Archive for the ‘Pose Focus’ Category

2016 is a year of the Monkey! Celebrate with Hanumanasana (monkey pose)

February 5, 2016

“Gung Hay Fat Choy!” (Happy New Year in Cantonese)

2016 is the Year of the Monkey! Celebrate with Monkey Pose!

Monkey is the 9th sign in the Chinese Zodiac, following the sheep.
In Hatha Yoga, Monkey Pose is Hanumanasana (hah-new-mahn-AHS-anna).

Monkey Pose is named for the Hindu monkey god, Hanuman

Monkey Pose helps to stretch the groin, thighs, hips, and hamstrings.
Monkey_Pose
Monkey Pose (Hanumanasana) this is a basic split asana where your legs are ‘split’ forward and backwards.

Monkey Pose may be easier to do on a hard (uncarpeted floor) without a yoga mat – try it while wearing socks.
You may also want to place a cloth under each knee.

HOW TO:
Come to a tall kneel
Step right foot forward
On your next exhale lean your torso forward and bring your hands to the floor
Slowly slide your right foot forward and your left leg back
Stop before you feel pain, only go to where you are comfortable
Hold pose for about 30 seconds, then switch sides

FULL EXPRESSION:
Work towards having both front and back legs straight.
Your torso should be straight and your hands should rest comfortably on the floor

Modifications:
Not ready for a full split? Try placing a block under your front thigh.
This will help support your body

You can also place each hand on a block instead of placing your hands on the floor

Half Monkey  (this is also called Modified Pyramid or Kneeling Runner’s Stretch) – Keep back leg  at 90 degrees. Slide Front foot forward. Hands rest on either side of your calf.

TAKE IT FURTHER:
Variation 1:
When you have mastered the split and are comfortable,
raise your arms in the air (King Monkey)
Dristi or gaze is at your finger tips

Variation 2:
Come to Full expression of monkey pose
Fold forward out over your front leg

Variation 3:
Twisted Monkey – twist towords your front leg

Variation 4:
Open Hearted Monkey – Add a chest expansion

Variation 5:
Peaceful Monkey – Inhale arms into the air
If right leg is in front, lower left arm, left hand to left leg opening the heart chakra

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Today is Makar Sankranti; Celebrate with Kite Pose!

January 14, 2013

butterfly kiteMakar Sankranti (Sanskrit: Shankramana = to begin to move) is a Hindu festival celebrated by many people to celebrate the New Year.  Sankrant, usually celebrated on January 14 is based on the solar calendar (most festivals are based on the lunar calendar). Makar Sankranti is the day when the Sun enters and begins to ascend into the Northern Hemisphere. The Sun represents knowledge, spiritual light and wisdom. During Makar Sankranti we are reminded to turn away from the darkness of delusion, and begin to enjoy a new life.  Our bright inner light begins to shine brighter and brighter as we gradually grow into purity, wisdom, and knowledge.

Kite Festivals are a popular way to celebrate Makar Sankranti.

KITE POSE 1 – Patangasana
(this asana is basically Warrior 3 with airplane wings)

HOW TO:

Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose).

Take a step forward with your Right leg.

Raise arms next to your ears as you transfer your weight into your Right leg.

Lift your left leg off the mat, and slowly hinge forward from the hips.

Your raised leg, torso and arms should be parallel to the floor. Arms back to sides like airplane wings

Drishti (eye gaze) is out over your front fingers.

(Repeat with the Left leg forward)

 

KITE POSE 2 – Falling Star (aka Soaring Eagle)

HOW TO:

Begin in 5-pointed star pose (legs 3-4 feet apart, arms at sides parallel to the floor)

Transfer your weight to your right leg

Hold for several Breaths

Return to 5 pointed Star

Repeat on the Left side

Makar Sankranti Blessing:
May the Makar Sankranti fire burn all the moments of sadness and bring you the warmth of joy, happiness and love”

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Yoga pose for New Year’s Day – Gate Pose

December 31, 2012

January 1, New Year’s Day is dedicated to Janus the god of gates, doors and beginnings. 

Celebrate the beginning of a new year with GATE POSE.

gate pose, ParighasanaGate Pose:  Parighasana. (par-ee-GOSS-anna) parigha = an iron bar or beam used for locking or shutting a gate.

How to:

Come to a tall kneel

Extend your right leg out to the side

Inhale, Raise your left arm

Exhale, side stretch out over your right leg

Bring your right arm to the inside of your right leg.  Use the leverage of your arm against your leg to help deepen the stretch, opening your heart chakra to the sky.

Hold for several breaths, then, switch sides

GateVARIATIONS:
-Bend your Right Knee and place your Right foot on the floor (instead of extending your right leg fully)

-Your right hand can reach down your right leg, possibly holding onto your right ankle.

 Revolved Gate Pose

Come to a tall kneel

Extend your right leg out to the side

Inhale, Raise your left arm

Exhale, twist to the right, and bring your left arm to the back of your right leg. Left arm is in the air

Hold for several breaths, then, switch sides

Bound Revolved Gate Pose

Same pose as above,

Then, bring your right arm behind your back and your left arm under your right leg

Clasp hands or wrists

Seated Gate Pose:

Come to a wide knee low kneel

Extend your right leg out to the side (half straddle, your left leg is bent with your calf under your thigh-low kneel)

Inhale, Raise your left arm

Exhale, side stretch out over your right leg

Bring your right arm to the inside of your right leg.  Use the leverage of your arm against your leg to help deepen the stretch, opening your heart chakra to the sky.

Hold for several breaths, then, switch sides

Grab a partner….

Double Gate 1:

Come to a tall kneel several feet apart from each other

Extend your legs so that the side of your foot touches the side of your partner’s foot

Inhale, raise your arms (opposite of your extended leg)

Exhale, side stretch out over your extended legs

Hold hands or wrists with your partner

Hold for several breaths, then, switch sides

Double Gate 2:

Come to a tall kneel next to your partner (hip to hip)

Extend your legs out to the sides (legs that are not touching your partner)

Rise your arm (the arm closest to your partner)

Exhale and side stretch out over your extended legs

Hold for several breaths, then, switch sides

Double Latched Gate:

Come to a tall kneel facing your partner

Come to Gate pose (mirror image, person A extends their right leg, person B extends their left leg)

Bring your extended/supporting arm to your partners extended leg (your partner brings their extended/supporting arm to your extended leg)

Hold the hand or wrist of your partner (use the hand that is opposite of your extended leg)

Hold for several breaths, then, switch sides

Related Post:  Celebrating the New Year with Traditions to Bring Love and Luck!

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Mudra for April : Bear Grip

April 4, 2012

The Bear Grip Yoga Mudra is used to help with concentration and stimulates the heart chakra and strengthens the heart.  Helps to bring intensity to your yoga practice.

How To:  
Bring your arms in front of your body at chest level.
Left palm facing out, thumb down.
Right palm faces in toward your body, thumb facing up.
Curl your fingers  to look like a Bear Claw
Hook fingers together.
Gently pull your elbows apart.

Use BEAR Grip MUDRA in the Sea-Saw Shoulder Stretch:
Bring your hands to Bear Grip Mudra
Relax your shoulders
Gently pull your arms in opposite directions (Don’t loosen your Bear grip)
Inhale, raise your right elbow (lower left elbow)
Exhale, raise your left elbow (lower right)
Continue sea-sawing your arms moving with your breath and increase speed
Practice for a few minutes

This is a great warm up for shoulders and helps relieve tension.
Read More about MUDRAS here

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Sun Flower Breath

March 30, 2012

I like to use this Active Breath as an energizer when I need a little lift or following a warm up in yoga.

SUNFLOWER BREATH

Take a nice wide stance (Feet 3-4 feet or so apart)
Turn toes out slightly
INHALE circle your arms up over your head
EXHALE circle your arms down and bend forward
I like to allow my fingertips to brush the mat
INHALE reverse swan dive up, arms over head
EXHALE fold forward circle your hands to the mat
Repeat several times.

You can do this active breath fast or slow; you can make these movements large or small.

Variation 1:  Bend your knees and you bend forward
Variation 2:  Just move your arms with your breath omit the forward fold)

LEARN MORE Yoga Energizers HERE

LEARN MORE Pranayama (Breath Control) HERE.

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Frog Pose for Leap Day!

February 29, 2012

Leap Year occurs about every four years in order to keep our calendar in sync with the seasons.

Celebrate Leap Year with Frog Pose:
Stretches hips, groin and inner thighs

Begin in table Pose
Slide knees out as wide as is comfortable
Align ankles and knees and Turn feet outwards
Try to transition to your forearms
On your next exhale, begin pushing your hips back as far as is comfortable
Hold for a few breaths
Gently transition back into table pose or lower body to the floor

Extended Frog Pose…
Extend your arms farther out in front of you,
lowering your chest closer to the floor

Take it deeper….
Begin in Sphinx pose (belly on the mat, forearms on the floor)
Bend both knees
Reach hands back and hold feet
Fingers point in the same direction as your toes
Lift elbows into the air (pointing to the ceiling)
Gently press the soles of your feet towards the floor
Life your chest as high as possible
Hold for several breaths
Slowly return to your belly

Half Frog…

Begin in Sphinx
Bend left knee
Reach back with your left hand and hold your left foot
Fingers point in the same direction as your toes
Lift elbows into the air (pointing to the ceiling)
Gently press the soles of your feet towards the floor
Life your chest as high as possible
Hold for several breaths
Repeat on the opposite side.

Another Frog Pose:
Begin in a low kneel
Slowly slide your knees out to the sides
Keep your toes touching (behind you)
Place your hands on the mat, palms down
Slide your hands under your knees
Hold for several breaths

Learn More Animal Poses Here

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Welcome to the Year of the Dragon! Celebrate with Dragon Pose!

January 23, 2012

“Gung Hay Fat Choy!” (Happy New Year in Cantonese)

The Dragon is the 5th sign in the Chinese Zodiac, following the Rabbit.

If you were born in 1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988 or 2000 your sign is the dragon.  Find your Chinese Zodiac Sign HERE.

Celebrate the New Year with Dragon Pose (Yin Yoga Variation of Runner’s Lunge)

Dragon Pose is great for the hips, groin, quads and can help with sciatica.

How to:

Baby Dragon (Modified Lunge)

Begin in Down Dog
Step your Right Foot forward, between your hands
Bring your Right knee directly over your right ankle.
Drop your Left Knee to the floor
Hold
Repeat on the Left

Variation:

If you want to go deeper….

Opt. 1:  Bring both hands to the Big toe side of your front foot
Opt. 2:  Bring your Forearms to the floor on the big toe side of your front foot: Baby Dragon Flying Low
Opt. 3:  Bring the top of your head to the floor on the big toe side of your front foot

Baby Dragon Flying High (Balancing Modified Lunge)

Begin in Baby Dragon
Bring your Hands to your Right knee
Hold
Repeat on the Left

Twisted Baby Dragon (Twisted Modified Lunge)

Begin in Baby Dragon
Bring your Left hand to the Big toe side of your right foot
Raise your Right Arm
Open your Right Arm out to the Right Side (twist to the side of the front leg)
Hold
Repeat on the Left

Variation:

Opt. 1:  Bend your Left Knee and hold your Left Foot with your Right Hand

Baby Winged Dragon (Modified Lunge with Hip Opener)

Begin in Baby Dragon
Bring both hands to the inside of the right foot
Allow your right knee to roll out to the right side
Come onto the little toe side of the Right Foot

Variation:

Opt. Bring your hands to Blocks

If you want to go deeper….

Opt. 1:  Bring your Forearms to the floor on the big toe side of your front foot
Opt. 2:  Bring your Forearms to the floor on the big toe side of your front foot, then use your right hand and apply a gentle pressure to your right knee, pushing out.

As always, BACK OFF IF THERE IS ANY PAIN!

Dragon Pose (Lunge)

Begin in Down Dog
Step your Right Foot forward, between your hands
Bring your Right knee directly over your right ankle.
Up on your Left toes, Left knee remains off the floor
Hold
Repeat on the Left

Variation:

If you want to go deeper….

Opt. 1:  Bring both hands to the Big toe side of your front foot
Opt. 2:  Bring your Forearms to the floor on the big toe side of your front foot-Dragon Flying Low
Opt. 3:  Bring the top of your head to the floor on the big toe side of your front foot

Dragon Flying Low (Balancing Lunge)

Begin in Dragon Pose
Bring your Hands to your Right knee
Hold
Repeat on the Left

Variation:

Opt. 1:  Bring your hands together in Prayer Position at Heart’s Center
Opt. 2:  Bring your arms over your head, interlace your fingers, index fingers pointing up
Opt. 3:  Begin in Opt. 2 and add a mini back bend

Twisted Dragon Pose (Twisted Lunge)

Begin in  Dragon
Bring your Left hand to the Big toe side of your right foot
Raise your Right Arm
Open your Right Arm out to the Right Side (twist to the side of the front leg)
Hold
Repeat on the Left

Variation:
Opt. 1:  Bend your Left Knee and hold your Left Foot with your Right Hand

Winged Dragon  (Lunge with Hip Opener)

Begin in Dragon Pose
Bring both hands to the inside of the right foot
Allow your right knee to roll out to the right side
Come onto the little toe side of the Right Foot
Hold
Repeat on the Left

Variation:

If you want to go deeper….

Opt. 1:  Bring your Forearms to the floor on the big toe side of your front foot
Opt. 2:  Bring your Forearms to the floor on the big toe side of your front foot, then use your right hand and apply a gentle pressure to your right knee, pushing out.  As always, BACK OFF IF THERE IS ANY PAIN!

Dragon Split
Begin in Baby Dragon
Slowly slid your Right foot forward, straightening out the Right Knee

Variation:
Opt:  Place a block under your right thigh

If you want to go deeper….
Opt: Slowly fold forward out over your Right Leg

Learn More Animal Poses Here

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Bear Pose to celebrate Winnie the Pooh Day (The Birthday of Winnie’s author A.A. Milne)

January 18, 2012

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” -Winnie the Pooh

I love the wisdom of Winnie the Pooh (and his friends).  I have read the A.A. Milne books and the Benjamin Hoff  books, “The Tao of Pooh” an the “The Te of Piglet.”

“The hardest part is what to leave behind, … It’s time to let go!”

So much of what A.A. Milne’s characters have to say is great advice and perfect for the Yoga Mat.
“Just because an animal is large, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want kindness; however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo.” –Winnie the Pooh

To celebrate A.A. Milne’s Birthday ( born the 18th of January 1882), and his beloved characters, let’s practice…

Bear Pose:

Lay on your back

Raise both arms and both legs into the air

Rotate your wrists and ankles

“Always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you may step on a piece of the Forest that was left out by mistake.”

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Daylight Savings ends this Sunday (Nov. 6, 2011)…..Celebrate with Trace the Clock Poses

November 4, 2011

Daylight Saving Time (U.S., except Arizona & HAwaii) began Sunday, March 13, 2011, and ends Sunday, November 6, 2011.. Move your clocks ahead 1 hour in spring and back 1 hour in fall (“Spring forward, fall back”).

“I object to being told that I am saving daylight when my reason tells me that I am doing nothing of the kind… At the back of the Daylight Saving scheme, I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy, and wise in spite of themselves.”
― Robertson DaviesThe Papers of Samuel Marchbanks

Celebrate with some Trace the Clock Stretches….

Trace the Clock (body)

Imagine you are the hour arm on a giant analog clock.  Stretch to each hour point on the clock.

Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

INHALE arms up, interlace your fingers together, index fingers pointed up (12 o’clock)

EXHALE Move arms to the 1 o’clock position and stretch, INHALE

EXHALE Move arms to the 2 o’clock position and stretch, INHALE

Continue on stretching at each point on the clock, clockwise two times, then repeat stretching in counter clockwise position two rotations. I like to change the cross of my fingers before beginning the 2nd revolution.

Note: 6 o’clock stretch is a forward fold

Variation-instead of stretching at each our mark on your clock, try a continuous stretch moving between each hour smoothly in both a clockwise, and counter clockwise position.

Trace the Clock Eye Rotation
Eye yoga stretches can help improve vision and focus.  It can help ease eye strain and stress.
More Table Poses Coming soon….  

Come to a comfortable, seated position.

Keeping your head level, look up with your eyes.

Move your eyes to 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock etc…..

It should take 10-20 seconds for each complete rotation

Repeat in a counter clockwise revolution.

When you have complete tracing the clock in both directions,

Rub the palms of your hands together vigorously creating heat.

Close your eyes and place your warm palms over your eyes.

Enjoy your one hour longer weekend!

“Time, time, time, see what’s become of me,
While I looked around,
For my possibilities;
I was so hard to please”
Paul Simon (from A Hazy Shade of Winter)

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November is National Peanut Butter Month | Celebrate with Empty Peanut Butter Jar

November 1, 2011

“Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love.”  –Charles M. SchulzCharlie Brown

Empty Peanut Butter Jar is a fun spinal warm-up exercise.

Begin in Table Pose:
Come to your hands and knees
Wrists and Shoulders in alignment
Knees and Hips in alignment
Back in neutral

Imagine you are in a giant, almost empty Peanut Butter Jar.
You need to use your body to get the peanut butter out of the jar.

You can move forward and back,
You can move from side to side.

You can do circles,
You can do a worm like body motion.

Move in anyway that feels right.

More Calendar Theme Yoga Poses

More Table Poses Coming soon…. 

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