Ten Moves Every Yoga Student Should Know

Learning yoga is much like learning to play an instrument, your body on yoga.  And with any new instrument you would start with a few basic cords, before you would progress to more difficult pieces.   So I’ve noticed while watching first timers and even long-time yoga students that people haven’t learned a few basic moves, (or chords).  These 10 basic foundation positions can help everyone learn yoga in a safe and pleasantly productive way. Practice the modifications where appropriate for your body.

1.). Down Dog.  Modification:  Table at a wall.

Why’s it so good?  Extension.

You’re learning to extend your spine.  Everything flows from your spine: arms, legs, head, they are all extensions off your axial skeleton (your torso).

2.) Lunges: Low Lunge, High Lunge

Why’s it so good?

You’re learning asymmetry in you body.  Front hip is contracted, back hip is extended.  Every pose from from here on out is going to be either symmetrical or asymmetrical.  Get it in your repertoire here before you move on to harder stuff.

3.)  Child’s Pose. Modification: Puppie Pose with buns in the air.

Why’s it so good?

It’s a rest.  You are learning to chill between actions.  It like the “Stay” command dog trainers use when they’re trying to calm the puppie dog within.

4.). A Balance Pose.     (Example: Tree, half moon, dancer)

Why’s it so good?

Every pose is going to teach you balance, your weight will either be front, back or even, left or right.  This foundational pose helps you to be aware of where you are holding your weight.

5.) A Forward Bend (example, a wide leg forward fold)

Why is it good?

You are maintaining the natural four curves of your spine while bending at the hip crease, thereby stretching your hamstrings and protecting your low back from strain.

6.). A Back bend

Why so good?   A back bend can help you beat the blues.  When your chest is expanded, your rib cage is open, you are looking up, it’s hard to feel down.  It’s the opposite of slumping, it’s plumping up for better things.

7.). Let’s throw in a twist.

…. and it goes like this.  Why is a twist so good?

In order to stay young you’ve got to move in all directions.  Twist from bottom up or top down, each little disc moving in relation to its adjacent one.

8.) Lateral Flextion. Triangle or Gate pose.

Why?  Because who woulda thunk the spine could move like this.  Tip it over to the side like a tea cup.

9.) Inversion.  Get gravity going in a different direction.  Try putting your legs up on a chair, or up the wall.

10.)  A Restorative.   Rest, relax, reflect.  It’s all good.

 

 

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Afternoon Delight

At Peets coffee in Walnut Creek.

At Peets coffee in Walnut Creek.

After class on Tuesdays around 4:30pm from the Yoga & Movement Center we often go out and socialize.  We like to order anything from hot coco, tea to martinis.  Mostly we share our life stories or book titles and yoga is the common language we all share.

 

 

 

 

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A Peaceful Moment in Times Square

with friends in Manhattan recently I asked for a peaceful moment in Times Square where I could collect my thoughts.

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Our trip to Portugal

Here are some sights:  the photo below is from the narrow streets and labyrinthine alleyways of the Alfama district of Lisbon.

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Praia da Rainha, a beautiful and lively beach in Cascais.

 

 

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On Yoga Retreat in Kauai…what I really learned

In March I went to Kauai on a yoga retreat lead by a woman named Angela.  I knew it was going to be a real special group of people cause they were Angela’s friends.  (My own best friend Marilyn had invited me on the retreat.)  You see a few months earlier Angela had lost her new husband, business partner and I think her guru when he Jonathan had died of a massive heart attack.  Five weeks before the retreat Angela had their baby.  Here she is smiling and holding her baby in what she quipped, “our first family photo”.  What I witnessed on this retreat was true grace and gratitude, how someone so young can embrace what foul balls life throws her way and hold her head up and be brave and happy for the miracle of life she has been given to tend.  I didn’t learn much about asana from this retreat, it was geared for younger and stronger yogis than I, but I will never forget her courage.

Angela and baby Amelia, photo of Jonathan

Angela and baby Amelia, photo of Jonathan

 

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Stabilize your core

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Let’s work on stabilizing our abdominal muscles this week.

See you in class!

Next session starts March.  Keep it up!

 

 

 

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Extended Side Angle Pose

Happy President’s Day!
This week’s pose is called Extended Side Angle Pose, Parsvakonasana.

From wide leg foot position, bend at the right hip socket, right elbow to the inner thigh.  Line up diagonally from left heel to crown of head.  Come to class this week and we’ll talk about it.   Namaste!

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Meet Warrior II

Meet Warrior 2, aka Vira II in the mirror.

Your feet are in the same position as triangle, (last week)
Front knee is bent, back leg straight and strong.
Torso upright.
Arms horizontal, lined up.

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Attitude is most important:
Set your gaze to infinity beyond the middle finger of you front hand with the fierceness of a warrior ready for the kill, the compassion of an angel, with the clarity of the wise-person.
When you embody this pose, I bow to your feet :))

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Triangle

Triangle (Trikonasana) is a classic pose, and it is deceptively easy to do.
Starters, line up your feet. Right heel lines up with left arch.
Ground your feet as you do in class. Then bend at the right hip,
not at the waist. You got it! Looking good!
Triangle

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London Bridge is going up . . .

Setu Bandha, Sanskrit, is Bridge pose.
Lying on back with knees bent, heels as close in as possible.
Tuck tailbone as much as possible. Lengthen back of neck and shoulders away from ears. On inhale, lift into your bridge pose. Hold a few breaths, then exhale your way down.
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