Category Archives: Pose of the Month

Pose of the Month: Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

July brings us a new pose of the month- Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, or, Bridge Pose (setu = dam, dike or bridge, bandha = lock). This is a great pose for yogis in all stages of practice, and the benefits are extensive. Anatomically, Bridge focuses on the neck and shoulders and in women, the uterus. The chest, neck and spine are stretched, while the abdominal organs, lungs and thyroid are stimulated. The pose can also alleviate stress, improve digestion and rejuvenate tired legs. Here are some tips to help you get into Bridge:

  • Lie on your back, and if necessary, use a blanket under your shoulders to support the neck. Bend your knees with your feet on the floor, keeping the heels close to the sitting bones
  • As you exhale, actively press your inner feet and arms into the floor, pull the tailbone up toward the pubic bone, and lift the buttocks until the things are about parallel to the floor. Engage your thighs and inner feet to keep them parallel
  • Keep the knees over the heels and press them forward away from the head, lengthening the tailbone
  • Keep your arms on the floor or clasp the hands below your pelvis and extend, allowing you to rest on the top of the shoulders
  • Lift your chin slightly away from the sternum and firm and broaden the shoulder blades against your back. You should feel the space between them lift up into the torso
  • Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Release with an exhalation, rolling the spine slowly down onto the floor.

For an added challenge, try lifting a leg until perpendicular to the torso and repeat on the opposite side. Sliding a block under the sacrum can provided added support and increase the restorative properties of the pose. Use caution if you have a neck injury and if you have any questions, be sure to ask an instructor.

Photo Source: http://yogajournal.com


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Pose of the Month, Siddhasana “Perfect Pose”

As many of you know, June’s pose of the month is Siddhasana, also known as the “perfect pose”. Already in class I’ve heard students joke about the irony of this choice,
“We do this one everyday!” or, “More like pose of the year!”
And it’s true! We do find ourselves in Siddhasana more often than many other poses, which makes it an even better choice to focus on mindfully for the next few weeks (and hopefully continuing on into the future). Often times the poses we find easy or familiar are the ones that allow our minds to wander the most.

“Siddha” in Sanskrit refers to the hidden powers within the body that assist individuals in attaining spiritual upliftment. The pose is thought to be one of the most important asanas and one of the most beneficial seated poses, allowing the yogi to practice breath control (pranayama), concentration, meditation, and self- realization.

Siddhasana directs the energy from the lower psychic centers upward through the spine, thus stimulating the brain and calming the nervous system. It redirects blood circulation to the lower spine and abdomen, and tones the lumbar region of the spine, the pelvis, and the abdominal organs. It also allows for a balancing of the reproductive system and blood pressure.

Here are some technique tips to help you achieve Siddhasana:

  •  Sit down with both legs outstretched in front of you (Dandasana), keeping length in the spine.
  • Bend the left leg at the knee, and place the heel at the perineum, then fold the right leg and place the heel against the pubic bone, allowing the foot to angle downwards.
  • Both ankles should be resting, one on top of the other.
  • Keep both knees and the left heel in touch with the floor.
  • Keep awareness if your spine- if it is difficult to keep it straight, don’t hesitate to use a blanket under the buttocks to increase upward length
  • Rest the hands on the knees, perhaps with palms facing upwards, or in Gyan mudra (allowing the tip of the thumb and the tip of the index finger of each hand, to touch one another).
  • Close the eyes and look inward- scan your body and breathe into the areas that need some extra attention. Use the breath to bring awareness into the posture and into your self.
  • Reversing the position of the feet and repeating for the same length of time, or, alternating the foot on top at each class can be beneficial and balancing.

The main anatomical focus in this pose is the spine, but take caution or make adjustments as needed if you have a knee injury. As always, ask an instructor if you need assistance or have a question about any component of the pose. And most importantly, find enjoyment in it!

Sources:
http://yogajournal.com
http://yoga-teacher-training.org

Pose of the Month: Ardha Chandrasana, Half Moon

The pose of the month for May happens to be one of our very favorites, Ardha Chandrasana, commonly known as Half Moon. As many of you know, the moon often plays a significant role in the various practices of yoga and commonly represents one of the two polar energies of the body. Try channeling your inner lunar spirit as you practice the pose!
Below is a step-by-step to help you get started:

1) Start in Trikonasana to the right side, with your left hand on the left hip. Inhale, bend your right knee, and move slightly forward while also reaching your right hand in front of the little-toe side of the right foot<

2) As you exhale, press your right hand and right heel strongly into the floor (this should provide you with some balance). At the same time lift the left leg parallel to the floor. Extend through the left heel and keep your foot engaged to keep the raised leg strong. Be conscious not to lock or hyperextend the standing knee

3) Raise your left arm straight up as you rotate your upper torso, keeping the left hip moving slightly forward. Most of your weight should be in the standing leg while you use the hand on the floor for balance. Keep the head in a neutral position or allow the gaze to follow the left arm upward

4) Remain in the position for 30 seconds to 1 minute. When finished, lower the raised leg to Trikonasana. Then perform the pose to the left for the same length of time.

This particular stretch can be therapeutical in relieving stress and anxiety, backaches, osteoporosis, sciatica and even gastritis. It can also lessen feelings of fatigue, constipation or indigestion and even menstrual pain.
As you continue to practice, the abdomen, ankles, thighs, buttocks and spine will strengthen, while the groin, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest and spine will stretch. Balance will also improve.

If you are a beginner, it can be helpful to use a block under your hand for stability- practice with the block at different heights until you find the fit that’s best for you.
Happy yoga-ing!

Gomukhasana:

Gomukhasana, a yoga pose with endless benefits. Some of the primary benefits of Gomukhasana are:
Stretches triceps, rotator cuff, latisimus and pectoralis muscles of upper body.
Stretches gluteus, tensor fascia latae, piriformis and other hip rotator muscles of lower body, and opens the chest and thoracic spine.

To perform this method start by:

Start seated with your legs extended in front of you. Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor. Cross your right leg underneath your left leg bringing your foot to the outside of the left hip.

Your left leg moves over top, so that the thighs cross tightly and your knees are close to stacking one on top of the other, in the center of your body.

Flex both feet, and position your ankles an equal distance away from the thighs to allow both of your sitting bones to meet the mat.

Press the outside edges of your feet into the earth, keeping them flexed.

Bring your right arm out to your side at shoulder hight, and rotate the palm up so that the shoulder balde melts down your back.

Inhale and raise your right arm overhead until it is beside your ear. Keep your neck relaxed and in neutral.

Exhale as you bend your right elbow, placing the palm of the hand onto your back, towards the middle of the shoulder blades.

You may gently use your left hand on your right elbow to encourage the elbow to move more towards the midline.

As you inhale, bring your left arm out to your side at shoulder height, rotate your palm down noticing the opposite motion of the shoulder blade slightly up.

Bend your elbow, exhale and lower your arm to your side with the back of the hand on your lower back.

Slide your hand across your low back until your upper arm is beside the torso, then reach your hand up the back towards the middle of your shoulder blades.

If your hands touch, curl the finger to link your two hands.Keeping your spine tall, neck in neutral and relaxed, imagine reaching the elbows away from each other, while they hug towards the midline.

If the head is able to touch the right arm, gently press the head back into the arm, lengthening the back of the skull.


Pose of the Month: Camatkarasana- “Wild Thing”

Every month we like to highlight a different, specific pose. This month we have chosen the poetic and playful Camatkarasana pose, or the “Wild Thing”. “The Camatkarasana is the ecstatic unfolding of the enraptured heart”. It is a pose that both encourages you to grow your roots deep into the earth while stretching back to offer your heart as a gift to the heavens.

A.) To start, bring yourself into the Adho Mukha Svanasana pose, or Downward Facing Dog.

B.) Shift your weight onto your left hand and your left foot. By rolling into the side plank position you are ready for the next development of this pose.

C.) Grow the roots of your left hand deep into the earth while lifting your hips up towards the sky. Bring your right hand back above your head while shifting your weight to the stability of a three pillar pose. Breath out and bend your right knee slightly while keeping your left leg straight, toes touching the mat.

D.) inhale and stretch your right hand back, ensuring that the arm is straight and not touching the mat. Lift your hips while curling your head and back to a full extension.

E.) Hold this pose for 10-15 breaths, keep your focus and your strength.

F.) Return yourself to Downward Facing Dog and switch to your left side to complete the pose.

If this pose is done correctly, it should be felt in the thighs, neck, spine, shoulders and hips. By working this pose into your normal yoga routine you will feel yourself become more open in the chest, hips, legs and arms. Your shoulders and back will strengthen while ensuring a full stretch of the neck.

The Yoga Journal informs us that this pose is good for treating both fatigue and mild depression. They also encourage people with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Rotator Cuff injuries to try with caution.