Vashistasana Variation & Vishvamitrasana

Happy June!

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Today, my practice focused on core, hips and hamstrings. Such a gorgeous day, I got to practice for 90 minutes today. The last 45 was long passive holds. I felt blessed, rich with the practice of yoga…in fact, Vashista means “most excellent, best, richest.”

My flow included (snapshot)

Bicycles
Reverse curls
Surya A x 5
Surya B stepping into standing splits and some handstand jumps x 2
Warrior 1, 2, reverse, triangle
Balancing half moon
Lunge
Lunge twist
Kneeling lunge
Lizard
Ardha Hanuman
Vinyasa
Pyramid
Plank
Vashistasana traditional
Vinyasa 3 legged plank option
(repeat)
Surya B
Vashistasana variation (1st photo)
(repeat)
Surya B w extended side angle bound
Vishvamitrasana (2nd photo)
(repeat)
Child’s pose
Supine hamstring stretch r leg
Navasana
Supine hamstring stretch l leg
Navasana
Seated forward fold (long hold)
Upavista konasana (long hold)
Happy Baby (long hold)
Supine twists (twisted roots)
Long savasana

Slowing down is always good. I am still working on the refinement of these poses. Step by step. Little by little. A little step in the right direction! I reflect back when I couldn’t even get into this pose. A small achievement makes heaps of contentment!

Removing the weeds…Yin Sequence

Watering FlowersMy mind is a garden. My thoughts are the seeds. My harvest will be either flower or weeds. -Weldon

Yin Sequence

Remove the Weeds Sequence (Hips and Spine)

Intention. As we head to open hips emotions will come. It’s time to face them and remove any toxic emotions in the mind. If you continue to nurture those weeds, it will fill our garden and get overwhelming. Let them go so you can sow seeds of opportunity.

Begin in Savasana
Stretch long
Eye of the needle Pose (2 min each side)
Apasana
Roll to seated. Anjali Mudra set Intention
3 Part Doaist Breath (4 times)
Child’s pose (2 min)
Tadpole pose (3 min)
Melting Heart (3 min)
Downdog
Dragon Flying Low (3 min each side)OM!
Downdog
[Twisted Dragon (3 min each side)OM!
Ardha Hanuman ]
Spinx Pose (3 min)
Rest
Spinx option to seal (3min)
Rest
Cat/Cow x 5
Twisted Deer (3 min each side)
Supine Shoelace (3 min each side)
Twisted Roots (3 min each side)
Savasana

This sequence was inspired by a drawing that I received in Yin Teacher Training with Bernie Clark. I am always thankful for his teachings. Let me know what you think of the sequence after you’ve tried it. Remember. “Time is the magic ingredient” in Yin. Find your setting. Be still. OM Shanti!

Teaching Yoga

I read a fabulous article this morning I want to share. It is about teaching yoga. Needless to say, it is on point! I love this. If you plan to teach or if you are teaching, take a moment. Why are you truly teaching or inspired to teach yoga?

http://www.yoganonymous.com/teaching-yoga-5-painful-truths-cultivating-unattachment/

Thank you, Amy for this amazing and honest article.

Decisions, decisions!

There are challenges in everyday life. It’s easy to take the lesser road. Sometimes, thats the right choice for you. Its your own choice. It is your own circumstance. Ahhh… The words of Robert Frost comes to mind. The Road Not Taken
The decision needs to come from a deeper place than the monkey mind. Stay present in your choices, make the choice from deep within so there is no doubt.
My own practice today had many twists and turns. I was tired. I had taught earlier in the day and was emotionally drained as feelings overwhelmed me in the last track in BodyFlow 55 “Still here.” I was so tempted to just turn on the TV to watch CNN. I did, but then I had to commit and think…you need to dedicate time to your practice.
As I started to roll my yoga mat out, I delayed. I was thinking, what shall I do today?
I started in easy sukasana and set my intention to just practice and do what I could do today. I let go of the news and focused on my breath. I started to practice. My third eye started to tingle.
With plenty of Surya A and progression to surya B. I started to open my hips. Three legged dog, open leg to open hip then back to three legged dog, then 3 legged plank vinyasa flow. Chair became one legged chair or, figure 4 standing balance. I was working and took the courage to find baby pigeon. As I kept moving, there were times I wanted to give up. I felt heavy again. I couldn’t fly. I wanted to give up. Why couldn’t I do it today? I just did it the other day…Then. I went back to my breath. Got out of my chaotic mind. I flew. Eka Pada Galavasana. It was only for a couple of seconds. This pose has been a challenge for me. In the chaotic day I was able to practice. In a chaotic mind, I was able to refocus. I was able to fly. After practice, I took a sweet savasana and refueled. I just had to make my own decision and it has “made all the difference.”

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Observe and React

It’s amazing how you can observe things and react so quickly without thinking. Or you hear something and you just get so defensive.

So I texted my best guy friend back because I didn’t want the situation to linger or fester. Words were exchanged. Not to be hateful, but we both got defensive. In the heat of the moment I told him to “f off”. What the heck happened? I was at a place where I was so angry.

Time passed. I talked to my girlfriends and my husband. “Let it go, he’s not trying to be malicious.” I realized I reacted from the wrong place. I was sorry, I just had to let him know how I felt. I texted him on What’s up application to apologize. No response back, I’m left hanging.

Life has everyday stresses, and it’s the way we approach it. We can react from a calmer place or in a more turbulent state of mind. If I had stayed in the conversation, I probably would have said something more hurtful back instead of cussing. Really hurtful. I’m glad I didn’t.

We can also storm off, drive away. Angry. I’ve known of others that leave a situation and drive off speeding down the freeway, angry. In my younger years, that may have been me. That would result in a worse situation.

We can react differently. We can observe. Then react from a safer calm place. A place of common sense. A place of strength.

I’m waiting to hear back. I’m not writing off the years of friendship. He is a piece of me, my friend, my brother. I’ll always love him.  Maybe all will be forgotten and healed. We’ll see. Until then, I will just take a moment to breathe and observe.

Mutka Hasta Sirsasana B and Hasta La Vista Anger

I had a fight with my best guy friend last night. We never fought before, this is the first. Chatting on What’s up application, he’s in Thailand to find his nirvana. I talked to him about how there’s so much chaos in the world and how it would be nice just to be free from that. Long story short, it ended up where he insulted and judged my family. Needless to say, I stopped the conversation. He’s texted me back, I don’t plan to read it yet. This is where it comes to breathing. I came back to what was important to me. Maybe he is going through mid-life crisis. It makes me sad. I wish him to find peace. I let my anger go. Typically, I’d be venting and crying. Nope. I just sat there and thought. Wow. Let’s pray for some truth. Then I thought of a beautiful chant/mantra from Upanishads…

Om asato ma sadgamaya
tamaso ma jyotirgamaya
mrtyorma amrtam gamaya

Lead me from the untruth to the truth.
Lead me from darkness to light.
Lead me from death to immortality.

(Brhadaranyaka Upanishad — I.iii.28)

Today, I practiced opening my shoulders to release the tension I was holding. In my practice, it let me to Mutka Hasta Sirsasana B. Make sure you’ve nailed Salamba Sirsasana first before attempting it. Mutka means “Free” and Hasta means “Hands” headstand.

From Pravritta Padottasana
Back of hands on the ground
Press knuckles in the earth, drawing shoulders away from ears. Find dristi. Breathe. Activate feet.

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Slowly lift legs and press toe mounds in the sky.

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Release to child’s pose. Be sure that you press hands into the earth to take the pressure away from the neck.

Hasta La Vista Anger!

Why cold in Yin?

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Fascia is a structure of the connective tissue and is composed of collagens, elastics and reticular fibers. It surrounds our muscles, blood vessels and nerves. According to “The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga” by Bernie Clark, muscle is ~70% muscle cell and ~30% fascia. When we are cold in our muscles, we demand more out of our fascia, stressing the connective tissue and joints and ligaments (all interconnected) in a beneficial way in Yin Yoga. If the objective is to get the permanent physical benefits of Yin then you practice cold. If your objective is to get into a pose (asana) deeper in a yang style practice, then go warm. For example, if your peak pose is Vishvamistrasana (a very yang pose) then, you need to warm the body in your yang practice. You will be able to get down deeper, but using the warm muscle already stretch and not stressing the connective tissue as much. It comes to intention. Yes, you can stretch warm.
Think about what happens when you wake up in the morning. You feel stiff. Muscles are tight. Muscles are cold. Then you start your yin practice…marinating in a yin posture, finding your first edge and getting that first stress. You cannot get too deep while cold, our the muscle spindles react to protect your body. It’s holding and stressing for time. Gradually stressing longer. Remember that muscling into a posture is not yin. Time is the magic ingredient. Time goes on, stress is on the connective tissue, fascia, ligaments and joints. The key word I use is stress. Not stretch.
Bernie explains it so well. When I went through yin training, he explained it through showing rubber bands. Click on the link attached. The different stresses on cold versus warm. Are you going for maximized stretch? Neither is wrong but what is your objective? You can get stillness benefits of the practice if you are completely warm prior to class. It just comes down to intention.

Eka Pada Koundiyasana i

“This yoga should be practiced with firm determination and perseverance, without any mental reservation or doubts.” – Bhagavad Gita

Everyone starts somewhere. It’s a practice and dedication. I remember thinking — wow, I’m never gonna get into that pose. Never say never. I had to remember what I read in Bhagavad Gita. My spirit was down, I remember writing in my yoga journal one day and I let the negative chatter take over.

Eka Pada what? One thing I learnt in this posture is that you must start with a solid foundation. I start this from side crow (Parsva bakasana). Some start from a tripod headstand, but I prefer getting into it from side crow. So…how did I get there?
Get warm first. Sun sals and a few twists. I’d suggest core work to get that awareness in the belly.

Then, start to set your foundation. I get super twisty as I get low. I draw my elbow in….

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Then I set my hands shoulder width. Claw your mat… Set your gaze forward.

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Then draw in thru the inner thighs and core. Start to lean and balance in side crow.

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Then, don’t be afraid. The secret is to trust yourself and keep focus. Lean forward and start to scissor position your legs.

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Eka Pada Koundiyasana i

Practice and persevere. Don’t despair. It will come in your own time!

Prayers and strength…we must be strong

 Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.

Norman Cousins

Yin yoga flow for upper body meridians and spine focus

Hatha Yoga teaches us to use the body as the bow, asana as the arrow, and the soul the target. B.K.S. Iyengar

Start in easy sukasana
Hand to heart other to belly
Breathe and feel the belly expand and collapse

Seated forward fold
Fold over right, center then left
Switch leg cross position and repeat folds

Seated eye of the needle pose hands on ground and lift the chest open heart and lungs

Butterfly option zipper toes in this pose 5 min

Half butterfly 2 min fold (cow face arms with strap)

Right knee on ground, right hand on ground and spiral up, lifting top arm up towards sky and eye gaze towards hand

Half butterfly 2 min fold (cow face arms strap)
Repeat spiral lift

Caterpillar 4 min (eagle arms 2 min each side)

Anahastasana 3 mins (option one arm then other)

Balasana

Spinx pose to seal pose 5-6mins
(resting counter pose after)

Camel 2 min

Balasana with shoulder stretches (threading the needle)

Bananasana 3 min each side (cross ankles and hold forearms)

Reclining twists

Apasana

Savasana