Vinyasa Yoga – How Flow Can You Go?

[Editor’s note: This is a guest post by YOME – ‘The Yoga Portal For Wonderful Life’]

While K. Pattabhi Jois popularized Vinyasa yoga in the Western world, Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, (Ashtanga meaning 8-limbed path in ancient yogic teachings) has arguably been around for centuries. In many circles, it is simply known as ‘flow’ yoga since the asana are practiced much like Surya Namaskara, or sun salutations, in a continuous flow from one movement to another coordinated with the breath. The great thing about a Vinyasa practice, or simply, flow, is that participants can get more of a cardiovascular workout, and while alignment and practicing asana correctly is vital, there is a freedom of movement not always apparent in other styles of yoga that many people enjoy.

From the Primary Series to True Flow – What’s the Best?

Some ‘flow’ teachers aside from the famous Pattabhi Jois include people as diverse as Shiva Rea, who does an almost dance-like version, and lesser-known Himalayaa Behl, who incorporates some Bollywood movements into her yoga practice. Traditional Ashtangi’s, however, will practice the primary series, a specific grouping of postures, and then eventually move on to the second series, etc. In a ‘true’ Ashtanga yoga class you will hold each posture for exactly five full breaths, and this formula is never strayed from. While Mysore, India, is now frequently called “Ashtanga City,” due to Jois’s legacy, I believe that any true yoga master will agree that all forms of yoga can be modified or evolved so that the practice fits your particular needs. More dance-like, flowing movements is a cornerstone of the ‘flow’ movement, but it came from Ashtanga yoga, while allowing the creativity of the teacher to come through. So the true question becomes, how flow can you go, and still be practicing yoga?

Yoga Diversified – Always Has Been and Always Will Be

When you consider that there were originally many different types of yoga being practiced all over India, and that Patanjali (the sage who is given credit for compiling a bunch of oral systems into a cohesive set of universal sutras, called the Yoga Sutras) was just one of the yoga gurus who happened to write down their thoughts on a cohesive system of yoga, then it begs the question – can I expand my understanding of yoga so that it includes instead of excludes?

A Little Yogic History

The oldest known yoga teachings, after all, with archeological documentation are between 10,000 and 3,000 years old, since dating of Vedic seals and Stone Age shamanism aim to define pre-classical yoga. Yoga had its own stages of evolution too – if you look at its history. Before Patanjali’s Yamas and Niyamas (a main component of the Yoga Sutras which informs many of the modern yoga teachings, Ashtanga included) they were practicing yoga near the Saraswati River – this is where the great Rig Veda was said to have been produced, and new satellite images point to this area being a hot-bed of yoga practice. Now, scientists are coming to the conclusion that this area is dated to 3000 BCE. Is it not logical, then, to allow for a continuation of yogic evolution from this far-reaching date in our history?

If you ask yourself whether your teacher is practicing Vinyasa yoga correctly, you should consider that there are dozens of branches of yogic science, from Bhakti and Jnana yoga, to details on diet and meditation practices numbering in the hundreds. There is yoga inspired by ancient India and evolved through Buddhism and Sikkhism, and Shivaism. There is the evolution of yoga through Christianity and atheism. Yoga has a thousand faces and a million names, but its ultimate aim is to bring you closer to an awareness of the divine within yourself and for you to lose your erroneous belief that there is an ‘other.’ Yoga is inclusive, not exclusive. So, how flow should you go? If it brings you joy and opens your body and mind – then you are headed in the right direction.

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Posted by: YOME- The Yoga Portal For Wonderful Life

YOME connects yoga teachers with yoga practitioners and features FREE high quality, hand-picked yoga videos at any style which you can select according to your specific need. To practice yoga anywhere anytime you can create your own list of Favorite Yoga Videos. Visit http://YogaMeditationHome.com to register and start your yoga journey.

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[Image courtesy of Keidel]

5 Different Types of Yoga – Which One Suits You the Best?

[Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Chiara Fucarino who blogs at Yoga-Paws]

Ah, yoga. What’s not to like about stretching your muscles, sprawling out on a comfortable mat, and losing yourself in tranquility? Not only does practicing yoga tone your body and refresh your mind, it also improves your immune system, helps lower your stress level, and provides so many more health benefits. Yoga has been around for more than 5,000 years, and we’re still fine-tuning the practice. Today, aside from having a yoga studio around every corner, we have many different styles of yoga. Even though they’re all based on the same poses, each style has a particular focus. For example, one style has a purpose to improve flexibility, while another style primarily strengthens your core.

With many different types of yoga being practiced today, it may be difficult for you to figure out which style benefits your mind and body the most. It’s important for you to find out which type of yoga meets your needs, so here’s a quick explanation of five of the most common yoga styles practiced everywhere.

Hatha

Hatha originated in India in the 15th century. This type of yoga is slow-paced, gentle, and focused on breathing and meditation.

  • Purpose: To introduce beginners to yoga with basic poses and relaxation techniques
  • Benefits: Relieves stress, provides physical exercise, and improves breathing
  • Good for: Beginners and people wanting to learn the basics of yoga

Vinyasa

Much like Hatha, Vinyasa covers basic poses and breath-synchronized movement. This variety of Hatha yoga emphasizes on the Sun Salutation, a series of 12 poses where movement is matched to the breath.

  • Purpose: To link the breath with movement and to build lean muscle mass throughout the body
  • Benefits: Helps improve strength and flexibility, tones the abdominal muscles, and reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes
  • Good for: Beginners and advanced yogis alike seeking to strengthen their bodies

Ashtanga

Ashtanga yoga metaphorically focuses on eight limbs. Considered a form of power yoga, Ashtanga is fast-paced and intense with lunges and push-ups.

  • Purpose: To help improve one’s spiritual self
  • Benefits: Relieves stress, improves coordination, and helps with weight loss
  • Good for: Fit people looking to maintain strength and stamina, and those who want to get in touch with their spiritual side

Iyengar

Iyengar covers all eight aspects of Ashtanga yoga and focuses on bodily alignment. Different props like straps, blankets, and blocks are used to assist in strengthening the body. Standing poses are emphasized, and are often held for long periods of time.

  • Purpose: To strengthen and bring the body into alignment
  • Benefits: Helps improve balance, speeds up recovery from an injury, and builds up body strength
  • Good for: Beginners who want to learn the correct alignments in each pose and those with injuries, balance issues, and chronic medical conditions like arthritis

Bikram

Also known as hot yoga, Bikram is practiced in a 95 to 100 degree room. It’s typically a series of 26 poses that allows for a loosening of tight muscles and sweating.

  • Purpose: To flush out toxins and to deeply stretch the muscles
  • Benefits: Speeds up recovery from an injury, enhances flexibility, and cleanses the body
  • Good for: Beginners and advanced yogis alike who want to push themselves and those with physical injuries

These are only a few of many styles of yoga. Try one or all of them to figure out which one suits your needs the best.

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A Sucker for Really Cool Yoga Art

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Blending history with a dash of yogic humor, Boonchu Tanti’s Ashtanga yoga illustrations capture the essence of the joy and playfulness of yoga.

Ever Wonder What a Typical Morning in Mysore is Like for an Ashtanga Yoga Freak?

Study this little piece of yogic art and you’ll get the idea.

Infographic by Boonchu Tanti; Edited by Leena Kinger

Ashtanga Yoga: Maria Villella on Finding the Balance on your Hands and in Your Life

If you enjoyed the first clip you may be interested in checking out Maria’s

Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series

Ashtanga Yoga teacher Maria Villella demonstrates the entire Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series with strength, grace and control. As you watch, and listen, to the video you will hear the vinyasas for each posture counted, the names of the postures as well as the opening and closing prayers all spoken in Sanskrit.

The Primary Series of Ashtanga Yoga is known for hip-openers, forward bends as well as Ashtanga Yoga’s trademark ‘jumping back’ and ‘jumping through’ vinyasas to connect the seated postures. Movement coordinated with proper breathing, bandha (internal energy locks) and drishti (gaze) is emphasized in this practice. The Primary Series begins with five Surya Namaskara A’s and B’s followed by the Fundamental Asana which are often referred to as the “standing postures”. Following the standing postures is a series of Seated Postures, and finally the Finishing Postures. In the Ashtanga Yoga system, the First or Primary Series is performed by all beginners and also intermediate and advanced students at least one day per week.

Maria Villella was filmed as she performed her personal practice in a Yoga studio in Santa Monica, California. None of the video was enhanced by special effects such as slow-motion, etc. Maria Villella has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga since 2001 and teaching since 2003. The Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series that Maria is seen performing in this documentary style video represents the practice as she learned it from her teacher.

Available for digital download here.

Introduction to Ashtanga Yoga with Kino MacGregor, Tim Feldmann and Greg Nardi

Despite the fact that we’re all about 1/10 as flexible as Kino MacGregor, this “Introduction to Ashtanga Yoga” promises to be a great resource for passing on the tradition.  We’ll let you know when it becomes available from Miami Life Center.  Should be “soon.” [Update: Video is now available here].

Video description:

On this DVD we introduce you to the Ashtanga Yoga system, devised by our teacher Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and traditionally taught in Mysore, India. Including four distinct segments that are meant to be played repeatedly to deepen your yoga journey, this DVD is a perfect at-home practice manual for Ashtanga Yoga. You will learn the philosophical foundations of all yoga practice including a brief history of Ashtanga yoga and the genesis story of yoga itself. The third segment of the DVD details the powerful use of breathing as a connection between the body and the mind. A full one hour practice of Ashtanga Yoga complete with Sun Salutations, Standing Postures, Seated Postures, Backbends and Finishing postures completes your experience. Many modifications are offered so that all levels can enjoy trying the Ashtanga Yoga method. We humbly dedicate this DVD to our teacher, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, who passed away in 2009, at the age of 94, leaving behind a legacy that has touched countless lives around the world. We hope that our teaching carries the brilliant torch of his guiding light to many more students. We hope that you will practice often and experience the healing benefits of the Ashtanga Yoga method.

As our gaze wanders, our mind follows

A few favorite paragraphs near the end of A.G. Mohan’s excellent and brief biography, Krishnamacharya:

‘In purity of food lies purity of mind. When the mind is pure, awareness is unbroken.’ Chandogya Upanishad 7.26.2

Traditional explanations of this famous saying note that the word food refers not merely to what we eat but to what we see, hear, smell, or touch as well. Pratyahara is to restrict all ‘food’ for the senses. Control over the senses is necessary to lead the mind to purity. And only a clear mind can remain undisturbed in the practice of awareness, the cardinal practice of yoga.

Krishnamacharya  used to emphasize that food in its literal sense was very important: disciplining the diet is one of the first steps in gaining control over the mind. In addition to controlling his food habits, though, Krishnamacharya also controlled his other senses. As an example mentioned earlier, he generally kept his eyes down, whether he was sitting on the verandah or in his room or walking to teach a class. As our gaze wanders, our mind follows. By preventing our gaze from straying needlessly from the task at hand, we take in fewer distractions.

Other favorite gems from the book, which rates a solid five stars for its lucid and precise stories and anecdotes from a devoted student of Krishnamacharya.  An inspiration to any on the path of yoga.

The Centre for Yoga Studies website also has a number of articles written about Krishnamacharya by his students. Interesting material if you’d like to read more about this modern-day yoga pioneer.

Ashtanga Yoga Short Forms with David Swenson

When time is short, an abbreviated yoga routine is always better than no yoga at all.  Enjoy the insanely awesome benefits of Ashtanga yoga with these short form routines created by yoga pioneer David Swenson, author of everyone’s favorite Ashtanga Yoga Practice Manual.

15 minute routine

Includes the following asanas:

  1. 5× Surya Namaskara A
  2. 3× Surya Namaskara B
  3. Paschimottanasana B
  4. Marichyasana C
  5. Navasana
  6. Urdhva Dhanurasana
  7. Padmasana
  8. Shavasana

30 minute routine

Includes the following asanas:

  1. 3× Surya Namaskara A
  2. 2× Surya Namaskara B
  3. Padangusthasana
  4. Utthita Trikonasana
  5. Utthita Parsvakonasana
  6. Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana
  7. Virabatrasana A
  8. Virabatrasana B
  9. Dandasana
  10. Paschimottanasana A
  11. Janu Sirsasana A
  12. Marichyasana A
  13. Marichyasana C
  14. Navasana
  15. Urdhva Dhanurasana
  16. Salamba Sarvangasana
  17. Mathsyasana
  18. Padmasana
  19. Utpluthee
  20. Shavasana

45 minute routine

Includes the following asanas:

  1. 3× Surya Namaskara A
  2. 3× Surya Namaskara B
  3. Padangusthasana
  4. Utthita Trikonasana
  5. Utthita Parsvakonasana
  6. Prasarita Padottanasana A
  7. Prasarita Padottanasana C
  8. Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana
  9. Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana
  10. Virabatrasana A
  11. Virabatrasana B
  12. Dandasana
  13. Paschimottanasana A
  14. Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana
  15. Janu Sirsasana A
  16. Marichyasana A
  17. Marichyasana C
  18. Navasana
  19. Baddha Konasana A
  20. Upavistha Konasana A
  21. Urdhva Dhanurasana
  22. Salamba Sarvangasana
  23. Halasana
  24. Karana Pidasana
  25. Uttana Padasana
  26. Sirsasana A
  27. Balasana
  28. Yoga Mudra
  29. Padmasana
  30. Utpluthee
  31. Shavasana

Related posts:  Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series Videos,  Primary Series Poster and Intermediate Series Poster

Learn more about each of the poses by following the links to AshtangaYoga.info.  Thanks to Stephan at feierabendyogi for linking the poses.

Don’t Leave Home Without Your Manduka eQua Plus Towel

Not long ago I found myself stuffing a suitcase for an overseas business trip. As usual, I contemplated cramming a yoga mat in as well (since business trips suck without a little yoga), but given luggage limitations I went for the next best thing and tossed my new Manduka eQua Plus yoga towel into the bag. While the eQua Plus towel provides a perfect top layer for your favorite yoga mat, I’ve found that it also substitutes perfectly well as a mat replacement when I just need a clean, non-slip surface in my hotel room or the beach or wherever I feel like practicing yoga.  Just add a little water or sweat and the thing rocks!

While I also own the original eQua towel, which is also awesome, the eQua Plus towel is slightly different in that it is woven with natural fibers extracted from recycled coconut shells. The yarn is infused with activated carbon which spreads and evaporates moisture and provides improved odor management by eliminating bacteria.  Of course the Manduka website does a much better job explaining what’s so cool about the coconut fibers in the towel:

Cocona technology utilizes recycled coconut shells that would have otherwise gone to landfills. Through a patented process, the coconut shells are converted into activated carbon particles which are then infused into the microfiber. The benefits of the coconut carbon will last the lifetime of the towel. The active carbon renews itself when washed and the benefits will endure or improve over the lifetime of the towel.

Recyclable, durable and long-lasting, we consider the product to be an eco-conscious choice when the towel is used to its fullest potential. Its versatility eliminates the need for other fitness towels that wear out quickly. While the material will survive countless uses & washes, it can also be repurposed as a multifunctional cleaning cloth if its life as a fitness accessory comes to an end.

Easily packing to the size of a small t-shirt and perfect as a yoga mat replacement for those times when the mat just won’t fit, I highly recommend that you don’t leave home without the eQua Plus!

Fresh Set of Ashtanga Yoga Illustrations

A unique set of ashtanga-inspired illustrations for your viewing pleasure.

A Couple YouTube Clips of that Dude Who Made the Sweet Ashtanga Yoga Posters

Two of the most popular links on Daily Cup of Yoga are the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series and Intermediate Series posters from a yogi named Axel Dinse.  Though it’s nearly impossible to find anyone who has physical copies of the posters for sale, I did track down a couple of YouTube clips of Axel Dinse demonstrating the Primary Series.  The clips apparently come from a recently released Primary Series DVD that’s available on Amazon’s German website.  I’m curious to know if any of you own the posters or know where you can buy them online. Anyone?

Short Practice is Better Than No Practice

I frequently have to remind myself that when life gets crazy, a short yoga practice is better than no yoga practice.

Visit Yoga Today for more great videos to motivate your home yoga practice.

Manduka eQua Towel Provides Amazing Non-slip Yoga Surface

I ran three miles on the treadmill this morning and then jumped on the yoga mat for some oh so nice cool down poses. Usually when I run I sweat buckets, then by the time I unroll my yoga mat I’m dripping puddles on my mat and slipping around like an ice skater.   It’s kind of gross…and dangerous at times.  Not so today, though.  While I really do like my Black Mat, the truth is when I start sweating a lot it gets a bit slippery.  Maybe I just haven’t worn it in well enough yet.  Anyhow, I think I’ve finally found the perfect combination.

After reading the reviews about the Yogitoes Skidless Premium Mat and the Manduka eQua Towel, I decided to give the eQua Towel a try (I bought the long towel). Although I’m still trying to avoid making unnecessary, life-complicating purchases, I decided that investment in a new yoga towel might slip into an exception to the rule somehow, especially since I’ve been getting tired of feeling my hands and feet sliding out from underneath me while I’m bent over backwards in wheel pose.  Let me just say that in the few days I’ve practiced on it I’m extremely impressed with the new-found non-slip surface the eQua Towel provides when the sweat really gets dripping.  I practiced wheel pose the other day without a hint of slippage.  The towel doesn’t slip, your hands don’t slip, everything stays where it’s supposed to.  It’s awesome! Just that little extra reassurance that my hands felt on the towel made a huge difference in how I practiced the pose.

While the Yogitoes Skidless may be a great towel as well, I can certainly vouch for the eQua Towel as a great addition to your yoga practice.  Drop any questions you have about the towel in the comments and I’ll answer whatever I can based on my experience.

Namaste!

R. Sharath on Yoga Tradition

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Introduction to the Ashtanga Yoga Method

The Ashtanga Method:

Opening Prayer

Fundamental Asanas

Primary Asanas

Finishing Asanas

Closing Prayer

ashtanga yoga

The Ashtanga Yoga system is a living lineage that dates back nearly five thousand years in an unbroken line of teachers, sages and gurus that culminates in the life of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, his grandson Sharath Rangaswamy and every Ashtanga practitioner today. Developed by TKV Krishnamacharya and his student Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois who tells us that it was derived from the ancient indian text, the Yoga Kurunta, written by Vamana Rishi. Krishnamacharya is one of the world’s most legendary masters of yoga. He was initiated into the science of Yoga by his Guru, Rama Mohan Brahmachari. Among Krishnamacharya’s students we find TKV Desikachar (his son), BKS Iyengar and Indra Devi along side Jois who studied with him from 1927 and into the 1950’s. Jois, or Guruji as he is affectionately called by his students, continued the lineage of these teachings, sharing them with thousands of practitioners around the world (learn more HERE).

the practice

The Ashtanga Yoga Vinyasa system is sequences of postures that vary in difficulty and benefit. The flow between each posture is an integral part of the practice.

asana

There are three groups of movement sequences and six series in total: The Primary Series, Yoga Chikitsa, cleanses and tunes especially the physical body. The Intermediate Series, Nadi Shodhana, purifies the nervous system, opening up for more subtle experiences of our energies and mind. The Advanced Series A, B, C and D, Sthira Bhaga, literally meaning strength and grace, which further explores flexibility, vigor and tranquility as an integrated synergy, requiring higher levels of humility and dedication. Each series of postures must be accomplished before proceeding to the next. The practice is cumulative and it is essential to follow the order of postures (asanas) meticulously as each individual asana builds on the previous one and prepares practitioners for the next. The sequential process of learning Ashtanga Yoga allows its practitioners to develop the concentration, strength, flexibility and stamina needed to progress in a safe and balanced manner. Each asana, or group of asanas, has a specific effect that is counter balanced by the previous asana, or group of asanas.

breath

Breathing cannot be overemphasized in the Ashtanga system. When we are born we breathe in and when we die we breathe out – in between these two breathes our life spans. Guruji says: ‘Ashtanga practice is a breathing practice … the rest is just bending’. The breath is the key to the realm of tranquility and power and with it we can regulate and control our nervous system. The breath is the door between our body and our mind, the portal between meditation and asana practice and often the first step on the way to a more spiritual, soulful and happy lifestyle. Breathing is our most fundamental and vital act and holds a divine essence.

vinyasa

Postures are linked together through flowing movement (vinyasa). Vinyasa means breath synchronized with movement. In Ashtanga Yoga the movement is always synchronized with the breath and there is never a separation between the two actions. When the synchronization of movement and breathing is an integral part of the yoga practice and the three body locks (Moolabandha, Udiyanabandha and jalandarabandha) are applied, an internal, purifying heat is generated in the body. Unwanted toxins are released and disposed of, vital hormones and minerals flow into the bloodstream and the nervous system is purified. The result is a light and strong body.

tristana

Ashtanga Yoga utilizes a three-pronged approach called Tristana. Tristana consists of correct breathing (Ujjayi)*, yoga postures/asanas (including correct use of the bandhas)**, and the precise gazing (dristi)***. This is both a method and a state and practitioners develop control of the senses, a deep awareness of themsleves and their inner sensations, emotions and workings of the mind. By maintaining this discipline with regularity and devotion, practitioners develop steadiness of body and mind.

heart of yoga

Ashtanga literally means eight limbs. All yoga is technically speaking ashtanga yoga as all yoga follows the eight limbs described by Patanjali. But these days the term is commonly used to describe the method taught by Jois. The eight limbs are described by Patanjali as:

  • Yama (ethical discipline):
    ahimsa (non-violence)
    satya (truthfulness)
    asteya (non-stealing)
    brahmacharya (refraining from sexual indulgence)
    aparigraha (detachment)
  • Niyama (observation & purification):
    sauca (cleanliness, purity) santosha (contentment)
    tapah (austerity)
    svadhyaya (study towards self-knowledge)
    ishwara-pranidhana (surrender to God/higher self)
  • Asana (postures)
  • Pranayama (breath control)
  • Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)
  • Dharana (concentration)
  • Dhyana (meditation)
  • Samadhi (consciousness itself)

The eight branches mutually support each other and are to be learned and taken into daily committed action. An established asana practice prepares dedicated yogis for a balanced practice of the more subtle limbs such as pranayama which are the key to embodying the yamas and niyamas. The heart of yoga is ethical living, honesty and compassion.

how to learn

Please note that you should learn only from a traditionally trained teacher who follows the lineage of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois to ensure a safe and healthy journey for the body and mind into the science of the Ashtanga Method to yoga.

* Ujjayi breath (breath of victory): The core of the practice. Facilitates movement in the physical body, creating ‘room to roam‘ between your bones underneath your skin. Quiets the mind from unnecessary entanglements, distributes appropriate energy through-out your body and unifies the physical, mental and energetic bodies to one solid entity of motion, transformation and power. Generates purifying heat in the body.

** Bandha (valves or locks): Moolabandha, Uddiyanabandha and Jalandarabandha helps you integrate your physical and energy bodies. Through the use of the three bandhas in your practice, the body comes together to one entity, creating bounce, flow and grace. It accumulates the generation of purifying heat deep in your body and, yet again, makes for a strong internal focus point for your mind to rest.

*** Dristi (focus): The eyes as a help to focus the mind, instigating a more internal and potentially meditative practice. Helps keep your mind and senses within the parameters of your physical body.

[Source: YogaJoy]

Ashtanga Yoga Podcasts from Miami Life Center

I stayed up way too late last night listening to Ashtanga yoga podcasts with Kino MacGregor on the Miami Life Center website. Very entertaining, motivating, and insightful.

Here’s a few podcasts that I downloaded (you can right-click on the links to save the files to your computer):

Yoga as a Spiritual Path Miami Friday Night Workshop Talk 2010 Part 1.

Guided Full Primary Series Richmond.

Miami Old Shala Q&A with Kino & Tim – The Ashtanga Yoga Method and Teaching Beginners.

In addition to the podcast page, the rest of the Miami Life Center website is chock-full of  yogic wisdom for those seeking deeper insight into yoga practice.  I plan on spending quite a bit of time there.  Too bad I’m not closer to Miami so I could actually take some classes there.  Not much Ashtanga yoga going on in my neck of the Florida panhandle…as far as I know…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Rock a Healthy Shoulderstand with Sadie Nardini

Came across this great shoulderstand video on Rand(Om) Bites.  Do it right and it feels great; do it wrong and…just don’t do it wrong, okay.  Better yet, this is one of those poses best learned at the hands of a skilled teacher before you get too wild and crazy on your own.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Also, check out this snazzy Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga poster.  I love cool yoga posters.

Question of the day:  Can Yoga Save the World?

 

Ashtanga Yoga Intermediate Series Poster

Click here if you’re looking for the Primary Series poster…

 

Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series Poster

Click on the poster for an amazing ashtanga yoga desktop background!

Think you’re ready for the Intermediate Series? Here’s the poster

Update:  Many have asked where they can find this poster for purchase.  Good question.  I believe it used to be available on YogaLifestyle.com, but they seem to have replaced it with a poster by Matthew Sweeney.  I’ve searched high and low for additional copies of the Axel Dinse poster to no avail.  But, if you click on the poster above, you can view an expanded version in more detail.  Click here to see tons of other great posters on YogaLifestyle’s Amazon store.

Manduka Yoga Gear

First Yoga Class in Four Years

It’s been almost four years since I actually stepped foot in a yoga studio. You’re probably thinking that’s a bit insane since I have a blog about yoga and you’re reading it. There’s a multitude of reasons why I rarely go to yoga class. First and foremost, I’m cheap, especially when I feel like I’m paying for something that I could just as well do in the comfort of my own home for free. Not that I won’t spend all sorts of money on books about yoga and stuff. In fact, just last night I ordered The Shambhala Guide to Yoga by Georg Feuerstein. Right now I’m rereading Baron Baptiste’s Journey Into Power, Stephen Cope’s The Wisdom of Yoga, and Paramahansa Yogananda’s The Yoga of Jesus. (I’m a bit of a multi-tasker when it comes to books, which drives my wife batty). Thing is, I don’t mind buying yoga books because I know I’ll use them again. It’s just that somewhere in the back of my mind I’ve convinced myself that it’s ridiculous to pay someone to tell me how to do something I could teach myself from a book and do at home. The funny thing is that despite my sketchy belief that paying for yoga class is an unnecessary, superfluous expense, I remember quite vividly the handful of times I have attended class.

Well, these last few weeks I’ve been more diligent in my home asana practice. Although work has been a bit stressful, life is settling down and I’m figuring out my schedule. Right now I’m on a business trip in Dayton, Ohio, and I decided to pack my yoga mat so I didn’t get out of the habit. Hopefully I don’t offend anyone by saying this, but downtown Dayton leaves much to be desired as far as I can tell. However, yesterday in my exploration I happened upon a yoga studio about a block away from my hotel called Practice Yoga. When I walked past the studio it looked like it was closed so I hurried home to see if I could find out more about it. I came to find out that the studio opened about two weeks ago. After looking at the class schedule for a while, I came to the conclusion to attend the Ashtanga for beginners class the next day after my estate planning seminar ended. After making that decision, I spent most of today feeling nervous about what to expect in class.

Of course, type-A personality that I am, I showed up for class before anyone else. Instead of going in though, I waited across the street next to a lamp post until more people trickled in so I could sufficiently blend into the background. As I stood there waiting, I realized that I hadn’t been in a yoga studio in four years. When enough people seemed to have shown up, I finally crossed the street. The place was nice and uncluttered, with a few pictures on the walls. At the entrance there were a few chairs, a table with papers to read and sign, and cubicles for storing personal items. Kim, the yoga instructor, told me they lock the doors once class starts so everyone’s stuff would be safe. Anyhow, since the class was for beginners none of us milling around in the lobby really knew what to do next. Kim eventually herded us into the practice room and we unrolled our mats. Unfortunately, none of us really knew what to do once we had our mats out. Thankfully class started soon and the awkward moment passed of trying to figure out what to do. The class was really basic, which was fine with me. We went over Sun Salutations A and B and then did a few other poses from the Primary Series. As things started to heat up I thought to myself, maybe I don’t go to yoga class because I’m embarrassed by how much I sweat. I think I need to take a towel next time so I don’t slip so much. Hopefully I didn’t get any on anyone else. In the end, the class was great and I feel like I got a sweet deal for my ten dollars. I’m planning on going back on Thursday for a Primary Series class, and maybe even tomorrow at lunch if I have enough time.

In the final analysis, I’ve decided there’s something unique about attending an actual class that simply cannot be replicated in a solo practice. Home practice is great, but sweating away the day’s worries in a room full of people doing the same thing is an enriching and satisfying feeling that we should all take advantage of as often as possible.

The beauty is that people often come here for the stretch, and leave with a lot more. ~Liza Ciano (Co-owner and co-director of Yoga Vermont).