yoga anatomy

Summer of Psoas: Home Practice MP3

Below is a home practice MP3 with a sequence like a highlight reel from classes during Spring/Summer 2018. 

There is a quiet emphasis on opening the psoas - the muscle that connects your spine and legs. In my experience, this muscle is a lynchpin for freedom and fluidity in your body. 

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This 25-minute home practice is complete on it's own, and you could always continue with meditation, pranayama or use this as a warm-up for a longer practice. 

Click Here to Download the MP3 or listen with the player below. 

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Sthira-Sukham Asanam

Patanjali's version of Yoga is quite different than "modern postural yoga". So is this text still meaningful and relevant? I think so. However, you have to do a little translating to make the text culturally and historically relevant. 

For example: The most popular sutra on Asana (and one of only 3 sutras on asana!) says: 

2.46 Sthira-Sukham Asanam

Loosely translated, this could mean "the seat should be steady and easeful" but let's unpack it a little bit more... 

Asana – often translated to "seat". Asana can also mean abiding, dwelling, inhabiting. The emphasis here is being present, grounded and committed to whatever you are doing when you are doing it.

Sthira – steadiness, strength, to stand or to be firm. It has a relationship to the Sanskrit word Asthi which means bones. Your bones are the support for your body. In posture practice, when you align with the architecture of your bones, there is release in the muscles and space in the joints. 

Sukha – Often translated to easeful or joyful, agreeable, and gentle. The word literally breaks down to "Good Space". When you first create steadiness through your bones, then every movement has grace and ease. The joints sing with space and the muscle sigh with support. 

 

Want a little more insight? Here is a 15 minute lecture about Patanjali's instructions for "Asana" and how you can translate it for your practice. Below the lecture recording is a Home Practice MP3 based on a Stira-Sukham class from Yoga Club. 

Click Here to Download the Sthira Sukham Practice MP3.  (this file is too large for the website to host, so you will be taken to Google Drive to download) 

Powered by Prana

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Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life? 
~Mary Oliver


I feel like I was a walking head before yoga.

Even though I played competitive sports and was active, I wasn't really communicating with my body. Oh, there were plenty of commands - run faster, you can do it, no pain, no gain -  but very little conversation.

When I first started yoga, it was like I had to translate everything - put your left foot forward... okay....left.... foot... where is my left foot?... now, forward... more forward... come on left foot! ..... why doesn't it get to the top of the mat? ... -  Anyone else have that in their head? Progress was slow, but progress came, and it came more quickly once I understood the role of the breath and the bandhas. 

It's like you come to yoga with a "flat tire" for a body - even if you're active, there is rarely awareness. The yoga postures and alignment start the conversation. You begin to feel -  which can be as simple as equal weight on your feet, as subtle as the stacking of your bones, or as complex as the emotions that arise when a pose is challenging, unfamiliar, or uncomfortable.
 
And as you begin to feel, your inner awareness unfolds, reaching ever deeper, to subtle concepts like the bandhas.  As seals, the bandhas patch up "leaks" - weaknesses, sleepy deep core muscles, underutilized stabilizers - and strengthen you from the inside out. The bandhas also create more of a container inside of your body. Which is why they are a prerequisite for pranayama - breath expansion practices.

Pranayama comes from two words. Prana which is life force, vitality, eternal energy. It's like Qi in other Eastern Traditions or Mana in the Hawaiian Tradition. Ayama means to liberate or remove restraints. When you dissect the word, you see that pranayama is designed to invigorate, expand, and liberate the life force and energy inside of you. 
 
Once the breath has a strong container, a solid vessel, it gains momentum. Then you pump prana into the body.  Prana creates space and potential for something new to arise, for transformation to occur. It inflates and enlivens your body with awareness. 

Instead of clunking along with a flat tire, you cruise, glide, and really ride the vibrancy of being in-body. 
 
This is how yoga makes you more youthful and vital. This is what sustains your practice for a lifetime. This is the alignment of feeling uplifted inside and out. 


"Without full awareness of breathing, there can be no development of meditative stability and understanding."
~Thich Nhat Hanh