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Yoga Pose of the Month

Poses are a mainstay of yoga. We look to provide you with insight into the various poses, their origins and their value to your yoga practice.
  • Bakasana: Not Just a Party Trick

    It’s the season of colored lights, familiar carols and full calendars. In December we’re often juggling family, friends, gift-buying and parties. The dizzying pace can often leave us feeling unbalanced. Yoga has remedies for this. My favorites are Restorative practice, long Savasanas and balancing poses.

    Balancing poses not only teach the extremely valuable skill of balancing, but they can also collect a fragmented mind. They require concentration, so they teach us about concentration.

    At the mention of balancing poses, we often think of Vrksasana (Tree Pose) or Hasta Padangusthasana (Standing Big-Toe Pose). But standing on one foot is...

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  • Vrksasana: Growing Roots

    Trees are our partners in keeping this living, breathing planet alive. We inhale the oxygen that trees exhale, and they inhale the carbon dioxide we exhale. We are inextricably tied together.

    Trees can also teach us about the importance of cultivating roots. While only the trunk, branches and leaves are usually visible to us, the roots of most trees are just as massive as what’s above ground. Knowing that this complex invisible root system is what keeps a tree upright can teach us about grounding our own bodies.

    Vrksasana (Tree Pose) emulates the steady, rooted stance of a...

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  • Fire Log Pose: Ignite Your Inner Fire

    Agnistambhasana: Fire Log Pose
    Fire transforms—wood into ashes, ice into water and then into steam, raw ingredients into a warming meal. In the Vedas of ancient India, fire was personified by the two-headed fire god Agni. Stemming from the same root as the Latin ignire (to ignite), Agni was the force behind heat, light and will power. According to the Vedas, Agni fueled the sun, the stars and lightning.

    In Ayurveda, Agni is the word for digestive fire, the energy that ignites the organs of digestion to process the food we consume. This month’s pose, Agnistambhasana (agni=fire, stambh=log) helps...

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  • Ardha Padmasana: A Lotus Pose for Everybody

    Supta Ardha Padmasana: A Lotus Pose for Everybody
    In 2001, I co-taught a teacher training with Donna Farhi in Vancouver, BC. The 50 attendees were experienced yoga teachers and body workers from all over the world. During the training we questioned teaching methodologies that shoehorn students into a one-size-fits-all model.

    One misconception we talked about was the perceived necessity of practicing what is probably yoga’s most emblematic pose: Padmasana (Lotus Pose). That day we spent two hours practicing the poses Donna practices to prep her body for Lotus. When we tried Padmasana toward the end of the class, I...

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  • Supta Padangusthasana: Sustainable Stretching

    Supta Padangusthasana: Sustainable Stretching
    There are many reasons people decide to start practicing yoga. For me, it was simple curiosity, at least at first. Many of my students come to yoga to bring some calm to their lives. Some want to increase flexibility. A healthy percentage of my students originally came to practice hoping to resolve a physical issue, especially back pain. Whatever your intention, practicing yoga can indeed confer these benefits, along with other unexpected rewards.

    This month’s pose is one of my favorites for increasing mobility, helping alleviate back pain, and for helping connect students to the...

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  • Parsvakonasana: Finding Continuity

    Parsvakonasana

    Parsvakonasana: Finding Continuity
    Utthita Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Pose) is a pillar among standing poses. It combines strong grounding with expansion and spinal rotation. It looks like a lateral stretch, and may even feel somewhat like one, but it’s not. In a true lateral stretch, your pelvis is not moving in the same direction as your spine (think Parighasana or Gate Latch Pose). In Side Angle Pose, your legs, pelvis, spine and head are all on a continuum. Finding that continuum is the art of the asana.

    Utthita Parsvakonasana is one of the poses that...

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  • Talasana: Sway Like a Palm Tree

    January signifies new beginnings, a fresh, new, canvas on which to paint our intentions. The new year often inspires a commitment to living a healthier lifestyle, including caring for our bodies, stimulating our minds and seeking new, revitalizing experiences, or experimenting with balancing what we already do with practices that complement our lives.

    The key is patience. Changes, big or small, take time. It takes time to form new habits. While you may feel the urge to jump into your new regimen with both feet, sometimes it’s wise to start by dipping a few toes in first.

    If...

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  • Instant Maui - Your 20-Minute Vacation

    Take a Midwinter Break in Instant Maui
    It’s the season of short days, long nights and monumental to-do lists. Potlucks, concerts, rehearsals (for those of us who play holiday concerts) and gifting take us out of our usual routines. At a time when our schedules are stuffed to capacity, often the first things to get knocked off our to-do list are those niceties we do to take care of ourselves.

    I’m writing this month to suggest—strongly—that you leave at least one of your self-nurturing habits on your list. Please note that I’m making this suggestion for myself as much...

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  • Shoulderstand - Save Your Neck with Yoga Blankets

    Shoulderstand on Yoga BlanketsHow Using Yoga Blankets in Shoulderstand Can Save Your Neck

    Looking to see the world from a new perspective? Going upside-down is one way to shift your point of view—literally.

    Inverted yoga poses are perfect for cultivating fertile creative ground in the body/mind. In addition to their many physical benefits, inversions are said to allow us to see with new eyes. When we turn upside down, the world looks different. The world hasn’t fundamentally changed of course; it is our relationship with it that has changed. This shift opens us to...

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  • Urdhva Mukha Prasarita Padottanasana

    Urdhva Mukha Prasarita Padottanasana: Hugging the Earth
    I’d like to propose an inevitability to accompany death and taxes: gravity. In fact it’s arguable that gravity is more consistently inevitable than taxes, because there are ways to get around paying taxes if you can afford it. None of us escapes gravity.

    Gravity is responsible for keeping us from floating off the surface of the Earth. It is also responsible Earth’s orbit around the sun and the moon’s orbit around us. It is partly responsible for the tides. Yes, there are some who get to play around in anti-gravity environments, and...

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