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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.
  • 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...

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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...

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  • Revolved Lunge - Settle In

    revolved


    Revolved Lunge aka Chaise Lounge Pose
    Born to Anjana (a supernatural woman) and Kesari (king of the monkeys), Anjaneya had magical powers and royalty in his genetic inheritance. His godfather was Vayu, the wind god. Anjaneya was considered to be the reincarnation of Lord Shiva. His auspicious pedigree made him a bit of a star among mortals.

    According to legend, Anjaneya once mistook the sun for a glowing piece of fruit. In an effort to grab it for himself, Anjaneya leapt repeatedly, much to the annoyance of Indra, the sun god. After all...

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  • Chaturanga Dandasana: Help from Your Hyoid

    Chaturanga Dandasana

    Chaturanga Dandasana:  Help from Your Hyoid
    What’s an eight-syllable name that, when spoken by a yoga teacher, elicits fear (or at least, a groan) in roughly half the population that practices yoga? The same phrase evokes a feeling of invincible awesomeness in many others. The answer:  Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose).

    Chaturanga looks like a push-up, but it’s not a push-up. It is primarily practiced as a transition pose in Sun Salutations, often between Downward Facing Dog and Upward Facing Dog or Cobra. Chaturanga requires a great deal of upper body strength, and...

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  • Bridge Pose: Get Out of Your Chair

    Bridge Pose: The Best Anti-Sitting Pose
    We all do it. Every day. Hunched over a computer, grasping a steering wheel, slouched on the couch or settled onto a meditation cushion—we all sit, sometimes for hours at a time.

    We take sitting in chairs for granted. It’s the go-to position for pretty much everything we do on a regular basis. Like standing and lying down, it’s something most of our bodies are designed to do. The problem lies in the extraordinary lengths of uninterrupted sitting time to which we’ve grown accustomed.

    All kinds of physical/mental problems arise when we...

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  • Hasta Padangusthasana - Time to Fly

    Last month I wrote about Garudhasana (Eagle Pose), a pose that honors Garuda, the eagle god whose 40-mile wingspan caused hurricanes and dried up the oceans whenever he took flight. Garudhasana spreads our wings (shoulderblades) and our deep hip rotators, preparing us for flight. In a sense it is a jumping-off point for the expansion that April—derived from the Latin word aperire, meaning “to open”— symbolizes. This month’s pose, Utthita Hasta Pangusthasana (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose) expresses the unfurling of our bodies to take flight.

    Utthita Hasta Padanghustasana (utthita=extended, hasta=hand, padangusthasana=big toe pose) does not have Garudhasana’s...

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  • Garudhasana: How to Spread Your Wings

    Garudhasana: How to Spread Your Wings
    As gods go, Garuda is gargantuan. When he was first hatched from a giant egg, the half-man, half-eagle’s monstrous size so frightened the other Hindu gods that they implored him to shrink himself, which he happily did. Who knew that even gods have size issues?

    Garuda is known for his ability to grow and shrink in size at will, and to appear and disappear. The Buddhist version of Garuda is said to have had a 40-mile wingspan. When he flaps his wings, Garuda dries up the waters of the ocean in order to...

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  • Utthita Parsvakonasana: Face the Freeze with Ease

    Utthita Parsvakonasana:  Face the Freeze with Ease
    It’s sunny and 14 degrees outside. The basement office in my 1917 bungalow is probably sub-60 degrees. I’ve been wearing layers indoors for more than a month. Every time I remember to pay attention, I find my shoulders ever-so-slightly hunched up and pulled forward, my body reflexively trying to guard against the cold.

    But here’s the thing. Hunching up and pulling in doesn’t help. It doesn’t make me even a fraction of a degree warmer. All it does is create tension and stress and restrict my breathing.

    I explored this on...

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  • Ardha Supta Virasana: The Courage to Open

    Ardha Supta Virasana: The Courage to Open
    What do skiing and sitting in chairs have in common? Well, not much in terms of musculoskeletal engagement, adrenal activity and sensory delight. However, there is one thing that both have in common. When you sit and when you ski, your hip joints are in a flexed position, i.e. you are bent forward at the hips.

    There’s nothing wrong with flexing at the hip joints; our bodies are meant to do that when we sit, walk, ride a bike or ski. But most of us spend a significant portion of our lives...

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  • Supta Baddhakonasana: Rest and Digest

    Supta

    Supta Baddhakonasana:  Rest and Digest
    As daylight hours wane, all living things naturally turn inward. Autumn is the time of inward and downward flow. In autumn, we hunker down, settle into our roots, and let go of what is no longer needed.

    As trees release of their leaves and plants turn brown and brittle, we also let go of the high-energy vibrancy of the sun’s radiance, in favor of the muted light of its more oblique rays. Consciously or subconsciously, we often mourn the seeming loss of summer’s...

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