Hatha Yoga & Practicum

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Seated Asanas
Building the base of the posture
: The sitting postures are all the postures which are executed with the buttocks in contact with the floor as the base of the asana. We use the Principles of Alignment to refine the seat, and all the action assisting the creation of a good foundation its consider building the base of the posture.
The general form of the postures on the floor maintain the legs vertical and the spine horizontal. Looking at Dandasana as an example, the general model where you take the form from for the rest of the poses in this plane, in this case in the Ashtanga Method, the transition between all the standing poses and the sitting asanas. In general, if it is a pose where you will be stay for a long duration, supporting elements can be used: cushions, blankets, a brick, as in the Iyengar method, or in the case where you are in nature, your own shoes will be an excellent option to raise you from the floor.
General instructions for these group of postures:

  • Balanced base settling the ischium and expanding the pelvic floor.
  • The knees below the hips, use of elements in case of lengthening the duration of the posture.
  • Physiological curves of the spine in ascending projection.
  • The relation among hips shoulders and skull balance, maintaining the natural shape of the spine.

Therapeutics of the sitting asanas: The main difficulty for the execution of these type of asanas is due to:

  • Groin rigidity: produces lumbar tension and a flatness of the lower back due to physiological causes or emotional reasons.
  • Short hamstrings: people who have done a lot of sport and that this group of muscles, partially tendinous, have developed rigorously as a method of protection against the explosive actions that sports such as football and running produce. require opening with intense heat in the muscle.
  • Rigid hamstrings: undertrained people, or with sedentary work, this muscle group atrophies. New students require patience and safe progression in the opening of muscle fiber

Semi-flexed stretching offers great comfort by eliminating the usual frustration of not being able to place your body in this plane, with the small knee flexion it prevents the knees from over-extending and the action of the leg is integral, where the maintenance of the foot in flex, extension The flex tip moves from the origin to the abdominal interior and the psoas.

Study Guide Seated Asana
Balanced base, Knees below hips, use of elements in case of long duration poses. Physiological curves of the spine.
Self Quiz: Seated Asana
When you are instructing an asana, you have a limited time period to express how to reach the correct form of the pose.
Which three verbal instructions would you choose for a seated asana? Explain.

General Vision
: Hip openings are forward flexions focusing on opening the adductors and the rotation muscles of the gluteus which affect the general position of the hip. Therefore, we will put our attention on the pelvic ante-version and retroversion assisted by the biomechanic actions and the proper use of muscle tone and dynamic expansion.
These are very complex asanas which normally we think need a lot of flexibility in the hamstrings, but some of the asanas which open the hips can be executed with little general flexibility.

Precision in alignment: of the pelvis, femoral acetabulum and femur, with emphasis on extending abductors and outer rotation of the thighs (as complementary action to the frontal flexion executed at the end), the open hip can, during the practice of these postures, deeply adjust which paradoxically, requires inner rotation and abductions. So, the component which broadens the hips is of main importance and the base of these asanas.

Main Actions: by phases, where the student first of all seats himself in a general sitting posture and then from there he extends his legs with active feet in flex or point-flex. The primary alignment is inner rotation and holding the thighs creating a strong muscular tone. In this phase attention is focused on the spine, which should keep its natural curves, and the use of blankets helps the access to the psoas, beginners may bring their hands behind and focus on lengthening the spine or rest the arms on a chair.

To achieve a balance between abduction and adduction, maintain the muscular tone and stretch the groins, the hamstrings and thighs.

The transforming effect of these asanas is due to the strength of the Apana Vayu or elimination energy. Emphasis should be put on the execution of these asanas when:

  • In stressful situations and during travel, when landing, the energy settles and stabilises.
  • Helps promote sexual energy and the constitution of reproductive organs.
  • Helps to free tension of lumbar vertebrae.
  • Perfect compliment and counter-posture for back-bends.

Study guide
The component which broadens the hips is of most importance and the base of these asanas.
To achieve the balance between abduction and adduction, maintain muscular tone and stretch the groins, the hamstrings and the thighs.

Self Quiz: Hip-Opener Asana
What 3 verbal instructions would you use that maximise the health of your student in a hip-opening asana? and why?

Back Extensions
Entering the unknown side: The posterior body represents the unknown, the dark and invisible side of our existence as incarnated beings and beyond that, in the immensity of the unknown.

In the light of Chinese Medicine, the kidneys represent the ancestors and are associated with the emotion of fear. In the Tantric Shaivistic vision, the back body represents Kali, the Dark and Ravenous Goddess of all existence; so performing the backward extensions is an act of conscious courage which challenges our trust in our luminous and divine nature. This inner reality is stimulated when exposing the front of the body which is more sensiitive, tender and vulnerable, as a result of this exposure and trust, the heart is hugely opened, breaking free from fear through the heart, the Kidney region which is more inflexible, rigid and less capable is exposed to the sweet transformation of the heart.

Orientated towards the front: The frontal body is our most exposed and sensitive part, our world is orientated towards the front where the more vulnerable, softest part of the body are, including the genitals, face and eyes. When we feel threatened, we shrink from the front showing our shield. From the day we are born, we face the world in front of us, we see, we smell and we touch that which is in front of us.

Subtle energetics: The Chakras manifest themselves predominantly in the front of the body, lower belly, solar Plexus -chest, throat and middle of the forehead. They act as receivers and transmitters of subtle energy , interacting with the external surroundings. Physical, emotional and energetic changes are detected first by the front body. When there is anger or fright, we shrink the frontal part of the body as a defensive reaction, these emotions are contractive in nature.

Introducing asanas: As a preventive action, we can introduce them with some softer extensions, this will give the students the same feeling of great opening without the difficulties of the deeper yoga asanas, encouraging the student’s attitude with its great stimulating effect on the Nervous System. In this section we can, very successfully, introduce simple extensions as work in couples

Back Extensions Asana

Asanas in extension according to the different schools: We are already at the climax of the class, the body is perfect and prepared. In the Anusara Method, the extension asanas are included early on, almost directly after the handstands. In the Bowspring Method they are mixed together throughout the practice as the “root” or basic posture is in itself a great extension. In Ashtanga they are reserved for the end of the first sequence, but, curiously enough, in the second sequence they are practiced almost from the beginning. Sivananda’s teaching is based on the ancient technology of the postures and counter-postures. The Scaravelli Method has no fear of introducing them from the beginning, as the extensions are very soft, progressively moving towards more challenging ones. In the Iyengar Method, the extensions are introduced after a methodic practice of other asanas.

Yoga therapy and extensions: They help us to free past emotions which are stored in the chest helping to cultivate an attitude of inner trust and courage, qualities of the Spirit which give us a positive feeling capable of stimulating the enthusiasm and sensitivity and dare to look at the reality of the heart.
They help with sleepiness and depression by acting on the mind, the Nervous System and the heart. The brain is exposed to greater blood flow leaving the heart, a victory for the sensitive and intuitive side over the rational and manipulative side.

Back arches and the Third Age: The effects of old age are more noticeable in the upper part of the body, we stoop and crook progressively forward, leaving our back more and more rigid and inaccessible; on the other hand, children are very flexible and capable of executing extensions very easily where as flexions forward are easier for adults.

Physical and physiological benefits: These types of postures are extraordinary in developing deep flexibility along the whole spine. They are advanced poses which give the body a feeling of extreme happiness in movement, mental lightness and tone the whole nervous system. Providing strength, and vigour to the limbs. Liberating the chest and lungs by expanding them which increases the breath, the blood circulation and the oxygenation of the whole body. The abdominal organs are extended and toned. They develop a quality of resistance and inner expansion. Both qualities relate to each other: the more you open your body, the more intense the posture will be, and in turn, the more expanded you will become. The amplitude in the ribcage fills the student with courage and the audacity to live life from the heart.
Take into account: Excessive external rotation unbalances the groin and presses the lumbar: for this remember to hollow the groin with a large internal rotation from the quadriceps keeping the head of the femur in your acetabulum, great muscle tone, avoiding lumbar compression in these positions. Transfer the force internally through the psoas (bhanda) to the dorsal, Remember to keep the muscular group of the Shoulders very wide and while you practice, look at the ground without shortening the posterior cervical, aligning Shoulders and Skull.

Study guide back extensions
The back body represents the unknown, the dark and invisible side of our existence as incarnated beings and beyond, in the immensity of the unknown.
The heart is opened unimaginable ranges, freeing the fear through the heart.
The front of the body is our most exposed and sensitive part, our world is orientated forwards.
The Chakras are more evident in the front of the body, lower belly, solar plexus, throat and forehead.
Extensions aid us in the cure of sleepiness and depression as they act in the mind, Nervous System and heart.
We become stooped forward with old age leaving our back more and more rigid and inaccessible.
We may introduce them with other softer extensions, this will give the students the same feeling of great openings without the difficulties of deep extensions.

Self Quiz: back extensions
What 3 verbal instructions would you use that maximise the health of your student in a back extension? and why?

Twists Asana

Extending the light from the spine
There is something very elegant and noble in the practice of this asanas, the beauty of the twist the comes from the deep alignment inside, look with kindness outwards at 180º angle at all that life has surrounded us with.

A Hindu tale the life of sage Marichi
The story says, in the Book of Yoga Staravally “Legends of the stars”, that the sage Marichi, before enlightenment…and having passed many years on a spiritual quest, he had not found the peace he so yearned for; he looked for it in masters and in books, he looked for it in fasting and prayer, but he could not find anything that nourished his spirit so thirsty for truth… then a sage man recommended him to retire to the woods and to meditate on the reason he had difficulty finding peace, far away from all the sterile information which didn’t help him, except for some magic formula, useless mercantile tricks with the “force” that governs everything.
Marichi was an honest seeker, so he contemplated the advice and decided to follow it. He abandoned the noisy city and retired to a beautiful mango and bamboo forest where the contemplated his previous inner life with some perspective…he stayed there longer and loner inside the forest…defeated by his vane efforts, having lost faith in his inner strength and feeling completely disconnected from the sacred light only reserved for those pure to the sole’s eye….
Only a few hours had passed and the well trained mind of this meditator soon was aware of the place he was… surrounded by climbing flowers which hung gracefully from the trees…and a small river weaving along granting freshness to the water lilies and the hundreds of white and pink Lotus flowers which peeped out seeking the delicious sun light which filtered through the enormous banyan trees.
Hundreds of butterflies fluttered around unworried about tomorrow, happily dancing with their multicolour wings… wherever he looked he could only see beauty, a beauty he Could not find in his inner World, a beauty which talked to him in each petal, in each leave, in each tree….so sitting in a casual way, one leg crossed over the other in half-lotus pose, he twisted his head towards his right side and he started to see a soft light, a mild radiant glow which wrapped everything around him and granted an aura of sanctity to everything he looked at, the whole posture was wrapped in unimaginable peace; calmly he twisted towards his left side and he discovered that even the air was infused with this divine force…the sage saw everything he was looking for at last without wanting to trap it, surrendering himself to a conscious abandoned glance, he discovered himself watching everything filled with that Love…
He was enlightened!!!!

twists asana

Effects of the Twist asanas: This section of asanas can be fairly described as therapeutic due to the deep effects that they have on the organism and the inner life of the tissues, organs, glands and intestines, draining and cleaning from toxic remains. A twist on the right side will help to eliminate the excess of bile from the bladder. Twists have the action of cleaning like a dirty sponge which is introduced into a bath-tube filled with clean water, twists subjects the organic systems to a profound detox and promotes good health in all the body.
They help directly the spine promoting mobility to the vertebrae and making space and freedom in the inter vertebrae spaces. They clear up the inner tissues from the fascias and the diaphragm becomes more mobile enhancing the breathing processes.
On an emotional level, Twists have a very liberating effect as they help us to connect with the core where we grow and twist far beyond our limitations. Practising this type of asana gives us a great feeling of nobility and elegance.

Different Schools and their particular vision: Anusara has developed an elegant postural methodology based on the universal principles of alignment where each asana is studied thoroughly, adding to this the inner positioning from the physiological curves, we will obtain astonishing results in stability and effectiveness. Iyengar uses a basic structure of “compacted” lengthening which with a great amount of therapeutic variations develops great awareness in the breath from the inside of the posture. Ashtanga, Rocket hot yoga and Vinyasa as well as other dynamic yoga styles, develop a profound detox by the generated heat, although special attention must be put on the danger of hyper extension of the joints due to an excess of the generated hyper laxity in the ligaments which relegate the twists to the limited effects on a few vertebrae subduing them to the possibility of displacements.
Bowspring contemplates the twists from the ample lumbar curve and super muscular tone, and the mild yogas such as Yin Yoga, Scaravelli and Sivanada practice them more habitually than other schools; the danger is in the conscious lack of muscular tone which would lead to displacements of the bones of the hips. Thorough precision of complementary actions on both sides of the hips balance it.

Verbal Instructions: Start your Twist from the opposite side, we attract muscular energy towards the core to stabilise the lumbar spine, without muscular we may move the sacrum and the lumbar spine out of their alignment. If you loose the base and you intend to do the twist, most probably you would move the whole body sidewards. Extending upwards. The side which you are turning to will probably tend to retract significantly, so you must lengthen and stabilise the foundations. The stronger the foundations are, the deeper the twist will be. Attracting the limbs towards the centre, we stabilise the foundations. We do an inner spiral to ensure that the lumbar spine has a natural curve. There is a certain danger in the back if you do not have a natural lumbar curve. In seated twists we may use the help of blankets. Inhale, you rise, exhale, you Twist. We start from the back and move downwards, starting at the base as an ascending spiral. Like the smoke of the incense coiling up. Before twisting, exhale, and then twist. You do an ascending spiral from the lumbars upwards. The side you turn tends to retract a little more, involve the side body lengthening it with energy from the base of the posture, the stronger the base deeper and safer the torsion. It will have a decongestion effect.

twists asana

Sstudy Guide twist asana

Before the twist:

1.Root all sides of the foundation equally, especially the side you are turning to.

2.Apply the principles of alignment, dynamic engagement in legs and arms, in hips and shoulders to create the optimal lengthening of the spine upwards from the foundation.

During the twist:

1.Move from a) From below b) from within c) from behind.

2.Initiating action from the base, extend the spine with exhalation twisting with inhalation.

3.Ascending a) from the medullar core b) from the opposite side of the twist.

4.Holding a) From active muscular energy b) sides long and expanded thoracic body c) Holding the radiant interior with energy,

Self Quiz: twist asana
What 3 verbal instructions would you use to maximise the health of your student in a twist? and why?