Arm Balances

Practice Lab: Working with an Advanced Practice from "Light on Yoga", Part 13 [Light on Yoga]

sq_adv
[Part 1 of this series, in which we pick apart an advanced sequence from “Light on Yoga”, can be found here.]

In this practice, the second of our sequences edited for time, we are focusing on the twists and the deep hip openers.

The Sequence:

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Arm Balance/Back Bend Vishamanyasa:
Urdhva Kukkutasana (Upward Cockerel Pose)
Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
Parshva Kukkutasana (Side Cockerel Pose)
Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
Parshva Bakasana ( Side Crow Pose)
Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
Dwi Pada Koundinyasana (Two Leg Koundinya’s Pose)
Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
Eka Pada Koundinyasana 1 (Single Leg Koundinya’s Pose 1)
Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)

Ankle-to-Knee Cycle:
[Do each of the following four hip openers all on one crossing and then all on the other.]

Ankle to Knee Pose
Revolved Ankle to Knee Pose
• Twist to the side of the top foot.
Side Ankle to Knee Pose
• Extended forward over the side of the top foot.
Ankle to Knee Pose

Yogadandasana (Yoga Staff Pose)

Eka Pada Mulabandhasana (Single Leg Root Lock Pose)
• Also known as Janu Shirshasana C in the Ashtanga Vinyasa Primary Series.

Mulabandhasana (Root Lock Pose)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Kandasana (Knot Pose)

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

Pashasana (Noose Pose)

Paripurna Matsyendrasana (Full Lord of the Fishes Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Next time, our edited practice will feature the inverted back bends.


Related Posts:

Practice Lab: Working with an Advanced Practice from "Light on Yoga,” Round-Up


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab: Working with an Advanced Practice from "Light on Yoga", Part 12 [Light on Yoga]

sq_adv
[Part 1 of this series, in which we pick apart an advanced sequence from “Light on Yoga”, can be found here.]

Up to now we have been dissecting our advanced practice and exploring sequences to help us master the more challenging transitions and poses featured there. The full practice is quite long and very demanding from an endurance perspective. For the next few weeks we will take the practice as it stands and break it down into shorter pieces which will allow us to cycle through all the important parts over a series of days, rather than all in one big chunk. Each of these shorter practices will also include a few poses to prepare the body for the more advanced work,

In this first practice, the focus is elements of the arm balance vishamanyasa, the deep groin and hamstring openers and the deep forward bends.

The Sequence:

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense Stretch Pose)

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Wide Spread Feet Pose 1)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Arm Balance/Back Bend Vishamanyasa:
Bakasana (Crow Pose)
Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
Eka Pada Koundinyasana 2 (Single Leg Koundinya’s Pose 2)
Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
Eka Pada Bakasana 1 (Single Leg Crow Pose 1)
Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
Eka Pada Bakasana 2 (Single Leg Crow Pose 2)
Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)

Hanumanasana (Hanuman’s Pose)

Samakonasana (Straight Angle Pose)

Supta Trivikramasana (Reclined Three Strides Pose)

Yogadandasana (Yoga Staff Pose)

Kandasana (Knot Pose)

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

Yoganidrasana (Yoga Sleep Pose)

Dwi Pada Shirshasana (Two Legs Behind the Head Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Next time we’ll focus on the deep hip openers and the twists.


Related Posts:

Practice Lab: Working with an Advanced Practice from "Light on Yoga,” Round-Up


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Practice: Softening and Widening the Abdominal Wall

sq_int
This practice features a host of poses which are considered core poses, such as arm balances and leg lifts. Though it is true that the middle of the body needs to be strengthened to perform these poses, crudely squeezing the abdominals will only inhibit your ability to do the poses properly. As you go through the sequence, consider the following:
  • Think of the abdominal wall as having three parts. First there is the lower abdomen, below the navel and between the hip bones and hip creases. Second, the upper abdominal wall, above the navel up to and including the lower rib cage. Thirdly, the lower back, as the fibers of transverse abdominis wrap around the mid-section like a girdle.
  • Widen outward from and elongate along the linea alba, the mid-line of rectus abdominis, the “six-pack” muscles. Continue that lengthening along the sternum, so the whole superficial front line of the body moves towards the head.
  • Soften and widen the lower back.
  • Allow the entire abdomen to fall into the back body.

The Sequence:

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch pose) with the feet apart

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
• Do the pose with the elbows bent, the hands under the shoulders as if about to go up into Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Wheel Pose).
• Set up next to a wall with the elbows touching it. Keep them touching the wall throughout the whole pose.

Shirshasana Cycle:
Child’s Pose in Head Stand
• Bring the knees into the chest with the feet off the floor and hold.
Urdhva Dandasana (Upward Staff Pose)
Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
• Hold for only 2 to 3 minutes. Then come down and go back up into the next pose.
Salamba Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2)
• Hold for only 30 seconds. Then come down and go into the next variation.
Salamba Shirshasana 3 (Head Stand 3)
• Hold for only 30 seconds. Then come down and go into the next variation.
Baddha Hasta Shirshasana (Bound Hands head Stand)
• Hold for only 30 seconds. Then come down and change the crossing of the arms before going back up.
• If you are unable to go up into any of the variations, simple practice the preparation, lifting the knees up off the floor.

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
• 3 to 5 minutes.

Halasana (Plough Pose)
• 2 to 3 minutes.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)
• Have blankets under the shoulders and the feet flat on the floor. Support the sacrum with blocks.

Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) drop-backs
• 3 attempts on each side.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) drop-backs
• 3 attempts.

Malasana (Garland Pose)

Bakasana (Crow Pose)
• Come into the pose from the floor.

Bakasana (Crow Pose)
• Come into the pose from Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2).



Ankle-to-Knee Cycle:
[Do each of the following three hip openers all on one crossing and then all on the other.]

Ankle to Knee Pose
Revolved Ankle to Knee Pose
• Twist to the side of the top foot.
Side Ankle to Knee Pose
• Extended forward over the side of the top foot.
Ankle to Knee Pose

Parshva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose)
• Come into the pose from the floor.

Parshva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose)
• Come into the pose from Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2).

Eka Pada Koundinyasana 1 (Single Leg Koundinya’s Pose 1)

Eka Pada Galavasana (Single Leg Galava’s Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab: Working with an Advanced Practice from "Light on Yoga", Part 4 [Light on Yoga]

sq_adv
[Part 1 of this series, in which we pick apart an advanced sequence from “Light on Yoga”, can be found here.]

Still working on the concept of vishamanyasa (a deliberate alternating of radically different categories of pose), this sequence pulls out the twisted arm balances that broaden the back and sequences them with a simple but challenging back bend, Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose). This gives you a chance to work on safely and intelligently making the challenging transitions from forward bend to back bend. It also gives you a chance to experience the freedom having a wide and free back body can give you in back bending poses.

The Sequence:

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Supta Padangustahsana cycle:
Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)
Supta Padangusthasana 3 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 3)
Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Ado Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Shirshasana Cycle:
Urdhva Dandasana (Upward Staff Pose)
Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
Parshva Shirshasana (Side Head Stand)
Parivrttaikapada Shirshasana (Revolved Single Leg Head Stand)
Baddha Konasana Shirshasana (Bound Angle Pose Head Stand)
Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose Head Stand)

Sarvangasana Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
• 5 minutes.
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Karnapidasana (Pressure on the Ear Pose)
Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)
Parshva Halasana (Side Plough Pose)
Parshva Karnapidasana (Side Pressure on the Ear Pose)
Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose Shoulder Stand)
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose Shoulder Stand)

Vishamanyasa:
Bakasana (Crow Pose)
Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)
Parshva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose)
Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)
Dwi Pada Koundinyasana (Two Leg Koundinya’s Pose)
Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)
Eka Pada Koundinyasana 1 (Single Leg Koundinya’s Pose 1)
Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)

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

Pashasana (Noose Pose)

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Next week we’ll play with a sequence that involves deep groin openers and hamstring stretches.


Related Posts:

Practice Lab: Working with an Advanced Practice from "Light on Yoga,” Round-Up


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Group Class: Separating the Armpits and Chest, Softening the Work of the Arms [Light on Yoga]

sq_int
This is a substantially modified version of the “Light on Yoga” sequence we are breaking down in Practice Lab at the moment. I kept tinkering with the sequencing over the course of the week, as it is right on the borderline between intermediate and advanced. This is the version that seemed to work most effectively.

Think about the following actions as you go through the sequence:
  • Widen the upper back and the top chest as evenly as possible.
  • Soften and widen the deltoids around the shoulder joints.
  • Balance the weight evenly between each of both inner and outer armpits, stretching through each of them evenly.
  • Excavate out space between the inner armpit and the underlying ribs while widening the very top of the chest to differentiate the chest from the armpits and strengthen the arms.

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
• 5 minutes.

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
• 5 minutes.

Halasana (Plough Pose)
• 3 minutes.

Malasana (Garland Pose)
• Do the pose with the heels supported and a belt around the body and legs to support the thighs so that the inner thigh muscles can soften

Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose) over a chair

Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Parshva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)
• Feet on blocks.
• Arms loosely belted to keep the arm and shoulder organized.

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)
• Two more repetitions with or without props, as needed.

Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose) over a chair

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Two Leg Inverted Staff Pose)
• Set up with your mat at the wall with a chair on it next to the wall. Lie on the back in preparation to come up with the legs close to the chair, if not touching it.
• Go up into Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Wheel Pose) and hold for a few moments.
• Bring the head back down to the ground and go into Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana . Hold for a few moments.
• Walk the feet closer together and step the feet up onto the feet of thew chair.
• Extend the legs and lift the head and shoulders up off the floor, moving the collarbones forward over the elbows. Lift the sides of the chest. Hold for a few moments.
• Bring the feet back to the floor, then replace the head on the floor in Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana, keeping the lift in the sides of the chest and the width across the back.
• Hold for a few moments and then release.
• Go through this cycle twice.

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

Pashasana (Noose Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Related Posts:
Intermediate Group Class: Separating the Armpits and Chest, Softening the Work of the Arms [Light on Yoga]
Intermediate Group Class: Separating the Armpits and Chest to Create Upper Body Strength


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Group Class: Separating the Armpits and Chest to Create Upper Body Strength

sq_int
This class features what Mr. Iyengar calls a vishamanyasa. Whereas vinyasa is the sequential placing of similar poses one after another to create a continuous flow, vishamanyasa is the placing of radically different poses together. In this case, arm balances are mixed with Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose). It is a modification of the practice from “Light on Yoga” found on p.484 of the Schocken edition that was featured in last week’s Practice Lab.

Anatomically speaking, this sequence offers a perfect opportunity to play with the arms, shoulders and trunk. Think about the following actions as you go through the sequence:
  • Widen the upper back and the top chest as evenly as possible.
  • Soften and widen the deltoids around the shoulder joints.
  • Balance the weight evenly between each of both inner and outer armpits, stretching through each of them evenly.
  • Excavate out space between the inner armpit and the underlying ribs while widening the very top of the chest to differentiate the chest from the armpits and strengthen the arms.

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Virasana (Hero Pose) with the following arm variations
• Urdhva Baddha Hastasana (Upward Bound Hands Pose), clasping the elbows overhead, both crossings.
• Pashchima Baddha Hastasana (Reverse Bound Hands Pose), clasping the elbows behind the back, both crossings.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Shirshasana Cycle:
Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
Parshva Shirshasana (Side Head Stand)
Parivrttaikapada Shirshasana (Revolved Single Leg Head Stand)
Parshva Bakasana Shirshasana (Side Bound Angle Pose in Head Stand)

Sarvangasana Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Salamba Sarvangasana 2 (Shoulder Stand 2)
Niralamba Sarvangasana 1 (Unsupported Shoulder Stand 1)
Niralamba Sarvangasana 2 (Unsupported Shoulder Stand 2)
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)
Parshva Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg to the Side Shoulder Stand)
Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) drop-backs
• 3 sets.

Malasana (Garland Pose)

Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose) over a chair

Bhujapidasana (Pressure on the Arms Pose)

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)

Ashtavakrasana (Ashtavakra’s Pose)

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)

Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)

Parshva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose)

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)
• 3 minutes.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab: Arm Balances and Back Bends

sq_adv
This practice features a challenging sequence of arm balances interspersed with Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose) where you go from Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand) into Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose) and back. It’s a great workout for the chest and arms. This is another modification of a practice from “Light on Yoga”. You can find the full practice on p.484 of the Schocken edition).

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Shirshasana Cycle:
Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2)
Shirshasana 3 (Head Stand 3)
Baddha Hasta Shirshasana (Bound Hands Head Stand)
Mukta Hasta Shirshasana (Free Hand Head Stand)
Urdhva Dandasana (Upward Staff Pose)
Parshva Shirshasana (Side Head Stand)
Parivrttaikapada Shirshasana (Single Leg Revolved Head Stand)
Eka Pada Shirshasana (Single Leg Head Stand)
Parshvaikapada Shirshasana (Single Leg to the Side Head Stand)
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) in Head Stand
Parshva Baddha Konasana (Side Bound Angle Pose) in Head Stand
Pindasana (Embryo Pose) in Head Stand

Sarvangasana Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Salamba Sarvangasana 2 (Shoulder Stand 2)
Niralamba Sarvangasana 1 (Unsupported Shoulder Stand 1)
Niralamba Sarvangasana 2 (Unsupported Shoulder Stand 2)
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Karnapidasana (Pressure on the Ear Pose)
Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)
Parshva Halasana (Side Plough Pose)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Parshvaikapada Sarvangasana (Single Leg to the Side Shoulder Stand)
Parshva Sarvangasana (Side Shoulder Stand)
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand)
Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand)
Urdhva Padmasana Sarvangasana (Upward Lotus Pose in Shoulder Stand)
Parshva Urdhva Padmasana Sarvangasana (Side Upward Lotus Pose in Shoulder Stand)
Pindasana (Embryo Pose)
Parshva Pindasana (Side Embryo Pose)

Bhujapidasana (Pressure on the Arms Pose)

Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
• Walking down and up the wall.

Ashtavakrasana (Ashtavakra’s Pose)

Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
• Walking down and up the wall.

Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
• Walking down and up the wall.

Parshva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose)

Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
• Walking down and up the wall.

Urdhva Kukkutasana (Upward Cockerel Pose)

Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
• Walking down and up the wall.

Parshva Kukkutasana (Side Cockerel Pose)

Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
• Walking down and up the wall.

Dwi Pada Koundinyasana (Two Leg Koundinya’s Pose)

Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
• Walking down and up the wall.

Eka Pada Koundinyasana 1 (Single Leg Koundinya’s pose 1)

Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
• Walking down and up the wall.

Eka Pada Bakasana 1 (Single Leg Crow Pose 1)

Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
• Walking down and up the wall.

Eka Pada Bakasana 2 (Single Leg Crow Pose 2)

Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
• Walking down and up the wall.

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)
• 5 minutes.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• 10 minutes.


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab: Drop-Backs From Tadasana [Light on Yoga]

sq_adv
When we went to practice yesterday, we took a little time to get started and ended up having to pair back our intended practice from the sequence in “Light on Yoga” we had planned (the sequence for weeks 61 to 65 on p.471 of the Schocken edition). This raised the question of how much you can cut out of the sequences before they start to fall apart. We ended up cutting out the variations in Head Stand and Shoulder Stand, some of the arm balances and all of the twists which should have come after them. When the time came to work on the drop-backs, we decided that we should probably have cut the arm balances and kept in the inversions and the twists, as we were lacking some of the organization needed to optimally go to the floor and back up.

The Sequence

Supta Virasana (Hero Pose) over a bolster
• 3 to 5 minutes.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• 1 to 2 minutes.

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
• 5 minutes.

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
• 5 minutes.

Halasana (Plough Pose)
• 3 minutes.

Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana Cycle:
Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1) head down variation
Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1) head up variation
Supta Padangusthasana 3 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 3)
Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
• Do the whole cycle all on one leg, then all on the other.

Anantasana (Vishnu’s Couch Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)
• 1 minute.

Parivrtta Pashchimottanasana (Revolved Intense West Stretch Pose)

Akarna Dhanurasana (Bow to the Ear Pose)

Kurmasana (Turtle Pose)

Supta Kurmasana (Sleeping Turtle Pose)

Eka Pada Shirshasana (Single Leg Behind the Head Pose)

Skandasana (Single Leg Behind the Head Forward Bend)

Bhujapidasana (Pressure on the Arms Pose)

Ashtavakrasana (Ashtavakra’s Pose)

Padmasana Cycle
Padmasana (Lotus Pose)
Parvatasana (Mountain Pose)
Simhasana 2 (Lion Pose 2)
Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
• Do the whole cycle all on one crossing of the legs, then all on the other.

Uttanapadasana (Stretched Out Upward Facing Pose)

Setubandhasana (Bridge Lock Pose)

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)
• Come into the pose from Tadasana (Mountain Pose) walking the hands down the wall, then walking them back up.
• 6 times.

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)
• From the floor.
• 6 times.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Group Practice: Direction of the Side body (adapted from "Light on Yoga")

Ashtavakra's Pose
This class is an adaptation of the advanced sequence from “Light on Yoga” I was ">practicing last week. It keeps the same basic structure, but I’ve made some edits and substitutions here and there to make it more manageable.

As you go through the poses, think about the sides of the body--the side waist and the side ribs. Strengthen and lengthen them, linking the two sides together by widening across the front and back body. Additionally, think about stretching them either towards or away from the head for additional strength and balance.

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
• Spend more time with the legs at their lowest height.

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Urdhva Dandasana (Upward Staff Pose)
• Do this three times from Head Stand.
• If you can’t do the full pose, then bend the knees and bring them into the chest instead.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Salamba Sarvangasana 2 (Shoulder Stand 2)
Niralamba Sarvangasana 1 (Unsupported Shoulder Stand 1)
Niralamba Sarvangasana 2 (Unsupported Shoulder Stand 2)
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Parshvaikapada Sarvangasana (Single Leg to the Side Shoulder Stand)
• Do each of these at a stretch on a regular, 3-blanket set up.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
• Spend more time with the legs at their lowest height.

Chatushpadasana (Four Footed Pose)

Eka Pada Parshva Sarvangasana (Single Leg Side Shoulder Stand)
• Three times on each side, coming into the pose lightly without spending a lot of time there.
Parshva Sarvangasana (Side Shoulder Stand)
• Three times on each side, coming into the pose lightly without spending a lot of time there.
• Do all of these at a stretch on a 1-blanket set up.

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1) head down variation
Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1) head up variation
Supta Padangusthasana 3 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 3)
Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
• Do the whole cycle all on one leg, then the other.

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Malasana (Garland Pose)

Supta Kurmasana (Sleeping Turtle Pose) preparation
• Put the feet up on a block with the heels together.
• Make a square shape with the legs, reach forward and take hold of the feet.
• Lengthen the sides forward towards the feet.

Eka Hasta Bhujasana (Single Arm and Hand Pose)

Ashtavakrasana (Ashtavakra’s Pose)
• See photo.

Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)

Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)

Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)
• Do this 5 or 6 times, going up and down on a slow, easy breath without holding.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab: Inversions and Arm Balances (from "Light on Yoga")

I was in my usual state of exhaustion after teaching my Sunday classes and fishing around for something to practice when, to my surprise, I realized I was in the mood to do arm balances. I thought I might open up the courses in the back of “Light on Yoga” and see how Mr. Iyengar sequences them. They don’t show up all that often, and only then in the later and more advanced sequences. I did find a practice that looked rather fun with a bunch of Head Stand and Shoulder Stand variations, along with a couple of other poses that I don’t usually practice. The whole thing took about 90 minutes, but I was whipping through most of the poses.

The sequencing, as is often the case, is quite different from the way things usually get laid out these days, but it worked beautifully. I was happy to see the arm balances come after Shoulder Stand and forward bends, as I’ve found myself sequencing them that way lately myself. I had to modify it a little bit here and there to suit my abilities. It’s challenging, no doubt, but not nearly as insurmountable as you might think. (Be warned, though: it’s a bit wrist-y.) You can find the original sequence on p.474 of the Schocken edition. It’s day five of the seven day sequence at the end of course 2.

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and hands flat on blocks
• The sequence in the book launches straight into Head Stand without so much as a by-your-leave. I usually need a little more wining and dining before I get to the main event.

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
Urdhva Dandasana (Upward Staff Pose)
Parshva Shirshasana (Side Head Stand)
Parivrttaikapada Shirshasana (Revolved Single Leg Head Stand)
Eka Pada Shirshasana (Single Leg Head Stand)
Parshvaikapada Shirshasana (Single Leg to the Side Head Stand)
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) in Head Stand
Parshva Baddha Konasana (Side Bound Angle Pose) in Head Stand
Pindasana (Embryo Pose) in Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) in Head Stand)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Salamba Sarvangasana 2 (Shoulder Stand 2)
Niralamba Sarvangasana 1(Unsupported Shoulder Stand 1)
Niralamba Sarvangasana 2(Unsupported Shoulder Stand 2)
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Karnapidasana (Pressure on the Ear Pose)
Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)
Parshva Halasana (Side Plough Pose)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Parshvaikapada Sarvangasana (Single Leg to the Side Shoulder Stand)
• These were all done on a standard 3-blanket set up.

[Do each of the following three hip openers all on crossing and then all on the other]
Ankle to Knee Pose
Revolved Ankle to Knee Pose
• Twist to the side of the top foot.
Side Ankle to Knee Pose
• Extended forward over the side of the top foot.
Ankle to Knee Pose
• In the book, you go straight through to the second part of the Shoulder Stand cycle without stopping, but I needed a little extra prep before the Padmasanas (Lotus Poses) showed up.

Parshva Sarvangasana (Side Shoulder Stand)
Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) drop-back
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) drop-back
• In the book the above two are reversed.
Urdhva Padmasana (Upward Lotus Pose)
Parshva Padmasana (Side Lotus Pose)
Pindasana (Embryo Pose)
Parshva Pindasana (Side Embryo Pose)
• For this second half of the cycle, I used a single blanket under the shoulders to make the balance and the drop-backs easier.

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1) head down variation
Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1) head up variation
Supta Padangusthasana 3 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 3)
Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
• He presents these variations in a different order in the book from the way they usually seem to be sequenced these days.
• Do the whole cycle all on one leg, then the other.

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)
Parivrtta Pashchimottanasana (Revolved Intense West Stretch Pose)

Kurmasana (Turtle Pose)
Supta Kurmasana (Sleeping Turtle Pose)

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
• I had to throw this in here because I find the turtle poses are not so good for my psoas and sacrum. This helped to lengthen and balance everything out again.

Bhujapidasana (Pressure on the Arms Pose)

Ashtavakrasana (Ashtavakra’s Pose)

Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)

Padma Mayurasana (Lotus Peacock Pose)
• I did this with the legs in Baddha Konasana instead.

Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)

Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Lolasana (Tremulous Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose) 15 to 20 times
• Yes, that’s right: 15 to 20 times! I did 15, but no more than exhaling up/inhaling down. They weren’t the best Urdhva Dhanurasanas I’ve ever done, but they felt surprisingly good.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• This I did for about 15 minutes.


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Group Class

Marichi's Pose 6 or F
Developing the theme of working with latissimus dorsi and pectoralis major, in this practice we are going to look at twists. If you remember from previous practices, the lats continue through the back of the armpit to the upper arm bone, just as the pecs continue through the front of the armpit attaching right next to the lats on the bone. We will be taking our twists from these two muscle groups, so that means we need to take the armpit into consideration as well as we turn. In addition, the whole lumbar/sacral area tends to get a bit thick and fibrous. We need to ensure that the lat fibers widen and move towards the head in a uniform manner, rather than getting stuck and crunched in that area.

Consider the following actions as you go through the poses:
  • Soften and widen the palms, the pecs and the lats.
  • Think of the inner and outer armpits as four pillars of connection and support of the arms into the trunk. Distribute the weight and/or stretch evenly between each of the four pillars of the armpits.
  • Soften and widen the deltoid (the shoulder cap muscle), wrapping it around the shoulder joint.
  • Hollow out the armpit deep into the joint.
  • Stretch the apex of the armpit, where the lat and the pec come together, towards the palms as you either take the sternum towards or away from the head, depending on the pose. Generally, when the arms are overhead move the sternum away from the head. When they are in front of you, move them towards the head. When the arms are clasped behind the back, widen the sternum and move it deeper into the body.
  • Initiate twists in the lat--the left lat, for example, when turning to the right-- and complete the thought by widening the opposite--the right when turning to the right--pec.
  • Complete the twist by firming the back of the left armpit (when turning right) and moving it across the body, while widening the front of the right armpit.

The Sequence

Shoulder Stretch at wall: Place the forearms and elbows on the wall with the palms together. Make a right angle at the hips with the feet under the pelvis hip width apart. Draw the inner thighs back and reach the arms forward.

Utkatasana (Furious Pose)
• Do the pose with a block between the thighs.
• Set yourself up close to a wall so that you can place your elbows and forearms on the wall without leaning forward any more than you would normally be in the pose.

Parivrtta Hasta Padangusthasana (Revolved Hand to Big Toe Pose) with the raised foot on a ledge

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Have the hands up on blocks set to the lowest level. You might want to set yourself up with the blocks against a wall and the mat folded over the blocks if you find yourself slipping.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Have the feet up on the lowest level blocks.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Hands on the blocks turned up one level.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Feet on the blocks turned up one level.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Hands on the blocks turned up to the highest level.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Feet on the blocks turned up to the highest level.

Uttanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose) with the feet apart
• Have the hands flat on the floor on either side of the feet. If you are unable to get the whole of the hand down, put blocks underneath.

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose) with the hands on blocks
• Two stages: first the hands under the shoulders; second the arms alongside the ears.

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand) with the hands on blocks

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)
• Simple variation with the Padmasana (Lotus Pose) leg in Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) against the inner thigh of the opposite leg instead. Bind with a belt around the foot.

Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)
• Have the hand that is on the floor flat on a block turned up as high as you like.

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)
• Either the full variation, if possible, or some other modification as necessary.

Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)
• Have the hand that is on the floor flat on a block turned up as high as you like.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) in Head Stand
Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose) in Head Stand

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
• Support the thigh with a block, bolster or blankets.

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
• Back against the wall, sitting up on blankets as necessary to get the sitting bones underneath you.
• Place a narrow-folded blanket behind the lower back.
• Spend half the time with arms down by the sides, then raise the arms overhead.

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
• Back against the wall, sitting up on blankets as necessary to get the sitting bones underneath you.
• Remove the blanket in the back and place a block between the feet.
• Spend half the time with arms down by the sides, then raise the arms overhead.

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
• Back against the wall, sitting up on blankets as necessary to get the sitting bones underneath you.
• Place the block under the feet.
• Spend half the time with arms down by the sides, then raise the arms overhead.

Utthita Marichyasana (Extended Marichi’s Pose) variation
• Bind the arms as if twisting away from the bent leg in Marichyasana 1 (Marichi’s Pose 1).

Utthita Marichyasana (Extended Marichi’s Pose)

Marichyasana 5 (Marichi’s Pose 5) twist only
• Bind the arms and twist away from the raised knee.

Marichyasana 6 (Marichi’s Pose 6)
• Two stages: first with the elbow to the outer knee; second binding the arms, using a belt if necessary.

Chatushpadasana (Four Feet Pose)

Reclined ankle-to-knee glute stretch

Chatushpadasana (Four Feet Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Chatushpadasana (Four Feet Pose)

Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose)
• 5 to 10 min.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• 5 to 10 min.


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Group Class

Intense Side Stretch Pose variation
I’ve been rather consumed with this idea of the pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi coming together deep in the armpit. The way they feed in toward the upper arm bone means that pec major makes up part of the muscular ridge that forms the inner or front armpit, while latissimus dorsi makes up part of the ridge that forms the outer or back armpit. (When the arms are down it makes sense to me of thinking of these ridges as front and back. When the arms are up overhead, I usually think of them as inner and outer as a result of their position relative to the head.) I’ve found that working with the armpits, chest and back in this way creates incredible strength and stability through the shoulder girdle and core, including activating and expanding serratus anterior in a powerfully supportive way.

Think of the following points as you go through the practice:
  • Soften and widen the palms, the pecs and the lats.
  • Think of the inner and outer armpits as four pillars of connection and support of the arms into the trunk. Distribute the weight and/or stretch evenly between each of the four pillars of the armpits.
  • Soften and widen the deltoid (the shoulder cap muscle), wrapping it around the shoulder joint.
  • Hollow out the armpit deep into the joint.
  • Stretch the apex of the armpit, where the lat and the pec come together, towards the palms as you either take the sternum towards or away from the head, depending on the pose. Generally, when the arms are overhead move the sternum away from the head. When they are in front of you, move them towards the head. When the arms are clasped behind the back, widen the sternum and move it deeper into the body.

A note about props: I’ve found that foam blocks are not ideal for the Down Dog and Hand Stand variations presented here. They serve their purpose, just be aware that they can be a little slippery and the wrists tend to sink into them.

The Sequence

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)
• Lie back over a bolster arranged across the back.

Utkatasana (Furious Pose)
• Do the pose with a block between the thighs.
• Set yourself up close to a wall so that you can place your elbows and forearms on the wall without leaning forward any more than you would normally be in the pose.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Have the hands up on blocks. You might want to set yourself up with the blocks against a wall and the mat folded over the blocks if you find yourself slipping.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart
• Have the hands flat on either side of the feet, fingers lined up with the toes. Put blocks under the hands if necessary.

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)
• First stage: Hand under the shoulders, palms flat, back flat. Use blocks if necessary.
• Second stage: Arms forward, head down. Palms flat again.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Hands on blocks.

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)
• Do the pose with the hands clasping the elbows behind the back. Change the crossing when doing the second side.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Hands on blocks.

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)
• Full pose with the hands in Pashchima Namaskarasana (Reverse Prayer Pose).

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
• Hands on blocks.

Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Spread Feet Pose)
• Arms alongside the ears as for Adho Mukha Shvanasana.

Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Spread Feet Pose)
• Hands clasping the elbows behind the back. Do both crossings.

Prasarita Padottanasana 2 (Wide Spread Feet Pose 2)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart
• With the hands flat on either side of the feet, fingers lined up with the toes.

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) on a chair
• Lift the back of the armpit towards the ceiling.
• Roll the front of the armpit towards the floor.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• 5 to 10 min.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Have a sandbag or some other weight along the length of the sternum.
• 5 min.

Ujjayi 4 (Victorious Breath 4) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Be sure to take the sandbag/weight off the sternum for this.
• Full, easy expansive breaths.
• 5 min.

Ujjayi 8 (Victorious Breath 8) in any comfortable seated pose
• Put a tennis (or some other) ball under each armpit to support the arms.
• Full, easy expansive breaths.
• 5 min.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• 5 to 10 min.


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Group Class

Crow Pose
In this practice we are thinking about the sternum and the two pectoral muscles: pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. Pec major is broad, superficial and more horizontal in direction. Pec minor is narrow, deep and more vertical in direction, especially when the arms are raised. Consider the following actions in each of the poses:
  • Deepen the sternum into the body, widening it as you do and broadening the back body behind it.
  • Widen pec major outwards across the collarbones towards the front armpit.
  • Lengthen pec minor towards the front armpit.

The sequence is a simplified version of this week’s Practice Lab.

The Sequence:

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)
• Lie back over a bolster arranged across the back.

Utkatasana (Furious Pose)
• Do the pose with a block between the thighs.
• Set yourself up close to a wall so that you can place your elbows and forearms on the wall without leaning forward any more than you would normally be in the pose.

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose 1) with the raised foot at the rope wall or on a ledge
• First raise the arms, then fold forward.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with feet apart

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with feet apart

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
• Practice kicking up with the second leg.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
• Place the hands under the shoulders as if going up into Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose) and belt the elbows to keep the upper arms parallel.
• Place a sandbag along the sternum.

Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
• Place the hands under the shoulders as if going up into Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose) and belt the elbows to keep the upper arms parallel.
• Place the sandbag across the sternum, approximately over the area where you were placing your elbows in Mayurasana.

Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)

Malasana (Garland Pose)
• Support the heels on a wedge or blankets.
• Put a belt around the body and the knees to act as a sling to support the legs. Release the inner thighs and widen the hip creases.

Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) over a bolster
• Hold for 5-10 min.

Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose)
• Hold for 5-10 min

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab

Single Leg Galava's Pose
Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose) over a bolster across the back

Utthita Hasta Padasana 1 (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose 1) with the raised foot on ropes or a ledge
• Upright and forward bend variation

Parivrtta Hasta Padangusthasana (Revolved Hand to Big Tie Pose) with the raised foot on ropes or a ledge

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)

Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwajasana’s Pose 2)
• Simple variation with leg in Janushirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose) and binding with a belt.
• Full pose.

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)

Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)

Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)

Malasana (Garland Pose)

Supta Kurmasana (Sleeping Turtle Pose) preparation with feet on bolster
• Make a square shape with the legs, place the feet up on a bolster and fold forward.

Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Eka Pada Galavasana (Single Leg Galava’s Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Eka Pada Galavasana (Single Leg Galava’s Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) over a bolster

Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Group Class

Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand
I had an interesting challenge to face this week. I had a class that used a rope wall a LOT, but then I had to reconceive the class for a non-iyengar studio without a rope wall and no other props than blocks, blankets and belts. I thought I’d post both here.

Overall, we were still working with widening and releasing the large muscles of the back: gluteus maximus, latissimus dorsi and trapezius. In particular, we began to zero in on the neck and shoulder girdle with the following actions:
  • Soften and widen the upper half of the trapezius, releasing the back of the neck and loosening the upper shoulder blades away from each other.
  • As you widen the back, widen and deepen the eyes of the chest, balancing the front and back.
  • Expand the neck ribs (the first two ribs) three dimensionally.
  • Either turn the neck ribs towards the head in a back bend or away from the head in a forward bend.

On top of that, create a feeling of softness and fluidity in the the back body as you move.

Sequence 1 (with rope wall):

Utkatasana (Furious Pose) on ropes
• Hold onto rope and hang in the pose to stretch out the back.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) on ropes
INTO Urdhva Mukha Pashchimottanasana (Upward Facing Intense West Stretch Pose) on ropes
INTO Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) on ropes
• From Adho Mukha Shvanasana on the ropes with the heels on the wall, reach back and either take hold of the lowest rope hook or the ankles, depending on your reach.
• Let the head hang. If the head touches the floor, walk the feet forward.
• Go back to Adho Mukha Shvanasana for a few moments to finish.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Urdhva Mukha Pashchimottanasana (Upward Facing Intense West Stretch Pose) on ropes
• Tie a low rope between two high ropes on separate rope stations as if setting up for hanging Shirshasana (Head Stand).
• Drape a couple of blankets over the ropes for cushioning.
• Climb up into the ropes with the loop behind the back ribs and the hips hanging down.
• Straighten the legs and rest the backs of the thighs on the wall.
• Slide down a little to deepen the stretch and draw the flesh of the back towards the head.
• Release the chin into the chest.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
• Do the pose with the elbows bent and the hands on the floor next to the elbows as if about to go into Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose).
• Stretch the triceps through the elbows.
• 2-3 repetitions.

Dandasana (Staff Pose) rope lift
• Loop the arms through the ropes of one rope station and grasp the hands knots.
• Straighten the arms, standing up on a block if necessary.
• Keep the arms straight and pick the knees up and hold.
• Repeat 2-3 times.
• For the second set of 2-3 repetitions, try to come up with the legs bent, the straighten the legs.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
• Do the pose with the elbows bent and the hands on the floor next to the elbows as if about to go into Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose).
• Stretch the triceps through the elbows.
• 2-3 repetitions.

Shirshasana (Head Stand)/Urdhva Mukha Pashchimottanasana (Upward Facing Intense West Stretch Pose) on ropes sequence.
• Halve a high rope on each of two adjacent rope stations.
• Grasp the ropes and walk the feet up the wall so that you end up with the back and legs flat against the wall.
• Hold for a few moments.
• Slide down the wall into Urdhva Mukha Pashchimottanasana.
• Hold for a few moments.
• Slide or walk back up to the Sirshasana position.
• 2-3 repetitions.

Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana (Upward Bound Fingers Pose)

Ropes 1
• 5-8 repetitions

Rolling sequence:
• Roll back and forth with the knees bent, softening the back, 5-8 reps.
• Roll between Dandasana (Staff Pose), Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose) and Halasana (Plough Pose), 5-8 reps.
• Add Purvottanasana (Intense East Stretch Pose) to the sequence between Dandasana and Halasana, 5-8 reps.

Ropes 1
• 5-8 repetitions

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose) INTO Halasana (Plough Pose)
• Roll up and down with control and no momentum, 5-8 reps.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
• Once with each leg kicking up in the regular hand position.
• Once with hands turned out.
• Once with each of the hands turned back.

Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose) over the chair
• Do the pose with a rolled up mat across the edge of the chair under the upper back.

Chair Drop-Back Sequence:
[Cycle through the following 3-4 times]
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand) one side only
Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) drop-back to chair one side only
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand) second side
Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) drop-back to chair second side
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) drop-back to chair

Drop- Back Sequence:
[Cycle through the following 3-4 times]
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand) one side only
Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) drop-back to floor one side only
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand) second side
Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) drop-back to floor second side
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) drop-back to floor

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Sequence 2 (without rope wall):

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose) over bolster, 5 min

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined big Toe Pose 2) 2 min each side

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Utkatasana (Furious Pose) into wall
• Have a block between the thighs.
• Rest the forearms on the wall.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart
• Come into the pose with the back against the wall.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
• Do the pose with the elbows bent and the hands on the floor next to the elbows as if about to go into Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose).
• Stretch the triceps through the elbows.
• 2-3 repetitions.

Rolling sequence:
• Roll back and forth with the knees bent, softening the back, 5-8 reps.
• Roll between Dandasana (Staff Pose), Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose) and Halasana (Plough Pose), 5-8 reps.
• Add Purvottanasana (Intense East Stretch Pose) to the sequence between Dandasana and Halasana, 5-8 reps.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
• Do the pose with the elbows bent and the hands on the floor next to the elbows as if about to go into Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose).
• Stretch the triceps through the elbows.
• 2-3 repetitions.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose) INTO Halasana (Plough Pose)
• Roll up and down with control and no momentum, 5-8 reps.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
• Once with each leg kicking up in the regular hand position.
• Once with hands turned out.
• Once with each of the hands turned back.

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)
• Palms up instead of down.

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) with blocks under the sacrum and blankets under the shoulders

Eka Pada Setu Bandha (Single Leg Bridge Pose) with blocks under the sacrum and blankets under the shoulders

Salamba Sarvangasana 2 (Shoulder Stand 2) with the wrists belted instead of the hands clasped
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Halasana (Plough Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Salamba Sarvangasana 2 (Shoulder Stand 2)
Niralamba Sarvangasana 1 (Unsupported Shoulder Stand 1)
Niralamba Sarvangasana 1 (Unsupported Shoulder Stand 1)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab

Head Stand 1 DetailHead Stand 2 DetailHead Stand 3 DetailBound Hands Head Stand DetailFree Hand Head Stand Detail

This time, Kristen and I decided to work on the advanced head stand variations. Kristen had the idea of balancing out the front and back across the shoulder girdle by widen both the broad fibers of the trapezius and the pec minor/eyes of the chest.

The Sequence

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2) with the leg on a bolster

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2) with the leg resting on the floor

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Ropes 1, 5-8 rounds

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Ropes 1, 5-8 rounds

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Ubhaya Padangusthasana (Both Big Toes Pose)

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)
• lift the head up to touch the raised shin.

Marichyasana 6 (Marichi’s Pose 6)

Urdhva Mukha Pashchimottanasana 1 (Upward Facing Intense West Stretch Pose 1)

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

Prasarita Padottanasana (Widespread Feet Pose) with Head Stand arm variations
• Shirshasana 1
• Shirshasana 2
• Shirshasana 3
• Baddha Hasta Shirshasana
• Mukta Hasta Shirshasana

Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1) free standing

Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2) free standing

Shirshasana 3 (Head Stand 3) against the wall
Baddha Hasta Shirshasana (Bound Hands Head Stand) against the wall
Mukta Hasta Shirshasana (Free Hand Head Stand) against the wall

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Niralamba Sarvangasana (Unsupported Shoulder Stand) against the wall
Karnapidasana (Pressure on the Ear Pose) against the wall

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Multi-Level Core Practice

Matsyasana (Fish Pose) - 2 min each side
• simple variation with the legs in Sukhasana (Comfortable Pose) and the arms overhead
• do both leg crossings

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Lunge
• back leg straight
• press inner thigh of back leg up and back
• soften lower abdomen and send inner thighs away from each other

Parivrtta Parshvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose) Read More...
|