• 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.

  • Yoga Pose Tutorial: Parsvottanasa or Pyrimand Pose

    The pose this week is Parsvottanasana also called Pyramid or Intense side stretch pose. It’s all the same thing.

    For this pose hold your elbows or hands in prayer.

    This pose has a relatively short stance with feet about 2.5 feet apart. The back-foot points out 45 degrees and the front heel aligns with the arch of the back foot. This is important as it helps square the pelvis toward the back of your mat.

    Draw your belly in and lift your sit bones as you fold forward pressing the feet and legs into the floor for energy.

    Ground all three corners of both feet for stability.

    KEEP YOUR PELVIS AND SACRUM LEVEL AS POSSIBLE. Keep the sternum in line with the front knee while reaching forward and down.

    Keep your chest open as you press the heels of your hands together in prayer.

    Bring your forehead toward the knee and gaze toward the nose OR chin to shin, if you are flexible enough, and gaze toward the toes.

    Check out Kino’s excellent YouTube below.

    Ashtanga is one of the authentic representations of Patanjali’s sutra that is still alive and active. The system is precise and relevant but open to all with modifications. With each asana we focus on a smooth steady breath with concentration called drishti. Never force the pose but use effort and ease to progress. Always back out of any pose that causes a sharp pain. The emphasis shifts from posture to breath in a steady progression of building strength and flexibility.

    By Dr. Bruce E. Barkus

    Dr. Bruce E. Barkus came to yoga, like most people, to become more flexible, get stronger and reduce stress. Low and behold he fell in love with all the other benefits yoga provides. He has been very consistent with a daily practice for the last eleven years and has come to look at it as part of his daily routine. Bruce’s certifications are Yoga Alliance RYT 500 through Asheville Yoga Center and 500 hours of Ashtanga Training for teachers with Miami Life Center. He teaches Ashtanga at Level Yoga in Vero Beach Florida and at Asheville Yoga Center. Over time, his students started asking for more details on poses and the benefits of a daily practice, so he started doing the pose of the week. There have been many that have guided his yoga practice, including Kino MacGregor, Tim Feldmann, Doug Keller, David Keil, Manju Jois, Stephanie Keach, and Lewis Rothlein. The poses he shares are primarily from the Ashtanga Primary Series as he finds the basic postures build a solid foundation for all the advanced poses.

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