Smiling Sends Positive Messages to the Brain & Others!


Many of us live in a big city surrounded by so many other human beings.  However, if we pause and reflect, we may notice that the majority of the time we don’t truly see the others.  It’s kind of normal, since we don’t truly see ourselves either.

We are all on a path of enlightenment, a path of awakening – even if some don’t recognise it as such.  Through the practice of yoga, we are slowly awakening the body, breath and mind.  We feel more connected to our body; are able to listen to its subtle communications and desire for clean, healthy nourishment, correct movement and restful sleep.  We begin to recognise the patterns of our breath during different activities and use our breath to bring our body and mind together and in calm.  With practice we begin to notice the tendencies of the mind.  It’s clever way of avoiding what it wishes not to see, of justifying the unskillfulness it can’t help seeing in itself, or it’s unending ability to blame others for things it does not like or cannot accept.

Learning to ‘see’ is imperative to live in joyfulness.  This can be called Joyful Awareness.

So how does all this relate to friendliness?  I believe that to cultivate friendliness, we need to practice ‘seeing’ – not with an air of judgement or comparison.  Just seeing.  We pass dozens of people on the street and rarely see a single person.  We sit in a restaurant, order from the waiter without looking at them, receive our food while continuing our conversation with our friend as if the food just arrives magically without the help of a real person.  We rate businesses, services, people through social media often without really ‘seeing’ the humanness behind the screen. And, many businesses treat us like numbers in their machine, forgetting the person behind the number.  The inter-connectedness of this phenomena is clear.  The unskillful way to deal with it is to blame ‘big business’, blame ‘social media’, blame the people in cars – in short, blame ‘others’. 

No one is to blame.  We are one and we all contribute to the one.  If we wish to make some change we must be brave, develop mindfulness and practice seeing.

I believe that if we can see others, really see them, it will aid us on our path.  It’ll make the path more joyful and friendly – which makes the path THE practice THE way – not worrying about getting somewhere simply BEING somewhere – here and now!

Suggested Practices:

Friendliness with Oneself

Look in the mirror, at your face, try to see who’s there.  Who is that there, looking back?  Can you truly see?  Just see – without a discourse about the attributes you like or dislike.  See that right there, looking back, there is a miracle!  A living, breathing being.  And looking deeper, you perceive the miracle of consciousness.  That being, that YOU, that consciousness has the right to feel good, has the right to friendliness and is totally lovable!  Cultivate this daily! 
Smile for yourself – it sends a message to the brain that everything is OK.

Friendliness with Others

Cultivating friendliness with others is similar to the above.  Try looking around and seeing others.  Again, not with a discourse of likes and dislikes.  See their face, the consciousness that is exactly like yours.  The living being that is also a miracle.  That they experience triumphs and failures, happiness and sadness, peace and torment, love and loss, just like you!  When we truly see others, we feel the inter-connectedness of our community, our city, our country, our continent, our world!

Practicing Friendliness at the Yoga Studio

Ashtanga Yoga Paris is a sanctuary, a place to go to practice yoga, mindfulness and friendliness in the safety of a caring community.  We can cultivate friendships with others, like us, who are looking for well-being and ways to feel more peaceful. 

If you are new to the yoga studio, don’t hesitate to ask those who are more familiar for advice.  Where are the yoga mats?  Which classes are good when I feel more tired?  Have you ever tried Mysore practice? …

If you are a familiar face at AYP, it’s so lovely if you can help the newbies feel welcome, at home, in our community.  Offer a friendly smile.  Share your yoga stories – how it helps you in your life.  Give them a little tour of the studio.

In the yoga rooms, be gracious, considerate and friendly with your community in sharing the space, moving your yoga mat to allow room for another, folding blankets beautifully and putting props away nicely so the others feel they are entering a clean, neat space that encourages peacefulness and mindfulness.

Like geese who fly together in formation, it makes it easier because they create an updraft. Breathing together in the yoga room makes it easier for us all to find the motivation to do something good for ourselves!

Yoga is a practice of union.  Joining to breath together and support one another in growth.  It’s so much easier to walk the path as a group.  Feeding on Friendliness opens our peaceful, loving heart!


Preparations for Half Lotus

To be able to do the half lotus position can require lots of muscle groups that circulate and stabilize the hip joint to be lengthened.  In this video you are given one very good exercise to use a preparatory lengthening exercise for Marichyasana B, in particular.

Something that isn't discussed in this short video are the shapes of the bones.  The shape of the acetabulum (the hip socket) and the top of the femur (thigh bone) will have an impact on ones ability to do lotus positions, whether half for full versions.  

It is never advisable to push into these positions! We can work in the direction of the pose without grasping while enjoying the process and the 'awakening' of the muscles around the area of the hips.  Also, please note that we should never feel pain in the knees.  If you do, you need to back out of the position until there is no pain!

Enjoy your practice, enjoying being able to breath smoothly and deeply, enjoying being alive and feeling that aliveness in your body while moving through yoga poses. We don't need extreme poses or sensation to feel amazing in our bodies and have clear, still minds :) .

Excerpt from our book on the primary series.

Ashtanga Yoga: The Primary Series

Yoga Chikitsa
Practices to unlock our inner intelligence for bringing about physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health!

Yoga Chikitsa is the Sanskrit name of the Primary Series of Ashtanga Yoga, and it means "yoga therapy." With both Linda and Gerald coming to Ashtanga from unhealthy places, they wanted to expand and clarify the healing aspects of Ashtanga. They fully believe in the capacity for this practice to heal. 
They wish to share all the teachings they have been blessed with over the years in a way that can be approached by a full range of people. Sometimes people think that they are not flexible enough, young enough, strong enough or thin; Linda and Gerald's aim is to demonstrate that Ashtanga can be approached by almost anyone and in a way that will only cause healing.
You will find every Primary Series pose detailed in a way that gives everyone a direction in which to work. There are instructions to do the full version of the pose in addition to variations. Unique to this Ashtanga book is "how not to do the pose" and the contraindications or ways to modify if one is injured. It's an ideal reference for beginner and experienced practitioners alike!
This book is full of rich, inspiring text to inspire you on your path of yoga, including how to apply the Yoga Sutras and the Eight Limbs of Ashtanga to your daily life, on and off the yoga mat. Linda and Gerald's path is to serve; they humbly hope that this book will serve the Ashtanga Yoga Community!

"Linda and Gerald's presentation of the Primary Series of Ashtanga Yoga is colorful, rich with information and accessible. Their instructions are precise and clear with focus on mindfulness and safety. The photos are beautiful and their compassionate insights are sprinkled throughout the text. This book is a wonderful asset to anyone interested in learning more about this beautiful and dynamic system of yoga."

"Thank you, Gerald and Linda, for sharing your life stories and experiences of practicing and studying yoga. You have done a very nice work. It is easy to read, entertaining and informative and will be a useful companion to any who have a keen interest to learn Ashtanga Yoga! It is a welcome addition to what is available. It will surely become a useful guide, helping students navigate the development of this practice in a way that is effective, safe and enjoyable. Well done!"

"This friendly and smart book on the healing yoga system of Ashtanga Yoga is a gem that expertly teaches you how to take up this discipline of yoga. You are guided through a step-by-step learning process that teaches you a system of 'moving meditation.' You'll learn to build your own yoga practice that gives you more control over your choices and better enables you to create physical, mental, and spiritual wealth. Be inspired to get on your mat each day, learn to practice safely and intelligently, and best of all this book lovingly directs you to keep remembering your spiritual quest, nudging you to make the daily journey inward to the soul of yoga--to be ever engaged in the process of small and great self-discovery."

"It has been an honour to support and observe the deep unfoldment's of Linda and Gerald's practice and teaching methodology, and to see the garden of information blossom into this book of a workable, sustainable, Astanga Vinyasa practice. It's all here! Not only to get you started but to help you progress in a highly-detailed way on your yoga journey. A true harvest of the most luxurious and fragrant flowers of guidance and wisdom…bravo!"

Praise from a reader:
"Yesterday I bought your book and wanted to share with you my impressions. First of all, it’s a beautiful book: the presentation, paper quality, choice of colours and very beautiful photos. When reading the words, I discovered a rich text of teaching. Without doubt, it will be a book that will accompany me on my daily yoga path. Thank you both for sharing your technical, spiritual and human knowledge, which encompasses everything that represents Yoga."
- Marilyne

See a preview or order the book here: