A Quick Class

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This is what I've been teaching in my gym classes this week. It's a combination of standing poses and backward extensions.

Focus on rolling the tailbone towards the pubic bone to keep the lower back long and broad. Wherever possible keep the upper body and the lower body moving away from each other for added lengthening of the trunk and the spine.

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Supta Tadasana (Reclined Mountain Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
INTO
Plank Pose
INTO
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
INTO
Plank Pose II - toes pointed as for Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)
INTO
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Child's Pose

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
INTO
Plank Pose
INTO
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
INTO
Plank Pose II - toes pointed as for Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)
INTO
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Child's Pose

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose) - repeat

Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II) - repeat

Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I) - once with hands on hips and once with arms raised

Thigh stretches

Shalabhasana (Locust Pose) - repeat

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) - repeat

Parshva Dhanurasana (Side Bow Pose)

Adho Mukhs Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Gentle twists to relieve the back

Shavasana (Corpse Pose) with the thighs supported.

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The Master Plan - Part 4

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After the exertions of sequences 1 and 2, I was pretty much exhausted for the rest of the week, largely because I hadn't been practicing much and because of my teaching schedule, so I scaled my practice back and just did more restorative stuff. Today I felt gung-ho and ready to go with Sequence 3, and it actually felt really good, an excellent complement to the forward extensions and abdominal stuff of last week. This took about 2 hours, but it was fairly leisurely, compared to Sequence 2:

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The Master Plan - Part 3

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So after doing Sequences 1 and 2 of the Master Plan, I realized I should probably do some restorative work to give my body a break before moving on. So, jumping ahead to Sequence 5, here is the restorative sequence. It should take you anywhere between 60 and 90 minutes, depending on how long you spend in each pose, anywhere from three to 5 minutes and 5-15 minutes in Shavasana.

Rope Shirshasana/Supta Baddha Konasana

Parshva Bharadwajasana (supported twist over bolster)

Jathara Parivartanasana (knees into chest and legs resting)

Sarvangasana over chair

Ardha Halasana

Supta Baddha Konasana

Supta Virasana

Setu Bandha over bolster

Viparita Karani

Shavasana
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The Master Plan - Part 2

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So here is Sequence 2 of the Master Plan (Core Poses and Arm Balances). Be warned that it is extremely challenging from the point of view of strength and endurance. The whole sequence takes about 2 hours to complete. Feel free to drop out poses as necessary.












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The Master Plan - Part 1

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My friend Kristen and I were on our way to the beach yesterday and we were chatting about our practice and how hard it is to balance practice with teaching and all the other aspects of life, especially when you're supposed to be practicing with insight and intellligence and all of that. Both of us are very admiring of the Ashtanga Vinyasa ethic and the way that they always know what they are going to practice and where they are in that series.

Now, I've done Ashtanga and I know that it's not right for my body and my constitution, so I'm not about to take it up again. We were thinking, however, that it would be great to develop a handful of sequence that one could plough through on a regular basis with the knowledge that, upon completing them, one will have touched on most of the poses in the Iyengar repertoire. Inspired by the idea of the Anusara "Eye of the Tiger" sequence, we started talking about how we might divide up the poses in Light on Yoga. We came up with the idea of 5 sequences:

• forward bends and twists
• core poses and arm balances
• baby backbends
• full backbends
• restorative poses

I woke up this morning full of vim and vigor and started thinking about what the sequences might entail and came up with this idea, based on the order of the poses as they appear in Light on Yoga for the first sequence. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to do the whole thing. I got as far as Marichyasana III, which took me about 2 hours. I think the whole thing would probably take about 2 1/2 hours in total.


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The Lower Leg and Ankle

The Mobile Base


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The foot and ankle have a few basic movements for us to consider:

• inversion;
• eversion;
• supination;
• pronation;
• dorsiflexion;
• plantar flexion;
• adduction;
• abduction.



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Yoga in the strangest places...

The very funny, and apparently very limber, Jeremy Piven does a very respectable Vashisthasana II (in suit pants and tie, no less) in the first episode of the new season of ENTOURAGE on HBO.

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Not Yoga, But Still Worth Checking Out 3

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David Belle is one of the creators of a crazy and amazing (and insanely dangerous) sport called Parkour, which basically involves jumping onto and leaping over anything in your intended path, including walls, buildings and rooftops. Think Jackie Chan only more extreme. It is currently featured heavily in the French movie "District B-13", which is not the best movie in the world, but it is well shot and the action sequences are pretty spectacular. Here's a grainy clip of the man in action:


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Suffering

All life is suffering

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It is a basic tenet of Eastern philosophy that all life is suffering. The fact of suffering is the first of Buddha's Four Noble Truths. In the Yoga-Sutra, Pata˝jali tells us that the purpose of our existence is to overcome all future suffering.

Our births involve suffering, for mother and child. Our upbringings involve suffering with lessons hard learnt. Our relationships involve suffering with the thoughtless ways in which we sometimes behave towards each other, and with the inevitable separation, either in parting or in death, in which all relationships must end. We endure the suffering of physical pain and mental anguish, of injustice and of unfulfilled desires. It can get extremely grim.

The fact of suffering is as much a part of the fabric of our existence as is joy. We often allow our sufferings to define us, as much as we do our joys. But joy is, itself, part of the dynamic of suffering. We become attached to our joys and to our desires, and when we are separated from them, or denied them, once again we suffer.

Luckily for us, teachers such as Buddha and Pata˝jali tell us there is a cure for all this suffering. They offer us spiritual practices and ways of living that will give us tools to overcome this fundamental suffering that we all experience.

Inquiry


A note before we continue. These inquiries can be strong stuff and are not meant for the faint of heart. If you suffer from melancholy or outright depression, then this sort of practice is not meant for you. Even if you are generally a sturdy soul, the type of self-inquiry required by yogic discipline can, at times, be overwhelming. If at any point you begin to feel overwhelmed, stop the practice. Open your eyes and breathe. Get up and walk around. Go out into the sun and take a walk, or do some other form of exercise. Actively seek out some form of non-destructive enjoyment and bring yourself back to a state of balance. And then, perhaps, put away that specific practice for a period of time. Often all it takes is a glimmer of realization to spark off a multitude of changes. The healthy conscious mind is only the tip of the iceberg and sometimes needs to be left to its own devices to sort things out.

Take a moment, or several, to sit and observe how suffering has affected your life. This is quite a difficult inquiry to attempt, as you do not want to get caught up reliving the actual incidents of suffering. Look instead at who you are in the present moment and observe how the painful experiences of your life have shaped you.

Once you have made a general inventory of your present self, observe if those experiences of suffering have defined your life. Have they led you in any direction you might not have otherwise taken? Have they prevented you from doing things that might have been to your detriment, or have they prevented you from doing things that might have enriched you? The important thing is to attach no value to what you observe, be it positive or negative. Be as objective as possible.

Can you do the same with all the joys of your life? Observe how they have shaped you and how they may have defined you.

Go back to your observation of the moments of suffering. Consider your present self without those defining aspects of suffering. How would you be without them?

Then consider your present self without your defining joys. How would you be without them?

In this way, explore how the fact of joy and suffering has shaped your life and your sense of identity. Can you go beyond both, strip them both away, and truly observe the identity that lies beyond them? Can you observe the present self that is unaffected by joy or suffering? It is important to look at the two together, and not to think of being unaffected by joy as itself being in a state of misery.

As you go through your day, can you observe moment to moment how the aspects of joy and suffering are affecting your thoughts and actions?
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Parts of the Feet and Ankles

Even if you are familiar with anatomical terms, you may hear some things referred to by strange names in a yoga class. Here's a little run-through of the different parts of the feet as found in Iyengar Yoga.

The Sole of the Foot



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Not Yoga, But Still Worth Checking Out 2

From "So You Think You Can Dance," on FOX. These guys are the SickStep Crew. The most amazing move is by the guy in the striped shirt at 3:05 minutes into the clip. There is a slomo recap at the end of the clip.



Compare with Dharma Mittra doing something similar:

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Not Yoga, but still worth checking out.

From "So You Think You Can Dance," on FOX. This guy is an amazing body-popper.

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