Urdva Prasaritha Eka Pada Uttasana

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Urdva Prasaritha Eka Pada Uttasana follows Padangusthasana or “head-to-big-toe-pose”; it is the third position in the Prana Vashya sun salutation.  Urdva Prasaritha Eka Pada Uttasana translates as “upward-split-one-leg-stretch-position”.

Starting, then, from the forward bend pose Padangusthasana, you should inhale and slowly lift the left leg parallel to the floor and in line with the hip, keeping your vision fixed on a single point on the floor throughout. Do NOT collapse the hip or else you will strain your knee.  Put another way: your raised leg and hip will tend to externally rotate slightly which causes the pelvis to come to the right and forces the hips out of alignment/ to collapse. This often happens when you try too hard. The idea of the posture is NOT to raise your leg as high as you possibly can; keep your leg raised in line with the hip and the knee straight (not bend the knee to gain extra height!)

Pay close attention to the standing leg, keeping your knees facing forward and not letting them turn out to either side. As your leg raises higher, your torso should act as a counterbalance and come towards the floor.

Benefits

Promotes better liver and kidney function

Works the ankles, knees, calf muscles, hamstrings and thighs

Contraindications

Avoid this asana if you have any issues with your lower back, ankle(s), or knee(s).

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/

Padangusthasana

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Padangusthasana or “head-to-big-toe-pose” is the second position in the Prana Vashya Sun Salutation (as pictured).  It follows urdhvasana whereby you inhale, look forward and bend back.

Standing, then, with your arms above your head extended towards the sky (having just completed the first posture of the Sun Salutation) and keeping your legs completely straight, exhale and bend forward from your hips, folding ribcage to thighs / forehead to shins.

Then grasp your big toes with the first two fingers and thumb to secure the position. Try to straighten your spine on every inhalation and try to hollow your belly and fold further forward on every exhalation.

If you cannot yet touch your toes with your fingers as you forward bend, then work up to this posture by trying to touch your toes; focusing on straightening your back with every inhalation.

If you have any lower back or neck injuries then avoid this posture. If you have been given a physiotherapy routine of exercises to perform to help you with your injuries, then always tell your yoga instructor and, if possible, show them your physiotherapy routine.  This way, your instructor will gain a clear idea about which muscle groups, etc need working on (and which ones are to be avoided).

Benefits

The primary benefits of padangusthasana are two-fold; it strengthens and stretches the hamstrings and dissolves body fat from the waistline.

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/

Urdhvasana

imageUrdhvasana means ‘position held by the upward parts of my body’.  It is the first position in the Prana Vasyha ‘sun salutation’ (or ‘surya namaskar’ in Sanskrit) which is a continuous flow of postures designed to warm up all the key muscle groups in the body.

How to get into the position

Ensuring your feet are together or waist with apart (if apart, then the heels and big toes should be in one line pointing straight forward), plant both feet firmly on the ground.  Your weight should be evenly distributed on both feet and hips.  As you inhale raise both of your arms together above your head to expand the chest and tilt your pelvis forward to curve the lower back, ensuring you keep your knees and arms straight.  As you lean back this way, keep looking forward.

If you have any neck or lower back issues then a good variation to Urdhvasana is to keep both your hands on your hips as you lean back.

It is very important to look forward when leaning back.  If you look back as you lean back, then you will collapse the neck so that the muscles stop working.  This causes the load / weight of the body to go into the available joint instead of working the relevant muscle (so you will end up straining your neck and lower back).  By looking forward when you bend back you work the anterior muscles of the torso and the linea alba, which is the proper intention of Urdhvasana;  the position held by the upward parts of my body.

Benefits

  • Strengthens the abdominal muscles, torso and shoulders
  • Can help with back ache
  • Helps with people who suffer from indigestion problems

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/

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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