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Standing Poses

Establishing your connection to the earth

In the western yoga literature from the 1940s and 50s, standing poses were about giving shape and strength the legs, but today we know much more than this. Of course these exercises tone and strengthen the legs that more importantly they are all about grounding.

If you think about our fundamental nature, about 70% of our body is water and the other 30% composed of minerals and elements of the earth that we have extracted from the soils that produces our food. In other words like the words of the song, we are stardust and these elements can be harnessed to support us.

At a more subtle level we are bioelectrical organisms connected through

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Halasana

Yoga Asana Series

The plough asana

Typically halasana or the plough pose is done as a continuation or part of a series when performing shoulder stand but it can be done as an easier alternative. But it can be something of a challenge and should be approached with caution as there is the same risk to neck damage as in shoulder stand.

Halasana is an inversion of dandasana and for anyone who cannot comfortably sit in paschimottanasana and reach their toes, this pose is impossible to complete without the risk of injury. Therefore anyone who is not flexible, must position themselves so that they can bring their feet down onto a wall or chair.

If you are

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Salamba Sarvangasana

Yoga Asana Series

The shoulder stand inversion

Image via yogibe on Tumblr

Within classical hatha yoga, Salamba Sarvangasana or shoulder stand is most often done following headstand in order to create an energetic balance. But one should should learn and be comfortable doing shoulder stand for 3 to 5 minutes before incorporating head stand into one’ practise.

The objective is to balance the body primarily on the shoulders and elbows with minimal weight on the back of the neck or head as demonstrated Very few people are naturally as flexible as the woman in this right image and such a performance generally comes after many years of practice. However very few people are naturally as

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Yoga Preparation

Yoga Asana Series

Standing Warmups

These are some of the standing warm-ups that help to prepare the muscles for exercise. They can be done as a prelude to yoga or any physical activity as they help to release tightness form the body, warm the muscles helping to maintain flexibility and function of the body. As such, they can be done every day for general well-being and maintaining a clear mind. They are also good for those with respiratory problems.

Remember; no stretch should be uncomfortable. If you experience discomfort, please get help.

Foot flexion: Combines an exercise in balance and maintaining ankle mobility.

From Tadasana, extend one foot forward and consciously try to: stretch the ball of

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Dandasana

Yoga Asana Series

Seated Staff Pose

BKS Iyengar in Dandasana

Like all poses, Dandasana has a foundation; that is the sitting bones on the floor (or cushion) the legs extended and ideally having the inner ankle bones together, the back lifts up and the pelvis will tilt forward so the spine will balance vertically.

One of the purposes of this pose is to provide an anatomical perspective while lengthening through the back for the legs and extending upwards through the spine. To achieve this the front leg muscles and abdominal muscles are also exercised.

How to:

Sit on the floor with legs together and extended in front of you as with your feet flat as if against a

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Yoga Essentials

Cautions – Health and Safety in Yoga

As with any exercise, one must be physically capable of performing it without risk of injury. This means that if you have any physical problem, you should seek medical advise before commencing any yoga exercise.

Some exercises may cause a little discomfort if you overstretch. A good way to avoid over stretching is to have a scale on 1 to 10 where 1 is no feeling and 10 is pain. So in practice stretch in the 3 – 7 range on your comfort scale.

Any pain experienced doing yoga is an indication you are doing the pose incorrectly or that you have some ailment. You must ease back from the pose and get

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Surya Namaskar

Yoga Asana Series

Classical exercise routine

Surya Namaskar or sun salutations are an ideal everyday warm up or stand alone workout; the classic series of exercises can be done in a few minutes to get your energy flowing, or can be repeated as a comprehensive workout. These Youtube videos are examples that you can follow with allowance for your level of health and fitness.

If you think about it, if the heat and light from our son were extinguished, life on earth as we know it would terminate within about 18 hours. Our ancestors regarded the sun is the source and sustainer of life, and as such it was a deserving of appreciation and veneration. So the first

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Ustrasana

Yoga Asana Series

Camel pose or extending backwards

Ustrasana is a beginner level back extension which is not to be confused with simply bending backwards as the name often implies. The whole idea is to extend and lengthen one’s spine upwards so that it can freely flex without creating any compression or discomfort in the spine.

The ease of performing this asana comes with the softening or lengthening of one’s front thigh muscles. As you go into the posture, avoid pushing the pelvis forwards. Before attempting this exercise, please read the page on bending backwards.

Instruction

Place the feet and knees hip width apart with toes under as in the right image Place the hands

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Utkatasana

Yoga Asana Series

Not for feint hearts

Caution, anyone who has heart problems risks over-straining the heart in this pose and should avoid it.

This asana is often referred to as the chair pose because it resembles the action of sitting. However utkatasana as well as working the legs, also works all the internal structures of the torso and pushes the heart to work more strongly. There are several levels to this exercise, the first is with the feet apart and parallel to each other, the knees bend and the hips drop back but unlike many descriptions, the idea is to hold the arms and torso as upright as possible.

As one sinks into the pose, one’s weight will

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Partner Yoga

Moving from Doing together to Being together

Partner yoga has been termed AcroYoga. There are many aspects and methodologies of which the most common is supporting and being supported in the performance of yoga asana. Yet it can also involve meditation and non-contact activities. But all aspects of acroyoga involve body to body and mind to mind communication at a subtle level beyond everyday consciousness.

By practising asana together as for instance in this right image, one develops trust and confidence in one’s partner which in turn fosters a better relationship. Where partners are of similar stature and flexibility, the practice is generally more balanced but when one is more supple, more stronger or of a different stature, some of

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