Forward Bends

Basic Practice: Releasing the Legs and Hips

sq_basics
In this practice the goal is to soften the whole area of the upper leg/lower abdomen and back/hips by grounding down into the legs and feet. As the legs and feet ground, allow the torso to release as a unit away from the hips towards the head.

The Sequence:

Pashchima Baddha Hastasana (Elbows Clasped behind the back) in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) with a blanket behind the knees

Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana (Upward Bound Fingers Pose) in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) with the toes turned under

Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) with the ankles crossed

Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) with the top of one foot crossed over the arch of the other

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) variation
• Come into the pose with a rolled up blanket or a block under the balls of the feet to create a calf stretch.
• Do the pose with the knees a little bent for about a minute, then pull the thighs up to straighten the legs and hold for the same length of time.
• Keep the center of gravity shifting forward.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart
• Step back out of the previous variation and place the feet flat without lifting the head up.

Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with a block between the thighs

Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Hands Pose) with a block between the thighs

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)/Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Hands Pose) variation with a block between the thighs
• Put the hands on the hips and, keeping the torso stacked up, flex the ankles to come into a mini-squat. Do not lean forward or back. Hold this position for a few breaths.
• Raise the arms overhead. Hold this position for few breaths.
• Rise up into Urdhva Hastasana by both grounding down into the feet and lifting up through the torso.

Utkatasana (Furious Pose) with a block between the thighs
• Put the hands on the hips and, keeping the torso stacked up, flex the ankles to come into a mini-squat. Do not lean forward or back. Hold this position for a few breaths.
• Hinge forward from the hip crease, keeping the weight centered on the feet and without pushing the chest and back forward or tucking the tailbone. Hold this position for a few breaths.
• Raise the arms overhead. Hold this position for a few breaths.
• Sink deeper into the pose and hold.
• Come out of the pose through Urdhva Hastasana.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with a block between the thighs.
• Put the hands on the hips and, keeping the torso stacked up, flex the ankles to come into a mini-squat. Do not lean forward or back. Hold this position for a few breaths.
• Hinge forward from the hip crease, keeping the weight centered on the feet and without pushing the chest and back forward or tucking the tailbone. Hold this position for a few breaths.
• Sink deeper into the legs and hinge further forward to place the hands on the floor. Hold this position for a few breaths. Place the hands on a block if necessary.
• Draw the block up to straighten the legs into the full pose.

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)
• Come into the pose with the front leg a little bent.
• Straighten the leg once in the pose by reaching down into the foot and pulling the thigh and hip up.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with a block between the thighs.
• Come into the pose from the squat as above.

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose) variation with the arms down
• Come into the flat back variation of pose with the front leg a little bent.
• Straighten the leg once in the pose by reaching down into the foot and pulling the thigh and hip up.
• Release the head and arms down.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with a block between the thighs.
• Come into the pose from the squat as above.

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Widespread Feet Pose 1)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with a block between the thighs.
• Come into the pose from the squat as above.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Child’s Pose

Adho Mukha Vajrasana (Downward Facing Thunderbolt Pose)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Adho Mukha Sukhasana (Downward Facing Comfortable Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) legs only into a forward bend, if possible

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Practice: The Pillars of the Armpit, Part 2

sq_int
Once again, the theme of this practice is balancing the front and back body by creating space in the armpits, especially in inversions such as Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand) and in bound poses such as Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2).

To recap the key points of our previous practice, consider the following as you go through the poses:
  • Soften and widen the deltoids, allowing them to wrap around the shoulder joints.
  • Soften and hollow out the armpits, allowing them to dome into the shoulder joint.
  • When the arms are weight-bearing, balance the weight evenly between each of the four armpit pillars: two on the left, two on the right. Some of us will sit more in the outer/back armpit, some of us will be more in the inner/front. Some people might even have one tendency in one shoulder and the opposite in the other.
  • Stretch evenly through both armpit pillars.

To create more freedom in the chest and shoulder by considering the following sequence of actions:
  • Bring weight into the outer armpit pillar to free up the inner armpit/top chest.
  • Hollow out the armpit itself and excavate out space inside the inner armpit, separating it away from the underlying ribs.
  • Maintaining that space and separation, bring weight back into the inner armpit pillar, balancing out front and back.
  • Cycle through these action several times to help free and open the chest.

The Sequence:

Opening Wall Stretches:
• Side stretch at wall: Lean the right side of the body into the wall with the right arm overhead. Bend the right elbow, take hold of it with the left hand and draw the arm up and over the top of the head. Hold for a minute or two and repeat on the second side.
• Chest opener: Stand with the right hand on the wall at shoulder height. Keeping the shoulder blade down the back, spread the fingers and palms and straighten the elbow. Hold this position for several seconds. Without lifting the shoulder blade, turn the chest away from the wall. Hold this for several seconds. Release and repeat on the second side.
• 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.

Plank Pose

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Plank Pose

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand) with the palms turned out

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand) with the palms in the regular position

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand) with the palms turned in

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)
• Have the hands flat on the floor on either side of the feet. If you are unable to get the heel of the hand all the way down, put the hands on blocks.

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose) with the palms flat on blocks
• Do both variations: arms under the shoulders and the back flat; arms out alongside the ears.

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Wide Spread Feet Pose 1) INTO Salamba Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2) INTO
Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Wide Spread Feet Pose 1)

Salamba Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Chair Sequence:
Single Leg Ankle to Knee Stretch
Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)
• Bind one leg in Ardha Padmasana (Half Lotus Pose) with one foot on the floor and twist.
Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense Stretch Pose)
• Unbound, using the chair for balance.
Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense Stretch Pose)
• Bound, using the chair for balance.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Chatushpadasana (Four Footed Pose)
• Do the pose twice.

Sarvangasana Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 2 (Shoulder Stand 2) variation with the wrists belted
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Halasana (Plough Pose) with all the arm variations
Karnapidasana (Pressure on the Ear Pose)
Supta Konasana (Seated Angle Pose)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Parshvaikapada Sarvangasana (Single Leg to the Side Shoulder Stand)

Ardha Baddha Padma Pashchimottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense West Stretch Pose)
• Do the pose at first with the full binding, then release the bind and clasp the foot of the extended leg.

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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
|

Practice Lab: Working with an Advanced Practice from "Light on Yoga", Part 11 [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 our final exploration of the more challenging poses of our sequence, we are going to have a look at both the twists, culminating in Paripurna Matsyendrasana (Full Lord of the Fishes Pose), and the extreme hip flexions, Yoganidrasana (Yoga Sleep Pose) and Dwi Pada Shirshasana (Both Legs Behind the Head Pose).

These poses all require a lot of space around the hip joint. The inner thighs and the gluteals need to be opened up for the proper placement of the legs.

The Sequence:

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Shirshasana Cycle:
Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
Parshva Shirshasana (Side Head Stand)
Parivrttaikapada Shirshasana (Revolved Single Leg Head Stand)
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) in Head Stand)
Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose) in Head Stand
Eka Pada Shirshasana (Single Leg Head Stand)
Parshvaikapada Shirshasana (Single Leg to the Side Head Stand)

Sarvangasana Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Karnapidasana (Pressure in the Ear Pose)
Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)
Parshva Halasana (Side Plough Pose)
Parshva Karnapidasana (Side Pressure on the Ear Pose)
Urdhva Padmasana (Upward Lotus Pose)
Pindasana (Embryo Pose)
Parshva Pindasana (Side Embryo Pose)

Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana Cycle:
Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1) with the head down
Supta Padangusthasana 3 (Reclined big Toe Pose 3)
Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1) with the head up

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

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

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)

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

Marichyasana 4 (Marichi’s Pose 4)

Paripurna Matsyendrasana (Full Lord of the Fishes Pose)

Eka Hasta Bhujasana (Single Hand and Arm Pose)

Dwi Hasta Bhujasana (Both Hands and Arms Pose)

Kurmasana (Turtle Pose)

Supta Kurmasana (Sleeping Turtle Pose)

Yoganidrasana (Yoga Sleep Pose)

Dwi Pada Shirshasana (Both Legs Behind the Head Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


For the next few weeks, we will look at ways to break our advanced sequence down into smaller chunks with appropriate necessary preparation for each of the main practice sections.


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 10 [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.]

The next challenge that we must tackle in our sequence is a collection of three deep outward rotations of the thigh in the hip socket: Yogadandasana (Yoga Staff Pose), Mulabandhasana (Root Lock Pose) and Kandasana (Knot Pose). Each of these poses are quite tricky, as they require not only open hip joints, but also mobile knees, lower legs, ankles and toes.

The Sequence:

Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) with a blanket behind the knees

Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) with the toes turned under

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) with the shins together

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) with the heels apart

Upavishtha Garudasana (Seated Eagle Pose)
• Sitting on the floor, cross the right leg over the left as for Garudasana (Eagle Pose).
• Turn to your left, bringing the right knee across the body and onto the floor. Turn to face the floor, supporting yourself on your elbows and walk the trunk around to face the wall behind you. Hold this pose for half a minute.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Vrkshasana (Tree Pose)

Utkatasana (Furious Pose)

Garudasana (Eagle Pose)

Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense Stretch Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Shirshasana Cycle:
Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) in Head Stand
Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose) in Head Stand
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Head Stand)
Parshvaikapada Sarvangasana (Single Leg to the Side Head Stand)

Sarvangasana Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) in Shoulder Stand
Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose) in Shoulder Stand
Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Urdhva Padmasana (Upward Lotus Pose) in Shoulder Stand
Pindasana (Embryo Pose) in Shoulder Stand

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

Adho Mukha Sukhasana (Downward Facing Comfortable 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

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)

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

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

Yogadandasana (Yoga Staff Pose)

Baddha Konasana Cycle:
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) at the wall
• Come into the pose sitting up on one or two folded blankets with the back against the wall.
• Hold for 1 to 2 minutes.
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) at the wall with a block between the feet
• From the above position, place a block between the feet.
• Hold for 1 to 2 minutes.
Kandasana (Knot Pose) at the wall with the feet on a block
• From the above position, place the block under the feet.
• Hold for 1 to 2 minutes.
Mulabandhasana (Root Lock Pose) at the wall
• Take the block away and turn the toes under and the heels up.
• Place a wedge between the heels and the pubic bone and use it to gently lever the heels away from the body.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Utkatasana (Furious Pose) with the back against the wall and a block between the thighs
• Make sure to keep the knees directly over the ankles.
• This will help to strengthen and stabilize the knee joint. (See Sandy Blaine’s excellent “Yoga for Healthy Knees.”)
• Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose) with a roll under the bottom of the thighs
• Have the roll under the thigh bones just above the knees and press down into it, activating the lower thigh muscles.
• This is another excellent knee stabilizer.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose) with the legs elevated, either on a chair or a bolster


Next time we’ll look at the final two sections of our practice, the deep twists and forward bends.


Related Posts:

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


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Practice: The Psoas and the Quadratus Lumborum in Forward Bends

sq_int
If psoas is the deepest muscle of the front body, then quadratus lumborum could be thought of as the deepest muscle of the back body, as it lies flush against the hip flexor. In this practice we will zero in on these two muscles, organizing our poses around them. As you perform the sequence below consider the following ideas:
  • Elongate the psoas by lengthening behind the pubic bone, navel and sternum. Think of grounding/moving towards the legs the lesser trochanters, the lower attachment of the psoas, while widening and lifting/moving towards the head T12, the upper attachment.
  • Soften and widen the quadratus lumborum. To help this, soften and widen the buttocks and lengthen them toward the siting bones, while also softening and widening the lower lattisimus dorsi and lengthening them towards the head.
  • Soften the abdomen and allow it to fall back into the quadratus lumborum.
  • When twisting, initiate the movement in the quadratus lumborum, widening it and wrapping it around.

The Sequence:

Child’s Pose with a roll under the abdomen.

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 3 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 3)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Salamba Shirshasana Cycle:
Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
Eka Pada Shirshasana (Single Leg Head Stand)
Parshvaikapada Shirshasana (Single Leg to the Side Head Stand)
Parivrttaikapada Shirshasana (Revolved Single Leg Head Stand)
Parshva Shirshasana (Side Head Stand)

Salamba 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)
Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand)
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand)

Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose)

Anantasana (Vishnu’s Couch Pose)

Maha Mudra (Great Seal)

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

Ardha Baddha Padma Cycle:
[Do these poses all on one side, then all on the other.]

Ardha Baddha Padma Pashchimottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense West Stretch Pose)
• Instead of doing the full pose, bind the lotus pose foot and hold onto the big toe of the extended leg and twist away from it.
Ardha Matsyendrasana 2 (Half Lord of the Fishes 2)
Ardha Baddha Padma Pashchimottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense West Stretch Pose)
• Fold forward without binding.

Triang Mukhaikapada Pashchimottanasana (Three Limbs Facing Single Leg Intense West Stretch Pose)

Krounchasana (Heron Pose)

Marichyasana 1 (Marichi’s Pose 1)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Group Class: Freeing Up the Lower Back

sq_int
In this class focus on allowing the exhalation to be long and easy and the inhalation free and unforced. Allow there to be movement in the lower back as you breathe in all of the poses.

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shavasana (Downward Facing Corpse Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Child’s Pose

Head Down Sequence:
[Do all of these at a stretch, keeping the head down and observing/freeing up the movement of the breath in the lower back throughout.]

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart
Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Child’s Pose

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
• 5 to 10 minutes.

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
• 5 to 10 minutes.

Halasana (Plough Pose)
• 3 to 5 minutes.

Adho Mukha Sukhasana (Downward Facing Comfortable Pose)
• 90 seconds each side.

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) legs only forward bend
• 60 seconds each side.

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

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

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• 5 minutes.

Ujjayi Pranayama 4 (Victorious Breath 4) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• 5 minutes.

Viloma Pranayama 2 (Interrupted Breath 2) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Interrupted exhalations.
• 5 minutes.

Viloma Pranayama 1 (Interrupted Breath 1) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Interrupted inhalations.
• 5 minutes.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• 5 minutes.
|

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

sq_int
This class is a modification of the practice from “Light on Yoga” found on p.466 titled “second day of the week” in the Schocken edition.

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.

Energetically speaking, focus on making the arms less manipulative, less grabby. Instead of pulling yourself into the pose with the arms, allow the hands to do no more than hold on and move the upper arm bones either out or back, depending on the pose. Allow your exhalations to be long and easy, the inhalations, soft and smooth. With the gentle movement and freedom created by the breath, allow yourself to fall deeper into the pose.

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)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) full pose with arm variation

Shirshasana Cycle:
Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand)
• 5 minutes.
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Head Stand)
Parshvaikapada Sarvangasana (Single Leg to the Side Head Stand)

Sarvangasana Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
• 5 minutes.
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)
Parshvaikapada Sarvangasana (Single Leg to the Side Shoulder Stand)

Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose)

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana a(Upward Extended Feet Pose)

Maha Mudra (Great Seal)

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

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

Marichyasana 1 (Marichi’s Pose 1)

Marichyasana 2 (Marichi’s Pose 2)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

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

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)

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

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab: Forward, Around and Back [Light on Yoga]

sq_adv
This practice, adapted from the one found on p.481 in the Schocken edition of “Light on Yoga” (fourth day of the week) features inversions followed by extremely deep forward bends, followed by extremely deep back bends.

The Sequence

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)
Eka Pada Shirshasana (Single Leg Head Stand)
Parshvaikapada Shirshasana (Single Leg to the Side Head Stand)

Sarvangasana Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand ) drop backs
Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose) drop backs
Urdhva Padmasana (Upward Lotus Pose)
Parshva Padmasana (Side Lotus Pose)
Pindasana (Embryo Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
• 3 times: kicking up with primary leg, second leg, both legs together.

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)
• twice: kicking up with primary leg and second leg.

Sayanasana (Pose of Repose) at the wall

Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)

Hamsasana (Swan Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Parivrtta Janu Shirshasana (Revolved Head of the Knee Pose)

Malasana (Garland Pose)

Supta Kurmasana (Sleeping Turtle Pose)

Yoganidrasana (Yoga Sleep Pose)

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Two Leg Inverted Staff Pose)

Mandalasana (Mandala Pose)

Eka Pada Viparita Dandasana 1 (Single Leg Inverted Staff Pose 1)

Eka Pada Viparita Dandasana 2 (Single Leg Inverted Staff Pose 2)
• In this variation, you lift your head off the ground, walk your foot in and hold on to your heel with your fingers.
• To work up to this, set your mat up at the wall and place a chair on the mat against the wall. Come into Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana and lift the head off the floor. Place one foot on the chair for support and walk the other foot in towards the hands. Repeat on the other side.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Level 1 Group Class: Deepening the Hip Crease and Releasing the Lower Back and Buttocks

sq_basics
In this sequence, think about softening and widening the abdomen and hip creases as you deepen them. At the same time, soften and widen the lower back and buttocks.

The Sequence

Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
• Simple variation: legs crossed in Sukhasana, lying back flat on the floor with the arms overhead.
• 90 seconds each crossing.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Child’s Pose

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Lunge with the back leg up

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vajrasana (Downward Facing Thunderbolt Pose) with the head on a block

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Malasana (Garland Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Wide Spread Feet Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose) over a bolster

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) over a bolster

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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 Class: The Pelvic Floor in Forward Bends

Half Bound Lotus Intense West Stretch Pose
As with last week’s class, we are balancing and strengthening the pelvic floor. On top of the actions we were working on last week, in the seated forward bends we will be trying to keep the pelvic floor horizontal. If, say, it is tipped to the left, widen and lift the front of the pelvic floor from behind the left side of the pubic bone while you also widen and descend the pelvic floor from behind the right side of the pubic bone. You will probably find that the pelvic floor will tilt towards the center of gravity, the side you are turning to in a side pose or the straight leg in a pose such as Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose).

The Sequence

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart
• Place a block between the feet and belt the calves at the thickest part.
• Press the calves out into the belt while anchoring the feet back into the block.
• Balance out the thighs by widening from behind the pubic bone across the hip creases and from in front of the tailbone across the buttock creases, where the buttock and hamstrings meet.

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose 1) with the foot on a ledge

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 2 (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose 2) with the foot on a ledge
• Make this pose a little more like Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose) by walking the standing leg further out than the hi[ and turning it in.

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose 1) with the foot on a ledge
• Bend forward and take hold of the foot.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

[Perform the following Supta Padangusthasana sequence all on one leg, then all on the other]
Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)
Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
Parivrtta Supta Padangusthasana (Revolved Reclined Big Toe Pose)
Supta Padangusthasana 3 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 3)
Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1) raised head variation

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
• Three attempts, once with each leg and once with both legs.

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) in Head Stand
Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose) in Head Stand
Eka Pada Shirshasana (Single Leg Head Stand)
Parshva Eka Pada Shirshasana (Single Leg to the Side Head Stand)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) in Shoulder Stand
Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose) in Shoulder Stand
Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Parshva Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg to the Side Shoulder Stand)

Adho Mukha Sukhasana (Downward Facing Comfortable Pose)
Parshva Adho Mukha Sukhasana (Side Downward Facing Comfortable Pose)
• On each crossing of the legs, extend forward, turn to the right and then the left, return to the middle.

[Do each of the following hip openers all on one crossing and then all on the other]
Ankle to Knee Pose
Side Ankle to Knee Pose
• Extended forward over the side of the top foot.

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

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

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab: Separating the Ilio-Psoas

Pasted Graphic
This week’s practice was not particularly complicated in terms of the poses I worked on, but I ended up focusing on quite a high level of detail. I’ve always had trouble in my sacrum, psoas and pelvic floor, and the whole area has been particularly troublesome in the past few weeks. I went to Phoenix to teach the fine folks at Gravity Center and the air travel pretty much did me in, hence all the attention to the lower body of late.

Ideally, as you go through the sequence keep in mind all of the factors presented here. If, however, you are only beginning to become familiar with this area and it’s too much to focus on straight away, work with one or two of the ideas, building up slowly. I’ve arranged the actions in an ordered progression, from what should be mastered first to finishing touches.

In essence, we are balancing the movement around the hip joint by anchoring through the femur head (top of the thigh bone) and balancing the work of the ilio-psoas muscles.

The Lesser Trochanters and the Hip Joint

First we need to stabilize the base. Strengthen and anchor the legs by moving the lesser trochanters in each of the following directions:
  • Move them away from each other.
  • Move them away from the midline of the body.
  • Move them towards the feet or the floor.
In some poses, these might all be the same direction, depending on the arrangement of the legs. When working with the lesser trochanters there is often a tendency to roll the thighs in as well, so make sure to keep the hip creases (where the thigh and abdomen meet) and the buttock creases (where the buttocks and hamstrings meet) evenly wide.

With the femurs properly grounded, center the weight evenly around the entirety of both hip joints. You might think of the wall of connective tissue that wraps the joint, balancing the weight around it. Just this part can requite a huge amount of vigilance, as we often have habitual movement patterns in the hips an legs that are very easy to fall back into unawares.

The Iliacus and the Psoas

Think of separating these two muscles. Strengthen and lengthen the psoas up the length of the body from the lesser trochanters towards the head. Think of widening the iliacus outwards away from the psoas and down towards the lesser trochanters.

In addition, to create spaciousness in the lower back, think of moving both muscles back, away from the front body.

When working with the psoas, people who tend to be more tucked back in the pelvis may well have to lengthen down through the lesser trochanters more as they draw up and back through the psoas. People who tend to be more tilted forward may have to draw up and widen back away from the lesser trochanters more.

The Pelvic Floor and the Lower Ribs

Soften and widen the fan of the pelvic floor as evenly as possible. Draw up the length of the body towards the head from behind the pubic bone. Soften and widen the lower ribs from the xyphoid process around and back towards the spine.

Once you have each of these actions working, build them up in your poses and cycle through them one to three times in each pose.

Additional Thoughts

For variety, you might also think of working with the psoas major and minor, lengthening the fibers of psoas major down towards the feet and psoas minor up towards the head (or reversing it if that works for you, perhaps if you are more tucked). Working with just psoas major, you could direct the lower fibers (say from L3 down) forward and down towards the feet while drawing the upper fibers (L2 to T12) up towards the head, or vice versa if it suits your body more.

The Sequence

Vrkshasana (Tree Pose) with the knee at the wall

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose 1)
• Foot on a rope wall hook or some other ledge.
• Upright variation.

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 2 (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose 2)
• Foot on a rope wall hook or some other ledge.
• Triangle Pose variation with the standing foot a little further out and turned in.

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose 1)
• Foot on a rope wall hook or some other ledge.
• Forward bend variation.
• If you can, put more height under the foot to make it above hip height.

Virasana (Hero Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Padangusthasana (Bog Toe Pose)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Widespread Feet Pose 1)

[Perform the following Supta Padangusthasana sequence all on one leg, then all on the other]
Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)
Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
Parivrtta Supta Padangusthasana (Revolved Reclined Big Toe Pose)
Supta Padangusthasana 3 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 3)
Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1) raised head variation

Virasana (Hero Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) in Head Stand
Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose) in Head Stand
Eka Pada Shirshasana (Single Leg Head Stand)
Parshva Eka Pada Shirshasana (Single Leg to the Side Head Stand)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) in Shoulder Stand
Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose) in Shoulder Stand
Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Parshva Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg to the Side Shoulder Stand)

[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.

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

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

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Group Class: Balancing and Strengthening the Pelvic Floor

Bow to the Ear Pose
This week we are addressing the core, but without working with the abdominal wall directly. Instead, we will deal with those structures that encase the abdominal wall, allowing it to be free to do what it needs to. Consider the following:

Soften and widen the lower rib area around and below the xyphoid process (the bottom tip of the sternum). This area wraps around the diaphragm and is the anchor to which the upper abdominal wall attaches. Release the wall of connective tissue under the latissimus dorsi and widen it from back to front. At the same time, release and widen the wall of connective tissue between the front lower ribs and the skin from front to back.

The pelvic floor can be thought of as having a fan-like shape, with the hinge of the fan at the tailbone and the spokes at the pubic bone and the sitting bones. Keep the fan as wide and as balanced as possible in the following poses. Whenever taking the leg out to the side, initiate the movement in the pelvic floor by opening up the pelvic fan.

Consider the following actions to keep the pelvic floor balanced:
  • People who are habitually tucked under in the pelvis tend to be gripped in the back of the pelvic floor. They will need to stretch back from the perineum (center of the pelvic floor) to the tailbone.
  • People who are habitually tilted forward in the pelvis tend to be slack or over-stretched in the front of the pelvic floor. They will need to firm and lift from behind the pubic bone.
  • Widen the hip creases (the fold at the top of the thigh) and the buttock creases (where the buttocks and the backs of the thighs meet) evenly. Tuckers might have to widen the buttock creases more, tilters the hip creases.
  • People with an imbalance in the hips for one reason or the other might have to widen the hip and buttock creases and open the pelvic fan on one side more than the other.
  • Keep the pelvic floor either horizontal or vertical, parallel or perpendicular to the backs of the legs, depending on the pose.

In addition to these balancing actions, we are going to find strength in the pelvic floor and lower abdomen by finding grounding through the legs:
  • Widen and lengthen the wall of connective tissue between gluteus maximus (the buttocks) and the hamstrings and the bones and deeper muscles underneath away from the head and towards the feet.
  • At the same time, widen and lift the pelvic floor just behind the pubic bone as you allow the lower abdomen to settle back to wards the sacrum. This is analogous to a Mula Bandha action, but it is quite different from squeezing the perineum and pulling in just below the navel.

The Sequence

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) on the ropes
• Have a bolster and blankets on which to rest the head.
• Clasp the elbows with the arms overhead and rest the forearms on the bolster.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart
• Place a block between the feet and belt the calves at the thickest part.
• Press the calves out into the belt while anchoring the feet back into the block.
• Balance out the thighs by widening from behind the pubic bone across the hip creases and from in front of the tailbone across the buttock creases, where the buttock and hamstrings meet.

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2) with the descended foot at the wall
• Put a block under the raised leg.
• Start with the leg bent, only straightening it once you have it resting on the block.

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2) with the descended foot at the wall

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) with the heels against the wall

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
Eka Pada Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Single Leg Hand Stand)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) in Head Stand
Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose) in Head Stand
Eka Pada Shirshasana (Single Leg Head Stand)
Parshva Eka Pada Shirshasana (Single Leg to the Side Head Stand)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) in Shoulder Stand
Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose) in Shoulder Stand
Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Parshva Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg to the Side Shoulder Stand)

Triang Mukhaikapada Pashchimottanasana (Three Limbs Facing Single Leg Intense West Stretch Pose)

Krounchasana (Heron Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1) with the foot at the wall
• Lift the head towards the raised leg, bringing the back off the floor.

Malasana (Garland Pose)
• Have a wedge under the heels.
• Loop a belt around the body and knees to support the legs and allow the inner thighs and groins to soften.

Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Akarna Dhanurasana (Bow to the Ear Pose)
• To make the pose more accessible, hold on to the foot that’s on the ground using a belt.

Parivrtta Janu Shirshasana (Revolved Head of the Knee Pose)

Shalabhasana (Locust Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab

Half Bound Lotus Intense West Stretch Pose
Once again, Kristen and I found ourselves both exhausted. (A common occurrence for yoga teachers in the city, it seems.) I just got back from teaching a workshop out of town and Kristen has an infant (no more reason needed). We wanted to do something more than just flopping around, but we needed a practice that had a strong restorative effect, so we opted to do forward bends. While we were practicing, we were discussing how when the sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response) is active, the back of the neck grips. Kristen had the idea of doing the poses with the head well supported and a sandbag on the back of the skull. Boy, was that effective. We both felt like we’d woken up from a deep nap. The key is to make sure the the head is firmly supported with enough height underneath it that the sandbag puts no pressure on the back of the neck.

The Sequence:

Rope Shirshasana (Head Stand)
• 5 minutes.

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

Ardha Halasana (Half Plough Pose) with the toes on the chair
• 2 minutes.

Ardha Halasana (Half Plough Pose) with the thighs on the chair
• 3 minutes.

Adho Mukha Sukhasana (Downward Facing Comfortable Pose)
• 2 minutes each side.

Adho Mukha Sukhasana (Downward Facing Comfortable Pose)
• Head on support and weighted with a sandbag.
• 2 minutes each side.

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)
• Head on support and weighted with a sandbag.
• 2 minutes each side.

Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense West Stretch Pose) unbound variation
• Head on support and weighted with a sandbag.
• 2 minutes each side.

Virasana (Hero Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose) with the feet apart
• Loop a belt around the base of the skull and the balls of the feet to draw the head down.

Adho Mukha Virasana (Downward Facing Hero Pose)
• Head on support and weighted with a sandbag.
• 2 minutes.

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)
• Head on support and weighted with a sandbag.
• 2 minutes.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) on support
• Have he kidneys on the edge of the support so they can get toned.
• We did this with the body supported by two chairs and blankets and bolsters under the head, neck and arms. By the time we had built ourselves up, however, we could have just used a bolster and a couple of blankets.
• 5 minutes.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose) with the legs on a chair
• 5 to 10 minutes.


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab

Four Feet Pose
Sometimes when I’m practicing I don’t like to think too much. It can be nice to let the sequence and the poses take over and tell you what you need to be paying attention to in your body as you practice. I had one of those days last week and ended up practicing this sequence. Other than the first Down Dog, Head Stand and Viparita Karani don’t hold the poses for too long, no more than 30 seconds. Though it’s not really a vinyasa sequence, do your best to flow smoothly from pose to pose, adding props minimally where necessary.

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)
• Arms stretched out to the floor.

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)
• Elbows clasped behind the back, both crossings.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Spread Feet Pose)
• Arm stretched out alongside the ears as if in Adho Mukha Shvanasana.

Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Spread Feet Pose)
• Elbows clasped behind the back, both crossings.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
• 2 to 3 min.
Baddha Konasana in Shirshasana (Bound Angle Pose in Head Stand)
• 30 to 60 sec.
Upavistha Konasana in Shirshasana (Seated Angle Pose in Head Stand)
• 30 to 60 sec.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
Bharadwajasana 1 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 1) to the right
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
Bharadwajasana 1 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 1) to the left

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) right leg on top/left arm on top
Ardha Matsyendrasana 1 (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose) to the right
Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) left leg on top/right arm on top
Ardha Matsyendrasana 1 (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose) to the left

Malasana (Garland Pose) with the arms reaching forward
Pashasana (Noose Pose) to the right
Malasana (Garland Pose) with the arms reaching forward
Pashasana (Noose Pose) to the left

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) folding forward
Malasana (Garland Pose) clasping the ankles
Marichyasana 1 (Marichi’s Pose 1) with the left leg bent
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) folding forward
Malasana (Garland Pose) clasping the ankles
Marichyasana 1 (Marichi’s Pose 1) with the right leg bent

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) folding forward
Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose) with the left leg bent
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) folding forward
Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose) with the right leg bent

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2) to the right
Ardha Baddha Padma Pashchimottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense West Stretch pose) with the right leg bent
Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2) to the left
Ardha Baddha Padma Pashchimottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense West Stretch pose) with the left leg bent

Ardha Matsyendrasana 2 (Half Lord of the Fishes 2) with the left leg in Padmasana (Lotus Pose)
Marichyasana 2 (Marichi’s Pose 2) with the left leg in Padmasana (Lotus Pose)
Ardha Matsyendrasana 2 (Half Lord of the Fishes 2) with the right leg in Padmasana (Lotus Pose)
Marichyasana 2 (Marichi’s Pose 2) with the right leg in Padmasana (Lotus Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Chatushpadasana (Four Feet Pose)
• See the above photo.

Reclined ankle-to-knee glute stretch
• Both sides.

Chatushpadasana (Four Feet Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
• Both sides.

Chatushpadasana (Four Feet Pose)

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

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• 5 to 10 min.


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab

Side Shoulder Stand
Like many people, I have a slew of imbalances that plague me. It’s always the same three or four things that are linked, and that go through cycles of being more or less aggravated. When they do flare up, it’s usually a sign that’s something has shifted and everything else is gripping like mad while the body figures out what it’s supposed to be doing. At times like these, I find it best to batten down the hatches and modify my practice accordingly until things sort themselves out. It’s much less crazy-making that way.

Right now my chest and side are incredibly tight and it’s pulling on my shoulder to the point where the muscles there are weak and over-burdened. So I came up with this practice that includes a lot of side stretches, twists and chest-openers to help create some space in the body.

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog) on the ropes

Side stretch over a bolster

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose) with a bolster across the back

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose) With the arms unbound

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1)

Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)

Parighasana (Gate Pose)

Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1)

Parivrtta Parshvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose)

Ropes 1--8-10 rounds

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) in Head Stand
Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose) in Head Stand)
Parivrttaikapada Shirshasana (Revolved Single Leg Head Stand)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
• Leg supported by a bolster.

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
• Rolling all the way to the side so that the leg is resting on the floor.

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) in Shoulder Stand
Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose) in Shoulder Stand
Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)
Parshva Halasana (Side Plough Pose)
Eka Pada Parshva Sarvangasana (Single Side Shoulder Stand)
Parshva Sarvangasana (Side Shoulder Stand)
Eka Pada Setu Bandha (Single Leg Bridge Pose) from drop-back
Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) from drop-back

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

Maha Mudra (Great Seal)

Parivrtta Janu Shirshasana (Revolved Head of the Knee Pose)

Ardha Matsyendrasana 2 (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose 2)

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

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

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.


|

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.
|

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.
|

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...
|

Adho Mukha Padmasana

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

AMPadmas Read More...
|

Ardha Baddha Padma Pashchimottanasana

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

Half Bound Lotus Intense West Stretch Pose Read More...
|

Sequencing

My first Iyengar teacher was extremely creative and unconventional in her approach to sequencing. She has a poetic way of sequencing that is both logical and intuitive, but she very much does not toe the line in terms of the way she sequences a class (bless her), so I never really got the hang of the classic Iyengar sequencing at that stage. Unfortunately, a subsequent disastrous and inadequate teacher training did very little to fill that gap. I have, of late, been studying with Donald Moyer in Berkeley, as regular readers will know. Donald is also extremely innovative and creative, while remaining intuitive and logical in his approach, but in some ways he is very old school when it comes to his sequencing. I've been teaching and practicing in his manner quite a lot lately, and it has been a wonderful exercise in getting inside the classical Iyengar mentality. Sometimes the method gets accused of being dry and repetitive, but there is an elegance to the sequencing. I offer you here my limited understanding of the form.

Here follows a breakdown of the major pose categories and where they fit in the scheme. This first chart is not an actual way of practicing. Think of it as a diagram of a hypothetical sequence including all the different possibilities:

Sequencing1

This would break down into the following practice sequences for each of the four major categories. Obviously there are other types of poses -- arm balances, abdominals and such. Each of these has their own rationale, but think about how you are practicing them. How do they relate to standing poses, to twists, back bends or forward bends? This might give you an idea of where a pose such as Parshva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose) might go.

Sequencing2


Sequencing3


Sequencing4


Sequencing5

|