Awesome Flickr Stream

Monkey Yoga Shala in Oakland, CA has this great flickr set of photos, mostly of founder and co-director Tim Thompson doing some really beautiful and awesome poses.

And when I say “awesome” I mean it in its classic definition:

awesome |ˈ˘səm|
adjective
extremely impressive
or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear : the awesome power of the atomic bomb.
informal extremely good; excellent : the band is truly awesome!


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Matsyasana (Fish Pose)

Reader Dan posed a question in the comments about Fish Pose. Here’s the full pose, as practiced in the Iyengar system:

Full Pose

IMG_4301
(Please pardon the dirty feet.)

Restorative Variation

IMG_4344



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Parshva Padmasana

Side Lotus Pose in Shoulder Stand

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Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana

ViparitaDandasana2

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Bharadwajasana 2

Bharadwaja's twist II

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Marichyasana 5 (or E)

Another new addition to the Forward Extensions section of the site:

Marichi's Pose E
Level: Intermediate

Marichi = one of the sons of Brahma, the creator.

This pose is also known as Marichyasana E in the Ashtanga Vinyasa system.

Organizing the pose

• From Dandasana (Staff Pose) draw the right leg back as if for Triang Mukhaikapada Pashchimottanasana (Three Limbs Facing Intense West Stretch Pose).
• Draw the left leg back, as for Marichyasana 1 (Marichi's Pose 1). Sit up on blankets or a block if necessary.
• Inhale and reach the left arm up, extending through the left side.
• Exhale, fold forward and wrap the left arm around the left shin and the right arm behind you. Clasp the left wrist in the right hand. Hold onto a belt if the hands do not reach.
• Inhale, draw the wrists down towards the floor and lift the sides of the trunk.
• Exhale and lengthen the trunk out over the right leg, bringing the chin towards the knee.
• Hold this position.
• Inhale and lift up out of the pose.
• Exhale and return to Dandasana (Staff Pose).
• Repeat on the second side.

Practice Points

• Draw both inner thighs deeper into the body.
• Soften and broaden the hip creases.
• Soften the lower abdomen and move it deeper into the body. Lengthen the upper abdomen forward.
• Move the inner face of the sacrum back away from the pubic bone and soften the buttocks.
• Turn the pubic bone towards the raised knee and the navel back towards the mid-line of the body.
• Turn the sternum towards the pubic bone.


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Marichyasana 2 (or B)

Another new addition to the Forward Extensions section of the site:

Marichi's Pose B
Level: Advanced

Marichi = one of the sons of Brahma, the creator.

This pose is also known as Marichyasana B in the Ashtanga Vinyasa system.

Organizing the pose

• From Dandasana (Staff Pose) draw the right leg back into Ardha Padmasana (Half Lotus Pose).
• Draw the left leg back, as for Marichyasana 1 (Marichi's Pose 1). Sit up on blankets if necessary.
• Inhale and reach the left arm up, extending through the left side.
• Exhale, fold forward and wrap the left arm around the left shin and the right arm behind you. Clasp the left wrist in the right hand. Hold onto a belt if the hands do not reach.
• Inhale, draw the wrists down towards the floor and lift the sides of the trunk.
• Exhale and lengthen the trunk out over the right leg, bringing the chin towards the knee.
• Hold this position.
• Inhale and lift up out of the pose.
• Exhale and return to Dandasana (Staff Pose).
• Repeat on the second side.

Practice Points

• Draw both inner thighs deeper into the body.
• Soften and broaden the hip creases.
• Soften the lower abdomen and move it deeper into the body. Lengthen the upper abdomen forward.
• Move the inner face of the sacrum back away from the pubic bone and soften the buttocks.
• Turn the pubic bone towards the raised knee and the navel back towards the mid-line of the body.
• Turn the sternum towards the pubic bone.
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Marichyasana 1 (or A)

Here is a new addition to the Forward Extensions section of the site.

Marichi's Pose A
Level: Intermediate

Marichi = one of the sons of Brahma, the creator.

This pose is also known as Marichyasana A in the Ashtanga Vinyasa system.

Organizing the pose

• Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose), elevating the pelvis on blankets to help you extend forward if necessary.
• Take hold of the back of the left thigh and draw the knee in, keeping the muscles of the left leg as soft as possible.
• Plant the left foot flat on the floor with the heel in line with the sitting bone.
• Inhale and reach the left arm up, extending through the left side.
• Exhale, reach the left arm forward to take hold of the inside of the right foot.
• Inhale and lengthen out through the left side.
• Exhale, roll the trunk to the right, away from the left thigh.
• Bring the left arm around the left shin and the right arm behind you. Clasp the left wrist in the right hand. Hold onto a belt if the hands do not reach.
• Inhale, draw the wrists down towards the floor and lift the sides of the trunk.
• Exhale and roll the trunk to the right once again. Turn the head to look at the left knee.
• Inhale open the trunk to the right once again.
• Exhale and lengthen the trunk out over the right leg, bringing the chin towards the shin. Allow the left sitting bone to lift up off the floor as you lean forward.
• Hold this position.
• Inhale and lift up out of the pose.
• Exhale and return to Dandasana (Staff Pose).
• Repeat on the second side.

Practice Points

• Draw both inner thighs deeper into the body.
• Spread the back of the knee of the straight leg and anchor the outer knee ligament down into the ground.
• Soften and broaden the hip creases.
• Soften the lower abdomen and move it deeper into the body. Lengthen the upper abdomen forward.
• Balance the weight between the heel of the bent leg and the sitting bone of the straight leg.
• Turn the pubic bone towards the bent knee, the navel toward the straight knee.
• Turn the sternum towards the pubic bone.
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Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

Here's another new addition to the Forward Extensions category:

Head of the Knee Pose, Head to Knee Pose Read More...
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Adho Mukha Padmasana

Here's another new addition to the Forward Extensions category:

AMPadmas Read More...
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Ardha Baddha Padma Pashchimottanasana

Here's a new addition to the Forward Extensions category:

Half Bound Lotus Intense West Stretch Pose Read More...
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Site Update: Reclined Poses

Vishnu's couch pose
Check out the Reclined Poses section for 4 new poses:

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)
Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
Supta Padangusthasana 3 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 3)
Anantasana (Vishnu's Couch Pose)

(And somewhere along the line I'm going to remember to get a picture of me lying back in Supta Tadasana. It's always the simple things that get neglected.)
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Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana

Here's a new addition, a very challenging pose, to the Standing Poses category:

Revolved Half MoonPose Read More...
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Site Updates

So, as you may have noticed, August was something of a wash-out in terns of blog posts. Hopefully it will pick up as we head into September. Here's a tiny update of some new pictures in the Arm Variations category.
Urdhva-Hastasana Urdhva-Baddhanguliyasana-fr Urdhva-Baddha-Hastasana Gomukhasana-4.1 Garudasana-side Pashchima Namaskarasana front
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Featured Pose: Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Rope Shirshasana
• alternate pose: Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)
• variation: feet hip width
• move front waist to back waist and lengthen back waist

Back Rolls
• simple rolls along spine from tailbone to shoulders
• 5-8 reps

Halasana/Pashchimottanasana (Plough Pose/Intense West Stretch Pose) Rolls
• 5-8 reps

Urdhva Mukha Pashchimottanasana 2 (Upward Facing Intense West Stretch Pose 2)
• move front waist to back waist and lengthen back waist

Ardhva Navasana (Half Boat Pose)
• move front waist to back waist and lengthen back waist
• narrow sides of navel and move back waist away from feet

Lolasana (Tremulous Pose)
• move front waist to back waist and lengthen back waist
• narrow sides of navel and move back waist away from feet

Ardha Navasana (Half Boat Pose)
• variation: lower back on floor
• move front waist to back waist and lengthen back waist
• narrow sides of navel and move back waist into floor

Urdhva Mukha Pashchimottanasana 2 (Upward Facing Intense West Stretch Pose 2)
• move front waist to back waist and lengthen back waist
• narrow sides of navel and move back waist into floor

Lolasana into Ardha Navasana and back
• variation: place hands on block to facilitate moving feet backwards and forwards
• 4 reps (twice with each crossing of the ankles)

Bakasana (Crow Pose)
• variation: start with feet up on blocks
• move front waist to back waist and lengthen back waist
• narrow sides of navel and move back waist up towards ceiling

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
• variation: seated and forward extension
• broaden hip creases and hollow out pelvis
• draw lower abdomen back and lengthen sides of waist forward

Marichyasana 1 (Marichi's Pose 1)
• roll bent leg arch into floor and staight leg arch away from body
• turn pubic bone towards bent leg and navel towards straight leg
• broaden hip creases and hollow out pelvis
• draw lower abdomen back and lengthen sides of waist forward

Malasana (Garland Pose)
• variation: arms wrapped around shins and grabbing ankles, heels supported on blankets if not on floor
• broaden hip creases and hollow out pelvis
• turn lower abdomen towards chest

Bakasana (Crow Pose)
• broaden hip creases and hollow out pelvis
• turn lower abdomen towards chest and lengthen back waist

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• expand inner thoracic wall of upper ribs
• broaden collarbones and deepen back towards tops of shoulder blades
• broaden evenly across spine between shoulder blades
• turn eyes of chest (space between collar bones and top ribs) towards thighs

Vashisthsasana (Vashistha's Pose)
• expand inner thoracic wall of upper ribs
• broaden collarbones and deepen back towards tops of shoulder blades
• broaden evenly across spine between shoulder blades
• broaden eyes of chest

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)
• expand inner thoracic wall of upper ribs
• broaden collarbones and deepen back towards tops of shoulder blades
• broaden evenly across spine between shoulder blades
• turn eyes of chest (space between collar bones and top ribs) towards throat

Bakasana (Crow Pose)
• expand inner thoracic wall of upper ribs
• broaden collarbones and deepen back towards tops of shoulder blades
• broaden evenly across spine between shoulder blades
• turn lower abdomen towards eyes of chest and eyes of chest towards lwoer abdomen

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
• practice hopping up with both legs together, knees bent or legs straight

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
• practice rolling down with both legs together, knees bent or legs straight

Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
• divide up the time by coming into Urdhva Dandasana (Upward Staff Pose) every minute or so and hold for 20-30 sec

Shirshasana 2 into Bakasana (Head Stand 2 into Crow Pose)

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Shavasana (Coprpse Pose)


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Featured Pose: Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose)

Rope Shirshasana
• alternate pose: Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Child's Pose
• loop and tighten belt around tops of thighs and ankles to deepen hip crease
• rest head on block so trunk is parallel to floor
• broaden hip creases and inner pelvis

Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose)
• ground sitting bones evenly
• broaden hip creases and inner pelvis

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
• practice pose as a balance with only sitting bones on floor
• ground sitting bones evenly
• broaden hip creases and inner pelvis
• narrow and lift sides of waist

Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose)
• variation: legs bent
• ground sitting bones evenly
• broaden hip creases and inner pelvis
• narrow and lift sides of waist

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)
• variation: raised leg vertical, holding on to belt around foot
• Strengthen arches and lengthen inner legs away from pubic bone
• broaden hip creases and inner pelvis
• narrow and lengthen sides of waist towards head

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
• Strengthen arches and lengthen inner legs away from pubic bone
• broaden hip creases and inner pelvis
• turn navel away from the leg that is moving out to the side
• narrow and lengthen sides of waist towards head

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)
• variation: holding onto big toe and moving face towards shin
• Strengthen arches and lengthen inner legs away from pubic bone
• broaden hip creases and inner pelvis
• narrow and lengthen sides of waist towards head

Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose)
• full pose with legs straight if possible
• Strengthen arches, inner thighs and quads and lengthen them away from pubic bone
• broaden hip creases and inner pelvis
• narrow sides of navel and draw into spine
• narrow and lengthen sides of waist towards head

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 (Extended Hands to Feet Pose 1)
• narrow and lengthen sides of waist towards head
• strengthen and lengthen inner sides of legs out of length of anterior lumbar spine

Virabhadrasana 3 (Warrior Pose 3)
• narrow and lengthen sides of waist towards head
• strengthen and lengthen inner sides of legs out of length of anterior lumbar spine

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
• variations: legs at 90░/60░/30░/10░
• narrow and lengthen sides of waist towards head
• strengthen and lengthen inner sides of legs out of length of anterior lumbar spine

Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose)
• full pose with legs straight if possible
• narrow and lengthen sides of waist towards head
• strengthen and lengthen inner sides of legs out of length of anterior lumbar spine

Ubhaya Padangusthasana (Both Big Toes Pose)
• expand inner wall of upper rib cage
• broaden collar bones and deepen back from collarbones to top of shoulder blades

Ubhaya Padangusthasana (Both Big Toes Pose)
• variation: legs wide
• expand inner wall of upper rib cage
• broaden collar bones and deepen back from collarbones to top of shoulder blades

Urdhva Mukha Pashchimottanasana 1 (Upward Facing Intense West Stretch Pose 1)
• expand inner wall of upper rib cage
• broaden collar bones and deepen back from collarbones to top of shoulder blades

Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose)
• full pose with legs straight if possible
• expand inner wall of upper rib cage
• broaden collar bones and deepen back from collarbones to top of shoulder blades

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
• variation: Eka Pada Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Single Leg Hand Stand)

Shirshasana (Head Stand)
• variation: Eka Pada Shirshasana (Single Leg Head Stand)
• variation: Parivrttaikapada Shirshasana (Revolved Single Leg Head Stand)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)
• blanket under shoulders
• high blocks under sacrum
• lengthen inner thighs towards knees
• lift and lengthen back of waist towards head

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)

Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand)
• dropping back from Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand)
• dropping back from Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)

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Featured Pose: Ardha Matsyendrasana 1 (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose 1)

Rope Shirshasana
• alternate pose: Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)
• lengthen, narrow and turn the side waist

Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)
• lengthen, narrow and turn the side waist

Marichyasana 6/F (Marichi's Pose 6/F)
• lengthen, narrow and turn the side waist

Ardha Matsyendrasana 1 (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose 1)
• variation: seated on blankets and not foot, no binding
• lengthen, narrow and turn the side waist

Virasana/Parvatasana (Mountain Pose in Virasana)
• perform pose with big toes touching and heels apart

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi's Pose 3)
• foot of straight leg against wall
• roll big toe mound and inner heel into wall, strengthen arch

Ardha Matsyendrasana 1 (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose 1)
• variation: seated on foot, no binding
• roll into big toe mounds and inner heels of both feet, strengthening both arches

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)
• variation: seated between heels, with arms
• with right leg on top, lift left sitting bone, broaden inner surface of pelvis and move lower abdomen deeper into body

Marichyasana 1 (Marichi's Pose 1)
• with right leg bent, lift left sitting bone, broaden inner surface of pelvis and move lower abdomen deeper into body

Ardha Matsyendrasana 1 (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose 1)
• variation: seated on foot, no binding
• with right leg bent, lift left sitting bone, broaden inner surface of pelvis and move lower abdomen deeper into body

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja's Pose 2)
• expand inner wall of upper rib cage
• broaden collar bones and deepen back from collarbones to top of shoulder blades
• when twisting to right, turn left collarbone down and right collarbone up

Parivrtta Parshvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose)
• expand inner wall of upper rib cage
• broaden collar bones and deepen back from collarbones to top of shoulder blades
• when twisting to right, turn left collarbone down and right collarbone up

Ardha Matsyendrasana 1 (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose 1)
• variation: seated on foot, binding
• expand inner wall of upper rib cage
• broaden collar bones and deepen back from collarbones to top of shoulder blades
• when twisting to right, turn left collarbone down and right collarbone up

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• expand inner wall of upper rib cage
• broaden collar bones and deepen back from collarbones to top of shoulder blades

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
• Parshva Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Side Hand Stand)

Shirshasana (Head Stand)
• Parshva Shirshasana (Side Head Stand)
• Parshva Virasana (Side Hero Pose in Head Stand)

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)

Halasana (Plough Pose)
• Parshva Halasana (Side Plough Pose)
• Parshva Karnapidasana (Side Pressure on the Ear Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Featured Pose: Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

Rope Shirshasana
• alternate pose: Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Vrkshasana (Tree Pose)
• do pose with bent knee against wall to stabilize
• balance inner and outer thigh
• strengthen arches
• broaden iliacus on both sides

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)
• do pose with leading arm up wall
• balance inner and outer thighs
• strengthen arches
• broaden iliacus on both sides

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)
• do pose with hands at wall
• balance inner and outer thighs
• strengthen arches
• broaden iliacus on both sides

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)
• preparation only (sitting up with legs in position)
• foot of extended leg against wall
• balance inner and outer thigh
• strengthen arch, pressing foot into wall

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
• seated upright with back against wall
• lengthen inner thighs to knees
• draw outer thighs into hips
• turn soles of feet up towards ceiling
• broaden iliacus on both sides

Adho Mukha Ardha Padmasana (Downward Facing Half Lotus Pose)
• broaden iliacus on both sides
• balance pubic bone between inner thighs, so that it is equidistant
• draw lower abdomen back and move sit bones towards knees

Marichyasana 1 (Marichi's Pose 1)
• strengthen inner thigh and arch of straight leg
• on bent leg send inner thigh to knee and outer thigh to hip
• turn pubic bone towards bent knee

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)
• strengthen inner thigh and arch of straight leg
• on bent leg send inner thigh to knee and outer thigh to hip
• bring weight evenly into both inner thighs
• turn pubic bone towards bent knee

Marichyasana 6/F (Marichi's Pose 6/F)
• strengthen inner thigh and arch of Virasana leg
• on raised leg send inner thigh to knee and outer thigh to hip
• turn pubic bone towards Virasana leg
• turn navel into twist
• broaden iliacus on both sides

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)
• do pose with arms down and not behind back
• send both inner thighs to feet and outer thighs to hip
• turn pubic bone towards back leg
• turn navel towards front leg to even trunk
• broaden iliacus on both sides

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)
• bring weight evenly into both inner thighs
• turn pubic bone towards bent knee
• turn navel towards straight leg

Shirshasana (Head Stand)
• variation: Baddha Konasana
• variation: Upavishtha Konasana

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Featured Pose: Yoga Mudrasana (Yoga Seal Pose)

This practice is a little different from yesterday's. Ardha Chandrasana is a fairly simple pose, whereas Yoga Mudrasana (Yoga Seal Pose) is pretty advanced. Rather than breaking the pose down we are building it up slowly in an attempt to make it more accessible.

Virasana/Parvatasana (Mountain Pose in Virasana)
• perform pose with big toes touching and heels apart

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)
• on bent leg, lengthen inner thigh away from hip and outer thigh towards hip

Adho Mukha Ardha Padmasana (Downward Facing Half Lotus Pose)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
• with back against the wall
• variation: block between feet
• variation: block under feet

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)
• on front leg: lengthen inner thigh away from hip and outer thigh towards hip

Parvatasana (Mountain Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
• bottom foot against wall
• strengthen and ground the inner thigh of the leg on the floor
• soften and broaden both iliacus muscles

Supta Padangusthasana 3 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 3)
• bottom foot against wall
• strengthen and ground the inner thigh of the leg on the floor
• soften and broaden both iliacus muscles

Adho Mukha Padmasana (Downward Facing Lotus Pose)

Bharadwajasana 1 (Bharadwaja's Pose 1)
• full pose with bound arm

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja's Pose 2)
• full pose with bound arm

Pashchima Namaskar Adho Mukha Padmasana (Downward Facing Lotus Pose with arms in Reverse Prayer Pose)

Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense Stretch Pose)

Ardha Baddha Padma Pashchimottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense West Stretch Pose)

Yoga Mudrasana (Yoga Seal pose)

Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)
• blanket behind knees

Utkatasana (Fierce Pose)
• back against wall
• right angle legs
• block between thighs

Shirshasana (Head Stand)

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
• Pindasana (Embryo Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)

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Featured Pose: Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

Ardha Chandrasana, Half Moon Pose
Rope Shirshasana
• Alternate Pose: Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)
• deepen the hip crease and lengthen the back leg side of the body

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
• deepen the hip crease and lengthen the back leg side of the body

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)
• balance the weight between the inner and outer thigh of both legs

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
• balance the weight between the inner and outer thigh of both legs

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
• strengthen and ground the inner thigh of the leg on the floor
• soften and broaden both iliacus muscles

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
• strengthen and ground the inner thigh of the raised leg
• soften and broaden both iliacus muscles

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja's Pose 2)
• turn the pelvis out of the twist as you turn the navel and chest into the twist
• expand the upper thoracic wall (the inner intracostal muscles) and pivot the shoulder girdle into the twist

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
• turn the pelvis down towards the floor as you turn the navel and chest up towards the ceiling
• expand the upper thoracic wall (the inner intracostal muscles) and pivot the shoulder girdle into the twist

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Parshvaikapada Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Single Leg to the Side Hand Stand)

Shirshasana (Head Stand 1)
• variation: Parshvaikapada Shirshasana (Single Leg to the Side Head Stand)

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)
• blocks under sacrum, feet under floor

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
• variation: Parshvaikapada Sarvangasana (Single Leg to the Side Shoulder Stand)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)

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Basics for Everyone: Lift the Thighs

Importance of the theme


In any pose we want to begin by organizing the base. As the quadriceps are the largest muscle group in the legs, it makes sense to devote a fair amount of attention to them, especially at the beginning.

When the legs are straight in standing poses, such as Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose) or Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose), or in forward extensions such as Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) and Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose), activating the quadriceps will stabilize and energize the legs. In such cases, engaging the quadriceps causes the end of the muscle, at the knee, to draw up towards the hip. Given that the idea in yoga is always to be creating space in the body, we do not generally want to be thinking in terms of words like “grip,” “contract” or “tighten.” Better to think of lengthening in the direction of action. In this case, think of lifting up out of the base towards the heavens, hence the idea of lifting the quadriceps.

Key Poses


Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Blog-01

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)

Blog-02

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Blog-03

Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose)

Blog-04

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Full Moon Practice

Pasted Graphic
The Full Moon happens on Saturday at 6:09am so here is a companion practice to the gentle New Moon Sequence. The Full Moon Sequence centers and grounds the body and nervous system to counter the sometimes manic energy of the Full Moon period. The sequence also features Head Stand in an encasement, where a series of poses that both leads you into and out of the pose.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Wide Spread Feet Pose 1)

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

Paschchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Adho Mukha Virasana (Downward Facing Hero Pose)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand)

Adho Mukha Virasana (Downward Facing Hero Pose)

Paschchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Wide Spread Feet Pose 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)
• Over bolster

Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose)

Ardha Halasana (Half Plough Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
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Inversions

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Dharma Headstand

From  charlycat9 on youtube.com
"Dharma Mittra in class, practising his headstands. Notice how he is on his fingertips most of the time ..."

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Dharma Mittra Demo

From  charlycat9 on youtube.com
"After a class with Dharma in his gorgeous NYC space, I asked if he would demo some of the awesome backbends and arm balances he was doing during class. He agreed, although, as he says in the vid, he was cold by then since it was after forward bending and savasana. Still great though! What a kind, humble teacher! By the way, he is 65 year old at the time ..."

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Acro-Yoga

Fun partner poses from Acroyoga.org, filmed by Susan Holland of Lotus Born Productions:

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Backbend Sequence

From  moliro4 on youtube.com

"INDIA YOGA 2002
Bal Mukund Singh won gold for India in the inter-continental Olympic Yoga Championship which concluded at Buenos Aires in Argentina on November 14 1997."

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Standing Poses

So I've been working hard to update the site and I've added a whole new batch of standing poses to the "Poses" section:

Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose) Parivritta Pasted Graphic Pasted Graphic Pasted Graphic 1 Pasted Graphic 2
Pasted Graphic 3 Pasted Graphic 4 Pasted Graphic 5 Pasted Graphic 6 Pasted Graphic 7 Pasted Graphic 8
Pasted Graphic 9 Pasted Graphic 10 Pasted Graphic 11 Pasted Graphic 12

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Shavasana: Corpse Pose

Level: All Levels

Shavasana (sometimes written as Savasana) is perhaps the most important part of a yoga practice. It serves many purposes: physical, spiritual and philosophical.


(Click here for a fully illustrated, printable PDF of this article.)


Relaxation

After the exertions of the practice, Shavasana allows the body a chance to regroup and reset itself. After a balanced practice, the entire body will have been stretched, contracted, twisted and inverted. These means that even the deepest muscles will have the opportunity to let go and shed their regular habits, if only for a few minutes.

Furthermore, the physiological benefits of deep relaxation are numerous and include (1):

• a decrease in heart rate and the rate of respiration.
• a decrease in blood pressure.
• a decrease in muscle tension.
• a decrease in metabolic rate and the consumption of oxygen.
• a reduction in general anxiety.
• a reduction in the number and frequency of panic attacks.
• an increase in energy levels and in general productivity.
• an improvement in concentration and in memory.
• an increase in focus.
• a decrease in fatigue, coupled with deeper and sounder sleep.
• improved self-confidence.


Integration

An intelligent yoga practice will furnish the nervous system with a host of new neuromuscular information. Shavasana gives the nervous system a chance to integrate that in what can be thought of as a brief pause before it is forced once again to deal with all the usual stresses of daily life.


Inner Focus

After so much time being bound to the actions of the body, the practitioner's awareness is hopefully turned inwards and purified of sensory distraction. Shavasana then becomes the beginning of deeper, meditative yogic practices. In state of sensory withdrawal it becomes easier to be aware of the breath and of the state of the mind itself. Though not the best position for prolonged meditative contemplation – the reclined position dulls the mind too much for the kind of discernment necessary to achieve deeper meditative states, this can be a successful introductory practice for those not yet ready for formal meditation.


Completion

The yoga practice is a form of ritual. Regardless of the style of yoga, most classes follow the same pattern (2). It begins with a short opening period where the practitioner gathers him or herself up, turning inwards, away from the mundane world and setting an intention for the practice. Following that comes the practice itself. And to end there comes an integration phase where the effects of the practice are allowed to take hold and penetrate deep into the self of the practitioner. Shavasana is the primary vehicle of that process.


Not All Corpses Are Alike

In the classic pose the practitioner lies out flat on the ground, with no support. (See Figure 1.) For very few of us, however, is this a truly comfortable position. Relative comfort is essential in the pose. Much as in the fairy tale of the Princess and the pea, the slightest point of discomfort can be endlessly distracting. Here are several variations worth experimenting with for their varied effects.


(Click here for a fully illustrated, printable PDF of this article.)


Variation 1: Blanket Under Head
Props: 1 Blanket

If the shoulders, back or chest are tight, the shoulders will not rest on the floor and the head will be pitched back. Elevating the head will bring the head and neck to a level position and will soften the back of the neck. This is worth doing even when the body is relatively open.

Method:
Use either a standard fold blanket (Figure 3) or a broad half-fold blanket (Figure 4) under the head drawn down to graze the tops of the shoulders.

Effects:
Lengthens and softens back of neck.
Releases throat.
Softens jaw and muscles of face.
Softens brain, allowing mind to settle.


Variation 2: Bolster Under Knees
Props: 1 Blanket, 1 Bolster

If the hamstrings or lower back are tight, it can be helpful to elevate the legs. This variation also good when there is discomfort in the hips or lower back.

Method:
Place a bolster crosswise under the knees (Figure 7). If a bolster is not available, stack up two or three long half-fold blankets (Figure 8) and use them instead.

Effects:
Allows thighs and hamstrings to soften.
Takes weight off pelvis, allowing it to rest level.
Allows hips to release.
Allows lumbar spine to settle and lower back to release.


Variation 3: Legs On Chair
Props: 2 Blankets, 1 Chair

A more elaborate variation of a bolster under the knees. This is, in fact, a slight inversion, with the legs and pelvis elevated. Because of this, it is not suitable for women who are actively menstruating.

Method:
Place a broad half-fold blanket at the base of a chair, sofa or bed and have another blanket for under the head. (Figure 10.) Lie back with the calves on the chair, the pelvis and head on blankets, the shoulders on the floor.

Effects:
Allows thighs and hamstrings to soften.
Takes weight off pelvis, allowing it to rest level.
Allows hips to release.
Allows lumbar spine to settle and lower back to release.
Takes pressure of the heart.
Allows venous blood and lymph to drain out of the legs.


Variation 4: Trunk On Blankets
Props: 3 Blankets

Another variation to consider when the upper back, shoulders and chest are tight. Elevating the trunk opens the chest and allows the shoulders to release back and down. This makes it a useful counter to forward extensions, Halasana (Plough Pose) and Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand). It also frees up the breathing mechanism, making this an ideal set-up for reclined pranayama. This variation can also be done with a bolster under the trunk for a much higher lift.

Method:
Arrange two long half-fold blankets in the shape of a "“t"” to go under the trunk and place a broad half-fold blanket on top for under the head. (Figure 12.) Sit at the base of the blanket set-up and lie back with the blankets into the small of the back to support the lumbar spine. Draw the pillow-blanket down to graze the tops of the shoulders and to support the base of the neck.

Effects:
Allows shoulders, neck and chest to soften.
Allows shoulders to fall back and down, reduces excessive curvature of thoracic spine, allowing cervical spine to lengthen and neck to release.
Lifts and opens ribcage, maximizing interior space of lung cavity.
Supports diaphragm.
Allows lumbar spine to settle and lower back to release.


Variation 5: Trunk On Blankets, Bolster Under Knees
Props: 3 Blankets, 1 Bolster

This variation is excellent for when you are planning a long Shavasana. The body is fully supported in such a way that the contours of the spine are balanced and most of the joints are set in an optimum position for maximum release.

Method:
Arrange two long half-fold blankets in the shape of a "“t"” to go under the trunk and place a broad half-fold blanket on top for under the head. Place a blanket cross wise for under the knees. (Figure 14.) Sit at the base of the blanket set-up and lie back with the blankets into the small of the back to support the lumbar spine. Draw the pillow-blanket down to graze the tops of the shoulders and to support the base of the neck. Adjust the position of the bolster under the knees so that the heels can rest comfortably on the floor and the thighs and hips can settle.

Effects:
Allows shoulders, neck and chest to soften.
Allows shoulders to fall back and down, reducing excessive curvature of thoracic spine, allowing cervical spine to lengthen and neck to release.
Lifts and opens ribcage, maximizing interior space of lung cavity.
Supports diaphragm.
Allows lumbar spine to settle and lower back to release.
Allows thighs and hamstrings to soften.
Takes weight off pelvis, allowing it to rest level.
Allows hips to release.
Allows lumbar spine to settle and lower back to release.


(Click here for a fully illustrated, printable PDF of this article.)


Organizing The Pose

It is not sufficient to simple plop oneself down in corpse pose. The alignment and positioning of the pose is as important as for any active asana. The body must be organized in such a way as to affect the nervous system and mind at deeper and deeper levels. It becomes important, then, to create a sense of balance and symmetry in the gross body, so that the subtle neurological energies can flow unhindered.

The following sequence is presented for the classic pose, but can be modified to fit any of the above variations.

1. Sit on your mat with the feet flat on the floor and hold on to the knees. (Figure 15.) Take a moment to make sure you are squared off with the mat and with the room. This will be important when you lie down, as you will be taking subconscious cues from the space around you as to your position.

2. Keeping the core muscles soft and, using only the strength of the arms, roll your spine down towards the floor. (Figure 16.) Take care to place each segment of the back evenly down on the floor before proceeding to the next.

3. Lie back with your head on the blanket (Figure 17) and draw it down to graze the tops of your shoulders and support the back of the neck. Take a moment in this position to assess your alignment. Is the pelvis level and the lower back long? If not, place the hands on the buttocks and both lengthen and broaden them as you roll the flesh towards the heels.

4. Slide out one heel at a time to extend the legs. (Figure 18.) Begin with the legs together and then let them drop out to the sides. Take the feet a comfortable distance apart, but be sure not to overdo it. Wider is not necessarily better.

5. Pick the head up and glance down the length of the body (Figure 19). If the legs are not arranged symmetrically, adjust them so that they are.

6. Press the elbow firmly down into the floor and pick the upper back up off the blanket. (Figure 20.) Tuck the shoulder blades in and roll the shoulders down, opening the top chest.

7. Keep the elbows where they are and release the forearms down with the palms facing up. (Figure 21.)

8. Mentally scan the body and see if any other minor adjustments are necessary. After adjusting the shoulders, you may find it necessary to re-adjust the lower back. This may, in turn, shift the shoulders a little. Sometimes it is necessary to go back and forth a few times to get it right. DO NOT GET CARRIED AWAY WITH YOUR ADJUSTMENTS. It is possible to go on forever adjusting around attempting to achieve the perfect position. Deal with the major issues and then make a firm resolution not to change anything else for the remainder of the time.

9. Glance up and adjust the forehead so that it is level with the ceiling. The back of the head is an unreliable reference point as it is unlikely to be completely symmetrical.

10. Gently allow the chin to release into the chest and the back of the neck to lengthen. You want there to be a gentle downward incline from the eyebrows to the top of the chest.

11. Release the eyelids from top to bottom and begin the process of turning your awareness inwards. Hold the pose for anything from 3 to 30 minutes.


(Click here for a fully illustrated, printable PDF of this article.)


Turning Inward

There are many different ways to practice interiorization in Shavasana. Here are four approaches, each of which deals with successively more subtle points of focus: the body, the senses, the breath and the mind itself. Any one of these practiced alone would be sufficient, or you may combine two or more for longer holdings.


Muscle Relaxation

Starting with the feet and working your way to the head, use suggestion to soften and release the different parts of the body.

Eventually, you learn how to voluntarily initiate relaxation, but initially it may take the use of guided imagery to encourage the muscles to relax. Here are some suggestions:

• Silently name each body part and imagine the breath flowing directly into that body part. Think of the body part as being darker or in shadow and imagine that the breath brings light into the muscles.

• Alternatively, you can think of the breath as dissolving the tension like sugar dissolving in water. With each exhalation the tension flows out of the body.

• After naming the body part, imagine it getting heavier and heavier with each exhalation and sinking into the floor.

• After naming the body part, imagine it melting as if it were snow melting in the winter sun.

• Imagine the body were a sack of grain. For each body part, visualize rips forming in the sack and the grain pouring out onto the floor.

• Imagine the body as a suit of clothes falling through the air in slow motion and touching the ground, body part by body part. As each part touches the floor, all the wrinkles fall out of the fabric.


Sense Withdrawal

Sensory withdrawal begins with relaxation of the physical sense organs. This softens their attachment to the outside world, preparing them to turn inwards. Sometimes this can be a bit nebulous for the inexperienced practitioner to grasps. Releasing specific parts of the face can assist in the release of the nearby sense organs.

The sense of touch resides in the skin. While softening the muscles of the body, pay special attention to the skin, allowing it to soften and release as well. This has the added benefit of calming the nervous system directly, as there is a connection between the skin cells and the nerves: nerves, skin and brain all emerge from the same embryonic cells in the womb.

The senses of taste and smell can be released by addressing the mouth and nose:

• Soften the tip of the tongue and allow it to detach itself from the roof of the mouth.
• Release the tongue from the tip to the root, near the back of the throat.
• Release the roof of the mouth and the back of the throat.
• Soften upwards from there behind the nose and into the nostrils.
• Soften the bridge of the nose and the sinuses.

The sense of hearing can be released by softening the jaw and the ear canal:

• Soften the chin and the jaw.
• Soften the hinges of the jaw.
• Soften the ear canal in and forward towards the eyes.
• Soften the inner ear.

The sense of sight can be released by softening the temples, the muscles around the eyes and the eyeballs themselves:

• Soften the temples. Allow them to deflate and sink inwards.
• Soften the eyebrows, the cheek bones and the bridge of the nose.
• Soften the muscles around the eyes.
• Soften the eyeballs and allow them to sink down past the temples.
• Soften the backs of the eyes and the optic nerve. moving back into the skull.

According to yogic philosophy there is one more sense, the mind. The mind, as opposed to consciousness or thoughts, is the part of you that organizes all the senses and mediates between consciousness and the outside world. To release the mind, we have to address the brain directly:

• Soften the skull.
• Soften the brain itself.
• Allow the brain to detach itself from behind the forehead and let it sink down to rest on the back of the skull.
• Allow the front of the brain to settle on the back of the brain.
• Soften the individual brain cells and allow them to deflate and sink towards the floor.


Breath Awareness

With the body relaxed and the senses turned inwards, it is now possible to become aware of the inner spaces of the body and the movement of the breath. There are two ways to think of the breath, either as the mechanism of breathing or as the flow of breath.

In the first, we can either observe the movement of the ribcage and belly or the passage of air through the nostrils. Let us look at the ribcage first:

• Bring the awareness into the inhalations and exhalations.
• Observe what moves as you inhale, what moves as you exhale.
• Observe the expansion of the ribcage as you inhale.
• Observe the release of the belly as you exhale.
• Observe the spreading of the diaphragm as you inhale.
• Observe the release and resetting of the diaphragm as you exhale.
• Allow each inhalation to emerge seamlessly out of the exhalation that precedes it.
• Allow each cycle of breath to flow seamlessly into the cycle that follows it.


Meditation

Even though the reclined position is not the ideal posture of meditation, it is still possible to practice a detached attitude towards the thoughts that fill the mind:

• Observe each individual thought as it arises.
• Do not categorize the thoughts. Simple acknowledge them for what they are. Think of them as words or images projected on a screen.
• As the mind wanders, gently acknowledge that it has done so and bring your awareness back to the thoughts flowing across the mind.
• As the mind becomes engaged in the thoughts, gently acknowledge that this has happened, release the thought and allow it to proceed on its way.
• As the mind begins to calm itself, you may find that the thoughts become a little less frequent a little less insistent. Start to become aware of the moments of silence between each thought.


The Effort Of Effortlessness

Shavasana is a very demanding pose to practice. It has the potential to take us right up to the very limits of conscious awareness. It is as easy to think it unnecessary and to avoid it as it is to allow it to become nothing more than a nap. It demands of us both diligence and finesse. Too long in the pose and the mind may become dull and even lose consciousness. Too little time, or time spent wrestling with our thoughts, and the pose is almost useless. And yet, the benefits are many and profound. I urge you to give the pose the attention it deserves. Experiment with the different set-ups and become familiar with their effects. You will find different variations appropriate for different practices, different times and different states of mind. Experiment, too, with the different methods of turning inward to find what works for you so that you may reap the benefits of this wonderful pose.


(Click here for a fully illustrated, printable PDF of this article.)


NOTES

1. Bourne, E. J.,(1995) "‘The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook - A step by step program for curing yourself of extreme anxiety, panic attacks and phobias"’, MJF Books, New York.

2. De Michelis, E. (2005) "A History of Modern Yoga: Pata˝jali and Western Esotericism,"” Continuum Books, London.

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