Preparing for the May Strength Challenge

Want to get strong this month? I mean, REALLY STRONG? Do you have chronic weakness that plagues you? This is the month to end that cycle. THIS IS YOUR MONTH!

In the fashion of the original Ghosh Yogis, we are going to incorporate body strength training into our practice this month to help you increase muscle tone and over come weakness. Not to mention, it might help what you look like in the summer bathing suit!

Each day we will have a strength challenge that you can add to the end of your yoga class. You can do it with the group or on your own. I will post this chart on the studio door to help remind you and our teachers of the daily challenge. I will also post videos on Facebook and Instagram on how to properly perform the challenges. All of the Equanimity Teachers will help you with technique as well!

MAY is our month! My personal goal is to regain the ABDOMINAL strength I had before having a baby. WHAT IS YOUR GOAL??

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History Lesson: Hot Yoga Lineage, Before Bishnu Ghosh

So before we even start talking about Bishnu Ghosh, we should talk about what lead up to his creation of Ghosh Yoga. I recently posted this map (see below) of the Ghosh Yoga Lineage:

Let's talk about everyone on this image above Bishnu Ghosh.

It all starts out with Mahavatar Babaji. Mahavatar Babaji is the name given to an Indian saint and yogi by Lahiri Mahasaya and several of his disciples who met Mahavatar Babaji between 1861 and 1935.  In Yukteswar Giri's book The Holy Science.  Sri Guru Babaji, i.e., Mahavatar Babaji was Lord Shiva. In his book, he mentions Sri Guru Babaji changing his form to Lord Shiva. Paramahansa Yogananda has also written in Autobiography of a Yogi that the deathless avatar has resided for untold years in the remote Himalayan regions of India, revealing himself only rarely to a blessed few. Mahavatar Babaji revived the lost scientific meditation technique of Kriya Yoga. Mahavatar Babaji's given name is unknown, so those who met him during that period all called him by the title first given to him by Lahirī. "Mahavatar" means "great avatar", and "Babaji" simply means "revered father". 

Mahavatar Babaji's student, Lahiri Mahasaya was choosen by Babaji to reintroduce the lost practice of Kriya Yoga to the world. Lahiri Mahasaya lived from 1828-1895 and was know as Yogiraj and Kashi Baba. He was unusual among Indian holy people in that he was a householder — marrying, raising a family, and working as an accountant for the Military Engineering Department of the British Indian government. Lahiri lived with his family in Varanasi rather than in a temple or monastery. He achieved a substantial reputation among 19th century Hindu religionists. Lahiri Mahasaya was the Guru to Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri as well as Bhagabati Charan Ghosh and Gyan Prabha Ghosh, the parents of both Paramahansa Yogananda and Bishnu Ghosh. Lahiri prophesied when Paramahansa Yogananda was an infant that he would grow up to be a yogi who would act as "a spiritual engine, bringing many souls to God's kingdom".

Swami Sri Yukteswar Gigi, student of Lahiri Mahasaya, lived from 1855 to 1936Sri Yukteswar was a Kriya yogi, a Jyotisha (Vedic astrologer), a scholar of the Bhagavad Gita and the Bible, an educator and an astronomer. He was also a member of the Giri branch of the swami order. In 1894, he met Mahavatar Babaji who asked him to write a book comparing Hindu scriptures with the Christian Bible. He completed the book that year. It is entitled The Holy Science

There is not much written about Bhagabati Charan Ghosh and Gyan Prabha Ghosh except for what is found in Autobiography or a yogi, where Yogananda praises his parents for the wonderful home and life they provided. Both were students of Lahiri Mahasaya and practictioners of Kriya Yoga and great influences on their children.

Pramahansa Yogananda, older brother of Bishnu Ghosh, was a world renowned Yogi and spiritual master. Born Mukunda Lal Ghosh, he lived from 1893 to 1952. He met his Guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar Gigi when he was 17 and describes the meeting as the rekindling of a relationship that has lasted many centuries. Yogananda founded the Ranchi School for Boys outside of Calcuta (also know as the Yogoda Satsanga Society of India) and the Self Realization Fellowship Center in Los Angeles. His book, “Autobiography of a Yogi”, continues to be one of the best known and influential works of our time. At the Ranchi school, Yogananda combined modern educational techniques with yoga training and spiritual ideals. This included a practice called the Yogoda system. (You can now purchase the book on amazon: Yogoda: or Tissue Will system for Physical Education by Pramahansa Yogananda.)

Professor R.N. Guha Thakurta, director of physical education at the University of Calcutta is listed as one of Bishnu Ghosh'sgreatest influences. Although not much is written about the man himself, he is responsible for introducing Bishnu Ghosh to the concept of physical culture. Ghosh studied physical education with Prof. Thakurta at the University of Calcutta. Here, Prof. Thakurta taught calisthenics and weight training techniques. The age of physical culture highly influenced the development of Ghosh yoga and can be seen in the practice today.

So after reading all of this, you might wonder, is Ghosh yoga a form of Kriya Yoga? And what is Kriya yoga anyway? So the answer to the first question is: not really. Although Ghosh came from a long lineage of Kriya practictioners, the Ghosh Yoga practice is primarily a physical system for the body, although there are definitely spiritual benefits of practicing any type of physical yoga. The answer to the second question is more complicated. I will quote Bonnie Knight's paper, Bishnu Charan Ghosh and His Influence on Modern Postural Yoga:

Kriya Yoga is known as the yoga performed with awareness.   The word “kriya” comes from the Sanskrit root of “kri” meaning “action” and “ya” meaning “awareness”.   It is also known as “integral yoga” bringing about an integration or complete transformation for an individual in all of the five major planes of existence; physical, vital, mental, intellectual and spiritual.  The practice slowly strips away the layers of conditioning which prevents the individual from having an universal vision. The body is seen as a vehicle or temple of Divine manifestation. One cares for the body not for its own sake but as an expression of the Divinity

The Kriya Yoga defined by Babaji consisted of a series of techniques and practices grouped in five major categories of Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Pranayama, Dhyana Yoga, Mantra Yoga and Bhakti Yoga.  Each of these categories corresponded to each of the five major planes of existence and are thought to have progressively manifested toward the subtler life force of each individual where the emergence with the Divine would be experienced.

Equanimity NUTRITION Challenge

We are looking forward to March at Equanimity! NUTRITION is the name and Health is the game.

If you are planning to join our nutrition challenge, here's the schedule:

Be sure to join our Facebook discussion group so you don't miss any of it: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1246041098818094/

 

Grand Opening Party

Our Grand opening party and ribbon cutting was a great success! Check out some of the photos from the happy day! Just click on the photos to scroll through.

An open letter to all Bikram Teachers and Students:

Dear friends,

In just under seven weeks, Equanimity Hatha Yoga will open its doors to the public on October 1, 2016. It is with great excitement and joy that I am finally beginning this journey. It is my great hope that you will all join me in my studio. As a Bikram teacher and a member of the Bikram community, I feel that teaching Ghosh Yoga to its fullest would not be possible without Bikram yoga, its students and teachers. As Bishnu Ghosh’s greatest student, Bikram Choudhury has done more for the world of yoga then any individual, and for that I am truly grateful.

As a yogi of 20 plus years, I have gone through many phases in my practice; I have had many injuries and have witnessed my body age.  I have practiced Hatha, Bikram and Baptiste yoga with vigor but I have also dabbled in Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bhakti and Svaroopa yoga. With the knowledge I have gained and the experiences I have had, I can say, as many of you will also attest to, that the Ghosh lineage is the most therapeutic and safe system available, while still offering a challenging mind/body workout.

I have heard many Bikram yogis express concern with postures outside of the 26 + 2 series, suggesting that the rest of the Ghosh series is “ADVANCED”. Over the last four years I have intensely studied the entire Ghosh lineage under yoga master Tony Sanchez. There are 91 postures as well as many variations added over the years by Bikram, Tony and others. Within the vastness of this system, there is a wealth of potential beyond the 26 +2 that is not advanced level yoga. Many postures supplement the Bikram series greatly and offer the potential for cross training which, as many of you already know, is the best way to reduce risk of injury, enhance weight loss, improve total fitness and enhance exercise adherence.

Equanimity Hatha Yoga will be offering seven class types over the course of any given week. The two main classes we will offer are Bikram’s Beginner Yoga and Ghosh Yoga Level One. Both classes are designed for brand new beginners and complement each other. Additionally, we will offer two supplemental cross training classes for all levels: Ghosh Flow (a cardio class focusing on salutations and full body mudras) and Core Strength (a class focused on strengthening the muscles of the deep back and abdomen as well as the diaphragm and the pelvic floor).  We will also offer Ghosh Level Two (an intermediate level class), Ghosh Level Three (an advanced class) and a Ghosh Yin class for all levels. All classes will be taught in a heated room.

I would like to think of my studio as part of the Bikram community, offering the same philosophy, intensity and community that you would find in a traditional Bikram studio. Our philosophy is one of community and inclusiveness and we hope that the extended Ghosh curriculum will be additive to the Bikram practice and not contradictory. Because of this, all Bikram teachers and studio owners will have the same privileges found in a traditional Bikram studio and will always practice for free at Equanimity Hatha Yoga. I would like to officially invite you into my studio with open arms and an open heart.

I look forward to sharing knowledge, practice and continued community with all of you. Please feel free to forward this message on.

Peace, love and yoga,

Jane Clark, owner

Equanimity Hatha Yoga, LLC

323 East Gay Street, B7

West Chester, PA 19380

215-666-2653

www.equanimityhathayoga.com

jane@equanimityhathayoga.com

What is Ghosh yoga?

So what is Ghosh yoga, anyway?

You may be wondering what the difference is between Bikram yoga and Ghosh yoga. Bishnu Charan Ghosh was the originator of Ghosh yoga and was also Bikram Choudury's guru. So doesn't that mean that Bikram yoga is a version of Ghosh yoga?? Well, yes... uhhhh... kind of.... not completely.

As with any system that has been passed down from person to person and generation to generation, evolution, additions, and subtractions and of course misinterpretations are inevitable. With that said, the yoga that Bikram teaches today is not the yoga he taught when he first came to the United States in the 1970s.

But let’s back up for a minute... who is this Ghosh character anyway? Bishnu Charan Ghosh was the founder of the Ghosh College of Yoga and Physical Culture in Calcutta, India, established in 1930. Ghosh developed his system of yoga from two sources:

1. Paramahansa Yogananda (his older brother), author of Autobiography of a Yogi and founder of the Ranchi School for Boys in Calcutta and the Self Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles.

2. Professor Thakurta, the physical education director at Calcutta University.

Ghosh yoga is a combination of the 84 asanas of the” Yogoda” system taught by Yogananda at Ranchi and the physical education techniques taught by Professor Thakurta which included weight training and calisthenics.

Notable students of Bishnu Ghosh include Buddha Bose, Monotosh Roy, Nilomi Das, Bikram Choudhury and Biswanath (Bisu) Ghosh ( Bishnu’s son and Bikram’s best friend).

Soooo... after Ghosh died in 1970, Bikram brought Ghosh yoga to Los Angles and from there it spread like wild fire. The series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises is derived from the original 91 postures, three breathing exercises, mudras, bandhas and kiyras of Ghosh yoga. Bikram and Ghosh worked together to develop this series prior to Bikram's arrival in the US. (It was initially introduced in Japan.)

Many of Bikram's first students from the 70s are still with him and are pinnacle members of the Bikram Empire, including Emmy Cleaves, and Jim Kallet. Movie stars including Shirley Maclaine and Rachel Welsh also studied with Bikram in the early days. Amongst this group was one of Bikram's most skilled students, Tony Sanchez.  “Tony Sanchez trained with Bikram Choudury from 1976 to 1980, when he was certified by Ghosh's College of Physical Education in Calcutta. He was director of Bikram's San Francisco Yoga College of India from 1980 to 1984."

If you ask Tony, he will tell you that he has always practiced to the best of his ability but in my opinion, his practice is extraordinary and far exceeded that of the yogis and yoginis with whom he studied and practiced. Over time, Tony achieved great success in his career and as he did, drifted away from Bikram. In 2005, Tony and his wife Sandy moved from California to Baja Mexico where Tony started the Yoga Physical Culture Academy.

The yoga taught by Tony is the original Ghosh yoga that he studied with Bikram in the 70s and learned at Ghosh's College of Physical Education in Calcutta (comprised of 91 postures, 3 breathing exercises, bandhas, mudras and kriyas). As a trainee of Both Bikram Choudhury and Tony Sanchez, I have identified 15 principle differences between the two practices:

1.  The practice of Efficiency

2. Anatomical Position / Mountain Pose

3. Focus on alignment with axis’s (Coronal, Sagitatal & Transverse Planes)

4. Length postures are held

5. Use of the Grip

6. Use of the Arms

7. Twisting in Backbends

8.Grounding the feet

9. Balancing on One Foot

10.  Bottom Heavy, Top Light

11.   Hyperextension / Overstretching

12.  Overloading

13.  Modifications & Props

14.  Use of Heat

15.   Focus on Safety & Longevity

This is A LOT to explain! (More reason to come take my class :) ) Instead of going into the details of each of these concepts, I simply want to pose the question of why? Why have these changes occurred?

Well, there are many people in the Bikram world and many voices expressing their own interpretations. But I think the main reason so many things have changed over the last 40 years is because the Bikram Beginners Series is just that: a beginner’s series. It is not a comprehensive, life long, work the whole body system. It is a gateway into the world of Ghosh yoga. Yet it has been deemed as the one and only system you will ever need. In order for the 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises to actually be a holistic system, changes to the original postures had to be made.

An example of this is how we use the arms in Bikram vs. in Ghosh yoga. The 26 postures in Bikram yoga are not very upper-body focused, aside from wind-removing pose and half locust post. Arms are used in the other 24 postures, but not as a primary focus. Over the years, greater use of the arms has been incorporated into many of the 26 postures through the action of pulling and tightening the grip (as seen in hands to feet pose and stretching pose). Initially, using the body in this manor is a great thing for beginners because it awakens the upper body, opens the chest and stimulates muscles that haven't been well used. But once you have established your practice, it is important to not over use the arms when they are not intended to be used because it will not allow the development of strength and flexibility in the areas that the postured was designed to work on, i.e. the spine, neck, shoulders and back. Ghosh yoga focuses on the efficiency of each posture, only using the muscles required by the posture without over complicating the focus.

The practice of Ghosh yoga as a holistic system is starting to become more and more popular, thanks to Tony Sanchez. Bikram yoga is a great system that acts as a bridge from pain and sickness to health and wellness. Because of this, Bikram can be thought of as a type of physical therapy. Ghosh yoga, on the other hand is a lifelong, sustainable yoga practice.