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YOGA, PRANA, LOVE: A lifetime of devotion

The Art of Devotion: Part 2 of a six-part series.


By RAQUEL TAVARES — Savasana, known as the corpse pose, is the ‘Until death us do part’ aspect of the yoga practice. In savasana you experience the ultimate yama or moral code. In the posture you are asked to withdraw your senses, and lay completely still. Eventually, you should be able to still your breath so that an observer cannot tell that you are breathing.

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YOGA, PRANA, LOVE: Bend thyself, rewire thy core

Part 3 of a six-part series.


By RAQUEL TAVARES— Postures like this one, known as the Half Bound Western Intense Stretch, in essence rewire your energetic and physical anatomy. It triggers the flow of subtle energies that affect various Koshas and Chakras.

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YOGA, PRANA, LOVE: Beyond the fire in the belly

Prana: The *love* force. Part 4 of a six-part series.

By RAQUEL TAVARES — Devoted practitioners often talk of the “force” that comes from yoga, which is embodied in the concept known as prana. Prana, also a misunderstood word, is generally thought of as energy, a life force, or a fire in the pit of your belly. Yet it is much more than this — and, like love, it is ineffable.

Also like love, prana gets you through the ups and downs. And it is prana that keeps you coming back for more.

In Light on Pranayama, the godfather of all living yogis, B.K.S. Iyengar, gives the most compelling explanation I’ve ever seen:

It is as difficult to explain Prana as it is to explain God. Prana is the energy permeating the universe at all levels. It is physical, mental intellectual, sexual, spiritual and cosmic energy. All liberating energies are prana. All physical energies such as heat, light, gravity, magnetism and electricity are also prana. It is the hidden or potential energy in all beings released to the fullest extent in times of danger. It is the prime mover of all activity. It is energy, which creates, protects and destroys. Vigor, power, vitality, life and spirit are all forms of prana.

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YOGA, PRANA, LOVE: Ceremony to love

Part 5 of a six-part series

By RAQUEL TAVARES  — Vinyasa is rhythm where the body is the drum and the breath is the hand that beats it. It is the movement that occurs in the body when you combine it with breathing.

When you have a sequence of vinyasa combined with asana you have a ceremony, an orchestra of movement that is dedicated to the gods, the body, the spirit, the atman. Surynamaskar, or Sun Salutation, is an offering to the sun. The ceremonious practice of Pranayama, a Sanskrit word meaning lengthening of the prana or breath, is also an offering and can be considered “vinyasa.”

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YOGA, PRANA, LOVE: A state of love, from the inside out

Chakras: Access to Love. The last of a six-part series.

By RAQUEL TAVARES — Chakras govern all levels of being — physical, psychological and spiritual. Through yoga, you can access your chakras and improve your ability to access and identify with love. Everyday we see people walking with their hearts facing south, their slouched bodies reflecting how much their heart and throat chakras have been damaged or neglected. People, in this sense, erect shields around their hearts. Over time, a body continually collapsing in on itself evolves in the same direction; the result is we become cynical, angry and unwilling to accept love.

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How yoga makes me feel alive

How yoga makes me feel alive

Be aware of your breathing, to be in the “now”

BY: RAQUEL TAVARES When I teach my yoga classes, I often say: “Focus on the point where your exhalations meet your inhalations.”

It seems to be a very static point. A place where you know what will happen next, but aren’t quite sure what will happen if you focus on it. Will it change, or stagnate? Will you find it more a challenge to inhale then exhale and if so, what does that signify? Not much really.

The point isn’t to know what happens next, it’s to know that it’s happening at all.

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Spiritual Surf: Forbes, Fritz Perls, prayer & sexual misconduct

Spiritual Surf: Forbes, Fritz Perls, prayer & sexual misconduct recommends yoga in the conference room as one of its 10 ways to reduce stress at work. (picture from

Newsweek reviews “Away From Her” a movie about losing a loved one to Alzheimer’s.

The Phoenix Center blog offers five tips for “Getting your act together.” My favorite is Number 5: “Go out of your mind, and come to your senses.” The idea is from Fritz Perls, one of the founders of Gestalt Therapy.

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The Pilates ‘body-rush’

The Pilates ‘body-rush’

Pilates can be as spiritual an experience as yoga. One teacher’s spontaneous guided meditation at the end of class

BY PAUL KAIHLA — People often talk about the “body-rush” they feel after doing pilates, and I experienced a long-lasting wave of that after a class this weekend.

There was this swirl of energy and aliveness in my body, and elation in the mind. It doesn’t happen for me every time. A lot depends on the presence of the instructor and who is in the room.

At the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco we have Nicole Tesson, a dancer by training.

To me, dancers like her are a step ahead of a lot of us in their spiritual evolution because their whole discipline is devoted to bridging the Cartesian division between mind and body.

The dance profession, by the way, preserved pilates for the rest of us, during decades of relative obscurity after Joseph Pilates introduced it in the 1930s in New York (to dancers in George Ballanchine’s and Martha Graham’s companies). Pilates finally became a fad among the beautiful people in L.A. in the 1990s, and now it’s a staple in the training repertoire of virtually every professional sports team in America. But dancers remain the first and foremost apostles of pilates.

The reason I think it’s also a spiritual practice is because it literally works on the core of your being, the muscles and tissues deep in your torso and that wrap around your bones. It takes so much attention to isolate these muscles that you can only do the movements if you totally withdraw your awareness from work-a-day thoughts. The movements bring you out of your mind and into your body — into a quasi-meditative state.

Nicole brought us all the way into one at the end of our class with these words that she later said, “just came out of my mouth”:

Bring yourself back into your breathing.

Enjoy your breathing . . .

Feel the weight of your body melt into the mat.

Let the inside fall to the outside,

and the outside, fall to the floor.

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Meditation Junkies

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Yoga, Prana, Love

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