• Weekly Pose Tutorial: Raja Bhujangasana

    Raja Bhujangasana is a challenging backbend that comes at the end of the Ashtanga Third Series. You need to make sure you warmed up before you attempt it and that you have the strength and flexibility necessary for the posture.

    From Upward Facing Dog plant your pelvis on the ground. Lift your spine up out of the pelvis. Think of this like a Cobra Pose. Your spine is lifting up out of the pelvis. Find space between the vertebrae and use your back muscles to support your spine.

    Come up onto your fingerprint tips and drop your head back.

    Curl your toes under and press into your toes. When you feel your back has reached its maximum amount of bend, bring your palms down on the mat and let your knees bend.

    Don’t force your knees to bend. It’s important that you don’t squeeze the legs.

    Inhale and lift the spine. Exhale and lean back until your head makes contact with your feet.

    Once you can touch your feet with your head, you can go deeper by tucking the feet behind the head.

    The key with this posture is not to squeeze your legs but to let your back do the work.

    Never force. Never squeeze your joints. Use your breath to find space in your back and effortlessly move into this backbend.

    Watch the video from Kino for more details about safely doing Raja Bhujangasana.

    By Omstars

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  • Weekly Pose Tutorial: Bharadvajasana

    Bharadvajasana is a powerful twisting pose that brings you into your centerline. It’s named after Bharadvaja, an ancient Vedic sage. The rough translation of his name is “a source of nourishment.”

    This posture symbolizes a turning inward of the mind and an integration of the deep, powerful work of your practice. This pose brings you to the center of yourself, both physically and spiritually, while bringing energy, life, and circulation into the body.

    The first thing to understand when moving into this twist is its placement in the Second Series. Before we do this twist in the series, we just finished doing a bunch of deep backbends. So Bharadvajasana re-integrates the spine and provides nourishment after doing all of these backbends.

    To come into the pose, sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.

    Internally rotate your left leg and bend your left knee, so your left heel is outside of your left hip bone. Your knees are slightly apart.

    Bring your right knee into external rotation. The sole of your right foot is toward your left thigh. If lotus position is inaccessible for you, this is your modification.

    If you can do lotus position, you want to close your right knee joint completely. Inhale and pull your right foot up into your left hip crease. The instep of your foot should be facing down, gliding into your left hip crease.

    Resist the desire to have your body weight lean to one side by pulling in your low belly and keeping your core strong.

    Reach your right hand around your back and hold onto your right foot. If you’re modifying, you can reach your right hand around your back and try to grab your left thigh or your shirt.

    Lean forward slightly, pressing into your right hand to keep your left hip on the ground. If your hip pops up off the ground, that is not good for the foundation of the pose.

    Inhale and lift the ribs. Exhale and extend your left arm across the centerline of your body to the outside of your right thigh. Place your left hand on the ground beneath your right knee. Inhale expand the spine and exhaled twist along the center axis.

    Your right shoulder is folding forward and down. Your left shoulder is pulling back and away. Your belly is sucked in and you’re grounding your hips back.

    Calm your mind and feel your centerline. Relax your neck and gently gaze over your right shoulder. Press the heel of your left hand into the ground and grip with your left fingers.

    Push the right foot down with your right hand to keep the left hip pushed into the ground. Activate your pelvic floor.

    To come out of the pose, soften and release slowly as you exhale.

    Now repeat the pose on the opposite side.

    Watch this video by Kino to get a better understanding of Bharadvajasana.

    By Omstars

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  • Weekly Pose Tutorial: Bakasana (Crane Pose)

    Bakasana or Crane Pose is an arm balance done with your arms straight as opposed to the crow pose which is a bent elbow arm balance. It is a foundational arm balance in your yoga practice. Once you get this pose and are able to do it well, you’ll be able to take the same strength tools and apply them to any arm balance.

    Arm balances require strength, pressing up from the shoulders and pulling up from your core. So let’s approach this arm balance from those two perspectives. One of the things with this pose is that there is a lot of pressure on the wrist. So the more you bring your shoulders away from your hands the more space you’ll create in your wrists.

    From a squatting position, your hands come forward flat on the mat.

    Place your knees as close to the armpits as possible.

    Send your shoulders forward and lift your feet off the ground.

    Your arms are straight not bent.

    One of the main differences between the Crow Pose and the Crane Pose is the positioning of the knees. For the Crow Pose your knees are on the outside of your shoulders and for the Crane Pose your knees are in your armpits.

    Watch this video for more detailed instructions.

    By Omstars

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  • Yoga Pose Tutorial: Baddha Konasana C (Bound Angle Pose)

    Baddha Konasana C or Bound Angle Pose is also known as Cobbler’s Pose.

    The benefits of this pose include toning your internal organs by increasing blood circulation and life energy while stretching and releasing the hips. Many people have a lot of tightness in the hips and low back. This tightness can be a major cause of low back pain.

    Let’s look at how to do Baddha Konasana C.

    Start by bending your knees and bringing them in close to your chest with the soles of your feet on the floor.

    Now drop your knees out to the side, allowing your hips to rotate externally.

    Place the soles of your feet together.

    When you do this, your knees may be elevated, and your back may round. Try to keep your back straight and place blocks or bolsters beneath your knees for added support.

    You never want to feel pain in the knees in this pose. If you do, use higher blocks or bolsters to elevate your knees to the point where you feel no pain.

    You may feel bands of tension in the inner thighs. This is what you want to release during the pose.

    Baddha Konasana C is not a passive pose. You must activate your legs in the pose. To do this, root down to the base of your little toe. Activate your ankles, and spread the soles of your feet open like a book.

    As you activate your feet, they’ll naturally want to move away from the pubic bone, but in this pose they should be as close to the pubic bone as possible.

    Now get rid of any roundness in the back or tilting under of your pelvis. Lift up through your pelvis until you come to the very top of your sitting bones.

    Press your thumbs on the mound of your big toes and curled fingers around your foot.

    Lift through the center of your chest. Send your pubic bone back as you send your chest forward and roll forward on your sitting bones, bringing your chin to the floor.

    If you can’t bring your chin to the floor yet, come forward as far as you can while maintaining the pose.

    When we approach flexibility, be sure to remember to have calmness, ease, patience, and kindness.

    Watch this tutorial from Kino for a better understanding of how to do Baddha Konasana C.

    By Omstars

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  • Yoga Pose Tutorial: Astavakrasana (Eight Angled Pose)

    Astavakrasana or Eight Angle Pose is an arm balance from the challenging Ashtanga Third Series. It is an asymmetrical arm balance. That means you do the arm balance with your legs over to the right and then with your legs over to the left. Ironically, it’s used to create symmetry in the body. You’ll find that it’s easier for you to do on one side than the other. By working on the pose on both sides over many years of practice, slowly each side will equal out.

    If you do only symmetrical arm balances, you can subconsciously favor one side over the other. Asymmetrical balances show you which side is stronger than the other, so you work on each side equally. Over many years of practice, you will find more balance as you work on both sides.

    While doing the pose itself is relatively accessible, all of the traditional entry points are pretty challenging. You need flexibility and strength to do this pose.

    Let’s start by doing the pose on the right side.

    Start out sitting on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground a little wider than hip’s width apart.

    Put your hands on the ground. Your right arm is between your legs and in front of your hips. Your left arm is outside your left leg.

    Place the right calf on the right shoulder.

    One of the easiest ways to enter the pose is the leave the left foot on the ground as you press into your arms and send your hips up and back.

    Now hook your left foot around your right foot and straighten your legs.

    Then slowly reach your chest down and bend the elbows. Lift the legs up. Shoulders forward. Your hips are up and your belly is in.

    To make it a bit harder. Hook your feet together before you lift up. Then straighten your legs.

    Watch Kino’s Encyclopedia of Yoga class about the pose to find out how to work your way up to getting into Astavakrasana.

    To see traditional entries and exits of the pose watch Kino’s video below.

    By Omstars

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  • Yoga Pose Tutorial: Tiryang Mukha Ekapada Paschimattanasana or Three-Limbed Forward Fold

    This week’s pose seems harder to say than to do but fortunately, Tiryang Mukha Ekapada Paschimattanasana translates to the three-limbed forward fold. This pose elevates the awareness of the bandhas, helps to internally rotate the hip joints, and gives a great stretch on the quads/hamstrings.

    While rotating your thighs inward, bend your right knee back and point your right toes back.

    Let your right hip sink to the floor with your heel outside your buttock.

    TIP: if you move your right calf out of the way, you can get a more comfortable bend in the right knee.

    Your thighs remain parallel and your knees are close together.

    Reaching forward, wrap your hands around the left foot and bring your chin to your left shin.

    Draw your belly back and in and engage your pelvic floor to gain stability in the asana.

    Press your left calf and left heel into the floor as you activate your energy.

    Ground your right sit bone and the top of your right foot into the floor.

    The Drishti for this pose is the toes on the left foot.

    After 5 breaths release and work the other side.

    Never force a pose and gradually it will come. Use effort and ease with your breath to move your practice along.

    Check out my teacher, Kino’s YouTube video below. The pose starts at 6 minutes and 25 seconds into the video.

    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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  • Yoga Pose Tutorial: Purvattanasana or Upward Facing Plank

    Welcome to the pose of the week Purvattanasana, also called Upward Facing Plank Pose. This is a great pose that extends and strengthens the back while also countering all the forward bends so far in the primary series.

    Place your hands about a foot behind your pelvis with palms flat on the floor and the fingers facing forward.

    Inhale as you lift your pelvis UP AND FORWARD.

    Be sure to engage your inner quads with your active, lifted kneecaps.

    Point your toes and press your feet toward the floor with an inward rotation.

    Open your heart toward the ceiling by lifting your chest high.

    Draw your shoulder blades down and arm are straight.

    Lift the upper back. If your neck is comfortable look to the back wall.

    Remember to never force a pose and let it come naturally over time.

    Check out my teacher Kino’s YouTube video that is only (2:18 Minutes) and well worth the watch.

    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.

    Start your 14-day Free Trial with Omstars Today!

  • Cultivating Strength in Warrior I

    Warrior I, otherwise known as Virabhadrasana A, is one of the most basic poses in the practice. It is also, however, deceptively simple. When performed correctly, Warrior I should cause the thighs to burn, the heart rate to accelerate, and the breath to become heavy. You should feel a sense of heat rising throughout the entire body as you cultivate both mental and physical strength. When practiced mindfully with proper alignment and adequate effort, the whole lesson of the journey of yoga can be found right there in Warrior I.

    In Indian mythology, Virabhadra is a spiritual warrior created from a lock of Shivas hair. Shiva sends Virabhadra down to Earth to act as a warrior of peace in the world. When Shiva releases this lock of hair, dropping our warrior down to Earth, Virabhadra lands, at the ready in Warrior I. This posture and the story behind it represents the brave heart of the Yogi. As you begin to practice, you gain access to the energy of Virabhadra, and as such, gain the spiritual strength to go out into the world as a force of healing energy and strength.

    To practice your strongest Warrior I, begin in mountain pose – Samasthiti. Hug the belly in toward the spine and begin to lift your energy up along the midline. Cultivate strength in your mountain pose and then step back with the left foot. You want about the distance of one of your own legs between your feet.

    Place the heal of your back foot down onto the mat so that the toes come out to a 45-degree angle. Check to be sure that the heal of your front foot is in line with the arch of your back foot, then press down with the back leg to seal the outside edge of the foot against the mat.

    Be sure to keep your pelvis in a neutral position, oriented forward toward the top of your mat. From here, pull femur-head of your front leg into your hip socket as you bend the front knee. Be sure that you keep the belly hugging in toward the spine, and then reach the fingertips up toward the ceiling, palms touching. At the same time, lift your gaze. The whole body strong, every muscle working. Hold here for several rounds of deep, continuous breath, then step back to Samasthiti. When you’re ready, mode to the other side.

    By Alex Wilson

    Note: The alignment cues and expertise offered in this blog post come straight from Kino’s breakdown of this pose on OMstars series, The Encyclopedia of Yoga.

    Check Out More Pose Breakdowns on OMstars

    Alex Wilson is a writer, yoga teacher, and the content manager at OMstars – The Yoga Network.