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Question Challenge: Compilation

Question Challenge: Compilation

Here is a collection of Q & A’s from this month’s challenge – most recent submission are at the top.

All are welcome to participate in the Question Challenge. Here are the questions (along with their answers) we have received thus far…

#7: This next query could be from YOU – Write us with your questions…

#6 Question:

I sometimes struggle with slipping which really ruins the moment. Yoga socks help somewhat. I tried a yoga towel at home and discovered that spraying it with water gets rid of the problem, but I can’t imagine stopping in the middle of practice to spray the towel. What are all the ways to deal with this problem? I was amazed at the difference in my balance when I wasn’t slipping. – Lynn

#6 Reply:

Hi Lynn,

Indeed, slippage is problematic and infringes on one’s practice. The root cause is moisture on the feet. Here are a few dos and don’ts and hopefully some solutions:

(1) Avoid using foot (& hand) cream before your practice.
(2) Yes, for some, yoga socks work well.
(3) As you have discovered, yoga towels also work. And yes generally they should be wet. You can try wetting it at the beginning of your practice and then seeing if the moisture / perspiration generated from your feet is enough to keep the towel moist & “sticky.”
(4) Alternatively, you can use a yoga mat towel that has rubber beads on the underside. I do carry those and have some in stock. They help keep the towel from shifting around even when dry.

Those are some of the key points that come to mind…hopefully one of those offers a viable solution for you.

I understand how distracting and intrusive it is to be slipping on your mat during your practice. Feeling safe and secure on the mat does make a big difference.

#5 Question:

How do you select music for our classes and what is the role of music in our practice? – Annie

#5 Reply:

Hi Annie – thanks for your query.

The yogis say that shabda (sound) is the most subtle of the various sense perceptions. That means it has a more sublime and powerful affect on the mind than the other four gateways to the external world: sight, touch, smell, and taste.

In terms of selection, I try and choose music for our classes that meets the following criteria:
(a) Calming and soothing;
(b) Not too long or monotonous;
(c) Not readily identifiable (more about this explained below);
(d) Of universal appeal.

I want our practice to be a safe and free environment, and forward-looking, as far as possible. So I try and use music that practitioners cannot easily identify. Because we all have experienced that when you hear a song you know, then it immediately brings back memories from that occasion. And in our yoga practice, it is best if the mind is free to discover in the moment with as minimal distractions as possible. Playing a “hit” song from today or a generation ago would instantly put the mind in a different space.

So those are my basic criteria for selecting music – and now that I think about it, I should probably “touch up” and “refresh” my playlist a bit. Every so often, I infuse new tracks and pull out older ones.

As to the second part of your question, music plays a tremendous role in the practice of yoga and meditation. There are two main types of music: bhajans (devotional songs) and kiirtan (spiritual chanting). I have included both varieties on my play list. That said, generally bhajans and kiirtan are done in a more active manner – by singing along and either sitting still or performing a yogic dance – as a means to goad the mind towards subtle thinking in preparation for doing silent meditation.

This is indeed a big topic, but hopefully that gives a little insight. Thanks for asking!!

– Satyam

#4: Question:

How can one best overcome anxiety, concerns, and fears about the future? – Anonymous

#4 Reply: 

Greetings Anonymous…

…In each and every era, people are worried or concerned about the future. Actually, the yogis talk about the three bondages. The bondage of the past, present, and future. According to the yogis, one should not dwell on past mistakes and incidents, otherwise one will be swallowed up by those memories. One should just briefly look to the past in order to learn and prepare for the immediate future – comfortably avoiding those errors of old. That is how to overcome the bondage of the past.

The bondage of the future is an entirely different animal. It is primarily based on fear – the worst kind of fear imaginable: The fear of the unknown. The further one looks into the future, the scarier it can be because that is unchartered territory. One cannot fathom what is really going to happen. So then how to manage this: How to live without getting overrun by the unknowns of the distant future.

In day to day life, we essentially live in the present and look a little bit into the future as well. That is how we plan and move through our days. And it is not scary. For instance, if you are eating breakfast and thinking about your commute to work, or your weekend plans etc, then you do not fall prey to the fear of the unknown since going to work, and doing things on the weekend are known variables. And this is the case with so many events that are in the near future. They do not loom over and devour your psyche because you have a clear vision and expectation – along with a plan for how to successfully proceed.

So then what about navigating the distant future, where all those unknowns come in to play. The yogic response is simply not to look that far into the future as the future is not in your hand. Just you should plan for the near, upcoming events, and that will be sufficient. The whole situation is akin to driving your car in the dark. If you get in your car at point A and have to drive 15 miles to point B, then you do not try and see point B from the outset. You do not worry and grow gravely concerned that in the shroud of darkness point B is impossible to find. Rather you calmly get in your car, turn on your headlights, and proceed forward, navigating your course 50 to 100 feet at a time – assured that by following the rays of the headlights you will surely reach your destination. The headlights make the journey safe and easily manageable. But if one tries to drive ahead by looking beyond the scope of the headlights, the journey quickly becomes quite intimidating and scary.

Similarly, the key to managing the unknowns of the future is to only look into the foreseeable distance – not beyond into that murky, dark unknown portion that is inhabited by the fears of: “What will happen to me?”, “How will I manage?”, “Will I be all alone?” All those types of queries that are grounded in the unknown are useless. They have no value. Only look as far as your own personal vision allows you to see. By this way, you will calmly navigate each and every juncture, and comfortably advance.

#3: Question:

With everything going on in the world, one can become concerned about the health of the planet. I was wondering if there is a yoga equivalent to saying a prayer for the planet, or sending light and love out into the universe? – Anonymous

#3 Reply: 

Namaskar Anonymous,

Thanks so much for your question.

(A) This first one is a universal yogic blessing:

Oṋḿ madhu vátá rtáyate madhu kśarantu sindhavah;
Mádhviirnah santvośadhiih.
Madhu naktamutośaso madhumat párthivaḿ rajah;
Madhu dyaorastu nah pitá.
Madhumán no vanaspatirmadhumán astu súryah;
Mádhviirgávo bhavantu nah.
Oṋḿ madhu oṋḿ madhu oṋḿ madhu.

English Meaning:

May the winds bring blessings,
May the oceans bring blissful tides;

May our forests be beautiful,
May our plants be charming;

May our days and nights be sweet,
May every particle of this earth be radiant with joy;

May the sun shower rays of hope and happiness,
May the spiritual light shine on all;

May all the beings of this universe be blessed.
Let eternal peace prevail, let eternal peace prevail, let eternal peace prevail.

(B) The second one is shloka (verse) often recited at the end of dharmic gatherings:

Sarve’tra sukhinah bhavantu sarve santu nira’maya’h;
Sarve bhadra’n’i pashyantu na kashcid duhkhama’pnuya’t.

English Meaning:

Let everybody be happy
Let everybody be free from all ailments
Let everybody see the bright side of everything
Let nobody be forced to undergo any suffering or exploitation

(C) Here is mantra which can repeated on an individual basis, aloud or silently.

Oṋḿ shanti, oṋḿ shanti, oṋḿ shanti.

English Meaning:

May there be eternal peace (3x)

Note: I will try and get a sound file uploaded of the first one. 

#2: Question:

I seem to be out of balance literally. Ha, ha “physically” when laying flat on my back one leg just flops to the side. I believe it is a hip issue. Are there any yoga exercises that would help get me balanced? Thanks!! – Anonymous

#2: Reply:

Dear Anonymous,

Very sorry to hear of your hip / leg problem. Generally, this type of issue is best handled onsite where I can see the problem first-hand, ask you questions, gauge your range of motion, and get a sense of how painful the condition is….but let’s see what we can do here.

#1: If you are experiencing some type of critical pain I would recommend a professional evaluation by a doctor or physical therapist.

#2: If you are comfortable moving, and it is more of a range of motion issue, there are a few poses you can try and see if they help. Again, usually for any kind of therapy related issue, I would want to lay eyes on the problem. But you can ease into these following poses / practices and see if they help at all:

(a) Happy Baby Pose:

(b) Here is a gentle hip opener video (7 min):

(c) For a more sustained practice you can try my (40 min) podcast:

In all of the above practices, I would suggest starting slowly, making sure you are pain-free, and evaluating it on a day-to-day basis.

Hope that some of the above helps in your regaining your balance and curing your hip issue.

All the very best,


#1: Question: 

We are consistently amazed about how you are able to face the class and say (for example): “raise your right hand” while, of course you raise your left hand so as not to confuse the mirror image of what you are asking us to do.

Q: Is this right-left direction that you give difficult for you and, if so, how have you trained yourself to do it?

If I had to lead a class like this (which I could never do) I’d have to face in the same direction as the class (thus turning my back on the class which would be awful) and then would be able to say: raise right leg, left leg etc. and do the same with the class. – Al & Liz

#1: Reply:

Thanks Al & Liz for your query!!

Mirror imaging is a helpful technique for leading a class. If one can become comfortable with it, there are distinct advantages – the main one being class cohesion. When I visit my mom in NC then I often attend some of the local yoga classes. Some of those teachers do not use mirror imaging, and very quickly, the entire class seems to all be doing one side or the other, i.e. “mish-mash”. That’s how it seems to me anyway! But you know, folks get through the class and come back again & again. I have no idea if it bothers them or not. My preference is to keep everyone moving in the same direction, as far as possible, and mirror imaging is generally essential for achieving this.

That said, when I am at NECC (Ches Bch) I put my mat in the middle of the room and folks are on either side of me, facing my side. In that case I am not using mirror imaging. So there are ways to teach without using it. I suppose students will have their own preference.

To your query, it is not difficult to do. But it does take some getting used to. The best way to learn and get comfortable with it is to jump right in and force oneself. It seems to be one of those things where there is no substitute for “on-the-job” experience. I am sure if you tried it a few times, you’d quickly adjust and adapt accordingly.

Thanks for your question….

– Satyam



1 Comment
  1. Ah -thanks for the music info…I’ve wondered about it and now it makes sense that you don’t use familiar music for the most part. I find it very helpful in focusing physically and mentally. Thanks!

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