A Dozen Ways to Dog Pose

dozen 7

For people born between Feb 18, 1958 and Feb 7, 1959, we enter into an auspicious year. Not only do we have the honor of turning 60 sometime in the coming year, but we celebrate the year of the Earth Dog with this Chinese New Year! This is the first time since we were born that the Earth Dog has come around and in recognition, I present a dozen ways to dog pose.

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For fun – Personality and Horoscope for the Earth Dog

Earth dogs generally cannot inherit much wealth from their forefathers, so most of them rely on their own efforts; they have the ordinary luck in youth and it’s hard for them to accumulate wealth; their luck becomes better in middle age and they have sound luck in old age.

Earth dogs are broad-minded, faithful, considerate, well-disciplined and they stick to principles. Also, they are grateful, chivalrous, brave and have the courage to take the blame for what they do, thus it’s easy for them to offend somebody. Earth dogs always have clear goals and they are self-poised towards success and failure, never compromising their conscience to do things. They are persistent and never give up. They believe in the life philosophy of taking their own road in a down-to-earth manner. Although earth dogs are very capricious sometimes, they never hurt others arbitrarily and they respect the other’s position and attitude rather than forcing the other to accept their opinions. Earth dogs don’t like to interfere in the life of others, vice versa.

Earth dogs have the artistic spirit, so it’s not suitable for them to work in industry and commerce circles with fierce competition and internal strife. It doesn’t mean that their physical strength or fighting spirit is inferior to others, but their practice and personality cannot cater to others in this complicated society.

In work, earth dogs are always meticulous and responsible and they are committed to their work and try their best to finish the work. Due to their serious and responsible attitude, they are more likely to succeed.

In terms of love, earth dogs are tongue-tied in the face of their loved ones. The most headache thing for them is the romantic love because they don’t know how to create the romantic atmosphere, or how to answer back when the partner takes the initiative. However, they will give all they have for their loved ones and they are very faithful.

Generally, earth dogs have favorable luck in making money but they need to avoid the money matters between friends and sign the agreement in advance to avoid the unnecessary loss in cooperation.

The Story of Virabhadra

I share with you the story of Virabhadra written by Karen Smith for an Iyengar publication in the UK.  My apologies, I can no longer find the website to give proper credit.
The People Behind the Poses, by Karen Smith

While many of the names of yoga poses are based on the Sanskrit words for parts of the body and how they are worked (such as Prasarita Padottanasana ‘extended stretched leg pose’) or the shape made during the pose (Ardha Chandrasana ‘half moon pose’), others have their basis in Indian mythology. In this article I look at the character behind Virabhadrasana, the legendary warrior Virabhadra.

Brahma, the Lord of Creation, made ten sons to carry out his tasks of creation and destruction; two of these sons were Siva and Daska. Siva was the more powerful and the jealous Daska resented his brother’s supremacy. To make matters worse, contrary to Daska’s wishes, his daughter Sita had chosen the reputedly mattedhaired, alcohol drinking, cremation-ground frequenting Siva to be her husband.

Daska organised a yajna, a ritual sacrifice, to which all were invited. When Daska entered the celebration the guests – great sages, philosophers and demigods – stood in respect for their host, with the exceptions of Brahma (his father: so, understandable) and Siva (not so understandable). Daska was offended because as Siva’s father-in-law he believed himself superior and worthy of more respect. As a stickler for etiquette and rules, Daska decided to snub his daughter and son-in-law at his next yajna to teach them a lesson.

The day of the ritual sacrifice arrived, and Sita saw people making their way to her father’s house. She asked her husband where they were going and when she found out that there was a party to which they had not been invited, Sita was determined to go and confront her father. Siva advised her not to, but his wife was strongminded and she rode to the yajna on her husband’s white bull. When she arrived her father asked why she had come, since she had no invitation. He began to insult Sita’s husband calling him the ‘king of goblins’, ‘beggar’, ‘ash-man’ and ‘long-haired yogi’. Sita was humiliated, hurt and, above all, ashamed to be Daska’s daughter; consumed by anger, she threw herself onto the sacrificial fire where she preferred to die than be associated with Daska.

Hearing of his beloved wife’s death, Siva became enraged. He tore a hair from his matted locks and threw it to the ground, where it became the powerful warrior Virabhadra. Siva equipped his warrior with an army and sent him to destroy Daska and his ritual sacrifice.

Virabhadra arrived at the party like a hurricane, brandishing swords in both arms. He reached way up through the earth from underground and we get the pose Virabhadrasana I; then he spied his opponent, Daska, and the pose is Virabhadrasana II; finally he cut off Daska’s head, Virabhadrasana III. The head was thrown into the sacrificial fire; those who tried to defend Daska were killed, and, needless to say, the party was ruined.

Virabhadrasana a 16-05

Siva went to the scene of the yajna to inspect Virabhadra’s work and there he absorbed Virabhadra back into his own form. The other gods begged Siva to bring Daska back to life, fearing the consequences if he did not. Siva’s anger had now gone and his sorrow had turned to compassion, so he agreed. Since Daska’s head had been burnt, Brahma substituted the head of a goat, cut off at a sacrifice. Daska therefore bore the mark of his foolishness for the rest of his life.

Still feeling grief for the loss of his wife, Siva fell into deep meditation until the time when Sita was reincarnated as Parvati to become his wife once more.

How is an Iyengar yoga class different?

Iyengar teaching

When I began looking for yoga classes, I had no idea there were so many types of yoga and I found it a bit confusing. I saw hot yoga, vinyasa yoga, power yoga, yoga stretch, pilates/yoga fusion – the list went on and on. So I dove in and tried a Bikram yoga class. The heat was too much for me so I moved on to a yoga stretch class. Nice, but it was a little too slow for me. I switched to Pilates but was curious about a yoga class being held across the hall. A yoga student, an older woman with long grey hair, came out to get a prop and, with sparkling eyes, told me that the teacher was the best yoga teacher in Boise and she bounded back with such energy and lightness. I remember thinking that if yoga did that for her, then I wanted to try it. I signed up and immediately knew this was what I was searching for. The instruction was so precise, it made the asanas easier to do than when I just tried to follow along. Props were used and customized to different people so that everyone could experience the asanas even though physical abilities varied due to condition, age, or past injuries. Although I worked up a sweat during class, I left feeling refreshed and energized, not physically drained. This was an Iyengar yoga class.

Since then, I have studied quite a bit about the subject of yoga and came to learn that the asana practice is only one of the eight limbs of yoga. It is used to fine tune concentration, to prepare the body for long periods of sitting in meditation, and, ultimately, to quiet the mind and connect with the universal bliss that lies within us.

The asanas are done a little differently from method to method, but what really differentiates the methods is intention. Many types of the modern, westernized yoga classes are conducted with the idea of working out, getting stronger, stretching out the stiffness, burning calories, and getting the heart rate up. The intention here is exercise and the classes are usually held with the teacher leading the students as music plays to motivate movement.

In an Iyengar class, the sequences and asanas change every class to produce different effects on the consciousness. The teacher often demonstrates what is to be done and then talks students through with detailed instructions and cues. Because of this, there is rarely any music played. Teachers will often correct and adjust a student’s alignment to be sure the asana is performed safely. In short, the teacher actually teaches how to do the asanas rather than leading a group practice.

So the type of yoga class that is right for you will depend on your intention. That being said, when I started, my intention was exercise. Fortunately, I found an Iyengar class and (sorry to use a worn phrase) it changed my life.

“Yoga does not just change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees.” BKS Iyengar, in his book Light on Life