What an amazing weekend of learning! Fun was had by ALL! They WILL be back! (Click the picture to advance to the next image.)
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??
Bishnu Charan Ghosh and Bikram Choudhury, 1965.
Bishnu Charan Ghosh was one of the greatest and most influential yoga masters of the past century. Ghosh, born in Lahore, India in 1903, was a celebrated physical culturalist and the first to scientifically document Yoga’s ability to cure chronic physical ailments and heal the body. Beginning in the 1920’s, he developed a school of Yoga that provided a unique blend of spiritual inspiration and a highly disciplined physical regimen.
Ghosh came from an extraordinary family. He was initiated into the field of yogic exercise and physical education by his guru and older brother, Paramahansa Yogananda, the world renowned Yogi and spiritual master. Yogananda founded the Self Realization Fellowship Center and his book, “Autobiography of a Yogi”, continues to be one of the best known and influential works of our time.
In 1923, at the young age of 20, he founded the first Ghosh College of Physical Education in Calcutta and his fame quickly spread throughout India. Other schools were opened, first in India, and then in locations around the world.
In 1939, Ghosh came to the United States to educate people on the subject of yoga by giving demonstrations. He lectured at Columbia University in New York, generating a great deal of interest in the field, and was widely acknowledged and respected in the academic community. In 1968 he went to Japan with his troupe and traveled all over the country giving lectures and yogic demonstrations. Ghosh’s were the first yoga exhibitions to be televised outside of India, and were seen and loved by millions of Japanese.
Ghosh's yoga was heavily influenced by the Yogoda system, taught at the Ranchi School by his older brother Paramahansa Yogananda and by the physical education taught by Professor Thakurta at Calcutta University.
Ghosh had many followers and his legacy of hot yoga passed into many hands, including Buddha Bose, Dr. Gouri Shankar Mukerji, Montosh Roy, the Das family, his son Biswanath and Bikram Choudhury. We will talk about all of these students in the next history segment.
He passed away in 1970. His legacy is being continued by his granddaughter, Muktamala Mitra, the current director of the Ghosh College in Calcutta. (Source: http://www.ghoshyoga.com/)
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 1936. Sri 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.
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/
Our healthy holiday challenge started on Friday, November 25th. We have a strong group of students doing their best to stay healthy and fit during this holiday season. Did you know the average American gains between 7 and 10 lbs between Thanksgiving and Christmas? But not you, not this year!! To support the challenge, we will post a green smoothie recipe everyday. If you add a green smoothie to your daily routine, you will fill up on healthy fruits and veggies, giving you the nutrients you need to get through the holidays! The shopping list and recipes for the first 10 days are below.
DAYS 1-5: Bananas: 5 • Blueberries (fresh or frozen): ¾ cup • Cherries (fresh or frozen): 1 cup • Mango (fresh or frozen): 3 cups • Oranges (navel size): 3 • Pineapple (fresh or frozen): 2 cups • Spinach (fresh): 10 cups (10 ounces) • Strawberries (fresh or frozen): 2 ¾ cups, Almond milk, unsweetened: 4 cups (32 ounces) • Coconut water, unsweetened: 2 cups (16 ounces)
Beginner’s Luck SERVES 2 2 cups spinach 2 cups water 1 cup chopped mango * 1 cup chopped pineapple * 2 bananas * 1. Blend the spinach and water until smooth. 2. Add the mango, pineapple, and bananas and blend again.
Pink Flamingo SERVES 2 2 cups spinach 2 cups unsweetened almond milk 2 cups strawberries * 1 cup chopped mango * 1. Blend the spinach and almond milk until smooth. 2. Add the strawberries and mango and blend again.
Pineapple Dream Cake SERVES 2 2 cups spinach 2 cups unsweetened almond milk 1 cup chopped pineapple * 1 cup cherries, pitted * 1 banana * 1. Blend the spinach and almond milk until smooth. 2. Add the pineapple, cherries, and banana and blend again.
Very Berry Citrus SERVES 2 2 cups spinach 2 oranges, peeled ¾ cup water ¾ cup strawberries * ¾ cup blueberries * 1 banana * 1. Blend the spinach, oranges, and water until smooth. 2. Add the strawberries, blueberries, and banana and blend again.
Mango Orange Madness SERVES 2 2 cups spinach 2 cups unsweetened coconut water 1 orange, peeled 1 cup chopped mango * 1 banana * 1. Blend the spinach, coconut water, and orange until smooth. 2. Add the mango and banana and blend again.
DAYS 6– 10: Avocado: 1 • Bananas: 3 • Berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries): 1 cup • Carrot: 1 • Grapes: 3 cups • Mango (fresh or frozen): 1 cup • Oranges (navel-size): 1 • Peaches (fresh or frozen): 1 cup • Pineapple (fresh or frozen): 2 cups • Spinach (fresh): 10 cups (10 ounces) • Strawberries (fresh or frozen): 1 cup, Almond milk, unsweetened: 2 cups (16 ounces) • Coconut water, unsweetened: 3 cups (24 ounces)
Cream Machine Green Smoothie SERVES 2 2 cups spinach 2 cups water 1 avocado, halved, pitted, and peeled 1 cup chopped mango * 1 banana * 1. Blend the spinach and water until smooth. 2. Add the avocado, mango, and banana and blend again.
Peach Coconut Dream SERVES 2 2 cups spinach 1 cup unsweetened coconut water 2 cups grapes * 1 cup sliced peaches * 1. Blend the spinach, coconut water, and grapes until smooth. 2. Add the peaches and blend again.
Strawberry Carrot Cooler SERVES 2 2 cups spinach 2 cups unsweetened coconut water 1 cup chopped carrot 1 cup strawberries * 1 cup chopped pineapple * 1. Blend the spinach and coconut water until smooth. 2. Add the carrot, strawberries, and pineapple and blend again.
Banana Berry Blast SERVES 2 2 cups spinach 2 cups unsweetened almond milk 1 cup berries (such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) * 2 bananas * 1. Blend the spinach and almond milk until smooth. 2. Add the berries and bananas and blend again.
Citrus Crush SERVES 2 2 cups spinach 1 ½ cups water 1 orange, peeled 1 cup grapes * 1 cup chopped pineapple * 1. Blend the spinach, water, and orange until smooth. 2. Add the grapes and pineapple and blend again.
Hansard, Jen; Sellner, Jadah. Simple Green Smoothies: 100+ Tasty Recipes to Lose Weight, Gain Energy, and Feel Great in Your Body (Kindle Locations 1093-1099). Rodale Books. Kin
We all want to stay fit during the holidays AND we all want to have fun during the holidays. Somehow, it seems a bit hard to do both :) That is going to change this year with Equanimity's Happy and Healthy Holiday Challenge!
Starting, November 25th, 2016 Equanimity will start a 30-day challenge to encourage you to maintain your practice and stay healthy through the holiday season. The 30th and final day of the challenge is December 24th, which happens to be BOTH Christmas Eve and the first night of Hanukkah. So enjoy Thanksgiving with your family and friends and enjoy Christmas and Hanukkah with your family and friends but join us at Equanimity in between to make new friendships and support each other in maintaining a happy and healthy holiday season.
The challenge will work like this: You choose to commit to practice with us either three, four or five plus times per week.
Practice three times per week for 30 days for $70
Practice four times per week for 30 days for $60
Practice five or more times per week for $50
But here's the kicker: you don't get the sale price until you have completed the challenge. You can buy a one-month unlimited pass for $100 on November 25th and we will reimburse you the difference once you complete your challenge. We are doing this so you have incentive to complete your challenge. If you fail to complete the challenge, you simply pay the original $100 for the month. (If you have a current class card or membership, we can put it on hold while you do your challenge and reactivate it once you are done.)
In addition to practice, we will post a green smoothie of the day recipe along with a shopping list each week. We will post suggestions and information about what you can do to keep your holidays healthy and happy and we will ask that you share with us and your fellow students what you are doing to support your challenge.
Challenges are great ways to get healthy and in shape but they are also great ways to make new friends. Come and get festive with Equanimity this holiday season. It is going to be the hottest party around!
Schedule Changes - STARTING DECEMBER 1, 2016
We asked what you thought of our schedule and an amazing 74 responses came in! The changes to our schedule reflect the majority vote on our schedule survey and although there is no way to accommodate everyone, it is our sincere hope that the majority will find what they are looking for in our new schedule.
Some things were very clear: 9:30 am, noon, 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm are time slots that you are looking for, so we have added them. We have also added a few new classes: Yin Yoga and pyroPILATES will be joining the lineup. You also asked for 60 minute classes. Our early morning classes will now be at 6:30 am and only 60 minutes long and our new lunchtime classes will also be 60 minutes.
We hope these changes help to strengthen our new community and give you the yoga you need and want. If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Peace, love and yoga, Jane
Starting next Saturday, October 22nd, Equanimity Hatha Yoga will be offering six classes to raise money for the National Sleep Apnea Association in honor of my brother-in-law, Charlie Plyter. This kind and gentle soul; father of two little boys and loving husband; just didn't wake up one day last January. We hope to bring greater awareness to the dangers of this sleeping disease, which affects a large number of Americans. Please join us Saturdays at 3:30pm, October 22nd & 29th, November 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th. These classes are donation based, at whatever level you can afford.
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.
SAVE THE DATE: We are having a party!
Please join us on Saturday, October 8th,
from 12:30pm to 3:30pm
to celebrate the opening of Equanimity Hatha Yoga!
Come for a tour and learn about our yoga.
There will be a ribbon cutting at 1pm
with Mayor Carolyn Comitta.
We will have snacks, drinks and CAKE!
Hope to see you at Equanimity on the 8th!
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
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
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.