Pose of The Week: Hanumanasana

hanumanasanaModel: Lacey Grillos 

Monkey Pose

HANUMANASANA

“Hanuman not only gives us liberation, but he also fulfills our beneficial desires.”

~Krishna Das

Hanuman, the monkey king and son of the wind, teaches us the strength in surrender and devotion. We learn through surrender, the balance of holding on and letting go. When we come to this space, we can open ourselves to peace, clarity, and stillness in the heart.

Benefits of the pose:

  • Relief for Sciatica
  • Opens hips and groin
  • Engages abdomen
  • Improves function of vital organs
  • Stretches and strengthens hamstrings and thighs

Asana Break Down:

Begin kneeling on the floor with both legs slightly apart. Place one foot in front of you extended with your heal touching the floor. Sink into your hips, allowing your heart to move forward as your hands come to frame both sides of your extended leg. Slowly begin to extend your back knee behind yourself until both knees are simultaneously touching the floor. Once you have come into the split position, raise your arms over head and gently find length in the spine. Stay here for a few breaths. To get out of this posture, press both hands into the earth and slide your back knee under your hip coming into the initial position. Then repeat on the other side.

Variations:

Advanced:

1) From the split position, exhale and bring your arms down and fold your heart down towards your front knee.

2) From the split position, inhale and lift your back foot. Reach for your foot with one hand, open the chest forward, and tilt your head back.

Adjustments: 

1) Place a bolster or folded blanket underneath your pelvis or your back knee.

References:

http://www.artofliving.org/us-en/yoga/yoga-poses/hanumanasana-monkey-pose

http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/monkey-pose/

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Pose of the Week: Humble Warrior

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Humble Warrior

BADDHA VIRABHADRASANA

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

~Ernest Hemmingway

The humble warrior teaches us to bow down to our efforts and our strength with grace and wisdom. The warrior with in us all teaches us all when to fight for what we believe in, when to stand for peace, and how to find the balance between the two.

Benefits of the Pose:

  • Stretches lungs, chest, & shoulders
  • Opens heart
  • Releases tension in the spine & neck
  • Strengthens & stretches arms, thighs, & calves

Asana Breakdown:

Start off in Warrior II. Take your hands behind your back and interlace your fingers. Open up your chest by drawing your shoulder blades together and your hands down towards the earth. Square up your chest to the front of the room and begin to bow forward. Allow your shoulder to rest or line up with your front knee as your hands continue to reach towards the sky. Breathe here. Relax the neck and create a micro bend in your arms.

 

Pose of the Week: Sugarcane Pose

Chapasana.jpg

Sugarcane Pose

ARDHA CHANDRA CHAPASANA

Benefits of the pose:

  • Improves balance
  • Strengthens and stretches abdomen and legs
  • Opens hips
  • Lengthens and stretches spine

Asana breakdown:

There are a variety of ways to get into this posture, as it is a very dynamic pose. To begin, we’ll take this approach: Start off in Trikonasana (Triangle), take your hand facing the air and bring it behind your back to the opposite hip (i.e. if your right hand is in the air you would bring it behind your left hip). Take your gaze forward, move the hand that is on the ground forward a couple of inches, and being to gracefully transition forward by bending the front leg. Next, straighten the front or standing leg and bend the other so that the hand by your hip can grab your foot. Then, begin to extend your foot up towards the sky like an archer’s bow. Find a drishti or gazing point and breathe here. ❤

Pointers:

  • Keep a micro bend in the front knee so that you don’t hyper-extend.
  • If you have ankle issues, keep the ankle on your floating leg flexed.
  • Place a block under your hand that’s reaching for the ground if it is a stretch to get there right away.
  • If you can’t reach your foot, you can use a strap.

Pose of the Week: Goddess

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Goddess

UTKATA KONASANA

Pose Benefit:

  • Strengthens thighs
  • Engages core, upper back, and arms
  • Opens shoulders and chest
  • Stretches thighs, hips, and groin

Asana Breakdown:

This pose is fairly straightforward. To begin, heel tow your feet about as wide as your mat. Exhale, bend the knees and shoulders. Engaging your core, squat down as low as you can. A full expression is around a 90 degree angle. Elbows should be in alignment with the shoulders. Hands extend upward, collar bones lift and spread as the shoulder blades draw near each other.

Contradictions:

Please refrain from the posture if you are experiencing if you have any chronic pain in your  knees, hips, or groin.

Pose of the Week: Eight Angle

Ashtavakrasana.jpg

Eight Angle

ASHTAVAKRASANA

Pose Benefits:

  • Strengthens Arms, Wrists, Shoulders and Abdomen
  • Stretches Legs
  • Improves Balance
  • Tones inner Thighs

Asana Prep:

No doubt this is a more challenging asana and it is important to make sure you are fully warmed up to practice. To prep for this asana, I like to sit in staff and come into a “rock the baby” motion. Take your knee in on hand and your foot in the other and gently begin to twist your torso, rocking your leg back and forth as if it were a baby. If there’s more available, you can cradle your leg in your elbow creases. Repeat on the other side.

Asana Breakdown:

When you are fully warmed up and ready to begin, start in staff. Making sure your pelvic floor is tilted forward and your spine is erect. Begin with your left leg. Prop it behind your left shoulder. Firmly rooting your hands directly underneath your shoulders, make sure all five knuckles are connected to the floor. Move your weight  from your bottom to your wrists so that your sit bones comes off the ground. Now your right leg should be extended while your left leg sits above your left shoulder. This is a great place to begin and may be where you find yourself pushed to your edge. However, if there is more, hook your right foot to your left. Extend both legs and deeply bend your elbows so that your arms are parallel with the floor.

Food for Thought:

As you may notice, I am smiling in this photo. For me, this asana is not always an easy task, however, a teacher of mine once said that when you are in the midst of struggle, especially in an asana — but also in day to day life — try smiling and notice how the asana changes. So I encourage you to find the posture that pushes you and move into the meditative, nonattached mind, and smile. See how it changes your practice and how it changes your life from day to day. ❤

Pose of the Week: Boat

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Boat

PARIPURNA NAVASANA

Pose Benefits:

  • Strengthens Core, Hip flexors, and Spine
  • Improves Digestion
  • Stimulates Kidneys and Intestines
  • Increases internal awareness
  • Improves Balance
  • Helps with Stress

Asana Breakdown:

To get into this pose, sit on the floor with your knees bent. Keeping the knees bent, begin to raise your feet off the floor until the lower leg becomes parallel with the ground. Lock your mulabanda by engaging your pelvic floor. Keep your integrity in your back by flattening your stomach, allowing the spine to elongate in a linear fashion. Allow the collar bones to lift and spread. Slowly begin to straighten the legs, extending the arms forward.

Pose contradictions:

If you are experiencing any of the following, please refrain from this pose:

  • Headache
  • Pregnancy
  • Neck Pain or stiffness
  • Menstruation
  • Asthma
  • Diarrhea

Sources:

Granacher, Urs, Albert Gollhofer, Tibor Hortobágyi, Reto W. Kressig, and Thomas Muehlbauer. “The importance of trunk muscle strength for balance, functional performance, and fall prevention in seniors: a systematic review.” Sports medicine(2013): 1-15.

“Boat Pose – Paripurna Navasana – Yoga Pose.” Yoga Journal. Cruz Bay Publishing, 28 Aug. 2007. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

“How to Do Boat Pose in Yoga.” YogaOutlet.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

Pose of the Week: Extended Side Angle

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Extended Side Angle

UTTHITA PARSVAKONASANA

Benefits of the pose:

  • Relieves shoulder & back stiffness
  • Relieves Constipation
  • Reverses Infertility
  • Strengthens legs, knees, & ankles
  • Stretches side body
  • Opens Chest
  • Relieves back pain
  • Relieves Menses pain

Asana Break Down:

To get into this pose start in Warrior II. Checking your alignment: make sure the front ankle aligns with the back arch. The back foot should be at roughly a 45 degree angle. Bending the font arm, allow it to rest gently on your from thigh, extending your other arm over head. Another variation of this pose is to place your front hand on the ground next to your front foot instead of putting your hand on your thigh. Find your strength in your core so that all of your weight doesn’t rest on your from thigh. Open the chest and take the gaze towards the sky.

 

Pose of the Week: Crow

Crow

Crow

BAKASANA

Benefits of the pose:

  • Strengthens Upper Arms & Wrists
  • Increases Focus
  • Works Core
  • Stretches Upper Back
  • Tones Abdominal Organs

Asana Breakdown:

To get into this pose, begin in malasana firmly place your hands directly in front of you. Rooting down through your first three knuckles, begin to lift up onto the balls of your feet. As a beginner, you can begin to rock back and forth hear. Perhaps, holding the pose for only a second or two and then coming back to the ground. Allow the knees to draw in closely to the armpits as the shoulders move over the wrists, aligning with the middle finger. Draw your feet close to your glutes as you begin to work towards gradually straightening the arms. Once the arms are completely extended, you move from Crow to Crane! ❤

Pose of the Week: Eagle Pose

Eagle (behind)

Eagle

GARUDASANA

Pose Benefits:

  • Increases balance and proprioception
  • Increases flexibility
  • Open Shoulders and Hips
  • Relieves back ache & sciatica
  • Asthma

Asana Breakdown:

Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Beginners may want to practice next to a wall. Slowly and gently begin to bend your knees, rooting into the left leg, allow your right leg to come off the ground crossing over the left. Some people have the flexibility to hook their right foot behind their thigh. If that’s not in your practice, don’t fret! Simply crossing over is just fine. Begin to sink deeper into the hips, cross the left hand over the right, mirroring the pattern of your legs. Allow the collar bones to lift and spread, breathe deeply here. Connect with your core, tucking your tailbone. Find your drishti (gazing point) and begin to left your elbows so that they align with your shoulders. Another variation is to fold forward so that the knees and elbows touch.

Eagle (profile)

Pose of the Week: Peaceful Warrior

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Peaceful Warrior

SHANTI VIRABHADRASANA

“There is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path. There is no path to love. Love is the path. There is no path to peace. Peace is the path.”

~Dan Millman

After the incredible amount of violence this week, it only seems fitting that the pose of the week would be peaceful warrior. I love that traditional yoga often centers around the warrior postures. It reminds us, we do not need vengeance to be strong. We do not need to inflict pain upon another to be triumphant. It reminds us that we do not count our victories as the number of wars have defeated on the battle field, but rather the amount of wars we have overcome within ourselves.

My heart goes out to those suffering right now at the hand of another. I feel so removed from that reality, I can only say this: The war stops externally, when the war stops internally. Peace is a choice. And it is possible. Do not lose faith. Do not lose your smile to grief. Draw inward and we will be triumphant. ❤

om shanti om shanti om shanti om.

Benefits of the Pose:

  • Strengthens the Legs
  • Stretches abdominal muscles and engages core
  • Stretches and supports the lungs
  • Opens Chest & Shoulder
  • Opens Heart

Asana Break Down:

Come into Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II), check your alignment with the front ankle. Make sure it is in alignment with the arch of the back foot. The back foot should be flat at a 45 degree angle. Bend deeply into the front knee. Make sure your front knee does not go past the front ankle. Draw the thighs together, squaring the hips, as if they were being pressed between two panes of glass. Arms should come out directly from the shoulder blades. Turn the hands towards the sky and bend backwards. Back and highly presses into the back leg. Most of the strength is being drawn from the core; the weight is not on the back knee. Open the chest and the heart lifts and spreads. Front arm comes over head, gaze comes towards the sky or the thumb.

 

Above, I have a chant you can say out loud or silently to yourself, either in this posture or sitting quietly. Om shanti translates into “om” the divine universe and “shanti” translates to peace, as a phrase it means may the divine creator, energy, and wisdom grant eternal peace to all things.