Posts Tagged ‘kundalini yoga’

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.”

More Calendar Theme Yoga Poses

See more POSE FOCUS posts HERE.

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A Prayerful Yoga Practice & the Anjali Mudra

January 4, 2012

Today we will be working on the Anjali Mudra.
Brings hands together in prayer position at heart center.  Your hands should be lined up evenly.  Press hands together slightly.

Come to a comfortable seated position with hands in Anjali Mudra for a few minutes of Centering.

Spend a few minutes for warm up asanas

Comet to Tadasana with hands in Anjali at heart center (near the back of the mat)

Begin Flow:

Tree Right leg up hands in Anjali Mudra

Step right leg forward in Warrior I hands in Anjali Mudra

Step Left foot forward, Chair Pose

Transition to Twisted Chair Right side

Return to Chair

Forward fold

Lunge (left leg back) hands in Anjali Mudra

Prayerful Triangle

Exhale Revolved Side Angle (hands in Anjali Mudra) – hold

Transition to Lunge

Step back into plank, lower

Child’s Pose

Garland Pose (heel down squat, hands in Anjali Mudra)

Forward Fold

Roll up to Mountain

Repeat on the opposite side

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Salutation Seal (Anjali Mudra or Hrdayanjali Mudra),hands in Prayer position (Namaste)

January 1, 2012

Mudra is Sanskrit for seal.  A mudra is a position, usually done with the hands, that directs the flow of prana (life energy).

As part of our Mudra Series, we are beginning with the Salutation Seal since most of us are very familiar with bringing hands together in prayer position.  This gesture first appeared in clay seals about 6,000 years ago.

The Salutation Seal is known by many names, Anjali Mudra, Hrdayanjali Mudra, Atmanjali Mudra, Pranamasana, Prayer Position, Namaste…

We will use the common Anjali Mudra for the rest of this post

Anjali (ON-jol-ly) means offering, salutation, to honor or celebrate.

How to:

Bring your hands together in Prayer Position at Heart’s Center:
Line up your hands and fingers, fingers are pointing up.
Press your hands together gently and evenly.
Bow head slightly

Hands represent action.  You can bring your Anjali Mudra to the center of the chest, Heart Chakra (thumbs resting against the sternum), the Heart represents emotion.  You can bring your prayer position hands to your forehead, Brow Chakra (thumbs resting against the third eye) the Head represents intellect. You can also bring your hands to your Crown Chakra (above the head).

Prayer Position symbolizes unity.  You are connecting the right and left hemispheres of your brain and are bringing all things into balance.  You become Centered.

Anjali Mudra is often used as a greeting and shows respect. This mudra is regularly used used with the word Namaste. The Anjali Mudra means much more than hello and goodbye.  It honors both the practitioner and recipient.

Uses and Benefits:

Helps Center
Shows Respect
Helps achieve a meditative state
Brings Focus
Helps alleviate Stress and anxiety
Brings a sense of humility
Stimulates the Heart Chakra (if hands are at heart center)
Stimulates the Third Eye (if hands are brought to the brow)

Asanas where the Anjali Mudra is commonly used:
The salutation Seal can really be used in any posture or seated Meditation, but you can find hands in Prayer Position regularly in:

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Vrkasana (Tree Pose)
Malasana (Garland Pose)
Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
Hanumanasana (Monkey Pose)
Anjaneyasana (Crescent Lunge)
Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I)

Try using Anjali Mudra during centering at the beginning of your Yoga Practice.

Read More about MUDRAS here

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Yoga Mudras : an introduction

December 29, 2011

In Sanskrit, Mudra means sign or seal, mark, gesture or attitude.

A Mudra is a symbolic or ritualistic gesture used to direct or seal in Prana (Life Energy).  Mudras are used in yoga with a specific purpose for physical or mental improvement.  They can change perception and attitude, and deepen concentration.

Yoga Mudras are gestures that lock and guide energy flow. Yoga Mudras affect the body’s energy system and the flow of prana (life energy).

Shiva is said to have started the tradition of using Mudras.  Mudras are in use all over the world in many different religions, cultures and arts.

Mudras are used to manipulate the flow of Prana.

Mudras are grouped in to Five categories:
Hasta (hand), Mana (head), Kaya (posture), Banda (lock) and Adhara (perineum- genital and anal areas).

Hasta are meditative Mudras, they keep Prana flowing back into the body

Mana (an important part of Kundalini yoga) they use the eyes, nose, ears, tongue and lips.

Kaya use postures and breath

Banda energizes the body

Adhara moves prana from the root area of the body to the brain

Each Finger has it’s own meaning and element:

Thumb =  agni (fire), the Universe – Parama-atman, associated with the abdomen and anxiety
Index = vayu (air),  the embodied self –  Jiva-atman, associated with the large intestine and depression
Middle = akash (ether), energy – Rajas, associated with the heart & circulatory system and impatience
Ring =  prithvi (earth), represents inertia – Tamas, associated with the gall bladder & liver, anger & resentment
Pinky =  jal (water), luminosity or benigness – sativa, associated with the kidneys and fear

Read More about MUDRAS here

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What Type of Yoga is Right for you?

April 20, 2010

Ashtanga Yoga (Astanga) means the Eight Limbs in Sanskrit (as laid out by Pantanjali).  Ashtanga Yoga uses the Ujjayi Breath, Bandhas and Drishtis.  Ashtanga Vinyasa progresses though series of poses (75 poses). The Primary Series, must be mastered before progressing to the Intermediate Series.  An Ashtanga practice usually begins and ends with a Mantra.

Bikram/Hot Yoga is done in a room heated to over 95 degrees.  Hot yoga is a 90 minute class that consists of a 26 pose series (repeated twice) created by yogi Bikram Choudhury.

Forrest Yoga Developed by Ana Forrest, Forrest yoga is a healing practice that helps you grow. The pillars of Forrest Yoga are Breath, Strengt Integrity and Spirit.   A typical practice includes an ab series and keeping your toes lifted and spread.

Hatha Yoga ha = sun, tha = moon, Hatha Yoga is a relaxed meditative yoga practice that brings all things into balance.  The goal of hatha yoga is to achieve a balance between mind and body.  Hatha Yoga postures are used to prepare the body for meditation.  It often incorporates: shatkarma (purification), asana (postures), pranayama (Breath control), chakras(centers of energy), kundalini (instinct), bandhas (muscle force), kriyas (techniques; manifestations of kundalini), shakti (sacred force), nadis (channels), and mudras(symbolic gestures).

Integral Yoga Founded by Sri Swami Satchidananda, Integral Yoga is a gentle, non-competitive Hatha Yoga practice that includes pranayama, and chanting. Integral training goes beyond yoga postures and strives to help students find fulfillment in their lives.  You can download a free integral yoga book by Swami Sivananda “Easy Steps To Yoga

Iyengar Yoga created by B. K. S. Iyengar, Iyengar Yoga is a form of Hatha Yoga and is based on the Eight Limbs of Yoga.  Iyengar uses 200 classical yoga Asanas and 14 different types of Pranayamas with many variations.  Iyengar Yoga has a deep focus on form, and most classes use a variety of props to assist students in obtaining proper alignment. B.K.S. Iyenger is the author of many books including “Light on Yoga.”

Kripalu Yoga a type of Hatha Yoga, Kripalu Yoga is a gentle compassionate yoga that focusus on meditation and physically and spiritually healing students.  Typical Kripalu classes begin with breathing exercises and gentle stretches, series of individual poses and relaxation. Classes end with ‘jai bhagwan’ (a Hindi expression that has a similar meaning as Namaste).  There is a Kripalu Yoga and Wellness center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Kundalini Yoga is a spiritual type of yoga which emphases breathing, meditation, mudras and chanting in addition to asanas.  Kundalini yoga is sometimes called “the yoga of awareness” because it awakens the “kundalini,” (unlimited potential within everyone).  Kundalini classes begin with a short chant, and warm-up. The main work of the class is a kriya, (a sequence of poses) and pranayama that focuses on a specific area of the body. Classes end with a meditation, which is sometimes accompanied by the playing of a large gong, and a closing song. Teachers do not usually make manual adjustments. Kundalini students often wear white robes and head wraps.  Kundalini energy (often represented as a snake coiled at the base of the spine) untapped prana at the base of the spine that can be drawn up through the body awakening the chakras. Full enlightenment occurs when this energy reaches the Crown Chakra.

Power Yoga is essentially the American interpretation of Ashtanga Yoga.  Power Yoga is a vigorous vinyasa-style of yoga that cuts out most of the spiritual aspects of yoga and emphasizes strength and flexibility.  Unlike Astanga Yoga, Power Yoga does not follow a set series of asanas.

Restorative Yoga is a restful, relaxing Yoga Practice.  A Restorative Yoga class often uses props such as Bolsters, Straps, Blankets and Eye Pillows to help practitioners settle into asanas more easily.  Most of the poses done in a restorative practice are done in a supported manor.  Restorative Yoga is a therapeutic practice that focuses on stress relief, rest, renewal and relaxation.  During a Restorative Practice, your mind stays focused on the breath.

Sivananda Yoga follows Swami Sivananda’s teachings.

There are five principals of Sivananda Yoga

1. Proper exercise (Asana, 12 postures)

2. Proper breathing (Pranayama)

3. Proper relaxation (Savasana)

4. Proper diet (Vegetarian:  A yogic diet is encouraged, limited to sattvic foods, void of rajasic foods as well as tamasic foods)

5. Positive thinking (Vedanta) and meditation (Dhyana)

A typical Sivananda class is a slow, gentle paced class with a focus on pranayama.   Practicioners begin the 90 minute class in Savasana, then the class moves through a warm up of Sun Salutations. Finally, the 12 basic asanas:  Headstand, Shoulderstand, Plow, Fish, Seated Forward Fold, Cobra, Locust, Bow, Seated Twist, Crow, Standing Forward Fold and Triangle are performed.

Vinyasa Yoga Vinyasa means “breath-synchronized movement.”  Vinyasa Yoga is a fasted paced class with every move linked to your breath.  Vinyasa Yoga does not have a specific series of asanas, so ever class can be different, but most classes do involve Sun Salutations.  Sun Salutations are an example of Vinyasa Yoga since each movement is done on a breath.
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