The asanas can be grouped into families: standing poses, seated poses, abdominals, forward & backward bends, inversions, restorative poses. And, finer tuning might include: lateral forward bends, standing forward bends, passive backbends, prepatory poses, and so on. It’s certainly handy to have a coat hanger to help organise the huge miscellany of yoga postures. The style of yoga called Iyengar, is often taught in a monthly schedule where week one emphases standing poses, week two, forward bends, week three backbends, week four inversions/pranayama/restorative. Standing poses are a stand-out group among the clans of asanas because of their all-round utility. […]
I remember hearing a well-known yoga teacher say, “If you can do forward bends easily, you probably can’t do backbends; if you can do backbends easily, you probably can’t do forward bends; and, if you can do both easily, you probably will have difficulty with pranayama.”
Well, usually we do have our strong suit. Forward bends were never mine, but over the years I guess I’ve surrendered myself to them more. […]
The great thing about doing abdominal exercises is, if they are done properly and pitched to the right level, they make you feel fabulous.
Like the family of poses called inversions, back bending poses can elicit a love-hate relationship with yoga practitioners.
Forward bends can be the bane of some yogis lives, especially if you are in a class and you see supple-bodied people seemingly fall into these sorts of poses with the utmost ease.
In my book, Teach Yourself Yoga, I talk about how my difficulties with forward bends eventually helped me understand what yoga is about:
When I started yoga, I experienced great waves of frustration and sadness, whenever I performed a sequence of the seated forward bends. Sometimes I would finish a session crying. No one had explained to me that emotional discomfort could arise while doing yoga. […]
A friend and colleague of mine said that the standing pose Ardha Chandrasana went from being a nasty pose to a nice pose for him when he finally mastered it. As postures go, it will test your balance and equanimity to the hilt. However, once you meet the challenge, it’s going to be a lifelong friend.
When I was struggling with hip arthritis, Ardha Chandrasana was the pose that could realign my femur in its socket when it went out of position. […]
Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana is balletically beautiful, in my view. I love the way movement into the pose takes me into unfamiliar territory. Think about it. How often in the course of a day or even a week would you rotate your spine, and after having done that, then revolve around that axis and bend laterally. The complexity of the pose means it can’t be done perfunctorily. Its path is always going to be uncharted.
The drawing above shows an advanced version. […]
Salamba Sarvangasana takes tenacity
The translated meaning of Salamba Sarvangasana is “whole body pose”. It is often prefaced by Salamba, meaning supported. Your hands support your spine. Your upper arms and shoulders form the bedrock of the pose.
For many years I couldn’t grasp how to get my whole body involved in shoulderstand. The ideal shape of the pose appeared like a shimmering but distant mirage to me. I would struggle to get upright. The effort exhausted me. My kidneys would start to ache. […]
Have you ever noticed that sometimes a person will say a phrase and, for what ever reason and no matter how mundane it is, it lodges in your brain.
Consequently, we yoga teachers should take particular care about what we say to our students when they are in a relaxed, suggestible frame of mind. Once that phrase or expression goes in, it might be indelibly printed.
You know what I mean. You’ve heard your instructor say something like, “Unhunch your shoulders”, a word not in any language, I’m sure. […]
Two very important organs of your body nestle under the back ribs and serve as a vital filtration system for wastes. The kidney organs work to pass urine through the ureters to your bladder for storage and elimination.
If you get extremely run down, you may develop an ache in your lower back that is not muscular and arises when the adrenal glands, situated near the kidneys get overstimulated.
Traditionally, the family of poses that are meant to soothe the adrenals and tone the kidneys are forward stretches. […]
Yoga is portable. If you have been attending classes for umpteen years and have not yet made the transition to doing yoga at home, you may not have made that discovery. So, here’s another incentive talk 🙂
Nowhere is the portability of yoga practice more appreciated than when you’re on the road. Even in the most modest lodging, you’ll find space to do a few back-saving postures.
The “hanging partial squat” or “bed chest opener” are so necessary after driving Highway 101 for many hours, as we are on this vacation. […]
“Home is where the heart is” is not a very good adage. Does it mean that you can’t leave home and still feel heartful?
I do know that my heart feels fuller when I’m here in our own little 4 acres on Mitchells Island. So, I was ecstatic to get home last night. Not the least to see my sweetheart.
The weather is inclement and probably will be for most of the week – rainy, chilly – but I don’t care.
I did two loads of laundry and a batch of handwash this morning. Such bliss. […]