Asana & Openers

Articles on Asana & Openers

  • Where should I feel this? A common question asked by yoga students is ‘where should I feel this’. This is often harder to answer than it might seem. Firstly bodies are complicated things! The old model of individual muscles moving or restricting a single joint is now largely thought to be too simplistic. The body has come to be seen as a system of inter-connecting or even continuous lines of muscles. In this model, a restriction ...
  • Tips for Developing Arm and Core Strength for Arm-Balancing Postures and Push-up Positions Arm balancing postures and positions such as the Cataranga Dandasana (the push-up) can be very exhilarating. They can energise you by increasing your circulation and they are also good at developing chest, arm and core strength. When done correctly they can really help relieve and prevent back and neck pain and can give direct stimulation to the heart and lungs. Click on the following thumbnails to open and enlarge the full ...
  • The Role of the Adductors in Backbends Many yoga practitioners instinctually know to engage their inner thigh muscles (adductors) in backbends to prevent their knees from falling out to the sides. Let’s examine how we can utilise this action to ignite our core, expand our backward arch and experience simultaneously more stability and spaciousness in backbends. The adductor muscles of the inner thigh are part of our axial core. Below, they are connected to our feet via the ...
  • Tips for the padmasana jump back? Sometimes I nail this and sometimes I just get jammed up trying to get my legs through so when I got a chance to ask Mark for some tips, I didn’t waste any time. Mark Robberds is a Certified Ashtanga Yoga teacher and takes workshops and retreats around the world. You can find out more about his coming events on his website http://www.markrobberds.com. Share this:FacebookTwitterGoogle
  • Prenatal Yoga: The Essential Guidelines for Practice Pregnancy is an exciting time for a woman, and also a time that must be approached with care and love. Maintaining a yoga practice while pregnant provides an expectant mother with an opportunity for deep connection with her unborn child. There are many important things to consider in the approach to practice to ensure a healthy mom and baby. Although every woman is different and pregnancies vary, ...
  • How to Transition out of Warrior II ? 04 March 2015: Interviewee: Laruga Glaser The transition out of Warrior II is another of those things that looks so easy when you get it right but can lead to a lot of fumbling and awkwardness if you feel you can’t free up your front leg. I have spoken to loads of people who struggle with this, so call in Laruga Glaser to the rescue. I have been trying out these ...
  • Technique Pointers for Marichyasana D 06 Febuary 2015: Interviewee: Peg Mulqueen From what I have seen Peg Mulqueen spends much of her time studying with great teachers and that is good news for us because she has a wonderful talent for assimilating what she has learnt and passing that on to the rest of us in her own easy to understand style. She seems to be able to get to the essence of what it takes ...
  • Sun Salutations Part 2 The last article in this series was the introduction to the sun salutations series with an anatomical spin. In this article we will be exploring: How to lift the arms over your head. Raising the Arms It seems as though I have seen hundreds of variations on how students raise their arms over their head to begin a sun salutation. Although it’s a seemingly simple act, it’s not really. I don’t want ...
  • Sun Salutations Part 1 There is nothing that seems to cross all boundaries of yoga styles as clearly as sun salutations. Of course there are variations on the theme, but it seems that all styles do them. Sun Salutations put movement through all of the joints of the body and moves it in many directions. Perhaps we have a little difficulty in finding say, a twist, but many movements are represented. Since it is so ...
  • Yin Yoga for Back bending with Ease and Grace By Melanie Cooper Back bending with ease and grace requires that the Hip flexors (front of the hips), shoulders, and the whole of the front of the body are flexible and strong. Yin yoga is a way of opening the body with passive stretches held for a prolonged period of time. If practiced correctly it is a very sure and safe way to work on increased flexibility. Here are the principles of yin ...
  • Yin Yoga for Lotus Hips By Melanie Cooper Padmasana or Lotus can be one of the most challenging and frustrating poses for a yoga practitioner. The ankles, knees and hip joints all have to be mobile and the muscles in the legs and the hip girdle have to be flexible. It is all too common for the knee to be injured trying to put the body in lotus before it is ready, so first a word ...
  • The Hips A-line-ment By Peg Mulqueen If there’s a holy grail in the Ashtanga yoga practice, it must a long central axis (or spine, for reference) and rooted pelvis, for within the two lie the keys to heaven – or as we say, bandhas. And so it seems logical we do all we can to protect and keep these lines sacred. The primary series offers us the perfect place to practice this alignment with shapes that ...
  • Resisting the Bend: Kapotasana By Peg Mulqueen This was my deal breaker. Everyone has one, and this was mine. I knew this one posture would demand from me more commitment, patience, tenacity and loving kindness than any other I’d ever encountered. It requires me to be fully present, super aware – and willing. So lets just say, we’ve spent some time together and had the chance to really get to know each other. The good news is, ...
  • Size Matters By Peg Mulqueen I don’t know if you know this about Ashtanga – but backbends are a pretty big damn deal. When I started, no one cared that I could stand on my hands. No one wanted to see me float or jump or balance on my arms. No, they wanted to see my backbend. Only, I didn’t have a backbend. I had more of a coffee table. I’ve always known this had to ...
  • Deep Relief for Low Back Pain By Doug Keller By applying these simple principles to your asana practice you can strengthen the hidden muscles that maintain the health of your back. While there are no quick fixes when it comes to low back pain, if you address the root of the problem, treatment can be surprisingly simple. Chronic back pain is often attributed to underlying structural abnormalities such as a herniated or degenerated disk, scoliosis, or a tilted ...
  • David Keil Interview If you are interested in Yoga Anatomy or Ashtanaga you will know about David Keil. With his great and informative website http://www.yoganatomy.com/ and worldwide workshops. I was like a kid in a toy shop when I got the chance to interview David. Loads of topics were covered with plenty of geeky anatomy talk. At this time I am posting the interview in manageable bites with the whole thing coming soon. How ...
  • Where should my shoulders be in chaturanga? By Tim Feldmann Chaturanga Dandansana or ‘Chatuari’ as we call it in the Ashtanga Yoga tradition, is a difficult and somewhat disheartening posture. A quite high state of strength is required to support it and and even more pronounced strength to utilize it well. Chaturanga furthermore tends to mess around a bit with our minds as it is not a ‘real’ asana but a transitory movement which we often cease to ...
  • Ashtanga: Aging and Fatigue By Chad Herst A friend within the Ashtanga community recently reached out to me because she has been struggling to find a way into her practice such that it supports her fatigue and depression.  She wrote, “I have had chronic fatigue for many years, and used to find my practice helpful with my energy levels, but lately, I’ve been struggling with the intensity of the practice… And now that I’m in ...
  • The Evolution of Ashtanga Yoga Part II Yoga and Tradition By Matthew Sweeney Although Yoga, meditation and self inquiry are gaining popularity worldwide, these are still relatively new concepts for many people. How we define these concepts and the clarity with which we pursue them is of great interest to me. I am using the following definitions to shine a light on how adherence to a tradition can either help or hinder your practice of Yoga. It might be ...
  • Sacral Nutation: The Key to Straight Feet in Backbends By Monica Gauci There are countless miracles happening in our physical bodies every moment of our existence. One that continues to intrigue me is the symphony of cranial motion that happens with our every breath! This motion is synchronised with another gentle movement at our sacrum as it rocks between the two pelvic halves or ilia. Cranial-sacral motion is constant and rhythmical as it circulates the vital fluid that our brain ...
  • How do I straighten my arms when lifting into upward bow? By Tim Feldmann Urdhva Dhanurasana The question for this really is: ‘How do I accommodate my shoulders to move correctly when attempting Urdhva Dhanurasana’ … Let’s take a look. A tight shoulder girdle is common in the yoga room, especially amongst men as our arms and shoulders tends to be a bit more muscularly developed than women. When attempting this, you are looking for a relatively simple movement once it has taken root ...
  • Better Backbends By Doug Keller Do you tuck your tailbone in backbending poses? It would be hard to imagine yoga without backbends-they’re invigorating, uplifting, and heart-opening. Backbends stimulate the proper functioning of the digestive system, help preserve the health of the vertebrae and spinal disks, and open the body to deep diaphragmatic breathing. It’s no wonder that backbends are an important part of any hatha yoga routine. At the same time, these poses place ...
  • Muscles – the limited means to asana success By Tim Feldmann When we decide to move our body, in asana practice or in daily life, we most often instantly begin with activating our muscles. We identify movement with activating various muscles. The muscles are the physical system that we mostly rely on to carry out any physical task at hand. So is it in asana practice too. Unfortunately our muscular system is of relative efficiency in complex movement tasks ...
  • Balance Part II – The Leg By Tim Feldmann To get the full benefits out of the standing/balancing asanas, we must master balancing on one leg to a reasonable degree. Knowing a few technical things about the body and mind will help us balance well on one leg, besides clenching everything we’ve got and pray that we’ll make it through! This article aims at assisting you with your one legged balances/movement. Trigger points and images When we want our ...
  • Balance Part I – The Foot By Tim Feldmann The foot: a double dome like shape arching from back-to-front and from side-to-side. The foot: a triangle, wide at the front and narrow at the back. The leg: connecting down into the foot like a pillar through the ankle which intercepts at the peak of the two domes combined. Standing on your two feet takes close to no effort. Balancing, nevertheless, whether on two or one foot is an ...
  • Turning Your Feet Out When Doing a Yoga Drop-Back? By David Keil The inspiration for this month’s article comes from a question posed in an email. The question, from Catherine, asks specifically about keeping the feet straight in drop-backs. For those of you not sure what a drop-back is… it’s when you stand at the front of your mat and drop into a backbend. It’s mostly the Ashtangis who do this and when they do it’s very typical to find ...
  • Glute Max for Maximum Extension By Dr Monica Gauci For some the jury is still not out on whether one should or should not engage the gluteus maximus muscle when performing back bending yoga postures. Firstly, let’s have a close look at the functional anatomy of this muscle. Gluteus maximus, commonly known as glute max, is the superficial ‘rump’ muscle of our buttocks. Its prominent, characteristic shape and large size correlate to its powerful role of maintaining ...
  • What Is ‘Functional’ in Yoga? By Dr Monica Gauci Funcitonal is the buzz word at the moment in the exercise, movement and especially the physical rehabilitation scene. Movements or exercises are considered ‘functional’ if they support the movement patterns that are necessary for us to function in our daily lives. There are seven primal, functional movement patterns: bending, squatting, lunging, twisting, pulling, pushing and gait. Each of these are integrated movements which means that many muscles ...
  • Sitting for Meditation By David Keil The basic goal of all the asana practice is finding and maintaining a comfortable padmasana (lotus pose) for meditation. There are a few key anatomical components and principles to finding this comfort. The foundation of the pose is the crossing of the legs and “sit bones” comfortably on the floor. With a firm foundation we find an upward energy and lift in the spine, which eventually becomes effortless. Sitting ...
  • To Squeeze or Not to Squeeze? That’s the question By David Keil This month’s newsletter article comes out of a recent trip to the Midwest. I was at a new studio with new students and hosts. This piece is actually a request from one of the hosts, Evan at Tapas Yoga Shala. As always on the first day of practice, I mostly watch and get a sense for what I want to work on with any of the students over ...
  • Yes, you can get injured doing a headstand… By David Keil Yes, you can get injured doing a headstand… especially if you take the name literally. We can often gather information from the name of a posture. Sometimes embrace the quality or energy of the name, like Virabadrasana (Warrior). Sometimes the name is exactly what we should be doing. Shoulderstand comes to mind. It’s not neck stand after all is it? Sometimes the English name is a little misguiding though. Headstand ...
  • Supta Kurmasana Goes Pop! By David Keil Some time ago I threatened to write an article about pain showing up in the joint that connects the collarbone to the breastbone. I have had a couple of more recent requests to talk about this potential problem in Supta Kurmasana. As always I try to look at the anatomy, its function, observations about the posture itself and perhaps some ways that information may inform the way we ...
  • Primary Series is… By David Keil Doing an Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga practice involves much more than merely doing the asanas enumerated in the Primary Series. As a sequence, the primary series is the foundation of the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga practice. It plants the seeds that will grow into the other sequences. But it’s not limited to the asana element. The seeds that should be planted are also the more subtle components. The more important seeds ...
  • Ashtanga’s Dynamic Dimension By David Garrigues Dynamic is a word that aptly describes the personality and teaching of my late teacher Sri K Pattabhi Jois (Guruji). And what I learned about the connection between vinyasa and dynamism from him has been a major source of my love for the Ashtanga yoga method. In 94′ when I began studying with Guruji at his old shala in Mysore, I used to stay after class just to ...
  • Summary notes on Pasasana (The Noose Posture) By David Garrigues There are the notes that accompanied the Asana Kitchen video on Pasasana. 1)Establish a Grounded, Immoveable Foundation Balancing in a full squatting position is one of the most important and challenging aspects to this posture. The feet are your foundation, they are directly in contact with the earth. Organize your posture directly over this foundation noticing when/if you are either too far behind or in front of your foundation. Start ...
  • Action in Practice By David Garrigues In this new post I speak about the concept action in asana, action as a catalyst to the revolution within you. There is a wide range from (superficial to deep) of what constitutes action in asana. At times cultivating action may mean that you activate specific muscle groups to move your bones and achieve dynamic alignment of the skeleton. When you lengthen your hamstring muscles in a forward ...
  • Ashtanga Yoga and the Secret of Mula Bandha By David Garrigues Part I Ashtanga Yoga (as in the 8 limbs) begins with Ahimsa, non-harming.   Yama is the first limb of the eight limbs and ahimsa is the first Yama.  Thus ahimsa can be considered the base,  the very foundation and support of the 8 eight limbs.   Consider the use of the word ahimsa, the main root himsa,  means violence, harm, aggression.  When you add the “A” in front of it ...
  • Opening the Heart By Dr Monica Gauci In a yoga practice much emphasis is placed on opening the heart. Opening the heart has physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual benefits. Rounded shoulders and a hunched spine are typically associated as the posture of someone who is less confident, timid, fearful or possibly depressed. We round our shoulders and stoop forward to protect our heart as we carry our emotional, psychological and/or spiritual wounds. As our nervous ...
  • Your Shoulders in Upward Facing Dog By David Keil This is a play off an article I wrote for the newsletter back in May. That one was titled Your Shoulders in Downward Facing Dog. There are perhaps as many variations in what we are told to do with our shoulders in Up Dog and it is sometimes just as confusing for students. As I often do, I look for the bigger pattern that underlies a potential what and ...
  • Your Shoulders in Downward Facing Dog By David Keil I think we can all agree about one thing with regard to the shoulders in downward facing dog. None of us like to have our own or see our students shoulders stuck up in our or their ears. How do we get our shoulders out of our ears? In addition what is the effect of this on our elbows, wrists, and hands? Or is it the other way ...
  • Flexed or Extended Foot in Lotus By David Keil I’ve been hearing for years that we should flex our foot in various poses where we have our knees bent at ninety degrees or more. More recently I’ve received two seperate emails regarding the application of this technique to lotus posture. Should the foot be flexed or extended in padmasana? It’s time I throw in my own two-cents on this topic. As many of you know, I’m for ...
  • Balancing Freedom and Restraint in Yoga By Ray Long  The work of legendary furniture designers Charles and Ray Eames has been described as a balance of freedom and restraint.Mr. Eames was once asked: “Have you ever been forced to accept compromises?” He responded: “I don’t remember ever being forced to accept compromises, but I have willingly accepted constraints.”1  Practicing yoga also involves working within constraints–those of the general form of the human body and also our personal ...
  • Using the TFL to Refine Utthita Parsvakonasana By Ray Long Author; Ray Long View Profile Visit Ray’s Website http://www.dailybandha.com   http://www.bandhayoga.com Share this:FacebookTwitterGoogle
  • Helicoidal Flow: Yoga As A Body Holiday By Helen Noakes Spiralling or helicoidal flow is an omnipresent phenomenon in nature. As humans, we have the choice to consciously join this pattern of movement that can lead us into freedom. The magnitude of the range of spirals in the whole of creation is immense: from the micro level of DNA and double-helix structures in every cell to the vastness of galaxies and our universes. The way we are born and ...
  • Antagonist/Synergist Combinations in Yoga By Ray Long Author; Ray Long View Profile Visit Ray’s Website http://www.dailybandha.com   http://www.bandhayoga.com Share this:FacebookTwitterGoogle
  • Sitting Up Straight and Expanding the Chest Forward in Sukhasana By Ray Long This technique is portable to other poses. In Tadasana, for example, simply fix the palms against the sides of the hips and attempt to drag them backwards. Note how the chest expands forward and the back straightens. See this concept in action for Sukhasana in the video above. Here’s the Anatomy . . . The latissimus dorsi originates from the spinous processes of thoracic vertebrae 6—12, lumbar vertebrae 1—5 (via ...
  • Assessing Range of Motion in Downward Dog By Paul Grilley Students who struggle with Downward Dog may have limited range of motion (ROM) in one or more of four important joints. Learn how to assess your students’ ROM and help them modify their poses. Long Dogs and Short Dogs. There are many subtle variations of Downward Dog but they can be approximately divided into two standard variations: Long Dogs and Short Dogs. Long Dogs are done by stepping further back ...
  • Assessing Range of Motion in Squatting Poses By Paul Grilley Students who struggle with squatting poses may have limited range of motion (ROM) in one or more of three important joints. Learn how to assess your students’ ROM and help them modify their poses. There are three major joints to consider when teaching a Squat: the hip, the knee, and the ankle. If any one of these three joints is limited in its range of motion (ROM), then any ...
  • Shoulderstand By Paul Grilley Help your students get the most out of Shoulderstand—even if that means achieving a pose that’s not textbook-perfect. Shoulderstand, or Sarvangasana, is a wonderful pose that stretches and strengthens different sections of the spine. But many people struggle with this pose—either to get vertical or to clasp their hands behind their back. Some simple tests can determine whether either of these goals is possible for a given student. These ...
  • Let the Lumbar Curve Be  By Paul Grilley Some yoga instructors insist that students avoid curvature of the spine  by insisting on tucking the pelvis. But any healthy movement can be  overdone. Rather than insist on always having the pelvis tucked  encourage your students to utilize the full range of pelvic motion in  their practice. Bad News Ballet? The idea that a “tucked pelvis” is good for you comes from ballet.  Ballerinas are taught to tuck their pelvis ...
  • The Evolution of Ashtanga Yoga By Matthew Sweeney Ashtanga Yoga is a wonderful practice for the body and mind. It is an evolving practice that is changing and growing to suit people of all ages and abilities. At least that is its potential. The tradition and its changing nature can be a difficult thing to reconcile. This problem exists for all traditions, so understanding some of the principles at work is important. In most Ashtanga classes we ...
  • Lengthening the Torso in Forward Bends By Ray Long In “Preventative Strategies for Lower Back Strains Part I,” we discussed femoral-pelvic and lumbar-pelvic rhythm, muscles that influence these rhythms, and the effects of these muscles on the lumbar spine. Here, our discussion progresses as we cover the trunk, the thoraco-lumbar fascia (TLF), Uddiyana Bandha and how accurate knowledge of this can be used to enhance the benefits of yoga and decrease the risk of lower back strains. ...

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