• 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: Eka Pada Sirsasana (Leg Behind the Head Pose)

    This pose isn’t so much about putting your foot behind your head as it is about opening up your hips. Opening your hips helps you release physical and emotional tension.

    Eka Pada Sirsasana also strengthens your neck, allowing energy to surge into your body and give you clarity of thought.

    If you don’t have a comfortable lotus position, don’t try this position. This posture isn’t for everyone. You need to put in the foundational work to be able to get into Eka Pada Sirasana, but if you really try this with patients you will eventually see the results you’re looking for. It might take you 20 years but if you’re willing to put in the work you will get there. Keep the faith and keep practicing along the way.

    Make sure you warm up before you try this.

    Start by sitting on your mat with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend the right knee and let it fall open. This is the first step to getting your leg behind her head.

    Think of your knee is a signpost telling you what your hip is doing. It needs to be in external rotation so you need to make sure your knee is falling open completely and pointing out to the side.

    The second most important thing is the position of the pelvis. Suck your belly in and pivot to the back of your sitting bones. You need a little bit of roundness in your back but not too much. If you’re crunching down, you risk damaging the vertebrae in your back.

    As you attempt this posture you need to make sure you respect your leg and hip joint. Yoga is a conversation between your conscious mind and your body.

    Now place your ankle on top of your left thigh so your hip can fall open. This is almost like a seated version of a pigeon puts. Activate your lower abs and now hold onto your foot with your left hand and your knee with your right hand and bring your leg up toward your chest. If your shinbone cannot come up in touch your chest, you’ll know that you’re not ready to try to put your leg behind your head.

    Stay here for a little while and cradle your shinbone against her chest.

    Now move your foot up a little bit. Make sure you relax your hips. Hold on to your foot and knee and then slide down to the hip crease. Bring the instep of your foot to your forehead. You may just stay here or if you feel like you can you are ready to progress to putting the foot behind the head.

    Inhale and move your knee to the side. Roll your right shoulder down to slide it underneath your leg. Now place the sole of your foot near your ear. Drop your head down–not your chest just your head.

    Reach behind your back with your left hand and grab the foot. Now wiggle up so you can move your shoulder forward in front of your leg, so your right elbow touches the thigh.

    If there’s pain in the knee then back off. Keep pulling with the left hand on your foot. Once you are in the position look up and your head will hold your leg in place and bring your hands to prayer position.

    Watch this video with Kino for more detail about how to do Eka Pada Sirsasana or Leg Behind the Head Pose.

    By Omstars

  • Weekly Pose Tutorial: Chakrasana (Backward Roll)

    Chakrasana is a transition pose that can be difficult to figure out at first, but it’s an important part of the practice. Today we’ll break it down so you can start using it in your practice.

    When you think about this pose think about a wheel. A wheel has an axis point. In Chakrasana your body also has an axis point–your shoulders. So when you roll backward think about sending your body around the axis point of your shoulders. You’re not sending your body up. You’re going around.

    You need a good amount of hamstring and upper back flexibility to do this pose properly. If you have long hair, you shouldn’t have your hair in a ponytail or a bun because they will make your head move to the side and could injure your neck.

    If you have any kind of herniated disc or neck issues this is contraindicated for doing this pose.

    If you have a healthy neck, this pose can actually release neck tension. It can also help you learn how to lift your pelvis through the centerline. Gives you a good sense of directionality so you can feel where you’re going without always seeing it.

    To prepare for Chakrasana, you need to come into a shape that’s almost like Plow Pose.

    Start out laying on your back. Now bring your legs up overhead. Bend your elbows and bring your hands down so they are near your ears.

    If you can’t get into Plow Pose, you don’t have the flexibility to do the Chakrasana yet.

    Now draw your elbows in and suck in your belly. On the exhale, flip your body all the way over, using your shoulders as an axis.

    Don’t push hard with your arms to get yourself to go over. You’re moving on a lateral plane and not an up-and-down plane.

    Now here’s a more advanced version.

    Lay on your back with your knees bent.

    Prepare by bending your elbows and placing your hands next to your ears.

    Exhale tighten your pelvic floor. Inhale bring your legs up and all the way over your head.

    Roll completely over and land directly in Chaturanga Dandasana.

    Before you attempt this make sure you have enough room behind you to land in Chaturanga without hitting anything.

    Remember you’re thinking about rolling the axis of your wheel around the shoulders.

    The most important things to remember is that it’s a lateral motion and not upward. You’ll feel the full length of your body traveling back.

    Watch the video from Kino below to get a better idea of how to do the pose.

    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: Janu Sirsasana A or Head-to-Knee Pose

    This week’s pose of the week is Janu Sirsasana “A” or Head-to-Knee Pose A.

    The FOCUS of head-to-knee pose is really the extension of the sternum toward the knee. You should try your best to get extension in the back and avoid rounding.

    Rotate your right hip joint externally, while pointing your knee out to the side at a 90-degree angle.

    Try to relax the hip joint so the ball and socket can open and release.

    The sole of your right foot is resting against your inner left thigh and the right heel rests close to the pubic bone.

    Constantly roll your upper thigh toward the back of your pelvis while elongating your inner thigh muscles. It sounds like a lot but really it is not.

    Once you have the external rotation of the right thigh, fold your pelvis as far forward as possible and align your torso OVER your left thigh.

    Your heart, sternum, and public bone should be aligned and centered toward the left knee.

    Reach your chin to your left shin and gaze toward the toes of your left foot.

    Kept the left leg engaged and active.

    Hold for five breaths and do the other side.

    Remember, never force a pose but advance your practice with effort and ease. Check out Kino’s YouTube on the pose. It is only 3:18 but will give you a deeper understanding of the asana.

    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: 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.

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  • 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.

    Start your 14-day Free Trial with Omstars Today!

  • Yoga Pose Tutorial: Parsvakonasana or Extended Side Angle

    As we continue the journey of Ashtanga yoga, we find that the practice helps us to build strength and flexibility. Using the breath and the drishti (concentration) we create a balance in the body that settles the mind with long slow breathing with the inhales and exhales in coordination with the movement. Vinyasa actually means “the marriage of breath and movement”. We continue to work the asana pose with effort and ease, never forcing the movement and always working with mindful intention.

    Today we look at Parsvakonasana “A”, also known as Extended Side Angle Pose.

    You stand with a relatively WIDE pose, about the distance of one leg with the front heel aligned with your left arch for stability.

    BEND the front knee until it is over the right ankle making the front thigh PARALLEL with the floor. Don’t worry, it takes time to get there.

    Sink deep into the front hip joint and release your torso down and externally rotate your thighs.

    Reach your upper arm overhead and draw your shoulder blades down the back while gazing at the upper fingertips.

    Eventually, you build a straight line from the knife-edge of the back foot to the tips of your fingertips.

    Please do check out the excellent YouTube Video from my teacher Kino as she walks us through the asana step by step. It’s only 3.17 minutes and really makes the asana come to life.

    Patience may one of the greatest tools in our yoga journey as we TRY to practice more and more difficult poses. JUST TRY! Some days we can catch the pose and some days we don’t. It’s all good, just continue to focus on the breath and the movement to reap the benefits. PRACTICE!!!

    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!

  • Yoga Pose Tutorial: Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (Bound Lotus Forward Fold)

    Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana or Bound Lotus Forward Fold stretches the muscles in the hip, hamstrings, and shoulders. Standing on one foot increases your balance while building strength in the muscles of the foot, ankle, and leg. The pressure of the foot on the abdomen as you fold forward massages your internal organs. Let’s take a look at this pose so you can practice it at home.

    Bound Lotus forward fold is a fun pose, but be careful with your folding knee to assure you don’t tweek it.

    Start from standing and bring your right foot into half lotus. The folded knee points down.

    Reach your right hand behind your back to hold the top of the right foot. When entering the pose aim the top of your right foot at your LEFT hip crease.

    Be sure to fully rotate your hips to free space in the pelvis to create room for the bind and fold forward.

    Once you have the half lotus bind, stabilize your standing leg and fold forward with an exhale. Draw in your abdomen and lift your sit bones.

    After folding, place your left hand firmly on the floor right next to the left foot and align fingernails with toenails.

    Equalize your hips while you reach your chin to the left shin.

    If you can’t get the bind yet, no worries, place both hands on the floor.

    Check out Kino MacGreagors YOUTUBE video (2:27min) below as you work this asana. The video is well worth the two minutes!

    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!