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 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
Posted in catherine's favorite things, Yoga Moves
Tagged Adho Mukha Svanasana, alignment, asana, Austin, balance, BKS Iyengar, Catherine Kenyon, cook with a view, down dog, downward facing dog, Energies Balanced, flow yoga, Iyengar, Lisa Johnson, Moving Toward Balance, pose, Rodney Yee, Wellness, yoga