• Yoga Pose Tips: Virabhadrasana III – Warrior Three

    Do what feels best in your body. Modify as needed
    to make this practice your own.

    Warrior Three Pose Tips

    • Square the hips toward the earth
    • Soften the shoulders away from the ears
    • Lengthen the arms forward or out like airplane arms
    • Ground down through the standing foot
    • It’s always okay to have the lifted leg just an inch off the mat to practice with the balance.

    Practice with Ajay Tokas on Omstars

    Learn More about Warrior III on Omstars with Kino MacGregor

  • Encyclopedia of Yoga: Virabhadrasana A

    Virabhadrasana is named after the Warrior Virabhadra who, in traditional Indian mythology, was created out of a lock of the Hindu God, Shiva’s, hair–one of his dread locks that he threw down to the Earth. And when that dread lock hit the plateau of the Earth, Virabhadra landed, holding the sword of Dharma above his head, making the shape of Virabhadrasana A.

    Energizing the Body

    Warrior One (Virabhadrasana A) is a really important posture for stimulating the cardio vascular system. As your arms are raised above your and your legs are firmly pressed into the ground, you’ll find your heart rate goes up and is challenged. This brings health into the heart organ while at the same time increasing circulation through the body. This posture also helps strengthen the legs, strengthen the back, and gives space in between each of the joints of the spine greater preparing you for back bending which needs that same strength in the legs and that same strength through the whole spine. Warrior One is a really important pose for energizing the body. It can be mildly therapeutic for light states of depression.

    Positioning the Legs

    Vira Bhadrasana A starts off with a firm foundation through the legs, and it is traditionally considered to be a balancing pose which means that by gazing up at the thumbs, as you maintain the solid foundation of your legs, you’re beginning to work on balance. Rooting down through the center line. First thing to think about is to really look at the position of the legs. You want to have the distance of about one of the length of your own legs in between your feet.

    Angle the Feet

    The warrior pose is best done with a back foot at about 45-degrees forward. If you go beyond 45-degrees forward what will happen is your heel starts to come a little bit off the ground, and we want to make sure that your heel is pressed into the ground. Your right heel aligns with the left arch. This is the most advanced foot position in the warrior poses. If you notice that you’re finding yourself a little off balance, you can align your heels with each other. Those are the two most common places that you would really keep your feet. Either heels aligned with each other, or heel aligned with the arch.

    Square Your Pelvis Forward

    Square your pelvis forward without any torque on knee. Take a step back about the distance of one of your own legs length. Strengthen through the legs. Draw the belly in. Press down through the base of your big toe, the little toe, and the heel. Lifting the knee caps up, and then square your pelvis as forward as possible.

    Allow the Natural Curvature of the Spine

    From the empty space of the inner body, start to push back from the belly button through the front of the left hip, all the way down through the base of the left big toe. Activating firmly the left leg, as your foundation in the pose will help you. We want to allow the natural curvature of the lower back, but not a hyper-extension of the lower back. Keep the tailbone in a neutral position.

    Let Your Energy Reach Down

    From the emptiness in the pelvic bowl start to pull the right femur in. If you feel that you can go a bit further down, you can allow that to happen. Never jut the knee forward, always pull the knee in. Let your energy reach down. The back heel should remain on the ground, that back edge of the foot on the ground.

    Hands in Prayer

    Hands in prayer. From the rib cage and up, start to lift the ribs up through the center line, draw the elbows towards each other, which is going to help externally rotate the shoulders.

    Rise Up Through the Center Line

    And then inhale, rise up through the center line. Gaze up at the thumbs.

    Modify if Uncomfortable

    If this is at all uncomfortable for your neck, you can open the hands and look forward. Your quadriceps should be burning. Allow it to burn.

    Back to Standing

    Exhale, hands down. Straighten the right leg, and come on back to Samasthiti.

    Keep in Mind the Spiritual Journey

    To be a warrior you must have patience, you must have endurance, you must have bravery.  And you must have a kind and compassionate heart.  To be a warrior of Dharma, a warrior of goodness in the world, you can’t just be fierce.  You need to, at the same time, keep wisdom and compassion in equal parts and in equal measure in your heart.  As you are finding the sense of stability that will help you stay in proper alignment for the full depth in Virabhadrasana A, you will notice that a whole spiritual wealth opens up to you at the same time. Keep these alignment pointers in mind, but really keep in mind the spiritual journey of what Virabhadrasana A means to you.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Learn More from Kino on Omstars.com

    Kino MacGregor is a world renowned Ashtanga Yoga teacher, the author of several yoga inspired books, including The Yogi Assignment, and founder of OmStars.com. Practice the Ashtanga Yoga Full Primary Series online with Kino to get started on your journey today.

  • Encyclopedia of Yoga: Gomukhasana

    Yoga comes from India, and especially India’s historic past.  If you have ever made the trip to India, one thing that is definitely ubiquitous on the streets of India are, cows. This is a pose that always brings me right back to the spiritual heart of the practice and the trips that I have made to study with my teacher in Mysore.

    It is traditionally translated as the “cow facing pose” or “the cow pose.” Another way to think about this posture is what the cow–the Go–actually symbolizes. The cow is the sacred symbol of the being, like the Earth, which is willing to give more than she receives.

    The Lesson of Patience and Kindness

    We could think about Gomukhasana as teaching us the lesson of patience and kindness, of respect and, really, sustainability. In the easy version of the pose, if you start off from a comfortable seated position, you will pick your knees up, and then layer your right knee over the left. Drawing the left knee in.

    First, the knees are elevated. Then, come forward until the knees kind of stack on top of each other. You can let the feet open as much as necessary, as to be comfortable for you.  If it is easier for you, you can grab your feet and bring them in.  This will increase the demand of the internal rotation of the hips.

    Even though your knees kind of point to the side, they are actually rolling towards each other in the ball and socket of the hip joint to create a foundation. It may feel like you want to tilt back, but to move into Gomukhasana, you want to lift your sacrum up and forward so you almost feel like you are about to lift your sitting bones off the ground. Don’t lift them off the ground, but feel as though you are about to lift them off of the ground.

    Then, place your left hand on top of the right knee.  Your right hand on top, and just a nice, easy chin down. Keep a little activation in the legs, and draw the belly in. Moving into this version of Gomukhasana is almost a meditative pose. There is a softness in the body. A softness. A calm, inner awareness. If you notice there is any tension in the front of your hip, see if you can soften a little bit, keeping the activation in the pelvic bowl.

    Creating Length and Space

    Work on challenging Gomukhasana. Take your right hand up, reaching it back behind you.  holding onto your right elbow with the left hand, and then just, layer it back. Then, drop the left arm down, and see if it is possible to reach your hands for each other, behind your back. It may not be possible, so you could just leave the hands in position, and we will hold here for just a moment. Nice breath in, soften through the shoulders, and create length and space through the center line. Let it go down. You are noticing an internal rotation of the left shoulder, and an external rotation of the right shoulder.

    Openness in the Shoulders

    If that was impossible for you, another option to create some openness in the shoulders, is to sort of do the Eagle arm position.  Your right hand, and the left hand layers, raising the arms up. In this version, you are going to look up at the thumbs, finding the center line.  This is that not-stressful version. Do not hit it too hard, just let your body kind of ease its way into the pose. If the easy Gomukhasana is not really comfortable for you, just work on whatever level is appropriate for where you are at.

    Work on the Balance

    The cow facing pose, Gomukhasana, from Ashtanga Yoga, comes at the end of the second series, which is a challenging series. We will start off in the relaxed cow position. The knees cross over each other, using that internal rotation. To get yourself into that full, kind of, elevated, lifted Gomukhasana position, you want to come all the way forward.  Your knees almost layer on top of each other.

    Cross at the top of the thighs. Instead of the feet apart, just bring the feet towards each other. Drawing the belly in, settle the hips gently down. As you settle the hips gently down, you will feel like there is nothing to sit on. You are actively squeezing the legs into each other, and you are squeezing the knees down. Settling your hips back onto your feet, avoid rounding your back, and then, perch yourself forward in the same way.  Keep your hips close to your feet. Take your hands down onto your thighs, work on the balance.

    Interlock the Fingers

    Only if you work on the balance, then, lean forward, and interlock your fingers under you knees. You can round your back to get the grip, but then, pop your chest forward. This balance is very precarious. Gaze down the bridge of the nose, holding it there for a moment.

    The Full Posture

    Then, you can layer yourself forward by squeezing the knees slightly forward, keeping your sternum oriented in line with the pubic bone. Pubic bone, forward.  Your legs should feel a little active. Your pelvic floor should be on. Avoid rounding the back, but pop the chest forward.  Like that easy version of Gomukhasana, right hand reaches back, left one around, and find that center line. Lift the chest up, and forward.  Now, the gaze up, here, is real precarious, because you feel like you do not have that stable foundation of your hips down.  You are really actively squeezing yourself into the pose. I always seem to almost lose the balance when I look up. You want to find a small spot and gaze at that spot. Then gently release it, taking your hands down. Come on down to that easy version of Gomukhasana.

    Gomukhasana, the cow facing pose, will help you find a calm and even center. When you have that tightness in your shoulders, what can happen is that, your shoulders kind of cave in and collapse the heart. As you practice Gomukhasana, your heart center opens. Your heart expands. The shoulders relax and you can find the happy freedom, the trusting heart of the spiritual center, really, of the sacred. Remember that when you are practicing a deceptively simple pose, like Gomukhasana, there are hidden benefits along the spirit that will start to shine through as you begin to practice. I hope you keep the seed of peace in your heart, and the inspiration to practice everyday. Namaste.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Why do you practice yoga? Kino Macgregor Ashtanga Yoga teacher, OMstars

    Learn More from Kino on Omstars.com

    Kino MacGregor is a world renowned Ashtanga Yoga teacher, the author of several yoga inspired books, including The Yogi Assignment, and founder of OmStars.com. Practice the Ashtanga Yoga Full Primary Series online with Kino to get started on your journey today.

  • Encyclopedia of Yoga: Ardha Matsyendrasana

    This is the pose that is dedicated to the Sage known as, Matsyendranath. Sometimes people call this pose, Lord of the Half Fishes Pose.  You can take those individual words, Matsya, meaning fish, and Ardha, meaning Half. Contained in, Matsyendranath, is also the word for King, or ruler.  You have all those put together for quite a powerful posture.

    This seated spinal twist brings you into the center of the body, and helps you access the deep space of the pelvic bowl.

    Foundation and Alignment

    In a twisting posture, the hips are your foundation. You want to avoid twisting from the pelvis, and instead, empty out the pelvic bowl. Twist from the thoracic spine.  In this posture, it is very important. To enter the pose on the right side, fold your left knee underneath. You want to make sure that your knee feels good.  If there is any discomfort in the knee, there is a modification (below). Close the knee joint and bring it all the way in.  You will notice that the knee lines up with the sternum. Right foot on top. Take a moment, and settle your hips in between the open place between your left foot and the left hip–both sitting bones are on the ground. You want to see both of the knees lined up along the center line.  Make sure that you can see your toes ahead of your right knee. 

    Entering the Twist

    Inhale, as you suck the belly in. Drop the right hip, down. Allow a gentle, internal rotation of the right hip. Hug your torso close to your thigh. Gently wrap your left arm around, holding onto the right side, looking over the right shoulder. Pointing the left foot, both sitting bones down, look over your right shoulder. This is nice and easy.  If you don’t want to go any further, all is good.

    Pivoting Deeper 

    Slowly suck the belly in. Begin to lift the rib cage all the way around the right thigh. You can press on the thigh, and pivot around. Take your right hand on the ground. Drop the left shoulder in front of the right knee. Reach down. Hook the shoulder under, spinning the armpit, up. Grab the foot by spinning the armpit, down. If you can’t reach your foot, you can hold onto the knee, or leave your hand on the ground. Lift your chest up, keep your left shoulder down. Lifting the chest up, reaching around. The second option, is simply to leave your right hand behind you, looking over the right shoulder.

    The Full Posture

    If you feel comfortable, inhale, lift your chest up, and exhale. Reach around, taking your right hand and just kind of wiggle it around until you can find the top of the left thigh. Look over your right shoulder.

    Modifying When Necessary

    This is a way that you can repeat this pose, and relieve any burden that may be too stressed on your knee. Simply cross the foot over, leaving a relatively big space. In this version of the posture, I would keep it relatively simple. Work on bringing your chest close to your thigh, and twisting along the center line. Don’t worry about binding your hands.

    Remember the Journey

    Remember that yoga is a journey into the center of your self. Never judge yourself by the success or failure of your body, to make a shape. We’re interested in the journey.  So, regardless of what shape your body is able to make, dive down into the inner experience.  And tune in to the power of the ancient tradition of yoga, which is really what this pose represents. Keep the seed of inspiration to practice, every day.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Learn More from Kino on Omstars.com

    Kino MacGregor is a world renowned Ashtanga Yoga teacher, the author of several yoga inspired books, including The Yogi Assignment, and founder of OmStars.com. Practice the Ashtanga Yoga Full Primary Series online with Kino to get started on your journey today.

  • Downward Dog: Reexamining What is Habitual

    I teach a broad range of classes, from basics to hot vinyasa to honey flow (and if that intrigues you, check out my website!). Joining those classes on any day are a range of yogis from beginners to advanced to fellow teachers, those with whom I have practiced for years and those I meet for the first time.

    Now for the surprise. I break down downward dog to every single student in every single class. Only a day-one yogi has never been in downward dog, so of course, it is my honor to introduce that yogi to this foundational pose.

    And most yogis who have been in downward dog many times can still benefit from the grounding instructions, “sharpen your arms, bring your toes up to engage the front of the legs, don’t worry about touching your heels down to the ground.”

    But what about the advanced yogis? What about fellow teachers in my class? Is there a purpose to breaking down a pose they do dozens of times each and every day? Yes. And it is a reason that extends far beyond downward dog and even more broadly than yoga.

    Things we do again and again become habitual. In fact, it is a great evolutionary survival mechanism of our brains that we can approach familiar movements with an automaticity that reserves our precious brain power for novel endeavors.

    But this automaticity exacts a toll. It can be hard to be mindful in the habitual. Reexamining the things we do regularly can give them a renewed sense of purpose. So no matter how many times you have been in downward dog, make it feel like your first.

    • Feel the even weight of your body between your limbs.
    • Sharpen your legs, sharpen your arms, and extend the side of your trunk.
    • Push the front of your thighs towards the back of your thighs and lift your hips upwards and backwards.
    • Feel the stretch extend from the soles of your feet, through your calves and into your hamstrings. Let that lengthen your spine.
    • As you fold forward, sending your unique energy inward, accept that calming effect on your nervous system and allow yourself to look within. I bet you’ll like what you find. 

    By Ahmed Soliman

    Check out Ahmed’s Mindful Alignment course on Omstars

    Practice with Ahmed LIVE on Omstars

    Before I found yoga and began teaching, I was a wildlife biologist and environmental scientist. Serving the natural environment and helping to recover endangered species was my way of giving to a greater good. This is a concept that I’ve carried daily into a yogic lifestyle, both in teaching and in practice. I seek to serve this community in a way that supports strength, healing, and sustainability. After having multiple knee surgeries due to a car accident, I myself sought these qualities from my own encounter with yoga. I had to transition from contact sports like soccer to the safer and deeper space that the practice provides. A continuing student of Iyengar yoga, vinyasa, and meditation, I believe that awareness of breath, knowledge of the body, and mental focus on the mat lead to mindfulness and living harmoniously off the mat. I draw from my own experience and the study of human anatomy to offer a safe and grounded space for practitioners. I endeavor to help them explore their physical boundaries with a focus on intelligent alignment, awareness of breath, and steadying or relaxation of the mind. I have studied with Nikki Costello, Nikki Vilella, Magi Pierce, and other influential teachers. I am an ERYT-200 hour yoga alliance certified teacher with additional specialized training in anatomy, meditation and yoga nidra. Connect with Ahmed on Instagram or http://yogisoli.com/

  • Co-activate Your Psoas and Quads in Trikonasana

    Sometimes doing just one pose can set you up for the whole day. Let’s look at Trikonasana, or Triangle Pose, and a powerful cue for stabilizing your pelvis and lumbar.

    Understanding tips like this one also sharpens your knowledge of anatomical and bio-mechanical principles. The principle at work here is that of muscle co-contraction. This cue co-contracts or activates two separate muscles, namely, the psoas and quadriceps of the forward leg. As a consequence, you will feel a deep stability in your hip joint and a connection from your leg to your lumbar spine.

    Extend your forward leg knee by contracting the quadriceps. At the same time, press down with your torso through the arm into the hand, and onto your shin. This activates your psoas (and iliacus), tilting the pelvis over the forward leg and, by lumbopelvic rhythm, drawing the lumbar out of hyperflexion. Feel how this connection stabilizes your pelvis and lumbar and awakens the forward leg in the pose.

    Figure 1

    In the beginning, it may be difficult to get the hang of activating your psoas. Get a feel for this by bending the knee and pressing down on the thigh through your elbow as shown here. Click here for an entire series of poses you can use to awaken your psoas.

    Figure 2

    I hope you enjoy this cue. Think about what’s happening bio-mechanically while you work with this. Thanks as well to everyone for your support of the folks in Panama City who were affected by Hurricane Michael. Check back next week to see how to integrate the back leg into this cue for Trikonasana

    By Ray & Chris of The Daily Bandha

    Ray Long MD FRCSC is a board certified orthopedic surgeon and the founder of Bandha Yoga.

    Chris Macivor is a 3D Graphic Dessigner and illustrator who has been involved in the field of digital content creation for well over ten years.

    This article was originally posted on www.dailybandha.com. If you would like more practice with Trikonasana, check out the tutorial below on Omstars.com.

    Patricia Amado’s Trikonasana Tutorial on Omstars

  • Yoga for Menstruation

    As someone who has had to seek medical intervention in the past, I can tell you that the most consistent relief I’ve had has happened since I have had a consistent yoga practice.

    Menstruation can be hard. Whereas it’s normal and expected once girls hit puberty, those 5-8 days can be dreadfully, frighteningly painful for many women. From anxiety to mood swings, lower back pain to crippling abdominal cramps, nausea and diarrhea to constipation. As someone who has had to seek medical intervention in the past, I can tell you that the most consistent relief I’ve had has happened since I have had a consistent yoga practice. Try adding yoga to your daily routine and see how it helps. You can also try these yoga poses for menstruation. They will help to relieve symptoms of bloating, heavy bleeding, PMS and lower back pain.

    Supta Baddha Khonasana

    This is a reclined variation of Butterfly Pose. You can also place a cushion, bolster or blanket under your back, the entire length of the spine. Hands can be flat on the ground, palms up. Or, you can place one hand on the heart, the other on the lower pelvic belly. Breathe. This pose opens up the hips and groin area and helps to relieve traditional lower abdominal cramps. Stay here for 5 minutes.

    Legs Up The Wall

    This pose is especially helpful for those of us who struggle with lower back pain associated with our period. It supports the lower back and the relaxed position, with the spine flat on the ground, eases compression in the lower back area. If a wall is not available, feel free to choose a similar variation but with the knees bent and feet drawn close to the glutes. Stay in this position for 5-10 minutes.

    Bound Angle/Cobbler/Butterfly Pose

        

     

    Bound Angle Pose works by opening and massaging the pelvic area of the body. This pose can also help with heavy bleeding. You can sit with the spine straight, grabbing the feet. Or, place several blankets, a bolster or a cushion underneath the torso and come into a folded variation. Hold for 5-10 minutes.

    Sideways Cat Stretch

    From all fours: inhale center, exhale, try to bring the head to the glutes. Alternate, left and right sides.
    The aim here is to help the pelvic muscles to relax and ease the discomfort that results in cramping pain when those muscles contract. Repeat 5 times on each side.

    Supine Twist:

    Supine twists are great for relieving the symptoms associated with menstrual cramps. They aid by easing the discomfort in the lower pelvic region and also stimulating blood flow and circulation. The stretch on the lower back and hips is also quite soothing. Add a bolster, cushion or folded blankets under the bent leg to make yourself more comfortable. Then stay in this pose, on each side, for 3-5 minutes.

    Savasana

    Menstruation often comes with a roller coaster of emotions. Savasana relaxes and calms the nervous system and helps to balance the emotions. Hold Savasana for 5 minutes.

    Happy period.

    By Sasha Daley

     

    I started practicing yoga in 2015. I had a pain in my knee and, after searching Google, figured I had nothing to lose by trying. I watched my life and relationships become transformed by my practice. So much so that I pursued my 200 HR certification with Bodhi Yoga Academy in 2018. I advocate yoga and it’s transformative, healing properties for all peoples and all bodies. I see yoga as a safe space, a place where we forget who we think we are, who we’re expected to be; it is where we allow the body, the mind, the breath to be so perfectly intertwined that we can just be. Being a teacher is great. Being a student of the practice is, by far, my greatest accomplishment.

  • Dolphin Pose: Ardha Pincha Mayurasana

    Dolphin pose is a pose which I think is often overlooked, but it packs so many great benefits that I think it’s more than worth taking a closer look at. Dolphin Pose, or Ardha Pincha Mayurasana, strengthens, and stretches the shoulders, upper back and legs.  It’s also a pretty awesome core strengthener. The combination of strength and flexibility that Dolphin pose builds can help with so many areas of your practice. Particularly when working towards Pincha Mayurasana or Forearm Stand, and other inversions.

    Check out more pose tutorials on Omstars

    Here are some things to focus on when practicing Dolphin Pose:

    Set up with the forearms parallel to each other, with the elbows shoulder width apart, and the palms flat on the mat. Those elbows are going to want to splay out to the side, so keep hugging them in towards the mid-line to prevent that from happening. Think about wrapping the shoulder blades outwards, away from the spine and broaden through the collar bones.

    As you walk your feet in towards your torso aim to stack the shoulders over the elbows. Focus on reaching your hips towards the ceiling and keeping the spine long. If your hamstrings are tight, feel free to come up on your tiptoes, or if you have the flexibility then press your heels down into the mat. Keep your legs engaged by pulling your kneecaps and strongly engage your core to stabilize and support the whole pose. Relax your neck and gaze towards your shins or toes.

    By Laura Large

    I am an Ashtanga Yoga Practitioner and Teacher based near Marlborough, Wiltshire with a real love and passion for the practice. I also own and manage a Wellbeing Centre where I work as a licensed Acupuncturist, which really helps me to understand the energetics of the asanas and how they affect the physical, mental and emotional bodies. My classes are strong, energetic and fun.  Ashtanga Yoga is an amazing practice for developing some serious strength and flexibility in body and mind. Outside of my daily Ashtanga Vinyasa practice I love playing creatively with poses and exploring hybrid postures and different variations – Arm balances are a real favorite of mine! You can find me on Instagram where I host yoga challenges and share tips and tutorials at @omniyogagirl

    Plank Pose Breakdown with Laura Large

  • A Simple Sequence for Gentle Yoga with Kaitlyn

    Set your day up for success with simple stretches in the morning. This simple gentle yoga sequence will guide you through the steps and help set your intention for the rest of the day.

    You’ll need your mat, a quiet space, and blocks or books for this sequence. Start by finding a comfortable seat. Bring your hands palm face down on your knees if you’d like to ground down your energy, or face up if you’d like to receive energy for the day, or one of each if you can’t decide.

    Take a moment to notice your sit bones grounding into the space beneath you, the length of your spine, and the crown of your head reaching toward the sky. Allow your shoulders to relax away from the ears, soften the facial muscles, and relax the space between the eyebrows. Start to bring your awareness to your breath, taking deep inhales, and slowly releasing the breath on an exhalation.

    Focus on your breath, and set an intention for the day.

    Bringing your palms face down on your knees, inhale to press the heart center forward, begin to lift the chin and the gaze, and roll the shoulders away from the ears.

    As you exhale, begin to round the spine as you tuck the chin toward the chest and fall back on your seat. Repeat three times.

    Next, bring your chin to your chest, roll the chin along the collar bone rolling right ear to right shoulder, lower the left hand toward the earth or a block, and gently rest your right hand on the side of your head without putting any pressure on it, just allowing the weight of your hand to give you a deeper stretch. Repeat on both sides.

    Inhale and bring your arms overhead, palms can press at the top, or your arms can be separated, and exhale to bring hands through to heart center. Repeat three times.

      

     

    Inhale to reach the arms overhead, and exhale to lower the right hand toward the earth, walk or slide the fingertips away from you, and reach the left arm overhead for a side stretch. Repeat three times on both sides.

    Next, inhale to reach the arms overhead, and exhale to twist towards the right, bringing your right arm behind you like a kickstand, and the left arm in front, bringing your hand either onto the floor or your right thigh. Use the breath as a tool to soften into your twist. Repeat three times on both sides.

    Slowly make your way onto hands and knees into a table top position, allowing your shoulders to stack over the wrists, and your hips to stack over the knees. You can bring a blanket under your knees, or fold your mat for more support for your knees. Inhale as you press the heart center forward lifting the chin and lifting the gaze. Exhale as you round the spine, pressing the ground away from you, tucking the chin towards the chest. Repeat Cat/Cow three times.

         

    Walk the hands slightly forward and begin to lift the sit bones up and back for downward facing dog, keeping the feet hip distance apart. Take a shorter down dog than you usually would, and invite a bend into the knees. Alternate from side to side to bend into the knees, and maybe move the hips from side to side. Do what feels good in your body today. Pause here for a few deep breaths, and bring your focus back to your intention.

    Moving into your Anjaneyasana, or low lunge pose, step your right foot to the top of the mat between the hands. Lower your back knee towards the earth, and square the hips toward the front of the mat. You can place blocks or books under your hands to bring the ground up toward you. Pressing the heart center forward, start to breathe into this space for a moment.

    Start to walk blocks/books back toward your body. Straighten into the front leg, bringing the toes to point up towards the sky. If you’re feeling tight, stay right here, or gently fold over the front leg.

    Now working with the breath, inhale to bend into the knee to walk the blocks/books forward opening through the heart center, and exhale as you walk the hands/blocks back in toward the body and gently fold. Use the breath as a tool and move back and forth three times. Repeat this on the second side.

    Note: if one side feels tighter then the other, don’t judge yourself. Just breathe into wherever you are on each side. If it feels better to pause in either variation, feel free to pause. Do what feels right in your body, today.

      

    Come back into your downward facing dog for a few deep breaths. Slowly bring your knees toward the earth, separating them as wide as you’d like. Bring your big toes to touch, and begin to melt into your child’s pose, bringing your sit bones toward your heels. Bring your forehead to touch the ground, or you can create fists with your hands, and stack your fists and bring your forehead to your fists. Always do what feels comfortable for you in your body.

    Pause here for a few breaths, bringing your awareness back to your breath. Are you breathing deeply? Is your mind wandering? Take a few deep grounding breaths here.

    Slowly make your way back into a comfortable seat. Bring your hands to heart center, bow the chin towards your chest, and take a moment to reflect on the intention that you set at the beginning of your practice. Thank yourself for finding time to come to your mat and practice today, and take this grounding feeling with you throughout the rest of your day.

    Namaste.

    By Kaitlyn Kreitzman

    Kaitlyn started practicing yoga in high school to combat the high demands of school work, sports, and life in New York. It was an on and off practice until college where she really became dedicated to making time on her mat daily. After realizing the amazing benefits of a yoga practice, and watching them become a reality in her life, Kaitlyn wanted to share this practice with others. She received her 200-hour RYT in 2015 from Urban Bliss Yoga In North Carolina. She taught on her college campus and in studios around the area of Fairfield Connecticut. After she graduated with a B.A. in Graphic Design and Illustration, she wanted to expand her knowledge of teaching and received her 500-hour RYT at Simplicity Yoga Studio in Long Island, New York. Kaitlyn now teaches and lives in Northwestern Colorado. She draws her inspiration for her classes from her everyday life. Kaitlyn’s classes focus on alignment, breath work, meditation, and yoga philosophy. She loves to help others take what they learn on the mat and incorporate it into their everyday lives. Kaitlyn works as the Social Media Manager, and Graphic Designer for Omstars. When she’s not teaching or practicing yoga, she enjoys camping, hiking, rock climbing, reading, and painting.

  • Plank Pose: Where the Body Goes the Mind Will Follow

    If you’re looking for a quick strengthening, full body workout then these two poses give a lot of bang for their buck. Although Plank Pose and Upward Plank are two obvious core strengthening poses, when practiced with the correct alignment they work pretty much every muscle in your body. Apart from the physical benefits, I like to think that both of these poses also help to bring stability and strength on an emotional and spiritual level. Where the body goes the mind will follow.  Plank Pose and Upward Plank will help to increase focus, stamina, and endurance. I also feel that these poses help to develop the understanding that the muscles of the body or, different aspects of yourself, need to work together in unison in order to create that strength and stability.

     

    Plank Pose:

     

    Have the feet hip width apart, and the hands shoulder width apart, with the wrists aligned directly under the shoulders. Your focus is on keeping the body in one straight line. Draw the lower belly back towards the spine, pull the kneecaps up to keep the legs engaged, and plug the arms into the shoulder joint by rotating the eyes of the elbows forward. Imagine pushing the mat away with your hands as you keep the shoulders broad, and draw the shoulder blades down the back. Gaze forward, and think about keeping the shoulders, hips and heels in line with each other.

     

     

    Upward Plank Pose:

     

    Have the feet together, with the base of the big toes touching, and the hands shoulder width apart, with the fingers pointing towards the toes. Again, imagine pressing the mat away firmly with the hands and feet. Aim to keep the wrists under the shoulders. Focus on lifting the hips, and imagine the whole of the back of the body extending and engaging to create a slight backbend. Open and lift the chest, as you internally rotate the thighs by pressing into the base of the big toes. Engage the core by pulling the belly button back towards the spine, and gaze toward the space between the eyebrows.

    By Laura Large

    I am an Ashtanga Yoga Practitioner and Teacher based near Marlborough, Wiltshire with a real love and passion for the practice. I also own and manage a Wellbeing Centre where I work as a licensed Acupuncturist, which really helps me to understand the energetics of the asanas and how they affect the physical, mental and emotional bodies. My classes are strong, energetic and fun.  Ashtanga Yoga is an amazing practice for developing some serious strength and flexibility in body and mind. Outside of my daily Ashtanga Vinyasa practice I love playing creatively with poses and exploring hybrid postures and different variations – Arm balances are a real favourite of mine! You can find me on Instagram where I host yoga challenges and share tips and tutorials at @omniyogagirl

    Check out more pose tutorials on Omstars