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Lifestyle Yoga

How To: Janu Sirsasana

May 8, 2020

Janu means the knee.  Sirsa is the head.  In this posture sit with one leg stretched out on the ground and the other bent at the knee. (Light on Yoga, p148)

The Janu Sirsasana is my go-to pose when I want to do a more restorative and relaxing practice.  In fact, Geeta Iyengar has included it as an important asana for women during menstruation (Yoga: A Gem for Women).  This is because not only does this posture help to relax the mind, but it also helps to soothe feelings of restlessness and irritability.

Other benefits of the Janu Sirsasana include:

  • Relieving chronic headaches and migraines.
  • Helps to relax the eyes and the mind.
  • Reduces menstrual cramps.
  • Regulates menstrual flow.
  • Gives a great stretch to the hamstrings and calves.
  • Stimulates digestive organs.

Janu sirsasana is usually practiced daily by most practitioners.  I personally prefer a supported janu sirsasana so I use practicing it with props.  There are many different ways you can use props to make this asana feel more relaxing.  Watch this video to see how to do that.

 

Participate in our Work From Home Challenge this entire month and win a giveaway at the end of the challenge.  Download our practice tracker and asana sequence below:

Download Practice Tracker

Download Yoga Sequence

 

 

For more information go to:

Medha Bhaskar: https://www.instagram.com/medha.bhaskar/

Amrutha Bindu Yoga: https://www.amruthabindu.com/

Pragya Bhatt: https://www.instagram.com/yogawithpragya/

Lifestyle Yoga

How To: Ustrasana

May 7, 2020

 

Back bends have never come easy for me.  I’ve struggled with them since the time I started practicing yoga.  Every time I feel I’ve made some headway, I return to practice the next day and realize that was probably just a figment of my imagination.

The key to progress in yogasana is consistent practice.  The key to progress in back bending is safe consistent practice.  I’ve injured myself many times thinking that I should just ‘push through the pain’. I now wish I had taken the time to understand the anatomy of the spine and even focused on basic fundamental movements rather than being in a mad rush to conquer the more difficult asanas.

In retrospect I would have made my daily practice more introspective.  How far can I push myself?  Am I pushing myself enough?  Is this a physical or a mental roadblock?  Am I doing my best to extend the spine?  Am I trying to proactively understand the pain, or letting my teacher do the work to figure it out?  Am I trying my best to make progress, or repeating old patterns?

When we understand ourselves, we know what we need.  Once we know what we need, we can work towards achieving it.  This way, we can take care of ourselves.  (Beyond Asanas, p 131)

Benefits of Ushtrasana
  • Stimulates and massages the thyroid gland.
  • Strengthens and stretches the back, shoulders and arms.
  • Expands and brings flexibility to the chest so the practitioner’s breathing becomes smoother.
  • Tones the abdominal organs.
  • Reduces menstrual cramps.
  • Improves posture and problems of curvature of the back.

(The above benefits taken from my book Beyond Asanas: The Myths and Legends Behind Yogic Postures.)

Participate in our Work From Home Challenge this entire month and win a giveaway at the end of the challenge.  Download our practice tracker and asana sequence below:

Download Practice Tracker

Download Yoga Sequence

 

 

For more information go to:

Medha Bhaskar: https://www.instagram.com/medha.bhaskar/

Amrutha Bindu Yoga: https://www.amruthabindu.com/

Pragya Bhatt: https://www.instagram.com/yogawithpragya/

Lifestyle Yoga

How To: Viparita Virbhadrasana

May 6, 2020

The Viparita Virbhdrasana is an asana that I haven’t explored too much as it’s rarely practiced in classes I attend.  As a result, I don’t teach it very much either.  In fact, I wasn’t even sure of the Sanskrit name for this posture before Medha enlightened me.

 

In a practice which has three different versions of the Warrior posture, why would there be a pose called ‘reverse’ warrior.  What does it signify?  Is there a deeper meaning?

 

The most common problem I see when students practice the Virbhadrasana 2 is the tendency to lean the torso forward, towards the leg which is bent and turned out.  But we need to try to keep the chest open and expanded, just like a brave warrior. The way I like to explain it to my students is that a warrior needs to protect himself and in the battlefield is surrounded on all sides by the enemy.  If he leans too much to the front, he won’t be vigilant about the danger that could be lurking behind him.  Therefore, it’s important to keep a long and strong torso, even as one leg is bent to the side.  The Viparita Virbhadrasana helps to correct the tendency to lean forward.

Benefits of the Viparita Virbhadrasana:

  • Great to stretch and lengthen the sides of the torso.
  • Opens the hips, groin and sides of the body.
  • Expands the torso, enabling better breathing.
  • Strengthens the legs.

Watch the video below for pointers for this asana.

Participate in our Work From Home Challenge this entire month and win a giveaway at the end of the challenge.  Download our practice tracker and asana sequence below:

Download Practice Tracker

Download Yoga Sequence

 

For more information go to:

Medha Bhaskar: https://www.instagram.com/medha.bhaskar/

Amrutha Bindu Yoga: https://www.amruthabindu.com/

Pragya Bhatt: https://www.instagram.com/yogawithpragya/

Lifestyle Yoga

The Up Dog and Down Dog Transition

May 5, 2020

I’ve written about the importance of transitions in a previous blog.  The up dog to down dog transition is perhaps one of the most famous transitions in the yoga practice.

In taking care of the spine it is also important to perform dynamic movements.  Although the spine supports the body, it also needs support from other muscles to work optimally.  If your abdominal muscles and sides are weak, the load of the entire torso is borne by your spine and this leads to compression of the back and back pain. This eventually leads to disc bulges, slipped disc etc.

Back pain can be prevented by keeping the spine supple and flexible.  Moving the spine from a concave to convex position i.e curving it in and out – is an excellent way to keep the vertebrae well conditioned and strong.

Adhomukha Svanasana

Adhomukha means face downward in Sanskrit.  Svana means dog.  There are many different ways of practicing this posture.  Sometimes with heels lifted up, other times with the toes lifted.  Sometimes with feet together, sometimes wide apart.  Sometimes with heels against a wall, sometimes with the hands against the wall.  Each variation has its own distinct benefit.

Benefits of Adhomukha Svanasana
  • Provides great relaxation to the body and mind.
  • Makes the shoulders and shoulder blades more flexible.
  • Great to tone and strengthen the legs.
  • Rejuvenates the entire body.
  • Stimulates blood flow to the brain and helps to relieve anxiety and depression.
  • Reduces lower backache.

 

 

It is advisable not to hold this posture for long periods of time when you are menstruating.  However, those with heavy and uncomfortable menses will benefit greatly by practicing this posture between their cycles.

 

Urdhvamukha Svanasana

Benefits of Urdhvamukha Svanasana
  • Great to ease a stiff neck.
  • Rejuvenates the spine.
  • Great for those with sciatica, slipped or prolapsed discs.
  • Strengthens the spine.
  • Expands the chest, so enables better breathing.
  • Keeps the pelvic region healthy.

 

[Practice Tip] For beginners to yoga this posture is a challenge.  Most of us tend to collapse the shoulders and chest, and this puts a lot of strain on the shoulders and neck.  To prevent this, push your hands more strongly into the floor, making sure your fingers are spread wide apart.  Then elevate the chest up and forward.

Watch this video to understand the finer points of this transition.

 

 

Participate in our Work From Home Challenge this entire month and win a giveaway at the end of the challenge.  Download our practice tracker and asana sequence below:

Download Practice Tracker

Download Yoga Sequence

 

 

For more information go to:

Medha Bhaskar: https://www.instagram.com/medha.bhaskar/

Amrutha Bindu Yoga: https://www.amruthabindu.com/

Pragya Bhatt: https://www.instagram.com/yogawithpragya/

Lifestyle Yoga

Supta Marichyasana – Reclining Spinal Twist

May 3, 2020

Marichi means ray of light.  The story of Sage Marichi goes back to the creation of the universe. (Beyond Asanas: The Myths and Legends Behind Yogic Postures, Pragya Bhatt)

Before I begin writing a blog, I like to research the topic a little more.  Surprisingly, there is very little information for this asana online.  Which is ironic because the Supta Marichyasana is practiced widely as a closing posture in yoga classes all over the world.  In writing this blog I had to look at my own experience with the posture and I also asked Medha for hers.  My introduction to this asana was through Baba Ramdev’s yog shivirs, where he endorses this asana as a great way to trim excess fat from the sides.

However, thousands of hours of asana practice later, I would say it’s power lies in its ability to gently stretch the spine, the lower back, the shoulders and the sides of your body all at one go.  Just a couple of years ago it was impossible for my knee to rest on the floor, my shoulders would lift off of the floor, I wouldn’t be able to breathe and it would hurt to push my knee down!

Over the years I’ve found that the key lies in the abdomen and the breath.  The breath must be long and steady and the abdomen relaxed.  Once this is in place it becomes easier for the body to sink into the posture.  Watch this video for more pointers on how to do this asana safely.

 

Benefits of the Supta Marichyasana:

  • Helps to reduce lower backache.
  • Reduces stiffness on the neck and shoulders.
  • Great to keep the spine supple and flexible.
  • Increases blood circulation to the abdominal organs.
  • Gently massages the digestive organs thereby improving digestion.
  • Improves flexibility of the hip, knees and ankles.

 

When to avoid this asana:

  • Menstruation.
  • If you’ve recently had abdominal surgery.
  • When you’re recovering from a back injury.

 

Participate in our Work From Home Challenge this entire month and win a giveaway at the end of the challenge.  Download our practice tracker and asana sequence below:

Download Practice Tracker

Download Yoga Sequence

 

 

For more information go to:
Medha Bhaskar: https://www.instagram.com/medha.bhaskar/
Amrutha Bindu Yoga: https://www.amruthabindu.com/
Pragya Bhatt: https://www.instagram.com/yogawithpragya/

Lifestyle Yoga

How To : Supta Padangushtasana

May 3, 2020

In Sanskrit, supta means ‘lying down’, pada means ‘”foot”, and angustha is the big toe.  (Yoga the Path to Holistic Health, BKS Iyengar)

 

Before I started practicing yoga regularly, back pain was something I dealt with frequently.  Whether because of poor posture or because of menstruation, it would just not go away.  Then I discovered the supta padangusthasana and back pain is now a thing of the past.  You can practice this any time and any where.  I sometimes practice this when I’m procrastinating or just too lazy to start a dynamic warm up.  Also, after a whole day of standing because this pose magically stretches out the tiredness.  When I have the luxury of time, I like to work with different variations of this posture while watching something interesting on TV!

 

The benefits  of the Supta Padangusthasana are:

  • Aligns the pelvic area thereby relieving backache.
  • Stretches the hamstrings and calf muscles.
  • Strengthens the knees and ankles.
  • Tones and relieves pain from the lower back and spine.
  • Relieves sciatic pain.
  • Helps in relieving menstrual pain. (However, don’t practice this while you”re menstruating.)

While the picture above depicts the classical asana, I prefer practicing with props.  The below video demonstrates how you can make this asana work better for you with the use of a few props.

 

Participate in our Work From Home Challenge this entire month and win a giveaway at the end of the challenge.  Download our practice tracker and asana sequence below:

Download Practice Tracker

Download Yoga Sequence

 

 

For more information go to:
Medha Bhaskar: https://www.instagram.com/medha.bhaskar/
Amrutha Bindu Yoga: https://www.amruthabindu.com/
Pragya Bhatt: https://www.instagram.com/yogawithpragya/

Lifestyle Teacher in Focus Yoga

Teacher in Focus : Deepti Martolia

April 9, 2020

“Come…lose yourself to Dance while finding yourself through Yoga..”
Deepti Martolia

A yoga teacher, an artist, a dancer – Deepti Martolia was born and raised in the mountains of Uttarakhand.

Her pursuit of Yoga dates as far back as her adolescent days and eventually she trained to become a teacher in 2009. Her classes focus on breath, flow and alignment along with the balance between control and surrender – transcending into a mind-body connection nourishing the soul.

In 2014, inspired by the fluidity of movement, symphony of breath and body, and her passion for yoga and dance, Deepti conceptualised and created this unique style – Lyrical Yoga – a blend of yoga and dance. She is also a trained contemporary dancer.

Deepti conducts classes, workshops, courses and retreats with the belief that when you immerse in the path of yoga you commence the journey towards self-inquiry.

She seeks to inspire people to walk into the path of yoga, and be a facilitator – guiding as many – towards leading a happy, healthy and peaceful life.

In her own words, Deepti describes her relationship with Yoga and Dance as “losing herself to dance while finding herself through yoga”.

For more information about Deepti and her classes, visit her on instagram: Yoga with Deepti Martolia

 

Lifestyle Yoga

Teacher In Focus : Bhavana Mooteri

April 7, 2020

Divya, Bhavana and me 4 years ago at Bellur.

I met Bhavana for the first time when we attended the inaugural yoga workshop in Bellur.  Over the course of the workshop we got a chance to connect quite a bit.  It was a special time for all, as we were meeting Iyengar practitioners from all across the world.  We spoke quite a bit about our personal yoga journeys and even ended up staying in touch.

Bhavana has been practicing yoga since 2009.  She worked in the corporate strata for 15 years before she finally gave in to her passion and decided to devote herself full time to yoga.  She did her TTC from the Sivananda Ashram in Kerala in 2015.  In 2016 she went to RIMYI for a month to learn under the masters of Iyengar yoga.  She does workshops and retreats as well.  And now you can find her classes on line!

For more about Bhavana and her classes visit https://www.yogawithbhavana.com/

 

The entire gang for the workshop. Can you spot Bhavana and me?

 

 

Lifestyle Yoga

Savasana – The Corpse Pose

March 27, 2020

‘Verse 32 of the First Chapter of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika states: ‘Lying upon one’s back on the ground at full length like a corpse is called Savasana.  This removes the fatigue caused by the other asanas and induces calmness of mind.’ (Light on Yoga, p 422)

And we’re finally at the end of our Immunity Sequence.  In the past few weeks many of us have incorporated these asanas into our daily yoga routines and it’s been incredibly gratifying to see everyone stick to yoga routines and, quite frankly, make the most of a bleak situation.  I do feel that once we’re through this #21daylockdown, we will see that our individual actions actually did make a difference.

Svasana is also called the Mritasana.  Sava and Mrita means a corpse.  Your main objective in this asana is to simulate a dead body.  A dead body has no movement, and no thoughts (wherein lies the challenge).

It helps to:

  • Calms the nervous system.
  • Reduces blood pressure.
  • Relieves anxiety.
  • Restores balance.
  • Facilitates healing.

 

Contraindications

No contraindications!  Anyone and everyone can and should practice the savasana.

 

Busting the Myths

Savasana is everyone’s favorite posture.  It’s often treated as a posture where your body rests.  However, in this posture your mind is also supposed to remain still.  And this is what makes this posture the most difficult.   Read on for some practice pointers…

Practice Pointers

  • Initially you may fall asleep during savasana.  This just means that your body needs more rest.  Once your body get the adequate amount of rest, you will be able to bring a meditative quality to your savasana.
  • In a one hour class you must make sure to stay in savasana for at least 10 minutes.

 

Stay tuned for more from our Yoga to Boost Immunity Sequence.

Download the Daily Yoga Practice Checklist.

Follow Amrutha Bindu Yoga here.

Follow Medha Bhaskar here.

Follow me (Pragya Bhatt) here.

Lifestyle Yoga

Viparita Karani – The Inverted Pose

March 26, 2020

 

There’s a general consensus among modern yogis that Viparita Karani or Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose may have the power to cure whatever ails you. (Yoga Journal)

 

In Sanskrit Viparita means ‘upside down’ and karani means ‘doing’.

It helps to:

  • Regulate blood pressure.
  • Treat cardiac disorders.
  • Treat stress-related headaches, including migraines.
  • Gives relief from swollen feet.
  • Relieve nausea.

Contraindications

This is an inversion and as such should be avoided if you have serious eye problems such as glaucoma.

Busting the Myths

This is actually a restorative and relaxing asana, but the final pose is quite difficult for beginners and those with stiff backs.  Read on for some practice pointers.

Practice Pointers

  • You can do this asana with your legs on a chair, or even on your bed!
  • It’s a little unwieldy to get the buttocks close to the wall to get the legs up, but there is a technique (see video).

Stay tuned for more from our Yoga to Boost Immunity Sequence.

Download the Daily Yoga Practice Checklist.

Follow Amrutha Bindu Yoga here.

Follow Medha Bhaskar here.

Follow me (Pragya Bhatt) here.