Bhadrasana

The name Baddha Konasana is relatively recent, but the pose is medieval, as the meditation seat Bhadrasana (from भद्रा Bhadra, “throne”[6]) is described in the 15th century Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

Bhadrasana painting

Bhadrasana denoting ‘auspiciousness’ is a posture that brings the Muladhara or Root Chakra to life. This asana is performed in a seated position and can be held for extended periods of time as it is fairly comfortable. The defining characteristic of the pose is a thorough lengthening of the spine and how it allows the shoulders to drop down in a relaxed manner.

Read more at https://www.rohitghai.com/bhadrasana/ 

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Vajrasana

The name comes from the Sanskrit words vajra, a weapon whose name means “thunderbolt” or “diamond”, and asana meaning “posture”.

Vajrasana or Thunderbolt pose is considered to be the best sitting posture, for practicing breathing exercises and meditation. In India, a lot of people sit in this asana after eating their meals. This is a great posture for smooth digestion.

Japanese Vajrasana

From my background in martial arts (Kyokushin Karate), I recognise this asana being practised in Japan from centuries – its called seiza. The ankles are turned outward as the tops of the feet are lowered so that, in a slight “V” shape, the tops of the feet are flat on the floor and big toes overlapped, the right always on top of the left, and the buttocks are finally lowered all the way down. Depending on the circumstances, the hands are folded modestly in the lap, or are placed palm down on the upper thighs with the fingers close together, or are placed on the floor next to the hips, with the knuckles rounded and touching the floor. The back is kept straight, though not unnaturally stiff. Traditionally, women sit with the knees together while men separate them slightly. Some martial arts, such as karate, may prescribe up to two fist widths of distance between the knees for men.

Read more here: https://www.rohitghai.com/vajrasana/ 

Vrikshasana

One of the most recognizable yoga asanas, Vrikshasana has been identified in Indian relics dating back to the seventh century. 

In ancient times, wandering holy men called sadhus would meditate in this posture for long periods of time as a practice of self-discipline.

Vrikshasana picture

In some traditions, the pose is called Bhagirathasana, to honor a great yogi king from India who—legend says—stood on one leg for a long time to appease the Hindu god Shiva and to be allowed to bring the sacred river Ganges from heaven to earth. “This posture represents the intense penance of Bhagiratha,” says Kausthub Desikachar, son and student of the yoga master T.K.V. Desikachar and chief executive of the Krishnamacharya Yoga Madiram in Chennai, India. “It’s supposed to motivate us to work toward our goal even if there are many obstacles in the way.” That doesn’t mean you have to stand on one leg for years. “The point is to make a dedicated effort to one’s practice,” he says. “It makes us strong, it enhances our willpower, and we achieve amazing benefits.”

Read more at https://www.rohitghai.com/vrikshasana/ 

 

Tadasana

Tadasana, ‘mountain pose’. B.K.S. Iyengar, the renowned guru of yoga, said, “Once we can master ‘tadasana’ then all the other poses come.”

In tadasana one begins the journey from the outer body… inwards. The basic standing pose tadasana awakens the practitioner to the body – the outermost sheath – the ‘annamaya’ kosha.

Standing in tadasana the student becomes aware of his/her body and limbs. He/she starts to observe the life underneath the skin – the breath, the mind, and thus begins to awaken to the interconnectedness of his/her internal universe.

Read more at https://www.rohitghai.com/tadasana/ 

BKS Tadasana

Piplantri

PIPLANTRI is a village located in RAJSAMAND District in Rajasthan State.

The villagers of Piplantri plant 111 trees every time a girl child is born, and the community ensures these trees survive, attaining fruition as the girls grow up.  Over the years, people have managed to plant over a quarter million trees on the village’s grazing commons, including neem, sheesham, mango and amla among others.

piplantri-village

To ensure financial security, after the birth of a girl child, the villagers contribute 21,000 rupees collectively and take 10,000 rupees from the parents and put the amount in a FD, which can be broken when she is 20 years old.  To make sure the child receives proper education, the villagers make the parents sign an affidavit which also restricts them from marrying her off before she attains the legal age for marriage.

piplantri-india

 

Shyam Sundar Palwal, the former Sarpanch (village head) started this initiative in memory of his daughter (Kiran) who died a few years ago.  The initiative begun in 2006 has turned Piplantri Village into an oasis.  The planting of the trees have raised the water level.  IT has also helped the village economy.  To keep termites away from the trees, many of which bear fruit, the village has planted more than 2.5million Aloe Vera plants around them.  Gradually, the villagers realised that Aloe Vera could be processed and marketed in a variety of ways.  So, the community now produces and markets Aloe Vera products like juice and gel, pickle and other items.  So, for the last several years, Piplantri is quietly practising its own home-grown eco-feminism and achieving spectacular results.  On an average 60 girls are born every year in Piplantri.

piplantri_friendship_tree

People also plant 11 trees whenever a family member dies.  The Village Panchayat, which has a studio-recorded anthem and a website of its own, has completed banned alcohol, open grazing of animals and cutting of trees.  Villagers claim that there has been no police case since the last seven or eight years.

Piplantri is well-known for its marble mining industry.  In this Gram Panchayat, the famous R. K. Marbles is located whose name is recorded in the Guinness Book of World Record for maximum production of marbles.

piplantri_trees

The village was awarded by the Rajasthan Government and included in Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Adarsh Gram Yojna and it is the only village from Rajsamand to get selected for it.

—————- Mahim Pratap Singh for The Hindu. 

Kathakali – a feast for the eyes

Kathakali classical dance

Kathakali is one of the major forms of classical Indian dance.It is a “story play” genre of art, but one distinguished by the elaborately colourful make-up, costumes and face masks that the traditionally male actor-dancers wear. Kathakali primarily developed as a Hindu performance art in the Malayalam-speaking southwestern region of India, in Kerala. 

Kathakali

Kathakali’s roots are unclear. The fully developed style of Kathakali originated around the 17th century, but its roots are in the temple and folk arts (such as Kutiyattam and religious drama of the southwestern Indian peninsula), which are traceable to at least the 1st millennium CE.  A Kathakali performance, like all classical dance arts of India, synthesises music, vocal performers, choreography and hand and facial gestures together to express ideas. However, Kathakali differs in that it also incorporates movements from ancient Indian martial arts and athletic traditions of South India. Kathakali also differs in that the structure and details of its art form developed in the courts and theatres of Hindu principalities, unlike other classical Indian dances which primarily developed in Hindu temples and monastic schools.

Kathakali_kerala

The traditional themes of the Kathakali are folk mythologies, religious legends and spiritual ideas from the Hindu epics and the Puranas. The vocal performance has traditionally been performed in Sanskritised Malayalam.

Kathakali Arjuna

A Kathakali repertoire is an operatic performance where an ancient story is playfully dramatized. Traditionally, a Kathakali performance is long, starting at dusk and continuing through dawn, with interludes and breaks for the performers and audience. Some plays continued over several nights, starting at dusk everyday. Modern performances are shorter. The stage with seating typically in open grounds outside a temple, but in some places, special theatres called Kuttampalam built inside the temple compounds have been in use.

The stage is mostly bare, or with a few drama-related items. One item, called a Kalivilakku (kali meaning dance; vilakku meaning lamp), can be traced back to Kuttiyattam. In both traditions, the performance happens in the front of a huge Kalivilakku with its thick wick sunk in coconut oil, burning with a yellow light. Traditionally, before the advent of electricity, this special large lamp provided light during the night. As the play progressed, the actor-dancers would gather around this lamp so that audience could see what they are expressing.

The performance involves actor-dancers in the front, supported by musicians in the background stage on right (audience’s left) and with vocalists in the front of the stage (historically so they could be heard by the audience before the age of microphone and speakers). Typically, all roles are played by male actor-dancers, though in modern performances, women have been welcomed into the Kathakali tradition.

Kathakali_dance_makeup

 

Kathakali_makeup

Of all classical Indian dances, Kathakali has the most elaborate costuming consisting of head dresses, face masks and vividly painted faces. It typically takes several evening hours to prepare a Kathakali troupe to get ready for a play. Costumes have made Kathakali’s popularity extend beyond adults, with children absorbed by the colors, makeup, light and sound of the performance.

The makeup follows an accepted code, that helps the audience easily identify the archetypical characters such as gods, goddesses, demons, demonesses, saints, animals and characters of a story. Seven basic makeup types are used in Kathakali, namely Pachcha (green), Pazhuppu (ripe), Kathi(knife), Kari, Thaadi, Minukku and TeppuThese vary with the styles and the predominant colours made from rice paste and vegetable colors that are applied on the face. Pachcha (green) with lips painted brilliant coral red portrays noble characters and sages such as Krishna, Vishnu, Arjun, Nala and philosopher-kings.

Kathakali mask

Tati (red) is the code for someone with an evil streak such as Ravana, Dushasana and Hiranyakashipu. Some characters have green face (representing heroic or excellences as a warrior) with red dots or lines on their cheeks or red colored mustache or red streaked beard (representing evil inner nature), while others have full face and beard colored red, the latter implying excessively evil characters. Kari (black) is the code for forest dwellers, hunters, and middle ground character. Demonesses and treacherous characters are also painted black but with streaks or patches of red.

Kathakali_Kalamandalam_Gopi

Yellow is the code for monks, mendicants and women. Minukka (radiant, shining) with a warm yellow, orange or saffron typifies noble, virtuous feminine characters such as Sita. Panchali and Mohini . Men who act the roles of women also add a false top knot to their left and decorate it in a style common to the region. Vella Thadi (white beard) represents a divine being, someone with virtuous inner state and consciousness such as Hanuman. Teppu are for special characters found in Hindu mythologies, such as Garuda, Jatayu and Hamsa who act as messengers or carriers, but do not fit the other categories. Face masks and head gear is added to accentuate the inner nature of the characters. The garments colors have a similar community accepted code of silent communication.

 

 

Theyyam

Blast from the past!

SPEAKZEASY

Theyyam

THEYYAM or THEYYATTAM is a ritual form of worship of North Malabar in Kerala, predominant in the KOLATHUNADA area (consisting of present-day Kasargod, Kannur Districts , Mananthavady Taluk of Wayanad & Vadakara & Koyilandy Taluks of Kozhikode of Kerala) and also in Kodagu and Tulu Nadu of Karnataka as a living cult with several 1000 year-old traditions, rituals and customs. The performers of Theyyam belong to the lower caste community and have an important position in Theyyam.  They are also known as MALAYANMAR.

Theyyam

People of these districts consider THEYYAM, itself, as a God and they seek blessings from this THEYYAM.  A similar custom is followed in the Tulu Nadu region of neighbouring Karnataka known as BHUTA KOLA.

theyyam-photo

Bridget & Raymond Alchin say, ” There can be no doubt that a very large part of this folk religion is extremely ancient and contains traits which originated during the earliest periods of…

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