Balance stability and mobility through the Ashtanga system

Mobility and stability are essential aspects of being healthy; these two translate in more agility. A mobile body is going to facilitate the flow of energy and information through our nervous system. Live in a mobile body is like living in a house with plenty of space for you to move. Stability will prevent hypermobility in the joints; this will avoid overstretching in the tendons and ligaments, preventing injuries

In Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga we aimed to bring stability and mobility into a balanced state when any of these two is overemphasize, imbalance in the body will happen, followed by tension, resulting in injure

Stability can also be understood as strength and mobility as flexibility. In a sequence like primary series, you will have the opportunity to strengthen the legs, increase mobility on the hips, and improve mobility and stability of the shoulders. When your legs are strong, hips and shoulders stable and mobile something interesting is going to happen on your body; your spine will feel more free and stable as well, a mobile spine will increase the overall freedom within the body, and it will increase the flow of energy and information through the nervous system

A healthy or free spine is critical for a healthy body, this can prevent and improve many physical problems that we hear today more often as a result of a sedentary lifestyle like sciatica pain, herniated disc, headache, fatigue, numbness in the limbs and many others

How is this possible?

Improve the mobility of the spine, is a byproduct of balance muscles in the front and back body, flexible hips, strong legs, and mobile shoulders, these will increase the movement between vertebrates due to a reduction of the pressure between these two bones, this translate as space, space that will facilitate flow of information through the nervous system and blood through the veins and vessels that run along the spine

Imagine the possibility to live in a body that is fully interconnected that can recover, and have the ability to communicate with you in a precise way as you live your life and move through the practice.

Fully connect with your body is something that everybody can achieve with practice 

Be Patient with Yourself and Enjoy the Journey

Workshops: “I’m not good at it yet!” vs “I already know it.”

 
 
By Brian Joanne Malabuyoc
 
I’ve heard these statements so many times: from myself (I’m guilty too) and from other people.
 
Recently, I’ve seen so many posts about yoga workshops on various topics offered by several teachers in different locations. I have conducted a few and attended many of such workshops and I always learn something new and valuable from each one.
 
So, why is it that a lot of people are still thinking twice about attending workshops?
 
**1) I’m not good at it yet.**
 
Often, people think that workshops are classes where only experienced students go. 
 
Actually, most workshops are tailored to be helpful to beginners. More time is allotted to cover the basics and the foundations.  There are a lot of things that teachers simply have no time to say during a regular class. But in workshops, your teacher can discuss those things at length and in full vivid detail. You can even ask questions and take time doing drills and to ask for more explanations. It’s so wonderful, especially if you are curious or have a lot of doubts.
 
For these reasons, students who are new can pick up a lot of insights on how to start their practice with good and mindful habits. This is especially important because unlearning bad habits sometimes take more time and set you back. Worse, building on weak foundations may cause unnecessary pain or injuries down the road.
 
As a beginner, all you really need in a workshop is an open mind and willingness to try. There is no expectation from you to perform or to understand everything immediately. Having a few takeaways that you can mindfully incorporate in your regular classes is already enough.
 
You don’t need to be good at things to attend a workshop. In fact, the workshop will help you get a good start in order to be good at whatever the workshop topic is.
 
 
**2) I already know what they’re going to teach.**
I understand why sometimes knowing the topic makes people uninterested if they’ve attended workshops on similar topics before. Spending registration money on newer topics may be more attractive in this case. BUT, I believe that it is still worth considering to attend workshops on things that you might have attended before. In my experience, this happens when I attend a class on the same topic for the nth time:
* I learn a different approach to something I’ve done before. For example, I recently joined a hands-on assist workshop with Teacher Joy and Ricardo of Bright Yoga. It is a topic covered in all teacher trainings that I’ve attended, a recent YACEP workshop, and I do hands-on assists and adjustments all the time in classes I teach. So, I might be tempted to say I already know how the workshop will go. But the actual lessons gave me a lot of new things that were so different from what I envisioned. It showed me a new approach to the things that I often do in class. I learned so many new things, so I’m very glad I was there!
* I am reminded of things that I have forgotten. It is impossible for me to catch every information that is given to me the first time. And I can’t remember everything that was ever told to me by my teachers. That’s ok. What’s important at that moment sticks to my mind. Going back to the same topic allows me to catch things that I might have not given as much importance to before, but are more relevant to me now. 
* I get updated on new research, studies, and best practices. Doing the same things the same way all the time makes me feel dull. If it works, it’s good. But, things can be better. It’s useful to know how to improve. Also, it’s good to evolve and constantly grow.
* Taking time to immerse myself in a topic I like always makes me happy. So what if I’ve taken a hundred (exaggerating) workshops on arm balances? It sparks joy!
 
You don’t have to know anything about a topic in order to benefit from a workshop. Often, going back on a topic that you’ve covered before allows you to be better at what you’re already good at.
 
I hope this post encourages you to take time one of these days to attend a special workshop organized by your teachers or your local yoga studio. These workshops, especially by your regular teachers, have your needs in mind when they were planned. We mean it when we say we hope you could come because we really do want to share so much with you.
 
*****
 
Do you have any questions about workshops and special classes? Have you attended a workshop lately? How was the experience? Let me know by commenting on this post or sending me a message. 🙂

Why Discipline are so important in Yoga

By: Ricardo

In yoga, your discipline will affect your practice and teachings

These days knowledge is very accessible, literally one click and you can access an ocean of information, tips about how to practice, teach, and so much more. However, all this knowledge will work to your benefit and others when it is shared in a unique way from a place of authenticity. This will happen only when all the learned information is digested through practice.

For authenticity to start to manifest, you must experience the knowledge, technique, or whatever you want to share and understand through years and years of practice and repetition. The experience is crucial to find your unique way to express the way you feel and understand the practice.

Discipline will act as the inner strength that will allow you to stand up on your mat as often as you need and increase your vision and wisdom. It is only through constant practice that you can understand deeper layers about the practice and yourself. This will give you many different tools on how to support yourself, and it will awaken your ability to support others in a unique way.

There are two types of teachers: the first one, teachers who share their knowledge from memory and more likely to burn themselves out after teaching for a while and the second type are the ones who share their knowledge from experience and keep the flame of wisdom and self-study alive. Which one you do you want to be?

Let’s keep it real and authentic through practice.

French Fries Loving Yogi

Yoga is a practice that can help us to create more balance and harmony in our lives. For me, balance means living a life with awareness without overindulging in the senses but at the same time without neglecting our human conditions by trying to restrain ourselves too much. It is about finding the middle ground in whatever we do.

In this way, if a Yogi likes French fries, eat them with moderation and awareness. There is no point in forcing our body into a certain type of diet or pose if we are not ready to organically step in to it.

Our body has its wisdom, and it’s way to evolve. It is through awareness that we understand what we need and how to adjust ourselves in life and the practice.

The Practice of Yoga can help you to cultivate that awareness. It is such an amazing tool to train your consciousness as we most of the time remain in the asana for just five breaths. If we let our awareness run behind a thought or any other distraction, you will lose connection to your body and your practice.

It is only when you train your awareness in and out of the mat, that you will know when you need French Fries and how much you should eat. Obviously, French Fries is just a metaphor and can be applied to anything. In practice, for example, awareness will let you know when is the right time to step back in a particular pose and when is the right time to go deeper.

We can undoubtedly say that if you can be aware in and out of the mat, you will have a deep understanding about yourself and your practice then your inner wisdom will play an essential role in the way you lead your life

Lets use our consciousness to learn how to understand the secret languages of your body and life.

Chaturanga The master Key For Arm Balance

Chaturanga. The Master Key for Arm Balance

Chaturanga is the first challenge that many students face when they enter Yoga.

Many students mention that it is impossible for them to hold their body weight in any horizontal position and didnt see the point in why they have to do so many Chaturanga.

In systems like Ashtanga and Rocket, Chaturanga allows you to build the foundation for any arm balances and transitions that are waiting ahead in the practice.  Furthermore low push up, as some teacher calls it, builds a huge amount of tricep, shoulder, and core strength.

Strong abdominal muscles will not only support you for any arm balances, but it will also allow you to support your spine as you do flexion (fold forward), extension (backbend), side bends, and twist. More than from an asana perspective, having a stable core will provide stability for the back which is necessary to avoid any injuries like slip disc, lower back pain and so on.

As you approach this asana, remember that it is not the point to go in the full expression of the pose yet if you dont have the necessary strength to come back up or if you are holding your breath. It will be more beneficial to drop the knees, bend the elbows just enough for you to hold the pose and be able to move into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana with smooth breathing.

Now we breakdown on how we can effectively modify to train the body and the breath in chaturanga.

First, before bending the elbows, it is important to move the bodyweight forward. By doing this, it will move your shoulders in front of the wrist that will force you to use rectus abdominal (front of the belly), external obliques (side of the belly), and triceps (back of the upper arm) more. This is going to happen in high plank before you even start to bend the elbows. This little adjustment in your practice will ensure that you prepare the foundation before getting into the full expression of the pose.

Second, we move to how we breathe. I will share with you a very important secret. The secret is to completely clear out the breathing. When you entirely empty out the breath, something fantastic happens. The diaphragm will move upward that will automatically engage the rectus abdominal and oblique muscles making the pose lighter and more accessible.

Use this tips and you will see a change in your practice immediately. Keep using it and you will awaken and be surprised of the huge amount of strength in you.

Supta Kurmasana According to Body Proportions

 

Supta Kurmasana is one of the core postures in Ashtanga primary series. This pose requires: deep internal rotation in the shoulders, flexion of the spine, external rotation on the hips and flexibility in the adductor muscles

Internal rotation of shoulders

In the sequence, some poses will prepare you for the shoulder rotation that you need, asanas like Prasarita Padottanasana C, Parsvottanasana and Marichyasana A- D

If you can put the legs behind the head or cross the feet in front of the head, but you cannot reach your hands behind the back, staying in the poses mentioned above for 8- 10 breathes it is going to help you to lose the shoulders and create the need it flexibility for Supta Kurmasana.

External rotation on hips

In case that you can bind the hands but can’t cross the feet, this will be due to a lack of ability in externally rotating the hips. All the Marichyasanas will help you to work in this mobility

You can also hold Kurmasana for 8- 10 breathes keeping the legs close the side of the body and lift the heals up, this will work as well in the external rotation of the hips

Flexibility in the adductor muscles

In the standing sequence, all the Prasarita Padottanasana are excellent preparation. Bring your torso thru the legs and hold all this variation for at least eight breathes

Flexion of the spine

To achieve deep flexion of the spine, it is necessary that you can round your spine. Poses like Janu A-C will work in the mobility of the spine, instead of work with the back straight, try to bring the shin or the forehead to the knee, as you keep the hips grounded

If you have all these qualities but still can’t get into the poses, it is time to have a closer look in the proportions of the body.

Short arm and legs and long spine

This combination will make this asana extremely difficult as you will need a deep external rotation in the hips, deep internal rotation in the shoulder joint and even so, perhaps you will still need to use a strap or towel to facilitate the bind

Possess that can help you to deepen the internal rotation is Parsvotanasa and Marichyasanas. Move reverse prayer hands in Parsvottanasana and the bind in Marichyasana higher in the back

To work in the external rotation, according to the proportions mentioned above, some new poses have to be added out of practice.

Pigeon Pose

With the right shin bone parallel to the top of the mat and the foot in line with your heart center, rest your upper body down.

To go deeper in this pose walk your hands to the left away from the sole of the feet

Approach to this asana as a Yin Yoga pose, surrender and let the gravity facilitate the stretch

At the beginning can be right that you use props to assist you as you hold this asana

Stay in the pose for 2- 3 minutes

Wider Baddhakonasa

Put your legs in a diamond shape, bring your upper body down. Your face should be behind your feet and your knees as close as possible to the ground. Stay for 2- 3 minutes

Second variations walk your upper to one side stay 2- 3 minutes followed by the other side

Advise

It is also important to recognize, that if you have had a regular practice and after trying many alternatives exercises Supta Kurmasana didn’t improve, take a modification instead.

Use a modification that can bring you as close as possible to the full version of the pose that is not creating any pain in the ligaments and joints and move forward in the sequence.

Pattabhi Jois used to say that not all the poses are for everybody.

Practice with awareness and let your body gradually open, always feel your body and breathe as you move thru the sequence.

Alcances de la Practica de Ashtanga

 

La práctica de Ashtaga Vinyasa Yoga tiene una amplia gama de beneficios que pueden ser percibidos por cualquier practicante independientemente del tiempo o nivel de práctica

En principio la práctica empezará a trabajar a nivel físico, todas las posturas ejecutadas durante la práctica permitirán que la gran mayoría de las articulaciones en el cuerpo se flexibilicen, este proceso de apertura se amplifica al combinar la respiración, bandhas o cierres energéticos y las posturas; cuando estos elementos son combinados durante la sesión de yoga, se producirá un incremento en el calor interno que permitirá calentar el cuerpo desde el interior hacia el exterior, este fuego interior generado es llamado en los textos de yoga “Agni” el cual no solo tiene la capacidad de incrementar el calor interno sino que adicionalmente promueve la eliminación de toxinas a nivel físico y mental, en este caso los alcances de la práctica no únicamente se limitan al cuerpo físico si no que se extiende al nivel mental y muchas otras capas de nuestro Ser

¿Cómo una práctica que parece netamente física puede trabajar a distintos niveles?

La respuesta se encuentra en los diferentes elementos que son utilizados en la práctica.

El principal punto de atención en la práctica es la respiración Ujjayi, este tipo de respiración se ejecuta contrayendo ligeramente los músculos de la epiglotis, esto generará mayor fricción entre el aire y la tráquea lo cual no únicamente permitirá tener un mayor control sobre el flujo de aire que entra y sale de los pulmones, sino que adicionalmente la fricción producida entre el aire y la tráquea generará un sonido similar al de las olas del mar

Este sonido facilitará que la atención sea dirigida a la respiración y no al dialogo interno y procesos mentales.

Cuando la atención se ancla en el sonido de la respiración serás capaz de llevar tu atención hacia adentro, es en este momento tendrás la posibilidad de percibir impresiones mentales que hayan sido almacenada en el subconsciente y progresivamente trabajarlas, reconocerlas y entenderlas; auto-entendimiento permitirá cultivar ecuanimidad hacia estas experiencias del pasado y poco a poco estas serán liberadas de la mente y el subconsciente

Cuando las impresiones mentales son procesadas y reducidas por medio del trabajo interior de auto- reconocimiento, el practicante puede experimentar un incremento rápido y progresivo en la flexibilidad ya que los músculos, tendones, tejido conectivo entre muchos otros almacenan, al igual que la mente, emociones y tensiones. Liberar este tipo de impresiones no únicamente generará mayor apertura a nivel físico sino mayor aceptación y ligereza a nivel mental, facilitando una percepción más clara de la realidad

En este caso como puedes notar la práctica no únicamente trabaja en el plano físico, sino que se extiende a muchos otros niveles, es por esto que la práctica tiene la potencialidad de cambiar la persona a nivel físico y mental

Practica con paciencia, estos beneficios pueden ser percibidos por cualquier practicante lo único que necesitas es dedicar tiempo a tu práctica y el resto poco a poco se irá revelando ante ti

What is the Ashtanga Yoga Method, and how does it work?

 

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According to Larry Schultz, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga can be defined as “a fixed sequence  of movements where you use Ujjayi breathing, Bandhas, and Dristi to create transformation.”

When these three elements — Ujjayi breath, Bandhas, and Dristi — are combined during the asana practice, the attention will move inward, giving the student the opportunity to move the attention inward, helping the students to realise about unattended or unresolved issues or emotions, resentment, anger, or any memory from the past, present, and past lives. It is only when we have the ability to see whatever is inside of us can we begin  progressively letting go of these past experiences, whether good or bad. The first step in inner transformation is to realize where you are, and then you will realize exactly in which direction you have to move towards.

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, when approached in the traditional way, is a great practice method to promote transformation. If you dedicate yourself with this method, you will have to practice the same sequence everyday, and stop whenever the teacher asks you to stop. This may sound boring to some, but this is actually one of the strongest points of the practice — be able to realize how the mind fluctuates through the same sequence or stimulation. This awareness in your practice will give you a very clear idea of the tendencies and attachment of the mind.

By understanding how your mind works, accepting its tendencies and attachments, you will give yourself the ability to change and improve your life, and also will give you the tools on how to understand and support others, as all these fluctuations that you witness in your practice are part of our human condition and they will be presented with more or less intensity in others.

Even if the practice seems to be very physical, it has the potential to change your life in a positive way. With all of that said, we would like to invite you to practice, and experience the benefits described above, regardless of your age, gender, flexibility, or strength.  

Have a good luck in your Yoga Journey

¿Cuales son las fortalezas de la práctica de Ashtanga?  

 

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, es un sistema de práctica que se basa en la conexión de la respiración y el movimiento del cuerpo, cuando estos dos elementos son combinados la atención del prácticante se moverá hacia adentro, faciltando la instrospección y el auto- estudio. Es debido a esto que la practica de Ashtanga ha sido descrita como un método que promueve no únicamente transformación física, sino que se extiende al nivel mental y espiritual

Si se practica Ashtanga de forma tradicional el estudiante empezará a practicar saludos al sol, poco a poco el profesor le enseñará una a una las posturas de la secuencia de pie, seguido ha esto el estudiante aprenderá una a una las posturas de la secuencia de piso. En este caso se le permitirá al estudiante solo practicar cierta parte de la secuencia, es necesario que el practicante desarrolle cierto nivel de comodidad basado en alineación y fluidez en la respiración, una vez que este nivel sea alcanzado el profesor le enseñará al estudiante la siguiente asana en la secuencia.

Tener la oportunidad de practicar la misma secuencia cada día te permitirá conocer tus capacidades y limitaciones en detalle, al igual que las tendencias  y apegos de la mente, tener este conocimiento no únicamnete te permitirá mantener tu práctica a largo plazo sino que te dará las herramienta necesarias que te permitirán generar cambios importantes en tu vida. El primer paso para cambiar algo es hacerse conciente de qué es lo que necesita ser atendido y segundo saber donde nos encontramos, conociendo esto podremos saber con certeza en que dirección debemos de movernos para generar el cambio que estamos buscando en nuestra vida

Esto son algunos de los beneficios que pueden ser percividos por cualquier persona que desee practicar, sin importar tu fuerza, flexibilidad, edad o género 

Nos vemos en el Mat =)

Yin Yoga in our Modern Life:  A reflection  

 

By Russelle Beardon

We are modern people having a human experience in the world…active, moving, constantly going forward, striving, improving, performing, achieving, seeking and pursuing.

We stride toward our goals and deadlines, we literally lean into the future – physically craning and straining the head, neck, shoulders, jaw and eyes.  The brow furrows deeply with intense concentration and the gut is habitually gripping.  We hold our breath in anticipation of what comes next.

All of this…for what reason?  To respond to the constant invitations and expectation of life?  Not least of all, technology, social media and the endless engagement with our various ‘devices’.

Anxious when we are cut off from the internet and mobile network, disconnected from the wild procession of social media images, events and messages.  What if we are missing out on something?

Constantly we are scanning, assessing, comparing, worrying, planning…constantly the body and the mind are moving.  We crave the result from whatever we do, often we want to get to the end before we have even begun.

It is exhausting right?   So this is why yin yoga.  Sarah Powers, a key founder of the yin yoga style offers three tattvas (truths) about yin yoga practice.  They are simple:

• An appropriate beginning (to the pose)

• Personal resolve (to be still)

• Wait (hold the pose)

Yin invites you to slow down, to redirect your attention, to venture inward below the surface images and the shiny baubles of ego titles and possessions.  You can journey to the deep seat of your grace, it is always there, and you can reconnect any time.

Practising yin yoga is a potent way to attend to the parts of yourself that cannot be seen.

In yin yoga, the body becomes still and surrendered in the poses, and the breath becomes your barometer, it will tell you what is going on.  Once the body stops fidgeting and becomes still, and we compassionately accept the rhythm of the breath, we have a chance to see clearly the activity, the fluctuations of the mind…and maybe when we see the more clearly, the mind too might become quiet.

Simple strategy?  Yes.

Easy to do? No.

Uncomfortable?  Absolutely!

Could you (will you) give yourself permission to abandon expectations and just witness your body, breath your mind and your mood?