Thursday, August 16, 2012

Yoganidrasana - take one

Every month, we project a new pose.  By "project" I mean that we dive in deep and spend every Sunday 2-hour advanced practice on the same peak pose for the entire month.  The project pose for August is Yoganidrasana.  For most people, they either love this pose or hate it.  The group last week was about 50/50.  However, by the end of class most folks had made major progress.  

Several months ago, I was having a conversation with my good friend, Sam Rice, about this pose.  She wasn't a big fan of any pose that required a leg or both legs behind the head.  But, after finding the actions needed to safely explore this pose and lots of practice, she slowly figured out some tools to help make these poses accesible. That's the thing, to make the impossible possible, it takes a lot of hard work and commitment.  There are no quick fixes or instant gratification involved. Sam is a good example of all of that.  Her input highly influenced the sequence below.  We focused a ton on opening the outer hips, stretching the hammys and groins before attempting this pose.  

Nidra, is defined as a state between sleeping and wakefulness. In Yoganidrasana, Mr. Iyengar says, “the legs form the Yogi’s pillow and the back is his couch.”   This pose is the most intense forward fold you can do on your mat.  Which means, its crucial that you come into supta tadasana with a neutral spine in between attempts.   Recreating the 3 natural curves in your spine after a deep forward bend (or deep backbend) is important.  Other wise, your low back will be very unhappy later.  Another major piece of advice, keep your hamstrings engaged as you enter this pose.  You can do that by isometrically kicking your heel away from your body.  Most tweaks come from disengaged muscles.  Even though you are going into a super bendy pose, you have to stay engaged to stay safe. 

With about 1.5 hours of prep work, this pose is much more accessible than you might think.  Give yourself a lot of time with this one.  Make sure you have mastered eka pada sirsasana first.  Yoganidrasana is a must if you want to learn some of the other advanced poses that come after this (supta kurmasana, dwi pada sirsasana, a transition into the deepest tittibasana of your life).  Enjoy!

BKS Iyengar in Yoganidrasana

Key actions:
Open outer hips, groins & hamstrings

Surya B variations:
- Lunge w/forearms down
- Lunge with twist
- No hands lunge
Baddha hasta parsvakonasana (one arm inside front leg)
Parivrtta Trikonasana
Prasarita padottonasana
Utthita hasta padangusthasana
Parvrtta hasta padangusthasana
Svarga dvijasana - bird of paradise
Supta hindolasana
Pigeon - front shin parallel
Supta hindolasana - leg straight
Lunge - head behind calf
Eka hasta bhujasana
Surya yantrasana
Utthita hindolasana
Eka pada galavasana
Baddha tittibhasana
Dwi hasta bujapindasana
Twisted monkey
Ardha Malasana
Malasana - w/blanket
Marichyasana 1
Upavistha konasana
Parivrtta SPG
Supta Eka hasta Padasana
Eka pada sirsasana
Supta Tadasana
Setu banda sarvangasana
Visvavajrasana -windshield wipers
Supta balasana

Friday, August 10, 2012

Natrajasana - grand finale

This practice was one of my favorites. Over the course of the month-long Natrajasana project, lots of folks offered input on what aspects of the pose felt most challenging. That helped me sequence accordingly for the group.  Many students had the shoulder alignment down, but they had a hard time getting their foot as high or higher than their heard to make the clasp between hand and foot, with the arms in the overhead plane.  Alexis had been to every class this month and he pointed out that it was the tightness in his legs and hips that felt restricting.  So, for this last class on Natarajasana, we basically worked hanumanasana as a peak pose before the peak pose.  It worked!  So many people got waaaaayyyy deeper.  In fact, lots of people nailed the pose with this sequence.  Sometimes as a teacher its challenging to relate to what students are experiencing in their bodies.  Everyone's body is so different, which is what makes teaching yoga so fun & interesting.  Luckily, I have very smart students (and a smart fiance) and they are always willing to give input.  This class was a lot of fun!

Natarajasana - week 4

Order of business:
  1. Stretch your spine.
  2. Split your legs.
  3. Reach back, kick up.

Standing crescent
Down dog lunge
High lunge
Lunge with a twist
Twisted monkey
Eka pada dhanurasana
Vira I
Ardha chandrachapasana
Reverse vira II
Dwi hasta padasana
Baby natrajasana
Utthita hindolasana
Parivrtta hasta padangusthasana
Urdhva prasarita ekapadasana
Down dog split at wall
Ardha bhekasana in anjaneyasana
Runners stretch
Ardha bkekasana
Pigeon - upright torso
Ardha bhekasana in EPRK prep
Eka pada supta virasana
Hanumanasana - forward fold
Hanumanasana - upright
Ardha bhekasana in hanumanasana
Urdvha Dhanurasana 3x
Eka pada urdvha dhanurasana
Dwi pada viparita dandasana
Eka pada viparita dandasana I
Hanumanasana - arms overhead
*Natrajasana - 10 min*
SPG I prep
Supta dwi hasta padasana
Parivrtta supta padangusthasana
Supta hindolasana
Ardha matseyendrasana I
Agni stambasana