¿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?

Yoga Based on Concentration, Meditation Based on Mindfulness

 

In the Ashtanga practice, we use three main ingredients as we move through the asana sequences: Ujjayi Breath, Bandhas, and Drishti. When all these elements are applied in the sequence, you will develop the ability to restrain the modifications of the mind as the power of your concentration increases as well.

Concentration can create a momentary state of calmness and peace; however, there will be moments where this state will cause suppressed thoughts or emotions to rise to the surface of the mind, and it could be quite overwhelming to deal with, as it will create not only a lot of suffering in the mind, but in the body as well. While concentration is important in developing mindfulness and insight, too much concentration will refrain us from seeing and realizing the true nature of our selves, giving us the wrong idea that everything is permanent, that there is no suffering, and that we can control everything.

Observe the nature around you, and notice that everything is in constant change — as in our daily life, job, relationship, family, and so on. We cannot control things 100%, and because we, as human beings, are greatly influenced by the nature around us, we, too, are constantly changing.

 Vipassana Meditation, a meditation practice based on mindfulness, is a great tool to help you understand your true nature as it is. It will also help you in adjusting the level of concentration, which will help you realize through direct experience the three characteristics of all natural phenomena, these being:

         • Suffering

         • Impermanence

         • Non-self or Non-control

         Understanding this will lead you into a less stressful life, and a life with more compassion and kindness toward yourself and others. Truly understanding that nothing can be controlled all the time, and that change and suffering are part of life, will help you cultivate non-attachment and acceptance. Together, all these wisdom and qualities will improve many aspects of your life, and will give you the experience that you need in order to share all this with others as well.

 For this reason, it is important as a yoga practitioner (especially of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga) and as a yoga teacher to add a mindful practice into our daily life, as this will help us deal with all the desires or memories that will arise from the asana practice. Having that mindfulness allows us to acknowledge whatever is rising to the surface of the mind, slowly let it go, reducing its imprint within the mind. If the yoga practitioner lacks mindfulness, it will be very easy to be swayed away by the fluctuations of the mind, and perform actions according to these fluctuations.

 An example of this are the many cases of sexual assault reported by many yoga students against well-known teachers from different yoga traditions. This is a result of desire – and if desire is not acknowledged, it turns into greed, and if the person lacks mindfulness or does not have enough strength to control him/herself, then something like sexual assault and other types of negative feelings that may arise will drive your actions.

 Mindfulness is not difficult to practice; however, it requires patience, time, and dedication. Find the time and space to practice mindfulness in your daily life, and see how it affects not only your practice, but also your life in a positive way.

 

Karandavasana Technique

 

Karandavasana is one of the core postures in the Second Series of the Ashtanga Vinyasa practice. This asana requires a lot of strength in the shoulders, hips, and core because to enter the pose, you have to jump into Pincha Mayurasana in one inhale, and then build lotus on the legs as you exhale, and use that same breath out to slowly lower the legs down and stay for 5 breaths. All throughout this fast transition to Pincha Mayurasana with lotus legs, the shoulders, core, and bandhas must remain engaged to avoid collapsing on the shoulders, or else going bak up to Pincha Mayurasana after 5 breaths will be almost impossible.

Some aspects of the Primary Series can help you build the foundation to work on Karandavasana in terms of core and bandha strength. In the Primary Series, all the jumping back in Vinyasas, when done properly, will help you build a solid connection with your bandhas, as well as good core and holder strength. If you have been stuck in Karandavasana for a while now, try to practice your jump backs without any sound as your feet touch the floor. This will teach you the following:

• How to use your breath more efficiently to control your movement

• Learn the biomechanics of the body. In this movement and in

Karandavasana, bringing the shoulders forward is key in order to control the action of going down, and slow down your jump back

• When jumping back, keep your spine as rounded as possible from the moment you move your hips up, back, and up — when you learn how to slightly bend at the elbows as you work on bringing the shoulders forward (as shown in the photo), it will help you build the foundation on how to get into Karanavasana

In addition to all this, Bhujapindasana (also from the Primary Series) is a great preparatory pose for Karanavasana. However, try to work on Bhujapindasana in a different way — after you cross your legs and use an exhale to move down, try not to let any part of your body (except for the hands, of course) to touch the floor. Lower the chin down, but work on keeping it hovering an inch above the floor and use the strength of the core, bandhas, and shoulders to hold the pose. At this point, it is very important not to collapse the body weight over your foundation. Instead, keep the back rounded, suck the belly in, and keep pushing down away from your foundation, creating a lifting feeling while you hold the pose. After 5 breaths inhale to come up and out of the asana, remind yourself to keep the toes off the floor at all time

Try and practice these techniques we discussed above to build up a strong connection with your bandhas, core, shoulders, and breath, all of which are necessary for Karandavasana.

Have a good and safe practice 

The Importance of Meditation

 

In the yoga practice, particularly in the asana practice, we can explore the realms of the body and the mind; and, body-mind connection. If you have been practicing for a while, then you probably know how that the asana practice helps us create a deeper level of body awareness, which not only allows us to develop better and more beneficial physical alignment, but also allows us to immediately recognize whether something is feeling off in our body, thus avoiding any future discomfort and possible injuries from over-straining in certain asanas.

All our feelings are responses toward any input may be categorized into three main groups: like, dislike, and neutral. When we move our body during the asana practice, we are creating internal heat, and forcing the energy to flow in certain directions within our body — the nature of the particular posture you are performing can either create comfort, discomfort, or even a neutral state. Likewise, when the body moves through an asana sequence, different emotions different emotions or imprints on the mind that have been stored in our subconscious and in our muscles may be resurface — and, again, our feelings towards them may either be pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.

As these feelings occur in our practice, our breathing is what is going to allow us to observe all these fluctuations of the mind without getting attached to the said feelings. When we develop the ability to observe them, acknowledge them, and let them go, we begin to purify the mind, as this releasing process will reduce the amount and/or intensity of negative feelings such as anger, desire, or delusion — all of which are by-products of this lifetime and previous lives. Once we get detach ourselves and our mind from all of the anger, desire, and delusion through the powerful practice of acknowledgement, it is said that we will no longer be part of Samsara or the cycle of birth and death.

It is important to keep in mind that the asana practice can help you purify the mind only up to a certain extent because it mainly cultivates concentration, and not enough mindfulness, which is what is needed to be able to observe the full spectrum of the mind fluctuations. At one point, it is necessary to combine the asana practice with a form of mindfulness-based meditation.

A constant meditation practice will not only assist in purifying the mind and body in a deeper level, but will also allow you to do your asana practice in a more efficient way. The reason for this is because a mindfulness-based meditation will sharpen your awareness enough to be able to access different groups of muscles in a more subtle and refined way — particularly, your connection with your bandhas or energy locks will improve.

These are only a few of the endless benefits one may reap from a meditation practice. How will this affect your daily life? Find out as we discuss this in our next article.

~Ricardo Martin~

Bend So You Don’t Break

 

“Saying you are not flexible for yoga
is like saying you are too dirty for a bath.”

Throughout our years of experience in teaching yoga, we have met students with different capabilities, understandings, and approaches when it comes to the yoga practice.

One of the most common concerns beginner students have is, “I am not flexible, so I don’t know if yoga is for me.” If you worry about this, too, then yoga is actually one of the best ways to release stiffness and tension in the body, as well as improve your joint mobility. It is very common nowadays for not only elders, but also in fairly younger people, to have very limited joint mobility, especially on the knees and the lower back. Lack of mobility in the joints (perhaps due to lack of daily stretching/movement or any exercise in general) leads to poor posture, more serious joint injuries and other health implications.

Mobility on the hips is one of, if not the most important part of the body to keep in check because the more mobile you are on your hips, the more mobile you will be on the other parts of your upper and lower body. Likewise, if you are too tight or stiff on your hips, your upper and lower body muscles and joints will compensate for this lack of mobility on your hips. For example, in a physical activity as simple as walking, there will always be a gentle twisting motion happening in both the lower back and the knees if the hips are tight – the more we are mindful of this simple reminder, the more we can prevent suffering from lower back and knee pain in the future.

In practices such as Ashtanga Vinyasa and Rocket Vinyasa, there are so many postures in the standing and seated sequences that work on hip opening, which make these asana practices are a great way to alleviate pressure on the lower back, as well as a safe way to maximize the knees’ anatomical function – flexion, extension, and a little bit of rotation.

With regards to poor posture, these yoga asana sequences are especially beneficial for people who are used to working around 8 hours a day seated and hunched over a desk. Not only will the standing and seated sequences give you the opportunity to practice stretches that release the back of the body, but you will also cultivate good posture by practicing correct spinal alignment.

Moreover, as having flexible hips will release stiffness in the spine, it will also eventually increase your lung capacity, thereby allowing you to take deeper breaths. Deeper breaths cultivates more energy into your life, strengthens your immune system, slows down the aging process, calms the mind by reducing tension and stress, and fortifies your body’s natural ability to heal, among many other benefits

All of the amazing benefits that having a flexible body are available to anybody who wants to practice yoga – as long as one’s mind is open to the idea of not letting one’s capacities and limitations be a barrier to the practice. Just get on your mat, practice with patience and persistence, and soon enough, you will experience progress.

Kurmasana Technique

 

Kurmasana or Tortoise Pose is practiced after Bhujapidasana in the Ashtanga Vinyasa sequence. This asana requires a lot of flexibility on the hamstrings as it demands a deep external rotation on the hips, as well as strong activation of the core muscles.

As you can see in the final version of the posture, your heels are supposed to lift off the floor.

There are some postures that can help you to get deeper in Kurmasana such as Prasarita Padottanasana A and Marichyasana A-D, to name a few.

When you practice Prasarita Padottanasana A, keep your hands active as they touch the floor; however, fold forward by using your core muscles and the activation on your quadriceps more than your hands – this will allow you to access to deeper levels of flexibility in the posterior part of your body, which are the groups of muscles you need to work on opening before you can get into Kurmasana.

With regards to Marichyasana A-D – in A and B, as you bind, reach lower on your shinbone and work on the inner rotation of the shoulder of the binding arm. This is the same type of rotation you will use in Kurmasana, and later on in Supta Kurmasana.

For Marichyasana C and D: In the C variation, grounding the hip of the bending leg will assist you in opening the hips muscles that will allow you to deeply externally rotate your legs. In the D variation, when you bind, reduce the gap between the armpit and the shinbone and work on lowering the sitting bone of the bent knee toward the heel, as this will open the hip rotator muscles even deeper.

As you can see every single asana, will allow you to build the foundation for whatever posture is coming next. Keep in mind to always practice with awareness from the beginning until the end of the sequence.

Do you Want to learn more?
Join us in our Daily Mysore classes or Yoga Teacher Trainings in Thailand and Bali, Indonesia

Acceptance in the Yoga Practice

 

Practicing yoga is an amazing experience – there is so much wisdom in every practice, in every breath we take when we move through asana sequences. Especially if you like to practice styles like Ashtanga Vinyasa or Rocket Vinyasa, where there is always a fixed sequence, the practice allows you to clearly notice the fluctuations of the body and the mind as you put yourself thorough the same sequences every day. There will be days where you will notice that your mind is calm, your body is flexible, and everything seems to be smooth and perfect; and similarly, there will be days when the body and the mind feel stiff or heavy, or seem to be pulling you in different directions. So how do you deal with all this as a yoga practitioner?

First of all, it is quote important to realize that there is no “good” practice or “bad” practice – every practice is a process of recognizing yourself on a deeper level, and most importantly, of accepting oneself in the present moment. When you approach our practice with more equanimity, and with simply an intention to learn from it, then you will received wisdom from the practice. However, if you approach the practice with the idea that it will ultimately bring you peace, happiness, and lightness all the time, then you are limiting your chances to learn and deepen your practice and your yoga journey.

All the mental patterns that come up during our practice (even off the mat) is a result of our experiences – which we may perceive as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Particular experiences, depending on how strong it is, will create an imprint in one’s mind in this lifetime (and other lives, if you believe in past life). Some past experiences are so strong that it eventually comes back to you, or may be triggered when you expose yourself to a similar situation, feeling, or environment that is similar to the said experience. The result of this will be a wrong perception of reality because what you really perceived is the reality based on a past experience, and not the reality as it is presented.

In this regard, if we approach our practice with just the intention to learn whatever the present moment has to teach, these imprints from past experiences will inevitably float to the surface of the mind repetitively. And although this will happen naturally, we must resist the urge to dwell on and follow these imprints as they arise; instead, we must learn to simply acknowledge them, and eventually, they will reduce. This is why the practice is called a therapy or cleansing process – not only for the physical body, but also for the mind and the spirit.

This is one of the most powerful results you can reap from the yoga practice: the ability to cultivate equanimity in yourself, and the ability to let go of things that no longer serve you in the present moment. This will allow you to perceive reality as it is.

The practice is supposed to give us clarity, and clarity of the mind will only be possible when your awareness allows you to recognize and accept what is going on in the mind, whether they be “good” or “bad.” If we only look forward to having pleasant experiences, it will increase our level of desire and attachment – and if we train our mind this way, finding peace or happiness in life will be very difficult, as the mind will always have the need to find pleasure in whatever we do. And as we all know, life has a bit of everything – ups and downs, happiness and loneliness, success and defeat, and so on.

Practicing acceptance can make a monumental difference on your practice, and as well as on your life. It is a constant learning process, but it will definitely help you improve the state of your overall well-being.

Marichyasana D Technique

Before we move on to some technical details on how to get into the asana, let’s first mention some of the signs that can let you know whether your body is or isn’t ready to get into the full version of this posture…

It is important to be able to bind deeply in Marichyasana D. If you get into this asana and there is still space between the armpit of the binding arm and the shinbone, it means that you have to pay more attention to the flexibility in either the thoracic spine (twisted position) or the internal rotation of the shoulder of the front arm. In this case, it will be advisable to work deeper and stay longer in postures like Parivritta Parsvakonasana – work on creating a deep bind in this standing twist by internally rotating the bottom shoulder, and your armpit must be connected with the thigh (or as close as possible to it). At the same time, send the top arm forward, open the chest and keep the back foot grounded

All this tips will allow you to build up the foundation for Marychiasana D. If binding is already possible (and there is little or no more space between the armpit and the shinbone), but you are experiencing pain on the lotus knee, it is better to first work on opening the hips in order to use the anatomical function of the hips instead of twisting the knee whenever you attempt to get into a full or half lotus posture.

One of the many benefits of Primary Series of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is that all the previous asanas (before Marichyasana D) will help you to open the hips without straining the knee. In order to do this, we have to mindfully keep the sitting bone of the bent knee grounded on the floor in all the asymmetric seated posture – this will ensure that the hip of the bent leg is properly open without creating too much tension in the knee. However, an exception to this is in Marichyasana A and B, where it is advisable to keep the sitting bone of the bent knee off the floor.

To work in the flexibility of the hips, feel free to stay more than five breaths in all the Janu Sirsasana and Marichyasana before Marichyasana D; doing this will prepare the hips for the deep external rotation you need to have in order to get into Marichyasana D. In the standing postures a similar principle in how to open the hips can be apply by grounding the back foot in all the asymmetric standing asanas.

If you can bind without a gap (between your armpit and shinbone) in Marichyasana C, and your knee is pain-free when you practice half or full lotus postures (especially in Marychiasana B), then your body is ready nearly ready to get into Marichyasana D.

How to get onto Marichyasana D on the right side:

Inhale, bend the left knee and hold left ankle from behind. Bring the left heel close to the belly button. Exhale, use the external rotation of the hip and place the top of the left foot close to the crease of the right hip (half lotus posture).
Lean on the lotus leg until the right sitting bone is off the floor and bend the right knee up to the chest; keep your right heel in line with the right sitting bone.
Inhale, extend the left side of the back (but the back should be slightly rounded). Exhale, lean across towards the right knee and bring your left armpit as close as possible to the right knee – at this point, is advisable to work on the internal rotation of the left arm in order to assist the thoracic spine into the twist.
Inhale, extend the right arm back and then rotate the arm inward so that your right thumb will be pointing down. Exhale, move the arm behind the back, connect both hands together as you continue to externally rotate the right shoulder.

To keep the knee of lotus leg safe, keep it down and allow the right sitting bone to come off the ground. Please notice that the breathing described above is a modification that will allow you to slowly prepare the body in order to get into the asana. When your body is open enough, we would like to advise that you to follow the correct breath according to the Ashtanga Tradition, which means that from Adho Mukha Svanasana (Sapta), on your inhale, jump to seated, and get directly into the twist.

The most important advise for this asana will be patience. When you accept your body’s limitations today and give enough time for your body to gradually open, you will begin to reap the benefits of the practice.

If you have any particular questions or concerns regarding Marichyasana D (or any part of your yoga practice), please feel free to email us at [email protected]

Have a good day, and enjoy your practice!

Parsvabakasana Technique

 

PARSVABAKASANA (SIDE CROW POSE)

Parsvabakasana or Side Crow Pose is an arm balance in the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Advanced Series, as well as in the Rocket 2 and Rocket 3 sequences. This posture requires considerable arm strength, as well as flexibility in the forearm muscles and the thoracic spine, to be able to twist the spine and keep the shoulders balanced as the body weight is held over the hands.

Let us discuss some tips that can help you practice this asana in a safe way…
When you do Chaturanga Dandasana, notice the position of your upper body in relation to and your arms. Slowing down your Chaturanga Dandasana will help you build up a lot of strength to work your way into Parsvabakasana. Here is are some key actions you should pay attention to when practicing your Chaturanga:

Tuck the elbows inward, and keep them close to the body
Keep the shoulders in line or slightly above the shoulders. Aim to create a 90 degree angle with your arms so that you do not collapse the body weight down.
Push the shoulders down to engage the oblique muscles
Squeeze the inner thighs together
Completing your exhale will pull the belly in, creating core activation

Keep these in mind as you review your Chaturanga Dandasana, and remember to
always be mindful of your breath’s quality. Keep practicing this until you feel that your lower plank is solid in terms of breathing and alignment; once your are comfortable here, begin to practice your Parsvabakasana using these same techniques.

Now, let’s talk more about Side Crow Pose… Firstly, for this asana, it is important to take into account that your shoulders should be balanced or in the same line. Avoid collapsing your weight onto one shoulder to avoid imbalance and injury. In order to do this, keeping the legs engaged can make a big difference. When you practice Parsvabakasana, remember to:

Keep squeezing the inner thighs together
Spread the toes
Engage the quadriceps
Actively pull the legs back into the hip sockets

While it may seem like all the body weight is carried on the arms and hands in
this posture, it is just as important to pay attention to the leg activation, as this will actually make you feel lighter on your arms and hands when you lift up. Also, these tips will give you the ability to engage the lower abdominal region and keep your pelvic floor (Mula Bandha) active.

Consistency is always key in the Yoga System, so practice and apply these tips in your daily practice, particularly in your Chaturanga Dandasana. Paying more attention to your alignment and leg activation in this seemingly basic pose will train muscles in your body to help build your strength to get into Parsvabakasana. Keep practicing!