• 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 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 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

  • How to do Triang Mukha Eka Pada Paschimottanasana

    Today we’ll look at one of the seated postures in the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series, Triang Mukha Eka Pada Paschimottanasana. This posture is different than the other postures you’ve done up until this point in the Primary Series because it is the first obvious internal rotation of the hip.

    This energetic pose loosens up your hips and hamstrings while releasing the tension in your back muscles. Like other forward folds in the series, Triang Mukha Eka Pada Paschimottanasana calms the nervous system while toning the internal organs. It is a good posture to do when you need to relieve stress.

    We’ll look at the simplest way to get into this posture. This is a good way to approach the pose if you have knee sensitivity.

    Start by sitting on your mat with your legs straight out in front of you.

    Bend your right leg so the sole of your right foot is on the floor and your thigh is drawn into your chest.

    Now rock onto the left side of your sit bones.

    Internally rotate your hip joint and bring your foot back so your foot is pointed straight behind you.

    Your knees are next to each other with your right knee pointed straight out in front of you.

    As you get into the position pay close attention to how your knee feels. If you need to you can sit on a block to help you get into the position more comfortably and decrease any pressure on the knee.

    Send energy down into your sit bones to create a firm foundation. Make sure your weight is evenly distributed between the left and right hip. Find balance in the centerline of your body. It is important to keep centered.

    Inhale and lengthen, drawing the spine up out of the pelvis and lifting the chest.

    Exhale hinge forward from the pelvis, folding over the left leg. Catch your foot, ankle, shin or wherever you can reach. Keep your shoulder blades on your back and your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears.

    Inhale and lengthen through the back even more. Exhale and fold, relaxing your back and bringing your forehead toward your shin. Stay here for five breaths and repeat on the other side.

    Click here to see how to do Triang Mukha Eka Pada Paschimottanasana in more detail.

    By Omstars

  • How to do Parsvakonasana A (Extended Side Angle Pose)

    Parsvakonasana A or Extended Side Angle Pose tones the legs while energizing the entire spine. Once you learn how to do Parsvakonasa A, you’ll find it wonderfully therapeutic when you feel low in energy.

    This pose stimulates the body and can sometimes help with headaches. If you find yourself feeling dizzy or woozy it can bring you back into balance.

    Start standing with your legs three to four feet apart depending on your height. Turn your right foot out to the front of the mat.

    Bend your right leg so your knee is stacked over your ankle.

    Put your right forearm on your right thigh just above the knee.

    Open through the chest and circle your left arm up so your arm is over your head. So, you’re trying to make a diagonal line with your body.

    Ground into the left heel. You can choose to stay here. But if you want to take it deeper, take your right hand to the outside of your right foot. Bring your fingertips to the ground. Root into the heel of your foot.

    If you can, flatten your hand completely onto the ground. Activate your pelvic floor. Strengthen your legs. Hold for a few breaths. Then slowly come up out of the pose and repeat on the opposite side.

    For more details about  Parsvakonasana A or Extended Side Angle Posewatch the following video with Kino.

    By Omstars

  • 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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