In Triangle Pose, the feet and legs strengthen first, then the torso stretches away from the hips. The bottom side obliques stretch away too, as the top side stretches.
Child’s pose, or Balasana is a resting pose you can always come back to during your sequence. Rest your forehead on the ground and take a couple of breaths.
If there’s discomfort in the knees, or feet, roll up a blanket and place it between the calves and thighs, or under your feet to create space.
Look out for this icon on the Noun Project.
It’s been fun to digitize and vectorize sketches of yoga poses. Suddenly they become reproducible by people on the Internet, and scalable into any size.
This is the newest addition to my icons, and yet are the most downloaded. This shouldn’t be a big surprise given that downdog is the most iconic pose that people probably think of when they think of yoga.
Download this downward-facing dog from the Noun Project
Instead of focusing on how much you can accomplish, focus on how much you can absolutely love what you’re doing.
— Leo Babauta (via observando)
Vasishtasana, side plank drawing turned into a vector icon. Find it on http://thenounproject.com by searching for “yoga”.
Seated pose vector illustration
Inspired by recent Pilates classes from Marilyn Rainville, and a vinyasa class from Melinda Mount at East-West Yoga, I’ve gathered some poses that let you compare and strengthen the left and right sides of the body.
Especially if you have scoliosis, you will probably have one side that is weaker and another that is stronger. For instance, my left side waist is strong but doesn’t stretch well, and my right side waist is weak and instead stretches without problem. In the upper body, the sides switch, and I am stronger near the right shoulder blade, and weaker on the left.
The following poses are an opportunity to notice the difference between the left and right sides. To strengthen the weak side, you would want to double the repetition for the pose on the weak side, or, find a movement that targets that area.
Strengthening the weak side will eventually help maintain a strong, balanced handstand. The image above is just for kicks - in yoga we tilt the head to look down between and ahead of our hands. Like so:
When balancing in handstand, you might notice the leg of the weak side being waved back and forth without much control. Here is a drawing of someone trying to scissor their legs into balancing:
If they had strength in their hamstrings, psoas, abs, and lower back muscles, then they would be able to steadily lift up that leg that’s bending forward, and bring forward, the leg that’s stretching out to the back.
In fact, this place in the handstand is similar to the following poses. So, you could do the following in order to prep for handstand.
Side Plank (Vasisthasana)
The side that’s facing the floor is doing a lot of work to lift it up. Think about the obliques and the upper back muscles here.
For the longest time, I wondered why my strong side was more difficult to do. Turns out, it’s the shoulderblade area that was weak, so I would struggle to push up.
Standing Hand-to-toes (Utthita hasta padangusthasana)
Hand-to-toes Twist (Parivrtta utthita hasta padangusthasana)
Anchor down with the standing leg, and use the other side obliques to twist.
Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana 3)
Think about the inner seam of the standing leg.
And check that the lifted leg’s side hip is level, without dropping down towards the floor.
In Warrior 3, the body is in a form just like in the handstand with legs scissored apart, it’s just that the direction of gravity is spun by 90 degrees.
It’s been a year and I am still working on the handstand balance away from the wall. The process of strengthening the body through these preparatory poses give enough opportunity for discovery, that I am not too upset about it.
A way to warm up in a Vinyasa.
Move with the breath, slowly and steadily.
From all fours in tabletop position, reach one leg back.
Gently drag the other leg back to meet the first leg, coming into plank.
Bring back the first leg.
All the while, keeping the hips level.
Bring back the second leg.
Repeat this sequence three times.
Gently warms up the body, and sets a rhythm for the rest of the sequence.
Admittedly my drawings today are inconsistent-looking and messy, but I still wanted to do an update, because the things I’m learning in Pilates practice are awesome.
Pilates has been teaching me to identify weak parts in my asymmetrical body, and strengthen them.
Over the past dozen or so weeks, we have moved the focus from the low abdomen, to the obliques, and now to the upper abdomen.
Getting a feel for the lower abdomen - a few inches below the navel - was the start. This is the part to deflate when exhaling. This supposedly stabilizes the core. There are studies that do away entirely with the notion of a core existing in the body. However strengthening this area did strengthen my torso and I feel stronger when standing or sitting. The feeling of engaging this part of the abs is elusive. I would describe it rather as a deflation and a shrinking, rather than hardening. It is possible that engaging the lower abs makes the upper stomach or rib cage appear and feel fuller in contrast.
There is a sort of boring exercise where you place your arms in front of you, to get them out of the way, and get a feel for your obliques, to use them to rotate your torso. After a while, as you rotate from one direction to the other, you can even feel one side hand off its engagement to the other side. Even though the movement is not exciting like dancing might be, there is a joy in learning how to feel these muscles.
After the lower abs and obliques gained their senses over about 10 weeks, we shifted focus to the upper abdomen. This is an area where I have trouble curling or flexing my torso. We work this part out by visualizing the area where the ribcage connects to the abdomen, and engaging it. Shoulder blades lift, and arms push down to help reinforce the movement.
This jack knife movement, called Halasana, or plow pose, in yoga, engages all parts of the abdomen. By noticing where the body just wants to “plop” down, you can identify which part needs strengthening.