• 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.

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  • Chair Yoga For Happiness

    If you’re participating in our 30 Day Yoga Living Challenge, then you had the wonderful opportunity to practice Chair Yoga with Kristin McGee! If you’re not participating in our challenge, you now have the opportunity to learn a few Chair Yoga tips from Kristin herself, right here on the OmStars blog. Take a look at what Kristin has to say about adding Chair Yoga into your everyday life, and explore a few poses that she breaks down right here on the blog! So find a chair, sit up tall, and start adding a little more happiness to your life with these simple moves.

    Chair Yoga for Happiness

    Where is your happy place? Probably not when you’re stuck in your seat in one position for too long. Our bodies are designed to move. Modern day culture and technology has caused many of us to sit for most of the day.

    Sitting for too long causes us to slouch, compresses our lower back, cuts off our breathing and puts strain on our neck and shoulders. It’s hard to be happy when our neck or back is achy, or we aren’t taking in enough oxygen.

    Chair yoga is our happiness antidote. The second you move, stretch and breathe, you feel one hundred times better. When you feel good, you’re happy, it’s as simple as that. Practicing yoga in our seat makes so much sense. You’ll suddenly become more aware of how your posture and breathing affect your attitude and outlook.

    Anyone can do chair yoga at anytime. It doesn’t matter what kind of chair you’re in, just sit towards the front of your seat and ground your feet (make sure wheels are locked if it’s that type).  You may do these at the start of your day or when you hit that mid day slump.  Maybe you want to do them on your commute or right when you get home instead of getting back online or watching television.

    4 moves to boost your happiness and lift your spirits:

    High Altar Pose: Lift your arms up overhead interlace the fingers invert the palms and lift the corners of your mouth in to a smile. You’ll feel your lungs inflate as you lift out of your lower back. Get an immediate rush of energy in to your body and notice how much better your body and brain feel. Hold for 3-5 deep breaths.

    Hands Clasped Behind the Back Arch: Backbends are the antidepressants of yoga. When we slouch forward we get depressed. Our posture determines our mood. Use this pose to open your heart and lift yourself up mentally. Sit towards the edge of your seat clasp your hands behind your back and lift your chest upwards toward the ceiling. Stay and breathe for 5-8 breaths.

    Assisted Neck stretch: We carry a ton of tension and stress in our neck and shoulders. Use this stretch release the issues in your tissues. Place one hand over your head on the opposite ear. Gently let the head fall to the side as you stretch the neck and top of shoulder. Hold for 5 breaths and then switch sides.

    Forward Fold: Finally end with a forward fold to bring oxygen to the brain and stretch the entire back body. When you fold forward you let the spine release and relax. Stay for 5 to 8 breaths before coming back up to sit and notice how much happier and refreshed you feel.

    You can incorporate these and other chair yoga moves on a daily basis. Hopefully you can encourage your friends, family and co-workers to join in too! The more the merrier, or should I say happier?!

    Namaste!

    By Kristin McGee

    Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates Instructor, trusted wellness expert, author, speaker, and mompreneur.

    Try Kristin’s Chair Yoga Class On OmStars