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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.
  • 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 ignite the digestive...

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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 noticed that despite...

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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 present. In almost...

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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 felt good for me...

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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 you’re thinking about starting—or...

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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 as I am...

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  • Shoulderstand - Save Your Neck with Yoga Blankets

    Shoulderstand on Yoga Blankets

    How 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 new perspectives, the foundation...

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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 there are yogis...

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  • Hanumanasana: Take a Flying Leap

    Hanumanasana with Block

    Hanumanasana: Take a Flying Leap
    A while back, I recounted the story of Anjaneya, a child prodigy—part monkey, godson of the wind god Vayu, and reincarnation of Shiva—that got himself into trouble for making a giant leap for the sun without the sun god’s permission. Long story short, Anjaneya was not only absolved of his crime, after some wrangling with the sun god, but even elevated to god status. Dubbed Hanuman, he took the form of a monkey-god.

    The Ramayana tells the story of Hanuman’s most famous good deed, a heroic leap to save the sensuous...

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  • Baddha Konasana - Barre to Blankets

    Baddha Konasana: Barre to Blankets
    During grade school, my sisters and I took ballet classes. We studied at the Cincinnati Conservatory with a lovely young dancer named Donna Ficker. A year or two into our lessons we had to find a new teacher when Donna’s mother moved the family to New York, where her younger sister Suzi changed her name to Suzanne Farrell and joined George Balanchine in the New York City Ballet. I particularly remember watching Suzi practice at the studio amid excited murmurs about her already burgeoning career.

    During our brief ballet career my dad, a gymnast with an eye...

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