Asana Spotlight

Kumbhakasana (Plank Pose)

Beat the winter blues and heat the body with some strengthening asana postures like this one...

Kumbhakasana (or Plank Pose) is a regular in dynamic asana sequences. It is known to strengthen the upper body, specifically the arms, wrists, and spine. Plank Pose is also great for strengthening the core and toning the abdomen. 

 

 
 

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Open the heart, boost prana flow and lighten the mental load with a backbend or two.

Dhanurasana (or Bow Pose) is a backbend known to promote flexibility of the spine, tone the abdominal organs, increase energy and counteract depression. Take the time to prepare the body and warm up before moving into any backbend.

 
 

Utthita Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

Balancing poses in yoga do so much more than improve our physical balance. This practice in alignment, strength and focus helps us balance the mind and our consciousness.

Utthita Ardha Chandrasana (also known as Half Moon Pose) helps strengthen the abdomen, ankles, thighs, buttocks, and spine; and stretches the groin, hamstrings and calves, shoulders, chest, and spine. 

 

 
 

Cooling postures: Viparita Karani

Struggling with your yoga practice during the summer heatwave? Cool down with the ever-popular Legs Up The Wall pose: Viparita Karani. So much more than a restorative posture, Viparita Karani (also known as the ‘fountain of youth pose’ for its anti-aging benefits) is an
inversion and can even be a gentle backbend if using props.

 

 
 

What is your comfortable seat?

Written by Stacey Clarke, Maitri Yoga

It may seem trivial to be discussing how you sit, but finding a comfortable seat while practising yoga is truly important.

Each sitting pose has a purpose and benefits and is therefore a posture in itself; so learning how to sit has many more facets than just plonking yourself down on the ground.

The overlaying benefits for all the sitting postures are that hips, knees, ankles and groin muscles become more elastic.  Breathing is made smoother and easier through relieved tension and hardness in the diaphragm and throat.  Blood circulation increases around the body and whilst the spine is held steady the mind is pacified and the heart muscles are stretched (Iyengar, 2008).

In all of the open-knee sitting variations, Svadisthana, the second Chakra, is stimulated (Long, 2006), which affects your sensuality, sexuality, relaxation and openness.

Whether you are sitting for the pose itself, or to be in a stable base for pranayama (breathing exercises) or meditation you need to assume the correct alignment because you may be there for some time.

 
 

The story behind Suyra Namaskar

Written by Stacey Clarke, Maitri Yoga

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We’ve discussed the component parts to Surya Namaskar (Salute to the Sun) in past newsletters, but we’d like to delve a little deeper into the origins of this beautiful sequence of asanas.

Namaskar stems from the Sanskrit word namas, meaning ‘to bow to’ or ‘to adore’ and Surya means sun.

As the name suggests, it is the sun that is being worshipped, thanked, revered, respected and welcomed, for it is a yogic belief that the sun holds the key to life.

 
 

Asana Spotlight: PASCHIMOTTANASANA

Written by Kara Goodsell

Translated as “intense stretch of the ‘west side’ of the body” Paschimottanasana is a basic seated forward bend, which stretches the length of the spine, and allows the life-force to flow to every part of the body.

In Vedic symbology the back of the body is considered the ‘west’, because of the traditional practice of facing the rising sun in the east when performing the morning worship of Surya Namaskar or Salute to the Sun.

The western bearing is in the direction of the setting sun and as such represents a time of turning inward as the active desires of the day dissipate into the turn of night.

The back line of the body is a continuous network of muscles and fascia (or connective tissue) that extends from the soles of the feet to the ridge of the brow and as the top half of the body folds over the bottom half, the asana creates a horseshoe of energy, which challenges the patience and the ego.

By gently surrendering to the action of the deep forward bend, we can find the humility integral to our practice.

 
 

Asana Spotlight: Virabhadrasana II

Written by Kara GoodsellVirabhradasana II

Virabhadrasana II, a basic asymmetrical standing hip opener, is named after Virabhadra, a warrior whose story is told in the epic Sanskrit poem Kumarasambhava.

The story tells of Shiva and his first wife Sati, the daughter of King Daksha, whose role was to regulate ritual and the invocation of divine powers.

 
 

Asana spotlight: Trikonasana

Written by Kara Goodsell

This month we take a closer look at the basic standing pose, Yoga Pose TrikonasanaTrikonasana, or ‘triangle pose’.  This is a deceptively simple posture, with layers of subtlety in how you can refine your awareness and alignment.   It’s an asymmetrical wide legged standing pose and basic hip opening pose.
 
In Hindu mythology, the triangle is a potent symbol for the Divine Principle and the three sides of the triangle represent the forces of the universe: Brahma the creative force, Vishnu the sustaining force and Shiva, the force of change.

The triangle posture signifies the mind, body and spirit of the aspirant yogi and emphasises the 3 parts of the interplay of forces: dependency, interdependency and interaction.

The qualities of the triangle and Trikonasana are strength, the ability to support weight and the ability to resist pressure.

 
 

Asana spotlight: Gomukhasana

Written by Brook McCarthy

Yoga Pose Gomukhasana

Gomukhasana is an often-underestimated pose which works two of the most important parts of the body – the shoulders and hips. It is particularly appreciated in sequence before or after down-face dog poses to help relieve any tension that has crept into the shoulders and help open the shoulders further for down-face dog.

 
 
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