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

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

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

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

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

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

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

Chatushpadasana (Four Footed Pose)

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

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

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Malasana (Garland Pose)

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

Eka Hasta Bhujasana (Single Arm and Hand Pose)

Ashtavakrasana (Ashtavakra’s Pose)
• See photo.

Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)

Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)

Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)

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

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Year of Yoga: Week 22



The practices are aimed at the basic level, suitable for anyone taking class on a regular basis. Regardless of your level, remember not to be reckless in your practice. Please consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine and do not attempt poses that you have not been taught in class by a competent instructor. The practices also include restorative work for a fully balanced expression of the yogic path.

The week’s sequences will be posted in advance of each week, giving you a chance to look them over and rearrange them according to your schedule. Wednesday’s practice will be a softer, restorative sequence. You should feel free to rearrange the order of the days, and even the practices themselves, according to your energy levels and your schedule. Take these sequences as suggestions and modify them as you will.

May 28


Adho Mukha Sukhasana (Downward Facing Comfortable Pose)

Child’s Pose

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Wide Spread Feet Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

Parighasana (Gate Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Virasana (Hero Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported on blocks
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 29


Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Sukhasana (Downward Facing Comfortable Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

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

Garudasana (Eagle Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Wide Spread Feet Pose 1) with the head supported as necessary
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose) (3-5 min)
Intermediate Alternative: Supta Virasana (Reclined hero Pose) (3-5 min)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Sukhasana (Comfortable Pose) with Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana (Upward Bound Fingers Pose)

Adho Mukha Sukhasana (Downward Facing Comfortable Pose)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) upright and folding forward

Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose) upright and folding forward

Siddhasana (Accomplished Pose)

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

Virasana (Hero Pose) with Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana (Upward Bound Fingers Pose)

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

Dandasana (Staff Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shalabhasana (Locust Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 30


Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose) (3-5 min)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) any simple variation--3 to 5 rounds

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) any challenging variation--3 to 5 rounds

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Ardha Navasana (Half Boat Pose)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported on blocks
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 31


Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported on blocks
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose)

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose)

Marichyasana 6 (Marichi’s Pose 6)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose)

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

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


June 1


Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose) (3-5 min)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose) with a bolster/blankets cross-wise under the back

Shalabhasana (Locust Pose)

Matsyasana (Fish Pose) any leg variation with a bolster/blankets cross-wise under the back

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog pose)

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose) over a bolster OR Eka Pada Bhekasana (Single Leg Frog Pose)

Ushtrasana (Camel Pose)

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Parshva Dhanurasana (Side Bow Pose)

Ushtrasana (Camel Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Sukhasana (Downward Facing Comfortable Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported on blocks
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Parshva Bharadwajasana (Side Bharadwaja’s Pose) over a bolster

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


June 2


Adho Mukha Shavasana (Downward Facing Corpse Pose) 3-5 min

Parshva Bharadwajasana (Side Bharadwaja’s Pose) over a bolster, 2-3 min each side

Side stretch over a bolster, 2-3 min each side

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose) with a bolster/blankets cross-wise under the back

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Plank Pose

Virasana (Hero Pose) with Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana (Upward Bound Fingers Pose) both crossings

Virasana (Hero Pose) with Pashchima Baddha Hastasana (Reverse Bound Hands Pose) clasping the wrists or elbows behind the back, both crossings

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Plank Pose

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose) with the knee down

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

Virasana (Hero Pose) with Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) arms

Virasana (Hero Pose) with Pashchima Namaskarsana (Reverse Prayer Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Plank Pose

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’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

Virasana with Gomukhasana arms (Hero Pose with Cow Face Pose arms)

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose) with one knee down

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose) full pose or with one knee down

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Shirshasana (Head Stand) prep only
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) with arm variations behind the back (See Halasana article)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose) with arm variations

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


June 3


Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Child’s Pose over a bolster

Side Stretch over a bolster

Parshva Bharadwajasana (Side Bharadwaja’s Pose) over a bolster

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

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported on blocks
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) over a bolster

Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose)

Ujjayi 1 (Victorious Breath 1--simple breath awareness) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose) (5 min)

Ujjayi 2 (Victorious Breath 2--gently extended exhalations) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose) (5 min)

Viloma 2 (Interrupted Breath 2--a gentle pause at the end of each exhalation) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose) (5 min)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Related Articles

A Year of Intermediate Yoga: Week 22


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Atmadarshana Yogyatvani: Fitness for the Observation of the Soul [SpiritFit]

Fort Collins, Colorado-based Michael Lloyd-Billington is a yogic triple-threat: personal trainer, yoga teacher and raw food advocate. I had the pleasure of having him as a teacher-trainer at the very beginning of my professional yoga career. He is a kind and funny man with some great ideas about mind/body/spirit/yoga which he is beginning to express in a new blog: SpiritFit. Check out his first post about the connection between health and fitness and spiritual quest:

‘We all know what it’s like to have the state of our bodies influence or even over-ride our intentions. We’ve all had moments – probably very many, in fact – when we’ve been less patient or kind or present than we wanted to be simply because our bodies were tired or ill or simply not feeling good. We’ve all had moments when we’ve compromised values or failed to live up to them because our heads were a little less clear due to choices in diet or lifestyle or our bodies were “out of sorts.” The fact is, when we fail to care for our bodies it has a direct impact on our states of mind. And when our minds are not clear, it is extremely difficult or even impossible to live our spiritual beliefs.

‘By contrast, the Yogis realized that, when our bodies are healthy and peaceful, our minds naturally become more clear and controlled. And when our minds are centered, it is much, much easier for us to hold on to and work toward our values.’

Source: Spirituality and Fitness


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Level 1 Group Class: Protecting the Lower Back

Warrior Pose 1
As we work towards Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1) in this class, the concern is to keep the back and front of the trunk equally wide as we find strength and direction through the sides of the body. As you go through the poses, consider the following directions:
  • Slice the outer edge of the back foot firmly down into the floor and reach through the inner thigh into the back heel to ground and strengthen the back leg. Do not compromise the solidity of the back leg, bringing the feet closer together in the bent leg poses if you need to keep the knee on top of the ankle.
  • Widen the buttock flesh and lengthen it down, away from the head. This is could be thought of as a “tucking” of the tailbone under, however you do not want to go quite into a full tuck, as that can create its own set of problems, not least of which would be losing the strength of the back leg.
  • Strengthen and lift the sides of the waist, moving them back to stabilize and firm the lower back area.
  • Widen evenly across the buttocks, the lower back, the back ribs in the back and the abdomen, the front ribs and the chest in front.
  • Keep the back of the neck and the throat soft and wide.

The Sequence

Reclined Hug
• Lie on the back with the feet on the floor and the knees pointing up.
• Wrap the arms around the chest to clasp the shoulder blades.
• Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds, softening and widening the back from the tailbone to to back of the skull.
• Change the crossing of the arms and hold for the same amount of time.

Chest Opener
• Continuing on directly from above, inhale and raise the right arm over head.
• Put the left hand on the very top of the right side of the chest, just under the collarbone.
• As you inhale, reach through the right arm. As you exhale, keep reaching through the arm and press the chest down, expanding the back ribs into the floor.
• Hold this for 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat on the second side.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Child’s Pose

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Lunge with the back foot up

Lunge with the hands on the floor and the back knee down

Lunge with the hands on the thigh and the back knee down

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Child’s Pose

Supta Urdhva Hastasana (Reclined Upward Hands Pose)
• Belt the wrists at shoulder width so that the arms are parallel.
• Press strongly out into the belt as you lie flat on the back and raise the arms overhead.
• Reach strongly through the legs and the arms, widening the back and front and pressing the sides of the waist down into the floor.

Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Hands Pose)
• Wrists belted and back against the wall.
• Reach strongly through the legs and the arms, widening the back and front and pressing the sides of the waist back into the wall.

Vrkshasana (Tree Pose)

Utkatasana (Furious Pose)
• With a block between the thighs and the wrists belted.

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)

Utkatasana (Furious Pose)
• With the wrists belted.

Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1) with the hands on the hips

Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1) with the wrists belted

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)
• With the feet on blocks and holding a belt around the ankles.

Reclined Glute Stretch

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)
• With the feet on blocks and holding a belt around the ankles.

Parshva Parvatasana (Side Mountain Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Practice Lab: Core Poses (from "Light on Yoga")

I think I’m starting to develop a full-blown obsession with Mr. Iyengar’s sequences in the back of “Light on Yoga”. After a week of teaching a modified, simplified version of last week’s Practice Lab (see this week’s intermediate group class to be posted this Thursday), I’m starting to see how these sequences work. Remarkably, they seem to be all about core strength and organization. I thought I’d try a few more of them over the next few weeks. Here’s a slight modification of the next day’s sequence, day 6 from course 2, on page 474 of the Schocken edition of the book. This practice is more straightforwardly about core strength, featuring long holdings in the inversions, boat poses and twists.

The Sequence

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
• In the book he calls for 15 minutes, I was only able to do 7 as my neck is a little weak at the moment.

Urdhva Dandasana (Upward Staff Pose)
• 1 minute.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

Halasana (Plough Pose)
• 5 minutes.

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)
• 5 minutes.

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

Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose)
• 1 minute.

Ardha Navasana (Half Boat Pose)
• 30 seconds.

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)
• 5 minutes.

Krounchasana (Heron Pose)
• 20 seconds.

Malasana (Garland Pose)
• Mr. Iyengar class for Kurmasana (Turtle Pose) here, but I find it usually does a number on my sacrum, so I substituted.
• 1 minute.

Supta Kurmasana (Sleeping Turtle Pose)
• If, like me, you have troubles with this pose as well, do a preparation by placing the feet on a block or bolster with the heels touching. Open the legs up into a square shape, as if you were going to go all the way though them into the full pose. Instead, however, hold onto the feet and extend the trunk forward.
• 1 minute.

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

Pashasana (Noose Pose)
• 1 minute.

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (HAnd Stand)
• 1 minute.

Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)
• I was unable to hold the balance for the full time, so I did the pose with the feet on the floor.
• 1 minute.

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)
• 6 times, holding for 20 to 30 seconds each time.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
• 10 to 15 minutes.


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Intermediate Group Class: Balancing and Releasing the Lumbar Joints

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

The Sequence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Year of Yoga: Week 21



The practices are aimed at the basic level, suitable for anyone taking class on a regular basis. Regardless of your level, remember not to be reckless in your practice. Please consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine and do not attempt poses that you have not been taught in class by a competent instructor. The practices also include restorative work for a fully balanced expression of the yogic path.

The week’s sequences will be posted in advance of each week, giving you a chance to look them over and rearrange them according to your schedule. Wednesday’s practice will be a softer, restorative sequence. You should feel free to rearrange the order of the days, and even the practices themselves, according to your energy levels and your schedule. Take these sequences as suggestions and modify them as you will.

May 21


Virasana (Hero Pose) with Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana (Upward Bound Fingers Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) arms in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Vrkshasana (Tree Pose)

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1)

Utkatasana (Furious Pose)

Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) forward bend with the legs only

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported on blocks
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 22


Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Sukhasana (Downward Facing Comfortable Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Wide Spread Feet Pose 1)

Virasana (Hero Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Wide Spread Feet Pose 1) with the head supported as necessary
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose) (3-5 min)
Intermediate Alternative: Supta Virasana (Reclined hero Pose) (3-5 min)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Malasana (Garland Pose)

Marichyasana 1 (Marichi’s Pose 1)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 23


Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) any simple variation, 3-5 rounds

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) any challenging variation, 5 rounds
• In each round, after Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose), hop into Dandasana (Staff Pose) and do one of the following:
• Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose)
• Ardha Navasana (Half Boat Pose)
• Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)
• Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
• Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose)

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose) or Ardha Bhekasana (Half Frog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported on blocks
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 24


Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Virasana (Hero Pose) with Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) arms

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported on blocks
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Marichyasana 1 (Marichi’s Pose 1)

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)

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

Pashasana (Noose Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 25


Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Virasana (Hero Pose) with Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) arms

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

Virabhadrasana 3 (Warrior Pose 3)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Ushtrasana (Camel Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported on blocks
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Parshva Bharadwajasana (Side Bharadwaja’s Pose) over a bolster

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 26


Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Virasana (Hero Pose) with Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana (Upward Bound Fingers Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Pashchima Namaskarasana (Revere Prayer Pose) in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose) with the knee down

Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose) full pose

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
INTO
Plank Pose
INTO
Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)

Child’s Pose

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
INTO
Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)
INTO
Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)

Child’s Pose

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose) from the floor

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Pashchima Namaskarasana (Revere Prayer Pose) in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Shirshasana (Head Stand) prep only
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Purvottanasana (Intense East Stretch Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 27


Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Child’s Pose over a bolster

Side Stretch over a bolster

Parshva Bharadwajasana (Side Bharadwaja’s Pose) over a bolster

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

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported on blocks
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) over a bolster

Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose)

Ujjayi 1 (Victorious Breath 1--simple breath awareness) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose) (5 min)

Ujjayi 2 (Victorious Breath 2--gently extended exhalations) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose) (5 min)

Viloma 2 (Interrupted Breath 2--a gentle pause at the end of each exhalation) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose) (5 min)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Related Articles

A Year of Intermediate Yoga: Week 21


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Level 1 Group Class: Lengthening the Trunk for Twists

Marichi's Pose 3
In this class we worked primarily on lengthening the sides of the trunk evenly to lengthen and free the spine in the twists. As a second idea, we worked on taking the twist from the upper trunk (the navel and chest), turning the lower abdomen and hip away from the direction of the twist.

The Sequence

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Have a block between the thighs and pull it back.
• Grip the edges of the mat and pull them forward.

Child’s Pose
• Hands on blocks.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Child’s Pose

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Lunge with the back knee up

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Parivrtta Parshvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose)
• Simple variation with the arm/hand down inside the front leg.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Child’s Pose

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) forward bend with the legs only

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)
• Hands on blocks.
• Only to the flat back position, not the full forward fold.

Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)
• From the flat back Parshvottanasana with the hands on blocks.
• Do this twice on both sides.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Marichyasana 1 (Marichi’s Pose 1) twist only, without binding

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)

Ardha Matsyendrasana 1 (Half Lord of the Fishes 1)

Pashasana (Noose Pose) heels on blankets

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) over a bolster with the ankles belted

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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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.


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Intermediate Group Class: Legs and Psoas in Baby Backbends

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

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

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

The Sequence

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

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined big Toe Pose 2)

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

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

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)

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

Ardha Bhekasana (Half Frog Pose)

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

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose) over a chair

Laghuvajrasana (Little Thunderbolt Pose) over a chair

Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose) over a chair

Ushtrasana (Camel Pose) with the feet on a bolster

Ushtrasana (Camel Pose)

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

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) forward bend with legs only

Ardha Halasana (Half Plough Pose)

Parshva Bharadwajasana (Side Bharadwaja’s Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Year of Yoga: Week 20



The practices are aimed at the basic level, suitable for anyone taking class on a regular basis. Regardless of your level, remember not to be reckless in your practice. Please consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine and do not attempt poses that you have not been taught in class by a competent instructor. The practices also include restorative work for a fully balanced expression of the yogic path.

The week’s sequences will be posted in advance of each week, giving you a chance to look them over and rearrange them according to your schedule. Wednesday’s practice will be a softer, restorative sequence. You should feel free to rearrange the order of the days, and even the practices themselves, according to your energy levels and your schedule. Take these sequences as suggestions and modify them as you will.

May 14


Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Virasana (Hero Pose) with Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana (Upward Bound Fingers Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) with the toes turned under

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

Parighasana (Gate Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported on blocks
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 15


Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Sukhasana (Downward Facing Comfortable Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) forward bend without the arm variation

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Wide Spread Feet Pose 1)

Virasana (Hero Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Wide Spread Feet Pose 1) with the head supported as necessary
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose) (3-5 min)
Intermediate Alternative: Supta Virasana (Reclined hero Pose) (3-5 min)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Malasana (Garland Pose)

Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose)

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 16


Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) any simple variation, 3-5 rounds

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) any challenging variation, 3-5 rounds

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)

Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose)

Ardha Navasana (Half Boat Pose)

Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported on blocks
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 17


Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Virasana (Hero Pose) with Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) arms

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported on blocks
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)

Marichyasana 6 (Marichi’s Pose 6)

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

Pashasana (Noose Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 18


Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Virasana (Hero Pose) with Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) arms

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Plank Pose

Shalabhasana (Locust Pose)

Plank Pose with the toes pointed

Makarasana (Crocodile Pose)

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose) with the toes pointed

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Ardha Bhekasana (Half Frog Pose)

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Ardha Bhekasana (Half Frog Pose)

Parshva Dhanurasana (Side Bow Pose)

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose) even if only a brief attempt

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported on blocks
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Parshva Bharadwajasana (Side Bharadwaja’s Pose) over a bolster

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 19


Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) any simple variation--3 to 5 rounds

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) any challenging variation--3 to 5 rounds
• Include any variation of Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose) in your sequence.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Utthita Parshvakonasana (extended Side Angle Pose)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose) with some variation of the hands behind the back

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Shirshasana (Head Stand) prep only
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Purvottanasana (Intense East Stretch Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 20


Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Child’s Pose over a bolster

Side Stretch over a bolster

Parshva Bharadwajasana (Side Bharadwaja’s Pose) over a bolster

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

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported on blocks
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) over a bolster

Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose)

Ujjayi 1 (Victorious Breath 1--simple breath awareness) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose) (5 min)

Ujjayi 2 (Victorious Breath 2--gently extended exhalations) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose) (5 min)

Viloma 2 (Interrupted Breath 2--a gentle pause at the end of each exhalation) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose) (5 min)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Related Articles

A Year of Intermediate Yoga: Week 20


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Level 1 Group Class: Strength and Mobility of the Shoulders

The Shoulder Blade
In this class we are working with the shoulder blades, the ribs underneath and the muscles around them. We need to find strength around the shoulder blade by creating a seal between shoulder blade and back. This seal happens both from pressing the shoulder blade forward onto the ribcage, but also by expanding the ribs back into the shoulder blade. Sealing the shoulder blades does not mean pinching them together. If the space between them (the rhomboids and trapezius) grips, then they will not be able to move with the arms, which they need to do for proper mobility of the shoulder. Throughout the class keep the back of the neck and the space between the shoulder blades soft, even when the arms are behind the back. Find support for the arms not by tensing the upper back, deltoids and neck, but by expanding and lifting the ribcage.

The Sequence

Reclined Hug
• Lie on the back with the feet on the floor and the knees pointing up.
• Wrap the arms around the chest to clasp the shoulder blades.
• Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds, softening and widening the back from the tailbone to to back of the skull.
• Change the crossing of the arms and hold for the same amount of time.

All Fours into Child’s Pose
• Rock back and forth between All Fours and Child’s Pose, exhale back and inhaling forward.
• Seal the hands into the mat.
• Observe and allow the shoulder blades to slide along the back: moving forward with the arms as you go into Child’s Pose, sliding back down towards the tailbone as you go back to All Fours.

Plank Pose
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Observe and allow the same movement as you make the transition from the first pose to the second.

Reclined Chest Opener
• Lie back in Shavasana (Corpse Pose).
• Raise the right arm overhead and place the left hand on the top of the chest just below the right collarbone.
• As you inhale, reach strongly through the arm.
• As you exhale, keep reaching through the arm, fixing it in place, and press the chest down into the floor.
• Expand the back ribs on the right into the shoulder blade and the floor.
• Do this for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Child’s Pose
Plank Pose
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
• Seal the hands into the floor, the shoulder blades into the back and the back into the shoulder blades as you transition through each of these poses.

Block Lifts Over a Roll
• Roll a mat up and lie back over it with the roll across the bottom of the shoulder blades so that the shoulders are not all the way down on the floor. Adjust the position of the roll to make the neck comfortable.
• Hold onto a block (a foam block is a little easier than a wooden block) between both hands and reach the block up towards the ceiling.
• Seal the shoulder blades into the back and the back into the shoulder blades.
• Slowly bring the arms and block up and over the head to the floor. Allow the shoulder blades to move with the block, keeping the strong seal. Make sure the block doesn’t wobble from side to side. If it does, re-trace that part of the arc to make the movement as smooth as possible.
• With the arms alongside the ears, reach the arms and legs away from each other.
• Brace the back into the roll and slowly lift the block back up without jerking or wobbling.
• Repeat this two or three times.

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

Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Hands Pose)
• Come into the pose through Utthita Hastasana (arms out to the side).
• Inhale bring the arms up to shoulder height with the palms facing down.
• Exhale, turn the palms, elbows and biceps up.
• Pause here and stretch evenly from the upper back and the top chest, pulling the wrists away from each other.
• Exhale and lift the arms overhead, allowing the shoulder blades to move with the arms.

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)
• As the arms grow tired expand and lift from the ribcage to support the shoulders.

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Parighasana (Gate 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)
• Fold blankets for a gentle lift under the trunk.


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Reclined Hip Stretch Sequence

I presented this series the other day in a Level 1 Group Class post, but I didn’t describe it very well. Here is an illustrated version. Hold each stage for 30 to 60 seconds. Do each stage on one leg, then repeat on the second.

Part 1


• Lie with the legs bent and the hands on the lower abdomen.
• Become aware of the release in the lower abdomen with each exhalation.
• Soften and release the lower back, the hips, the buttocks and the pelvic floor.

Part 2


• Place one ankle on the opposite thigh, take hold of the legs and draw them in towards you.
• Keep the sitting bones dropping towards the floor.
• Use the strength of the arms, keeping the leg muscles passive.

Part 3


• Roll over onto your side and place the foot flat on the ground.
• Roll the thigh away from you so that the shin and knee point up towards the ceiling.
• Lengthen the waist towards the head.

Part 4


• Either cross the legs and open out into a twist.
• If the twist pull sharply on the buttocks or the lower back, uncross the legs rest one thigh on the other.
• Return to the first position for a few breath, feeling the effects of the stretches before continuing on with the other leg.
• When you have finished both sides, keep the abdomen soft as you roll over to the right and press yourself up.


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Practice Lab: Vamadevasana 2

We sort of made this sequence up as we went along, but it turned out to be remarkably restorative. Vamadeva is the name of the aspect of Shiva that is the preserver, is female in gender and associated with the element of water.

The Sequence


[Do the following sequence all in one go, keeping the head down throughout]
Rope Shirshasana
Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
• Place the hands on the floor, push up half way.
• Untangle the legs from the ropes and press all the way up into Hand Stand.
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart
Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

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

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)

Pigeon Pose forward bend

Pigeon Pose forward bend
• Place a thin mat or blanket roll under the front ankle.

Pigeon Pose forward bend
• Increase the height under the front ankle.

Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana 1 (Single Leg King Pigeon Pose 1) with Bhekasana (Frog Pose) back leg

Vamadevasana 2 (Vamadeva’s Pose 2)
• We found it extremely helpful to start in Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2) with the Padmasana (Lotus Pose) leg high on the opposite thigh and the foot aiming at the navel. Keeping that height, then think more of pressing the Bhekasana foot down onto the other.
• It’s also helpful to lean really far over onto the greater trochanter of the Padmasana leg.

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)

Parighasana (Gate Pose)

Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)

Pashasana (Noose Pose) facing the wall
• Place the hands on the wall, both for support and to help deepen the twist.

Ardha Halasana (Half Plough Pose)
• 5 min.

Ardha Pindasana (Half Embryo Pose)
• With your Ardha Halasana set-up, cross the legs into Padmasana (Lotus Pose) and rest them on the chair.
• 60-90 sec each crossing.

Adho Mukha Shavasana (Downward Facing Corpse Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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New Look

As you may have noticed, we have a brand new look. The last template was with us for a good three years, but times change. All the bells and whistles should now be working properly, but if you find something that doesn’t work, drop me a comment if you would. I’d be grateful.

I’m off to practice some backbends...

Witold
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Intermediate Group Class: The Pelvic Floor in Forward Bends

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

The Sequence

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

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

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

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

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

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

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

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

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

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

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

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Year of Yoga: Week 19



The practices are aimed at the basic level, suitable for anyone taking class on a regular basis. Regardless of your level, remember not to be reckless in your practice. Please consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine and do not attempt poses that you have not been taught in class by a competent instructor. The practices also include restorative work for a fully balanced expression of the yogic path.

The week’s sequences will be posted in advance of each week, giving you a chance to look them over and rearrange them according to your schedule. Wednesday’s practice will be a softer, restorative sequence. You should feel free to rearrange the order of the days, and even the practices themselves, according to your energy levels and your schedule. Take these sequences as suggestions and modify them as you will.

May 7


Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Vrkshasana (Tree Pose)

Utkatasana (Furious Pose)

Garudasana (Eagle Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)

Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Spread Feet Pose 1)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Virasana (Hero Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported on blocks
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 8


Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Wide Spread Feet Pose 1)

Virasana (Hero Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Wide Spread Feet Pose 1) with the head supported as necessary
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose) (3-5 min)
Intermediate Alternative: Supta Virasana (Reclined hero Pose) (3-5 min)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Virasana (Hero Pose)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose)

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

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

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 9


Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)

Shalabhasana (Locust Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

Virabhadrasana 3 (Warrior Pose 3)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported on blocks
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 10


Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Bharadwajasana 1 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)

Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Parivrtta Parshvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose)

Virasana (Hero Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported on blocks
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 11


Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) any simple variation, 3-5 rounds

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) 3-5 rounds
• Include Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1) and, if possible, Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose) in your sequence.

Ardha Bhekasana (Half Frog Pose)

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Chatushpadasana (Four Footed Pose)

Ardha Bhekasana (Half Frog Pose)

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Parshva Dhanurasana (Side Bow Pose)

Ushtrasana (Camel Pose)

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported on blocks
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Parshva Bharadwajasana (Side Bharadwaja’s Pose) over a bolster

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 12


Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) any simple variation--3 to 5 rounds

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) any challenging variation--3 to 5 rounds
• Include any variation of Vashisthasana (Vashistha’s Pose) in your sequence.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Intermediate Alternative: Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

Dolphin/Forearm Stand prep
Intermediate Alternative: Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Feather Pose)

Shirshasana (Head Stand) prep only
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Virasana (Hero Pose) or Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) with Garudasana (Eagle Pose) arms

Virasana (Hero Pose) or Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) with Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana (Upward Bound Fingers Pose)

Virasana (Hero Pose) or Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) with Pashchima Baddha Hastasana (Reverse Bound Hands Pose)

Virasana (Hero Pose) or Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) with Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) arms

Virasana (Hero Pose) or Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) with Pashchima Namaskarasana (Reverse Prayer Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Purvottanasana (Intense East Stretch Pose)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


May 13


Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Child’s Pose over a bolster

Side Stretch over a bolster

Parshva Bharadwajasana (Side Bharadwaja’s Pose) over a bolster

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

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart and the head supported on blocks
Intermediate Alternative: Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) over a bolster

Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose)

Ujjayi 1 (Victorious Breath 1--simple breath awareness) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose) (5 min)

Ujjayi 2 (Victorious Breath 2--gently extended exhalations) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose) (5 min)

Viloma 2 (Interrupted Breath 2--a gentle pause at the end of each exhalation) in Shavasana (Corpse Pose) (5 min)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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A Year of Intermediate Yoga: Week 19


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Level 1 Group Class: Softening the Outer Hips and Thighs

Half Moon Pose
The outer hip, outer upper thigh area often gets very thick and tight, not least because the outer hip rotators also serve as stabilizers for the hips. In this class we will try and stop the outer hip rolling up towards the head, shortening the waist. In each of these poses think of rolling the outer hip away from the head to lengthen the waist whenever you are folding at the hip.

The Sequence

Reclined Floor Stretch Sequence
• Reclined Glute Stretch: place one ankle on the opposite thigh, take hold of the legs and draw them in towards you with the strength of the arms, keep;ing the leg muscles passive.
• From the above position, roll over onto your side and place the foot flat on the ground. Roll the thigh away from you so that the shin and knee point up towards the ceiling.
• Either cross the legs or rest one thigh on the other and open out into a twist.
• Hold for 30 to 60 seconds in each of these positions, then repeat on the other side.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) leg variation
• Instead of sitting down between the feet, bring the ankles and shins together with the feet pointing back behind you. Put the hands on blocks to support yourself and sit back on the heels.
• Keep the shins and ankles together, even if this means you are not able to get the hips very far down.

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 2)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Hands Pose)

Vrkshasana (Tree Pose)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Virasana (Hero Pose)

Bharadwajasana 2 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 2) simple variation

Bharadwajasana 1 (Bharadwaja’s Pose 1) simple variation

Parshva Parvatasana (Side Mountain Pose) over a bolster

Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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Practice Lab: Separating the Ilio-Psoas

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

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

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

The Lesser Trochanters and the Hip Joint

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

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

The Iliacus and the Psoas

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

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

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

The Pelvic Floor and the Lower Ribs

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

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

Additional Thoughts

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

The Sequence

Vrkshasana (Tree Pose) with the knee at the wall

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

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

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

Virasana (Hero Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Padangusthasana (Bog Toe Pose)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)

Prasarita Padottanasana 1 (Widespread Feet Pose 1)

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

Virasana (Hero Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)

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

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

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

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

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)

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

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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