Pose of the Week: Firefly

grasshopper.jpg

Model: Lacey Grillos 

Firefly

TITTIBHASANA

“It is through the body that your realize you are a spark of divinity.”

~ B.K.S. Iyengar

Pose Benefits:

  • Strengthens arms and wrists
  • Opens and stretches groin, hips, back, and legs
  • Improves balance
  • Tones abdomen

Asana Breakdown:

Begin in a squat with your feet positioned less than shoulder width apart with your slightly arms firmly planted between your legs. Walk your hands back as far as you can, fingers pointing forward. Engage all five knuckles as you gently begin to tilt your torso forward. Carefully begin to lift yourself off of the floor and extend your legs forward. Keep your inner thighs as high on your arms as possible. Straighten your arms, hollow your chest, and widen your shoulders to get as much lift as possible, then spread your toes apart. Slowly begin to lift the head upward. Breathe — see if you can hold this pose for at least 15 seconds, then release.

 

References:

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

Pose of the Week: Scorpion

Model:  Lacey Grillos

Scorpion

VRSCIKASANA

“A flower does not think of competing against the flower next to it, it just blooms.”

~Unknown

Pose Benefits:

  • Strengthens shoulders, fore arms, low back, and abdominal muscles
  • Opens vertebrae, hips, and neck

Asana Breakdown:

This is no doubt a challenge-pose. To get into it, one must be sufficiently warmed up and prepared. Begin in a handstand or forearm stand, externally rotate your shoulders, and press all five knuckles into the ground. Begin to raise your head and allow your knees to bend. Engage the abdomen and legs; keep your backbend even and maintain the breath to hold the posture.

Variations:

  1. Begin in forearm stand, instead of hand stand (See photo).
  2. Begin in handstand about 1/2-1 ft away from a wall. Slowly begin to bend the knees and raise the head. Eventually, you can work your way away from the wall to a free standing position. In the meantime, you can still experience most of the pose’s benefits.

 

 

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/

Pose of the Week: Goddess

Goddess.jpg

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

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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: 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.

Pose of the Week: Dolphin

dolphin

Dolphin

MAKARASANA

Benefits of the Pose:

  • Relieves mild depression, headaches & back pains
  • Helps to calm the mind
  • Relieves symptoms of osteoporosis
  • Strengthens shoulders and abdominals
  • Stretches Hamstrings
  • Opens Heart
  • Preparation for forearm balance

Such a beautiful posture, amazing for alignment and strengthening the body to prepare for forearm balance. To get into this posture, begin in table or Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down ward facing dog). Once you have come into alignment in your preparatory posture, come down to your fore arms. Hands can come together into prayer, lay flat on the floor, or gently be clasping one another. If hamstrings are tight, you may take a bend in the knees. Otherwise, root though your ankles, allowing them to press into the floor. Allow the collar bones to lift and spread as shoulder blades draw near one another, chest beams towards the knees. Head hangs heavy. ❤

Please feel free to leave any questions, comments, or recommendations bellow.

Pose of the Week: Upward Facing Dog

Photo Credit: Lily Russo

Upward Facing Dog

URDVHA MUKHA SVANASANA

Benefits of the pose:

  • Strengthens arms, shoulders & wrists
  • Stretches spine, lungs & shoulders
  • Tones stomach muscles
  • Helps relieve mild depression and fatigue
  • Opens chest

Asana Breakdown:

To get into this pose, begin in low cobra. Firmly press your hands into the ground as your arms lengthen. Draw shoulder blades onto the back as the collar bones begin to lift and spread. Feet are together, big toes touching, tops of the feet touching the ground. Hips, thighs and shins are off the mat. Chin can gently tilt towards the ceiling.

Sources:

“Upward-Facing Dog.” Yoga Journal. Cruz Bay Publishing, n.d. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.