108 Postural Practice Pointers – 65 – Bhujaṅgāsana is more commonly known as the Cobra posture…

Bhujaṅgāsana is more commonly known as the
Cobra posture and is seen in many Yoga groups
as an example of a “classical” Yoga backbend.

It is an Āsana where the emphasis is intended to be
on arching the entire spine and expanding the upper
chest forwards rather than merely bending backwards.

Its energetic opening actions also make the Āsana
an  essential reference for people’s Yoga practice
as a prone backbend in one form or another.

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108 Postural Practice Pointers – 64 – Sarvāṅgāsana is the Āsana commonly known as shoulder stand…

Sarvāṅgāsana is the Āsana commonly known as
shoulder stand. It is seen as one of the so called
“classical” inverted Āsana, the other “classical”
inverted Āsana being Śīrṣāsana, or head stand.

This Āsana draws together a firmness in the
body, with the subtler purpose of the breath,
with a sense of inner attention for the student.

For this triad to be realised, certain steps need
to be respected with regards to a rationale for
the application of Sarvāṅgāsana, along with
appropriate choices in long-term and short-term
preparation for its use, incorporating appropriate
use of Pratikriyāsana, and cultivation of an
increasing length of stay in the Āsana.

For adults, the most important link whilst in
the Āsana is the relationship with the breath.
Cultivating the power of the breath can also help
in keeping the practitioner attentive to the possible
bio-stresses accumulating from staying in the Āsana.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 63 – Dvi Pāda Pīṭham or Two Foot Support combines the characteristics of a lying Āsana…

Dvi Pāda Pīṭham or Two Foot Support combines
the characteristics of a lying Āsana and a backbend,
as well as offering an alternative to more intense
backbends, or as a preparation for inverted Āsana.

This Āsana can be applied initially within a dynamic
context working as a preparation for the body,
plus allowing gradual access to stronger Āsana,
such as prone backbends and inverted Āsana.

The way for progressive work to access the upper half
of the body, neck and shoulders links to a subtle and
precise work with the breath, especially the inhalation.
Here the focus of attention is supported through the
application of techniques such as, firstly, locational
breathing and then, if appropriate, directional breathing.
This can further help the involvement of the student
in the longer-term intention and purpose of the Āsana.

In its more intense Śikṣaṇa form Dvi Pāda Pīṭham is a
challenging option for the more experienced student.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 62 – Supta Pādāṅguṣṭhāsana is a lying and apparently relatively simple Āsana…

Supta Pādāṅguṣṭhāsana is a lying and apparently
relatively simple Āsana in its external form.

It is described as the fingers and thumbs holding the
big toes of each foot, with the legs extended straight
and held upwards at an angle of 45 degrees with the
spine and head fully in contact with the ground.

In reality, this is literally beyond the reach of most students.
Though, given consistent time and appropriate development
in accessing this Āsana, there is the possibility of deep work.
This is initially felt primarily through the effect on the legs,
Though, given time the primary effect is felt more in the spine.

As a Samāna Āsana, an equal breath would be emphasised with
a Samavṛtti ratio, perhaps incorporating the use of Kumbhaka.
The focus of attention is on the spine, from crown to coccyx,
and is accessed via the breath, which can help support the
student’s effort within the external demands of the Āsana,
such as that more often found within the tightness in the legs.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 61 – Vīrabhadrāsana represents the fighting stance of the  warrior…

Vīrabhadrāsana represents the fighting stance of the  warrior
Vīrabhadra, who is said to represent the fierce form of Maṅgala.
He was created by Śiva from a matted lock of his own hair,
in a vengeful response to the death of his wife Satī after
her self-immolation in the sacrificial fire at her father’s Yajña.

It’s a demanding standing position coupled with a backbend in the spine
to give the Āsana its opening energising and strengthening qualities.

 The focus of attention can be brought to the chest and upper back
through its form and the emphasis on the breath, especially the inhalation.

Its role as an expansive, demanding standing Āsana can be
graduated to suit the practice capacity of the student.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 60 – Uttānāsana is an intense standing forward bend…

Uttānāsana is an intense standing forward bend.
It is often used to begin a sequence of Āsana.
Its use can improve mobility in the primary joints
and extend muscles, primarily on the back of the body.
Its form respects the movements adapted in daily life.

The use of an intense closing Āsana implies
some cautions in the stretched areas of the body,
such as the lower back, sacrum, hips and legs.

The awareness can be placed on the abdomen
leading to a longer, smoother exhalation and
counterbalancing, with this inner work, the
physical effort required by its dynamic approach.

There are a number of adaptations to support
the student experiencing a feeling of melding
between the energetic flow of the movement
and the depth and stillness of the breath.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 59 – In the beginning of our relationship with Āsana…

In the beginning of our relationship with Āsana,
we work at adding Breath to the movement.
As we refine our relationship with Āsana,
we work at adding movement to the Breath.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 58 – In Āsana one should not always count the breath length…

In Āsana one should not
always count the breath length,
otherwise one loses mindfulness.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 57 – The Bhāvana should vary from Āsana to Āsana…

The Bhāvana should vary from Āsana to Āsana.
For example, one could use the Bhāvana
to decide the ratio or, where to place
the attention on the breath.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 56 – In Asana one should vary the breath ratio.

In Āsana one should vary the breath ratio.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 55 – Bhāvana on the relationship between the Viśuddhi Sthāna and Jālandhara Bandha…

A common escape when using Dvi Pāda Pīṭham is the neck arching rather than lengthening, resulting in the lifting of the head as if to compensate for the increased sense of the neck compressing.

Hence a key Bhāvana here is the deepening of the Jālandhara Bandha whilst working with the potential dissipation that can arise through the simultaneous lifting of the arms.

This escape is something that is also further exaggerated when raising the arms at the same time as lifting the hips, due to the increasingly upward force from the hips pushing down onto the shoulders, also increasingly unstable due to the lifting of the arms.

We can explore this escape by holding a Bhāvana on the relationship between the Viśuddhi Sthāna and Jālandhara Bandha through choosing an alternative Vinyāsa Krama in Dvi Pāda Pīṭham. One suggestion here is to investigate the interaction between the arms and trunk via the breath as shown in the illustration above.

The intention here is to maintain a gradual lengthening in the neck whilst resisting the tendency for the shoulders to as if skateboard on the scapula and increase the distance between the head and the feet. Here also an active role for the arms and shoulders is suggested at all points especially when they are not being lifted.

Perhaps experiment with repeating this alternate suggestion for a  Vinyāsa Krama in Dvi Pāda Pīṭham some 6 times whilst maintaining a breath pattern of around 4 breaths per minute. The entire sequence taking some six minutes to explore.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 54 – Just because you can perform a posture…

Just because you can perform a posture,
doesn’t automatically mean you can
experience the posture as an Āsana.
To experience a posture as an Āsana
implies some other factors are involved.
Such as how to facilitate a decreasing
resistance within the confines of the body,
and integrating a transcendent involvement
with the mystery of what is beyond the body.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 53 – The application of modification within the Āsana…

The application of modification
within the choice of Āsana relates
more to the purpose of the Āsana.
Whereas, the application of variation
within the choice of Āsana relates
more to the purpose of the practice.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 52 – At the heart of the Viniyoga of Āsana process…

At the heart of the Viniyoga of Āsana
process around the practice of Āsana,
is the experience of moving as if you
have not already experienced the Āsana
and are, as if, meeting it for the first time.
When it comes to staying in the Āsana, then
staying as if you already know the Āsana,
and are once again greeting an old friend.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 51 – When looking at the means to explore the art of improvisation…

When looking at the means to explore the art of
improvisation within the choice and application
of Āsana, we need to be specific in our intention.

For example,
we could look through the lens of two questions:
1. What are the areas that we wish to investigate?
2. What are the ways to explore these in Āsana?

If we are specific in regard to the first question,
as in what is the area or areas to be investigated,
then we can explore these in the second question,
through utilising the art of improvisation in Āsana.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 50 – One aspect to the art of modification in and of Asana…

One aspect to the art of modification in Āsana,
is in order to sustain a specific direction of Candra
according to the primary Lakṣaṇa of and in an Āsana,
amidst a contrary potential to stimulate a dispersion
of Candra, because of the demands of the secondary
Lakṣaṇa overpowering that of the primary Lakṣaṇa.

This also implies that we have personally embedded
a theoretical and experiential understanding, through
study of the process in the Viniyoga of Āsana, according
to their inherent primary and secondary characteristics.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 49 – The art of improvisation in Āsana functions…

The art of improvisation in Āsana functions
through two core practice principles, namely
that of the modification in and of the Āsana
and that of the variation in and of the Āsana.

Each can be defined more specifically in that:

Modification is that which brings you closer to
the Lakṣaṇa or core characteristics of an Āsana.

Variation is that which can take you away from
the Lakṣaṇa or core characteristics of an Āsana.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 48 – In supporting the cultivation of the subtler aspects of…

In supporting a cultivation, within or through Āsana,
of the subtler aspects of Bāhya Aṅga Sādhana, such
as Pratyāhāra, it can be a more helpful marker to be on
the lookout for sensory incontinence, rather than say,
being more preoccupied with physical choreography.

Such as how we can unconsciously leak, through randomly
opening the eyes or vaguely keeping the eyes open, when
transiting into or changing sides around such as seated Āsana.

For example, arriving into or departing from a choreographically
demanding asymmetrical Āsana such as Ardha Matsyendrāsana.
In other words, remaining alert and using the space between the
breath when moving from or returning to its link Āsana, Daṇḍāsana.

Another example is the potential for sensory incontinence when
moving into or out of or especially when changing sides, with
more popular or familiar seated Āsana such as Janu Śīrṣāsana.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 47 – Short and Longer Term prerequisites for Bakāsana or Parśva  Bakāsana…

Short and Longer Term prerequisites for
Bakāsana or Parśva  Bakāsana
include:
Utkaṭāsana
Adho Mukha Śvanāsana
Caturaṅga Daṇḍasana
Nirālamba Śīrṣāsana
Viparīta Vṛkṣāsana

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 46 – Short and Longer Term prerequisites for Eka Pāda Uttāna Mayūrāsana…

Short and Longer Term prerequisites for
Eka Pāda Uttāna Mayūrāsana
include:
Dvi Pāda Pīṭham
Sarvāṅgāsana
Halāsana
Śalabhāsana
Dhanurāsana

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting