Intermediate Practice: The Pillars of the Armpit, Part 2

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

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

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

The Sequence:

Opening Wall Stretches:
• Side stretch at wall: Lean the right side of the body into the wall with the right arm overhead. Bend the right elbow, take hold of it with the left hand and draw the arm up and over the top of the head. Hold for a minute or two and repeat on the second side.
• Chest opener: Stand with the right hand on the wall at shoulder height. Keeping the shoulder blade down the back, spread the fingers and palms and straighten the elbow. Hold this position for several seconds. Without lifting the shoulder blade, turn the chest away from the wall. Hold this for several seconds. Release and repeat on the second side.
• Shoulder Stretch at wall: Place the forearms and elbows on the wall with the palms together. Make a right angle at the hips with the feet under the pelvis hip width apart. Draw the inner thighs back and reach the arms forward.

Plank Pose

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Plank Pose

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose)

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

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

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

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

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

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

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

Salamba Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

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

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

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Practice: The Pillars of the Armpit

sq_int
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)


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Practice: Moving From the First Four Ribs

sq_int
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)


Bookmark and Share
|

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

sq_int
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


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab: Working with an Advanced Practice from "Light on Yoga", Part 11 [Light on Yoga]

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

In our final exploration of the more challenging poses of our sequence, we are going to have a look at both the twists, culminating in Paripurna Matsyendrasana (Full Lord of the Fishes Pose), and the extreme hip flexions, Yoganidrasana (Yoga Sleep Pose) and Dwi Pada Shirshasana (Both Legs Behind the Head Pose).

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

The Sequence:

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

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

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

Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose)

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

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

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

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

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)

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

Marichyasana 4 (Marichi’s Pose 4)

Paripurna Matsyendrasana (Full Lord of the Fishes Pose)

Eka Hasta Bhujasana (Single Hand and Arm Pose)

Dwi Hasta Bhujasana (Both Hands and Arms Pose)

Kurmasana (Turtle Pose)

Supta Kurmasana (Sleeping Turtle Pose)

Yoganidrasana (Yoga Sleep Pose)

Dwi Pada Shirshasana (Both Legs Behind the Head Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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


Related Posts:

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


Bookmark and Share
|

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

sq_int
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)


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Practice: Softening and Widening the Abdominal Wall

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

The Sequence:

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch pose) with the feet apart

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

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

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

Halasana (Plough Pose)
• 2 to 3 minutes.

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

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

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

Malasana (Garland Pose)

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Eka Pada Galavasana (Single Leg Galava’s Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab: Working with an Advanced Practice from "Light on Yoga", Part 7 [Light on Yoga]

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

This time we are going to look at a sequence to help prepare the body and learn Mandalasana (Mandala Pose). This is a highly unusual and very challenging pose that requires mobility in the ribcage and shoulders coupled with a very strong proprioceptive sense of one’s body in space. Here’s how B. K. S. Iyengar describes it in “Light on Yoga”:

“Mandala means a wheel, a ring, circumference or orbit. Keeping the head and hands in Salamba Shirshasana 1 circle round the head clockwise and then anti-clockwise. The movements of your feet will then form a circle, mandala or orbit around your head which should remain stationary…

“…During the rotation, the trunk and abdomen are contracted on one side and stretched on the other side. This keeps the spine and the abdominal organs in trim and promotes health and longevity.”


—Iyengar, B. K. S., “Light on Yoga,” Schocken, 1979, pp. 381-385


The Sequence:

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Supta Virasana (Hero Pose)

Sarvangasana Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Supta Konasana (Reclines Angle Pose)
Parshva Halasana (Side Plough Pose)
Eka Pada Parshva Sarvangasana (Single Leg Side Shoulder Stand)
Parshva Sarvangasana (Side Shoulder Stand)
Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose) drop-back
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) drop-Back

Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly-Turning Pose)

Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose) over a chair

Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose) over a chair

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)

Viparita Chakrasana (Inverted Wheel Pose)
• This refers to coming into and out of Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose) from Hand Stand. If you are unable to do this challenging transition, try the following:
• 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).
• 3 to 4 repetitions.

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Two Leg Inverted Staff Pose)

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)

Parivrtta Janu Shirshasana (Revolved head of the Knee Pose)

Mandalasana (Mandala Pose) preparation 1
• Place the arms and head down as if going into Shirshasana and straighten the legs.
• Walk the feet around in a circle as far as you can and hold the position for several breaths, getting used to the shape
• Repeat 2 or 3 times to both sides.

Mandalasana (Mandala Pose) preparation 2
• Come into Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana and walk the feet around in a circle as far as you can and hold the position for several breaths, getting used to the shape.
• Repeat 2 or 3 times to both sides.

Half Mandalasana (Mandala Pose) 1
• Come into the Shirshasana preparation and walk the feet as far around to the right as you can and attempt to turn the hips. Don’t worry if you don’t get very far. This is all about getting the nervous system used to this strange new position. If you slip out of the pose, set yourself up in the Head Stand preparation and try again. It is best not to be too serious in your approach to this pose. You will find yourself tumbling over quite a few times before you get it. Laugh a lot at the ludicrousness of what you’re doing. It really does help.
• Repeat several times to both sides.

Half Mandalasana (Mandala Pose) 2
• Go through the same process from Urdhva Dhanurasana. Eventually you will be able to put the pieces together into the complete pose.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Tips and Tricks

Mr. Iyengar has an interesting tip on performing the pose:

“When the legs come to the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions, raise the opposite shoulder slightly, and lifting the chest up and forwards, rotate the trunk…”

—Iyengr, B. K. S., “Light on Yoga,” Schocken, 1979, pp. 382.

Here are some videos of people doing Mandalasana. In the first, the drop-back from Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1) prepares the shoulders, ribcage and even the nervous system, making the pose a little easier to do. In the second (which is a little dark) the lightness and speed with which she performs the pose keeps the body from over-working:



In this beautiful dance piece, choreographed and performed by teacher and yoga model Theresa Elliot, the slow and steady movements build to a semi-circular variation of the pose. Observe the movement in the ribcage as she performs the preparatory moves. In the pose itself, at the crucial moment of the turn, observe how the ribs and pelvis turn in unison. Also observe how one hip dips under the other and the leg bends, rather than one hip flipping over the other:



This is a very daunting pose to approach, and it does require diligent practice to master. It is worth persevering with, however, as it can be an exhilarating pose to perform.

Next time we’ll look at a practice to explore and deepen the advanced baby back bends.


Related Posts:

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


Bookmark and Share
|

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

sq_int
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)


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab: Working with an Advanced Practice from "Light on Yoga", Part 6 [Light on Yoga]

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

Inverted backbends, such as Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose) and Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Two Leg Inverted Staff Pose) can remain particularly challenging even as one’s practice advances. With the arms alongside the ears, particular care has to be paid to the organization of the shoulder girdle and upper ribcage to ensure that the opening of the back bend happens by arching the torso and extending the spine and not pushing into the shoulder joints. There is also a strength component, as one is pushing up into the pose from the floor with all four limbs. In order to successfully negotiate these poses, one has to develop the necessary strength and organization at the same time. This sequence addresses both these concerns, alternating between one and the other before bringing them both together at the end to practice the full poses.

The Sequence:


Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Vrkshasana (Tree Pose)

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Utkatasana (Furious Pose)

Parighasana (Gate Pose)

Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Shirshasana Cycle:
Salamba Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2)
• Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
• Hold for 3 to 5 minutes.
Eka Pada Shirshasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Parshvaikapada Shirshasana (Single Leg to the Side Head Stand)
Parivrttaikapada Shirshasana (Revolved Single Leg Head Stand)

Sarvangasana Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
• Hold for 3 to 5 minutes.
Halasana (Plough Pose)
• Hold for 3 to 5 minutes.
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Parshvaikapada Shirshasana (Single Leg to the Side Head Stand)
Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand)
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)

Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose) over a chair

Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose) over a chair

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose) with the feet on a chair
• 2-3 repetitions.

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Two leg Inverted Staff Pose) with the feet on a chair
• 2-3 repetitions.

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)
• 2-3 repetitions.

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Two leg Inverted Staff Pose)
• 2-3 repetitions.

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)


Next time we’ll look at ways to approach the very intimidating Mandalasana (Mandala Pose).


Related Posts:

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


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Practice: The Psoas and the Quadratus Lumborum in Twists

sq_int
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)


Bookmark and Share
|

Basic Pactice: Widening Across the Upper Back and Chest to Create Freedom in the Shoulders

sq_basics
In this practice, focus on softening and widening evenly across the upper back and chest. Create freedom across the collarbones and shoulder blades, allowing them to reach with the arms away from each other. In Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog), roll weight from the outer hand to the inner hand and from the heel of the hand to the fingertips to energize and strengthen the wrists and forearms.

The Sequence:

Matsyasana (Fish Pose) simple variation

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Garudasana (Eagle Pose Arms) in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Pashchima Baddha Hastasana (Hands Bound Behind the Back Pose) in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) with the toes turned under
• Clasp the elbows behind the back and hold for 30 seconds before changing the crossing and holding again.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) full pose including arm variation

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose) with the elbows clasped behind the back

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Bharadwajasana 1 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 1) simple variation

Bharadwajasana 1 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 1) full variation with one arm behind the back

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) with the feet up on low blocks against the wall

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) with the hands up on low blocks against the wall

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) with the feet up on medium blocks against the wall

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) with the hands up on medium blocks against the wall

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) with the feet up on high blocks against the wall

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) with the hands up on high blocks against the wall

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) with the feet on blocks, holding onto the ankles with a belt if necessary

Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) with the feet on the wall

Shavasana (Corpse Pose) with the trunk elevated on blankets


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab: Working with an Advanced Practice from "Light on Yoga", Part 5 [Light on Yoga]

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

In this final breakdown of the vishamanyasa portion of the practice, let’s look at the groin and hamstring opening elements of the sequence. The reason to have both the forward and backbends of the vishamanyasa as preparation for the groin and hamstring work is Hanumanasana (Hanuman’s Pose) which is both a deep opening of the groin in the back leg and a deep stretch of the hamstring in the front.

The Sequence:

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)

Ado Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

Sarvangasana Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 1
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose)
Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Parshvaikapada Sarvangasana (SIngle Leg to the Side Shoulder Stand)
Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand)

Malasana (Garland Pose)

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)

Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)

Eka Pada Koundinyasana 2 (Single Leg Koundinya’s Pose 2)

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)

Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana 1 (Single Leg King Pigeon Pose 1)

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

Hanumanasana (Hanuman’s Pose)

Samakonasana (Same Angle Pose)

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

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Next time we’ll look at a sequence that goes into the inverted back bends, such as Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose), in depth.


Related Posts:

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


Bookmark and Share
|

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

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

The Sequence:

Child’s Pose with a roll under the abdomen.

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 3 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 3)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

Salamba Sarvangasana Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Salamba Sarvangasana 2 (Shoulder Stand 2)
Niralamba Sarvangasana 1 (Unsupported Shoulder Stand 1)
Niralamba Sarvangasana 2 (Unsupported Shoulder Stand 2)
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand)
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand)

Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose)

Anantasana (Vishnu’s Couch Pose)

Maha Mudra (Great Seal)

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

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

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

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

Krounchasana (Heron Pose)

Marichyasana 1 (Marichi’s Pose 1)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

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

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

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

The Sequence:

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

Ado Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

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

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

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)

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

Pashasana (Noose Pose)

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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


Related Posts:

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


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Group Class: Separating the Femurs from the Trunk

sq_int
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)


Bookmark and Share
|

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

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

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

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)

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

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

Halasana (Plough Pose)
• 3 minutes.

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

Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose) over a chair

Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Parshva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

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

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

Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose) over a chair

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

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

Pashasana (Noose Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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


Bookmark and Share
|

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

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

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

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

The Sequence


Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) full pose with arm variation

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

Sarvangasana Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
• 5 minutes.
Salamba Sarvangasana 2 (Shoulder Stand 2)
Niralamba Sarvangasana 1 (Unsupported Shoulder Stand 1)
Niralamba Sarvangasana 2 (Unsupported Shoulder Stand 2)
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)
Parshvaikapada Sarvangasana (Single Leg to the Side Shoulder Stand)

Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose)

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana a(Upward Extended Feet Pose)

Maha Mudra (Great Seal)

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

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

Marichyasana 1 (Marichi’s Pose 1)

Marichyasana 2 (Marichi’s Pose 2)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

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

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)

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

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

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

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

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

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

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

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

Sayanasana (Pose of Repose) at the wall

Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)

Hamsasana (Swan Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Parivrtta Janu Shirshasana (Revolved Head of the Knee Pose)

Malasana (Garland Pose)

Supta Kurmasana (Sleeping Turtle Pose)

Yoganidrasana (Yoga Sleep Pose)

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Two Leg Inverted Staff Pose)

Mandalasana (Mandala Pose)

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

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

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

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

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

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

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

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

Malasana (Garland Pose)

Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose) over a chair

Bhujapidasana (Pressure on the Arms Pose)

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)

Ashtavakrasana (Ashtavakra’s Pose)

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)

Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)

Parshva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose)

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)
• 3 minutes.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Group Class: The Head, Neck and Top Ribs

sq_int
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.


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab: Mandalasana [Light on Yoga]

sq_adv
Mandalasana (Mandala Pose) is a tricky and topsy-turvy pose where you come into Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana and walk your feet around in a circle. This is a modification of a practice from “Light on Yoga” that features the pose. You can find the full practice on p.481 of the Schocken edition).

The Sequence

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)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
• 1 minute.

Shirshasana Cycle
Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
• 5 minutes.
Parshva Shirshasana (Side Head Stand)
Parivrttaikapada Shirshasana (Single Leg to the Side Head Stand)

Sarvangasana Cycle
Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand 1)
• 5 minutes
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)
Parshvaikapada Sarvangasana (Single Leg to the Side Shoulder Stand)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
• Come into the pose from Sarvangasana.
Parshvaikapada Sarvangasana (Single Leg to the Side Shoulder Stand)
• Come into the pose from Sarvangasana.

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1)

Virabhadrasana 3 (Warrior Pose 3)

Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense Stretch Pose)

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Shalabhasana (Locust Pose)

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)

Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)
• 1 minute.

Parivrtta Pashchimottanasana (Revolved Intense West Stretch Pose)

Akarna Dhanurasana (Bow to the Ear Pose)

Uttanapadasana (Stretched Out Upward Facing Pose)

Setubandhasana (Bridge Lock Pose)

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)

Marichyasana 4 (Marichi’s Pose 4)

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

Pashasana (Noose Pose)

Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)

Yoganidrasana (Yoga Sleep Pose)

Eka Pada Shirshasana (Single Leg Behind the Head Pose)

Dwi Pada Shirshasana (Both Legs Behind the Head Pose)

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Two Leg Inverted Staff Pose)

Mandalasana (Mandala Pose)

Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose)

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).
• 8 times.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Group Class: Balancing the Neck and Dropping the Thighs

sq_int
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)


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab: Head Stand Variations and Restorative

sq_adv
With all of this intense practice of late, I found I needed a bit of a break from the 10 to 20 Urdhva Dhanurasanas (Upward Bow Pose) at the end of each practice that Mr. Iyengar calls for in his sequences in “Light on Yoga”. The following is a semi-restorative sequence that includes the different arm-variations of Shirshasana (Head Stand). Whenever I’ve had them taught to me, we’ve always come into Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1) and then changed arm position while balancing. I’ve never been able to do that very well, so I thought I would look and see how he recommends doing it in the book. (I just realized that whenever you talk to an Iyengar yoga practitioner, you will always hear us referring to “he” and “the book” without further explanation. It’s a cultural shorthand where it’s a given we are always talking about Iyengar and Light on Yoga.)

In LoY he presents a variation of Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1) where you pinch the fingers together, turn the fingers up and touch the shoulders. It forces you to really reach through the shoulders and engage the upper back muscles to preserve the balance. After that, each arm variation is presented coming into the pose from the floor, so I thought I would try it. It makes a huge difference. The arm and upper back strength required to come up prepares the body for balance in the pose itself. The only one I was not able to come fully up in was Mukta Hasta Shirshasana (Free Hand Head Stand). I only made it up into Urdhva Dandasana (Upward Staff Pose), which is still something. Probably if I had done this variation first, when I was fresher, I might have made it up.

The Sequence

Shavasana (Corpse Pose) with a roll under the neck for neck traction
• 5 minutes.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Virasana (Hero Pose) with arm variations:
• Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana Upward Bound Fingers Pose).
• Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) arms.
• Pashchima Namaskarasana (Reverse Prayer 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.

Mukta Hasta Shirshasana (Free Hand Head Stand)
• From the floor.
• 30 seconds.

Supta Virasana (Hero Pose)
• 5 minutes.

Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
• Legs bound in Ardha Padmasana (Half Lotus Pose).
• Lying back over a bolster across the back.
• 2 minutes each crossing.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) with Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
• Over a bolster, legs bound with a belt.
• 5 minutes.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)
• Over a bolster.
• 5 minutes.

[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

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)
• 5 minutes.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• 10 minutes.


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Group Class: Expanding the Rib Cage in Back Bends

sq_int
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)


Bookmark and Share
|

Level 1 Group Class: Opening the Chest and Shoulders

sq_basics
The general idea here is to create width and openness across the collarbones and top chest while also keeping the upper and middle back broad. The sequence is perhaps a little more than basic as it has an inversion prep in it.

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.

Garudasana (Eagle Pose) arms with the back against the wall

Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana (Upward Bound Fingers Pose) with the back against the wall

All Fours
• Take a moment to seal your hands into the mat while widening the upper back and the top of the chest.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Child’s Pose

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Child’s Pose

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)
• Put the hand of the raised arm on the hip.
• Press the collarbone away from the ear and roll it up towards the ceiling.

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Bharadwajasana 1 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 1) simple variation
• Turn the head away from the direction of the twist.

Bharadwajasana 1 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 1) full pose with bound arm
• Turn the head away from the direction of the twist.

IMG_2180
Head Stand Preparation
• Do twice, once with each interlock of the fingers.

Right Angle Forearm Stand at the wall
• Sit with the buttocks against the wall and mark off where the heels are. Set yourself up in the Head Stand Prep with the elbows where the heels were.
• Walk the feet up the wall to hip height.
• Hold for several seconds and repeat with the second interlock of the fingers.

Purvottanasana (Intense East Stretch Pose) table top variation
• Have the hands on blocks.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) with the feet on the chair

Ardha Halasana (Half Plough Pose) with the toes on the chair
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose) with a lift under the trunk and head
• 5 minutes.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

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

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

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

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

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

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

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

Chatushpadasana (Four Footed Pose)

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

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

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Malasana (Garland Pose)

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

Eka Hasta Bhujasana (Single Arm and Hand Pose)

Ashtavakrasana (Ashtavakra’s Pose)
• See photo.

Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)

Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)

Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)

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

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

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

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

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

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog)

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

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bhujapidasana (Pressure on the Arms Pose)

Ashtavakrasana (Ashtavakra’s Pose)

Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)

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

Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)

Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Lolasana (Tremulous Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)

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

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


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Group Class: The Pelvic Floor in Forward Bends

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

The Sequence

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

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

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

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

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

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

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

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

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

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

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

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Group Class: Balancing and Strengthening the Pelvic Floor

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

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

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

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

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

The Sequence

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

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

Krounchasana (Heron Pose)

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

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

Bakasana (Crow Pose)

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

Parivrtta Janu Shirshasana (Revolved Head of the Knee Pose)

Shalabhasana (Locust Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Level 1 Group Class

Upward Extended Feet pose
We are working with two basic themes this week:
  1. Create strength and direction in the sides of the body (both the sides of the waist and the side ribs) so that they can become a third set of limbs connecting the arms and the legs.
  2. Expand the armpits and clear the back of the armpit away from the upper arm/bicep.

The Sequence

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Child’s Pose
Plank Pose
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)

Child’s Pose
Plank Pose
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Child’s Pose
Plank Pose
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose) holding on to a belt around the feet

Child’s Pose
Plank Pose
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose) legs bent or straight

Child’s Pose
Plank Pose
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)

Child’s Pose
Plank Pose
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

“Up and Over” chest stretches
• Hold onto a belt with the hands wide apart.
• Inhale and bring the arms up over head. Exhale, bring the arms down behind the back.
• Inhale and bring the arms up overhead. Exhale, bring the arms down in front.
• Repeat this for a minute or two.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) chest opener
• Put a shoulder-width belt around the biceps just above the elbows.
• Bend the knees and lean forward, resting the abdomen on the thighs,
• Exhale and bring the arms overhead. Start with the elbows bent. Straighten them after a few breaths.
• Reach through the arms, but allow gravity to do most of the work for you.
• Try and clear the upper arms away from the back of the armpit to open the chest.

Purvottanasana (Intense East Stretch Pose) table top variation
• Hands on blocks.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)
• Feet on blocks.
• Hold onto a belt around the ankles.

Reclined Glute Stretch with one ankle on the opposite thigh

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1) with the feet on the wall

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab

Reclined Big Toe Pose 1
Today’s practice involves a combination of reclined poses and Padmasana (Lotus Pose) as a preparation for inversion variations.

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Reclined big Toe Pose 2
[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

Revolved Reclined Big Toe Pose
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand) at the wall
• 2 repetitions.

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand) in the middle of the room
• 2 repetitions.

Recliend Big Toe Pose 3
Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
Parshva Shirshasana (Revolved Head Stand)
Parivrttaikapada Shirshasana (Revolved Sing Leg 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)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart
Reclined Big Toe Pose 1 (variation)

[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.

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)

Adho Mukha Ardha Padmasana (Downward Facing Half Lotus Pose)

Ardha Baddha Padma Pashchimottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense West Stretch Pose)
• Do the bound variation for 30 seconds or so, then unbind and reach forward to take hold of the extended foot.

Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
• Simple variation, lying back flat with the legs in Padmasana (Lotus Pose).

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Parshvaikapada Sarvangasana (Single Leg to the Side Shoulder Stand)
[Do this Padmasana series all the way through on both sides with the legs crossed one way, then the other]
Pindasana (Embryo Pose)
Urdhva Padmasana (Upward Lotus Pose)
Parshva Pindasana (Side Embryo Pose)
Parshva Padmasana (Side Lotus Pose)
Eka Pad Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) Drop-Back
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) Drop-Back
• 3 repetitions.
Halasana (Plough Pose) with the arms overhead holding the feet

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Level 1 Group Class

Vashistha's Pose
The theme of this class is keeping the back and chest wide and the shoulders and back of the neck soft and supple so that the shoulder blades and collarbones can move with the arms.

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.

All Fours
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
Plank Pose
Child’s Pose
• Move seamlessly through each of these poses, holding each one for 30 to 60 seconds.
• Spread the palms and fingers, and seal the hands firmly into the mat in each pose.

Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) with the elbows clasped behind the back

All Fours
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
Plank Pose
Child’s Pose

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) full seated variation with arms

All Fours
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
Plank Pose
Child’s Pose

Virasana (Hero Pose) with Garudasana (Eagle Pose) arms

All Fours
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
Plank Pose 2 with the feet pointed
Child’s Pose

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose) with the elbow bent and the forearm on the ground

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose) simple variation with the knee down

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose) full pose if possible
• Shown above.

Child’s Pose

Right Angle Forearm Stand at the wall

Right Angle Hand Stand at the wall

Child’s Pose

Purvottanasana (Intense East Stretch Pose) table top variation

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)
• Feet on blocks.
• Hold onto a belt around the ankles.

Reclined Glute Stretch with one ankle on the opposite thigh

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1) with the feet on the wall

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

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)


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Group Class

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

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

The Sequence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

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

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

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

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

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

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

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

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

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

Utthita Marichyasana (Extended Marichi’s Pose)

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

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

Chatushpadasana (Four Feet Pose)

Reclined ankle-to-knee glute stretch

Chatushpadasana (Four Feet Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Chatushpadasana (Four Feet Pose)

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

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• 5 to 10 min.


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Group Class

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

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

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

The Sequence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

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

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

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

Prasarita Padottanasana 2 (Wide Spread Feet Pose 2)

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

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• 5 to 10 min.

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

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

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

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• 5 to 10 min.


Bookmark and Share
|

Intermediate Group Class

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

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

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

Sequence 1 (with rope wall):

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

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

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

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

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

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

Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana (Upward Bound Fingers Pose)

Ropes 1
• 5-8 repetitions

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

Ropes 1
• 5-8 repetitions

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

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

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

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

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Sequence 2 (without rope wall):

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

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

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

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

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

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

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

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

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab

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

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

The Sequence

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

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Ropes 1, 5-8 rounds

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Ropes 1, 5-8 rounds

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Ubhaya Padangusthasana (Both Big Toes Pose)

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)

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

Marichyasana 6 (Marichi’s Pose 6)

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

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

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

Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1) free standing

Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2) free standing

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

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)


Bookmark and Share
|

Practice Lab

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

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

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog) on the ropes

Side stretch over a bolster

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

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose) With the arms unbound

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1)

Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)

Parighasana (Gate Pose)

Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1)

Parivrtta Parshvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose)

Ropes 1--8-10 rounds

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

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

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

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

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

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

Maha Mudra (Great Seal)

Parivrtta Janu Shirshasana (Revolved Head of the Knee Pose)

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

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

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Bookmark and Share
|

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...
|