Category Archives: Yoga Moves

Wellness topic. Yoga moves is a monthly study of Inyengar yoga asanas.

yoga moves ~ half moon pose

Half Moon Pose (Arda Chandrasana)

Half moon pose is another great standing balance pose (are you seeing a theme here)? It helps to strengthen the ankles and thighs. Both Lisa and I use a block  prop to help us reach the ground. Using props in yoga is a great way to gently train your body to reach or achieve the full expression of a pose. Using props should not be considered cheating, or a negative reflection of your ability. Do yourself a favor and buy some blocks, they will help you align properly and when you are aligned properly you receive the full benefits of the pose. Some other great props to invest in are belts or straps, a bolster and a yoga blanket. I was recently in Chicago (a new food for the soul post is coming soon) and had the pleasure of using a rope wall for body alignment. The studio – Yoga Among Friends – is in Downers Grove, Il. I enjoyed lots of great Inyengar practice while I was there. Love, loved, loved the studio, and I can’t wait to go back.

Its easy to see where I need to place my focus when doing this pose by comparing my photo below to Lisa’s photo above.  My extended leg and upward reaching arm both need to be more active – stretching, rotating etc… The extended leg should be reaching and my foot should be fully engaged in a flexed position. My arm also needs to be reaching upward with my fingers bright and spread apart. It’s always great to have something to work toward! Let me know how your yoga practice is going.  ~ nameste, catherine

yoga moves ~ tree pose

Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Its easy to see that this pose helps with balance. So many of us struggle with balance. Not just the standing upright kind of balance, but the juggling of our every day home life, family, friends and work kind of balance.  How many of us put ourselves on the needs list let alone at the top of it? This pose is a great opportunity to practice while you meditate on the other balancing acts in your life – let me know what comes up. ~ Nameste

Lisa Johnson of Energies Balanced showing the full expression of this asana.

This is an important pose for me to practice after having foot surgery on both of my big toes. I think it’s easy to take our toes for granted – they’re short, often covered up with socks and shoes and they’re far from our direct line of vision. But toes and feet provide us with an all important gift — balance.  Once something happens to your balance (at least in my case) it’s time to give great thanks to the Almighty Toe.

 

yoga moves ~ extended side angle

Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)

One of my favorite asanas is this standing pose – extended side angle.  Standing poses are helpful in strength, alignment, agility and they help your circulatory and digestive systems function more effectively.  Standing poses help bring awareness to your posture.

Lisa Johnson from Energies Balanced

Catherine’s version of the pose. I need some work here, but it still is one of my favorite stretches.

yoga moves ~ warrior 2

Warrior 2 Pose (Virabhadrasana)

This asana has a number of important benefits. Warrior 2 strengthens and stretches the legs, ankles, groin, chest, shoulders and lungs. It stimulates the abdominal organs and increases stamina. And it is a said to be a good pose for osteoporosis. With all these benefits, why not add warrior 2 to your daily yoga practice? Below you can see the full expression of the pose by Lisa Johnson of Energies Balanced, and below that you can compare it to my pose.

My stance should be wider (my back leg should extend farther behind me, bringing my torso closer to the ground).  My right foot is turned inward too much, and should be at a right angle to my stance.  My gaze is proper and my arms are in pretty good alignment.  What I love about yoga is that even if my pose is not the full expression yet, I still reap great benefits. I hope you find these monthly yoga moves segments helpful. Let me know if you like them. If not, let me know how they can be improved.

 

yoga moves ~ triangle pose

For March’s yoga moves, Lisa Johnson of Energies Balanced makes this pose look easy. Lisa’s torso is active, moving upwards and sideways. It is not collapsing down on itself. Her arm is energetic and reaching skyward while she looks up at her hand. Her legs are straight and pushing down.

Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

In this photo I am using a block as a prop for my right hand to help me reach the ground. This prop helps my right side from collapsing. You can see between the photos of  Lisa and I that areas for me to to work on are extending my left arm, and torso.

A great way to understand your own body mechanics is to ask someone to take photos of you in different yoga poses, as we have done here, and compare them to the images of Lisa on this blog, or other yoga publications.

Either practice this pose by itself each day this month, or add it to a continued practice of down dog.

yoga moves ~ Downward Facing Dog

Yoga Moves is a new blog category on Cook With a View. Each month my yoga teacher, Lisa Johnson of Energies Balanced, and I will highlight a single pose to practice each day of the month. At the beginning of every month a new pose will be highlighted. You can practice each month’s new pose alone, or add it to the previous months’ so that your practice will grow. We have a set of twelve poses for you to to practice in 2011. I am not a yoga instructor. I suggest you practice with a certified instructor, and or with the aid of professional texts produced by certified yoga instructors to ensure you safely practice each pose. This blog is my exploration of wellness, and a place to share what I believe in, and I really believe in the benefits of a regular yoga practice. The benefits are great. More about the benefits in future months.

I have practiced many styles of yoga and have fallen in love with Iyengar yoga. Iyengar is not a flow yoga, but rather a yoga that focuses on alignment. It asks the practitioner to hold each pose (asana) for a length of time using the breath to deepen the experience. It is has been an opportunity for me to get to know my body in a whole new way. I have been practicing with Lisa once a week since March 2010 and have seen more growth in myself in these last 10 months of practice than in  7-8 years of practicing a variety of flow yogas. When I can’t make it to Lisa’s class I practice yoga at home. A home practice has helped me to feel the changes and move a little bit closer to the full expression of each pose. At home I use Rodney Yee’s Moving Toward Balance. I can’t recommend this book enough. This book has exceptional images of each pose in its proper alignment.

In the image of Lisa below, you can see  a few elements of proper alignment: straight arms, a flat back and upper torso. The upper torso is moving up and back (which you can’t see, but is an important element) and her heels are placed firmly on the ground. The back of her legs are moving downward toward the ground (something you can’t see). Poses in yoga are active and there is usually (always??) an active inner motion moving in opposite directions within the body.

Lisa in Adho Mukha Svanasana

Downward Facing Dog Adho Mukha Svanasana

Cat in Adho Mukha Svanasana, photo by T. Johnson

This pose, or asana, helps to loosen tight shoulders. This is a great pose to practice if you are on a computer all day, or hunched over for any other reason. My biggest trouble with down dog is keeping my elbows straight (you can see in the image of me that my elbows are bent – there’s always something to work on).  Sometimes Lisa has me use a belt around my arms at my bicep level and that helps (I’m not sure why, but it helps). I have such tight shoulders that its best for me to do a series of these and hold each one for as long as I can. At the end of practicing 3-5 of these I can really feel how my shoulders loosen up and make room for my neck and head to find a better alignment. Try and practice this asana each day for the month of February. Let me know how you do~ namaste