• 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 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 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

  • Weekly Pose Tutorial: Gomukhasana (The Cow Facing Pose)

    Gomukhasana is an important posture in the Ashtanga Yoga Second Series and involves a deep movement inside of the hip joints. You might be familiar with it from other styles of yoga also. This pose teaches us a lesson of patience, kindness, respect, and reverence for life. As we develop these things we become better beings and we treat the world around us better.

    To get into Gomukhasana sit on your mat. Bend your right leg so your heel is to the outside of your left hip and your knee is on the ground pointing straight out in front of you.

    Now bring your left leg over your right leg so the heel is next to the right hip. Stack your knees on top of each other.

    Lift your sacrum up and forward so it almost feels like you’re about to lift your sitting bones off the ground.

    Now take your right hand up. Bend your elbow and reach your hand behind your head and down your back.

    Take your left arm out to the side so your palm is facing behind you. Bend your left elbow and bring your hand up your back.

    Try to clasp your right and left hands together behind your back. If you can’t reach you can use a strap or hold onto your shirt.

    Stay in this position for five breaths before slowly coming out. Watch the video with Kino below for more details about the Gomukhasana.

    By Omstars

  • Weekly Pose Tutorial: Bhekasana (Frog Pose)

    Bhekasana or frog pose allows you to lengthen through the front body while engaging through the back body. The first thing you need to understand is that this is a backbending pose. It traditionally comes in the Second Series or Intermediate Series of Ashtanga.

    Bhekasana brings up a little bit of fear in people about what is happening in the knees. It requires an internal rotation of the thighs and deep knee flexion.

    We’ll look at the safe way to enter the posture so no matter what your level of flexibility, you will be able to achieve the pose. It’s not about forcing your body. It’s about listening and learning from the messages your body sends you. If you try to bend your knees too hard in this pose it won’t work. Again you should not force anything.

    Lay on your stomach and in a relaxed manner bend your knees. Let your calf lazily come out to the sides just a bit so there is an internal rotation in your hips. Don’t bring your feet up to your butt. They should be on the outside of your hips.

    Draw in your belly and press your iliac crest into the ground. Draw your thigh away from the ground.

    Now reach your right arm back and place the “L” of your hand between the base of your thumb and base of index finger on your foot. Press on the foot and flip your grip to push your foot down. Do the same thing on the left side.

    Don’t force anything. Your hands are simply holding your feet in place. Don’t jam your foot down. You’re gripping but not forcing.

    Lift your quadriceps and press your iliac crests into the ground. Allow yourself to have space in your knee joint.
    Make space through the back.

    The center of the chest is up and forward and the knees are back and away from the body. Your thighs are off the ground.

    When you are ready to come out of the pose release it slowly.

    Watch this video with Kino to get a better idea of Bhekasana.

    By Omstars

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