This session lasts about 25 min. and we do 2 pranayama exercises:

1. Three rounds of Kapalabhati with 40, 50 and 60 pumpings with retentions of 40, 50 and 60 seconds.

2. Six rounds of Anuloma Viloma, alternate nostril breathing. Inhale 4 sec., retention 16 sec. and exhale 8 sec. If you find this pace too fast you can try inhale 3 sec., retention 12 sec. and exhale 6 sec.

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In Yoga the emotional body is also known as the energetic, astral or psychic body.  It is made up of prana or life energy and is composed of 72,000 nadis or psychic nerves.  The main three nadis run along the spine and are called the Sushumna, the Ida and the Pingala. Along the spine are the chakras or energy centers described as lotuses with different number of petals or nerves.  These astral centers have a close relationship with the physical body, therefore the vibrations that are produced in the physical centers by prescribed methods such as visualisation have the desired effects in the astral centers. Also each chakra represents a state of consciousness with an awareness of a specific vibration through color, feeling, tone, bliss or joy. The seven principal chakras correspond to the seven lokas, astral or mental planes.

Muladhara or root chakra located at the lower end of the spinal column. Make a vibrant ruby red jewel spin clockwise at the base of the spine. This is the root of physical existence.  It activates the strength to stand for yourself giving you a sense of security, of being at home. Breathe in… and let it go…  Feeling secure and grounded physically and emotionally. Accepting yourself in a loving way. Breathe in love and gratitude and let it go… This chakra connects you with your lower back, tail bone, colon, bladder, adrenal glands, feet, legs and immune system.  Ruby red spinning faster and faster…  Take a moment now to connect with the limiting beliefs that have been held in the root chakra , those patterns of separation from family and society that do not serve you anymore.  Breathe in… and let it go… Awakening the highest potential of who you are. Trusting the power of transformation within you and being proud of who you are, your ancestry and your family tradition. Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go.

Swadhistana at the navel. Bright orange spinning in a clockwise motion.  Here we discover a new level of pleasure surrounding intimacy, recreation and eating.  Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go… Your belly is filled with the color orange.  You feel the physical and mental enjoyment of life and you become aware of your power but also of your control. Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go… Letting go guilt and blame and moving into a new understanding of how you honor the highest integrity in relationships. Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go… Your second chakra gives expression to your sexual organs, your pelvic cavity, large intestine, hips.  Letting go the control on others, the fears of losing relationships or money.  Letting go unresolved sexual issues.  Breathe in… and let it go… Letting go the fear of becoming authentic as you express your sexuality.   Respecting yourself as well as the other. Coming in touch with a new understanding of your creative forces.  Raising your second chakra to the highest vibration, that of integrity and respect.  Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go…

Manipura, the solar plexus.  A bright yellow disk spinning faster and faster right in the center of your gut expanding inwardly and outwardly. Here is the expression of energy, of your individual power and self-esteem. Know that within you is the ability of making decisions in your life, of self-mastery and personal honor. Know that you have the ability to transform criticisms into nourishment to become one with your intuitive voice. Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go…  The third chakra gives physical expression to the abdominal cavity, the digestive organs, kidneys, pancreas, liver, spleen, gall blader, the middle back and spine, the upper intestines.  All these organs are being raised  to the highest vibration. Breathe in love and gratitude.. and let it go… As you become awaken to the power of this chakra you take charge of your responsibilities and decisions and you let go of limiting beliefs about your potential.  Taking pride in who you are, your body, your work, your family.  Trusting your intuition, your gut feelings.  Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go…

The first three chakras deal with survival and security, reproduction or creativity  and personal power.  The next three chakras put us in contact with our own divinity.

Anahata, heart center, brilliant emerald green, opening and expanding in a rotating clockwise motion. This chakra makes us feel at one with others, letting go patterns of alienation, grief, hate, anger, resentment and bitterness.  Your heart chakra is being raised to the highest vibration manifesting compassion, forgiveness and trust. Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go…  Your circulatory system, chest, breasts, rib cage, lungs, thymus gland are all being activated and regenerated. Feeling healthy and whole.Breathe in love and gratitude…. and let it go… The energy of this fourth chakra empowers you to know that love is divine and that by cherishing us first we express a new level of caring for others. Transcending trauma and the judgement of others and ourselves.  Breathe in love and gratitude…. and let it go….   The patterns that you are right now letting go are the past experiences that have been limiting your potential for love.  The holding on of resentments have resulted in not allowing others to love you.  Your heart chakra is being awakened to love others unconditionally by loving yourself unconditionally.  Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go…

Vishuda, at the throat, a blue safire spinning brilliantly. Breathe in love and gratitude…. and let it go…. Surrendering your personal will to the divine will and accepting the expression of your truest self.  In the physical body this chakra empowers your vocal cords, the mouth and the thyroid gland. Know that you have the power to express the truth and that you can put it in your own words. Breathe in love and gratitude…. and let it go…. This chakra allows you to define your needs with clarity leaving behind patterns of lying and of shame. The power of the fifth chakra is being raised to the highest vibration by speaking words of wisdom and compassion that bring heart and mind together.  Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go…

Ajna, the third eye, indigo in color.  The vibration of Om resides here.  At this level of consciousness you only seek the truth.  This chakra empowers you with a balanced state of mind, seeing the divine perfection on all things.  Breathe in love ad gratitude….and let it go… This chakra rules the highest brain centers, the pituitary gland, eyes, nose and ears. Here you reach a new level of intuition and emotional intelligence. Genius intellectual abilities are awakened as you open your mind to new ideas.  Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go….  Releasing the grief that caused you to close your mind in the past, the limiting beliefs that have caused you to insist on logical explanations.  Raising your vibration to the highest degree where you are now able to take emotional risks with grace and ease. Your mind is now open to new possibilities as you follow your hunches leading you to a clearer vision of your authentic self. Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go….

Sahasrarathe thousand petals chakra at the crown of the head. Vibrant violet color. The highest expression of your seventh chakra is to empower you right now to live in the present moment, allowing your spiritual doorway to remain open as you experience a new level of connection and relationship with the Divine. Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go… The top of your head is ignited and your highest mind centers are fully activated in the pineal gland. In the center of your brain a blinding white light moves spinning inwardly filling your eyes, nose, ears, mouth and tongue. This white wisdom light expands into your throat, shoulders, arms and hands. Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go… Sensing oneness with all creation, the white light expands into your chest and heart.  Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go…  Trusting this divine energy as it expands into your belly, pelvis, legs and feet. Gratitude is your natural state of thought knowing that your body and mind are a vehicle for spiritual expression.  Breathe in love and gratitude… and let it go… As the bright white light of the divine is activated in all the water molecules that make up all the cells in your body, it refracts and reflects a rainbow giving light and life to all the chakras as  you become a radiant rainbow body.  Infinite love and gratitude…

Take a moment to reflect on who you are and where you are. Breathe in… and let it go… Know that this moment is perfect as it is and that you are where you need to be.  May your inner light guide you on the path of infinite love and gratitude.


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On the link below you will find an article published in the Sivananda Retreat blog and written by Donna Nebenzahl, a Montreal journalist visiting the Retreat.

The next workshop on Aging Beautifully is March 1-3. I hope I can see many of you here on those dates.



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I will be offering a 5-day course on Healing the Emotional Body on February 8-12 at the Sivananda Yoga Retreat, Bahamas. Here is a small introduction I published on this blog on Sept. 2013.

You may have asked yourselves, as I have, where the emotions come from. When I feel the heat of anger or the heaviness of sadness the energy of these emotions can be so overwhelming that they seem to have a power of their own. According to Yoga, just as we have a physical body, we have an astral body (Pranamaya kosha) and within this energetic body made of prana there is a mental/emotional sheath that experiences thinking, anger, exhilaration, depression, doubts and delusions. But the emotions or the thinking do not limit themselves to this sheath, instead their energy affects the physical body as well. When these mental and emotional patterns are very deep and have been with us since birth they are called ‘samskaras’, deep ingrained patterns that we have brought with us into this incarnation.

Emotions have often had a bad ‘rap’. For example, women even today are described as ‘emotional creatures’, unstable and not to be trusted. Emotionality is seen as opposed to rationality. But psychologists now tell us that emotions have a positive side; they are the basis of creativity, of art, of self-protection and they help determine social behavior by reading other’s signs. So the emphasis is not so much on suppressing emotions but on managing them in an intelligent way (emotional intelligence). How to act wisely in relationships and society, how to develop empathy and how to motivate emotions towards a goal. From this perspective all emotions are ‘good’ and we can even say sacred because they are lessons for re-integration and healing. They are clues that cannot be ignored.

Is it possible then to see an emotion not as positive or negative, but just as an emotion? First we have to acknowledge it. Repressing or ignoring it will not work. Then we have two options: re-act or respond. Re-acting will only exacerbate the situation as in the case of returning anger with anger. This situation will keep us emotionally unhealed. The option of responding, however, can offer the possibility of healing through transformation and change. Motivation then is the key to wanting to change our old emotional ways. So why do we want to change? There can be many reasons but mainly it is because we want to free ourselves from negativity, suffering and dis-ease. It comes a point when we are tired of our own stories and we want to make room for new possibilities. So far so good, but now comes the pain of letting go the old to make room for the new.

This is when our Yoga practice has a lot to offer and I emphasize ‘practice’ because as we slowly walk on this road new possibilities and vistas appear. But how to take the first steps on this uncertain path? When we are totally present on our mat or meditation cushion, one breath at the time, at that moment we discover that there is no past or future and even for an instant we are freed from our emotional baggage and are able to experience presence and fullness.

Most of the time our energy is spent in thoughts about the past, re-hashing past words and deeds, and the future, worrying about our security. Of course we have to take care of ourselves and Yoga shows us beautifully how to look after our body and mind, but there is a difference between obsessing and taking action when the time comes to make decisions. To live in the future is actually to fear death but by not accepting death we cannot fully live in the present. I do not mean by death the end of the physical body which is inevitable, but the death of habit, mental and emotional, the constant letting go of patterns that keep us trapped in the realm of the six enemies of the heart, the ‘klesas': desire, greed, anger, envy, delusion and sloth. Yoga again shows us the way reminding us to always come back to the breath, to the present, and also to let go at the end of the exhale, experiencing over and over a mini-death and the space that it creates: silent, luminous and mysterious. Swami Vishnudevananda’s instructions come to my mind: ‘Hear the silence, see the silence, taste the silence, be the silence!’

This letting go is practiced in the laboratory of our daily practice (asanas, pranayama, meditation,) but it is eventually maintained, moment by moment, during our busy day, continuously checking and re-checking our emotional reactions triggered by our relation to others and the circumstances of our life. In this manner we can ultimately find release from desire and fear (raga and dvesha), the two movements of energy that keep us in bondage. On the other hand, if we insist on clinging to our old re-active patterns, the old familiar ways, we perpetuate a state of disappointment, attachment, addiction and suffering.


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‘The secret of longevity* To eat half, to walk double and to laugh triple’

Have you ever thought about the relevance of your age while in a deep state of relaxation? When you are enjoying the calmness and well-being of a good relaxation it does not matter whether you are in  your twenties or your eighties.  In both cases you feel just as peaceful and content. Yet, as soon as you return to your habitual mental state you become trapped in time, the past and future dominate your attention and you accumulate time in your psyche and the cells of your body.

The aim of yoga is to live in a state of relaxed awareness; relaxed because through relaxation we can get in touch with our sense of being, beyond time and space, and aware because through awareness we become conscious of being. So the yogi at all times keeps a state of presence by being  (1) relaxed and (2) mindful of all movements, internal and external.  This is how he or she is able to conserve, store or direct energy resulting in a slowing down of the aging process. And even when her physical body grows old her  awareness of her timeless being can shine through her outer form.

The benefit of this practice affects the physical body by strengthening, among others, our immune system. Most illnesses appear when our energy body is discordant whether through blockages or imbalances of energy/prana in thousands of psychic channels. In Yoga we know that wherever we put our attention there the energy flows. So when we are present and focused on whatever we are doing, thinking or saying we are able to utilize vast amounts of energy with a maximum of efficiency. At the same time our mental and emotional health is also strengthened as awareness is the first step towards healing from lower frequency states such as fear, anxiety or depression.

But beyond our concern with the physical or emotional body a constant practice of relaxed awareness is what puts us in contact with our inner being, changeless through time.  This is the timeless realm where God dwells. And when we forget to access that inner Guru or we need to boost our moment-to-moment practice of mindfulness take a few minutes and do the following exercise:

Close your eyes, lie down on your back if you can. Ground yourself by focusing on the different parts of your body starting with the feet, the legs, the abdomen, the chest, the head and so on.  Stay 10 sec. in each part feeling the energy inside those parts. Be intensely present.  Don’t be concerned with thoughts and return your attention to the body.  If you find it hard to be in touch with the inner energy, focus on your breath.  Conscious breathing will gradually put you in touch with a sensation of expansion and luminosity.

Thus become identified with your ageless inner being, the immortal Self that Swami Sivananda exhorts us to discover:

“You are not the body! You are not the mind! You are Satchitananda, (existence, knowledge and bliss absolute) and immortality is your birthright!”




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When differences of belief are dealt with violence, when inequalities and discrimination are rampant. when livelihood depends on laughing and ridiculing others, I say to myself it must be the Kali Yuga, the Iron Age, a time when humanity lives in the darkest of all the ages.

The ancient Hindu religion describes a cyclic system of time starting with the Golden Age, followed by the Silver Age, the Bronze Age and finally the Iron Age. These are ages when civilization and  human consciousness go through different stages of development. In spite of our modern belief that our values have evolved through time, this cyclic system talks about a progressive deterioration of morals and a dimming of human consciousness. Different sources vary in the duration of these ages but they all last many thousands of years. According to this count of time all our recorded history would fall within the last of these ages, the Kali Yuga, a time when ignorance is dominant.  This ignorance has nothing to do with lack of information, in fact we live at a time when it is difficult to keep up with so much information and so many scientific discoveries, but the ignorance of who we really are.  The yogis remind us that we are not the body, the mind or the emotions, that we are Satchitananda, existence, knowledge and bliss absolute.  Yet, our present predicament is the constant identification with our body, our ideas, beliefs and emotions. This way we live fully immersed in duality and we draw a bold line between good and bad, light and darkness, you and me.  The basic impulses of fear and aggression direct how we relate to the unknown, the different and as a consequence we suffer caught up in a pattern of action and reaction, the wheel of samsara.

We feel the pain that acts of terrorism cause, the senseless deaths and it is difficult to imagine at the same time the desperation of those that commit such suicidal acts. They are all young, men and women, lost somehow in the crowd of the forgotten, the unemployed, the unwanted, caught and manipulated by dark forces that in the name of an ideal steal, plunder and invade for the sake of revenge, freedom, justice and profit.  Our recorded history has indeed been a continuous series of violent confrontations for the sake of power and gold. This has been the trend for the last thousands of years. So, nothing new even though our weaponry is more sophisticated than in the Middle Ages.  Now we don’t even have to be present in the battle field, we can just send a drone.

It is easy to despair when faced with so much violence and to make sense of it we might put the blame on this side or that side.  As a yogi it is very difficult to witness painful events with equanimity, compassion and wisdom and keep remembering that these are indeed the qualities of our True Nature and that anger and hate are the veils that obscure that reality, the only reality.

If there is any consolation in living at this time of degeneration, the sages tell us that those following a spiritual path now will accumulate a lot of merit because of the difficulties of practising in such an unfavorable time.  It’s like accumulating points!  But do not laugh at this idea.  It seems that we need merit or good karma for everything: being born in a loving family,  having the means and the time to practise the Dharma, meeting auspicious teachers and companions, choosing a job or profession which accords with right livelihood,  having a peaceful disposition, etc… In time, however, the Kali Yuga will end and, according to this system, a new cycle will start with a new Golden Age, a lost paradise found again, but that, alas, is in the far future.

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Have you ever made a New Year resolution that you we able to keep all year round? I haven’t and so as the years go by I tend, as a defeatist, not to bother with this custom.  However, this morning while I took an early walk on the beach I had what could be called a spontaneous resolution experience.  Of course the timing was perfect. It was my first day at the Sivananda Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas, the cold Montreal Winter was already a forgotten memory and it was the New Year. As I walked on the wet sand, one step at the time, surrounded by the beauty of the ocean and the blue sky, the resolution came naturally. “I resolve I will always feel as alive as I am in this moment and I resolve I will always feel immense gratitude for it.”

I must admit that it took a very auspicious set of circumstances for this experience to happen because not every day we wake up in beautiful Paradise Island.  Let’s say that my inner and outer elements conspired to arouse in me the love for life and the energy to commit to such a high resolve.

The question now is how to keep these resolutions alive all year long.  How to make every moment fresh, how to remain always in awe, how to be overwhelmed by emotion by the most common sights and gestures.  There is a way, Thich Nhat Hanh says: “Breathe in… Breathe out…” One step, another step…  As simple and difficult as that. Nothing to accept, reject, discuss or debate.  Just something to do and not only on the New Year but every day and every moment.  So if I want my resolutions to work all year round I must apply myself  all the time to feeling alive and present even in the absence of palm trees and turquoise waters and to have immense gratitude in all scenarios including Montreal below-zero temperatures.

Have a wonderful New Year with or without resolutions!




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