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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.
  • Upavista Konasana: From Side Splits to Stillness

    Upavista Konasana: From Side Splits to Stillness
    My dad was a competitive gymnast in his teens and 20s. When he stopped competing, he still enjoyed practicing in our yard on his pommel horse. My sisters and I inherited his athleticism in various ways, but I ended up with the lion’s share of his flexibility.

    While my sisters and I had fun crawling around the yard, spider-like, in backbends—what yoga practitioners call Upward Bow—I was the only one who could flop down into side splits and bend forward with a perfectly straight back and rest my chin on the ground...

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  • Gomukhasana: Facing the Cow

    Gomukhasana: Facing the Cow
    It’s common knowledge that cows hold sacred status in India. To ancient nomadic and farmers, cows represented wealth, nourishment and nurturance. While they are valued for their milk that yields staples of the Indian diet—ghee, yogurt and cheese—cows are not slaughtered for their flesh. Only when a cow dies of old age can her hide be made into shoes.

    In Hindu mythology, Nandi the bull is a constant companion to Shiva, the Lord of Yoga. Nandi not only provides Shiva with ground transportation, but he also shuttles Shiva and his wife Parvati around the Universe.

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  • Parvrtta Sukhasana: Ease with a Twist

    Parvrtta Sukhasana: Ease with a Twist
    I recently had the good fortune to sit a 10-day silent Insight Meditation retreat. A friend once compared these sitting marathons to extreme sports, calling them “extreme sitting.” It’s kind of true. All in all, at this particular retreat, we sat for almost eight hours every day, alternating with five hours of walking meditation, in 45-minute increments.

    In 1988, when I first started going to silent retreats, I was surprised by how rigorous it was for my body to sit that long. There were burning, stabbing, pulsating, vibrating, piercing sensations pretty much everywhere...

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  • Jathara Parivartanasana: Expand your Elixir Field


    Jathara Parivartanasana:  Expand your Elixir Field
    If you plant a garden, you know that August is your garden’s most bounteous month. Squash, eggplant, potatoes, onions, sweet corn, peppers, and of course, succulent tomatoes—an altogether different fruit from the mealy, pinkish orbs in the grocery store—are plentiful and at their juicy best. Late summer is the time we harvest and assimilate Earth’s bounty, the fruits of our labors.

    It’s likely no coincidence then that Chinese medicine designates late summer as the time when the Earth element is predominant. It is also fitting that...

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  • Bhujangasana - Cobra Pose: The Yogic Snake Dance

    Cobra Pose - The Yogic Snake Dance


    Few members of the animal kingdom elicit more passionate reactions than snakes. Mostly known for their stealthy, slithery sinews and the venomous bites of some species, snakes have largely gotten a bad rap over the centuries.

    The truth is, as snake-a-holic David E. Jensen pointed out in the June Catalyst (“Confessions of a snake-a-holic”), most snakes are harmless. Snakes are stealthy and swift, despite their lack of limbs. And they can dance with uncanny grace, and not just to the movements of a snake charmer’s...

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  • Shoulderstand: How to Invert Safely


    Salamba Sarvangasana:  Bloom a New Perspective
    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...

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  • Vasisthasana: Balancing Outside Your Comfort Zone


    Vasisthasana:  Balancing Outside Your Comfort Zone
    If you practice yoga, you probably favor some poses over others. Most of us like the poses that are easy for us as well as the ones that show off our strengths. The others, not so much. At some point in my 30 years of practice, almost every pose that’s been within my reach has held favorite status for me, at least for a while. Since every pose influences the mind-body in a different way at life’s different junctures, all yoga’s asanas...

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  • Ardha Chandrasana: Dynamic Balance

    Ardha Chandrasana:  Dynamic Balance
    Some schools of yoga teach that it’s best not to practice on the two ends of the moon’s cycle—the full and new moons. The theory is that because our bodies are mostly made of water, like the tides of the ocean, the tides of our cells shift with the phases of the moon. During the full moon, our energies tend to rise—have you ever had trouble sleeping on a full moon night? When our energies are higher, we are more likely to challenge ourselves to the point of injury. During the new moon, our energies tend...

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  • Utkatasana: Awaken Your Inner Fire

    Utkatasana:  Not a Chair Pose


    Have you ever seen the famous paintings of ancient Indian yogis sitting in chairs meditating? Me neither. Over the millennia, the vast majority of sadhus who committed themselves to the yogic life owned little more than the minimal clothing they were wearing, along with a bowl and utensils for collecting their daily alms of rice. Most of them likely never saw a chair, let alone sat on one.

    So, like last month’s pose, Malasana, the original Sanskrit name for this month’s pose, Utkatasana, has absolutely nothing...

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  • Viparita Karani: Legs Up the Wall

    Viparita Karani - Legs Up the Wall Pose

    The yoga blog, it’s all yoga, baby, just tipped us off that this week—February 4-10—is National Legs Up the Wall Week. Apparently Toronto-based yoga teacher, David Good, feels that taking a load off your busy legs and your busy life is worth designating a week for. We agree.

    It’s a genius idea, actually. In our Western addiction to busyness we often feel we have to justify taking time out, even if it’s to practice a Restorative pose. If we’re not jumping around from one pose to...

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