Archive for the ‘Spirit Animals & Asanas’ 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 (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.

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

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

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.

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’s Spirit Animal and Asana: Praying Mantis

September 16, 2011

The Praying Mantis by Ogden Nash

From whence arrived the praying mantis?
From outer space, or lost Atlantis?
glimpse the grin, green metal mug
at masks the pseudo-saintly bug,
Orthopterous, also carnivorous,
And faintly whisper, Lord deliver us.

My husband and I have been trying to have an Outdoor Movie night all summer.  Between busy friends and rain, we finally had our chance last Saturday, September 10, 2011.  We decided to screen two Muppet Movies.  It was to be an old school double feature.  We decided to watch The Muppet Movie, (1979) my favorite of the Muppet Movies.  Our Second feature was to be my husband’s favorite, The Great Muppet Caper (1981).

We watched both movies…note to self: Schedule next outdoor movie night closer to a New Moon instead of near a Full Moon.

Other than the bright moonlight, everything went well.  We even had people stick around to help us dismantle everything.

Being a photographer, I used a background and stands for the screen.

As we began breaking down the backdrop, we noticed a Praying Mantis.  He did not want to leave our screen.  We put the stands down, carried the cloth and he still hung on.  Finally, I had to move our little friend so I could take the equipment into the house.

As spirit Animals, Praying Mantises are all about calm, quiet, stillness and are perfect symbols for meditation.  They show is to be patient with others as well as ourselves.  They channel female warrior energy. When a praying mantis appears in your life it is asking you to direct your energy, thoughts or actions in a different way. “Follow Mantis” means putting that core aspect of yourself, your foundation of Spirit, at the helm and let it direct your intellect and ultimately your life.

Now on to the asana:  Praying Mantis
Praying Mantis is a balancing squat that helps open hips.

  • Begin in Table Pose
  • Curl toes under and begin to walk hands back towards your knees
  • Roll back onto your feet and allow your knees to come up off of the floor
  • Inhale your arms up, overhead
  • Interlace your fingers, index fingers up
  • Exhale, keeping your arms straight, lower your arms and lean torso forward
  • Point your fingers to the floor
  • Drishti is at your fingers
  • Hold for several breaths
  • Release to child’s pose for a few breaths

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Who let the Dogs out? Another day another Down Dog Pose and a few variations.

August 3, 2011

Let explore Dog Yoga Poses, beginning with the one everyone is familiar with….

Down Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Start in Table Pose (hands under shoulders, knees under hips
Curl your toes under and straighten your legs in an inverted ‘V’ pose (straighten legs without locking your knees)
Press into your Palms and Heels (heels coming to the floor or working towards the floor)
Raise your sit bones into the air
Upper Thighs roll inward
Press the base of your index fingers into the mat
Head is between your arms (avoid allowing your head to hang)

Supported Dog Pose
     Raise your hands off the floor by placing your hands on a block or rest your hands on the seat of a chair.

Wrist Pain?
     Roll your fingers into fists or roll up your mat so that the base of your hands is higher than your fingers.
You can also try placing your hands on a yoga wedge

Try some Down Dog variations:

Walk the Dog
Come to Down Dog
Pedal your legs, bending first one knee then the other.
This is an active pose

Three Leg Down Dog
     Begin in down Dog
Lift your Right Leg off the mat
Try to lift your right leg to hip height as if being pulled by the right ankle
Hold for several breaths
Lower your leg on an exhale and switch sides

Dog at a Hydrant
     Begin in Three Leg Down Dog (Right Leg in the air)
Bend your Right knee bringing your Right Foot towards your Right Hip
Hold for several breaths
Lower your leg to Down Dog on an exhale and switch sides

Dolphin Pose (Forearm down dog)
     Begin in a forearm table, Elbows under your shoulders, fore arms on the floor
Curl your toes under and straighten your legs

Half Dolphin (I find this more challenging than Full Dolphin Pose)
     Begin in Down Dog
Lower your Right Forearm to the mat
Hold for several breaths, then switch sides

Twisted Dog
     Begin in Down Dog
Lift your Right Arm off the Floor
Bring your Right arm in front of your body
Hold onto you your Left Leg with your Right hand
Pull your Chest to the Left
Drishti is up to the ceiling
Hold for several breaths, then switch sides

Core Strengthening Down Dog
     Begin in Down Dog
Bring your Right Knee to your Belly
Hold for several breaths, then switch sides

Balancing Down Dog
     Begin in Down Dog
Bring your Right Hand to Right Ankle
Raise your Left Leg
Hold for several breaths, then switch sides

Other Dog Poses

 Up Dog or Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
     (This pose is a more challenging variation of a Cobra Pose)
Lie on your belly
Bring your hands under your shoulders
Curl your toes under
Inhale, press into your hands
Straighten your arms
Lift your head, neck, shoulders, chest and torso off the mat
Thighs are firm and legs are a few inches off the mat
Tip Head up slightly
Drishti is where a wall and ceiling would normally meet

Puppy Pose or Extended Puppy Pose  (Uttana Shishosana)
     (this pose is a combo of Down Dog and Extended Child’s Pose)
Begin in Table Pose
Walk your hands forward a few inches
Push Hips halfway back towards your calves (hips and buttocks remain in the air)
Forehead to the floor
Elbows remain off the mat
Keep a slight curve in your back
Hold for a few breaths, then rest in Child’s Pose

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…in like a lion

March 1, 2011

Welcome to March.

As the idiom goes, March comes in like a Lion and out like a Lamb.
(The month of March usually starts with cold, unpleasant weather, but ends mild and pleasant.)

Why not celebrate with Lion Pose?

This in one I always do in a Brand new class to break the ice and teach everyone that yoga doesn’t have to be stuffy.  Life is fun and so is Yoga!

Roaring Lion – Simhasana
Simha = Lion
;  This asana gets its name because the open mouth and extended tongue resembles the face of a Roaring Lion.

Click HERE for Animation

  • Come to a Comfortable seated position
  • Take a full deep breath in, and bring your hands next to your ears in loose fists
  • On your next exhale, lean forward slightly, spread your fingers and stretch all of your facial muscles, widen your eyes
  • Extend your tongue with a sounding exhale.
  • Repeat several times.

Lion pose, releases stress.  It’s great for sore throats and sinus issues.  It exercises the facial muscles and helps relieve eye strain.

I like to pair lion and prune face (lemon face).

Click HERE for Animation
Prune Face– Inhale and squeeze your eyes shut. Clench your hands in fists, raise your shoulders and pinch your facial muscles.

Exhale into Lion Pose.

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Today Begins the year of the Rabbit in the Chinese Zodiac! Celebrate with Rabbit Pose (sasangasana).

February 3, 2011

(In the related Vietnamese Zodiac, the cat takes the place of the rabbit)

People born in:  1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999 are Rabbits in the Chinese Zodiac.

Find out your Chinese Sign HERE

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

Celebrate the New Year with Rabbit Pose (sasangasana)
Rabbit Pose is the 23 pose in the
26 Poses of Bikram Yoga

Rabbit Pose is a gentle inversion that stretches and elongates your entire spine.

This pose helps relieve tension in the back, shoulders and neck.  It’s great for Posture and the Immune System.  It can alleviate symptoms of Colds, Congestion, and Allergies.  It can also assist with depression and Insomnia.

How to do the Rabbit Pose:

Begin in Child’s Pose.
(Prone position.  Low Kneel-bottom to heels.  Arms are at your sides, forehead to the floor)

Bring your hands to your Feet

Pull your Forehead toward your knees

Roll onto the top of your head

Exhale, Lift your hips (keep your forehead as close as possible to your knees)

Hold for 8 breaths

On your next Exhale, slowly lower your hips to your heels

Return to Child’s pose.

Rest for several breaths

Too much pressure on the top of your Head or under your Knees?
Double up your yoga mat (don’t go thicker than 2 layers under your head, it can make your neck unstable).

Some Rabbit Pose Variations:
Try Rabbit Pose with your arms crossed behind your knees or interlace your fingers and bring your arms into the air.

After you have completed your Rabbit Pose, Counter it with a back Bend like Cobra or Camel.

Learn More Animal Poses Here

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Today’s Spirit Animal and Asana: Grasshopper

September 22, 2010

I’ve been encountering a lot of wild life lately.  It seems they have a message.

This Grasshopper actually landed on my arm and hung out there until I moved him to this plant.

Grasshoppers are Good Luck.  They symbolize abundance (perfect for the Autumnal Equinox).  Grasshoppers teach us to move forward and take chances, to act on a whim and jump in.  Grasshoppers give us bravery to listen to our internal voices.

In yoga, Grasshopper Posture, better known as Locust Pose or Shalabha-asana, teaches us to looking inward.  We open our hearts in back bends.  We learn compassion, to love and forgive.  Strengthening our backs helps us to stand tall in the assuredness that we have all the answers and we will eventually prosper.

How to perform Shalabha-asana (Locust or Grasshopper Pose):

  • Lay on your mat, belly down, arms at your sides
  • Inhale and lift your chest, neck, head and legs
  • Hold posture, and breathe
  • Relax your neck and bring your shoulders away from your ears
  • Open your Heart Chakra
  • Inhale and lift a bit higher
  • Drishti (eye gaze) is up, about where walls and ceilings generally meet
  • Lower back to your mat on an Exhale
  • After you complete Locust Pose, relax in Child’s Pose (Balasana)

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Today’s Spirit Animal and Asana: The Blue Heron

September 13, 2010

I’m having a trying day today.  Nothing too horrible going on in my life, but there are a few crazy things happening that have gotten under my skin lately.  I went to the Reading Museum Park during my lunch break, to relax and find some peace.  I was lucky enough to see this majestic Blue Heron.
(at least I think it was a Blue Heron)
Animals offer guidance and help with the challenges of our daily lives.

The Blue Heron:

Herons are solitary animals that teach us to stand on our own.

They show us the wisdom of standing still.
Through them we learn patience to wait; what we need always comes to us.
Herons teach us to walk with deliberation.
Often standing on one foot, Herons show us balance.  They are power animals.
They help to awaken your soul.
They teach you to assert your self in the face of others discouragement.
The Heron brings self-reliance and helps you gain independence.

So today through the Blue Heron.  I will be strong, confident and I will assert myself.
Today I will find Peace and I will relish my ability to stand alone.

Every year I pick an asana or two to try and master by the end of the year.  Ironically, HERON POSE (Krounchasana) was on of my chosen postures to work on this year.

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