gaye acharaja naaheen
Holding the Lord’s ring in your mouth
It’s no surprise that you leapt over the ocean.

20. Durgama kaaja jagata ke jete
Sugama anugraha tumhare tete
Every difficult task in this world
Becomes easy by your grace.

21. Raama duaare tuma rakhawaare
Hota na aagyaa binu paisaare
You are the guardian at Ram’s door,
No one enters without your leave.

22. Saba sukha lahai tumhaaree sharanaa
Tuma rakshaka kaahu ko daranaa
Those who take refuge in you find all happiness
and those who you protect know no fear.

23. Aapana teja samhaaro aapai
Teenon loka haanka ten kaanpai
You alone can withstand your own splendor,
The three worlds tremble at your roar.

24. Bhoota pisaacha nikata nahin aawai
Mahaabeera jaba naama sunaawai
Ghosts and goblins cannot come near,
Great Hero, when your name is uttered.

25. Naasai roga hare saba peeraa
Japata nirantara Hanumata beeraa
All disease and pain is eradicated,
Brave Hanuman, by constant repetition of your name.

26. Sankata ten Hanumaana churaawai
Mana krama bachana dhyaana jo laawai
Hanuman releases from affliction
those who remember him in thought word and deed.

27. Saba para Raama tapaswee raajaa
Tina ke kaaja sakala tuma saajaa
Ram, the ascetic, reigns over all,
but you carry out all his work.

28. Aura manorata jo koee laawai
Soee amita jeewana phala paawai
One who comes to you with any yearning
obtains the abundance of the Four Fruits of Life.

29. Chaaron juga parataapa tumhaaraa
Hai parasidha jagata ujiyaaraa
Your splendor fills the four ages
your glory is renowned throughout the world.

30. Saadhu santa ke tuma rakhawaare
Asura nikandana Raama dulaare
You are the guardian of saints and sages,
the destroyer of demons and the darling of Ram.

31. Ashta siddhi nau nidhi ke daataa
Asa bara deena Jaanakee Maataa
You grant the eight powers and the nine treasures
by the boon you received from Mother Janaki.

32. Raama rasaayana toomhare paasaa
Sadaa raho Raghupati ke daasaa
You hold the elixir of Ram’s name
and remain eternally his servant.

33. Tumhare bhajana Raama ko paawai
Janama janama ke dukha bisaraawai
Singing your praise, one finds Ram
and escapes the sorrows of countless lives.

34. Anta kaala Raghubara pura jaaee
Jahaan janama Hari bhakta kahaaee
At death one goes to Ram’s own city
or is born on the earth as God’s devotee.

35. Aura devataa chitta na dharaaee
Hanumata se-ee sarva sukha karaee
Give no thought to any other deity,
worshipping Hanuman, one gains all delight.

36. Sankata katai mite saba peeraa
Jo sumire Hanumata bala beeraa
All affliction ceases and all pain is removed
by remembering the mighty hero, Hanuman.

37. Jai jai jai Hanumaana Gosaaee
Kripaa karahu gurudeva kee naaee
Victory, Victory, Victory to Lord Hanuman!
Bestow your grace on me, as my Guru!

38. Jo sata baara paata kara koee
Chootahi bandi mahaa sukha hoee
Whoever recites this a hundred times
is released from bondage and gains bliss.

39. Jo yaha parai Hanumaana chaleesaa
Hoya siddhi saakhee Gaureesaa
One who reads this Hanuman Chaleesa
gains success, as Gauri’s Lord (Shiva) is witness.

40. Tulasee Daasa sadaa Hari cheraa
Keejai naata hridaya mahan deraa
Says Tulsi Das, who always remains Hari’s servant:
“Lord, make your home in my heart.”

Pawanatanaya sankata harana mangala moorati roopa
Raama Lakhana Seetaa sahita hridaya basahu sura bhoopa
Son of the Wind, destroyer of sorrow, embodiment of blessing,
Live in my heart, King of Gods, together with Ram, Lakshman and Sita.

Hanuman Ashi Box Unboxing

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February’s box focused on Hanuman, the famous monkey god, known for his life of devotion, playful spirit, strength, courage, great leaps, selfless service and ignorance of the word “impossible”. This month’s box included:

SoWell Himalayan Salt Heart – The 100% Pure Himalayan Salt Crystal triples as a natural deodorant, skin treatment, and massage stone. Visit http://www.sowellmade.com to see their other amazing Himalayan Salt products. Including the Himalayan stone was inspired by one of Hanuman’s famous leaps, the one from Lanka to the Himalayas to procure a medicinal plant to save his friend Laxman, who had been injured in battle. When Hanuman got to the Himalayas he had forgotten which plant to grab and instead brought back an entire mountaintop. You’ll often see Hanuman depicted flying through the air carrying the healing Himalayan mountaintop.

Sencha Mango Green Tea Mints – These breath mints really do the trick – full of sweet mango flavor and made with whole leaf green tea. Check out http://www.senchanaturals.com to learn more. Before Hanuman received his name, he was known as Anjaneya (the son of Anjani), and was a young playful monkey baby. One morning he woke up wanting to eat the giant yellow mango in the sky, which was actually the sun. Of course the sun wasn’t happy about it, and had the young monkey struck down. Anjaneya’s father Vayu, the god of the wind, became extremely upset and sucked up all the air, creating a suffocating effect. The gods came together, and in order to appease Vayu and make him release the air, they revived the young monkey, gave him the name Hanuman and blessed him with many gifts and abilities.

Hanuman Tote Bag– Let Hanuman carry all your goodies (and worries) while you take a leap in the direction of your dreams (or go to yoga class).

Brass Hanuman Murti (Statue) – Take Hanuman with you or place him anywhere you may need a reminder that you are protected, that life is meant to be playful, and that your true nature is to live through service.

Yoga Strap – There are so many ways to incorporate a yoga strap into your asana practice. An example has been included at the end of the card, and we’ll post more on the Ashi Box blog.

Hanuman Sticker – Adorn a notebook, journal or your computer with Hanumanji.

Recycled Varnasi Silk Sari – Repurpose as a handkerchief, sew into a little pouch, or use it to brighten your sacred space.

Boxes can be purchased at http://www.ashibox.com!