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Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

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



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.


Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

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


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.


The 3rd Dimension: The Mind

Posted on January 28th, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

The Third Dimension: The Intellectual Mind


By Gary Kraftsow

The ancients recognized the inherent power of the mind and the tremendous influence that it has over the entire human system. They knew that it is through the mind that we are able to perceive, understand, and choose. They also knew that part of our problem in life is the fact that we do not perceive, understand, or choose correctly and that part of this is due to the nature of the mind itself. Thus they stressed the importance of educating and developing the mind in terms of its full capacity to learn, acquire knowledge, remember, and imagine.

As the basis for this education and development, the ancients identified the four great Vedic scriptures and the oral instruction of the teachers as the primary source and the teacher-student relationship as the primary mode. And, as pointed out above, both the texts of the scriptures and the commentaries of the teachers were traditionally transmitted through chanting. In other words, the method was to learn “by heart,” that is, to memorize the texts and to be able to repeat them exactly.

In our modern secular world, certain subjects are a required part of all elementary and secondary education, and beyond that, education proceeds by choice and in accordance with our individual interests. In ancient times , while some Vedic teachings were given to all students, others were given according to family tradition, so that even the traditional models lack uniformity. Yet two things remained constant: in order to preserve these sacred texts without corruption through time , precise and detailed rules for chanting were always followed; and chanting itself was used as the primary tool for training and developing the mind. For example, the exacting process of repeating the chants without mistakes developed the students’ ability to listen. Listening required and developed their ability to direct and maintain attention. And it also required the mind to remain open to receive instruction.

Excerpt from: Yoga for Transformation: Ancient Teachings and Practices for Healing the Body, Mind,and Heart by Gary Kraftsow.


KraftsowGary Kraftsow

Gary Kraftsow, the leading proponent of viniyoga therapy in the US, has been a pioneer in the transmission of yoga for health, healing, and personal transformation for 30 years. After studying in India with T.K.V. Desikachar and his father T. Krishnamacharya, Gary received a special diploma from Viniyoga International in Paris. In 1999 he founded the American Viniyoga Institute where he is currently director and senior teacher of the Institute’s teacher and therapist trainings.

To learn more about Gary Kraftsow, check out his DVDs here at Pranamaya.

Use the PROMO SACREDCOW for 10% off at checkout at


Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Posted on January 26th, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.


Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Vimanasana: Chariot or Airplane Pose

The fact is that we are all human and we all get moody at times. Dependent perhaps on the weather, the circumstances throughout our day or weeks even, the score of a game, the outcome of a movie, the unfulfilled ending to a novel, the results of any experience we attribute value to can and does occasionally get the best of it. Once we identify the swing in our persona, we oftentimes try to get back on track through reflection, positive actions, affirmations, reminders of all we have to be grateful for, mediation and our yoga practice. Akin to our emotional well being, our physical well being is also recognized for undergoing turbulence and feeling disconnected to its natural tendency. In particular, our sacrum becomes quite moody as well. Especially in our asana practices, many asymmetrical asanas akin to virabhadrasana II, utthita parsvakonasana and/or trikonasana when not balanced with neutral poses such as virabhadrasana I, crescent pose and paschimottanasana can start to bothers our sacrum and generate a sense of discomfort. Practicing a symmetrical backward bend like vimanasana: chariot or airplane pose, is ideal to neutralize the hip joints: therefore, offsetting and reducing if not relieving any built up discomfort in our lower spinal vertebrate column.

To Get Into Vimanasana

To physically achieve vimanasana, begin by lying supine on the stomach with the legs together or slightly apart. To better understand which leg positioning is best and appropriate for your body consider in the direction of the legs in relation to pelvis when eventually lifted. The outward movement of the legs encourages the sit bones to move outwards as well and the pelvic rims ultimately move toward each other. By moving the legs closer towards each other so that the toes touch when lifted, the sit bones also move inwards and the pelvic rims move outwards. When ultimately lifting the upper body, with legs lifted together or farther apart continues to support a grounded sensation throughout the pelvis.

While laying on your stomach, the legs engaged and reaching long behind you, the arms are either down the sides of your torso, palms reaching up or if it is causing too much strain on the lower thoracic region and upper lumbar region of the spine to have your arms lifted at chest height, feel free to lower the forearms onto the mat. The elbows are bent directly underneath the shoulders and the forearms shoulder-distance apart.

To reiterate, vimanasana begins while laying on your stomach, the forehead rest gently on the mat or it if is more comfortable for your neck, turn your head to one side and place the cheek on the mat, your arms are down by your sides or elbows bent underneath your shoulder. Exhale completely and on your next inhalation, tighten the abdominal muscles while rolling shoulders back and down the spine and leading with the breath, pull the chest forward and up, the legs lift (feet together or legs wider a part) and if the arms are by your side they lift up and can spread out line airplane wings. While continuing to inhale, the head extends away from the shoulders and chin gently lifts up while still parallel to the floor beneath you. On a cleansing exhalation, lower the chest, legs and arms (if lifted rather than bent) beside your torso while relaxing the abdomen muscles and lowering the forehead or cheek (now in the opposite direction) onto the mat.

When inhaling to repeat vimanasana, keep in mind that the legs should not be lifting higher than the height of your chest to reduce any chance of strain on the lower back. Ease into and out of the pose, allowing the breath to guide your rather the physicality of the asana. Master Teacher, Gary Kraftsow guides you through this grounding, relieving, yet spine-strengthening pose in his Low Back, Hips and Sacrum Viniyoga Therapy practice.


The Second Dimension: The Vital Body and Pranamaya

Posted on January 20th, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Beautiful sporty fit yogini woman practices pranayama breath control exercise in yoga asana Padmasana - lotus pose with Vishnu mudra in studio

By Gary Kraftsow

According to the ancients, the vital body consists of five identifiable aspects: prāṇa, apāna, vyāna, ākāśa, and pṛthivī. 1 All five of these aspects represent some manifestation of energy, and, although not equivalent, all may be understood in relation to the vital metabolic functions of the physical body.

Today we tend to think of health and vitality in terms of standards of measurement— the ratio of LDL to HDL in our blood serum cholesterol , the level of our PSA, the strength of our bones, for example. These measurements require professional medical tests. At best, most of us have a physical once a year, and many of us avoid doctors altogether.

According to the ancients, however, from the moment of our birth it is prāṇa that organizes, activates, and animates our physical bodies. By paying close attention to certain characteristics that reflect the balanced flow of prāṇa through our physical bodies, we can have a relatively accurate picture of our own health and vitality on a daily basis. These characteristics include how we fall asleep; the quality of our sleep, dreams, and morning energy; the nature of our digestion and bowel movements; and the regularity of our menstrual cycles, to name only a few examples. We can gain an even deeper understanding based on the quality of our respiratory rhythms, once we understand and can apply the science of the breath, called prāṇāyāma.

As with āsana practice, the ancients also suggested that the purpose and methods of prāṇāyāma practice should complement each other and that they should change as we grow. By becoming familiar with our threshold capacity for inhale and exhale, we can better assess our own physiological and emotional stress levels as a basis for improving the general quality of our lives.

Excerpt from: Yoga for Transformation: Ancient Teachings and Practices for Healing the Body, Mind,and Heart by Gary Kraftsow.



Gary Kraftsow, the leading proponent of viniyoga therapy in the US, has been a pioneer in the transmission of yoga for health, healing, and personal transformation for 30 years. After studying in India with T.K.V. Desikachar and his father T. Krishnamacharya, Gary received a special diploma from Viniyoga International in Paris. In 1999 he founded the American Viniyoga Institute where he is currently director and senior teacher of the Institute’s teacher and therapist trainings.

To learn more about Gary Kraftsow, check out his DVDs here at Pranamaya.

Use the PROMO SACREDCOW for 10% off at checkout at




Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day | Salabasana

Posted on December 15th, 2015 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.


Salabasana= Locust Pose

Ardha Salabasana= Half Locust Pose

To practice self-care is to embody self-love and who couldn’t use more self-love in their lives. Whether it is responsibilities at home, deadlines and duties related to our jobs or maintaining social relationships that are our pivotal to our wellbeing, we are oftentimes short on time and effort when it comes to not indulging, but actually honoring ourselves by activating the heart chakra. As we open up the heart to readily and eagerly take in the vibrant energy of love, compassion and care not only towards others, but to ourselves we are also engaging the pran vayu. The pran vayu indicates forward as well as inward moving air; therefore governing the consumption, absorption and intake of such vital life force energy.

Locust pose as well as half locust pose are an ideal spine stretch along with a good back bend that increases flexibility and stamina of the body while simultaneously opening up the heart and upper chest. More importantly than physically achieving this back bend, is breathing evenly and smoothly through the pose. As with any posture done therapeutically and with awareness, the form is continuously secondary to the breath.

Yoga Therapy in Action with Salabasana

Keeping in mind that the movement follows the breath, to practice a dynamic ardha shalabasana sequence begin by lying on your stomach with your arms folded behind your back and your hands resting gently on your sacrum, palms facing the sky. Leading with the chest as you inhale your head also lifts and tilts to the left as you sweep the left arm forward into a salute position and lift the right leg up slightly with your toes pointing back and hips remain comfortably neutral. Your head returns to a central position as you lower your chest and head on an exhale while the left arm moves behind you and the right leg rests back down onto the  mat.

Continuing and moving into this backbend on the opposite side of the body reassures a sense of balance both physically and mentally by engaging both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. On your next inhale, shift your dristi and head towards the right as you sweep the right arm into a salute position. Still focusing on the gradual inhale, lift the left leg, toes pointing to the back. The head gently transitions back to center as you exhale, lowering the left leg and right arm behind you while simultaneously lowering the chest towards the mat. Now look towards the on your next inhale as you prepare for your next cycle of breath and repeat the given asana sequence.

To move into shalabasana, it is important to note that the focus here is on the breath and honoring the body into such a transition. When practicing locust pose, putting too much emphasis on the height or rather how high you lift your legs can place an unnecessary amount of strain on your neck and back and cause injury; therefore, counterintuitive to pose’s benefit of strengthening the spine. In shalabasana, your pelvis should be drawn firmly into the mat as your inhale and simultaneously lift both legs off the ground, toes pointing back and hips resting on the mat. Your chest also lifts on the inhale, your neck is neutral as the chin is parallel to the mat, gaze straight forward and your arms in this full variation are bent at elbows with your wrists directly underneath your shoulders. As you exhale, both your legs and chest lower down, gently placing your forehead on the mat.

While Shalabasana and ardha shalabasana are beneficial in minimizing if not circumventing feelings of fatigue, flatulence and lower back pain, please be mindful of moving into these asanas if you suffer from headaches and/or major back and neck injuries. Focusing on a breath-centric practice where the breath and function are the priority versus the form, reduces not only the risk for injury, but also the pressure or need to perfect the physical look of the asana.

One of the world’s leading yoga therapists and founder of American Viniyoga Institute, Gary Kraftsow  demonstrates various sequences catered to dealing with anxiety while providing ample support to keep you engaged, safe and receptive to the healing process in his DVD’s.

Save 10% on any program from Pranamaya with the PROMO code SACREDCOW


What is Prānāyāma?

Posted on December 10th, 2015 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.


By Gary Kraftsow

According to theories in neuroscience, the evolutionary origin of the limbic system is linked to the sense of smell and can be traced to that part of the limbic brain known as the olfactory lobe. It is primarily through the sense of smell that animals identify danger, food, or sexual partners; and it was from the olfactory lobe, in its most primitive form, that reflexive messages were sent to the rest of the nervous system, initiating appropriate behavioral responses. The limbic system still forms the “emotional core” of our own vastly more complex brains and, as we have seen, still has the capacity to powerfully influence and even override the   rationality of the cerebral cortex.

The ancient masters specifically developed the practice of prānāyāma (regulation of the breath) to balance the emotions, clarify the mental processes, and ultimately to integrate them into one effectively functioning whole. In light of what we now know about the close connections between the various structures of the limbic brain and the prefrontal lobes of the cerebral cortex, it is interesting to speculate about exactly what the ancients actually did understand concerning the power of prānāyāma.

Though a full treatment of the complex and highly evolved science of prānāyāma is beyond the scope of this work, it is interesting to note that the practice of prānāyāma has a significant impact on the olfactory lobe and, in this way, on the limbic brain. In fact, the ancient masters taught that states of physical and emotional arousal or nonarousal can be regulated via control of the breath at the nostrils. Specifically: inhaling through the right nostril and exhaling through the left (sūrya bhedana) is said to activate or stimulate our system; and inhaling through the left nostril and exhaling through the right (candra bhedana) is said to calm, soothe, and pacify our system. We can also use both inhalation (brahmana) and exhalation (langhana) techniques to stimulate or soothe our systems respectively; and we use different ratios between the various parts of the breathing cycle— i.e., between inhale, retention after inhale, exhale , and suspension of the breath after exhale —to achieve very specific degrees and types of stimulation and pacification.

Excerpt from: Yoga for Wellness: Healing with the Timeless Teachings of Viniyoga by Gary Kraftsow. 

Use the PROMO CODE SACREDCOW FOR 10% OFF any products at


KraftsowGary Kraftsow

Gary Kraftsow, the leading proponent of viniyoga therapy in the US, has been a pioneer in the transmission of yoga for health, healing, and personal transformation for 30 years. After studying in India with T.K.V. Desikachar and his father T. Krishnamacharya, Gary received a special diploma from Viniyoga International in Paris. In 1999 he founded the American Viniyoga Institute where he is currently director and senior teacher of the Institute’s teacher and therapist trainings.

To learn more about Gary Kraftsow, check out his DVDs here at Pranamaya.

Image is from a great article on


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 and Use the code SACREDCOW to get 10% OFF at checkout.




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.


Yoga Therapy Mini-Workshop -Warrior One

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

Visit our website at to find out more about Gary Kraftsow, Viniyoga and Yoga Therapy. Use the Promo code SACREDCOW for an additional 10% at checkout. From 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.