Poses 36/52: Janu Sirsasana

3e97ed66a24352664be9a8f740a9f90c Head to Knee Pose. Janu Sirasana. Simple, but not...

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This pose shows up a lot in yoga. Like most poses, I was originally introduced to it in the Primary Series of Ashtanga yoga. It looks so simple, like a simple runners stretch. However, the longer you do yoga you realize how complex it is. The deeper you get into the stretch, the more complicated the sensations. It's a super strong hamstring stretch, big hip opener, stretches your back a ton, strengthens your core, and it is also a nice twist for the spine.

Yep, it's an everything pose....like every. other. single. one.

Poses 35/52: Svarga Dvidasana

c84bac94bdb5b573b0688d0c1bb322ddBird of paradise! I saw the above photo for the first time way back when Pinterest first got going. It's been making the rounds ever since. It's amazing. So amazing I had to get out my paint and turn it into a little project last year

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Bird of paradise is one of those poses that looks insane, but is actually somewhat accessible...it just may never look like that. HA!

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This photo was taken June 2013...haven't snapped a recent one of my BOP in awhile, curious to see my progress. I try to practice it almost every day. But then again, I love to balance on one leg and most don't so, you know. Do what you want!

Again, Ekhart Yoga comes through with a free 10 minute sequence to get you there.

 

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jv2BE0UEz5c[/embed]

I also discovered Stacey Welu and her YouTube series, Asana Diagnostics. AMAZING tricks and tips!

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlYFbGK-HNs[/embed]

Poses 34/52: Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

2014-08-24 15.14.36 One Legged King Pigeon Pose. Whoa. This pose is major. Like, really. An insane backbend, ridiculous hip opener, bizarrely hard to balance, wild shoulder opener, and a CRAZY strong thigh stretch. I've avoided it for many years, but have been trying to focus on it more in the past month of so.

The other day I got closer than ever before...insta-evidence featured above.

2aef34d4a872cb3f2cb217788a9a01d1 79fb9bd8c21ea224d3b058ab16f2e891 4060194cfb82b79a2f5711ae51ca2017 You can't just learn this pose by itself...it requires a ton of yoga experience opening up a bunch of different areas of the body. However, Ekhart Yoga has a decent video giving some tips and tricks:

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWJAlAM_Lyw[/embed]

Poses 32/52: Salabhasana

10616420_567103710066510_2144891624_n I'm not even going to pretend. I hate this pose. Really, I do.

I'm not a huge fan of the "belly-down" backbends. I like bow pose okay, but Salabhasana or Locust?! Boo. Because I hate it so much, I tend to avoid it, which means I'm not very "good" at it. This summer, I made myself practice it regularly and, lo and behold, it got easy and less horrible!!?! Duh. Like everything in yoga, it doesn't get better unless you DO IT.

I do a Google image search on every one of my pose posts and I have to say that this one gave me some of the most varied results...all I can say is, what the what?!

images (1) images posture108 viparita_shalabhasana_by_odie1049-d6ckewb

 

If you need a thorough and more reasonable visual with excellent instruction, check out Yoga Journal's pose guide here.

Or watch Adrienne give you an eight minute tutorial on it here [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kxczNm1xF4[/embed]

Happy lifting....it's tough to be happy when doing this pose, but try...it probably makes it easier.

52 Poses: 24, 25 + 26: Surya Namaskara

sun-salutation Yeah so I realize now that I did a post celebrating our halfway point in this challenge and we've only done 23 poses...I'm not great at math, obviously, but I think 26 is half of 52 right? Sigh...

Obviously I meant we were halfway through 2014 (which is crazy). So, I'm going to cheat and get caught up with dedicating this post to the whole of Surya Namaskara A: Sun Salutation A. I'll admit it, I used to be totally bored by sun sals (as I call them...sometimes in class while teaching...ha). However, within the past few months, I've grown very fond of them. Maybe not as fond as this person:

I found that pic on pinterest...while it's kind of crazy, I also kind of LOVE IT. I've always wanted more b&w tattoos...especially in that spot, but whoa.

One my favorites, Yoga with Adrienne, has a great tutorial:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kA4OLCHgLAI&w=854&h=510]

While browsing different things for this post, I found another video on Adrienne's channel that I found super helpful and fun:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7r2DEq--p8&w=854&h=510]

 

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 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: 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."

Headstands and Considering You

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Headstand. Oh boy. It has been my nemesis for years now. I will get this! I've even gone so far as to make a resolution this year of attacking my inversion fear. If I make a resolution, it's official. photo

This past weekend? I did it. Of course I'm still using the wall. Of course it still scares me some. But...I DID IT. Can't wait to keep working. So excited.

I was inspired by several articles I've read recently: "Can't Do a Headstand? You're Still Good at Yoga!" by Lachrista Greco "For the Frustrated Headstander" by Brentan Schellenbach

It's so helpful to realize you're not alone in your crazy, irrational fear of inversions....especially when every fancy yoga pose ever photographed is one. I've still got a long way to go, but this is BIG. Thanks to everyone who has had to listen to me yap about this for the past five years! I think you might get a reprieve!

Also, speaking of yoga, I'm now a guest contributor for one of my favorite websites, Considering You. They are awesome and I highly recommend browsing this site. I've written an article about starting out in yoga and how to make it affordable. Check it out right here!