• Weekly Pose Tutorial: Ustrasana (Camel Pose)

    Ustrasana or Camel Pose is a nice easy backbend from the Ashtanga Yoga Second Series. This is a very therapeutic backbend that can help you create space between the vertebra, building strength and flexibility in the spine. When in this pose, you must try to find the balance between openness and steadiness.

    Let’s take a look at how to do this pose with a healthy technique.

    Come to your knees with your knee joints at 90-degree angles. Your feet are pointed behind you, and your thighs are hip-width apart.

    Inwardly rotate your thighs while pressing your knees into the ground.

    Lift up through your pelvic floor and tighten your core.

    Draw your energy up through the centerline and lift your spine out of your pelvis, creating space in your back.

    Now take your hands on your iliac crests on the front of your pelvis.

    Send your hips forward. Gently lift your chest and roll your shoulders down your back to prepare for the pose.

    Now move your hands to the back of your hips and place your thumbs on your sacrum.

    Squeeze your elbows together and inhale.

    Press your hips forward with your hands and let your head fall back.

    Try to keep your glutes relaxed and your thighs moving forward. If you feel any pinching in your spine, come out of the pose.

    From here, you are ready to move deeper into the backbend for the full expression of the pose.

    First, inhale and lift through the spine even more to create the space you need for the pose.

    Exhale and dangle your arms back behind you. Let them hang loosely at first.

    Now inhale, lift your spine further out of the pelvis and find your feet with your hands.

    Let your cervical spine extend backward. Gaze at the tip of your nose. Keep your core strong, and be careful not to stick your belly out.

    When you’re ready to come out of Ustrasana, don’t collapse. Instead, use your strength to press into your knees and lift yourself back up. Follow this posture with child’s pose.

    Watch Kino’s tutorial below for a better understanding of the pose.

    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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  • How to do Marichyasana B

    Marichyasana B of the Ashtanga Primary Series is one of what I call “Birthday Cake Poses”. It involves specific ingredients that must be added in the proper order, at the appropriate time, for the recipe to work. The process is essential to honor the intention of the posture.

    The first ingredient is the lotus posture. Without lotus, it is really just a version of Marichyasana A. So take your time with your lotus position, finding release in the hip, checking in with the knee, bringing that foot high across the other leg, heel positioned within the line of the pubic bone and belly button. Once you have a workable lotus – perfection is not required, just something that is not painful and gives you space to work the other leg – lean back into the hands so that you can draw the second leg up, heel to sit bone. This moment may reveal some resistance in the hip, acknowledge that and navigate a path through it. If the hip is not too intense, rock your weight forward and diagonally toward the lotus leg. Eventually you want to feel secure in this foundation, the thigh of the lotus leg and the foot of the other side, that sit bone lifted. This is the baking phase of our recipe. Settle into your foundation, sit with ease. If you are still holding on to the planet to avoid falling back, then work here for a while. Next take a forward fold over you lap, reaching around for the bind just as in Marichyasana A, first arm around the upright knee, the other tossed behind the back. Got the bind? Frosting! Lastly, enjoy your dessert, finishing with a deep fold, forehead or chin to the floor. Breathe.

    If you rush this posture, you may end up with some distorted version with no integrity. Step by step process draws your awareness to places of resistance and thus places to work. When the full expression is reached it will feel like it makes sense, you will feel ready for it. No hurry! And always honor injuries, especially in the knees. It is certainly acceptable, even encouraged, to modify the lotus during a time of injury.

    By Angelique Sandas

     

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  • 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.