Reclining Hero – or – Supta Virasana

Reclining Hero – or – Supta Virasana

Reclining Hero, or in sanskrit: Supta Virasana, is an intermediate pose and should not be attempted unless you can comfortably sit on your bum while in virasana – or hero.
Starting from your hands and knees, knees and feet spread wide enough so that your bum can fit between them, on your exhale, slowly shift back your weight and bring your bum to the floor. Sit with this for a few breaths.
Then slowly, using your hands then forearms, on your exhale, shift your weight further back yet until your fully reclining.
It is advised (and handy) to use a bolster to support your back in a semi-reclining state until you are comfortable and are looking for a deeper stretch. Use the bolster in such a way that it aligns with your spine and supports your full back, not just your lower back.
Now, it is also very important to learn how to get out of this pose. Slowly, with your forearms pressed against the ground, flex your shoulderblades and bring your chest upward, trying to avoid leading (thus straining) with your neck or head, until you are in virasana. From here you can once again roll onto your hands and knees to an ideal partner pose of a cat/cow combination to softly release that quadriceps tension.

Supported Headstand -or- Salamba Sirsasana

Supported Headstand -or- Salamba Sirsasana

Salamba Sirsasana or supported headstand can become very dangerous so I want to clear this precaution first. When doing any exercise or work on the spine and neck it is incredibly important to be sensitive of the potential damage that can happen. One wrong move, or too much weight transferred to the neck and there is the potential to slip disks or crush cartilage in the neck.
It is very helpful to start your headstand journey with a spotter or partner to hold your legs as you find balance.
That said, build up to this position. When entering, slowly transfer the weight from your shoulders and forearms to your head, and the same when exiting.
To start, kneel on the floor and lace your fingers together – forearms fully on the floor and elbows slightly wider than shoulder width.
Now set the crown of your head on the floor, and the back of your head right into the hands clasped – inhale – and begin to lift your knees off the ground. Slowly start walking your toes towards your head.
Feel your hips lifting, strengthening through the shoulders – exhale – and lift both feet off the floor at once. Maybe a hop will help. Firm your tailbone against your pelvis, feel the strength, and slowly bring your heels towards the sky.
From here, widen those shoulder blades and feel the length of your body extend upward to the sky to help lift some of that weight off your head.
10 seconds is a great amount of time to hold this pose for – exhale – and slowly bring your feet back to the ground and walk yourself back to a downward dog, and even a fully extended flop on the floor.
Congratulations! You just did Salamba Sirsasana, a fairly advanced asana!

Lord of the Dance

Lord of the Dance

As autumn pushes into our lives, it’s easy to start internalizing a lot of our emotions. Preparation for winter, our warm sweaters and blankets come out of their hiding places, we maybe light the fire for the first time, and find ourselves sitting with a hot cup of tea in our hands just thinking. Internalizing our emotions isn’t a healthy practice in the long run because those emotions really do need an outlet or they will start to manifest in all sorts of traumatic experiences.
Yoga helps in the process of releasing our emotions. Hip openers for women are notorious for this. I wonder if you are nodding your head in agreement here, having experienced wild emotions when you’re doing a hip opener asana?
Lord of the Dance – or Natarajasana – is a way to release those emotions. Can you just feel @katyclare reaching for her true Shiva inside?
A neat fact, Nataraja is also known as Shiva, who represents the cosmic energy of the world. Go on, let your cosmic brilliance shine!

Utthita Parsvakonasana: Extended Side Angle Pose

Utthita Parsvakonasana: Extended Side Angle Pose

The extended side angle pose, also known as Utthita Parsvakonasana, is a great asana for strengthening the hips and core of a yogi. When reaching up, one can really feel the stretch deepen, and with some variations, the core can really be challenged and strengthened.
To begin, start in tadasana and on your exhale, step to one side so your feet are a good stretch apart. On inhale, turn your back foot to a 90 degree angle, and let your front foot turn slightly to find balance. At this point, you want the center of your forward kneecap to be aligned with it’s ankle, perpendicular to the floor. On exhale, bring your back arm in a big circle to the sky, and rest your forward arm on the knee right there.
Once here, your head can look forward or to the side where it feels natural, or it can follow your upper hand to the sky, but this will test the strength of your neck.
Breathing here, bring your forward thigh to a bend that’s parallel to the floor, strengthening through the pelvis and bum.
If you feel so inclined, bring your lower hand to the floor, on the inside of your knee.
Another variation is to, on an exhale, shift your entire body to the front foot, lifting and extending your back leg straight out, parallel to the floor.
Now take a photograph and tag me in it on social media! I’d love to see 🙂 @carlawainwright
Carla Wainwright - asana - Extended Side Angle Pose

Yoga at Home vs. at the Studio

Yoga at Home vs. at the Studio

Doing yoga at home can have many benefits. The first being, of course, that it costs a lot less. Another is that you can lead yourself through your own yoga practice if you have one you know and love.
However, it can be a bit dangerous for those yogis that haven’t already developed a strong foundation. Part of going to a yoga class is that yoga instructors are there looking out for you, correcting your posture and offering suggestions. Improper posture practiced over a long term can harm a body. Be careful!
Following a class along online can be very enjoyable for those looking for inspiration, but it can also lead to attempting to find very complex asanas. Without the necessary experience getting into or out of these asanas, this can lead to injury. So be careful out there! Remember to work into poses you can’t quite find by starting with alternative poses or supporting ones. Skilled teachers will be able to see their students struggling with asanas and give those suggestions.
Most of all, both in the studio and in your home practice, have fun! Good yoga instructors can offer some fun energy that you just can’t pull into your home practice, their classes usually fill up. However, this can just as easily be part of your own yoga practice. See what type of energy you can manifest.

Crane or Crow Pose ~ Bakasana

Crane or Crow Pose ~ Bakasana

 
Carla Wainwright - asana crane pose
The crane or crow pose. In sanskrit: Bakasana. Feel your balance. Breathe your strength. Flex your fingertips. Float through life with power!
To enter into the pose, slowly roll onto your tipy-toes, putting more weight onto your elbows from your knees, then float on!