Posts by: Emily Shaw
Join us for the second session of the One-Pose-at-a-Time, now through February 14. Whether you’re seeking refinement of a difficult posture, or simply looking to get a new perspective on a familiar asana, this series can help you deepen your practice. It’s also a chance to take a class with some of boundless’ newest teachers
This Week’s Pose: Prasarita Padottanasana
As a new yogi, Prasarita Padottanasana, didn’t seem like much of a pose to me. It felt more like a gym class stretch, or a preparation for other asanas. Perhaps this was because the shape is reminiscent of calisthenics. Padottanasana reveals its secrets slowly, in finding the difference between bending forward and bending down, in learning to ground the feet in the outer and inner edges, and in bending from the hips rather than from the waist.
This Week’s Pose: Virabhadrasana II
Linked by it’s name to Virabhadrasana I, Warrior two is a similarly fierce pose. I often think of this pose as a fencer’s lunge. In Virabhadrasana II, the practitioner extends his or her reach as far forward as possible, while keeping the back foot strongly grounded. If this pose indeed has roots in martial arts you could see why– the pose allows for a quick jab of the extended arm, and the possibility of retreat or further advancement. Come join boundless this Sunday for an exploration of Virabadrasana II.
This Week’s Pose: Virabhadrasana I
Virabhdrasana I is no half-hearted posture. It is like a warrior stilled mid-stride. It is captured movement. The front leg lunges forward while the back leg reaches back and grounds the pose. Likewise, the hips both contain the movement of the thighs, and connect the solid legs to an expansive chest and arms.
This Week’s Pose: Trikonasana
This week’s One Pose is Trikonasana. It’s the first asymmetrical pose in the series where the sides of the body do not mirror each other. Yet there is something very natural about the star-like shape the body takes in Triangle Pose. The action of coming into the pose has often reminded me of Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawing of classical proportions, the Vitruvian Man. If you look closely at the Vitruvian Man you can see him standing with legs together as well as with legs apart, as if he is setting up for Trikonasana.
This Week’s Pose: Bhujangasana
Think of a snake. They are almost all spine. The snake’s long spine would appear to be fragile, but it is wrapped and stabilized by a lattice of muscle. This combination of makes them capable of grace and power simultaneously.
The aptly named bhujangasana, or cobra pose, captures flexibility and strength of a snake. Bhujangasana takes the attitude of a cobra hooding up in a threat display. The spine extends, supported by a network of muscle, and the chest broadens and lengthens. The limbs are secondary in this pose.
Since we’re not snakes, bhujangasana can be a challenging and subtle pose. Learning to rely on the strength of the small muscles of the back is hard when you’re not used to it. Cobra pose can help build strength and flexibility for deeper backbends.
Join boundless this Sunday, October 25 for an exploration of bhujangasana.
One Pose at a Time: Salabasana
Salabasana, or locust pose, prepares the body for deeper backbends, increasing the strength and flexibility of the muscles on either side of the spine.
Many people don’t realize that these muscles of the back, like the abdominals, are part of the ‘core’ that protects the spinal column.
Practicing salabasana starts out as rather thankless work. It takes a while to build strength among the lattice of muscles along the vertebrae. Even for an experienced practitioner, salabasana is a subtle pose, a shallow backbend with more length than curve to it. It a good way to practice distributing the curve of a backbend evenly along the spine. Mastering locust translates into better backbends all around.
This Sunday: Chaturanga Dandasana with Kristen Krash
If you’re like me, Chaturanga is your nemesis.
It appears deceptively simple—body extended, arms tucked in at the sides, weight balanced between hands and feet. But finding the combination of strength and length to push your prone body off the ground is surprisingly difficult. When it’s done well, a body in chaturanga appears weightless, contained front to back and lengthened head to toes, simultaneously.
Join Kristen this Sunday October 11, for an exploration chaturanga dandasana, one of the most challenging asanas in the yoga canon.
This Week’s Pose: Adho Mukha Svanasana
I’ve struggled with adho mukha svanasana since I first practiced yoga in 2000. I’d get so nervous in the pose that my palms and feet would sweat, and I’d find myself slipping and sliding all over my mat. More recently, I’ve been working on bringing weight out of my arms to distribute it more evenly through my body.
In my drawing I show down dog the way I like to experience it—with weight balanced between hands and feet, a long torso, and a relaxed neck—so that the practitioner experiences the calm energy of this pose.
This Week’s Pose: Uttanasana
I’ve always enjoyed coming into uttanasana. My body moves naturally into forward folds. Bringing my head forward and down helps quiet my mind and senses. Like child’s pose, uttanasana’s effects vary depending on the practitioner’s intention. Uttanasana can be a short break between strenuous poses, an intense hamstring stretch, or a preparation for handstand when the torso and arms are extended towards the wall. By focusing on extending the front of the spine and opening the chest across the collarbones and from sternum to pubis, the pose becomes expansive as well as calming.
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