Nature’s art: inviting the bee

Tulip @ Sanandi-jacq

Nature’s invitation to the bee to dine is both sensual and divine. The delicacy and intricacy of a flower’s beckoning design flaunts itself in diverse and various patternings and forms. Without shame nor modesty the flower calls to the bee: ‘Come hither and feast. Through you our species will spread and prosper’.

Viola @ Sanandi-jacq
viola @ Sanandi-jacq
Nasturtium @ Sanandi-jacq
Peony @ Sanandi-Jacq
viola @ Sanandi-jacq

Unpacking ‘OM’ glyph

‘OM’ is the sacred sound of Yoga. It can be found in many Sanskrit chants and is ubiquitous in the yoga world. The symbol or glyph of “OM’ can be found on clothing, mats, books, etc. But what does it mean?

The qlyph of OM is pregnant with meaning and is linked to the idea of the Higher Self. It represents the idea of ultimate reality. The sound is actually A-U-M or AUM.

The first curve – A of A-U-M – represents the conscious waking state.

The squiggle in the middle – the U of A-U-M – represents the subconscious dream state.

The lower curve – M of A-U-M – represents the unconscious non-dream state.

The upper curve in the glyph facing upwards represents the interface between the finite world and infinity.

The dot at the top called the bindu (meaning dot in Sanskrit) represents the point at which creation begins and is known as the symbol of the cosmos in its unmanifested state.

All of these states of OM are stages on the way to self-realisation¹ which is what the practice of yoga is ultimately about.

There is so much more to this glyph. For further information see reference below.

Footnote:

¹Self-realisation means fulfilment of one’s own potential. Yoga is known to be the science or art of integrating body, senses, mind and spirit to the Self thus reaching self-realisation.

Reference:

Nishchalananda Saraswati, Swami (2006), The Edge of Infinity, Collected Works, MANDALA YOGA ASHRAM, WALES pp204-207

Blog safe and hang out the laundry?

It has been a convoluted journey navigating round the blogosphere in the last two months. I played it safe. Surrounded my blogs in a capsule of security with ‘nice’ decorative photos and a haiku-to-match in order to test the environment of the blogosphere. Bit dull perhaps but it has given me a creative challenge daily and my photos got an airing. What’s not to like? The number of likes gives the clue. But then I am new to this blogging lark and perhaps I didn’t boost the posts. Learning the terminology fast. Even thinking of writing an article on being a newbie blogger to encourage others.

Each day I am eager to get onto WordPress Reader to gaze with awe at the creativity and quirkiness of other peeb’s blogs. Makes me feel quite square and insecure. But I will carry on pushing out those haiku for the time being. I set myself a challenge to get a haiku out there every day until the end of June.

Q: Then what?

A: I don’t know yet. Something is brewing.

Q: Any hints?

A: Er. No. But had enough of haiku for a while! Well, after June 30th.

Q: Have you checked out other bloggers’ sites? Any types you particularly like?

A: Doodling blogs enchanted me and I pushed out one of my own but realised I wasn’t too good at it. Not like the charming doodles in a doodling site I visited. Then there was another doodling site with tens of thousands of visitors which had character doodles involving puns which made me both squeal with laugher and squirm. Quite a delicious site.

Q: Only doodling?

A: Daily photos were a pull too. Probably because I was trying to do the same. There is one gloriously popular site that has a photo and haiku every day as mine does. No. Didn’t copy – just thought of doing the same. And happened upon someone who did it better.

Q: What about Longreads?

A: Dropped into some of them but more interested in daily posting sites to see how possible it is to keep the mojo going. Yes, Longreads will need a bit more time to digest. Can see myself reading more of these once I have established my own blog.

Q: Have you made connections with other bloggers in these two months?

A: Yes. If you mean have people commented on my site?

Q: That and more. You may have looked up a site, perhaps?

A: Yep. While playing with tags for the Reader I typed in ‘Shiatsu’ and met a great blogger who gently reminded me that it would be a good idea to have an ‘About’ page (still on my ‘to do’ list. Too busy creating haiku!). This blogger has a similar interest in walking as I do. And she kindly guest-posted one of my posts on her site. That was a first. Made me feel I was making some progress!

Q: So. Now your blog is two months old. What does blogging feel like?

A: Erm. Is there a word for it? ‘Blogophantastic!

Q: Maybe ask your fellow bloggers.

A: Hey. Good idea. Haven’t tried a poll yet.

Q: Name one thing that drives you mad about blogging.

A: Choosing a theme that fits the content! Driving me mad activating and customising themes and they are never quite right. There are some screamingly atrocious colour combinations too. Spent too much time with the psychedelic colours! Squirm-worthy!

Q: This interview is turning into a Longread. One last question. If there is one piece of advice that you would give another newbie blogger following behind you what would that be?

A: Get off my tail! No, seriously. I would say take your time and experiment. That is what I am doing and enjoying every twist and turn. Every time I see another blogger’s site I learn something. Blogging, I have learnt, is about community. It is also about finding your own unique voice so that people engage with your blog. I did think about a mission statement but that’s far too formal. It is my own unique voice that I need to allow through. Still waiting …

Q: Sure it won’t take long to emerge. Thank you for your time. Hope to interview you in a year’s time and you’re still blogging.

A: No doubt about that but what about I wonder. Might still be hanging out the laundry … at least it will be colourful. Which theme’s colour scheme shall I choose … any advice anyone?

Colourful laundry seen on Camino to Santiago © Sanandi-jacq 2017
Blogsite at end June 2019 @sanandijacq

Egyptian Goose Haiku

Far from Africa ~

Sacred goose free to settle ~

And flaunt its beauty.

© Sanandi-jacq

The Egyptian Goose is a native of Africa specifically around the Nile Valley and south of the Sahara. This goose was considered sacred in Ancient Egypt. It has become popular as an ornamental bird and is now found much further afield in Western Europe and the USA.

Egyptian Goose along Thames Valley Towpath. UK April 2019 Photo credit: Sanandi-jacq

Ashtanga yoga jumps

Reinvigorating my practice of Ashtanga Yoga I realise how I have lost the ability to fly. During the years of static posture work I have lost my mojo!

I started practising the style of Ashtanga Yoga about twenty years ago. Ashtanga is a dynamic style of yoga founded by K. Pattabhi Jois consisting of set sequences which are grouped into series. Ashtanga means ‘eight limbs’. All yoga styles follow the eight limbs set out by Patanjali¹, author of the Yoga Sutras, but Ashtanga Yoga is the name of this particular school of yoga. The whole style integrates vinyasa – which literally means movement between poses accompanied by regulated breathing (ujjayi breath).

All those years ago I managed to practice the Primary series relatively well but then I signed up for a yoga teacher training course and found that the style I was to teach was actually termed ‘Hatha yoga’ which meant a more static form of yoga than Ashtanga. My own practice then became a mixture of Hatha and the Iyengar style and I dropped the vinyasa style. (In fact all yoga styles that include physical postures come under the ‘hatha’ label which often confuses folk taking up ‘hatha’ yoga).

It is now some 15 years later that I am returning to the discipline of Ashtanga. I am somewhat older. Despite my continuous ‘hatha’ yoga practice I am not so fluid in practising the dynamic sequences of Ashtanga as I was. One thing I have particularly found on return to Ashtanga practice is that I have forgotten how to fly.

In Ashtanga at certain points in the vinyasa the practitioner transitions from one posture to another by jumping. This has come to be known as flying in Ashtanga yoga if you do it well.

David Swenson, in his book: ‘Ashtanga Yoga – The Practice Manual – An illustrated guide to Personal Practice’ has a section on ‘Applying the Physics of Flight’. So for example if a practitioner is transitioning from the yogic posture of down dog to the sitting stick pose the idea is to jump the legs up and then bring them smoothly down between your arms and buttocks on the floor. This seems to require jumping the feet off the floor so you are almost in a half hand stand. But actually it is more complicated than that.

David Swenson’s advice is to follow a set of four rules for applying the physics of flight as summarised below:

To jump from down dog and bring the legs through to dandasana.

  1. Engaging the lower bhandhasMulabhanda and Uddiyana Bhanda
  2. Lift the sit-bones, sacrum and pelvis (‘your landing gear’) up towards the ceiling
  3. Lead the jump with the hips not the feet
  4. Imagine the ceiling is high and aim for it with the hips.
  5. Drop the sit-bones, sacrum and pelvis (‘landing gear’) when landing.

So I am now to be seen in my yoga hut hands on the floor, buttocks in the air, hips jumping up and down towards the ceiling pulling in my perineum so my hips can get as high as possible. That is all very well but I am no longer light enough to float my legs through my arms so in an ungainly manner I readjust myself so that I am sitting on my buttocks with both my legs straight out in front of me! Oh how I long to be able to fly up with the legs and float through again as I used to do in my younger body. At the moment I can only imagine that happening. But the great thing about yoga is that if you give the mind a posture to mull over in all its intricacy it does somehow send a message to the body that this may be possible in the future. And of course endless practice helps too!

‘99% Practice ~ 1% Theory’!

K. Pattabhi Jois (quoted in Swenson 1999 p.249)
Flying © Sanandi-jacq

Bibliography

Prabhavananda, Swami and Christopher Isherwood. (1969) How to Know God, The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali. New York: New American Library (translation and commentary).

Swenson, David. (1999. Ninth Printing 2004) Ashtanga Yoga. the Practice Manual. An Illustrated Guide to Personal Practice. Ashtanga Yoga Productions. pp.60-65

Footnote

¹ Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutras named the eight limbs of yoga as follows: Yama = ethical disciplines; Niyama = self observation; Asana = posture; Pranayama = breath control; Pratyahara = sense withdrawal; Dharana = concentration; Dhyana = meditation; Samadhi = a state of joy and peace