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Posts Tagged ‘Asana’

Cultivating a Home Yoga Practice

Posted on April 13th, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Home Yoga

By Sabrina Samedi

For many of us, the time we spend on the mat whether it’s for a sweat-cleansing power flow, a nourishing vinyasa series, a healing yin yoga practice or for meditation, it is considered “me time.” Time to step away from all the hustle and bustle, noise and distractions of everyday life and step into our true self- it’s our dedication to our self: to listen and honor our mind, body, spirit and soul. Hence, self-care is the manifestation of self-love and such compassion should not be jeopardized simply due to the fact that you couldn’t make it to the studio for your meditation or yoga class.

Let’s face it,  we have all been there- starring at the jumbled yoga mat in the corner of our room as it dauntingly seems to whisper- breathe now or forever lose your peace. It takes willpower and commitment to practice yoga whether it’s asana-based, pranayama work or meditation with consistency. Classes at studios can add up and after a steady series of visits it can feel as if our center of zen is in a heated debate with our wallet and our wallet is in the lead as a victor as our zen turns into financial worries. Between work and running errands, time can restrict us to practicing before sunrise or well after sunset; thus, time restrictions are an honest determinant for when we can carve out studio space. It is quite harmonious and healing to share your practice with the gracious breath of community members, but often times it an uplifting challenge to remove and all distractions and simple focus on your breath, your body’s needs, and your strength without any inclination towards judgement nor competition.

Therefore, cultivating a home yoga and/or meditation practice is a great compliment to your community studio-based classes as well as a wonderful tool to utilize when traveling or when time and budget act as bumps along the road to tranquility.

Tips on how to create and maintain a home practice:

1. Hold the Space and Honor Yourself

  • Be kind to yourself as you would in any class. When a teacher suggests a modification and you tune in realizing that since your lower back has been aching lately, you decide it’s best to lower down onto your knees during a Chaturanga Dandasana or bend your knees as you lift into Ardha Uttanasana. Thus, you are listen to your body and are taking the instructor’s suggestion. You are your own guru- listen to the teacher within your soul and treat your body with compassion.

 

2. Strengthen Your Willpower

  • Your manipura or solar plexus is engaged here as you dedicate the same adherence to studio etiquette to your self– show up on time, no texting or taking calls while invested in your practice. The e-mails and pile of laundry can wait- there is no where else you need to be than right here, right now. Be present and flow with your breath.

 

3. Find the Right Flow and Style 

  • Getting a little help from our yogi friends is key here; while listening to your inner teacher you may still need guidance from a yoga instructor and rest assured we’ve got you covered. Invest in yoga DVDs and/or online courses that you’d be able to access from any platform (ie tablet, iPad, iPhone, etc) and find as well as explore the diversity of class styles and duration that pike your interest. For a vast and unique selection of classes and lectures taught by our own master teachers click here. Our collection includes: Yin Yoga, Yoga Therapy, Viniyoga, Vinyasa and Meditation.

 

4. Don’t Forget Savasana

  • Savasana or corpse pose is oftentimes considered the most important asana as this is where our bodies truly integrate all of the emotional, physical and mental benefits of the practice to our subtle and conscious bodies. You’ve exerted quite a bit of effort, energy and time. Thus, give yourself the chance to soak in the benefit and recharge your soul. Give yourself permission to let go and simple be- rejoice in the highest form of self-love: self-care.

 

Namaste! Thank you for sharing your practice with me and inviting me into your home. I hope you find this information insightful.

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Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Posted on March 2nd, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Dwipada Pitham

 

Dwipada Pitham:  Two-footed Bridge Pose

The breath is the soundtrack to your well-being. Let’s allow such a vital and energetic essence to guide us to surrender not simply into an asana, but to release all tension and allow relief to pleasantly overwhelm the body. Throughout our yoga therapy practice, the breath remains constant as the asana changes and even as the body slowly deepens into the sequence or pose through repetition, the breath should always remain the priority: the leading proponent to any movement. As we stay with our breath, we slowly relax into the subtle movements of the pose while embracing and enjoying every second of our yoga practice. Thus, cultivating mindfulness and inner peace.

A suitable alternative to sarvangasana or shoulder stand, Dwipada Pitham or two-footed bridge pose, activates the thyroid gland that is responsible for maintaining a healthy metabolism.
Begin going into this backbend by laying on your back, your knees bent with the soles of the feet on the mat, feet hip-distance apart with your arms by your sides, palms facing down and chin tucked towards your chest so that the back of the neck is neutral and long. As you take in a deep and gentle inhale, push into the souls of the feet and slowly, mindfully use the entirety of the breath to help lift your pelvis, articulating the spine, lifting one vertebrate at a time off the mat. Upon the exhalation, permit the complete duration of your breath to guide your spine back on the mat vertebrate by vertebrate.

One variation of dwipads pitham is to lift your arms over head as you simultaneously inhale the pelvis and spine up off that mat making sure that the pace of your movement matches the pace of your breath. The connection between the breath and the asana is akin to a dance with the breath leading and the asana consciously following along. We can’t help but feel grateful when engaging in such a breath-focused movement; therefore, increasing our awareness to our body’s needs and sensations while also aligning the physical body to our emotional and spiritual body.

Physically the asana stretches the front body, which opens and expands the chest; moreover, facilitating and improving the breath. Stretching the spine backward not only rejuvenates the spine, but relieves lower back pain while strengthening the pelvic floor muscles.

Viniyoga master teacher Gary Kraftsow guides you through a mindful breath-centric practice in his Viniyoga Therapy for Complete Back Care.

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Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Posted on February 23rd, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Vajrasana

 

Vajrasana: Kneeling or Diamond Pose

By Sabrina Samedi

Advancements in technology are not only coming at us from both left and right field, but are competing for our attention on a daily basis- cue the introduction of the new slew of gizmos, gadgets, smart phones, watches, glasses and TVs that all promise to know what we really need in terms of communication, entertainment, relaxation- you name it and there is an app for that. Hence, there is no wonder that it is often challenging to let go in this modern age and invest in listening to our inner selves, trusting our intuitive truth and unplugging from the tech age by plugging into our soul’s desires and meditating.

Need a little boost to help you slow down, focus on your breath and surrender into a meditative state? Rest assured- there’s an asana for that! Vajrasana or diamond pose is an ideal yoga therapy asana for pranayama and concentration as it helps in stabilizing the mind and body. Vajrasana also serves as a wonderful alternative to sukasana as a meditative pose for those suffering for sciatica and severe lower back problems. While most asanas are recommended to practice on an empty stomach, diamond pose is an exception as it is aids in proper digestion, making it most effective after a meal. Thus, preventing acidity and ulcers. The benefits of this calming pose are limitless; vajrasana modifies the blood flow in the lower pelvic region: the blood flow to the legs is reduced and the blood flow to the digestive organs is then increased.

To practice vajrasana, begin by standing on your knees, as always in viniyoga, the flow of the breath is the primary focus. Therefore, we do not want to sacrifice pranayama to achieve a physical stance nor should one endure pain and discomfort while trying to breath into the releasing qualities of an asana. If standing on your knees is in any way uncomfortable and distracting, please place a blanket or two underneath your knees to ensure comfort and ease. Standing on your knees, on an inhale raise your arms up over your head and as you exhale, starting with a count of 4, use the entirety of the breath to bend forward bringing your belly to the thighs, your forehead to the mat and your arms behind you while your buttocks gentle rests upon your heels in child’s pose. As you inhale, again to a potential count of 4, lift your arms up over your head as you come back to stand on your knees. Continuing within the breath-centric rhythm of this asana flow, exhale the breath for the same duration as you bend forward, releasing your arms behind you, buttocks to heels, belly to thighs and forehead to the mat. Allow the breath to guide you through this subtle yet powerful movement. Upon the fourth cycle of repetition, to really surrender into the asana and open yourself up to the relief from anxiety,  as you exhale, bring your arms out infront of you, palms facing down and forehad to the floor as the belly once again comes to gently rest and let go on the upper thighs as the buttocks come to rest on the heels and remain in this restoring child’s pose for as long as you need.

Master teacher Gary Kraftsow diligently transitions you into this restoring as well as releasing dynamic modification of vajrasana in Viniyoga Therapy for Anxiety.

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Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Posted on February 18th, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Urdva Prasarita

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana: Upward Stretched Legs

Despite our best intentions, we often need an extra nudge of willpower to help us carry through our daily mission statements and to-do lists. Well the good news is that support is just a few cycles of breath away- yoga therapy to the rescue!

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana or upward stretched legs pose strengthens willpower by activating the uddiyana bandha. A bandha is an energy lock or seal in the body and the uddiyana bhanda represents an abdominal retraction lock. When activated, the abdominal muscles pull up and in creating a natural upward flow of energy from the naval center. Thus, upward stretched legs pose simultaneously builds the strength of the core muscles of the body while improving posture. Urdhva Prasarita Padasna promotes muscular harmony between the lumbar spine and the hip flexors. If you suffer from lower back injuries and or sciatic pain, keep your knees bent and be mindful when coming into the pose by listening to your body to take note if any acute pain arises as a sign of backing off.

As core strength directly relates to strong back muscles, Gary Kraftsow’s Viniyoga Therapy: Complete Back Care helps to undo the damage of tight muscles to reignite energy in the body while promoting strength and stability throughout the back.

To perform urdhva prasarita padasana begin by lying supine on the floor with the arms relaxed alongside the body. Bend both knees as you bring them into your chest and on your next inhalation, simultaneously keep the left leg bent towards your chest as you raise the right leg upwards, flexing the foot, and pressing the lower back firmly onto the ground while also raising your left arm over head, palm facing the sky. On your exhalation, bend the right leg to meet your left leg bending in at the chest, relaxing the feet and lowering your arm right. On your next exhalation, repeat the same movement on the opposite side of the body. Thus, extending the left leg through the heel towards the sky while the right knee remains bent the and right arm extends overhead. Using the entire exhalation breath, bend and return the left leg to meet the right, relax the feet and lower the right arm alongside your torso.

For a symmetrical variation of the pose, bend both knees into your chest with your arms, palms facing down, resting alongside the body. On your next inhalation, raise your legs upwards, flexing the feet, and pressing the lower back firmly onto the ground. Reach over head with your arms and try to straighten the knees completely stacking the joints one on top of another: heels reaching upwards, thighs directly over the hips. As you exhale bend both knees into your chest, relaxing the feet and lowering the arms down by your side.

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Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Posted on February 9th, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

 

Virabadrasana

Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Virabadrasana I: Warrior 1 Pose

Somedays we need to repeat our daily affirmations and morning mantras more than usual. Constantly reminding ourselves that we are enough, we are strong, we are compassionate souls deserving of wholesome love and undeniable respect. Whether it is one of “those days” or even a triumphant day where your to-do list didn’t stand a chance: every task was crossed off the list with a grin and confidence, practicing, embodying and surrendering into virabadrasana I or warrior one pose is ideal to accentuate a balanced sense of grace and strength. When practicing virabadrasana I, you are a warrior against your own doubts and fears, rising above your self-set limitations. You are fighting the good fight: confronting your own bodily, emotional and/or mental frustrations with ease and concentration on the breath. The breath is the forefront and main focus of any asana sequence in Viniyoga and as such, be mindful to not compromise the natural and soothing rhythm of the breath to hold the pose or go deeper into a pose that your body is simply not ready for or not accepting.

Gary Kraftsow, founder of the American Viniyoga Institute, considers Warrior 1 a go-to and all purpose asana, being one of the core poses for all human beings. Benefits of Warrior 1 include strengthening the legs and back, realigning the spine, stretching the psoas, opening the hips which is vital in cleansing and releasing emotional turmoil, achieving stability in the hip joints and deepening respiration. Emotionally, when practicing virabadrasana 1, you are reinforcing, if not increasing, self-confidence and courage.

Moving Into Virabadrasana 1

As seen in Gary Kraftsow’s Viniyoga Therapy Complete Wellness Series, one can go into virabadrasana I by starting in tadasana or mountain pose. Afterwards, on an exhalation, step the right foot forward to create a long-enough stance between your feet, but be sure you can easily shift your weight back and forth. Feet are to be hip-width apart. On your proceeding inhalation breath, simultaneously bend the right knee as you draw the shoulders up, back and down your spine while lifting the arms forward and overhead. If it is comfortable for you, interlace the fingers with the palms facing upward. The uppers arms are in line with your ears, but if that causes you to hunch your shoulders up towards your ears, consider releasing your interlaced fingers, increasing the distance between your arms and slightly bending the elbows. In order to bring a gentle arch into the upper back, if appropriate for your body, move the chest slightly forward, displacing it in front of the hips. As your chest moves forward, lift the sternum farther away from the navel while maintaining an even stance on both feet; thus your body weight is evenly distributed. Maintain a soft drishti and keep your chin parallel to the mat.  On your next exhalation, lower the arms, straighten the right leg, and return to the starting point. On the next inhalation, bend the leg and reenter the pose.

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Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Posted on February 2nd, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Bhujangasana

Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose

Too many lunch breaks compromised for dates with your keyboard? Feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders which is physically causing them to ache and sag? Feeling like you could use a little more self-love in your life? There is always a wonderful reason to introduce, integrate and invite heart-opening asanas into your practice on a regular basis with poses such as bhujangasana or cobra pose. Yes you are physically curling your chest opening, but more so you are activating the prana vayus.

The prana vayus indicates forward moving air; therefore, directing the vital life force energy into the body. Governing the intake of vibrations, frequencies and external energies, the prana vayus directs the reception of all types from the consumption of food, drinking of water, inhalation of air to the reception of sensory impressions and mental experiences.
Practiced on its own or as an integral part of sun salutations, cobra pose is known to strengthen the spine, stretch the chest, lungs, shoulders and abdomen while also soothing sciatica. As bhujangasana reintroduces a gentle pep in your step by relieving stress and anxiety, traditional texts also indicate that cobra pose increases tapas: the body’s natural heat, destroys disease and awakens kundalini.

Renowned teacher Gary Kraftsow does a wonderful job not only sequencing asanas to lift your mood, but he also invites a safe and energetic environment for self-exploration in Viniyoga for Depression.

Bhujangasana in Action

To go into bhujangasana, begin by lying prone on the floor, stretching the legs long towards the back of the mat keeping the ankles close with your toes, thighs, and pubis pressing firmly into the mat. Make sure your shoulders are over your wrist as your hands are close to your torso and evenly spread out on the mat and your elbows are snuggled back into your body. Using the strength of your back, on an inhalation, begin to straighten the arms to lift the chest away from the ground, keeping the chest expansive and shoulders relaxed down the back.  Remain in cobra for a few rounds of mindful breathing as you open your heart thought this gentle backbend. As gratifying as this pose is, please proceed with caution if you are pregnant or are dealing with back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome and/or headaches.

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Yoga Therapy Mini-Workshop Cakravakasna

Posted on November 2nd, 2015 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Viniyoga founder Gary Kraftsow demonstrates how and why we practice cakravakasna and how to do it to maximum effect. To see more of Gary’s videos vista www.pranamaya.com and Use the code SACREDCOW to get 10% OFF at checkout.

 

 

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Moon Rises- Hip Opener Tutorial with Jill Miller

Posted on September 8th, 2015 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Jill Miller shares this dynamic sequence from her Yoga Link: Hip Helpers DVD. This is hip opener a great addition to your practice especially if you have tight hips and psoas muscles. Jill says” the psoas muscle is a cable like muscle that shares attachments with the diaphragm and large intestine. Because it is linked to our physiology and our nervous system in way s that other muscles are not, it is truly a vortex that effects the entire well being of the body. Doing exercises that bring balance to the body help us align our posture  and we can once again became vital.

You can find out more about Jill Miller on Pranamaya and if your hips need a little help, check out the DVD Yoga Link: Hip Helpers

Use the Promo code SACREDCOW for 10% off at checkout.

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Yoga Therapy Mini-Workshop -Warrior One

Posted on September 5th, 2015 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Visit our website at www.pranamaya.com to find out more about Gary Kraftsow, Viniyoga and Yoga Therapy. Use the Promo code SACREDCOW for an additional 10% at checkout. From www.viniyoga.com yoga therapy is offers the below as a description of Yoga Therapy and its benefits.

Yoga Therapy, derived from the Yoga tradition of Patanjali and the Ayurvedic system of health, refers to the adaptation and application of Yoga techniques and practices to help individuals facing health challenges at any level manage their condition.

The general long-term goals of Yoga Therapy include:

reducing the symptoms of suffering that can be reduced
managing the symptoms that cannot be reduced
rooting out causes wherever possible
improving life function, and
shifting attitude and perspective in relationship to life’s challenges.

Viniyoga ™ is a comprehensive and authentic transmission of the teachings of yoga including asana, pranayama, bandha, sound, chanting, meditation, personal ritual and study of texts. Viniyoga ™ (prefixes vi and ni plus yoga) is an ancient Sanskrit term that implies differentiation, adaptation, and appropriate application.

tasya bhūmiṣu viniyogaḥ
Sutra 3.6, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

The American Viniyoga™ Institute uses the term Viniyoga™ to refer to an approach to Yoga that adapts the various means and methods of practice to the unique condition, needs and interests of each individual – giving each practitioner the tools to individualize and actualize the process of self-discovery and personal transformation.

The practices of Yoga provide the means to bring out the best in each practitioner. This requires an understanding of a person’s present condition, personal potential, appropriate goals and the means available. Just as every person is different, these aspects will vary with each individual.

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Yin Yoga and Stretching the Spine

Posted on February 9th, 2015 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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By Paul Grilley

When working a joint the first thing a yogi or yogini must decide is whether she intends to work muscle or bone. She must decide if she wishes to strengthen the muscles that stabilize the joint or stretch the ligaments to increase range of motion. In this article we explore the second option: stretching the joints of the spine through a specific yin yoga pose.

Two layers of the joints

A fundamental insight of Taoist analysis is to see the body as at least two layers. For different needs the body could be analyzed into many more layers than two but for a discussion of joint movement two is enough.

The two layers of a joint are Muscle and Bone. Muscle is the yang layer and includes muscle and tendon. Bone is the yin layer and includes the ligaments. With the proper yin yoga pose, yogis should train themselves to feel the differences between the muscle and ligament sensations.

The Neck

The following neck stretches are an effective way to start this process. Once a yogi has learned to discriminate the sensations of muscle and ligament in the neck with a certain yin yoga pose, then it will be easier to feel these differences in the rest of the spine.

Drop your chin to your chest and relax. This is a passive or yin stretch for the muscles and ligaments of the back of the neck. The muscles of the neck are on the left and right sides of the center line. The ligaments we are concerned with are on the centerline. A yogi can learn to feel the difference by comparing the sensations on each side of the spine with the sensations in the center.

Move the head to the right while it is still dropped forward. This yin yoga pose stretches the muscles on the left side of the neck making it easier to discriminate them. Moving the head to the left stretches the muscles on the right side of the neck. Bringing the head back to the center the yogi should be able distinguish sensations that are neither left nor right but in the midline. These are the ligaments.

Muscular stretches feel sharper and are easily locatable. Ligament sensations are deeper, duller and more attached to the bones. This is why Taoists use the expression “Stretch you Bones” to describe ligament stretches.

This simple yin yoga pose should be repeated many times. The distinctions may not be noticeable the first few times but with time and experience they become clear. Remember that it’s possible to feel ligament stretches when the head is moved to the left and right. But by exaggerating the stretch on the muscles it is easier to feel the difference between the two tissues.

Yin Stresses

Once a yogi has learned to feel the difference between muscle and bone the next step is to determine how much leverage to use when stretching them. Passively dropping the chin to the chest is a gentle approach to this yin yoga pose. The next most aggressive effort would be to contract the muscles of the neck to depress the chin deeper toward the chest. But the most aggressive stretch would be to use the hands to gently pull on the back of the head. This is the deepest possible stretch for the neck while seated.

Yang Stresses

All three of the above stretches are yin. The muscles of the front of the neck were used in second variation and the muscles of the arms were used in the third variation. But in each variation the muscles of the back of the neck were relaxed. This allowed the neck to round forward and stretch the joints. If while doing any of these exercises a yogi contracts the muscles of the back of the neck he is resisting the forward bend and preventing the stretch. This principle can be demonstrated as follows.

Gently drop the chin and place the hands on the back of the head as before. Now engage the muscles of the back of the neck and try to lift the head up. At the same time gently pull down on the head with the arms. The yogi is now in a tug-of-war with himself. His arms are trying to pull the head down but the neck muscles are trying to lift the head up.

 

To learn more about Paul Grilley, visit his website at paulgrilley.com  and check out his DVD’s and online courses here at Pranamaya.

Paul Grilley:  A well-known master of yin yoga, Paul brings a thorough grounding in Hatha and Ashtanga yoga as well as anatomy and kinesiology to his teaching, which integrates the Taoist yoga of martial arts master Paulie Zink and the Chinese meridian and acupuncture theories of Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama. Paul’s book, Yin Yoga: Principles and Practice, explains how yin yoga can teach us to relax, be patient, be quiet, and focus on the skeleton and its joints—a necessary counterpoint to today’s more ubiquitous muscular yoga.

paul-grilley

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