• How to do Parsvottanasana (Pyramid Pose)

    Parsvottanasana or Pyramid Pose is the final standing pose for the Ashtanga Primary Series.  The standing asanas are sometimes called the foundational poses because they create the foundation for your practice. Sometimes it’s easier to work on forward bends and flexibility poses from a standing position because gravity is working with you.

    The main foundation of this posture is a pretty intense forward bend. There’s a little bit of an internal rotation into the hip joint that you are bending into. Because of that, you need to understand the dynamics of your hip joints in the pose.

    Lastly, the shoulder position is important. If you’re newer to the practice you might want to do this pose your hands on your hips or the floor for balance. If you are more experienced with the pose you can use the shoulder position we’ll look at here.

    If you’re uncomfortable holding your hands in prayer position behind your back you can grab opposite elbows or wrist or clench your fist and press the fists together behind your back.

    Now let’s begin the pose. From Samasthiti, internally rotate your shoulders to get into the correct hand position. That can be either holding opposite elbows, holding opposite wrists, fists together, or in prayer position behind your back. When you internally rotate your shoulders be sure to pay attention to your collarbones, keeping them broad.

    Step your right foot back. Your feet should be about 2 ½ to 3 Pete feet apart. This will change depending on how tall you are.

    Your front foot is pointing forward and your back foot is at 45-degree angle. Line your heels up with each other or line your heel up to your arch. Draw all the muscles of the low blow belly in.

    Square your hips. Inhale and exhale and pivot through the hip joints. Relax your back muscles and let your torso drape over your front leg. Stay here breathing deeply into the pose for five breaths. Slowly come out of the pose and repeat on the other side.

    To find out more about Parsvottanasana watch this video with Kino.

  • How to do Padchimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold)

    Padchimottanasana is the basis of every forward fold in your practice. It’s important that you establish a healthy technique from the beginning. Think about opening your hips and hamstrings as you try this pose.

    Start out sitting on the mat with your legs straight out in front of you. Keep your shoulders rolled down the back and your belly sucked in. Lift your spine up out of your pelvis.

    Activate your thighs by squeezing them toward each other. The quadriceps should be completely engaged.

    Now think about your forward fold coming from deep inside your pelvis. Exhale slowly fold, lifting your torso over your thighs and hinging at the hips.

    Suck your belly in, creating a hollowness there. Now reach down and hold onto your toes. If you can’t reach your toes you can reach for your shins or even put your hands next to your legs on the floor.

    Inhale and lift your head to look up. Make sure to continue to suck your belly in. Now exhale and relax your back so you fold in toward the top of your legs.

    Stay here for five breaths. Every time you exhale try to fold a little further into the spaciousness of the body. Every exhalation should take you deeper into the posture.

    If you need to deepen the posture wrap your hands around the soles of your feet and hold onto your wrist with one hand.

    You don’t want to force yourself into this posture because you could risk injuring your hamstrings. Instead, allow yourself to melt into the pose. Flexibility is a journey that takes time. Be patient and allow your muscles to lengthen and release on their own.

    To come out of the posture, slowly come up.

    Healthy technique in this pose requires three basic things: active firm strong legs, finding the hollow space in the pelvis, and elongation of the torso. Get those three components and you can do this pose. Your flexibility will increase over time as you practice the pose.

    Watch this video with Kino for more details about doing Padchimottanasana.

     

  • How to do Virabhadrasana A (Warrior 1)

    Virabhadrasana A or Warrior 1 is an important pose for the cardiovascular system. Your heart rate goes up, increasing your circulation when your arms are raised above your head and your legs are firmly pressing into the ground.

    Warrior 1 also helps strengthen the legs and back while increasing space between the vertebrae. It prepares you for back bending which requires that same strength in the legs and articulation through the spine. Warrior 1 is a very important pose for energizing the body. It can be mildly therapy when you’re experiencing light states of depression.

    This pose helps you build a firm foundation for the legs. It is originally considered a balancing pose because you are gazing up at your thumbs as you maintain the solid foundation of your legs.

    Start by standing at the front of your mat. Now step back with your right foot. It is important to have an appropriate distance between your feet. You want to have the distance of about the length of one of your legs between your feet. Doing that tailors the pose to your own height.

    Externally rotate your back foot at a 45° angle. Your front foot is pointed forward. Ideally, your front heel will align with your back arch. If you find it too hard to balance this way you can align your heels with each other to give you a slightly wider stance.

    Bend your front knee at a 90° angle, so your thigh is parallel to the floor.

    Square your pelvis forward without torquing your knee. Keep as much forward direction in your pelvis as possible.

    Strengthen through your legs. Think about pressing your big toe little toe and heel evenly into the mat. Push back from your belly button through your hip. Allow the natural curve curvature of the lower back while keeping the tailbone in a neutral position.

    Rise up through the centerline of your body from the emptiness in your pelvic bowl. Pull the femur of your front leg in. Never let your knee jut forward. Let your energy sink down. Your back heel should remain on the ground. Root down.

    Hold your hands in front of you in prayer. Now rise up through the centerline of your body. Bring your hands straight up overhead with the palms continuing to press together. Now, look up at your thumbs.

    If it’s uncomfortable for your neck you can open your hands and look forward.

    To come out of the position lower your hands. Straighten your front leg. Step out of the position.

    Watch the video with Kino for more details about how to do Virabhadrasana A.


    By Omstars

  • How to do Padmasana (Lotus Pose)

    Padmasana or Lotus Pose is one of the most iconic traditional yoga positions. Most find that their first attempt of getting into it proves that the pose isn’t as easy as they might’ve initially thought.

    A lotus is a beautiful flower that grows up out of the muddiest waters. The image of the lotus symbolizes our spiritual journey on the yogic path. The bud of the lotus symbolizes the awakening that is planted in the heart of each yoga practitioner.

    Just like a lotus flower coming into bloom Padmasana has its own time and its own logic. You can’t rush the progress of being able to get into this pose. Instead, you have to be patient and let the pose develop.

    Your test to see if you’re ready to try the Lotus position is if you are comfortable sitting on the floor in a basic cross-legged position. If you aren’t, you’re not ready to try this pose.

    If sitting on the floor in a cross-legged position is uncomfortable for you, there are a few things you can do to make it better. Try sitting on something to elevate your hips. Once you do that draw your belly in and try to sit forward on your sitting bones. Work on sitting like this and do some hip opening poses to build up the flexibility you need to be comfortable sitting cross-legged on the floor, so you can work your way up to doing this pose.

    If you have a knee or ankle injury you shouldn’t attempt this pose. Also if you feel pain in the hip joint, knee, or ankle joint in this pose you should slowly and carefully get out of the posture. You don’t want to cause injury to your joints trying to do lotus.

    If you are already comfortable sitting cross-legged on the floor you’re ready to work your way up to Padmasana.

    Traditionally in the Ashtanga method, we always put the right foot up first when we enter Padmasana. Start out by sitting on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your right knee and bring it all the way into your body making sure the joint is completely closed.

    Externally rotate your hip joint and drop your knee to the side. Keep your knee joint completely closed so your calf muscle is against your thigh muscle. Now place your right hand under your right knee and your left hand under your right foot and lift your right leg to bring your right foot into your left hip crease.

    Don’t let your knee torque.

    Demi point your right foot. Hold onto your foot and your shinbone and reposition your right foot so the heel is pressing in toward the navel.

    If you need support under your knee here you can place a block beneath it. If you feel any sharp pain in the knee it’s important that you back off.

    If your knee is off the ground do not try to push it down. It will go down to the floor when it is ready.

    Make sure your foot is high enough into the hip crease to make a straight line from your foot through your shin to your knee. If there is sickling of the foot you will experience ankle pain.

    If you aren’t ready to get into a full lotus work on half-lotus position.

    From half-lotus position bring your left leg in by closing the left knee and preparing to enter the pose completely. Cradle the left foot and the left knee and slide the left foot over the right leg and up into the right hip crease.

    The tops of your feet are resting on your thighs so the soles of your feet are up. Your feet are demi pointed to keep activation in your ankles.

    Now draw your belly in and lift your sternum. Avoid rounding your back. Place the tip of your thumb to the tip of your index finger on both hands and rest the back of your hands on your knees. Your arms are straight. Your chin is pulled in. Your gaze toward your nose.

    To have a deeper understanding of Padmasana watch this video with Kino.


    By Omstars

     

  • How to do Navasana (Boat Pose)

    Navasana is an important core strengthening pose. It gets its name because your body mimicks the shape of a boat when you’re in the pose.

    Start by coming to a comfortable seated position. Bend your knees up in front of you, so the soles of your feet are on the floor.

    Lift up through the spine and find the space between your sitting bones and your tailbone. This will be the space you will balance on when you’re in the pose. If you’re balancing on your tailbone, you’re too far back. If you’re on your sitting bones, you’re too far forward. You’re looking for the space in between.

    Draw your low belly in and tone the pelvic floor. Create a sensation of lift through your spine. If you feel a lot of strain in your core muscles sitting in this position and activating your pelvic floor, this might be as far as you should go into the pose for now. You’ll need to develop more strength before you try to get further into the pose. If you feel good here, then you’re ready to move forward.

    If you’re ready for the next step, come up onto your toes and place your hands under your thighs just above your knees.

    Lean back a little bit to bring your toes off the ground. Lift your feet, so they are even with your knees. Now let go of your legs and straighten your arms, so you’re reaching them forward. This is the second version of boat pose. If you are comfortable with this, you are ready to move on to the next version.

    To get into the full expression of the pose, start from sitting with your knees bent and your feet on the floor again. Now lean back slightly to bring your feet off the floor. Instead of lifting your feet even with your bent knees, straighten your legs. This requires hamstring flexibility as well as strenght.

    Pull the heads of the femurs into the sockets. Stay lifted through the pelvis. Don’t round the back. Keep your core strong. Send the center of the chest up and forward.

    This pose is all about stamina and strength. It’s natural to shake, that just means your muscles are working.

    To find out more about Navasana, watch this video from Kino.

  • How to do Mukta Hasta Sirsasana A (Tripod Headstand)

    In the traditional Ashtanga yoga practice, there are 3 variations of the unsupported headstand. Today we’ll be covering the most popular version. Mukta Hasta Sirsasana A is commonly known as the Tripod Headstand. This is a really important posture for building strength in alignment in your shoulders and in the centerline of your body.

    This pose will be easier for you if your shoulders are strong. In all headstands, you want to find the centerline alignment. That means your pelvis is stacked over your chest, and your chest is stacked over your head. Everything must be balanced in the centerline.

    When you do this pose, the flattest part of your head, the very top of it is on the ground. When you have your head in the right position on the floor you should feel no tension in your neck muscles.

    To begin your journey into this headstand, you have to stabilize the shoulders while lifting your body up into the centerline. The ideal way to come up is to activate the deep muscles of the low belly.

    Let’s practice doing the first version of Mukta Hasta Sirsasana A. Kneel on the ground and put your hands on the floor in front of your shoulder-width apart. Your elbows will bend in line with your wrists and shoulders to place the top of your head on the ground. You’re making an equilateral triangle shape with your head and hands.

    Now that your head is on the ground come up onto your feet and straighten your legs. Walk your legs in as close to your hands as you can. This is the first version of the pose.

    If you feel like you’re ready to move deeper into the pose, you can come into a tripod egg shape from there by sending your hips forward and up so you can come up onto your toes. Bend one leg and place it on the top of the tricep of the arm on the same side. Don’t let it sink down, but press and squeeze it up. Now bring your other leg up with your knee on your tricep. Balance here.

    If you feel comfortable here, pull both knees up and in so they are off your triceps and bent, floating against the front of your body. Keep your shoulders strong. Stay balanced on the centerline. If this stage of the pose feels good to you, you’re ready to take it further.

    Now straighten your legs up over your head. Find your centerline, so your legs are over your hips, your hips are over your chest, and your chest is over your head. Your shoulders and arms are strong. Your core is activated. Press the bases of the big toes together. Pull the ribs in. Activate the transverse abdominals. Open the shoulders while continuing to get them active.

    When you’re ready to come down, slowly bend your legs back down to your triceps like you started out in the tripod egg shape. Then put your feet back on the ground and slowly come out of the pose.

    Once you’re comfortable doing this version of the pose, you’re ready to enter the pose in the traditional way. To do that, put your hands and head on the ground. Remember that you’re making an equilateral triangle shape here. Walk your legs forward. Bring them close to the body. Suck your belly in. Spiral your elbows in. Roll the hips forward, pulling the thighs close to the body. Engage your pelvic floor and send the hips forward. When you reach the halfway point where your hips are beyond the vertical axis, slowly tuck the tailbone as you open the front of your hips. Lift the legs straight up into the air. Lift the kneecaps. Tuck the tailbone slightly, pull the ribs in and activate the transverse abdominals. Stay here for five breaths.

    To come out of the pose, suck the belly in and roll through the hip joints as you slowly bring your feet back to the floor.

    Watch this video with Kino for more details about doing Mukta Hasta Sirsasana A.

  • How to do Marichasana A

    Marichasana is named after the great sage of India’s past, Marichi I. There are many versions of this pose, but today we’ll look at Marichasana A.

    The first component of Marichasana A is a forward bend. The second component of the pose is a deep hip flexion. The third component is an internal rotation of the shoulder joints. Now let’s look at how to combine all of these components to do the pose.

    Sit on your mat with your legs stretched out straight in front of you. Bend your right knee up into your chest with the sole of your foot on the ground to get a good deep hip flexion. There should be about one hand’s width distance between your right foot and your left thigh.

    Engage your left leg and press down into the left heel. Move your left sitting bones slightly back.

    Align your right knee with your right armpit.

    Put your left hand on the ground next to you. Suck your belly in and slide your torso away from your right thigh, allowing your right sitting bones to come up off the ground.

    Bring your right shoulder to the inside of your right knee.

    Bring your right hand forward so your shoulder slides down to the inside of her right shin.

    Pull your belly in. Keep yourself oriented toward the centerline and reach your right arm out to the side interiorly rotating your shoulder.

    Wrap your shoulder around so you wrap your armpit around your shin. Wrap your arm around behind your leg. Now reach around with your left arm around your back and catch your hands behind your back. Clasp your hands together.

    Exhale and pivot the pubic bone back to fold forward.

    Align your sternum with your left knee. Allow your right hip to come up the ground. If possible go all the way down making contact with your chin to your shin.

    Hold for five breaths.

    This pose can be intense for the lower back and shoulders, so be mindful of how you feel in the pose.

    If you can’t clasp your hands use a yoga strap instead.

    Be sure to activate your leg and keep your knee in.

    This very important seated posture combines a lot of different elements into one pose. Remember to never push yourself too hard to soon.

    Watch this video with Kino to see the pose in more detail.

    By Omstars

  • How to do Laghu Vajrasana (The Little Thunderbolt)

    Laghu Vajrasana or the little thunderbolt pose is a powerful posture that allows you to test the limits of your strength and your faith. You have to believe in yourself to do this pose.

    This deep backbend brings energy, vitality, and circulation into the body. Laghu Vajrasana is part of the Ashtanga Yoga Second Series and is considered a gateway pose of strength. Not only does it tone the muscles of the back, but it gives you a powerful lift in the pelvis. Once you master it, you’ll be able to connect your legs deep into the center of your pelvic floor, giving you the strength to support yourself in deeper backbends.

    You must have the base level of flexibility in the camel pose before trying this pose.

    As you move into the posture, your limits of strength will be deeply challenged. It trains your mind to face adversity and rise up. At the same time, the pose is a physical test to make sure you have the tools to safely support your back before moving into deeper backbends in the series.
    Give yourself the time and patience you need for this posture. Now let’s look at how to get into Laghu Vajrasana.

    Kneel on your mat. Thrust your pelvis forward and soften your glutes.

    Your belly sucks, strengthening your core.

    Dangle your arms back and bring your hands to your ankles with the thumb on the inside and the fingers on the outside.

    You want to push into your ankles with your hands. Your elbows are straight.

    Roll your shoulders forward to support your neck and put your head back.

    Your pelvis is up and forward. Go long, and don’t try to narrow the body as you go down.

    Calm your mind and make a mental picture of yourself successfully executing the pose.

    Slowly lower your head toward this floor. Think about lengthening your body as you lower it. The crown of your head will touch the floor.

    Endurance is an important lesson that helps you build strength. Always make sure your joints are safe. If your muscles are burning, you’re building strength.

    As always, be patient with yourself. The strength you need for this pose will come over time and practice.

    Follow this video tutorial from Kino for more details about doing the pose.

    By Omstars

  • How to do Krounchasana (Heron Pose)

    Krounchasana is also known as the Heron Pose. Like the bird it’s named after, this pose is meant to be very graceful and filled with light. It’s part of the Ashtanga Intermediate Series.

    Krounchasana loosens up the hamstrings and detoxifies the digestive system. It also helps in freeing up your hip joints.
    Doing Heron Pose will strengthen and tone your body, elongating it along the centerline.

    It’s not advised for anyone with knee or hamstring injuries. You are going to do a deep flexion of the knee and extension of the leg. If you cannot close your knee joint completely it is not advised that you work on this pose.

    Because it involves knee flexion and a deep forward bend make sure your hamstrings and knees are warmed up before you get started. You can warm up by doing a few sun salutations first.

    Sit your mat with your leg straight out in front of you. Bend your right leg so your toes are pointing behind you and your heel is next to your hip. Your knee is folded beneath you.

    Activate your pelvic bowl by drawing the muscles in and up. Point your left foot. For the easiest entry into the posture, lean back and lift your left foot. With your leg bent hold on to the foot with both hands. Then straighten the leg straight up in front of you.

    If you cannot straighten your leg and straighten your arms this pose is too advanced for you right now. You need to work on your flexibility.

    The most common mistake people make in this pose is that they try to bring their head towards the knee. Actually, both your torso and your thigh need to move in toward each other.

    Elongate your spine by lengthening your back muscles. Drop your elbows down and let your sternum elevate as you reach your chin toward your shin. If you can, reach up and hold your right wrist with your left hand over the sole of your pointed foot.

    For the second way to enter the pose. Again you’re sitting with one leg bent. Let the head of the femur of the opposite leg pivot into the socket and lift your leg without the assistance of your hands. Once your leg is lifted reach up and hold the sole of your foot with your hands. Then move your chest and your leg toward each other. Drop your shoulders down. Drop your elbows down. Move your chin toward your shin.

    The key to this posture is to simultaneously drop into the belly while the back muscles lift up and out of the pelvic bowl. At the same time the head of the femur is dropping down into its socket. This creates an equal and opposite action giving you a feeling of flattening your body along the centerline.

    The internal rotation of the hips in this posture opens the sacrum in the lower back to prepare you for back bending poses that come later in the Intermediate Series.

    As you practice Krounchasana remember to be kind to yourself and always practice with patience. Watch the video from Kino to find out more about the pose.

    By Omstars

  • How to do Setu Bandhasana

    Setu Bandhasana can seem a little scary at first. The name of the pose means bridge and it prepares you for getting into deeper back bending poses. Think of it as a stable bridge

    It’s important that you warm up before attempting Setu Bandhasna. That’s why it is situated toward the end of the Ashtanga Primary Series.

    Don’t be afraid of what’s happening in the neck in this pose. You get the deep bend in the cervical spine by activating your neck muscles, but if you have herniated discs in your neck or problems with your neck you’ll want to skip this posture.

    To prepare for this pose lay on your back. Bring the heels together and spread the toes apart so they’re pointing opposite sides. Your heels are touching. Your heels should be quite far away from the pelvis. Further away is better than closer. Now let your knees flop out to the side. Then activate your inner thighs a little to raise your knees up.

    Put your hands onto the ground so your hands are at your hips and push your elbows into the ground. Put your head back so the crown of your head is on the floor.

    Your upper back is lifted up off of the floor.

    Your hands are on your thighs. You’re not dumping weight into your head. You’re pressing into your elbows activating and your thighs.

    This is the pose you can use to prepare. This is not the full expression of the pose yet, but If this is a lot for you just stay here for five breaths. Wait until you’ve built more strength before you try to get into the full posture.

    To get into the full expression of the pose, start by laying on your mat with your heels together and your feet pressing out pointing out. The crown of your head is on the ground.

    Now you can get up in one of two ways. Bring your hands up over your head and use them like training wheels to help you lift your body off the ground. If you lift up in this way be careful not to push too much with the shoulders because then you’ll have problems transitioning into the more complete expression of the pose.

    Another way to get into the pose is to start from where we were before with your head pressed into the ground and your hips still on the ground. Reach both hands out to the sides. Now activate the back muscles and your leg muscles. Inhale and lift up so the crown of your head is on the ground.

    For the traditional entry into Setu Bandhasana, you lay on your mat with your heels touching and toes point away from each other. Your hands are crossed over your shoulders. Then you activate the back muscles and the leg muscles and lift your hips so you can roll up onto the top of your head lifting your body.

    Watch the following video where Kino gives you a more detailed description of how to get into Setu Bandhasana.

    By Omstars