Monday, November 20, 2017

Ardha Matysendrasana and my Twisted Ankle

My mentor, Anne Shultz, is working on the Junior 3 syllabus while I work on the Junior 1.  One of the poses we both have difficulty with is Ardha Matysendrasana holding the foot.  As a side note, this pose is on 4 separate syllabi AND has 10 pictures in LoY (more than any other single pose, I believe) - clearly this is an important pose in the Iyengar system.

In the Iyengar system, this pose is practiced sitting on the foot.  Not just any way of sitting on the foot.  You must sit on the edge of the foot with the bottom of the foot facing the wall behind you. This is uncomfortable for almost everyone on the planet, but is especially uncomfortable if you have stiff ankles or have recently hurt your ankle.

I have recently hurt my ankle.  I wish to tell my readers that I hurt my ankle snowboarding, doing amazing tricks on slack ropes, or breaking someone out of prison, but alas, it was walking on a sidewalk in my neighborhood.  It just twisted and stopped working the way ankles are supposed to and Ardha Matysendrasana suddenly became even more difficult.

Props to the rescue.  Here's the set up:
 Three blankets, one folded long, two book fold.  Place one book-fold at the end of the long fold.

 Place the bottom leg foot between the long and book-folded blankets.  Make sure there is some blanket under the little toe side of the foot.  As a side benefit, the book-folded blanket reminds the foot of it's correct position.

 Because the leg will now be slightly higher than the foot, a third blanket is needed on top of the foot.

 Here is the Intro 2 version of the pose, using the wall for support.

This is the Junior 1 and Junior 3 version.  I'm holding the blanket rather than my foot.  This is another advantage to having the blanket.

Happy Practicing.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Chair legs for your legs

Hi all.  I'm working on some new things for a Props with a Twist workshop this fall.  Here is Bharadvajasana 1 with use of the chair legs to stabilize the human legs.

How kitty finds stability for his legs:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Engineer yoga

Iyengar yogis are sometimes considered the engineers of yoga.  Today's blog is for all the engineers out there who love a good pulley system.  A pulley makes loads lighter.

You know what?  Legs are heavy.  So here are a few good-natured students showing two different pulley systems.

The first one is a rope wall pulley.  I learned this from Gillian in one of her rope wall classes.  It also works on regular rope walls, or just about anything you can attach over your head.  You thread the rope through a hook, have your foot in one end, and hoist your leg into the air.  Here is Bob demonstrating:

Incidentally, Bob's wife Jane is in the doorway.  I really liked to perspective on this one.

As a rope wall isn't always available, you can also use your shoulder for the pulley.  As you pull your arm down, your leg goes up.  Here is Marisa showing that one:

Thanks to Gillian, Bob, Marisa, and Austin Yoga Tree

Friday, April 21, 2017

Good times in Surya Namaskar

Hello blog world.  Did you think I left you?

I've been working on a few things, but I never got everything lined up perfectly for a blog post.  I thought I would try to post a movie this time.

Here's a fun thing you can do with a blanket and a smooth floor.  Or perhaps, you can use it as a new way of cleaning your house.


That little wiggle in the beginning is me getting my blanket straight.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

DIY Platform

Ever been to one of those studios that have a platform?  Ever use it to do Chatush Padasana with your head hanging down?  Doesn't that feel divine?
Clear Spring Studio just got a new platform, but I don't have one at home.  Nor do I have a rectangular coffee table, so I came up with the following.  Enjoy.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

More belts=more fun: Padangustha Dhanurasana

Hello blog world.

When I started this blog, I set guidelines for myself.  One of these guidelines was that I would only show poses that I teach.  Well, that strap work I showed in the previous blog works really well on two poses not on my syllabus, and I wanted to share those with y'all.  Also, I want to show a fun way of getting closer to Padangustha Dhanurasana.

First, the same way of using the belt from the last post.

Ardha Matsyendrasana 2
I'm a lot closer to my shin than usual. 

 Parivrtta Janu Sirasana
This work gives a lot of length to the lower side of the torso,  more twist with the upper arm holding the belt, and a nice belt to rest your head upon.
Padangustha Dhanurasana

Loop two belts about the same length, place them around each shoulder, then cross them behind your back.  This should feel like the "yoga jacket" when you pull down.

Then, lie down and place one of the straps around each foot
Rotate the shoulder and bring the arms overhead, work your way down the straps, closer to your feet.

Finally, find a friend who can grab her feet for inspiration.  Thanks Melissa!
 Happy Practicing!

Share your mat

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The yoga belt or: How I learned to stop worrying and love twists.

A couple months ago, the local Iyengar yogis had a benefit class for George Purvis.  Near the end of a lovely backbend sequence, Emilie Rogers taught a chair twist with a belt.  It was amazing.  It added a whole new feeling to my twist.  So I started adding this belt to other twists.  For many of them, it was equally informative.

So, I'm breaking my own rule of not including chairs in this blog.  Here is the Emilie Rogers chair twist:

 Sit sideways in a chair, with your right side near the chair back.  Make a loop in a belt, place it over your right shoulder.  Take the belt around your back and hold in your left hand.

Bow to the chair.  Take the tail end of the belt and wrap it around the back of the chair a couple of times.

Then, as you sit up, the chair will pull your right shoulder back as well as encourage your left ribs to turn.  If you need more, lean forward and repeat the process, taking up slack on the belt.  And, of course, do both sides.  Do a better job keeping your hips level than I did.

So now for some other poses:

In Parsva Upavista Konasana, have the same loop around the right shoulder, take it around the left side of the body, then around the right foot.  Take it around the little toe side of the foot first and hold with the left hand.  Bend forward, take up slack, then sit back up.

In Parsva Dandasana, the same format applies, although taking it around both feet reminds the hips to stay level.  If you are turning to the right, the belt goes around the little toe side of the right foot first.

In Marichyasana 1, the belt goes around the same shoulder as straight leg.  It also helps the forward bending aspect of this pose.  Continue to tighten up the belt more and more to come forward.

Janu Sirsasana is my absolute favorite with the belt.  Again, the belt goes around the same shoulder as straight leg.  This really lines up the sternum with the thigh.  Wonderful. 

Thanks Emilie!