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: Humble Warrior

Humble Warrior.jpg

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

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

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

Bow.jpg

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: 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)