Intermediate

Intermediate Practice: The Pillars of the Armpit, Part 2

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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)


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Intermediate Practice: The Pillars of the Armpit

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This practice marks the beginning of a multi-week series focusing on upper body strength and the use of the armpit. One can think of the armpit as being bounded by two pillars of strength, one coming from the front body via pectoralis major, one from the back via latissimus dorsi. These muscles both attach to the upper arm deep in the armpit at the same place on the humerus. When front and back are in balance, the sides of the body are then free to deepen front to back/back to front and become more supportive.

As you go through the poses, consider the following actions:
  • 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.

Very often the top of the chest/inner armpit area gets very bunched up and undifferentiated. 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.

In some poses, such as Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) and Chatushpadasana (Four Footed Pose) you will find that the weight falls into the back of the armpit rather than the front. In that case, begin the above sequence by bringing weight into the front/inner armpit first.

I’ve found that some people with very open chests and shoulders can over-work this and push further into their tendency. If you know yourself to be such a person, be vigilant not to overdo these actions. Focus on always keeping the weight balanced between front and aback, inner and outer.

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.

Opening Vinyasa:
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)
Lunge with the back knee up
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)
Parivrtta Parshvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose) simple variation: one hand down without crossing the arm over the front leg
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)
Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose)
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)
Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)
Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
• Practice the pose once with the hands turned out.
• Practice the pose again with the hands on the regular position.

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Salamba Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)

Purvottanasana (Intense East Stretch Pose) table top variation with the hands on blocks

Chatushpadasana (Four Footed Pose)

Sarvangasana Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 2 (Shoulder Stand 2) variation
• Belt the wrists at shoulder width, press out into the belt and reach through the arms. Come up into the pose grounding down through the upper arms with a minimum of momentum.
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)

Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Padangustha Dhanurasana (Big Toe Bow Pose)
• Use a belt to hold onto the feet if necessary.

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose) preparation
• Lift up and place the head crown of the head on the floor. Hold this position.
• Repeat 2 or 3 times.

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)
• Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) legs only into forward bend

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Intermediate Practice: Moving From the First Four Ribs

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In this practice consider the following actions:
  • Expand the first four ribs evenly, softening and widening the upper back and the top chest evenly.
  • Allow the shoulder blades and collarbones to be supported by the first four ribs, but also allow them to move with the arms.

The Sequence:

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Take a few minutes to allow the upper body, head, neck, shoulders and arms to release.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) with the head supported

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Pashchima Baddha Hastasana (Reverse Bound Hands Pose) in Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
• Clasp the elbows behind the back and hold. Do both crossings.

Chaturanga Block Sequence:
[Cycle through these poses, resting the chest on a block in Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose) and pushing it forward to come up into Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose).]

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Plank Pose
Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)
Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)
• Cycle through these 5 to 8 times.

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

Parighasana (Gate Pose)

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Salamba Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Chatushpadasana (Four Footed pose)

Sarvangasana Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 2 (Shoulder Stand 2) variation with the arms shoulder width and the wrists belted
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)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Intermediate Practice: Freeing the Neck and the First Four Ribs in Pranayama

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In this practice, focus on freeing up the movement of the first four ribs. With each exhalation, allow them to drape down the body, retracting inwards away from the skin. With each inhalation, allow them to lift and open. Encourage this movement to happen slowly and evenly around their circumference.

The Sequence:

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) on ropes with the head supported

Rope Shirshasana (Head Stand)

Rope Child’s Pose
• Hang forward over the rope set up with the legs tucked in underneath you, against the wall as if in Child’s Pose.

Side Stretch over a bolster

Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose) over a chair

Shavasana (Corpse Pose) with a roll under the neck for traction

Adho Mukha Shavasana (Downward Facing Corpse Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose) with a sandbag on the the sternum

Ujjayi Pranayama 4 (Victorious Breath 4) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Ujjayi 4 is an easy, full inhalation and exhalation performed in a reclined position.
• 5 minutes with a belt loosely tied around the waist at the level of the navel, softening and evening out the movement of the abdominal wall into and out of the belt.
• 5 minutes with the belt loosely around the lower ribs/diaphragm, softening and evening out the movement of the rib cage into and out of the belt.
• 5 minutes with the belt loosely around the upper ribs/top of the chest, softening and evening out the movement of the rib cage into and out of the belt.

Viloma Pranayama 1 (Interrupted Breath) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Viloma 1 is a full inhalation, divided into three increments by a brief pause before a long, easy exhalation.
• 5 minutes, filling first the lower abdomen, then the upper abdomen and finally the rib cage.

Ujjayi Pranayama 8 (Victorious Breath 4) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Ujjayi 4 is an easy, full inhalation and exhalation performed in a seated position.
• Place a tennis ball, or a rolled up wash cloth, under each armpit to support the arms and rease the neck and shoulders.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Intermediate Practice: Balancing the Front and Back Body in Back Bends

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This practice moves towards some deep back bends which require width across the back so as not crunch the lumbar area. In order to support the extension of the spine, consider the following actions as you work your way through the poses:
  • Allow the scapulae and the clavicles to move with arms to keep the shoulders and chest free.
  • Balance the gluteal wall—the plain of the body that contains gluteus maximus—with the lower abdominal wall. This means keeping them both wide, supple and supportive.
  • Balance the pectoral wall—the plain of the body that contains pectoralis major—with the rhomboid wall—the plain of the body that contains the rhomboids. Again, this means keeping them both wide, supple and supportive.
  • Direct the rhomboid and the gluteal walls towards the legs and the abdominal and pectoral walls towards the head.

The Sequence:

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) with the head on blocks

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana Arm Variation Cycle:
• Regular arm position.
• Hands turned out so fingertips point away from each other.
• Hands turned in so fingertips point towards each other.
• Hands turned back so fingertips point back, reverse of regular hand position. If you are unable to do this variation, try turning one hand back in the pose at a time.

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Bog Toe Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Bog Toe Pose 2)

Chatushpadasana (Four Footed Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Chatushpadasana (Four Footed Pose)

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose) over a chair

Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose) over a chair

Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose) Cycle:
[Do each of these poses with a chair set on the mat against the wall.]

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)
• Do the pose with the front foot up on the seat of the chair.
Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
• From Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand), walk the feet down the wall to a middle rope hook, if available, or to the back of the chair. Hold for a few moments then swing the legs back into Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose).
Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1)
• Do the pose with the front foot up on the seat of the chair.
Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
• From Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand), walk the feet down the wall to the back of the chair. Hold for a few moments then swing the legs back into Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose).
Parivrtta Parshvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose)
• Do the pose with the front foot up on the seat of the chair.
Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
• From Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand), walk the feet down the wall to the seat of the chair. Hold for a few moments then swing the legs back into Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose).

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)

Adho Mukha Sukhasana (Downward Facing Comfortable Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose) with the calves on the chair


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Intermediate Practice: Releasing the Abdominal Enclosure

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In this practice think about softening and releasing the entire abdominal enclosure: the abdominal wall in the front, the lower back, the pelvic floor and the diaphragm.

The Sequence:

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Child’s Pose with a blanket roll under the abdomen

Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose) restorative version with the knees bent

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Shirshasana Cycle:
Child’s Pose in Head Stand
Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) in Head Stand
Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose) in Head Stand
Child’s Pose in Head Stand

Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose) over a chair

Sarvangasana Chair Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) over a chair
Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) over a chair with the legs in Supta Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose), the feet resting on the back of the chair
Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Adho Mukha Shavasana (Downward Facing Corpse Pose)

Ujjayi Pranayama 4 (Victorious Breath 4) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Ujjayi 4 is an easy, full inhalation and exhalation performed in a reclined position.
• 5 minutes with a folded up belt or wash cloth under the tailbone, softening and widening the muscles of the pelvic floor.
• 5 minutes with a belt loosely around the waist at the level of the navel, softening and evening out the movement of the abdominal wall into and out of the belt.
• 5 minutes with the belt loosely around the lower ribs/diaphragm, softening and evening out the movement of the rib cage into and out of the belt.

Viloma Pranayama 1 (Interrupted Breath) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Viloma 1 is a full inhalation, divided into three increments by a brief pause before a long, easy exhalation.
• 5 minutes, filling first the lower abdomen, then the upper abdomen and finally the rib cage.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Intermediate Practice: Widening the Upper Abdomen and Pectoralis, Releasing the Scapulae Down the Back

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This practice features a continuation of last week’s themes. Not only think of widening the upper abdominal wall above the navel, but also widen outward across pectoralis major. As the chest spreads, allow the shoulder blades to drop onto the back ribs. In addition, when twisting, initiate the pose in the lower back, wrapping the quadratus lumborum and rear abdominal wall around towards the navel.

The Sequence:

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Child’s Pose with a blanket roll under the abdomen

Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose) restorative version with the knees bent

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Shirshasana Cycle:
Child’s Pose in Head Stand
• Bring the knees into the chest with the feet off the floor and hold.
Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
Parshva Shirshasana (Side Head Stand)
Virasana (Hero Pose) in Head Stand
Parshva Virasana (Side Hero Pose) in Head Stand
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) in Head Stand
Parshva Baddha Konasana (Side Bound Angle Pose) in Head Stand

Sarvangasana Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Side Shoulder Stand 1)
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)

Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose) full pose

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)

[Practice each of these with a folded mat and a single blanket under the shoulders.]
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Eka Pada Parshva Sarvangasana (Single Leg Side Shoulder Stand)
Parshva Sarvangasana (Side Shoulder Stand)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)

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

Pashasana (Noose Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Intermediate Practice: Softening and Widening the Abdominal Wall

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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)


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Intermediate Practice: Softening and Dividing the Abdominal Wall in Back Bends

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Still thinking about quadratus lumborum and psoas, in this practice we will also think about the abdominal wall as we perform a series of back bending poses. For the front of the body to properly be able to lengthen, the torso to arch and the spine to extend, the abdominal muscles, especially rectus abdominis, must be free. If not, the chest will continually be pulled towards the pubic bone and the lower back will crunch as the lumbar spine tries to take the brunt of the arch.

As you go through the poses consider the following actions:
  • 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 abdomen and allow it to fall back into the quadratus lumborum. Divide the abdomen at the navel, allowing the lower abdomen to move with the pubic bone and the upper abdomen to move with the sternum
  • 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.
  • When twisting, initiate the movement in the quadratus lumborum, widening it and wrapping it around.

The Sequence:

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Child’s Pose with a blanket roll under the abdomen

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

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

Sarvangasana Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Parshvaikapada Sarvangasana (Single Leg to the Side Shoulder Stand)

Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
• Cross the legs in any accessible variation: Sukhasana (Comfortable Pose), Ardha Padmasana (Half Lotus Pose), Padmasana (Lotus Pose).
• Do the pose with over a bolster under the back crosswise to create a back bend. Support the head and arms as necessary.
• Hold for 2 to 3 minutes each crossing of the legs.

Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose from Shoulder Stand)
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose from Shoulder Stand)
• Do these with the elbows belted and a single blanket and folded mat under the shoulders.
• Repeat each drop-back 3 times.

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
• Have a bolster under the abdomen/lower ribs to support and lift the belly.

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
• Have a bolster under the abdomen/lower ribs to support and lift the belly.

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
• Do the pose with the chest against the wall.

Rajakapotasana (King Pigeon Pose)
• If possible, from the above position, bend the legs and reach back to grab the ankles, thighs or knees.

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)

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

Pashasana (Noose Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Intermediate Practice: The Psoas and the Quadratus Lumborum in Twists

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Once again we are thinking about the quadratus lumborum and the psoas, this time in Padmasana (Lotus Pose) variations and twists. 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:

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Child’s Pose with a roll under the abdomen

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)
• Have a block between the thighs and the calves belted at the thickest place.
• Press the inner thighs outwards away from the bloc, keeping the hip creases wide. Anchor the feet into the block.

Hip stretch in a chair

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 (Bound Angle Pose)
Parivrtta Baddha Konasana (Revolved Bound Angle Pose)

Sarvangasana Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
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)
Pindasana (Embryo Pose) with the legs in Ardha Padmasana (Half Lotus Pose)
Pindasana (Embryo Pose) with the legs in Padmasana (Lotus Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Adho Mukha Sukhasana (Downward Facing Comfortable Pose)

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

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)

Ardha Matsyendrasana 1 (Half Lord of the Fishes 1)

Malasana (Garland Pose)

Marichyasana 1 (Marichi’s Pose 1)

Marichyasana 2 (Marichi’s Pose 2)

Pashasana (Noose Pose)

Marichyasana 4 (Marichi’s Pose 4)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) over a bolster

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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

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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)


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Vishamanyasa: The Opposite of Vinyasa

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As I’ve been referring to the concept of “vishamanyasa” so much recently, I thought I’d give you a quotation from “Astadala Yogamala” Volume 2 by B. K. S. Iyengar, where he expounds on the concept:

“The opposite of vinyasa is called vishamanyasa. Vishamanyasa means placing in an odd or irregular manner. Certainly it is not done in a disorderly way. Rather it is a method of challenge. In this method, asana from different categories are linked together without breaking the flow of the movements. For instance, Eka Pada Shirshasana and the variations in an asana are Grathana Sthiti (body knotting). This category works as follows: Eka Pada Shirshasana from sitting (Upavishtha Sthiti), Skandasana (forward extension or Pashchima Pratana Sthiti), Bhairavasana (supine or Supta Sthiti), Kala Bhairavasana or Chakorasana (arm-balance or Bhujatolasana Sthiti), Durvasana (Standing--Uttishtha Sthiti), Richikasana (Uttishtha Pashchima Pratana Sthiti) and so on.

“A mixed group of asana is also known as vishamanyasa. For instance, Tadasana, Uttanasana, Adho Mukha Shvanasana, Paripurna Navasana, Utkatasana, Ushtrasana, Kapotasana, Adho Mukha Virasana and so on. Because of a flexible body, children enjoy practising [sic] this way since the changes are challenging ones. My guru used to ask me to do any asana in this way. He would ask me to do Salamba Shirshasana and suddenly jump over to Natarajasana.

“Vinyasa and vishamanyasa is [sic] again classified as viloma, anuloma and pratiloma. Viloma vinyasa means linking with regular interruption. In viloma vinyasa, asana belonging to the same classification are linked each time with one single chosen asana such as Janu Shirshasana-Pashchimottanasana, Triang Mukhaikapda Pashchimottanasana-Pashchimottanasana, Ardha Baddha Padma Pashchimottanasana-Pashchimottanasana, Upavishtha Konasana-Pashchimottanasana, and so forth.”

“In viloma vishamanyasa, the asana forming separate or opposite classifications are linked with one single chosen asana. That means practicing one froward extension and one backward extension (Pashchima Pratana Sthiti and Purva Pratana Sthiti) such as Pashchimottanasana-Urdhva Dhanurasana, Pashchimottanasana-Ushtrasana, Pashchimottanasana-Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana.”

The Ashtadala Yogamala series is a collection of miscellaneous talks and articles by Mr. Iyengar that have been compiled and organized into several volumes and organized by subject matter. They are published in India, but can be found at specialist bookstores, such as the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco.


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Intermediate Group Class: Freeing Up the Lower Back

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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.
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Intermediate Group Class: Separating the Femurs from the Trunk

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To make the quality of the poses softer and more holistic, instead of moving from the muscle, or even the connective tissue, think of moving from the bone. Specifically, think of moving from the femurs and the humeri, while directing the trunk and the spine towards the head (or away from the head if inverted). This sequence occasionally uses the rope wall.

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) on the ropes

Rope Sequence:
Urdhva Dandasana (Upward Staff Pose) on the ropes, 3 minutes
Shalabhasana (Locus Pose) on the ropes, 1 minute
Urdhva Dandasana (Upward Staff Pose) on the ropes, 3 minutes

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 (Extended Hand to Foot Pose 1) on the rope wall

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2) with the bent leg thigh supported on a chair

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose) with the bent leg thigh supported on a chair

Chair Hip Sequence:
Single Leg Ankle-to-Knee forward bend on the chair
• Sitting in the chair, put one ankle on the opposite thigh, just above the knee, and fold forward.
Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2) in the chair
• Sitting in the chair, bring one leg into Ardha Padmasana (Half Lotus Pose) and bind.
Adho Mukha Ardha Padmasana (Downward Facing Half Lotus Pose)
• Sitting in the chair, bring one leg into Ardha Padmasana and fold forward.

Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense Stretch Pose) chair variation
• Without binding, come into the pose with the hands on the chair for balance.
• First, extend out into a flat back, then fold forward.

Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense Stretch Pose)

Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
• Lying back over a bolster.
• Any leg variation.

Uttana Padma Mayurasana (Intense Stretch Lotus Peacock Pose) over a block

Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

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)
Urdhva Padmasana (Upward Lotus Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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

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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


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

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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)


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

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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)


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Intermediate Group Class: The Head, Neck and Top Ribs

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This week we have our last exploration of the head and neck for the time being. In these semi-restorative long holdings we will be thinking about three things:
  • Embodying and releasing the atlanto-occipital joint, the joint between the skull and the top of the spine, located behind the cheekbones/roof of the mouth/root of the tongue and between the ears.
  • Expanding the neck ribs, those first two ribs to which the scalene muscles attach.
  • Expanding the neck ribs causes the scalenes to contract, so we must then think of lengthening the core of the neck--everything close to the cervical spine--while softening and widening the sheath of the neck--the soft tissue and organs that are more superficial.

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) on the ropes
• Hands and head supported by blocks.
• 3 to 5 minutes.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) on the ropes
• Hands and head supported by blocks.
• 3 to 5 minutes.

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

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)
• 5 minutes.

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)
• 5 minutes.

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

Halasana (Plough Pose)
• 5 minutes.

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)
• 5 minutes.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Tie a long belt to the middle hook of the rope wall and use it as a sling in which to rest the head.
• Make sure that the head is not too far off the floor. The back of the neck and the throat need to remain balanced.
• 5 minutes.

Ujjayi 4 Pranayama (Victorious Breath 4) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Ujjayi 4 is a complete inhalation followed by a complete, slightly longer exhalation.
• 5 minutes.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Tie a long belt to the middle hook of the rope wall and use it as a sling in which to rest the head.
• Make sure that the head is not too far off the floor. The back of the neck and the throat need to remain balanced.
• 5 minutes.


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Intermediate Group Class: Balancing the Neck and Dropping the Thighs

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This week our journey up the spine continues as we work with the atlanto-occipital joint, the joint between the first vertebra and the base of the skull. It can be a tough one to locate as it lies deep within the head. If you soften back from the cheekbones, behind the roof of the mouth and the back of the tongue towards the base of the skull you will find the plane of the joint. As you practice the following sequence, soften and release the joint and think of it rising towards the crown of the head.

As you do this, find your femurs and allow the bones to drop away in the opposite direction. (In the case of the inversions, the two ends still move away from each other, just in the opposite direction relative to gravity.) These two are not so much muscular actions as they are thought directions. Within the dynamics of each pose, find softness and freedom in the muscle and connective tissue to allow the release to happen.

The Sequence

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)
• Lie back over a small mat roll or a thin- and narrow-folded blanket to create a very gently arch of the back.
• 3 minutes.

Side Stretch on a chair or ledge
• Place the elbows on the chair (from a kneeling position) or ledge (from a standing position) with the arms bent and the hands together in Namaskarasana (Prayer Position).
• Hold the pose for 2 to 3 minutes.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose 1) with the raised leg on a ledge or a rope hook

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 2 (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose 2) with the raised leg on a ledge or a rope hook

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose Arms) in Virasana (Hero Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
• 2 minutes in the regular pose.
• 1 minute with the fingers pinched, touching the shoulders.
• 2 minutes in the regular pose with the second interlock of the fingers.

Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2)
• From the floor.
• 30 seconds.

Shirshasana 3 (Head Stand 3)
• From the floor.
• 30 seconds.

Baddha Hasta Shirshasana (Bound Hands Head Stand)
• From the floor.
• 30 seconds each crossing.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Salamba Sarvangasana 2 (Shoulder Stand 2)
• Include the different arm variations.

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) legs only forward bend

Pigeon Pose forward bend

[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

Padmasana Cycle [either in full Padmasana, Ardha Padmasana with the legs bound or Sukhasana with the legs bound]
Padmasana (Lotus Pose)
Tolasana (Scales Pose)
Simhasana 2 (Lion Pose 2)
Gorakshasana (Cowherd Pose)
• Support yourself with one hand on a block if necessary.
Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
Yoga Mudrasana (Yoga Seal Pose)

Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Intermediate Group Class: Expanding the Rib Cage in Back Bends

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Continuing on from the idea of balancing the lumbar/thoracic joint of the spine, we will be working on balancing the joints of the entire thoracic spine, including the cervical/thoracic joint, by expanding the rib cage.

Think of the rib cage as having three bands:
  • The stomach ribs: the lower ribs that wrap around the kidneys, stomach and liver and that attach to the cartilage that leads up to the bottom of the sternum.
  • The heart ribs: the middle ribs that wrap around the heart and lungs.
  • The neck ribs: the first two ribs to which the scalene muscles of the neck attach.

We are going to be expanding each rib band both from front to back and from back to front to crate space three-dimensionally. In the back bends we need to pay particular attention to the back of the rib bands to create support for the spinal extensors and to create room for the spine to move into the body as it extends.

When expanding the neck ribs, the scalene muscles contract, potentially creating hardness in the neck. Think of the neck as having a core of muscle and connective tissue that is close to the spine and a sheath that wraps around it. In each of these poses think of keeping the neck core long while softening and expanding the sheath.

In addition, when taking the back bends, think of moving the sides of the chest, where the armpits and pectorals meet, and lifting them as much as possible. In addition, think of moving the wall of connective tissue surrounding the buttocks away from the head towards the feet to create a balanced arch in the spine.

The Sequence

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)
• Lie back over a small mat roll or a thin- and narrow-folded blanket to create a very gently arch of the back.
• 3 minutes.

Side Stretch on a chair or ledge
• Place the elbows on the chair (from a kneeling position) or ledge (from a standing position) with the arms bent and the hands together in Namaskarasana (Prayer Position).
• Hold the pose for 2 to 3 minutes.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Shirshasana Cycle:
Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
Eka Pada Shirshasana (Single Leg Head Stand)
Parivrttaikapada Shirshasana (Revolved Single Leg Head Stand) preparation only
• Bring the leg back into a split without turning.
Parivrttaikapada Shirshasana (Revolved Single Leg Head Stand) preparation only

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.

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)

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)
• 3 minutes.

Chatushpadasana (Four Footed Pose)

Sarvangasana Drop-Back Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
• Use only one blanket and belt the elbows. Take care not to try and get the same lift in the back and openness in the chest in Shoulder Stand as you would on three blankets.
• Do the whole cycle on one leg and then the other.
• Repeat three to five times for both legs.

Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose) over a chair

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.
• 5 times.

Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose) at the wall
• This refers to coming into and out of Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose) from Hand Stand.
• Come into Hand Stand at the wall several times, each time getting a bit further away from the wall and sliding one leg and then the other down the wall until you can get the feet to the ground in Urdhva Dhanurasana. Come out of the pose each time by walking the feet back up the wall swinging the legs back overhead into Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) or Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose).

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)

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

Pashasana (Noose Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Intermediate Group Class: Balancing the Lumbar/Thoracic Vertebral Joint [Light on Yoga]

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The joint between the first lumbar vertebra (L1) and the last thoracic vertebra (T12) often gets a lot of abuse, getting gripped and hardened as we try to muscle through our poses. In this practice focus on these actions:
  • Soften and widen the lower ribs from front to back.
  • Soften and widen the muscle and connective tissue on either side of the spine from the tailbone to the back of the neck, even in the back bends.
  • Expand the lumbar/thoracic joint to support the surrounding tissue, rather than gripping the surrounding tissue to support the joint.

This sequence is adapted from p. 473 of the Schocken edition of “Light on Yoga”.

The Sequence

Side Stretch at the wall
• Stand with the feet together about eight to twelve inches away from the wall and lean the right hip, waist and ribs against it. Reach the right arm up. Pause here for a few breaths.
• Come up onto the balls of the feet. Stay here for a few breaths.
• Slowly drop the right heel, resisting up through the ribs and arms to lengthen out the right side of the waist. When the right heel is down, drop the left.
• Bend the right elbow and clasp it with the left hand. Draw the upper arm bone up towards the ceiling. Hold here for a few breaths.
• Take the tip of the elbow up and over the top of the head while keeping the outer armpit moving into the wall. Hold here for a few breaths.
• Turn the chest a slightly into the middle of the room to send the stretch towards the back. Hold here for a few breaths.
• Release and repeat on the second side.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Shirshasana Cycle:
Salamba Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2)
• Hold for no more than a minute.
• Come down out of the pose and without disturbing the placement of the head (if possible) go into the next pose.
Urdhva Dandasana (Upward Staff Pose)
• Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.
Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
• Hold for 3 to 5 minutes.
Parshva Shirshasana (Side Head Stand)
• Hold for 20 to 30 seconds on each side.
Urdhva Dandasana (Upward Staff Pose)
• Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)

Baddha Konasana Mayurasana (Bound Angle Pose in Peacock Pose)

Nakrasana (Crocodile Pose)
• From Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose) hop lightly forward 3 to 5 times, then back the same amount.

Shalabhasana (Locust Pose)

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Parshva Dhanurasana (Side Bow Pose)

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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)
Karnapidasana (Pressure on the Ear Pose)

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.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)

Chakrasana (Wheel Pose)
• Roll from Halasana (Plough Pose) to Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Try this from a 3-blanket Shoulder Stand set-up to protect the neck.
• DO NOT press the head into the floor to help the transition. Use the strength of the arms and legs.

Utkatasana (Furious Pose)

Parighasana (Gate Pose)

Ushtrasana (Camel 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.

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Intermediate Group Class: Core Poses [Light on Yoga]

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This sequence is adapted from p.474 of the Schocken edition of “Light on Yoga”. 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. Where no specific time is given, hold the pose according to your capacity.

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

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

Urdhva Dandasana (Upward Staff Pose)
• 1 minute.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

Halasana (Plough Pose)
• 5 minutes.

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)
• 5 minutes.

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

Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose)
• 1 minute.

Ardha Navasana (Half Boat Pose)
• 30 seconds.

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)
• 5 minutes.

Krounchasana (Heron Pose)

Malasana (Garland Pose)
• 1 minute.

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.
• 1 minute.

Ardha Matsyendrasana 1 (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose 1)
• 30 seconds.

Pashasana (Noose Pose)
• 1 minute. (Yes, that’s not a typo!)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
• 1 minute.

Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)
• If you are unable to hold the balance for the full time, do the pose with the feet on the floor.
• 1 minute.

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)
• 6 times, holding for 20 seconds each time.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Intermediate Group Class: Balancing the Secondary Curves

The Curves of the Spine
The secondary curves of the spine are the ones that start to develop in early infancy as the child begins to pick its head and legs up and strengthen its back. They are the lumbar and the cervical curves. In this practice, think of softening and widening across the inner and outer surfaces of the lumbar and cervical areas.

The Sequence

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) over a bolster with the legs in Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)
• Hold for 5 minutes.

Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose) over a chair
• Support the head.
• 5 minutes.

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

Paryankasana (Couch Pose)
• Turn the bolster sideways and add blankets for more height so that the head falls back below the shoulders.
• Allow the hips to lift so the arch of the body is fairly balanced between the hips and shoulders.
• Support the head.
• 5 minutes.

Hanging Child’s Pose on the ropes
• Hold for 3 to 5 minutes.

Hanging Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) on the ropes
• Come into this directly from the Child’s Pose.
• Slide the feet down to the floor (or to blocks if they don’t reach). Slide the rope into the abdomen to support the upper body.
• Hold for 3 to 5 minutes.
• Come up slowly from this so that the blood does not rush to the head.

Hanging Shirshasana (Head Stand) on the ropes
• Hold for 3 to 5 minutes.

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

Adho Mukha Shavasana (Downward Facing Corpse Pose) over a bolster
• 5 minutes.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose) with support under the head and thighs
• 5 minutes

Ujjayi 4 (Victorious Breath 4) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Full, expansive inhalations and exhalations.
• 5 minutes.

Ujjayi 8 (Victorious Breath 8) in any comfortable seated position
• Sit with your upper back resting on a foam block against the wall.
• 5 minutes.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
* 5 to 10 minutes.


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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)


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Intermediate Group Class: Balancing and Releasing the Lumbar Joints

The Curves of the Spine
In this week’s class we turn our attention to the two joints at either end of the lumbar spine: the lumbar-sacral joint and the lumbar-thoracic joint. The goal here was to first stretch out the muscle and fascia around these two joints and then to create dynamic balance in the soft tissue during pranayama. In each of the poses, think of the following actions:
  • Soften and widen the fascial walls that surround the two joints, especially those associated with the latissimus dorsi and the gluteus maximus.
  • Imagine each joint encased in a ball. Soften and expand the ball three-dimensionally.
  • Balance the weight so that it transfers evenly throughout the three-dimensional ball.
  • Imagine the balls moving away from each other, the lumbar-sacral ball connecting down to the feet, the lumbar thoracic ball connecting up to the head.
This practice makes extensive use of a rope wall.

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog) on the ropes
• Stack up a couple of blankets on a bolster and use them to support the head.
• Clasp the elbows and rest the forearms on the bolster as well.
• The props should be high enough to reduce the angle of the forward fold and make the pose more elongated.
• Hold for 3 to 5 minutes.

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)
• Do this pose with a long belt looped around both the very top of the raised thigh and the descended foot.
• Press out into the belt to move the thighbone away from the head and to lengthen out the lower back and buttock of the raised leg. You might even have the foot of the descended leg against the wall to give you more grounding.
• Hold for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
• Same set-up as above.
• Hold for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose 1) leg facing forward
• Do this on the ropes with the raised leg supported by the middle rope hook.
• Loop a sandbag through a rope and slip the rope around the hip crease of the raised leg to create a similar effect to the belt in the previous poses.
• Hold for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 2 (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose 2) leg to the side
• Same set-up as above.
• Hold for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose 1) leg facing forward
• Same set-up as above.
• If possible, use a foam block or some other prop on the rope hook to raise the foot higher.
• Fold forward over the raised leg.
• Hold for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.

Side stretch over a bolster
• Lie on your side over a bolster across the ribs so that the body curves and the side waist and ribs can stretch out.
• If you know for a fact that one side of your trunk is shorter or tighter than the other, stretch that side out first. Otherwise, stretch the right side first.
• Hold for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.

Hanging Child’s Pose on the ropes
• Hold for 3 to 5 minutes.

Hanging Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) on the ropes
• Come into this directly from the Child’s Pose.
• Slide the feet down to the floor (or to blocks if they don’t reach). Slide the rope into the abdomen to support the upper body.
• Hold for 3 to 5 minutes.
• Come up slowly from this so that the blood does not rush to the head.

Hanging Shirshasana (Head Stand) on the ropes
• Hold for 3 to 5 minutes.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) over bolsters with the legs bound in Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)
• Hold for 3 to 5 minutes.

Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose)
• Hold for 3 to 5 minutes.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Fold a blanket lengthwise to create a ridge of support under the spine.
• Have a second blanket for a pillow.
• Hold for 3 to 5 minutes.

Ujjayi Pranayama 4 (Victorious Breath 4)
• Ujjayi 4 is full and expansive inhalations with slightly longer, easy and complete exhalations.
• In the above position: take a belt and fold it in quarters; place the belt on the blanket under the top of the sacrum to give you feedback.
• As you do the pranayama, soften and release the soft tissue around the lumbar-sacral joint so that they expand and release in a balanced and easy fashion as you breath.
• 5 minutes.

Ujjayi Pranayama 4 (Victorious Breath 4)
• In the above set-up, move the belt to the floating ribs for feedback on the lumbar-thoracic joint.
• 5 minutes.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Remove the blanket ridge under the back and lie flat on the floor with just a blanket under the head. Have a bolster under the knees as well if you desire.
• 5 minutes.


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Intermediate Group Class: Legs and Psoas in Baby Backbends

Pigeon pose over a chair
Two groups of actions to think about here. The first grounds the legs properly and directs the movement of the upper body. The second supports the psoas and the spine in the back bend.

As you go through the poses, think about the actions in this sequence:
  • Widen the gluteus maximus and lengthen it down towards the sitting bones. Soften and widen the lower front ribs from front to back and back to front.
  • Send the quadriceps down the length of the leg towards the knee and the hamstrings up towards the sitting bones. The gluteus is superficial to the hamstrings, so it is as if you are sliding the hamstrings up under the buttocks, while keeping the crease between the two wide and free.
  • Widen the latissimus dorsi across the lower ribs and both lift it and roll it towards the head, so that it acts as a pair of hands supporting and lifting the back. Take care not to poke the front ribs forward as you do this, keep them softening and widening back. Allow the lower back ribs to settle into the lats.
  • Re-widen and lengthen the gluteus.

In the deeper back bends you can cycle through these actions two or three times, keeping the breath soft and easy.

The Sequence

Lying over a block
• This really needs to be done with a foam block. I would imagine a wooden block to be much too hard.
• The purpose of this to create release in the psoas and iliacus.
• Lie face down with the block under the pubic bone. Hold for a minute or two.
• Shift the block across the right hip crease, under the hip bone and hold for a minute or two. Then do the left side for the same amount of time.
• Move the block so that it is across the abdomen at the level of the hip bones, beneath the navel. If your hips are narrow, you might find that both hip bones rest on the block. Hold for a minute or two.
• Slide the right hip bone off the block and dip it down so that the edge of the block settles into the side of the abdomen. Go easy with this. Hold for a minute or two. Repeat on the second side.
• Go back to the middle for a few breaths and then lie on the back in Shavasana (Corpse Pose) for a few moments before continuing on.
• If the block is too intense, you might use a rolled up mat or a 10-12” soft exercise ball.

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined big Toe Pose 2)

Back Bend over a bolster
• Lie back with a bolster across the back.
• Support the head properly with a block or folded blanket so that the back of the neck does not shorten excessively.
• Reach the arms overhead.
• Hold for a minute or two.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
• Kick up once with your dominant leg, once with your non-dominant leg, and once with both legs.
• Rest in Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart in between.

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)
• Kick up once with your dominant leg, once with your non-dominant leg.
• Rest in Child’s Pose in between.

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)

Lunge Series
• Lunge with back knee down and hands on blocks under the shoulders.
• Lunge with back knee down and front foot up on a block.
• Lunge with back knee down, shin against the wall and hands on blocks under the shoulders.

Ardha Bhekasana (Half Frog Pose)

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) on bolster
• Have the bolster across the lower abdomen so that the upper body is propped up and the abdomen and thighs can release back and down.

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose) over a chair

Laghuvajrasana (Little Thunderbolt Pose) over a chair

Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose) over a chair

Ushtrasana (Camel Pose) with the feet on a bolster

Ushtrasana (Camel Pose)

Padangustha Dhanurasana (Big Toe Bow Pose) with a belt
• Loop a belt around the feet and hold on to the tail of the belt.

Gherandasana 1 (Gheranda’s Pose 1) (picture is a little over half way down the page)
• Loop a belt around the Padangustha Dhanurasana foot.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) forward bend with legs only

Ardha Halasana (Half Plough Pose)

Parshva Bharadwajasana (Side Bharadwaja’s Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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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)


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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)


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Intermediate Group Class

Reclined Hero Pose over a bolster
In this practice, think of keeping the back of the neck soft and wide, allowing the head to be heavy and passive wherever possible. Also think of softening and widening the area around and below the lower tip of the sternum--the xyphoid process-- and the lower ribs.

The Sequence

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)
• 5 minutes.

Child’s Pose with the head on a block
• 2 to 3 minutes.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) with head on a block
• 2 to 3 minutes.

Uttanasana (Intense 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.
• 1 to 2 minutes.

Child’s Pose
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)
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Child’s Pose
• Do the above sequence in one continuous flow, holding each position for a minute or longer and keeping the head heavy and the back of the neck soft.

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• 1 minute.

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)
• 5 minutes.

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose) with bolster across the back
• 5 minutes.

Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose)
• 5 minutes.

Adho Mukha Shavasana (Downward Facing Corpse Pose)
• 3 to 5 minutes.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Allow the exhalations to soften and lengthen, getting slightly longer than the inhalations.
• Observe the diaphragm and allow it to release completely as you exhale so that the inhalations can be completely reflexive.
• Do this for 2 to 3 minutes.

Ujjayi Pranayama 4 (Victorious Breath 4) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Ujjayi 4 is a full and expansive breath in a reclined position where the exhalations are slightly longer than the inhalations.
• Place a belt loosely around the bottom of the breast bone so that it is around the rib cage at the level of the xyphoid process. Narrow it just enough to give you feedback, but not enough to restrict the breath.
• Soften and balance the movement into and away from the belt as you breath.
• Allow the upper abdomen/lower rib area and the mid chest to separate out in your awareness on either side of the belt.
• Do this for 3 to 5 minutes.

Viloma Pranayama 1 (Interrupted Breath 1) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Viloma 1 is a full inhalation broken up into 3 to 5 separate and equal volumes with a brief and easy pause before a long, easy exhalation, done in a reclined position.
• Do this for 3 to 5 minutes.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• 5 minutes.


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Intermediate Group Class

Seated Angle Pose in Head Stand
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.

The Sequence


Rope Shirshasana (Head Stand)
or
Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)
• Belt the calves at the thickest part and put a block between the feet.
• Press the calves out into the belt and anchor the feet into the block.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Belt the calves at the thickest part and put a block between the feet.
• Press the calves out into the belt and anchor the feet into the block.

Virasana (Hero Pose)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) sequence with the back against the wall
• Stage 1: Have a folded blanket behind the lower back.
• Stage 2: Remove the blanket, bring the back to the wall and put a block between the feet.
• Stage 3: Place the block under the feet.

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
• Have the descended leg’s foot at the wall, pressing into it firmly.
• Support the raised leg on a block so that the hips stay absolutely level,
• Start with the raised leg bent as you bring it to the side. Balance the pelvic floor and then straighten, balancing once again in the finished pose.

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
• Have the descended leg’s foot at the wall, pressing into it firmly.
• Bring the straight leg out to the side.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Eka Pada Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Single Leg Hand Stand)

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
Eka Pada Shirshasana (Single Leg Head Stand)
Parshvaikapada 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
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Parshvaikapada Sarvangasana (Single Leg to the Side Shoulder Stand)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Intermediate Group Class

Four Feet Pose

We go to great lengths to strengthen the upper body and the core and lower body, but the middle back often gets neglected and can become rigid and relatively weak. In this sequence we will think about the upper and lower limits of the psoas, the deep hip flexor that links the upper and lower body. While practicing, consider the following actions:
  • Move the lesser trochanters away from the midline of the body.
  • Widen the buttock flesh.
  • Widen the hip creases.
  • Widen and strengthen the lower back ribs from the level of the bottom of the sternum down.
  • When twisting, turn from the lower back ribs, keeping them even.

The Sequence:

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) on the ropes

Parivrtta Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Revolved Downward Facing Dog Pose) on the ropes

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart on the ropes

Parivrtta Uttanasana (Parivrtta Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart on the ropes

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) legs only with forward bend

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart
• Belt the calves and put a block between the feet.
• Press the calves out into the belt and the feet into the block.
• Widen the buttock flesh and the hip creases evenly.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Belt the calves and put a block between the feet.
• Press the calves out into the belt and the feet into the block.
• Widen the buttock flesh and the hip creases evenly.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
• Belt the calves and put a block between the feet.
• Press the calves out into the belt and the feet into the block.
• Place a sandbag across the lower ribs and widen the back ribs into the ground.

Marichyasana 6 (Marichi’s Pose 6)

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
• Belt the calves and put a block between the feet.
• Press the calves out into the belt and the feet into the block.
• Place a sandbag across the lower ribs and widen the back ribs into the ground.

Parivrtta Parshvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose)

Ropes 1, 5 to 8 rounds

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Ropes 1, 5 to 8 rounds

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) sequence with the back against the wall
• Stage 1: Have a folded blanket behind the lower back.
• Stage 2: Remove the blanket, bring the back to the wall and put a block between the feet.
• Stage 3: Place the block under the feet.

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

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
• Bring the leg all the way down to the floor.

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)

Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose)
• Support the middle and lower ribs on a bolster across the back.

Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose)
• Add more support to the bolster to lift the trunk higher.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Chatushpadasana (Four Footed Pose)

Reclined Glute Stretch
• Lie on the back, place one ankle on the opposite knee and draw the legs in.

Chatushpadasana (Four Footed Pose)

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

Chatushpadasana (Four Footed Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Place a bolster under the knees.


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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.


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Practice Lab

Pasted Graphic
At the studio in Brooklyn two of the teachers (Eve Holbrook and Jen Kagan) are teaching a series of workshops of sequences that they were taught in RIMYI, the Iyengar center in Pune, by Geeta Iyengar. I have yet to make it to them, but Kristen has and she’s been wowed by Geeta’s sequencing. So she had the idea of us doing a sequence from Geeta’s book “Yoga: A Gem for Women.”

“Gem” is a tough book to read. It’s full of great information, but it is really badly laid out, which is a shame. Published in 1990, it has tips and sequences that are useful not just to women. Her sequencing is extremely interesting and unconventional, by the standards of what is thought acceptable in the Iyengar community at large. In the sequence that Kristen and I practiced (reproduced below from p.112 of the 2002 Timeless Books edition) Head Stand is this first thing you do, without a warm-up, and you do twists, ropes and back bends after Shoulder Stand. All of these things would be considered no-no’s in a class taught in the West these days. And this sequence is part of what she calls the “Elementary Course.”

Geeta is, however Mr. Iyengar’s successor and what she says, goes. I find it interesting how there is a constant discrepancy between the way things are supposed to be done and the way senior teachers and the Iyengars themselves actually do things. Iyengar yoga is increasingly presented as this rigid, militaristic practice in the West, when the truth is there is still a great amount of playfulness in the way it is taught in India. [There are, of course, horror stories of aggressive and damaging behavior from senior teachers that filter back from Pune, so let us not paint too rosy a picture of the mothership.]

Try this sequence out and see how you feel afterwards. I’m writing this the morning after the practice. My back is sore, in a good way, and I had an excellent and refreshing night’s sleep. There’s definitely something in this way she is sequencing that makes me want to explore it more.

The Sequence

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1)

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Wide Spread Feet Pose 1)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose 1)

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 2 (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose 2)

Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)

Virasana (Hero Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)
• Toes on a chair.

Ardha Halasana (Half Plough Pose)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) seated portion only

Bharadwajasana 1 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 1)

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)

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

Shalabhasana (Locust Pose) on the ropes (She calls this Yoga Kurunta I)
• Leaning forward holding onto the ropes with the feet away from the wall.

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) on the ropes (She calls this Yoga Kurunta 2)
• Leaning forward holding onto the ropes with the feet at the wall.

Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose) over a chair
• She presents it over a bench so that the body is horizontal. We used 2 chairs.
• Reach the arms through the front chair legs to grab the back chair legs.

Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose) over a chair
• Still on the two chairs, slide off until you can get your head and arms to the floor in the classic set-up.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand)
• This first variation is presented with the hands on the back as in Sarvangasana the hips and legs horizontal and the feet pressing against a bench at the wall. We just used the wall.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand)
• This second variation is presented lying over a high Setu Bandha Bench so that only the pelvis is on the bench. We used two chairs and bolsters under the shoulders. IO found this really hard on the sacrum and had to come out of it pretty quickly, though Kristen didn’t have a problem

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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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.


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Practice Lab

Marichi's pose 1 (Bound Twist Variation)
Pectoralis Major and Latissimus Dorsi have an interesting relationship with each other. Though one is high on the body and in front and the other low and in back, they meet on the upper arm bone deep in the armpit. When working these poses, think of the following actions:
  • Widen the lats and the pecs as evenly as possible. Widen also the palms.
  • Soften and deepen the armpit as you soften and widen the deltoids around the shoulder joint.
  • When twisting to the right, initiate the movement by widening the right deltoid and the left lat. Reverse this when twisting to the left.

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)
• Hands on blocks.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)
• Do the pose with the elbows clasped behind the back.

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

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)
• Simple variation with the Padmasana (Lotus Pose) leg in Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose) and binding with a belt around the foot and over the Virasana (Hero Pose) thigh.

Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)
• Full pose.

Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
• With the hands on blocks.

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Marichyasana 1 (Marichi’s Pose 1)
• Bind the arms in the pose.
• Only twist away from the bent leg, do not go forward into the full pose.

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)
• Bind the arms in the pose.

Marichyasana 5 (Marichi’s Pose 5)
• Bind the arms in the pose.
• Only twist away from the bent leg, do not go forward into the full pose.

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)
• Bind the arms in the pose.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) over a bolster or a bench

Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) on a chair

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• Hold the pose for 10 to 15 minutes.

Ujjayi 4 (Victorious Breath 4) in Shavasana

Ujjayi 8 (Victorious Breath 8) in any comfortable seated pose
• Tennis balls in the armpits to support the arms.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• 5 minutes.


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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)


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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)


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Intermediate Group Class

King Dancer Pose
This sequence continues the ideas from previous weeks about softening and widening the big muscles of the back--gluteus maximus, latissimus dorsi and trapezius--and unlacing the spine from the back.

Many of these poses are asymmetrical back-bends and can be thought of as “twisting” back bends as one side gets pulled towards the back leg. When, say, the left leg is back, widen the left back ribs away from the spine and around to the sternum as you widen the right ribs away from the sternum around into the spine. Keep the bones and muscles wide and full so as not to pinch along the spine. As you turn, differentiate the upper ribs from the shoulder girdle, so that the twist can happen inside the collarbones, arm bones and shoulder blades.

The Sequence


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

Parivrtta Hasta Padangusthasana (Revolved Hand To Big Toe Pose) with foot on ledge

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)

Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)

Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Eka Pada Bhekasana (Single Leg Frog Pose)
• Repeat on both sides.

Padangustha Dhanurasana (Big Toe Bow Pose)

Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana 2 (Single Leg King Pigeon Pose 2) variation at the wall
• Lean forward and reach the arms up the wall to stretch out the back.

Parivrtta Parshvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose)

Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana 2 (Single Leg King Pigeon Pose 2) full pose

Hanumanasana (Hanuman’s Pose)
• Support the pose by stacking blankets/bolsters up underneath you.
• Keep the trunk upright, shoulders over the hips, and the arms down by the sides.

Natarajasana (King Dancer Pose) variation
• Do the pose with the standing leg bent and the raised leg resting on a chair.

Natarajasana (King Dancer Pose) variation
• From the above variation, shift the weight forward onto the front leg and come to stand.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)

Parivrtta Uttanasana (Revolved Intense Stretch Pose)

Ardha Halasana (Half Plough Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose) with the legs up on a chair


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Intermediate Group Class

Single Leg Side Shoulder Stand
In this practice, focus on releasing and widening the big muscle groups of the back: gluteus maximus, latissimus dorsi and trapezius. Soften and unlace the spine from the back, as we have been doing in previous classes.

In the twisted poses, keep the back body soft and wide and turn from the back ribs. Come into the pose and pause for a moment before activating the twist. Allow the basic shape of the pose to help release the big back muscles. Then when twisting, say, to the right, widen the left back ribs away from the spine and around to the sternum as you widen the right ribs away from the sternum around into the spine, keep the bones and muscles wide and full so as not to pinch along the spine. As you turn, differentiate the upper ribs from the shoulder girdle, so that the twist can happen inside the collarbones, arm bones and shoulder blades.

The Sequence

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

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

Parivrtta Hasta Padangusthasana (Revolved Hand To Big Toe Pose) with foot on ledge

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)

Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)

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
Parivrttaikapada Shirshasana (Revovled Single Leg Head Stand)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)
• Without binding.

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)
• With binding, using a belt if necessary.

Marichyasana 6 (Marichi’s Pose 6)

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)
• With binding, using a belt if necessary.

Parshva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose) 3 times each side
• Go lightly into the pose, moving with the breath and without holding for more than a moment.
• Go from side to side quickly and smoothly, only holding the pose the last time on each side.

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)
Parshva Halasana (Side Plough Pose)
Parshva Karnapidasana (Side pressure on the Ear Pose)
Halasana (Plough Pose)

Parshva Halasana (Side Plough Pose) into
Eka Pada Parshva Sarvangasana (Single Leg Side Shoulder Stand) 3 times each side
• Be up on 1 blanket instead of 3. Use a belt for the arms.
• With the legs in Parshva Halasana on the right side of the head, swing the right leg up and across the body into Eka Pada Parshva Sarvangasana on the left side.
• Go lightly into the poses, moving with the breath and without holding for more than a moment.
• Go from side to side quickly and smoothly, only holding the pose the last time on each side.

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)
• Support the head with a blanket, block or bolster.

Adho Mukha Shavasana (Downward Facing Corpse Pose) over a bolster

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Intermediate Group Class

Firefly Pose
Continuing on from last week’s focus on creating freedom in the back in back bends, the theme this week is to balance out the stretch of the back body by creating space inside the trunk cavity and by allowing the spine to separate away from the rib cage. When going through the sequence, consider the following instructions:

To create space in the pelvis:

• Soften and widen the gluteus maximus.
• Expand the inner wall of the pelvis, the iliacus.
• Move the inner face of the sacrum away from the pubic bone.

To create space in the middle trunk:

• Soften and widen the lattissimus dorsi.
• Expand the inner surface of the floating ribs.

To create space in the upper ribcage and free the neck:

• Soften and widen the trapezius.
• Expand the inner surface of the first two or three ribs

To create space in the trunk as a whole:

• Move the inner wall of the pelvis and the inner wall of the top ribs away from each other.

To Deep the forward bends and widen the back:

• As you move the two ends away from each other, turn the inner wall of the pelvis towards the head and the neck ribs away from the head.


The Sequence

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 (Extended hand to Big Toe Pose 1)
• Simple variation with the raised leg supported.

Hip Stretch
• Sitting on a chair, put one ankle on the opposite thigh and fold forward.
• This stretch can also be done lying on the back.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose) three arm variations
• First: hands on blocks under shoulders, lifting and widening the back.
• Second: arms extended forward, hands on blocks or floor.
• Third: turn the hands back, stretch the arms back towards back foot.

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Widespread Feet Pose 1) three arm variations
• First: arms and trunk reaching forward, head off the ground.
• Second: arms extended, reaching between the legs.
• Third: classic tripod position.

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)

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)
Karnapidasana (Pressure on the Ear Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
• Raised leg resting on bolster.

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
• Raised leg resting all the way down on the floor.

Malasana (Garland Pose)
• Heels on a wedge or folded blanket.
• Belt around back and knees to support the legs.

Marichyasana 1 (Marichi’s Pose 1)

Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Supta Kurmasana (Sleeping Turtle Pose) preparation
• Bring the heels together, resting the feet on a bolster, and drop the knees out to the side making a square shape with the legs.
• Extend Forward towards the feet.

Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose)

Kurmasana (Turtle Pose)

Tittibhasana (Firefly Pose)

Shalabhasana (Locust Pose)
• Spend a minute or so resting on the belly to allow the back to release before lifting up.

Chatushpadasana (Four Feet Pose) or Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Intermediate Group Class

two leg inverted staff pose

Though we are moving on from the work with the elbows, we are still using the balanced joint as a place of grounding from which to expand the back body. When going through the sequence consider the following instructions:

• Soften, widen and lift from the floating ribs.

• Ground through the elbow joints and the lesser trochanters, moving them away from the floating ribs.

• Keep the buttocks (gluteus maximus) relaxed throughout the practice. Allow the strength to come from the deeper muscles of the hips and pelvis.

• Soften and unlace the spine from the back, allowing it to settle back away from the ribs. Though the spine needs to come deeper into the body during the back bends, pushing it forward will only grip the muscles surrounding it and jam it into the ribs. This will actually limit its mobility. Allow the shape of the pose to do the work of bringing the spine in. Instead, focus on softening and creating space around by moving it away from the ribs and closer to the skin. In this way the back to front movement can happen spontaneously and effortlessly.

The Sequence

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana1 (Extended Hand to Foot Pose 1)
• SImple variation with the raised foot on some form of ledge and holding on to the foot with a belt.

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Shalabhasana (Locust Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Makarasana (Crocodile Pose)

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

locust pose variationShalabhasana 2 (Locust Pose 2)

Salamba Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2)

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)

Eka Pada Bhekasana (Single Leg Frog Pose)

Bhekasana (Frog Pose)

Padangustha Dhanurasana (Big Toe Bow Pose)

Vrschikasana 1 (Scorpion Pose 1) walk-down to chair
• With a chair against the wall, come into Pincha Mayurasana and proceed to take the legs down in stages.
• Bend the legs and place the tops of the feet on the wall.
• Walk the feet down to the back rest of the chair.
• Take the feet down to the seat of the chair.

Vrschikasana 2 (Scorpion Pose 2) walk-down to chair
• As for Vrschikasana 1, except come into it from hand stand.

Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose) variation
• With the fingers interlocked as if for head stand, swing the legs up to the wall as if for forearm stand.
• Walk the feet down to the floor for Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Two Leg Inverted Staff Pose).
• Walk the feet back up the wall and flip over to come out of the pose.

Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
• As for the previous variation, only come into with the arms straight.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)

Parivrtta Uttanasana (Revolved Intense Stretch Pose)

Ardha Halasana (Half Plough Pose) on a chair

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Intermediate Group Class: Working with the Elbows 2

paschimottanasana revolved
Staying with the ideas presented in Practice Lab 1/27/09, and Intermediate Group Class 1/30/09, we move here into some more advanced forward bends and twists.

The Sequence:


Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)
• Lie back with the bolster across the back rather than along it.
• Support the head and arms as necessary.

Bharadwajasana 1 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 1)
• Turn head in both directions.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)
• Block(s) under the pelvis, legs straight and feet at wall.
• Belt wrists.
• Move the elbow joints away from the head.
• Widen and open the space between the floating ribs and the elbow joints.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart
• Set up with the palms flat on the floor on either side of the feet. If necessary, put the hands up on blocks.
• Roll weight into the inner hand and elongate the palms and fingers away from the wrists.
• Strengthen the inner shoulder blades and move them down the length of the body towards the tailbone.
• Turn the cracks of the elbows away from each other to widen the chest and to bring the elbows in closer to the body.
• Deepen the elbow cracks towards the tips as you both lengthen through the wrists, palms and fingers and through the inner shoulder blades.
• Widen across the floating ribs and divide the back body, drawing the upper back over the head like a hood as you go down from the floating ribs to the heels.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Balance the elbows joints.
• Soften and widen across the floating ribs.
• Reach the elbow joints forward, away from the floating ribs.
• Lengthen the back body away from the floating ribs towards the heels.

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose) with the arms forward
• With the right leg forward, expand the right floating ribs and move the right pelvic rim away from the head. Widen and wrap the left floating ribs around to help fill the right side.
• Reach the elbow joints forward, away from the floating ribs.
• Lengthen the back body away from the floating ribs towards the heels.

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Widespread Feet Pose 1)
• Roll weight into the inner hand and elongate the palms and fingers away from the wrists.
• Strengthen the inner shoulder blades and move them down the length of the body towards the tailbone.
• Turn the cracks of the elbows away from each other to widen the chest and to bring the elbows in closer to the body.
• Deepen the elbow cracks towards the tips as you both lengthen through the wrists, palms and fingers and through the inner shoulder blades.

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)
• Widen the elbow joints away from each other and roll the elbow cracks away from the midline of the body.

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose) with the hands behind the back in reverse prayer
• Balance out the lower back area as before.
• Resist the temptation to crank the upper arm bones around and to pull the elbows sharply back behind you.
• Instead, lengthen the fingers towards the head, the inner shoulder blades away from the head.
• Roll the cracks of the elbows away from the center chest to open the top of the chest and close the prayer position. Do this without pulling the elbows sharply back behind you (though they will move back a little bit.)
• Widen across the floating ribs and divide the back body, drawing the upper back over the head like a hood as you go down from the floating ribs to the heels.

Prasarita Padottanasana 2 (Widespread Feet pose 2)
• Lengthen the fingers towards the head, the inner shoulder blades away from the head.
• Roll the cracks of the elbows away from the center chest to open the top of the chest and close the prayer position. Do this without pulling the elbows sharply back behind you (though they will move back a little bit.)
• Widen across the floating ribs and divide the back body, drawing the upper back over the head like a hood as you go down from the floating ribs to the heels.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
• Do the pose twice, once with each crossing of the fingers. Stretch out in Adho Mukha Shvanasana in between for a few moments.
• Roll the inner hand and wrist into the head.
• Strengthen the inner shoulder blades, drawing them away from the head.
• Ground evenly through the elbow joints as you widen across the floating ribs and lengthen the back body towards the heels.
• Deepen the elbow cracks towards the tips as you lengthen through the forearms, wrists, palms and fingers.
• Deepen the elbow cracks towards the tips as you lift the inner shoulder blades off the head.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
• Move the elbow joints away from the head and ground down through them as you widen and lift from the floating ribs.
• Deepen the elbow cracks towards the tips as you lengthen through the forearms, wrists, palms and fingers.
• Deepen the elbow cracks towards the tips as you lift the inner shoulder blades off the head.
• Roll the elbow cracks away from each other.

Halasana (Plough Pose)
• Keep the hands on the back
• Move the elbow joints away from the head and ground down through them as you widen and lift from the floating ribs.
• Deepen the elbow cracks towards the tips as you lengthen through the forearms, wrists, palms and fingers.
• Deepen the elbow cracks towards the tips as you lift the inner shoulder blades off the head.
• Roll the elbow cracks away from each other.

Janu Shirshasana (Head Stand)
• With the right leg forward, expand the right floating ribs and move the right pelvic rim away from the head. Widen and wrap the left floating ribs around to help fill the right side.
• Move the elbow joints away from each other, deepening the cracks toward the tips.
• Turn the elbow cracks down towards the floor, away from the midline of the chest.
• Widen evenly across the floating ribs and divide the back body, drawing the upper back over the head like a hood as you go down from the floating ribs to the heels.

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)
• Move the elbow joints away from each other, deepening the cracks toward the tips.
• Turn the elbow cracks down towards the floor, away from the midline of the chest.
• Widen evenly across the floating ribs and divide the back body, drawing the upper back over the head like a hood as you go down from the floating ribs to the heels.

Parivrtta Janu Shirshasana (Revolved Head of the Knee Pose) preparation
• Have the front leg bent with a bolster under the knee for support.
• Take a simple twist away from the front leg.
• With the right leg forward, expand the right floating ribs and move the right pelvic rim away from the head. Widen and wrap the right floating ribs around to deepen the twist.

Marichyasana 1 (Marichi’s Pose 1) twist only
• Instead of bending forward, bind the arms and twist away from the bent leg
• With the left leg bent, widen the left floating ribs and wrap the around, turning them down the inner thigh.
• Turn the left elbow crack down and the right elbow crack up to deepen the twist.

Parivrtta Janu Shirshasana (Revolved Head of the Knee Pose)
• With the left leg forward, expand the left floating ribs and wrap them around to deepen the twist.
• Move the elbow joints away from each other, deepening the cracks toward the tips.
• Turn the elbow cracks out, away from the midline of the chest.

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)
• Bind the pose, holding onto a belt if necessary.
• With the right leg bent, widen the left ribs and wrap them around into the twist.
• Turn the left elbow crack down and the right elbow crack away from the body to deepen the twist.

Parivrtta Pashchimottanasana (Revolved Intense West Stretch Pose) preparation
• Bend both legs and rest the knees on a bolster.
• Turn to the right by bringing the left elbow outside the right knee.
• Widen and turn from the left floating ribs.

Parivrtta Pashchimottanasana (Revolved Intense West Stretch Pose) preparation
• When twisting to the right, widen and turn from the left floating ribs.
• Move the elbow joints away from each other, deepening the cracks toward the tips.
• Turn the elbow cracks out, away from the midline of the chest to deepen the twist.

Shalabhasana (Locust Pose)
• Lie on the belly for a few moment to allow the back to settle.
• When doing the pose, stay low to the ground.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Intermediate Group Class: Working with the Elbows

IMG_4108
This class is carried on from the ideas in Practice Lab 1/27/09. The sequence is somewhat simpler, but the ideas are explained in more detail.

We carry a lot of emotion in the shoulders and, as a result, the muscles in the shoulders and neck become very reactive. It can be hard to work with the neck and shoulders directly. Consider the following ideas as you go through the following variations:


Balance the Elbow Joint

There are two general anatomical tendencies when it comes to the elbows:
• “O” arms, where the muscles in the chest, shoulders or arms are tight and the elbow joint does not quite extend as well as it should.
• “X” arms, where there is a pronounced carrying angle and/or a tendency to hyper-extend the elbow.

The goal is to balance out the stretch/weight carriage through the elbow joint. This will support the joint itself and will help distribute weight more evenly through the wrist/hand and shoulder.

“O” arms people should focus on moving the tip of the elbow towards the crack to open up the joint. “X” arms people should do the opposite, moving the crack towards the tip until the joint is balanced. (Note that for people with a pronounced carrying angle, it is only possible to balance the joint along this one axis. The arm will only look “straight” from one angle.)

Just because you have a particular tendency, it is important not to blindly do these actions. “O” arm people can quite easily lock out the elbow joint, just as “X” arms people can leave it slack and insufficiently open.


Position the Elbow Crack

In beginner classes we are often told to roll the crack of the elbow forward. This is not necessarily an improper instruction if the shoulders are tight, but, as with all things, it is possible to over-do it.

If you stand with your arms out straight in front of you and bend the elbows as if you were going to go into Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand) you will notice that the cracks of the elbows do not point all the way forward. Nor do they point directly at each other. They aim approximately at the webbing between the finger and thumb. This is the ideal position for the elbow crack when the arms are straight. This will position the upper arm bone, the humerus, in an optimal position in the shoulder socket.

People with tight shoulders might have to roll the cracks forward a little more to get them into the right alignment, but people with loose shoulders might have a tendency to over-do.


Move from the Elbow and the Floating Ribs

In order to keep the muscle surrounding the shoulder joint and neck in a more supple and responsive state, think of initiating movement in the arm from the balanced elbow joint relative to the floating ribs. This will indirectly encompass many of the muscles in between the two reference points: the lats, the deltoids, pec minor, the biceps and triceps to name the major ones. Think of softening and widening the floating ribs and the muscles around them. Then reach evenly through the elbow joint, sending it towards the wrist and finger tips.


Support the Elbow from the Hand and Scapula

To create strength at either end of the arm so that you are able to work more softly with the elbow itself, work with the following directions:

Hand
• Lengthen the fingers forward out of the metacarpals.
• Widen and lengthen the palm.
• Roll weight into the index finger and thumb.
• Widen the wrist.

Scapula
• Strengthen and lengthen the inner border of the scapula down the back and away from the head.
• Widen the inner surface of the scapula.

When the arms are straight, if you are able to keep the elbow joint balanced, think of moving the whole joint outwards away from the midline of the body as you roll the weight in towards the midline in the hand and scapula. If you start to bend the elbows as a result of this additional action, either belt the elbows or ignore it for the time being.

When the arms are bent, think of moving the crack of the elbow deeper towards the tip as your lengthen through the wrists, hands and fingers at one end of the arm, and the scapula at the other.

In certain poses where the arms are bent, it can be helpful to work with rolling the cracks of the elbows away from the midline to either create more balanced strength in the upper body or more openness in the chest. Try it with these poses:

• Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)
• Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)
• Bharadwajasana 1 and 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 1 and 2)
• Gomukhasana arms (Cow Face Pose arms) in the arm behind the back
• Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2)
• Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)


Soften the Neck by Creating Space Inside the Skull

• Soften the roof of the mouth and dome it up towards the skull.
• When turning the head, turn it around the doming roof of the mouth.
• Soften and hollow out the eye sockets. Release the back of the neck by slightly pivoting the eye sockets down the length of the body around the eyeballs. (This is an idea from my friend and practice partner, Kristen Davis.)


The Sequence:

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)
• Lie back with the bolster across the back rather than along it.
• Support the head and arms as necessary.

Bharadwajasana 1 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 1)
• Turn head in both directions.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)
• Block(s) under the pelvis, legs straight and feet at wall.
• Belt wrists.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• On ropes if available.

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Vashisthasana 1 (Vashistha’s Pose 1) Simple variation with knee down

Vashisthasana 1 (Vashistha’s Pose 1)

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)
• Turn head in both directions.

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Widespread Feet Pose 1)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 2)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Intermediate Group Class

single leg king pigeon pose II
In this class the focus stays with the themes of the past few weeks:

• Strengthening and grounding the lesser trochanters and, wherever possible, moving them away from the midline of the body
• Moving the face of the sacrum (the inner surface of the bone that faces the organs) away from the lesser trochanters into the glutes
• Softening and widening the glutes (gluteus maximus) and the lats (latissimus dorsi)
• Lengthening the Ilia (pelvic bones) from top to bottom (rim to sitting bone)

The idea of softening and widening the latissimus and gluteals becomes especially important here. The muscles required to initiate and sustain the backbends lie deeper, closer to the bones than these two large, more superficial muscle groups. Gripping and hardening the lats and glutes will prevent the deeper muscles from functioning and the bones from moving with freedom.

The Sequence

Shoulder stretch at the wall
• fold forward at the hips and either rest the elbows on a ledge or place the forearms against a wall. Hold the position for a couple of minutes.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)
• Have a block between the feet and another between the inner thighs.
• Press the feet into the block and the inner thighs away from the block to strengthen the lesser trochanters and widen the glutes.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Block between the feet and the inner thighs.
• Press the feet into the block and the inner thighs away from the block.

Parivrtta Parshvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose) simple variation with hand inside foot

Reclined Chest and Back Opener
• Lie back with a mat roll under the head and along the spine
• Have the arms alongside the head as for Vrkshasana (Tree Pose)
• Belt the upper arms to hug the arm bones close to the head
• Widen the lats and stretch evenly through the armpits

Virabhadrasasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Lunge Sequence:
• Back knee down, hands on the floor
• Back knee down, hands on blocks under the shoulders
• Back knee down, front foot on one block, one hand on second block under shoulder so that trunk is lifted
• Back knee down, block under back foot, toes curled under, one hand on second block under shoulder so that trunk is lifted

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

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
• Take hold of the shins closer to knees

Parivrtta Parshvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose)

Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana 2

Marichyasana 6 (Marichi’s Pose 6)

Padangustha Dhanurasana (Big Toe Bow Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)

Karnipadasana (Pressure On The Ear Pose) with shins against the wall

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)

Related Articles
Practice Lab 1/19/09
Intermediate Group Class 1/15/09
Intermediate Group Class 1/8/09
Practice Lab 1/12/09

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Intermediate Group Class

IMG_4162
Continuing on from the ideas of last week, this class takes the widening of the glutes and lats into twists and arm balances. While doing the poses, keep in mind the following ideas:

• Strengthening and grounding the lesser trochanters and, wherever possible, moving them away from the midline of the body
• Moving the face of the sacrum (the inner surface of the bone that faces the organs) away from the lesser trochanters into the glutes
• Softening and widening the glutes (gluteus maximus) and the lats (latissimus dorsi)
• Lengthening the Ilia (pelvic bones) from top to bottom (rim to sitting bone)

The Sequence

Shoulder stretch at the wall
• fold forward at the hips and either rest the elbows on a ledge or place the forearms against a wall. Hold the position for a couple of minutes.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)
• Have a block between the feet and another between the inner thighs.
• Press the feet into the block and the inner thighs away from the block to strengthen the lesser trochanters and widen the glutes.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Block between the feet and the inner thighs.
• Press the feet into the block and the inner thighs away from the block.

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)

Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
Parshva Shirshasana (Side Head Stand)
Parivrttaikapada Shirshasana (Revolved Single Leg Head Stand)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Parivrtta Janu Shirshasana (Revolved Head of the Knee Pose) preparation
• Have the straight leg bent with a bolster under the knee to focus on the twisting action of the pose.

Marichyasana 6 (Marichi’s Pose 6)

Pashasana (Noose Pose)

Parivrtta Parshvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose)

Parshva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose)

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

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)
Parshva Halasana (Slide Plough Pose)
Parshva Karnapidasana (Side Pressure on the Ear Pose)
Karnapidasana (Pressure on the Ear Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)

Related Articles
Intermediate Group Class 1/8/09
Practice Lab 1/13/09

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Intermediate Group Class

Marichi's Pose B
There are two focuses to this class. The first is preparing the body for Marichyasana 2 (Marichi’s Pose 2), the second is to create release in the latissimus dorsi and in the gluteus maximus muscles, two mucle groups that we hold a lot of tension in. While doing all these poses, consider the following actions:

• Strengthening and grounding the lesser trochanters and, wherever possible, moving them away from the midline of the body
• Moving the face of the sacrum (the inner surface of the bone that faces the organs) away from the lesser trochanters into the glutes
• Softening and widening the glutes (gluteus maximus) and the lats (latissimus dorsi)
• Lengthening the Ilia (pelvic bones) from top to bottom (rim to sitting bone)

The Sequence

Shoulder stretch at the wall
• fold forward at the hips and either rest the elbows on a ledge or place the forearms against a wall. Hold the position for a couple of minutes.

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose)

Chair Sequence:

Glute Stretch
• Sitting in the chair, place one ankle on the opposite thigh and fold forward

Hip Rotator Stretch
• Stand facing the chair. Place one foot up on the chair.
• Bend the raised leg, turn the thigh out and rest the outer edge of the foot on the chair. Line the heel up with the inner thigh.
• Fold forward.

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2) in the chair
• Sitting in the chair, bring one leg into Ardha Padmasana (Half Lotus Pose) and bind the foot, turning into the twist.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)
• Place a block between the feet and a block between the thighs.
• Place the hands on the seat of the chair making a right angle at the hips.
• Press the feet into the block and the thighs away from the block to help strengthen the lesser trochanters and widen the glutes.
• Hold this position for a few moments and then fold forward into Uttanasana.

Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense Stretch Pose)
• Come into a half version of the pose with one leg in Ardha Padmasana (Half Lotus Pose) and both hands on the chair.
• Take a few moments in the right angle position to soften and widen the glutes and lats before coming into the pose.
• Use the chair for stability as you come into and out of the pose.

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)
Parshva Halasana (Side Plough Pose)
Parshva Karnapidasana (Side Pressure on the Ear Pose)

Parivrtta Janu Shirshasana (Revolved Head of the Knee Pose) preparation
• Have the straight leg bent with a bolster under the knee to focus on the twisting action of the pose.

Marichyasana 1 (Marichi’s Pose 1) twist only

Marichyasana 1 (Marichi’s Pose 1)

Marichyasana 2 (Marichi’s Pose 2) twist only

Marichyasana 2 (Marichi’s Pose 2)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)

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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...
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Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: The Full Series

ChakrasNadis2
Please Here's a breakdown of the full Intermediate Pranayama Series.






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Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 28

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
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Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 27

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
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Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 26

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
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Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 25

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
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Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 24

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
|

Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 23

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
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Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 22

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
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Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 21

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
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Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 20

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
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Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 19

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
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Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 18

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
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Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 17

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
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Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 16

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
|

Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 15

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
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Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 8

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
|

Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 9

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
|

Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 10

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
|

Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 11

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
|

Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 12

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
|

Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 13

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
|

Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 14

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
|

Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 6

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
|

Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 5

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
|

Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 4

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
|

Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 3

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
|

Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 2

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
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Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 1

ChakrasNadis2
I was away for a couple of weeks in the San Francisco Bay Area staying with friends and taking part in Donald Moyer and Mary Lou Weprin’s Summer Intensive at the Yoga Room. The Intensive was excellent. Six days of six hours of yoga each day. (I hope to be blogging a little bit about some of the ideas Donald was working with over the next few weeks.) I came back energized and revitalized. I managed to practice 3 hours a day for about five days and then I crashed. All I’ve been able to practice for the past couple of weeks has been pranayama, which has been great. So here are the pranayama practices I’ve been doing of late.
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Intermediate Pranayama Cycle: Day 7

ChakrasNadis2
Please remember that pranayama is very subtle and powerful. It’s best not to practice pranayama without some in-person instruction beforehand. NEVER FORCE THE BREATH.





Read More...
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Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana

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

Revolved Half MoonPose Read More...
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Getting Back To It Practice

Well, my big practice series got derailed by an unfortunate Summer head cold. (By the way, Head Stand, Hand Stand and Bridge Pose good, Shoulder Stand very bad.) I'm over the cold but I've barely done a thing for a good week and I can feel my muscles starting to lose their strength. Here's a practice to help get you back up to speed. There's nothing complicated about it. It's designed to to get your muscles working, with sections for the legs, the core and the upper body.

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

Utkatasana (Fierce Pose) - 1 min
• block between thighs

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) - 1 min
• block between thighs

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2) - 1 min

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose) - 1 min

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose) - 1 min

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose) - 1 min

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose) 90/60/30/10 - 30 sec each stage

Ardha Navasana (Half Boat Pose) - 1 min

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) - 1 min

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand) - 1 min

Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand) - 3 min

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) - 5 min
• over bolster

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) - 5 min
• over chair

Shavasana (Corpse Pose) - 15 min

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Featured Pose: Bakasana (Crow Pose)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

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

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

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

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Shavasana (Coprpse Pose)


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Featured Pose: Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)

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

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

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)

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

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Featured Pose: Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

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

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

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)

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

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

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)

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A Short, Simple Practice

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose) - 10 min

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) - 3 min

Shirshasana (Head Stand) - 2 min
• Baddha Konasana Variation - 2 min
• Upavishtha Konasana variation - 2 min

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) - 1-2 min

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) over chair - 3 min
• Supta Baddha Konasana variation - 3 min

Shavasana (Corpse Pose) 10 min
• legs on chair
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Upper Back/Shoulder Girdle Practice

image409
As you go through this practice, focus on balancing the collarbones and the space between the shoulder blades, and balancing the bicep and the tricep:

• Broaden both sides of the upper thoracic spine evenly and both collarbones evenly.
• Activate and lengthen both biceps and both triceps evenly.


Rope Shirshasana
Alternate Pose: Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Shoulder Strecth At The Wall
• Stand at wall, folding forward at the hips with elbows and forearms on the wall.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog pose)

Makarasana (Crocodile Pose)

Vashisthasana (Vashistha's Pose)

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Shirshasana (Head Stand)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Parshva Dhanurasana (Side Bow Pose)

Ushtrasana (Camel Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)
• Blocks under sacrum, feet on floor
• Blanket under shoulders
• Arms Belted above elbows

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• with lift under trunk.

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Energizer Sequence

Rope Shirshasana
Alternate Pose: Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Surya Namaskar 1 (3-5 Reps)

Tadasana (Mountan Pose)
Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Hands Pose)
Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)
Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Hands Pose)
Tadasana (Mountan Pose)


Surya Namaskar 2 (3 Reps)

Tadasana (Mountan Pose)
Utkatasana (Fierce Pose)
Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)
Chaturanga Dandasana 1 (Four LImbed Staff Pose 1)
Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Rep 1: Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)
Rep 2: Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)
Rep 3: Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)
Utkatasana (Fierce Pose)
Tadasana (Mountan Pose)


Surya Namaskar 3 (4 Reps)

Tadasana (Mountan Pose)
Utkatasana (Fierce Pose)
Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)
Chaturanga Dandasana 1 (Four LImbed Staff Pose 1)
Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)
Chaturanga Dandasana 2 (Four LImbed Staff Pose 2) - on tops of feet as for Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)
Urdhva Mukha Pashchimottanasana 2 (Upward Facing Intense West Stretch Pose 2)

Rep 1: Paripurna Navasava (Full Boat Pose)
Rep 2: Ardhva Navasana (Half Boat Pose)
Rep 3: Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
Rep 4: Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose)

Chaturanga Dandasana 1 (Four LImbed Staff Pose 1)
Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)
Utkatasana (Fierce Pose)
Tadasana (Mountan Pose)


Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Shirshasana (Head Stand)

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand)
Halasana (Plough Pose)

Viparita Karani (Upside Down pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
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Reclined Poses and Forward Bend Practice

Rope Shirshasana
Alternate Pose: Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Rope Child's Pose
Alternate Pose: Child's Pose

Rope Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana
Alternate Pose: Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Rope Urdhva Mukha Baddha Konasana
Alternate Pose: Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Rope Urdhva Mukha Upavishtha Konasana
Alternate Pose: Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose)

Rope Urdhva Mukha Kurmasana
Alternate Pose: Adho Mukha Sukhasana (Downward Facing Comfortable Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Supta Padangusthasana 3 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 3)

Anantasana (Vishnu's Couch Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downbward Facing Dog Pose)

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downbward Facing Dog Pose)

Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
• any leg variation
• over bolster

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)

Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)

Upavishtha Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)

Ardha Baddha Pada Pashchimottanasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpose Pose)

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Psoas Stretch Practice

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In this practice, focus on keeping iliacus soft and broad while lengthening both quadratus lumborum and psoas.

Rope Child's Pose
• alternate pose: Child's Pose

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

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Urdhva Prasarita Ekapadasana (One Leg Extended Up Pose)
• single leg lift
• 5 reps each side

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (One Leg Extended Up Pose)
• leg lifts
• foam block between feet
• 5 reps

Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose)

Ardhva Navasana (Half Boat Pose)

Ardha Navasana 2 (Half Boat Pose 2)
• waist on floor

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Anantasana (Vishnu's Couch Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 3 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 3)

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

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)
• bolster across back

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
• bolster under abdomen

Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana 2 (Single Leg King Pigeon Pose)
• lunge only

Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana 2 (Single Leg King Pigeon Pose)
• lunge only
• front foot on block

Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
• bolster across back

Padma Viparita Dandasana (Lotus Inverted Staff Pose)
• over chair

Uttana Padma Mayurasana (Intense Stretch Peacock Pose)
• block under sacrum

Viparita Karani (Upside Down pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• legs on chair


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Men's Restorative Practice

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The purpose of this practice is to soften and create space around the abdominal organs in general, and the prostate and adrenals in particular. Yesterday having been my 40th birthday I thought it might be prudent to include such a practice in my regular routine. This practice contains elements to help support the health of four key organs, the prostate, the adrenals, the testicles and the heart, in light of some serious conditions that men tend to suffer from as they advance in years:

Please bear in mind that this practice is intended to support general health only and is
not intended as medical treatment for any of these illnesses or conditions. Only seek medical advice from a qualified health care practitioner.

Rope Shirshasana
Alternate Pose: Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Rope Child's Pose
Alternate Pose: Child's Pose

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Wide Spread Feet Pose)

Shirshasana (Head Stand
• variation: Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
• variation: Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Virasana (Hero Pose)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose)

Child's Pose
• over a bolster

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
• variation: Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
• variation: Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose)

Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
• any comfortable leg variation
• over a bolster

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)
• over a bolster

Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)

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Forward Bend Practice

Rope Shirshasana (Head Stand on ropes)
Alternate Pose: Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 2 (Extended Hand and Big Toe Pose 2)
• Leg to the side
• Foot on ledge

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 (Extended Hand and Big Toe Pose 1)
• Leg to the front
• Foot on ledge

Parivrtta Hasta Padangusthasana (Revolved Hand and Big Toe Pose )
• Foot on ledge

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Shirshasana (Head Stand)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose)

Eka Pada Shirshasana (One Leg Behind the Head Pose) Preparation
• Come into Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose) with bent leg heel on a block level with the opposite knee

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)
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A 28-Day Intermediate Course in Yoga: The Full Series

Here's a breakdown of the full series:

Week 1


Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5 - Day 6 - Day 7

Week 2


Day 8 - Day 9 - Day 10 - Day 11 - Day 12 - Day 13 - Day 14

Week 3


Day 15 - Day 16 - Day 17 - Day 18 - Day 19 - Day 20 - Day 21

Week 4


Day 22 - Day 23 - Day 24 - Day 25 - Day 26 - Day 27 - Day 28


Here's a PDF file of the entire 28-day sequence for easy reference:

Pasted Graphicdownload the .pdf
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