Sunday, November 29, 2015

From Caterpillar to Butterfly - Musings on Paschimottasana, Caterpillar Pose and the book, The Unfolding Self

Part of my final project for my Art 4 All People training is to do some writings from Ralph Metzner's book, The Unfolding Self.

The introduction from this book is called: From Caterpillar to Butterfly.  This reminds me of the work I am trying to do in my Yin Yoga Class on Saturdays at The Yogi Tree.  I believe if we can meditate on the qualities and energies of the animals in the yoga poses we can use their energies and archetypes to transform our own lives.

"There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly." 
Richad Buckminister Fuller

Caterpillar Pose in Yin is what is called Pachimottanasana  in Hatha Yoga. Bernie Clark says the difference between Caterpillar and Paschimottanasana, is that in Caterpillar we are not trying to lengthen the spine or stretch the back muscles. Instead of bringing the head to the feet, round the spine so the head comes to the knees.

Bernie Clark in Caterpillar Pose

BKS Iyengar in Paschimottasana

According to Satyananda "this asana stretches the hamstring muscles and increases flexibility in the hip joints  It tones and massages the entire abdominal and pelvic region, including the liver, pancreas, spleen, uro-genital system, kidneys and adrenal glands.  It helps to remove excess weight in this are and stimualtes circulation to the nerves and muscles of the spine.

"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the rest of the world calls a butterfly." 
Buckminster Fuller

In Light on Yoga, BKS Iyengar writes that the pose is also called Ugrasana or Brahmnacharyasana
"Paschima literally means the west.  It implies the whole body from the head to the heals.  The anterior or eastern aspect is the from of the body from face down to the toes.  The crown of the head is the upper or northern aspect while the soles and heels of the feet for, the lower or southern aspect of the body.  In this asana the bacck of the whole body is intensely stretched, hence the name..... Ugra means formidable, powerful and noble. Brahmacharya means religious study self-restraint and celibacy.

Bikram Choudury claims that this pose relieves chronic diarrhea by improving the circulation to the liver and spleen and improves digestion. He also says it increases the flexibility of the trapezius, deltoid, erectus femoris and bicep muscles, scaiti nerves, tendons, hip joints and the last 5 vertebrae of the spine.

What I teach about caterpillar pose is that the caterpillar is symbolic of preparing for the upcoming journey. Packing your suitcase.  Getting Prepared.  Putting everything in order before you go on your adventure.

"The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets the publicity." - George Carlin

In the Unfolding Self p. 17 Metzner writes "There exists in human experience another kind of transformation, a radical restructuring of the entire psyche that has been variously referred to as a mystical experience, ecstasy, cosmic, consciousness, oceanic feeling, oneness, transcendence, union with God, nirvana, satori, liberation, peak experience, and by other names."  This radical restructuring for me the change of the caterpillar into the butterfly.

Evolution biologist Elisabeth Sahtouris tells the story:

“Inside a cocoon, deep in the caterpillar’s body, tiny things biologists call ‘imaginal disks’ begin to form. Not recognizing the newcomers, the caterpillar’s immune system snuffs them. But they keep coming faster and faster, then begin to link up with each other. Eventually the caterpillar’s immune system fails from the stress and the disks become imaginal cells that build the butterfly from the meltdown of the caterpillar’s body. . . If we see ourselves as imaginal discs working to build the butterfly of a better world, we will also see how important it is to link with each other in the effort, to recognize how many different kinds of imaginal cells it will take to build a butterfly with all its capabilities and colors.”

The caterpillar archetype means pure potential, the promise of new life  that dwells  with our own bodies. The caterpillar reminds us that at some point, all the ruminating, processing and soul-searching will unfold into remarkable results. "Caterpillars are a blessing on new ideas. They indicate promising outcomes to projects in their initial stage, and offer good juju in terms of fruitful completion of goals.the caterpillar is a symbol of evolution and transformation too. Specifically, they convey a unique level of patience as they surrender to the process of transformation. Let's face it, once a caterpillar begins the process of transforming into a winged beauty...there's no turning back. In essence, caterpillar is a symbol of never looking back on the old versions of ourselves. Rather, the caterpillar encourages plowing forward with ever-evolving, more brilliant versions of our beauty and potential. "

When we change from caterpillar to butterfly Unfolding Self p, 19 "this kind of experience changes the way we feel about the world-our emotional attitude of basic trust or mistrust, faith or doubt, acceptance or rejection-and the way we feel about ourselves, our self-acceptance, self-esteem, self-love."

The caterpillar self-actualizes "brings into actuality of something that has been a latent potentiality".  But it also loses its caterpillar self.  The caterpillar is earthbound but the butterfly flies. Just as the shamanic healer undergoes a symbolic flight the butterfly has literally flight. Metzner writes that mystics "are butterflies who try to awaken the human larval caterpillars to the "immortal heritage" that awaits them."  The caterpillar is reborn as the butterfly.  Metzner writes p. 29 "There is always an ending, then a neutral, or intermeditate, zone, then a new beginning. "

The term metamorphosis is often used for the caterpillar's change into a butterfly.  It gives us the hope as humans we can change just as significantly as the change from a caterpillar to a butterfly.

When we think about doing caterpillar pose and it is actually a very difficult pose for me.  We can identify with the caterpillar that does not know what it is going to become but is living in the present moment of its life as a caterpillar.  Doing caterpillar things.  Be one with caterpillar when you are in caterpillar pose and be one with the butterfly when you are in butterfly pose.  Both are necessary stages with equal benefits and important experiences.

The last word in this blog post and in the introductory chapter of the Unfolding Self goes to Chuang Tsu.

"When one is changing, how does one know that a change is taking place?  When one is not changing, how does one know that a change hasn't occurred? Maybe you and I are still in a dream and have not yet awakened . .. Be content with what is happening and forget about change; then you can enter into the oneness of the mystery of heaven."

Thursday, November 19, 2015


My name is Nya Patrinos.  Nya means guide in Sanskrit, It comes from the verb ni which means to lead or guide.  My life purpose is to act as a guide for myself and others to use art and yoga for healing and transformation. This is one of my favorite paintings I have made about the fusion of Yoga and Art.

I grew up in a political active mixed race household.  My parents are black and white and Christian and Jewish.  I never felt like I fit in anywhere.  My feelings of being an outsider led me to art and writing as vehicles for self comfort.

I was a competitive athlete from the age of 6. At 30 my body started to fall a part. I began practicing yoga seriously as a way to heal chronic knee pain after all else failed. But yoga is now much more to me than a pain management strategy it is a way of life.

I have a BA in Environmental Design and a MFA in Scenic Design.  I have worked most of my adult life as a designer. Yoga wise, I have certifications in Therapeutic Vinyasa , Yin Yoga and Yoga Nidra.  I take yoga class about 5 times a week and I am devoted to a hot yoga.

I am very interested in the fusion of art and yoga. I studied the combination of these disciples at AyurYoga Eco Ashram in Kerala India and Otis College of Art.  I have taught several workshops at my yoga studio, The Yogi Tree under the title Art/Yoga Fusion.  I enrolled in A4AP to develop my skills as an art yoga teacher.

My career goal is to work full time as a Yoga Therapist, Yoga Teacher, Artist and Transformative Art Teacher.  I would like to work with people with both physical and emotional challenges.  I would like to write some books (Stretching  the Emotional Body, Nyasa Yoga Nidra, 5 Element Yin, Yin Yoga for the Chakras), lead teacher trainings, travel and teach and have a steady lucrative practice in Los Angeles. I also want to learn Sanskrit and spend a few months at Santosh Puri Ashram in India which is a center of Art and Yoga.

Who are my influences???

I was asked for my Transformative Art Training to explore who are my influences.


I love his paintings for the simplicity and compositions. He says so much with so little.  There is an economy of color and line. I hope to achieve that in my work. Nature is a force and has a personality.

Hokusai has an inspiration passion for art the inspires me. This quote by Hokusai is something I live my life by.

"From around the age of six, I had the habit of sketching from life. I became an artist, and from fifty on began producing works that won some reputation, but nothing I did before the age of seventy was worthy of attention. At seventy-three, I began to grasp the structures of birds and beasts, insects and fish, and of the way plants grow. If I go on trying, I will surely understand them still better by the time I am eighty-six, so that by ninety I will have penetrated to their essential nature. At one hundred, I may well have a positively divine understanding of them, while at one hundred and thirty, forty, or more I will have reached the stage where every dot and every stroke I paint will be alive. May Heaven, that grants long life, give me the chance to prove that this is no lie."

Nathan Fowkes

One of the best teachers I ever studied with was Nathan Fowkes.  He was all about commitment, being prepared and putting in the hours.  I took Head Drawing with him but what most inspires me about him is his land sketches that he does in a gray or brown paper sketch book.  I love his bold brush strokes. As a teacher he inspired me to work harder and make a serious commitment if I expected to get better.

Kathe Kollwitz

I discovered her in my grandmother's house and her people look like my grandmother's side of the family.  Her mark making is amazing.  Her emotions jump off the page.

Emil Nolde

The bold colors of Emil Nolde is what I love the most about his work.  He uses color is completely forceful and energetic.  I try for that in my work.

Laura Amazzone

Another one of my favorite teachers is Laura Amazzone.  She taught me about the Goddess.
I have taken three classes with her at LMU and some at her Venice home.  When I have more time in my life I want to get to her weekly Goddess circle and be one of her disciples. She makes the South Asian Goddess completely relevant to our everyday life.

Paulie Zink

Paulie Zink is my Yin Yoga teacher.  He taught my the power of embodying the animals in the Yoga Poses.  Making Yoga accessible and fun.  I am amazed by his flexibility and humility. He is the TAO!!

Mantak Chia

When I studied with him this summer everything he taught was about healing.  Exercise, being in shape, any of that was not part of the discussion.  He wanted to connect with the North Star and heal the Body,  His practice of the 6 healing sounds and the inner smile are very important parts of my teaching right now.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Her audiobooks and Women Who Run with the Wolves have shaped my ideology

Sunday, November 8, 2015



Prepare for the practice of Yoga Nidra by lying on your back in Shavasana – if this is not comfortable put a pillow under your head or if back hurts bend knees or put pillow or blanket under knees, lying on side if you are pregnant, Sitting in a chair, on the floor back to the wall. You might want a blanket because the body temperature tends to drop in Yoga Nidra. Also put a blanket under any area that is sensitive. 

Try to be aligned, symmetrical from feet to head. Feel your spine aligned. In shavansasana, arms away from sides palm up or down.  If anything is on you tight like glasses or a wrist watch you can take it off.  Eyes should be closed to avoid visual distraction. .  

Grief is one of the heart’s natural responses to loss.

When we grieve we allow ourselves to feel the truth of our pain.

By our willingness to mourn, we slowly acknowledge, integrate, and accept the truth of our losses.

Sometimes the best way to let go is to grieve.

It takes courage to grieve, to honor the pain we carry.

Grief is an emotion in response to many things: death of a loved one, loss of a part of us (body part), failure of business, a cherished project, the end of a relationship.  All these types of grief are valid and need to be mourned.

There are many ways to grieve:

We can grieve in tears or in meditative silence, in prayer or in song.

In touching the pain of recent and long-held griefs, we come face to face with our genuine human vulnerability, with helplessness and hopelessness.

These are the storm clouds of the heart.

Most traditional societies offer ritual and communal support to help people move through grief and loss. Tonight we are the support for each other.

We need to respect our tears. Without a wise way to grieve, we can only soldier on, armored and unfeeling, but our hearts cannot learn and grow from the sorrows of the past.

(Tense and Release Exercise)

Imagine roots sprouting out of the soles of your feet and going down into the soil down, down into the earth’s core past rocks, crystals deep into the molten core of the planet grounding you to the earth.
Inhale deeply as you feel that grounding connection.

Exhale and release the pain, release the raw emotion, the pain, the aching loss.

Inhale and bring in white luminescent energy through the crown of your heads, through what is known your crown chakra.

And on the out breath, think of the word “release”.

Say the word as you slowly let out your breath.  Inhale and think of white luminescent energy filling every cell in our body and leaving your body shining and sparkling as it fills with source energy.

Exhale and again think the word  “release”

Out and we release.  Release sadness, release the pain, release grief.

With the Inhale comes that healing energy, healing our tired and emotional bodies, healing the gaping wounds of our heart, healing the raw emotion and feeling of loss.

With the exhale comes relief

Listen in all directions for sounds

Be aware of distant sounds.  . . sounds outside the room . . . sounds inside the room . .. sounds of the body… Become aware of the sound of your breath.

In Yoga Nidra, it is best if the body remains still.  If you become uncomfortable you may move but come back to stillness as soon as you can.  Say to yourself mentally “I will remain still for Yoga Nidra.” (pause)


It is time for the Sankalpa.  A sankalpa is  a short positive statement in the present or future tense. It is a resolve, intention affirmation. Repeat the sankalpa 3 times with the exact same wording and full attention.  If you do not have yet have a sankalpa use the resolve “I will find the right sankalpa for me”  or "Grieving takes time; I give it the time it needs."


Tears are your body’s release valve for grief, sadness, stress, anxiety, and frustration. Tears are a way to purge pent up emotions so they don’t lodge in my body as stress symptoms such as fatigue or pain.

Like the ocean, tears are salt water. Protectively they lubricate your eyes, remove irritants, reduce stress hormones, and they contain antibodies that fight pathogenic microbes. Crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killer and “feel-good” hormones.

For this body scan a body part will be named and when it is named imagine a tear touching the body part.  If this visualization is difficult there is also the option of repeating the name or bring awareness to the body part …

Place a tear on the right hand thumb, index finger, middle finger, ring finger, pinky finger, right palm, back of the hand, wrist, lower arm, elbow, upper arm, shoulder, arm pit, right waist, the right hip, the right thigh, the right kneecap, the right lower leg, the right ankle, the right heel,the right instep, the right sole of the foot, top of the foot, the right big toe, 2nd toe, third toe, fourth toe, fifth toe

Bring awareness to the left side of the body, and place a tear on the left thumb. Left hand thumb, index finger, middle finger, ring finger, pinky finger, left palm, back of the hand, wrist, lower arm, elbow, upper arm, shoulder, arm pit, left waist, the left hip, the left thigh, the left kneecap, the left lower leg, the left ankle, the left heel, left instep, the left sole of the foot, top of the foot, the left big toe, 2nd toe, third toe, fourth toe, left 5th toe. Stay awake.

Bring awareness to the top of the head, and place a tear on the forehead, both sides of the head, right temple, left temple, the right eyebrow, the left eyebrow, eyebrow center, the right eyelid, the left eyelid, the right eye, the left eye, the right ear, the left ear, the top of the nose, the right nostril, the left nostril,  the right cheek, the left cheek, the upper lip, the lower lip, teeth, tongue, jaw, front of the neck, right collar bone, left collar bone, the hallow between the collar bones, right chest, left chest, center of chest, upper  abdomen, navel, lower abdomen, pelvis, buttocks, lower back, middle back, upper back, right shoulder blade, left shoulder blade, the whole spine, back of the head, top of the head.

Please tears up and down the whole right arm  - The whole left arm - Both arms together

Places tears up and down the whole right leg - The whole left leg - Both legs together
Both arms and legs together

Place tears on he whole front of the body - Place tears on the whole back of the body -  Place tears on the front and back together

The whole body together (x3)

Now let go of the tears and let go of the body rotation and come back to natural breathing


To meditate on grief begin by sensing the breath.

Feel the breathing in the lungs.

Place the hands on the lungs gently as if the body was vulnerable and in need of comfort.

Continue to breathe and bring to mind any grief, loss or pain.

Let the story, the images, the feelings comes naturally.

Hold them gently.

Take the time necessary.

Let the feelings come layer by layer.

Bring your hands a few inches away from the chest and turn the palms up and raise the hands over the forehead with the palms. The arms can be bent.  The arms can be supported by the floor.

Keep breathing softly and compassionately. Let whatever feelings are there come as they will.

Touch them gently.

 Make space for any images that arise. Allow the whole story.

Breathe and hold it all with tenderness and compassion.

Take a deep inhale and exhale softly and slowly the Healing Sound


Visualize any grief, loss, sadness, depression constriction or imbalance leaving the body as a gray substance moving out of the body into the earth to be transformed

Breath normally rotate your palms down and bring your hands to cover your lungs

Smile to the lungs and large intestines.

Be grateful for their vital work in respiration and elimination.

Keep smiling and visualize breathing in a white healing light.


Notice any coolness in the body
Notice any coolness at the exposed skin
Find any place of the body that is cool
Spread the coolness across the entire body
Let the body be cool
Experience the body as coolness
Now let go of the coolness and come to the opposite experience of warmth

Notice any warmth in the body
Notice any warmth under the clothing or blanket
Notice any place the body is warm
Spread the warmth across the entire body
Let the body be warm
Experience the warmth across the body
Let the body be warm
Now let go of the warmth

Feel all the points of contact between the body and the floor.  Feel the weight of the body.  The body is heavy... The head is heavy... The shoulders are heavy... The arms are heavy.... The back is heavy... ... The legs are heavy..........The body is so heavy that it feels as if it is made of stone.....the body is so heavy that it feels as if it is made of lead.. Experience the body as heaviness... Now let go of heaviness and come to the opposite experience of lightness

Now come to the opposite experience of lightness.  The hair is light.....the fingers are light.....the toes are light.....the nose is light .....the eyelashes are light.....The body is so light that it feels as if it could rise above the floor like a feather ... the body is so light that it could blow in the wind like a life in an autumn wind...Experience the body as lightness...Now let go of lightness

Recollect an experience of grief, concentrate and try to remember the experience of grief (pause) Any grief you have experienced in your life, mental or physical, recollect the feeling of grief.  It doesn't have to be a large experience of grief it can just be a small experience.  Recollect any grief as if it is happening right now.  Feel the grief. Now, let go of the grief and come to the opposition sensation of joy.

Recollect an experience of joy, concentrate and try to remember the experience of joy. (pause) Recollect this feeling and relive it, make it vivid .. .awaken the feeling of joy (long pause) Check that you are awake. Recollect the feeling of joy as if it were happening it right now.  Feel the joy.  Now let go of the joy and come back to natural breathing.


When we grieve for a dead loved one a lot of comfort would be derived if we knew that our loved one was watching over us and was sending us love and reassurance that all is well.

Our loved one who has passed into the next world is looking down on us and helping us, loving us and supporting us?

Bring the awareness to the chidakasha the mind space in front on the closed eyes and in that space bring to mind the image of a dead love one.

See them clearly

See them as if you were watching a movie

What are the wearing

How old are they

Where are they

Still the mind and open the mind to any connection or communication that may come through.

Keep the body still and the breathing deep and ask that you be held at all times in full love and protection

Now consciously push your energy upwards up to the universe, up to the stars, soaring high and higher. Up.  Up. Up.

And then when you have pushed your energy as far as it will go, just be still and breathe deep breaths.

Do you feel any thoughts floating into your mind?

Do you feel any communications drifting in?

Quietly make a mental note of any communications.

Don’t analyse.

Just record it mentally.

Ask if there is any more communication.

It tends to flood into your mind in chunks and then goes quiet.

And then another download and then stop.

You might need to write the words down after the meditation.

But for now just memorize the words and when the communication has dried up, go back to the breathing and bring yourself back into your body with deep breaths.

Now we take this feeling of calm, this feeling of comfort and carry this into our day so that if we feel that the pain is unbearable, we can begin our deep breathing and we will feel that relaxation and calm until next time we meditate.

Let us be peace.

Let us be calm.

Knowing that we are only a few thoughts away from our loved ones who look over us and protect and guide us from the next world.

They pour their love down upon us as they know how hard it can be on this planet.

They are in a place where the pain and suffering of human existence is gone, where there is just love and a connection with the universal loving energy that we all have access to.

We know we will one day be reunited with our loved ones and will be exalted to the highest emotions but until then we are watched over, we are protected. We are loved.  And we send that love back from the very depths of our hearts.  We send that love back to join with the universal love that is open to us all.  We are loved.  We are protected.  We are one.

Let go of the visualization practice and come back to natural breathing.

And in the natural breath hear the sankalpa.  The same resolve you made at the beginning of the practice with the same wording. Repeat it mentally 3 times with faith it will come true.


The grief we carry is part of the grief of the world. Hold it gently. Let it be honored. You do not have to keep it in anymore. You can let it go into the heart of compassion; you can weep.

Releasing the grief we carry is a long, tear-filled process. Yet it follows the natural intelligence of the body and heart. Trust it, trust the unfolding. Along with meditation, some of your grief will want to be written, to be cried out, to be sung, to be danced.

Let the timeless wisdom within you carry you through grief to an open heart.

Listen in all directions for sounds

Listen for sounds in this room, sounds outside this room. Find the furthest sound that you can hear. Start to remember this room: the walls… the ceiling… the floor.  Remember your place in this room.  Remember what’s in this room with you…  Become aware of your body lying on the floor, (or sitting on the chair, or against the wall)… Notice the weight of your body and all the points where your body is supported…. Extend your attention through your entire body…  Become aware of your entire body from you head to your finger tips…. Become aware of your body extending from your head to your toes…  Be aware of your breath… Become aware of the entire physically body and the breath inside your body…. Consciously make your breath deeper and full… Make your breath deeper. … Inhaling and Exhaling deeply… Make your breath very full…. Keep your eyes closed. Say to yourself mentally “The practice of Yoga Nidra is now complete.”…. Start moving your body and stretching. Making your movements larger and larger. Inhale your arms over your head. Remembering to be mindful of what’s near you.  Stretch (3) Yawn. Gently roll to a side. (long pause) Open your eyes. Slowly push up to a seated position fully alert and ready to go on with the rest of your evening.


Cleopatra Pose at the Daily Dose Cafe on Industrial

Linda and I went to the 2 hour drawing session sponsored by Gallery Girls at the Daily Dose.  The theme was Cleopatra.  Here is my work. So far I have fulfilled my commitment to figure draw once a week for over a month,

 I was very pleased with these last two watercolor sketches.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Throat Chakra Painting

I did a Chakra body map exercise with Art 4 People and one of the weakest images I made was for the throat chakra.  My task was to develop the weakest and strongest images from the exercise into a painting.  

This painting is about 24" by 24".  The most important parts of the face in the center to me are the lips and the ears.  The lips are closed (I talk too much) and the ears should be open to listen.  If I were to title this painting it would be called 


Each petal has a word connecting to the throat chakra: listening, speaking, expression, saying yes etc. This painting also seems to be influenced by the work I did on the Hero-ine's journey painting. I used the traditional number of 16 petals, the traditional color blue and the crescent moon symbol.

This is a piece last month in my sketchbook about the throat chakra.  I couldn't have made the painting above without this piece.  It's where I found the colors and the lengths of the petals. I may add the Sanskrit bija mantra Hum to the painting above.  I am not sure.  I'd like to do all seven chakras but it takes a lot of time.

I really love the way the throar chakra painting came out.  I like putting myself as the face of the painting.  I like to be in my paintings right now since in my day time job as a decorator my job is to be invisible.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Drawing and Painting the Root Chakra

I finished a painting on the root chakra this weekend.  It comes out of an intuitive drawing exercise at Art 4 All People and a bunch of my own sketches.
 Traditionally the root chakra has 4 petals so I have been playing with this.
 The color of the chakra is red and the downward pointing triangle is one of the psychic symbols.
 I am attracted to the tree with roots as my personal symbol of this chakra.
 The final painting also has a yellow square another symbol of the chakra.  I wrote the words: security, Stability, safety and Grounding on the painting.  I may paint it again when I have more time.