Utthita hasta padangusthasana

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“Utthita” — meaning “extended”

“Hasta”— meaning “hand”

“Pada” — meaning “foot”

“Angusta” — meaning “big toe”

“Asana” — meaning “pose”

With utthita hasta padangusthasana, a ‘still mind makes for a still body’; the best way to focus your mind in this position is to fix your vision on a single point on the floor to help stand fast on the balancing leg (see above picture).

How to get into the position

From a standing position, you simply inhale and bring your right knee toward your torso bringing the knee as high as you can (to release the hip) and grasp the foot with both hands.  You then exhale and extend the leg out in front of you and fold above the thigh by moving the chest forward and the hips back.  The goal of this posture is to hold the leg in the hip (and not to hold the leg by the arm).  Do not bend the knee and do not collapse the hip.

Variations to utthita hasta padangusthasana include simply standing with the leg extended out in front of you with the palms on the lower back, to begin with.  Once you have mastered this, you can try holding onto the big toe with just one hand (grasping the toe with the first two fingers and thumb).

You hold the position for five whole breaths and then repeat it on the other side for the same length of time.  Don’t worry if you fall out if the position to begin with.  Balancing postures take time and persistence to master.

Benefits

  • Strengthens the legs and ankles and opens the shoulders, arms and hips
  • Builds muscle tone in the hamstrings at the backs of the legs
  • Improves balance and concentration levels

Contraindications 

Avoid this posture if you have any ankle or lower back issues.

Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga.  To book a class with Damian you can contact him by:

Email: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com

Tel: 0777 900 1896

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/queensroadyoga/

Uttitha Trikonasana

_mg_0348Uttitha Trikonasana or ‘extended triangle pose’ is a posture which has many variations.  In the Prana Vashya Yoga primary series, Uttitha Trikonasana is performed with one hand on the foot or ankle or shin (and not on the floor) – as pictured above.  The reason being, that the intention of the position is to stretch the upper torso (and not the hamstrings – as would be the case if you placed your lower hand on the floor).

To get into triangle pose start by standing with your feet 3 – 4 feet apart and, inhaling, open the arms out to the sides level with the shoulders, palms facing down.  Then turn both your feet to the right hand side planting them firmly into the floor and, exhaling, lean to the right extending the torso and reaching the lower hand towards the foot/ankle.  The upper hand should then be extended directly above the shoulder and you should look up at your raised hand.  That being said, if you have any stiffness in your hips then this can often be felt as stiffness in the neck in this position.  If this is the case then look at the floor and not the upper hand.  Also do this if you have any issues with high blood pressure.

It can help to imagine that you are sandwiched between two panes of glass when in Uttitha Trikonasana.  This is because the key to alignment in this posture is the position of the hips.  Do not look at the floor as you come into Uttitha Trikonasana and keep facing forward.  The temptation is to look at the body part or limb that you have to move to get into position.  However, if you do this it will affect the proper alignment of the hips.  Another thing to look put for is to keep the raised arm straight up and not to let it go behind the body as this will also compromise the alignment of the hips.  Finally, do not put weight on the lower palm or else the hip will collapse and the influence on the torso will be lost.

If you have any issues with your lower back then Uttitha Trikonasana can be done with the upper hand on the lower back (as opposed to the hand being extended directly above the shoulder) as this pose is generally good for relieving backache.   Uttitha Trikonasana also has many other benefits including reducing body fat from the waistline, increases muscle tone in the thighs, hamstrings, calves and shoulders and stretches the ankles, groin, torso and spine.

Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga.  To book a class with Damian you can contact him by:

Email: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com

Tel: 0777 900 1896

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/queensroadyoga/

Garudasana

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Garuda is a bird creature from Hindu mythology that has a mix of eagle and human features. Garuda is the vehicle (vahana) of Vishnu and appears on Vishnu’s banner. This is asana is therefore commonly called ‘Eagle Pose’.

Getting into this yoga position can be quite a challenge at first. Whilst in standing position, open your arms wide and level with your shoulders and, at the same time, lift your left knee up, as high as possible (the higher you lift your knee, the easier it is to bind around the standing leg).  With the knee lifted and balancing on your right foot, cross your left thigh over the right and hook the top of the foot behind the lower right calf and keep balancing on the right foot.

Next, you have to cross your open arms in front of your torso (like you are giving yourself a hug) so that the left arm is above the right (with your elbows bent) until your palms are pressed together. Your elbows should be pushing down so as to compress the lymph nodes.  As such, this yoga posture helps regulate body temperature by compressing the lymph nodes.

Garudasana also stretches and releases tension from the upper back, shoulders, hips, thighs, calves and ankles and helps with Sciatica.  Do avoid this pose if you have any knee issues.

Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga.  The Prana Vashya Yoga School on Queens Road in Leicester is now open.  Please contact Damian for class time details, etc:

Email: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com

Tel: 0777 900 1896

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/queensroadyoga/

Dhanurasana

Dhanurasana means ‘posture held in the position of a bow’: “Dhanu” means ‘bow’ and “Asana” means ‘pose’. So, when you reach the final position the body resembles a bow (the abdomen and thigh representing the wooden part of the bow and the legs lower parts and arms representing the bowstring). To reach the final position you need to lie on the ground on your front, stretch your legs as straight as possible, bend your knees lifting your thighs off the floor (inhaling) and catch hold of your ankles with your hands behind the back. Then exhale and raise your torso off the floor (weight on the thighs) bending your back like the shape of a bow.

Dhanurasana is a position known for many health benefits and advantages like strengthening the lower back, making your entire spine flexible and supple and reliving stiffness. This position also helps dissolve fat around the abdominal region helping with weight loss. In addition, by holding Dhanurasana you also massage your liver (which aids digestion) and blood is flushed throughout the entire body cleansing it and allowing the kidneys to work more efficiently. Further still, the secretion of the adrenal and thyroid glands is regularised as blood is flushed through the glands.  Finally, this posture works the following muscles (see the diagram below):

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Dhanurasana is not suitable for everyone. Anyone who suffers from heart problems and/or high blood pressure should avoid this position; as should anyone with a hernia or abdominal issues (like ulcers or appendicitis) or serious back/neck issues.

To get the best out the posture try to use the leg muscles only and place the weight of the body into the thighs, letting the back be passively bend backwards. You also need to ensure that you breathe into the chest (and not the abdomen) when holding Dhanurasana. To assist with this, you can lie on a folded blanket to pad the lower abdomen until you get used to where the weight of the body should be. With regular practice, it will become easier.

Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga.  The Prana Vashya Yoga School on Queens Road in Leicester is now open.  Please contact Damian for class time details, etc:

Email: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com

Tel: 0777 900 1896

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/queensroadyoga/

 

Matsyãsana – the destroyer of all diseases

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The extreme extension of the spine in this position (see the photograph above) releases tension from the thoracic cavity.  The thoracic cavity protects and holds the lungs, heart, etc.  We compress the front/anterior side of our body all the time, like whenever we forward bend in our normal day to day activities (hence why stressed people have their shoulders forward).  Bending back therefore reduces the possibility of stress accumulation.

Matsyãsana (also known as ‘fish-posture’) is a yoga position which is described in the Gheranda Samhita as the “destroyer of all diseases”. The Gheranda Samhita is the original Tantrik Sanskrit text on the secrets of Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga.  These secretes reveal that to transcend to the spiritual heights of the ancient sages and yogis of India, one must follow the yogic path.

This posture can be done with (or without) the support of the elbows.  If you use the support of the elbows then there is less tension in the torso (and the muscles in the torso are used less) and it is easier to breath in the position.

If you have any neck issues, the neck is better protected when lifting the arms off the floor (and/or lifting the legs off the floor at the same time) when attempting this pose.  As well as working the anterior neck muscles (including the Sternocleidomastoid), Matsyãsana works the abdominal muscles like the Rectus Abdominis (see diagram below).

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Please note that many yoga postures must be practiced properly and may be harmful if not performed correctly / under the guidance of an authorised teacher.

Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga.  The Prana Vashya Yoga School on Queens Road in Leicester is now open.  Please contact Damian for class time details, etc:

Email: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com

Tel: 0777 900 1896

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/queensroadyoga/

Has there ever been a moment in life when you didn’t want more than you already had?

Really, has there ever been a moment in your life when you didn’t want more than you already had? I suspect not. We all appear to be of limitless desire. But what happens when you cave into desire? You desire ten more things! This is why most rich people are, in fact, unhappy. And this is just one of the ways in which we cause our own suffering. Think about it.

Everything of value that had happened in your life you didn’t see it coming anyway! You never expect the greatest things in life that happen; good things simply unfold. If you understand this- if you accept it and embrace it and let go of your desires- you will see that the universe is unfolding as it should. And your issues can melt away as you are bigger than that; your true Self is beyond all that.

Desires lead to expectation and expectation leads to disappointment. You can read a great review about a movie and then go to the see it at the cinema, only to leave feeling disappointed. By contrast, how many times have you found yourself glued to the telly at home enjoying some rubbish movie no one has ever heard of?

But how to drop desire? You cannot simply flick a switch and turn off your thought process. And there is no point fighting your thoughts – you won’t win!

The solution is a regular yoga and meditation practice. Yoga teaches us to ignore the end result and to apply the same calm state of mind to any situation. Yoga also teaches us to fix our vision when performing postures – depriving the eyes of information and forcing us to turn our senses inwards. Meditation allows us to watch our thoughts when we close our eyes and to look for the gaps in our thoughts and find a place of silence – free of all desires.

Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga.  The Prana Vashya Yoga School on Queens Road in Leicester is now open.  Please contact Damian for class time details, etc:

Email: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com

Tel: 0777 900 1896

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/queensroadyoga/

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Shavasana

If you have been a yoga practitioner for a few years now, chances are that you have noticed some changes to your body and/or in your attitude to life.  With hindsight (and, seemingly, without too much conscious effort) you look back and see the change.  Maybe your diet has changed or you have lost weight.  Maybe you just feel more relaxed when at work and when at play.  Maybe you are sleeping better or you are getting ill less.  Different benefits can manifest in different people, healing body and mind.  But how does this healing occur? This happens during the Shavasana position (also known as ‘corpse pose’- as pictured).

There is a misguided belief that Shavasana is not as important as other yoga asanas (postures) during practice.  However, it is suggested that such a belief could not be more wrong.  Shavasana is the position which decides the level of potential gained from the practice and it is when the healing occurs.  Therefore, it is the posture that is always done last.   A whole yoga practice done with great effort will be valuable and beneficial only if you practice Shavasana at the end.  Shavasana allows the warmth generated during the practice to go to the muscle groups just worked.  This allows pure oxygenated blood to flush the relevant areas worked of any toxins (like lactic acid), purifying and repairing your body.

In time, a regular practice of yoga allows you to draw the energy and confidence gained by the practice into your real life.  This happens in the Shavasana position.  In a way Shavasana can be considered one of the most difficult yoga asanas.   The aim of practicing yoga asana is to reduce the working of the conscious mind to create an opportunity to influence the subconscious mind (re-programing the mind with good habits).   The approach of Shavasana is quite the opposite.  Here the aim is to increase the conscious level of the mind, expanding your awareness, by observing the parts of the body worked during practice.  For this reason, I like to end every yoga class with a guided meditation whilst students lie in Shavasana.

Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga.  The Prana Vashya Yoga School on Queens Road in Leicester is now open.  Please contact Damian for class time details, etc:

Email: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com

Tel: 0777 900 1896

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/queensroadyoga/

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The Prana Vashya Sequence

The first Prana Vashya Sequence (‘the Primary Series’) is taught by Damian at the Prana Vashya Yoga School.  The main goal of the sequence is to increase flexibility and reduce the stress on the foundation of the body’s structure.  The Primary Series therefore begins with a sequence of standing postures that are designed to improve the muscles that support the pelvic and shoulder regions.  The pelvic and shoulder regions, which are mainly responsible for providing the body with strength and stamina, are trained to behave independently.  Training your muscles to work independently reduces your body’s reliance on the stabilising muscles (which, when fatigued, transfer the load to the available joint causing strain and injury).   The yoga sequence therefore begins by creating flexibility and strength in the shoulder and pelvic regions strengthening the associated limbs.

If, for example, you have (or develop) any problems in any of the joins of the legs (ankles, knees, hips) so that they do not function properly then the pelvic region bears the strain which eventually leads to weakness in the lower back or lumbar spine disorders.  Strengthening the muscles that support the pelvic region will allow you increased capacity to work without getting tired.  This reduces strain on the pelvic region during work.

Practising any physical yoga postures (‘yoga asana’) creates an artificial and stressful situation.  By stabilising the breath during this physical and dynamic practice the nervous system is trained to resist stress and the mind is able to focus for longer.  Keeping the breath constant and in rhythm during physical activity demands psychological strength to control the breath.  This helps you face life in a confident way.

The Prana Vashya Primary Series also includes an arm balancing sequence of postures to strengthen the arms and reduce strain on the shoulder joints.  The back bending sequence of postures aims to reduce rigidity in the strengthened shoulder area by increasing its flexibility.  This sequence also activates the back extensor muscles (preparing you for the forward bending sequence which increases flexibility in the back) and develops strength in the waist and lumber region.  This developed strength in the waist and lumber region will help you remain confident in every work you do.  The stronger the waistline and core muscles are, the more confident you can feel about yourself.

Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga.  The Prana Vashya Yoga School on Queens Road in Leicester is now open.  Please contact Damian for class time details, etc:

Email: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com

Tel: 0777 900 1896

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/queensroadyoga/

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Make yoga your routine

There is a general concept which has us believe that we need to eat to be energetic and strong.  How much of it has actually been proven? You may develop stresses, aliments and stains from work or from training.  Why does this happen if food alone had sufficient strength to provide energy for you to work or do other physical activity without strain?

If you work in an office you may complain about weakness in the lumber spine from sitting down for most of the day.  Nurses often complain of lower back pain, mostly as a result from transferring patients.  If your work involves a lot of writing or typing, you may complain about strain in the shoulder(s) or wrist(s) due to the continuous use of the arm(s).  Construction workers can develop carpal tunnel syndrome due to overuse of the hands and frequent use vibrating power tools.  Indeed, if your work involves a lot of physical activity, you may complain about extreme stiffness or rigidity in various muscles.  What helps a person do things without negative side effects?

The only way to avoid aliments or stresses is to change the idea of eating to work and to develop the muscles in your body naturally.  Any kind of work or physical activity can be done without the negative side effects from it once the body learns the way to adapt itself to the work.  Your body better learns when you perform physical activity before you eat in the morning (or, at least 4 hours after eating if, for example, you do the physical work later on in the day or evening).   In this way, a person can explore their full potential in a fasting state.  If you eat before physical activity, then the warmth (and oxygenated blood) go to your stomach and not the muscles that are being worked.  The muscles that are being worked then become more easily fatigued.  This is why yoga should be practised on an empty stomach.

Your body also quickly adapts itself only when your brain recognises the demand on the body is a constant one.  So, if you want to change your body then it is best to work or train more often than not (that is, at least 4 times a week) or else your brain simply concludes no change is necessary as you are in a state of rest, more often than not.

The basic aim of Prana Vashya Yoga practice is to ensure that every muscle group works independently reducing its influence over the stabilising muscles.  This reduces the possibility of alignments or strains in each muscle and supports stamina.  The support of the individual muscle groups, in turn, reduces the negative influence over the stabilising muscles which bear the strain most of the time.  It is very important to train your muscles to behave independently with maximum stamina to avoid such problems.

Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga.  The Prana Vashya Yoga School on Queens Road in Leicester is now open.  Please contact Damian for class time details, etc:

Email: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com

Tel: 0777 900 1896

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/queensroadyoga/

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The importance of chanting

Chanting is more than a warm-up before yoga asana/ exercise.  To understand the importance of chanting you must first know a little about the amazing properties of water.  Water is the most the unique known element in our universe.  The human body is about 60% water.  The effects that sound/vibrations have on water almost beggar belief.

Scientists have experimented with water by paying music to water and then flash freezing it and examining the patters formed by the water when it turns to ice.  The results are remarkable. When, for example, classical music is played, the results look like beautiful snowflakes and crystals that can be seen in the ice.  By comparison, when death metal music is played the results in the ice look like something you would imagine to see in Dante’s circles of Hell!  The same applies when tears of joy and tears or sadness are captured, flash frozen and analysed.

Scientists have even used radio waves / vibrations to split water apart into oxygen and hydrogen and then use it as fuel; setting fire to sea water!

There is still much to learn about this unique element which is the key to life on earth.  One thing that seems clear, however, is that sounds / waves / vibrations clearly have a massive impact on water (and, by extension, the human body).

When chanting, you combine sound/ vibrations with breath and melodious rhythm which channels the flow of energy along the nadi (the channels through which prana flows) that run throughout the mind/body circuit.   This triggers the parasympathetic nervous system (the body’s ‘rest and digest’ response) and induces Alpha rhythm balancing the left and right hemispheres of the brain, leaving you feeling energised and relaxed.

Chanting can also deliver us from our sense of dependency on external / material things.  Given the conditions of modern life, we all too often define ourselves by the material things we buy and we all too often rely upon external energies like eating at certain times.  These choices and habits are, ultimately, rooted in our subconscious.  Chanting is a way to re-programme your unconscious bad habits with good ones.

Chanting has even been said to provide a connection to God by your spiritual energy being awakened.

Yogic science tells us that chanting stimulates the shushumna nadi which runs along the spinal cord and which is the main nadi through which para flows.

Starting Prayer

This first verse is a peace prayer as it ends with the line: “Aum Shanthihi shanthihi shanthihi” and is as follows-

Aum asatho ma sadgamaya

tamaso ma jyotirgamaya

mrtyorma amrtam gamaya

Aum Shanthihi shanthihi shanthihi

 

This means:

Lead me from untruth to truth.

Lead me from darkness to light.

Lead me from death to immortality.

 

The second verse shows gratitude towards the Teacher:

Yogena Chittasya Padena Vacha

Malam Sharirasya Cha Vaidya Kena

Yopakarotham Pravaram Muninam

Patanjali Pranjali Ranatosmi

 

and this means:

I salute the great Master Patanjali. He taught Yoga to heal the mind. He taught Ayurveda to heal the body. He taught the Mantras for healing on all levels. I salute him again and again – may I attain freedom.

Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga.  The Prana Vashya Yoga School on Queens Road in Leicester is now open.  Please contact Damian for class time details, etc:

Email: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com

Tel: 0777 900 1896

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/queensroadyoga/

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