Posts Tagged ‘Sirsasana’

Retreat in Kamakura-City, Japan: December 6 – 9, 2018

June 15, 2019

Yoga retreat at Amrita Ofuna

To remove rigidity, we need fluid in the joints. The element of water is accessed through movement, which is associated with the element of air.

Fast jumping pranisizes the legs with the element of water. Your legs will not become strong. You will however, sharpen…

…the intelligence, especially if in a class the jumping sequence is not repeated…

…the same each time by the teacher.

When standing poses are practiced from Tadasana, the legs become pranisized with the element of earth and the legs become very strong.

I was much taken by this certified Iyengar Yoga teacher who attended my workshop.

She is over 8o years old.

Here she is in a very light looking Parivritta Sirsasana.

Her name: Naoko Itoh.

The enormous bronze Buddha is located on the grounds of the Kotoku-in temple in Kamakura City. The monument dates all the way back to 1252 and was originally gold-plated. The statue has stood in the open air since the temple building was destroyed in the tsunami of September 20, 1492, and only traces of gold-leaf remain around the ears.

© 2019 Bobby Clennell

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Beijing, China: November 21 – 24, 2018

March 8, 2019

Workshop at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of China, Beijing

Practicing Uttanasana with the legs separated allows for more mobility and a deeper forward extension than when the legs are together.

Practicing Uttanasana with the legs together compresses the abdominal area against the thighs (except where the student has tight hamstrings, and the trunk moves away from the thighs). This massages the abdominals, and helps keep the area healthy.

Tadasana. To ensure that the abdominal organs move up, roll the tops of the thighs back and take the tailbone in.

Uttitha Trikonasana. Revolve the tops of the femur bones out at the sockets. This ensures that the thigh bones will move into the sockets in a healthy way.

Rope Sirsasana. To ensure a deep internal alignment of the abdominal organs, make sure the belt is place exactly on the sacral bone.

Parsvakonasana. Similarly to Trikonasana, turn the tops of the thighs out.

Ardha Chandrasana. Turn the trunk and pelvis away from the standing leg. Can you touch the lifted leg shoulder blade and buttock to the wall?

Parsva Upavista Konasana. Turn from the navel toward the front leg. Everything below the navel is influenced by the activation of the left foot — press out through the left foot big toe mound.

Sirsasana. To avoid eye pressure, be exactly on the center of the crown of the head. Press the forearms down. Lift the shoulders.

Chatush Padasana over a chair. Raise the pelvic area off the chair, and placing the trapezius on the front edge of the chair, curve it around the edge of the chair. The upper back/shoulder skin will  get dragged away from the head and area just below the collar-bones will open.

Supta Konasana/Chair Halasana. This gives low back relief. It’s also a better way to go for those with long spines, where it’s not so easy to climb through the chair.

Coming out of Viparita Dandasana over Crossed Bolsters. Allow the lower back to spread.

Bolster Supported Setu Bandasana. Make sure the shoulders just touch the floor (and that you haven’t slid too far off the bolster).

 

© 2019 Bobby Clennell

Taipei: November 2 – 5, 2018

February 25, 2019

Workshop at Shelly Yoga

Pincha Mayurasana makes me look thin.

Raise the left leg hip maintaining it level with the right as you move into Eka Pada Sirsasana.

Photo bombed by my interpretor.

In this version of the head-up stage of urdva prasarita ekapadasana, the belt provides a fulcrum from which the spine can be curved and extended forward and upward. Sometimes, it’s hard to find the strength to do this without the belt.

Parivritta Svastikasana at the wall. These students are maintaining the fixed inteligence at the base of the pose by pressing their right knee to the wall as they rotate to the right.

Parivritta/Ghomukasana, legs only, combined with a spinal rotation.

In this Celestial Beings class, we practiced Ghomukasana again, this time the complete pose. Cows are held in high esteem in India.The reason has to do with cows’ agricultural uses and gentle nature. Hindus rely heavily on cows for dairy products, for tilling fields, and for dung as a source of fuel and fertilizer. So, cows are seen as a ‘caretakers’ or maternal figures.

More Celestial Beings – Eagle Pose,  Garuda was the mythic “king of the birds,” the vehicle of Vishnu.

Supported Backbends. Knees and shins against the wall. Upper arms turned in.

Supported Backbends. This pose, Baddha Konasana in Viparita Dandasana over Crossed Bolsters helps deal with abdominal scar- tissue, associated with endometriosis.

More supported Backbends.

Pushing up from Viparita Dandasana with Chair into Urdhva Dhanurasana.

At the end of the Active Restorative Class: from Halasana,

…roll…

….up ….

….and over….

….into Paschimottanasa X 6!

 

© 2019 Bobby Clennell

Australia: Petersham, October 19 – 21 & Bondi Junction, October 27 – 28, 2018

February 16, 2019

Workshop at Yoga To Go Studio

In this women’s workshop, we practiced wide leg poses, especially helpful in getting prolonged and excessive bleeding under control (a situation that more often occurs during menopause). Here is “L shaped” Upavista Konasana.

Lifting the inner ankle – Guruji had once done this with Julia to correct her severly dropped arches.

This supported variation of Prasarita Padottanasana helps reduce abdominal scar tissue cause by endometriosis.

Another wide leg pose. This teacher is pressing on my sacrum which is decompressing my sacral area and alieviating low back pain.

Aligning knees: Julia demonstrates how to do it with metal rods and two belts for each knee. I show how to use a wooden (important!) block and belts. The knee aligns itself to the firmness of the block.

Knees respond well to Sirsasana. If there is a problem with them, align the center of the thighs, knee caps and shins.

More knees: Bhekasana. Roll the bent knee hip and torso down. Press the elbow to the floor, and raise the chest.

Supported Kapotasana: The bolster provided much lift and support.

With my host, Tamar Kelly who is adding a touch or glamor to the occasion.

Iyengar Yoga Institute Bondi Junction

I made this collage of the Goddess Durga out of colored tissue paper at RIMYI, Pune, maybe 25 years ago. Kay Parry carried it off to the Iyengar Yoga Institute Bondi Junction where it still hangs (albeit now very faded) in the entranceway, and where I taught a two day workshop.

© 2019 Bobby Clennell

Denmark: May 4 – 6, 2018

July 30, 2018

Workshop at Studie Yoga in Denmark. Props, and Drop-backs.

Ardha Chandrasana with Chair and Wall. Grip the standing leg buttock onto the pelvic bone and move the upper hip and elbow up and back.

Curving back over an upturned chair. Revolve the upper arm skin in, toward the head. Observe, she is not gripping that slant-board – it’s resting lightly in her open palms.

Dropping back to the wall. Move the tailbone in, raise the back ribs away from the lumbar spine and move the shoulder-blades down. You can walk down the wall, and also onto a chair. To come up, stamp down through the outer edges of the heels and feet and propell your back ribs forward and up.

For those unable to raise the shoulders or press the shoulder-blades in, or who have compromised cervical discs, Sirsasana with two poles.

Delicious Danish hors deurvers. Mine, in the small bowls at the bottom of the picture, was gluten free.

© 2018 Bobby Clennell.

Two workshops in the UK for teachers, April, May. 2017.

August 23, 2017

Iyengar Yoga Studio: East Finchley, London. Ropes Workshop.

Kapotasana on ropes with a partner.

Yogawest: Bristol UK. Toward Drop-backs.

Sirsasana into Viparita Dandasana. Make the shape of a wheel without loosing control of your shoulder blades.  Let your navel roll forward  before dropping back.

Stamp your heels down and press your tailbone up. Move the backs of your thighs toward the buttock crease, press your calves down and move your knees toward your chest. And most important, press your forearms into the floor, and don’t let your shoulder drop!

© 2017 Bobby Clennell.

London: May 2

August 11, 2016

Workshop at The Iyengar Yoga Studio, East Finchley.

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Uttitha Hasta Padangustasana 1 on The Ropes. We help her roll her outer thigh down while moving her standing leg thigh back to the wall. She presses her standing leg foot down, and raises her spine and chest.

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Uttitha Trikonasana on the ropes. Anchoring your back foot to the wall, and holding the rope will help give you the momentum needed to extend your torso away from the wall.

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Ardha Chandrasana on the ropes. Turn your head back, move your dorsal spine and tailbone forward.

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Rope Sirsasana. Secure the upper arm bones into the sockets — overlap the triceps onto the deltoids, and the deltoids onto the shoulder-blades.

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Rope Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. Similarly, maintain the connection of your upper arms and shoulders.

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Viparita Dandasana. Firm your shoulder-blades onto your upper back ribs. Walk your hands along the belt toward the wall.

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I always enjoy teaching for Patsy Sparksman at her studio in East Finchley, London,

© 2016 Bobby Clennell.

Monterrey, Mexico

February 3, 2016

Workshop at Centro de Yoga Luz.

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Adho Mukha Virasana. Place the lower forearms on blocks to provide space for the breast tissue to ” breathe” and shoulder joints to open.

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Sirsasana. Time to get off the wall!

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Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana over Crossed Bolsters. This student experienced low back pain which was threatening to interfere with her staying power. A horizontal bolster was placed under her feet. Instant relief!

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Do Bharadvajasana at the wall for great leverage. Now you can lift and turn more.

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…and the same for Marichyasana 1.

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My long and flexible spine says I need a higher support in this pose. Now my diaphragm can open, which means my lungs are working more efficiently.

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Place the hips at the wall – the sit bones should be dropped back off the edge of the support – and make sure the top of your shoulders are rolled under – opening the chest.

Monterrey

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On my last night in Monterrey, on La Guadalupana Day (Our Lady of Guadalupe Day), we took the Santa Lucia boat tour on the recently built canal.

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While I ate my tostadas, my hosts munched on deep fried chilies. One of my hosts in Merida lined up his raw chilies along side of his dinner plate.

© 2016 Bobby Clennell.

The Yoga Space, Ann Arbor, Michigan. April 5 – 6, 2014

May 10, 2014

Elements and Koshas
According to yogic principles, everything in the universe, including our body, is made up of five subtle elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether (space).

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Our own beings also comprise five “sheaths” or koshas; Annamaya Kosha, Pranamaya Kosha, Manomaya Kosha, Vignanomaya Kosha and Anandamaya Kosha. In this workshop, via a variety of asana and pranayama, we will explore and bring into balance our own unique expression of these forces. We will also learn where the koshas and elements meet and how these intersections inform our practice.

ether

Sound and space is ether. The quality of ether is that it contracts and expands. Give me room – that is ether.

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“Extension and expansion bring space,

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….and space brings freedom.

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Freedom is precision,

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….and presicion is divine”. B. K. S. Iyengar

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During menstruation do not revolve so far over to the side (as shown in the picture) but fold forward diagonaly, over the thigh.

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Sirsasana is ruled by the element of fire. Among other benefits, Head Stand increases digestive fire and increases body heat. The intestines are cleansed by reversing the pull of gravity, while releasing congested blood in the colon.  It also refreshes the blood supply to the master glands – the pituitary and hypothalamus – that regulate the thyroid, pineal and adrenal glands.

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Rope Sirsasana is far less demanding on the body and nervous system (especially for beginners) than Sirsasana I and II. Rope Sirsasana brings tremendous  traction to the spine and to the hip and shoulder joints.

 

© 2014 Bobby Clennell.

February 2014, Pune.

March 10, 2014

The Institute.

At the RIMYI we have three classes with Geeta Iyengar per week: two women’s classes (one of which if there is room, the men may attend) and a pranayama class. Prashant Iyengar teaches at 7am, four mornings a week. If you want to experience B.K.S. Iyengar in action you had better get yourself along to the medical classes in the afternoons. In addition, there are six open practice sessions per week where Guruji practices along with local and visiting students, most of them teachers. He invariably interrupts his own practice to instruct someone else and oftentimes this someone is his grand daughter, Abhijata. We gather round to watch, listen and absorb. Then when Guruji returns to his own practice, we drift back to our mats and our own practice.

Prashant Iyengar.

“Rivers of breath” pranayama class.
Just as rivers nourish the land, Prashant says, the breath also provides us with nourishment. These days people flock to the cities to live, but there was a time when people settled along rivers. He talked about how the Amazon flows fresh into the ocean for miles and miles, providing sustenance for all who live along its banks. Similarly, when we practice pranayama, we become energized, re-vitalized, invigorated.

Geeta Iyengar. Wednesday February 19: excerpts from Geeta’s second back bend class.

Adho Mukha Virasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Sirsasana:

  • Be independent. If you lean against the wall, you will never learn.
  • For those who practiced rope Sirsasana; it’s a horizontal pose as well as a vertical pose. Even in Rope Sirsasana, place your palms on the floor the width of the shoulders to create that space. Don’t just hang – lift your shoulders up away from the floor and widen the collar bones.
  • Always move the front of the leg toward the back of the leg.
  • Forehead quiet, but the body should be very much active. Raise the whole body up from the inside.

(Many, many) Urdhva Dhanurasana’s into Viparita Dandasana: Men usually sit at the back, but today Geeta asked them to move to the front of the class. Geeta talked about some of the differences between men and women. Women are more supple then men. In these back bends, they can easily open the front ribs and lift the chest, but they tend to drop the buttocks and pelvis, which strains the lumbar. In addition, they tend to get tired. Men are strong, so they can hold themselves up more easily; but they push hard into the chest and don’t get the natural lift that women get. Some of us, myself included, had a wall to hold the elbows against and a workable mat (from the donated mats in the prop room), which held my feet well, enabling me to access my back muscles and raise my spine.

8-5“Lie on your back, with your head toward the platform.  With feet apart, walk your feet in and hold ankles. Bend your arms. Place your hands on the floor, close to your shoulders. Distribute the weight evenly between the palms. Broaden the palms. Push up into Urdhva Dhanurasana. Walk in with your palms. Raise the chest to walk the palms toward the feet.”

  • Open the armpit chest. Walk in with the feet and be on the arm side. Lift the side trunk!
  • Raise the heels and tailbone up; walk the feet in.

MEN

  • Men always take the knees out – roll them!
  • Shinbones are short, they should be long – knee to shin, elongation.
  • Navel should be up.
  • Suck the elbows straight – die at the elbows! Tighten the elbows! We strapped the elbows – yes, it really has to break into pieces! Have the belt close to the elbow joint.
  • The lightness has to come – lock in the elbow joint. All the men have a belt on the elbow.
  • The flexibility can be seen in Guruji’s photo from Light On Yoga, but the stability is not seen.
  • Pump the body close to the platform.

Viparita Dandasana

  • Push the back ribs forward. At first, keep your head up. Open chest with the head up. Then place head to floor, but keep the chest tall.
  • Men: in back bends, you don’t open your chest.
  • Women; your buttocks drop.

Savasana – stretch your legs out.
Adho Mukha Svanasana, hands to wall.
Sarvangasana
Either Halasana or Karnapidasana (depending on space available)
Pachimottanasana
Savasana

Acknowledgments:
Thank you Julia Pederson who observed the class and took notes, and
Richard Jonas who contributed to these notes from his memory of the class.

Guruji, Wednesday February 20: morning practice.

Guruji spoke of citta chidra or ‘perforated mind’ meaning fissured consciousness. Abhijata, his granddaughter called it ‘leaky consciousness’ as in  “Something slips out; the awareness does not hold itself inside.”

For we students, says Guruji, the mind goes to pleasure; “I like this, I don’t enjoy that, I enjoy this!” In that state, we work from the brain, of which the mind is but a part. When you work from the brain, you sweat in the face, you remain locked in the head, your consciousness does not penetrate the body.

Guruji explains we have to ‘expand from the center to open the four lobes of the brain.’

Guruji showed us the sole of his foot. He expands the arch so that the skin across it is sharp, not dull and not sinking. When one works like that, one does not sweat, one is not stuck in the brain; awareness permeates the areas of the body to which it is directed.
Verse II. 47: ananta samapattibhyam. The balanced state of awareness (samapatti) is endless (ananta).

For us, sadly, it is antara (different, other, outside) samapattibhyam.

The mind goes out, looking for pleasure. It is ‘antara’, different, other. Then, of course, it fluctuates and moves around.

We have to learn ananta (endless) samapattih, a balanced state of consciousness.

Yoga is a spiritual practice. Ananta – or endlessness – is a spiritual state.

When instead, you practice Antara – other, different – you are jumping from one thing to the next. “I like it, I don’t like it. Where is the discipline? There is none.”

One has to go beyond that kind if mind, beyond, ‘leaky consciousness.’

Ananata – endlessness – comes from discipline.

Read about chitta cidra on page 57 of The Core of the Yoga Sutras, B.K.S Iyengar’s most recent book. Those who want to look will see what he says on that page in the light of his little talk during the open practice at RIMYI that morning.

Acknowledgments:
Thank you Zoe Stewart who relayed Guruji’s discourse from the morning open practice.
Many thanks also to Richard Jonas for his sensitive editing.