The Yoga Path • Omaha, NE

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{ Practicing Physical, Mental & Spiritual Health }

Home Practice Level I, 2

I’ve been hearing from some of you that in the midst of social distancing and our self-imposed remoteness, you are feeling somewhat antsy and dispersed. Today’s sequence* might help with that feeling. It starts out active with some standing postures, then spirals into a more introspective poses. Give yourself room to sink into these quieter poses. Their simplicity can perhaps mislead one to thinking they are easy or insipid. But stop and dive down into the intricacies of each asana. The stillness offered can sometimes be quite intense.

Trikonasna/triangle pose: Use a block or prop as need be, but repeat 2x each side and see if you can get lower on second attempt. Keep both legs very strong.

Virabhadrasana 2: Repeat 2x each side and see if you can get lower on second attempt. Keep both legs very strong.

Ardha Uttanasana / half forward bend:
With hands on the wall at hip level or higher so you can strive for a concave back. Keep legs very straight. Do 1x but hold.

Parsvottanasana / side-angle forward bend: Leave hands on hips and try to maintain a concave spine. Repeat 2x each side and see if you can you can get lower on the second attempt.

Prasarita Padottananasana / wide legged pose: Start with hands on floor, straight arms, and concave back. Then lower head to floor or block. Repeat 2x.

Sukhasana/simple sit: Simple crossleg position. Do on a folded blanket to get hips the height of the knees. Switch leg position or (if you’re feeling adventurous) twist to each side but be kind to knees. Repeat 3x

Baddha Konasana / bounded angle pose: Get the back supported against the wall or couch. Use your arms behind you as pictured to learn to get spine straight and strong. Get the outside legs supported as needed. Hold for several minutes with back straight; read a poem.

“Yoga does not just change the way we see things; it transforms the person who sees.”

BKS Iyengar

Vajrasana (urdhva Hastasana & Parvatasana): Sit with heals and knees together under you placing a rolled up blanket between calves as needed. Bring straight arms up in line with ears (urdhva hasta) then repeat interlacing fingers and palms turned up (parvata).

Adho Mukha Virasana with support. Try to find a cushion or blankets to get the head the same height at the hips. Legs are apart, arms are forward.

Pavanmuktasana: Remember you can stuff the hands behind the knees. Play around with the legs to going into the happy baby pose rocking from side-to-side.

Adho Mukha Svanasana / downward -facing dog: Repeat 2x after short rest between.

Supta Baddha Konasana: getting support for the back, head, and outer legs too. Should be comfortable because again there is no savasana in this sequence.

*These sequences originate from the Iyengar Institute of New York.

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Home Practice Level I,1

For those of you who are perhaps a little tired of Sun Salutations (if that could be possible?) here is a home practice sequence Level 1. Many of the poses get repeated 2x or 3x. Repeating poses is a very fruitful way to deepen your practice. The first time is stopping (shamata) and the second time leads to insight (vipassana). Enjoy!

1. Tadasana/
Mountain pose. Alternate by swinging straight arms forward up into urdhva hastasana. Repeat 3x.

2. Move from tadasana to urdhva baddh-anguliyasana (interlocking finger over head with palms turned upward). Repeat 2x changing the finger interlock.

Vrkasana /tree pose; face a wall or use a wall, but do try to get the arms overhead as pictured. Do both sides 2x. Notice your breath.

Trikonasna/triangle pose: Use a block or prop as need be, but repeat 2x each side and see if you can get lower on second attempt. Keep both legs very strong.

Utthita Parsvakonasana/ side-angle pose: Use a block or prop as need be, but repeat 2x each side and see if you can get lower on second attempt.

Parsvottanasana / side-angle forward bend: Leave hands on hips and try to maintain a concave spine. Repeat 2x each side and see if you can you can get lower on thy second attempt.

Prasarita Padottananasana / wide legged pose: Start with hands on floor, straight arms, and concave back. Then lower head to floor or block. Repeat 2x.

Adho Mukha Svanasana / downward -facing dog pose. Repeat 2x after short rest between. Rest could be Adho Mukha Virasana / Downward Hero pose.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana / legs up the wall: Back is flat on the floor. come away from the corner if the back hips are not on the floor or legs are bent. Rest quietly here for at least 5 minutes. No savasana.

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Yoga for Times of Crisis

For the next few posts I will talk about how to practice on your own, offering various themes. Today it will be a sequence that BKS Iyengar offered right after the 9/11 tragedy: It was titled:

Yoga Sequence For Times Of Crisis*

The emphasis is to build up one’s emotional strength, not physical stamina or flexibility. With that in mind, here are some specific recommendations as to how to move through these asanas:
~No standing poses. No backbends.
~All poses should be done with eyes open (including savasana). Try to flatten your vision if you know how or at least notice where you gaze is going and try not to let it drift. Or imagine your eyes are located at the temples and to “open” these eyes.
~Do not worry about a perfect pose. However, while breathing in any asana, breathe in such a way that the breath touches the lateral side of the chest during inhalation.
~Be patient and hold each pose from 2-5 minutes

1. Savasana (corpse pose; can be done supported on a bolster or blankets. Be comfortable but not sleepy. Remember eyes stay open.)

2. Supta baddha konasana (reclining bound angle pose. This can be done supported on a bolster or blankets and with a strap if you have one.)

3. Supta virasana (reclining hero pose; can be done supported on a bolster or blankets. Prop yourself up on a chair or stairs if this difficult for you. If this not doable because knee pain, just do the prior pose longer.)

4. Prasarita padottanasana/wide legged forward bend (Make sure the head is supported.)

5. Uttanasana /standing forward bend (again with arm support on a block or chair.)

6. Adho mukha svanasana /downward facing dog pose (again get the head supported.)

7. Viparita dandasana inverted staff pose over a chair or firm cushion (strapping the legs around the mid-thigh is recommend)

8. Sirsasana / headstand (against the wall if you want or do the “preparation poses” for as long as you can. Try to do some version of this as as safely as you can, but don’t skip it.)

10. Setu bandha sarvangasana (supported bridge pose, try make it accessible but not too easy)

11. Sarvangasana / shoulderstand (this can be done supported on a chair or from the wall as we practiced in class. If you have difficulty holding, lapse into halasasa / plow pose; again from the wall.)

Pranayama: End with Antara kumbhaka a very short retention on the inhalation. (This is just holding the in-breath just a little longer than normal. Do this in a comfortable, stable seated pose. Just notice the desire to breath out, then exhale. Don’t strain the breath here. You may notice your inhale grows deeper.)

*Please refer to BKS Iyengar, Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health

a gift from guruji BKS Iyengar

Let us know how it works for you.

Filed under: Education, Virtual Yoga, , ,

How are Sun Salutations going?

“Asana, one of yoga’s most significant “tools,” help the sincere student develop physically and spiritually. The ancient sages believed that if you put your whole heart into your practice, you become master of circumstances and time.” BKS Iyengar

You knew I was going to ask. Now that classes are suspended, I can’t bug you in person before each class as to how’s it going with your 108 sun salutations? But now that we’re all distancing ourselves and settling into the new normal that is our life, the practice of yoga is now available in new ways. Surya Namaskara is the ideal entrance into a daily practice.

For those of you unfamiliar to the Yoga Path history, every March students and teachers at the Path commit to do 108 sun salutations for the month. The shared endeavor has been nicknamed “March Madness.” Some students talk about this event as early as the beginning of the year. Others avoid the subject with a quiet dread and contempt. Some rebel at the idea of keeping score, while the more analytic types, map out their plan to complete the goal on or before deadline.

I don’t remember how this tradition even got started, but was surprised and gratified to discover that, for some, they actually took their practice home. We created a card to track our progress with 108 squares. Some would even come to class earlier than usual to knock off a few before class started. One of my students reported that she would do a couple of them every evening, during the commercials while watching the news.

First completed card 2020

Some resist this regimenting of yoga with all their might. Some just don’t like the sequence. But whatever gets people practicing on their own, to me, is a good thing.

I usually encourage students to use surya namaskara as a starting point for practicing. Don’t worry about the amount you do, but how it feels while doing them. Sometimes the first couple don’t seem very worthwhile, like the beginning of run, but let yourself settle into the flow of the sequence. Or just start with a salutation, but leave it behind if the body needs to do other asanas.

Here is a sheet to see how we practice surya namaskara at the Yoga Path. However, as my teacher Margaret Hahn use to say, “the sun salutation is like potato salad. Everyone has their own recipe.: Just Google surya namaskara / sun salutations to get a couple of thousand variations on a theme. Below is pictured the Iyengar version from the Preliminary Course book.

Just practice it for yourself and for the others in your life. It can do nothing but good! You still have 10 days to go.

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De-stressing pose

YOU CAN USE YOUR asana practice as a tool to de-stress physically, physiologically, and psychologically, body, mind, and spirit. Creating a position that allows for deep. deliberate diaphragmatic breathing will calm and relax the autonomic nervous system. The reclining twist shown in this picture will provide relief to agitated adrenal glands, the source of much of the stress hormones in the body.

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Jathara Parivartanasana

Lay on your back with you arms straight out from the shoulders. Palms up or down depending on what feels most grounded. Tuck you knees and drop you legs to the right. If it’s hard on the low back, tuck the knees more and/or leave you feet on the floor when going to the side. As you twist to the right, bring your attention to your left mid-band along the bottom of you rib cage. Find the spot above you left kidney where you feel the physical movement of you breath. Relax and hold this from 2 – 5 minute, working with your breath and body. Don’t twist the neck. Gaze up and yes maybe even close your eyes. When you come out, bring up one leg at a time. Do the other side.

Repeat as often as you want. But if you find yourself agitated before doing this, do some active standing poses to get you warmed up and your heart going. (Maybe even some sun saluttations). This gentle twist floods the adrenals–located on top of the kidney–with nourishment and opens them to the breath.

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