Ashtanga Vinyasa

Ashtanga Vinyasa

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B.K.S. Iyengar refers to yoga as the “science of religion,” and elsewhere as the “science of spirit.” This is because yoga unites the individual with the universal. What begins in physical movement and exercise transforms into an awakening of consciousness. It is the blending of the finite individual with that which is infinite and unbounded.

We refer to “yogatology” as the “science of yoga,” and dedicate ourselves to bringing about this union of the individual with the universal. We playfully call it “empirical zen” and “historical hip,” giving due respect and attentiveness to a wisdom tradition that is thousands of years old, and blending it with the youthful spirit, energy, and inquiry of the modern west.

Hatha yoga is a term used to describe a whole set of different yoga styles that are based in a physical form of practice. Iyengar boldly asserts that the reflective practice of meditation is not even possible without first preparing the body for it – which is precisely the purpose of yoga.

Hatha yoga is the primary expression of yoga in the United States. Yogatology supports and encourages all practitioners of physical yoga – whatever their goals of well-being may be – by recommending that every yoga session have a modestly lengthy period of meditative relaxation at its conclusion.

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

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Ashtanga vinyasa yoga is an aerobic style of hatha yoga. It is not recommended for beginners – even for those who are already in shape through other athletic forms of movement. A beginner’s class will help to familiarize yourself with the movements required, the pace of action, and the unique areas of stress upon the body – such as knees or with control of the breath.

Because of the intense aerobic workout, special attention should be given to an initial period of warm up. Every area of the body is to be thoughtfully addressed, with a mind towards slowly building the heart rate for the intense period ahead.

Ashtanga vinyasa yoga emphasizes an aerobic workout that produces a good sweat, tones and strengthens the body, increases flexibility, clears the mind, boosts energy and helps lean the body – whatever body type you have.

This form of yoga emphasizes flow of movement and of breath. Shortly after entering one pose – held typically for about five breaths – the next pose is taken, and so on. Advanced techniques can be learned to enhance your practice, such as energy locks (bandhas) and movements (drishti). These techniques will help your “workout” become a “work in” – bringing a meditative quality to this intense form of yoga.

As always, your workout should include a thoughtful cool down and meditative relaxation.

Halasana (Plow Pose)

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Halasana is pronounced hah-LAHS-ana . The term “hala” means plow). Any pose that rejuvenates the nervous system is a good one. It will boost your mood and energy as well. With your head below the body, a feeling of calm will come over your thoughts and tension will be released.

How To Practice 

Lie flat on the floor to begin, arms beside you. You may wish to have a folded blanket under your neck and upper back. This is the area of the body that will maintain contact with the floor in the finished pose. Next bring your knees and legs up and folded into the chest. Feel your lower back stretched out and comfortable before moving into the next step.

It is at this point when you will place the hands slightly above or into the lower back. You may wish to keep your hands here until you have achieved the final pose, or throughout the entire pose for support if you are not inspired to let your legs and feet fall to the floor behind your head — in what is considered the final pose.

Release the folded legs from the chest by beginning to stretch out your legs over your head and behind you. Gravity will begin to bring your legs to the floor behind your head, so use the hands holding your lower back to slow and control this force. When inspired to do so, complete the pose by lowering your feet to the floor behind you and your stretched out arms with clasped hands flat on the floor in front of you.

 

Anjaneyasana (Crescent Moon Pose)

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When the anjaneyasana pose is complete, your body will form a crescent moon. You will feel and benefit from a full stretch of the leg muscles, the lower back, and the shoulders — as your arms reach for the sky. This pose also lifts the diaphragm and tones the neck — as your gaze looks up past the hands and into infinity above.

How To Practice 

Begin with your right foot firm on the floor, with your knee bent and directly over your ankle. You will not be moving forward or backward from this ideal positioning of the knee over the ankle. Your left leg is simultaneously stretched out behind you, with your heel up and toes pointed straight back. Your lower leg will be supported along the floor, and upper leg suspended and stretched in a straight line upward toward the bent right knee in front of you.

At this point, you will move your hands and arms — which may have supported you on the floor or on your front knee — straight up above your head, with palms together in a prayer position. Feel the stretch as you slowly breathe into the fully arched position.

Repeat the pose with the other leg in front. Rest after this pose by going into child pose.

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