Living Under the Light of Compassion

Yama, the first step corresponding to the Eight Limbs of yoga, holds the affirmation of ahimsa or non-violence which is explained by Master Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois in his book Yoga Mala as “not causing injury to anyone including animals in any form, at any time or for any reason in word, thought or deed”. This step is followed by the affirmations of Satya or truthfulness, Asteya standing for not stealing or envying and a few others that indirectly or directly lead to the quality of compassion; one of the most important factors for leading a life of peace, purpose, joy and unity.

Compassion not only holds the concept of ahimsa or non-violence, but it takes it a step further. It is the ability of feeling someone else’s suffering under a deep state of love. Buddhism, which is historically one of the branches of yoga, places extreme importance on the concept of compassion and one of their main exercises for developing a sense of universal kindness and achieve spiritual transformation is to see all sentient beings under the real lens of equanimity or equality; interacting with all as if they were our own mother.

We all know how hard it is to keep our defensive and judgmental reactions out of the way during our everyday lives. Even if we get to feel peaceful and at ease when on the yoga mat, the moment we set a foot out on the streets or step on the car we quickly seem to forget about this graceful feeling. But there is a way of dealing with this mental conditioning of ours, by simply becoming aware of when these negative reactions arise and substitute the negative for positive by seeing other people or situations under the light of compassion.

In his Book of Transformation, the Dalai Lama includes the beautiful text of The Eight Verses on Transforming the Mind, reading them every morning or every once in a while, can help us to remind ourselves about the value of this wonderful capacity that we have as human beings. These verses guide us through an alternative way of seeing what and who surrounds us, placing the heart right in the epicenter around which everyone and everything revolves.

The first verse talks about holding other beings as exceptionally dear to you, while recognizing the important role they play when it comes to attaining your spiritual realizations. With no other sentient beings around you, it would be impossible to develop great compassion.

The second verse mentions approaching others with genuine humility and an authentic courage of being of help. The third one affirms the importance of freeing ourselves from our negative impulses, emotions and thoughts; while the fourth verse moves us to give our hands to those beings who have been marginalized, abandoned or who are caught up in tremendous suffering. We must see these sentient beings as if we have been given a treasure.

The fifth and sixth verse encourages us to see people that are being or have been unkind to us from a lens of patience and tolerance; considering them as our cherished teachers. The seventh verse summarizes what has been pronounced in previous ones and the succeeding last verse moves us to be released from the eight mundane concerns and to remain unattached from as we practice compassion in the purest of its form.

Benefits of Doing Yoga Alone


It’s incredible how many people out there have been practicing yoga for years but have somehow never done yoga alone or at home. Yoga instructors are educated and are great to have around when learning new things, but there is something beautiful that happens when you take the time to practice yoga by yourself. There are many benefits to doing yoga at home that we’ll talk about today, but please keep in mind that this might not be safe if you are a beginner or if you are trying something new.

Increased Comfort Levels

One of the biggest benefits of doing yoga alone is an increased level of comfort. Whether you are at your house, at a park, by the beach, or tucked away in the corner at your gym; the benefits can be huge. Being able to call the shots and play around with different locations is empowering. It allows you to figure out where you feel the best and the most in tune with yourself. A lot of yoga studios are crowded and really aren’t suitable for everyone. Some students love to do yoga to relaxing music and some people prefer silence; classes don’t allow for a personalized experience.


Insecure Feelings

In a yoga class, it is very hard to not notice others around you. There are going to be people in your class who are more and less “advanced” than you are. You probably know that yoga is an inward journey but that doesn’t mean that comparisons, insecurities, and awkward feelings don’t come up. Aside from the yoga poses themselves, some people feel vulnerable wearing yoga attire without comparing their bodies to others. Doing yoga alone is great because it takes away that vulnerable feeling and lets you be comfortable in your own skin.



You will probably notice a change in your focus immediately when you start to practice yoga alone. If you are someone who usually places your mat at the back of the class or if you go to a very busy studio, this can make a huge difference. Aside from the feeling associated with insecurity, having other people’s arms and legs getting in your way while you practice is incredibly distracting. Taking your yoga sessions into your own environment takes away all the outside noise that might be getting in your way in a classroom.

In Tune with Your Body

The last benefit of doing yoga alone is probably the most important. Doing yoga alone gives you the opportunity to tune into your body in ways that you can’t inside a yoga class. It allows you to breathe, pause, and change poses whenever it feels right for you. You can also focus only on the poses that your body needs that day and not do the ones that you don’t think are beneficial or are uncomfortable to you.

Doing yoga alone allows yoga to be about you and your body; that is what yoga is all about. Take a step out of the classroom and spend even 15 minutes doing yoga alone. You can learn so much about yourself.

My Love-Hate Relationship with Extended Side Angle Pose


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I haven’t always liked Extended Side Angle Pose, also referred to by the Sanskrit shortened version Parsvakonasana. It use to seem incredibly difficult to hold, and the teacher always seemed to forget that we were holding the pose, she would keep us here for what felt like eternity.

However, when I started my Yoga studies I learned the purpose and beauty of this pose. This pose combines a lunge and a twist, which both strengthens and stretches your body. Have you ever wondered the secret to becoming super flexible and able to do pretzel like poses like lotus pose? Well, it starts with poses like Parsvakonasana. The idea is to warm up your hips in poses that build heat while slowly stretching this area, so when you get to the deep flexibility based poses you are ready!

Extended Sides Angle Pose is the perfect standing pose to add into the beginning of your practice with other standing poses like extended triangle pose and the warrior poses. You can follow this pose up with deeper hip opening poses like Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana) and Wide-Angle Seated Forward Fold (Upavistha Konasana).

To begin, bring your hands to your hips. Step your feet wide apart and rotate the right legs to the front of the room. Align your heels.

Bend your knee so it is directly over your front shin. Bend your right elbow and place it on top of your bent legs, thigh. Keep your palm up.

Extend your let arm overhead. Feel the line of energy from the left leg up your torso side and out of the extended arm overhead.

Look forward or up at your hands, breathing slowly and deeply though your nose. Allow your emotions to surface briefly as a tool of self-reflection. This pose relates especially to our sense of strength, groundedness, and unlimited capabilities.

Concentrate and feel your solar plexus chakra beaming radiantly and giving you endless strength. This is your third chakra, called the Manipura chakra in Sanskrit. Positive affirmations to say with this Chakra include:

  • I am powerful.
  • I can accomplish anything.
  • I am confident.

You can modify the pose by either resting your arm on the top of your knee, or balance on a block instead of the floor.

Only go as deep as you can balance effort with ease. Engage your legs and continue pressing them into and away from the floor.

Hold for: 30 seconds to a minute.


  • It opens the inner thighs
  • Stretches the entire side body, spine and hips
  • Relieves stiffness in the shoulders and back
  • Deepens stretch to the groins and hamstrings
  • Strengthens the legs, knee and ankle
  • Stretches and tones your abs
  • Improves your stamina
  • Opens chest, shoulders and lungs
  • Deepens your breath


  • Constipation. Stimulates abdominal organs and relieves
  • Infertility
  • Backache
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sciatica
  • Menstrual issues

Now, I always make sure to include Parsvakonasana in my yoga routine, to soak up its innumerable mind, body and spirit benefits!