March/April SPOTLIGHT POSE

The Spotlight Pose I have chosen for the Spring Series is Salamba Sirsasana I.

"Salamba means support. Sirsa means the head.this is the headstand pose, one of the most important Yogic asanas. It is the basic posture. It has several variations, which are described later in the Sirsasana cycle. Its mastery gives one balanc and poise, both physically and mentally. "

Light on Yoga, B.K.S Iyengar

Benefits of Sirsasana written by B.K.S Iyengar in LOY

"Regular practice of Sirsasana makes healthy pure blood flow through the brain cells. This rejuvenates them so that thinking power increases and thoughts become clearer. The asanna is a tonic for people showe brains tire quickly. It ensures proper blood supply to the pituitary and pineal glands in the brain. Our growth, health and vitality depend on the proper functioning of these two glands."

***Please note that one must have a regular practice of the standing poses, Adho Mukha Svanasana and Salamba Sarvangasana(Shoulder Stand) before learning how to do Sirsasana.

Sarvangasana is taught before learning Sirsasana but when practicing in a series, Sirsasana should be before Sarvangasana. Sarvagasana does not have to immediately follow Sirsasana but should be done at some point in the sequence. ****

Sirsasana and its cycle should always be followed by Sarvangasana and its cycle. It has been observed that people who devote themselves to Sirsasana alone without doing the Sarvangasana poses are apt to lose their temper over trifling things and become irritated quickly. (Light On Yoga page 189)

**Also note that if you have high blood pressure, glaucoma, cervical issues to consult an experienced teacher on modifications that can be done. Women that are menstruating should not do inversions when on their cycle.***

Sirsasana is Tadasana upside down. The shoulders descend away from the ears as the crown of the head lengthens up to the ceiling. The thighs roll from the outside in, the buttocks descends to the heels as the tailbone moves in, the pubic bone back.

Practice balancing the weight evenly on your feet in Tadasana working with the actions of the legs the shoulders the chest, and then go into Sirsasana with the same actions except with the elbows, forearms and wrists being the foundation of the pose. 

Watch B.K.S Iyengar talk about Sirsasana:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2F9uptI0LE0&t=407s  This link is in Estes Park, Co . I was here for this one:)

Fingers in Sirsasana , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2Dm3WcFIwg

John Schumacher  link on how to pracitce Sirsasana

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHN_f5eBJjA

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January/February 2018 Pose Challenge!!

For those of you that have been to my classes this session you know that I have decided to have a target pose to work toward. The pose is Virabhadrasana III. 

Virabhadrasana III is a perfect pose for the winter season. 

 In Light On Yoga, Gurujii says that this "illustration conveys the harmony, balance, poise and power attained by practicing this asana. It helps to contract and tone the abdominal organs and makes the leg muscles more shapely and sturdy. All the movements of this asana improve one’s bearing and carriage. When we stand badly by throwing the weight on the heels we retard symmetrical growth and hamper spinal elasticity. Standing with the weight on the heels causes the stomach to protrude and lessens bodily and mental agility. This asana helps one to stand firmly on the soles of the feet, keeps the stomach muscles in and gives agility to the body and the mind”

The sutras I will be talking about this series are ways on how to quiest the mind, Yogah cittavrtti nirodhah , which defined by Gurijii is Yoga is the cessation of movements in the conciousness. 

The wonderful thing about Viraghadrasana III,  or any balancing pose is that  when you are in the midst of the pose, breathing steadily, trying to stand upright, you really have nothing else going on in your mind.  Except the pose, the moment, and what you are feeling.

Each week I will be teaching poses that will help to stand more firmly on the soles of the keep, strengthen the abdominal muscles  and help stay focused and stay present.

In order for all of you to reach the Virabhadrasana III challenge I  am asking all of you to focus on a few poses for your  HOME PRACTICE. Oh you don't have a home practice??? Well START ONE:) Make it your goal for 2018 to practice at least 15-20 minutes a day and maybe that will increase to 30 to 45 to 1 hour...

Here is a sequence you can begin to do to start. You can add other poses(I put suggestions in red in the sequence) but these are the main ones to focus on that have some actions in Vira III that will help you. If  you do not know the sanskrit names then LOOK THEM UP!!

Print out and do everyday. Have fun!!

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***Women if you are menstruating omit the Vira III leg lift and Urdhva Pras Pad with strap and Viparita Karani.***

First find a full wall where you can set up your mat. You will need a mat, 2 blocks(or chair if you are more stiff), and a strap and 2 blankets(or bolster if you have one) for legs up the wall

1.Adho Mukha Svanasana with heels elevated on a baseboard

2.Uttanasana

3.Right Angle finger tips at wall

4.a.Parsvottanasana standing upright

   b.Parsvottanasana coming forward concave back with hands on blocks(or chair)

5.Right Angle with finger tips at wall lifting one leg. Start with weak standing leg and end with weak standing leg(FOCUS ON STANDING LEG and observe the actions how it is similar to front leg of Parsvottansana)

6. Uttanasana with buttocks at wall, feet one foot distance away from wall, keep buttocks at wall and extend arms forward either on blocks or on floor

Prasarita Padottanasana(optional)

Sirsasana(optional)

7. Urdhva Prasarita Padottanasana 90 degrees-start this pose lying on back with legs up wall, then move buttocks 2" away from wall, place a strap around ball of feet, bring legs 2" away from wall, hold strap with hands, then remove hands from strap(keep straps on feet b/c may need it), hold legs up up to 2 minutes HOWEVER if legs start to bend or shake hold onto strap or bring heels to wall and extend heels up wall to straighten

8. Viparita Karani or Salamba Sarvangasana(minimum 5 minutes)-with 2 blankets or bolster

 

***stay in each pose unless otherwise stated for 4-5 breaths!!**

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THE ICE! THE ICE!

DUE TO WEATHER CLASSES ARE CANCELLED FOR THE WEEK OF FEBRUARY 16. Unless you are in the Gentle Yoga class, in which case you were lucky and got in before the ice hit!

To make up for these cancellations, the January/February series will now run through the week of March 2 instead of ending next week as planned. The March/April series will now begin the week of March 9 and end the week of April 27. No changes have been made to Gentle Yoga.

Please note that there will be some teacher substitutions for the week in March. These were planned long before the weather interfered--Graham will be traveling for training as she works toward her next level of certification. Apologies for the inconvenience.

Please contact Graham if you have concerns or questions about being able to make up this week's class in March.

India

2 weeks from today, the day after Thanksgiving, I travel to India for a 10 day Intensive with Geeta Iyengar. This will be my 3rd time to Pune, the first time without Mr.Iyengar.

I will be there for just 2 weeks this time however I am very excited to be a student, surrounded by many other Certified Iyengar students from all over the world, honoring the late B.K.S Iyengar from the teachings of his talented daughter Geeta. I look forward to bringing back to all of you what I learn .

Please check this blog for updates from INDIA:)

Good Thoughts to Guruji

My thoughts are with the Iyengar family lately. I feel so fortunate to have been able to spend a little time at their institute in Pune, India and be amongst such skilled teachers. It is humbling and inspiring to be part of the Iyengar tradition and I am grateful for the experience.

Below is an old post from my first trip to the institute. Here is my most recent trip.I hope to make it back.

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In October, 2007 I traveled to Pune, India, where I studied yoga with Geeta Iyengar (B.K.S. Iyengar’s daughter) and Prashant Iyengar (B.K.S. Iyengar’s son). There is a two-year waiting list to get into the program; after two years of planning, I was finally able to attend. Unfortunately, after being there for only one week of the five-week program, I missed a step in my hotel, broke my foot, and sprained my ankle. It was a HUGE bummer for this to happen, of course, but what could I do? Go home? Many people actually did think that I should go home, but that never entered my mind. I was determined to make the best out of my situation and not let it get me down.

Of course in these situations, when we injure ourselves, or our body isn’t feeling well, it is very easy to focus on what we CAN’T do as opposed to focusing on what we CAN do.

Unfortunately I WASN’T able to take classes, but I WAS able to observe, which is a huge learning tool with teaching. It was hard not to be able to do what all my friends were doing, relate to what they were feeling after class, and not feel frustrated that I wasn’t able to have the experience they were having — an experience I had anticipated for such a long time. However, I do feel that by observing I was able to watch, listen, and see many things not experienced by those doing the poses. It was a “different” experience for me but was very fulfilling in numerous ways.

I read this quote somewhere recently,

“Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.”

This quote resonated with me because I think that we often focus more on what we can’t do and don’t appreciate what we can do. I will be honest: I did focus at times on what I couldn’t do because of my foot, but I had to get past that or else I wouldn’t have made it for the five weeks I was there. I went to India not quite knowing what I wanted to achieve. Was it to become a better teacher? To learn some new poses? To be in the presence of the Iyengars themselves and learn directly from them?

I frequently tell my students to APPRECIATE, APPRECIATE, APPRECIATE and live in the present moment, because you never know what may happen next (like breaking a foot going down some stairs while you’re in India).

It is difficult to describe my experience in India. The words that do come to my mind are again to always appreciate what you DO have and to enjoy every minute of your life. “Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.”