Poses: 23/52: Parsva Bakasana

IMG_4748 Parsva Bakasana or Side Crow or Crane. Yes, technically both hands are on the floor...up above I'm doing what's called "funky Side Crow" w/ a forearm variation. Here's on two hands...I love this picture from Cinthia Torres. She takes some amazing yoga photos. 9941834a2bef8dce791ad53142daa6ed

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aVVPTXisRY&w=500&h=284]

The key is sending your weight FORWARD. You must tip so far forward that you are pretty much certain that your face is going to smash into the floor. But don't worry, that's what a yoga blanket crash pad is for! Also, do not look down when attempting this pose, but look forward. As shown above. Looking down and inward makes it just that much more challenging. Send your weight forward, look forward.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qK0p9y5hMFY&w=640&h=390]

 

Poses 21/52: Pincha Mayurasana

Brandy Arena, Bea Love Yoga  

Oh boy.

This pose is super duper fancy, looks amazing, and is SO HARD. Can I do the full version? Not yet, but I'm getting there. I had a true breakthrough with it this past weekend. For as long as I've been doing yoga, I've been taught to attempt the pose this way:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lVWiYi6otc&w=640&h=390]

For some reason, the way my pelvis is positioned on my body (and the fact that I've got my inversion fear) it is a lot for me to "kick up" into anything.

So, I decided to play and came up with this: [embed]http://scontent-b.cdninstagram.com/hphotos-xpa1/t50.2886-16/10437992_685761994830039_667999638_n.mp4[/embed]

Still am not able to come up with parallel forearms, but hey, BABY STEPS!

After doing some research, I found that Christina Sell already teaches it this way...of course, because she is the best! Skip to 4:52 to see detailed instruction.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJGO5sqNNQ8&w=640&h=390]

 Photo courtesy of Steven Noreyko

Poses: 20/52: Parsvakonasana

da5c5873af499bf02e9b78aa86dae60d Parsvakonasana or Side (Parsva) Angle (Kona) Pose (Asana). I found some really cool infographic/photos of poses over at Yoga by Candace.

fd5093d50370efdb6c770a05f6534704Parsvakonasana is one of those poses that I used to think was just basic and boring. However, the longer I practice, the more I realize the importance of this posture. It is building the foundation for so many more advanced poses and should be treated as such.

Click here for a decent instructional video on how to do this pose from My Yoga Online.

The top photo for Bandha Yoga illustrates the muscles that are contracting...here's example of what's stretching tfl4

One of my favorite parts of this yearly challenge is discovering new yoga pose illustrators. This week we have this amazing little minimalist charcoal sketch from Janet Manalo. She has a ton more...I suggest you check her out!

utthita parsvakonasana lrg

 

 

 

Poses: 19/52: Bakasana

8514514Ahhhhh yes. One of my favorite poses ever! Crow!

Here's a great tutorial via YogaGlo:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEXcXC8ME9Y&w=640&h=390]

Nothing prepares you for other arm balances like Crow pose...if you have a goal to get on your hands, do this pose again and again and again and again.

It strengthens the core like crazy...and your adductors and your shoulders and your arms 39c17a2350e79ed4c6c3af2cbeddb015

Of course this is also one of those poses that takes a million times of not doing it to eventually do it...don't give up. Keep trying and that moment when you lift up will be so much sweeter!

10349618_1421367754794101_593162424_n

 

 

Poses: 18/52: Virabhadrasana II

photo 4 Warrior II or Virabhadrasana II. Standard, classic, and can be very challenging if you want it to be!

warrior2_hip_reset

There are so many resources on the warrior poses...they are some of the most commonly seen postures in yoga. You really can't beat Yoga Journal's basic breakdown and how to. 

When I first starting doing yoga, I found virabhadrasana II to be kinda boring and also really hard to do at the same time...weird. In the beginning I struggled to hold my arms up without drawing the shoulders into the ears, my thighs burned, blah, blah, blah. 

Over the years I've come to really like this pose...but that doesn't mean I don't cheat sometimes: 2013-07-07 23.00.19

That thigh could totally be parallel to the floor...I just didn't feel like it ok! When you take a wide enough stance to truly bring the thigh parallel to the floor, it becomes a completely different posture and it is a doozy!

YogaGlo teacher and international wonder Noah Maze is quite a stickler on this. This video is great, showing the pose from all angles:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_1XZ4RUkGE&w=640&h=390]

 

52 Poses: 17/52: Parsvottanasana

25eba5c45cbbdfe0fc4e133c7515660fParsvottanasana....or Pyramid Pose.

Not of my favorites at all. 422e3017ffa1edd7647f65316d2cbb2a

Hips are square, spine extended, shoulders back, back heel solidly planted. All the while your hamstrings are stretching an ungodly amount. Don't get me wrong, it's a good pose. But eek, it's difficult.

Here's Christina Sell demonstrating some variations...looks simple, but OMG:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhxAJMoWTyk&w=640&h=390]

Can't wait to practice with her this summer....hurry up June!

 

 

Poses: 15/52: Prasarita Padottanasana

photo Prasarita Padottanasana A...ahhh I love it. I used to hate the prasarita variations, but lately, I'm loving them. Something really clicked recently and my head is grazing the floor in all variations...EEK.

David Garrigues gives us a tutorial in his Asana Kitchen...such a typically bizarre Ashtangi...I love it

[vimeo 69746094 w=500 h=281]

The B, C, and D version of this pose simply change the position of your arms. C version and I are pretty much always fighting. I know that nothing will change in my life when my hands hit the floor, but I can still chase this goal right? 65c27ac20de56a498bebbaff731fe7d9

A lightbulb went off during my practice the other day...it doesn't necessarily take a ton of shoulder flexibility to get the hands to the floor, but a better connection to your feet, legs, and core. More flexibility in the hamstrings and back will help get hands down, not focusing solely on shoulder rotation.

Happy folding!

Oh and as if you needed another reason to love Jared Leto, but here you go

 

 

 

Poses: 14/52: Marichyasana I

fdc0cc0727a9e6c7efae662ae9dceb11  

One of those annoying poses that's English name is just as hard to remember as it's Sanskrit. Marichyasana I or Pose Dedicated to the Sage Marichi A. Ha!

I love love love love love this pose. It appears in the Primary Series of Ashtanga. Super great twist, shoulder opener, hamstring lengthener, quad strengthener, and core work. Bandha yoga emphasizes the importance of engaging the quadriceps: blog33-2

 

There are a lot of hurdles to achieve a deep forward fold in this pose. Tight shoulders + hamstrings, or weak adductors. My one big tip: strongly stamp the foot that is closest to you into the floor...as if you were about to stand on it. That will bring more power into the upper body to fold forward.

Here's the link to Yoga Journal's step-by-step instruction.

Poses 11/52: Astavakrasana

unnamedAstavakrasana...Looks crazy, but is actually (IMO) one of the easier arm balances. Required? Hips + shoulders + abs...flexibility, strength, and strength respectively. Also though, you need to be able to use your adductor muscles like crazy. This bit is often overlooked.

You must be able to squeeze your legs together so strongly that you squeeze your arm tight. Here's a 35 minute sequence designed to get you to astavakrasana:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9W-9mVrdm08?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]

And just Eight Angle pose by itself...love Tiffany!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EE2rJdh8fDE&w=640&h=390]

I love this pose. For all y'all crazyheads out there...try working this transition...I'm in the process of fine tuning...getting there on one side, the other has a long ways to go. Illustrated nicely via instagram JessiicaJade:

 

Poses 10/52: Anjaneyasana

2014-03-04 17.35.19 Anjaneyasana or low lunge I suppose?

Love this pose...seems simple, but it is not. Lots going on and can be a simple prep pose or super duper strong, depending upon the variation. Here are some variations:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NG36xIZxntc&w=640&h=390]

That fingertips to the floor thing? Close to impossible. That knee going forward of the ankle thing? Very advanced...proceed with extreme caution!

I recommend many anjaneyasanas if you have any issues with hip flexor/psoas tightness...it works wonders.

Poses: 9/52

photo (6) BALANCE. Utthita Padangusthasana II or Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose. Very literal translation on this one. And it's hard. I'm not gonna lie, it's also one of my most favorite poses....but I love to balance on one leg, so there you go.

When I starting to regularly practice Ashtanga in Edinburgh, I got fixated on this pose and its point in the Primary series. I wanted to do it without any balance checks and thought it would never happen...and as usual, I was proven wrong. I do have some tips (other than just practice, practice, practice) for getting a solid version of this pose.

1. The lifted leg does not have to be straight to achieve success! Tight hamstrings are real.

2. Concentrate on your standing leg...make it straight and strong and lift up through your psoas and hip flexors. It can sometimes help a ton to come off your mat and stand on a hard floor: 2014-01-21 11.15.04

3. Externally rotate your hip open before taking it over to the side.

4. Actively draw your low belly (uddiyana bandha) in throughout the pose.

5. Relax your face and smile...move your gaze very last.

Here's a great tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=bY3qvUuBXK8

 

Poses 2014: 8/52

photo (4)Bhujangasana or Cobra pose. I've been neglecting backbends in this series and that's gotta stop right now! Backbends are tough for me...and for a lot of others too. While some people are naturally very bendy in this manner, most of us think deep backbends are not possible. However, Cobra pose is the gateway to deeper backbends. If you can master a decent, well-aligned Cobra and, of course, practice it often, you'll be set for Urdhva Dhanurasana one day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=XU0wJ0OTopU

It's all about using the rhomboids. The muscles in blue are strongly engaging to not only life the chest & shoulders away from the floor, but propel them forward as well.

"You should feel as if you're dragging your chest through your hands."

Poses 2014: 7/52

photo (3) Trikonasana or Triangle. One of the most basic standing postures right? Yes, it is a fundamental posture. Is it basic and simple? NO WAY! There is a lot going on in this posture. It's balance, a strong stretch in the hamstring, external rotation in the hips joints, core work, and a spinal twist.

There are many ways to do Trikonasana and it often depends on the style of yoga you're practicing.

In the Ashtanga tradition, the stance is shorter and you aim to grab your big toe in the first two fingers and no props are used: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=kPW2V4OYOMo In Iyengar yoga, the stance is long:

bakstriko And then you have me...a former Ashtanga devotee who now dabbles in several styles, including Iyengar. I have a short stance here, but am not grabbing my toe because it feels a little forced in my body to do so (sometimes...other days...it's fine...just another example of how yoga is different every time you get on the mat).

2013-09-17_1379456989

"Triangle is foundational because it utilizes the entire body."

Poses: 6/52

photo Ahhhh....Everyone's favorite right?

Paripurna Navasana or Full Boat Pose. It's so great even Marilyn Monroe loved it: Marilyn-Monroe-Boat-pose-Navasana

Could her alignment be a little bit better? Goodness yes. That rounded spine and tucked pelvis she's got going on....that's what we're trying to avoid. She's awesome, but it should look more like when Carrie-Anne Moss does it...you remember her from the Matrix?! db07c1b1d08b41f38c9018a8904863e5 Sometimes Navasana goes easy and other days it makes me want to die. However, I always try to remember something one of my favorite teachers, Kathryn Budig, says:

"You aren't going to die in Boat Pose."

It doesn't last long (unless you're an Ashtangi) and you'll be so happy you did afterwards. So hold on tight, lift your chest, and keep that boat outta the water!

Poses: 5/52

ardhachandrasana Ardha Chandrasana or Half Moon pose is one of my most favorite postures. I love to balance on one leg and this one is great. In my opinion, if you're looking to master ardha chandrasana, the key is to look down about 90% of the times you practice the pose. Looking up is a just a finishing touch and adds nothing (physically). However, if you want a real mental challenge, look up and BALANCE. IMGP9334

If you have arms that are proportionately shorter than your legs and you're obsessed with getting a straight line through the spine, a block underneath your bottom arm works wonders.

If you want to challenge your balance even more and get a crazy strong quad stretch, go for Chopasana: Photo Jul 14, 2 09 52 PM A little shout out here on the iPad (pictured above) to my favorite, YogaGlo. Keeping me going! Here's a tutorial video for ardha chandrasana with one of my favorite teachers on there, Dice Iida-Klein:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8A7oMG4aEYU]

There are countless to benefits to a balance such as this, but overall, as B.K.S. Iyengar said:

"Regular practice enhances your span of concentration."

Poses: 4/52

eka hasta bhujasana Not gonna lie, this pose is crazy hard. It translates to Elephant's Trunk or One Legged Shoulder Squeezing pose.

One of my former teachers in Austin, Sam Rice, wrote a blog post on it with great, detailed instructions...here is her beautiful pose:

This pose strengthens everything. And the strength is built not by doing this pose, but by trying with all your might to get your bum off the floor!

If you struggle to lift up, put a block underneath the foot of the straight leg + move your hands forward of your hips.

In my opinion, it is the best introductory arm balance when practice alongside Bakasana, which will get to eventually this year. If you want to start balancing on your hands, do this pose.

 

 

a new studio in town: 502 Power Yoga

a9LXuSHdhero_slider3I am so excited about this.

About eight years ago, as a college student in Asheville, North Carolina, I didn't have much money at all, but also was getting really interested in yoga. Enter the Dave Farmar Power yoga podcast. In addition to a couple studio classes and the YMCA (where I worked the front desk for years), this was how I became addicted to yoga. Dave Farmar taught in the power yoga style founded by Baron Baptiste.

Fast forward a few years to Stavanger, Norway...I was still sweating my butt off (in a 250 sq. ft. studio apartment) to Dave Farmar. I love this very active style of vinyasa yoga, but it took a backseat to Ashtanga once I found Bristo Yoga School in Edinburgh, UK.

Fast forward again to now, 2014 where local yoginis Sarah K. Smith and Cat Larimore are opening the first Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga studio in Louisville: 502 Power Yoga.

I've been twitter + yoga pals with Cat for a few years (still cannot believe we haven't met IRL...we will soon definitely!) and when I found out she was opening a studio, I was beyond thrilled.

"Louisville needs this and it will be fabulous."  

They are offering a pre-opening special: $25 for 40 days of unlimited classes. Amazing!

Located at 2210 Dundee Rd, right in the Historic Douglass Loop. Perfect.

Their website is already flawless with info on teacher training, an energy exchange program, and a great schedule. Of course most classes are while I'm teaching my own, but I am going to really try and make an effort to get to classes...I need human interaction when I practice for a change!

Find them on Facebook or Twitter.

Local yogis: use the hashtag #502py and you'll be featured on their community page!

If you want to get a sneak peek, head over to the Louisville lululemon showroom  Saturday morning January 25th + February 1st at 8:45am for free (yes, as in complimentary!) classes from the 502 Power gals. I wish I could go, but alas, I'll be teaching my own classes. 

I can't wait to get out there and power vinyasa again!