Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sun Salutation

A sun salutation is a series of poses in yoga that flow together in a cyclical manner. My yoga class usually starts with some form of sun salutation. I find it helpful as a morning routine to wake me up, find my focus, and feel more balanced throughout the day.

To start, I breathe in, looking
and reaching up in mountain pose

As I exhale I move my hands down to Anjali mudra

With my next breath in, I get into Plank or Phalakasana

Then I touch the mat with my knees chest and chin
for Caterpillar or Ashtanga Namaskara
I stretch out into Cobra or Bhujangasana

Breathing In, I form a crescent shape 
with my back for Cow pose or Bitilasana

Breathing Out, I flatten my feet and 
arch my back in Cat pose or Marjaryasana

I repeat Cat and Cow a few times, focusing on the flow of breath with the movements:

I enter into Child's pose or Balasana for a brief moment

Then into Downward Facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana

I usually do some leg stretches while in downward dog:

Lunge Forward
Warrior II or Virabhadrasana II

I take Peaceful Warrior or
Shanti Virabhadrasana into a stretch
I lunge again, twisting to open my shoulders into
Revolved Side Angle or Parivrtta Parsvakonasana

I tilt forward into Warrior  III or Virabhadrasana and hold it as long as I can
Then I repeat the process on the other side (for my right leg in this example)


Yoga Practice

I've really been working on Warrior III or Virabhadrasana III

Definitely still need some work. My standing leg should be straighter

To work up to this pose, I've spent alot of time practicing half moon This pose opens the hip and shoulder while focusing on balance and the uddiyana bandha which will all come in handy in Warrior III.

Some other balancing poses:

Sugarcane or Ardha Chandra Chapasana
Sugarcane or Ardha Chandra Chapasana

Shoulder opening moves:
Bound Triangle or Baddha Trikonasana

Forward bend stretch

Revolved Side Angle or Utthita Parsvakonasana

Thursday, April 14, 2016


I started taking Yoga at Queens College in February 2016. I've been learning alot and cant help but wonder why I never tried yoga sooner. Sun salutations have quickly become part of my daily routine.

Yoga is an anaerobic activity with many physical and emotional/spiritual benefits. Strength, flexibility and stamina improve with yoga practice. Generally all anaerobic activities build muscle and improve respiratory fitness, making them an important companion to aerobic activities. The breathing techniques utilized in yoga have been proven to help treat hypertension and diabetes. Yoga and meditation provide stress relief and relaxation.

Spaced out Tadasana samasthiti or Mountain Pose with Anjali mudra

Yoga dates back to ancient times (roughly 600 BC) and has many ties with ancient cultures and religious beliefs. The names for many yoga poses come from Sanskrit, one of the earliest written languages.

Yoga consists of Asanas or poses, Mudras or hand symbols, and Bandhas or body locks.

Janana mudra in Svastikasana

Mudras effect the energy flow of the body. Mudra in Sanskrit means "seal or closure" which makes sense since the mudras are like a seal on the asanas, an extension of attitude, a gesture that completes the pose. Personally, I wasn't sure what to make of them at first, but I've been surprised at how much of an effect they have on me. Sometimes they help strengthen a pose, like in warrior three where I use my hands to balance and visualize energy flowing straight through me. At other times they have more of a spiritual value, like when the anjali mudra is used to bow in Namaste or the janana mudra in svastikasana for meditation (pictured above). Some great examples include Anjali Mudra (Prayer, pictured at the top), Padma Mudra (Lotus) & Janana Mudra (Ok, pictured above).

Garudasana or Eagle Pose

The Three Major Bandhas:
Jalandhara Bandha or Throat Lock involves tucking the chin into the chest, making the throat tight
Uddiyana Bandha is a contraction  or firing up of the abdominal muscles
Mula Bandha involves the pelvic floor or perineum being engaged and tightened

The Bandhas are points to focus on, ways to strengthen the asanas and really hold in the pose building endurance and strength. There have been so many times in class where I've been wobbling trying to find my balance and the instructor will call out to tighten up the uddiyana bandha and in doing so I find that I can firmly hold the pose.

If I fire up my Uddiyanna bandha in half moon pose or Ardha Chandrasana,
I can hold it on just the one leg without support from a block or bottom arm.

As I've expanded my studies of yoga outside the classroom, I've found some helpful sites and joined a new community of yogis on social media. I love the reversible design, grip of the material and thickness of the mat I purchased from Gaiam.

Yoga Journal has helpful pictures of poses as well as videos
and more information about the benefits of yoga.
I've been listening to Here Comes The Sun for Sun Salutations
& Nahko And Medicine For The People for general practice.