Auto Added by WPeMatico

Iyengar 201: Play with Arm Balancing in This Tortoise Pose-to-Firefly Transition with a Chair

Using a chair as a launch pad to toggle between Kurmasana and Tittibhasana is a great way to build mobility and challenge your balance. Ready to give it a try?

Join Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher Carrie Owerko for our new online course Iyengar 201—a mindful and fun journey into a more advanced practice. You’ll learn different pose modifications and creative uses for props, all designed to help you work with physical and mental challenges. And you’ll walk away with the skills you need to adapt to whatever life throws at you, on and off the mat. Sign up now.

Varying your approach to a familiar pose can be fascinating. You might ask yourself: How can I make a challenging pose more accessible? How can I change my approach in order to gain new insight into myself, as well as the asana? What might I learn by trying familiar things in different ways?

Take using a chair as a launch pad for Kurmasana (Tortoise Pose) and Tittibhasana (Firefly Pose) for example. If you find typically these poses challenging, using the chair in this way might be helpful. In Kurmasana on the chair, you are only responsible for lifting the lower portion of your legs. This is a great way to cultivate strength in the thighs, especially in the knee extension. Since your arms do not need to be pinned under your legs (as in the classic version of Kurmasana), you can get the feel of the sense of direction for the legs, back, and arms required by the pose without the potential strain on the back, shoulders, or elbows.

When you add the step of lifting the seat off the chair from Kurmasana to Tittibhasana, you learn how you must shift your weight onto your arms. You learn how you must center yourself in order to maximize the downward pressure of the hands and lift of the abdominal wall as you float your buttocks up and off of the chair. It’s a fun (and challenging) balance game to toggle back and forth between being on the chair and lifting off the chair. It’s also a great way to build mobility as you learn how to control and refine your movements. You might feel like you are on a miniature seesaw as you move from Tortoise to Firefly and back again. Give it a try!

Kurmasana to Tittibhasana With a Chair

Ready to learn more novel approaches to familiar poses? Sign up for Iyengar 201 now.

Powered by WPeMatico

Iyengar 201: Find Your Most Grounded and Spacious Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana With a Chair

Learn how to use a chair and a block in Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose to both ground and expand the posture all at once.

Join Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher Carrie Owerko for our new online course Iyengar 201—a mindful and fun journey into a more advanced practice. You’ll learn different pose modifications and creative uses for props, all designed to help you work with physical and mental challenges. And you’ll walk away with the skills you need to adapt to whatever life throws at you, on and off the mat. Sign up now.

BKS Iyengar often used metaphors and analogies in his teaching. I remember in one class, we were doing Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose) and he told us to “move the back side ribs down like a waterfall—shoot the top arm up like a flame!” I remember how that image brought life to the pose, imparting a sense of direction and igniting what felt like the spirit or essence of the pose.

Water metaphors come up again and again in the teachings of Mr. Iyengar, his daughter Geeta, and son Prashant. They often use the metaphor of a river and its banks: the body (which is mostly water), along with the fluid nature of our breath and intelligence, can flow like a river as we move into and out of a pose. The skin of the body might form the banks of the river, and/or the sense of direction of the pose might also provide the banks. 

For instance, in Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose), the sides of the trunk are like the banks of a river. Sometimes, we might feel quite congested or dammed up along one of our “banks.” This often manifests as an excessive shortening on the side of the trunk closest to the straight leg.

Like metaphors, props can also help give a pose a sense of direction, making room for process, variation, and imagination, as well as a moment-by-moment, continuous unfolding within the pose. In Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana, for example, a folding chair can help the tops of our thighs root toward the floor, which can feel very grounding. The chair legs also provide a type of traction to both sides of the trunk, especially the underneath side, which tends to shorten. The width of the chair legs can help create a feeling of spaciousness in the top of the chest and shoulder regions. The chair (and a block) also provide wonderful support for the head, so the brain and sense of perception can relax and rest in the pose. 

How to Practice Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana With a Chair and a Block

Ready to learn more fun, creative ways to use props? Sign up for Iyengar 201 now.

Powered by WPeMatico