Hatha Yoga & Practicum

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HATHA VINYASA, SEQUENCING

THE ANCIENT LANGUAGE OF SEQUENCING POSES
When individual asanas are correctly coordinated in a sequence, the result is a melody. A flow of postures. A vortex of strength, a river where everything flows; body, breath, mind, conscience and soul. The Word “vinyasa” means “mechanism of connection”, means the succession of changes executed with a focused intention without fluctuations. Most of us are not aware of our own intentions moment by moment. Doubts, details, problems fill our lives; the practice of Hatha Yoga puts us in a process of continued flow where your mind, body, breath and soul align themselves.
Vinyasa is the element which links various points in a sequence of change, it is like the thread which unites the pearls of a necklace. When you practice asana, remember that you may do it in two different ways: consciously or unconsciously. Changes are constantly happening and may be the conscious mind is not capable of perceiving it. A yogi, having escaped from the illusion of duality, is capable of perceiving the sequences of change, past, present and future; “Vinyasa of Life” is when you can clearly perceive the persistence of the world which is demanding more from you than you are fully able to understand and digest. You may choose a sequence of actions which, from a conscious point of view, will have a liberating effect,

When you practice a sequence of asanas, you link them with a conscious mind, with conscious breathing, but the true Vinyasa or Sequence has to do with the intention with which you practice the asanas or any other thing in your life. It is the intention which unites the poses, the actions, the decisions with conscience instead of the unconscious. Therefore, breath is only a metaphor for that intention. If your intention for practising asana is the realisation of the Self, each breath you take will help you to dissolve the sense of separation and you will be aware that the atmosphere is full of atoms of air which were once inside the lungs of all who are sharing consciousness, in the same way that we share the air that we are breathing. The awakening of consciousness will benefit all as we all share consciousness, when you awaken, we all share your awakening.

Study Guide
BREATHING GUIDE FOR THE PRACTICE OF VINYASA

  1. Inhaling and exhaling must happen only through the nose, with the same length, moving the same volume of air. Ujjayi Breathing makes breath accessible and easy to regulate; make sure to give your students the basic instructions for a correct practice.
  2. Normally, we inhale during ascending movements and movements which open the front of the trunk. Extensions.
  3. Normally, we exhale during movements going down and the back of the body is opened. Flexions.
  4. There are no movements which may be executed without being connected with inhalation or exhalation.
  5. The quality of the breath reflects the quality of the mind and its attention in any of the poses. Breath will have an unaltered quality, unattached from pain or excitement for pleasure or aversion, in this way we help our mind to obtain a balanced quality.
  6. We will use the least amount possible of breaths and movements to enter, get out or make a transition between poses from one pose to another one, or in the movements inherent to the same pose.

SURYA NAMASKAR AND VINYASA
This is the clearest example of vinyasa in the practice of asana. It is used at the beginning of the practice as an introduction to the aerobic dynamics and helps the students to disconnect from the everyday concerns. (The Sun Salutation) Ancestral sequence of praying with the body, awakens the conscience of movement and breathing (Vinyasa) Each movement is associated to an inhalation or an exhalation.
Find the type of Surya Namaskar which best adjusts to the class that you are giving, from the softest and most organic one, where we repeat several times some parts and we associate them to the breathing, up to the most dynamic one where you may include jumps and intense muscular strength exercises.
You can also begin with a softer Surya Namaskar as a heat-up and make it more and more complex and demanding. We can finish Surya Namaskar with 1 minute of Uttanasana (frontal flexion) or any of its variants to calm the heart and close lightly the dynamised energy to go back to the centre.

SURYA NAMASKAR AND THE PRACTICE OF ASHTANGA VINYASA
Surya = sun, Namaskar = salutation
The practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga always begins with two versions of the Sun Salutation: Suryanamaskar A and Suryanamaskar B, which are two sequences of movements dynamically linked designed for the heating up of the body very quickly.
Body heating is one of the elements which distinguishes Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga from other yoga styles which are, in general, more static. Ashtanga Yoga structures are built upon the basis of these two sun salutations, as the six series are an extension of the movements learnt in these salutations. We can also appreciate the tight relationship which exists between movements and breathing, creating physical and mental balance.
Suryanamaskar, being an invigorating solar technique, has as the goal to stimulate and make the solar energy flow inside our bodies, the part “Ha” from Hatha Yoga, that is to say, the Yan energy. This is the reason why the practice begins with the Sun Salutation, as it contains in itself all the elements of the Vinyasa. As a matter of fact, Salutation A, from beginning to end, is, in itself, what is called “Complete Vinyasa”.
Each posture counts, hundred of years before, was carefully thought to create a certain energetic condition with a specific objective: to prepare ourselves physically and psychologically for an intense practice and in this way, being able to obtain all its benefits.
In the sixth posture of the Sun Salutation, Adho Muckha Svanasana, we maintain the pose for five complete yogic breaths in order to fix the accumulated energy in the “chakras”
Suryanamaskar was created with two objectives: Firstly: the physical and mental health and secondly: to awaken the latent energy within all of us so that, through our bodies, we are able to open ourselves to the spiritual awareness.
The work on the spine during the Sun Salutation is extremely important, as the spine is not only the link between the brain and the body, but also the channel through which the energy flows to all parts of our body.
The Sun Salutation is probably one of the most extraordinary legacies from India to today’s World: it is easy to learn, gives energy to the body and calms the mind, develops strength, flexibility, grace, resistance and coordination, stimulates the abdominal organs, invigorates the spine and prepares the body for an intense practice of asanas. Besides, it introduces us immediately into the concept of “flowing” of the Vinyasa.

SURYA NAMASKAR & THERAPEUTICS
Patients with heart problems should avoid the practice of this Krama Vidya.
Women in their first days of menstruation should avoid jumping and doing the variations hereby explained to facilitate the transition, avoiding quick and rough movements.
If practiced alone, one can practice the final series such as Sarvangasana and its sequence in order to ensure the recuperation of the heart rhythm and the return of the blood stream to the interior of the organs. If it is not possible to practice the final series, it is recommended to do recuperation poses, such as Viparita-Karana – legs to wall – and pectoral openings with the aid of elements. If we wish to continue, after the practice of the Sun Salutation, with other vinyasas, the sequence of Uttanasana is the most indicated to refresh the body and give back the blood to the brain.

Study Guide
Study, assimilate and practice:

General:

  • The Vinyasa is the element that sews several points in a sequence of change, it is like the string that unites the pearls of a necklace.
  • A sequence of asanas you unite with a conscious mind, with a conscious breathing.
  • Suryanamaskar A and Suryanamaskar B which are two sequences of dynamically linked movements designed to warm the body quickly.


Benefits:

  • They give freedom in the movement developing agility and flexibility, and improving blood circulation.
  • Harmonizes the body temperature ensuring a great detoxification, the brain is activated, the lungs receive the fresh prana of the newborn morning, the mind is alert and refreshes.


Practicum:

  • You can start with a milder Surya Namaskar as a warm-up and make it more and more complex and demanding.
  • From the softest and most organic, where we repeat certain parts several times and associate it with breathing, even the most dynamic and acrobatic ones where you include jumps and muscular strength.
  • Each movement is associated with an inhalation or an exhalation.


Biomechanics:

  • In the transitions of four supports, Keep the square structure with the shoulder above the elbow, to avoid tension in the rotator group.
  • In the upper dog on, internally rotate the thighs avoiding lumbar collapse.
  • First day of menstruation avoid jumps and make the appropriate variants to facilitate an organic transition, avoiding rapid and abrupt movements.
  • If SN is practice on its own, then practice the final series to ensure cardiac recovery and return of the bloodstream to the inside of the organs.

HATHA YOGA STANDING ASANA

Tadasana as optimal pattern OF ALIGNEMENT
Standing poses are the most important among all types of postures. Tadasana or Samasthiti is not only the quintessence of the standing poses, but also a magistral posture from which the rest originate from. The understanding of the alignment principles in Tadasana provides the student with the necessary knowledge in order to execute all the other poses.

Through the standing poses, students may learn the Alignment Principles more easily than with any other posture, as the body has the capacity to manage a major range of mobility in these poses. As hips and shoulders move so much in these poses (relatively speaking) students may be aware of their bodies more easily. Therefore, standing poses should be an essential part in beginners’ classes.

Benefits of their practice:
Standing postures bring a lot of benefits, physical, physiological and psychological benefits. In learning to root and settle the legs in standing poses, you obtain equanimity and balance. Besides an increase of power, strength and stability in legs, hips and back, with standing poses it is generated a bigger trust and courage. The nervous system feels more protected, so these postures create a sense of serenity. Standing poses also help to promote vigour and mental attention.

When stretching and toning the leg muscles with the standing poses, blood circulation in the legs is enhanced, therefore reducing the heart work at rest.

Because of the exhausting nature of these postures, the heart and lungs are strongly activated, thus helping to detox the blood. Besides, the pelvic floor extends and is toned, incrementing the flow of Apana Vayu. This also helps in cases of digestive problems or constipation.

Standing Poses Key Points

Adequate distance between feet: in general, the bigger the space between the feet in a standing pose, the bigger the possibility of extension of the spine and less stability. So if you feel unstable or not balanced in a particular standing pose, decrease the distance between the feet. Once you have developed strength and stability in the standing poses, you may increase the distance as much as you wish. To maintain the integrity of the stability is essential in the perspective of how much should we extend. If you see that the femur heads, begin to disintegrate, then you must stop. This is understanding the therapeutic aspect.
In order to adjust the distance between the feet during a standing pose, move the back foot instead of the front one. The back foot, in standing poses, has more mobility and less stability than the front one, so it is easier to move it.

Jumping in Standing Poses: although it is not necessary to jump to enter or get out of a posture, it creates continuity of action and expression between Tadasana and another standing pose. Nevertheless, if there is a knee injury, back or any other part of the body, without jumping, with one foot at a time, step the distance between your feet when entering of going out of a standing pose.

Balance between stability and freedom: place your feet in such a way that there is a balance between stability and freedom. How much distance is it necessary to maintain the integrity of the posture and the muscular actions active?
If you put too much strength in the exterior, you will generate tension in your external ankle, you may even over-extend it, there may be too much compression in the interior. On the other hand, the case may be that the student has collapsed the arch of the foot. Balanced flat feet maintaining a good structure with the foot arch makes sure that the actions are balanced, so we prevent the energy spreading away, ensuring the force of life of Shakti is properly settled within the body. The physical aspect is a reflexion of that subtle body. When there is an optimum flow of that subtle body, then the true alignment happens. when the energy opens up in this way and flows inside the person practising, he/she is really in harmony.

Details in the practice
Your feet: Ample opening of the sole of the foot, with the second toe aligned with the frontal shinbone edge, internal arch, awakened and active.
Keep the quadriceps very conscious, always active and ascending, avoiding rotation of the knee, it is always in line with the second toe.
Project the interior leg quicker than the exterior, rotating from the internal knee outwards.
Femoral heads re-absorbed towards the interior of the hips. Internal spiral.
Roll in the back leg, roll out the front leg.
Sagittal hips, gluteus and hamstrings active.

We work from the three muscular principles of alignment:

  • Hug the bone, activate tendons.
  • Isometric resistance
  • From the origin point to the insertion point (pelvis)

Study Guide

Study, assimilate and practice:

General:

  • Standing poses are known as Uttishta sthiti.
  • They are essential to awaken the lower body.
  • The alignment principles of Tadasana provide the student with the necessary knowledge to execute all the other postures, because of its major range of movement.
  • They teach us to root and settle the legs in standing poses.

Benefits:

  • Provide equanimity and balance. They also increase strength and stability in legs, hips and back.
  • More confidence and courage, vigour and mental attention.
  • Nervous system feels more protected and gives feeling of serenity.
  • General blood circulation in the legs is augmented, therefore the heart work is reduced while at rest.
  • Help blood detox.
  • Increases flow of Apana Vayu. This helps in cases of digestive problems and constipation.
  • Stability versus freedom, once you have developed strength and stability in standing poses, you may increase the distance between feet.

Practicum:

  • The back foot has more mobility and less stability than the front foot, so it is easier to move from it.
  • To jump to enter or get out of a posture creates continuity of action and expression.
  • How much distance is necessary to maintain the integrity of the posture and the muscular actions activated?

Biomechanics:

  • Internal arch of the foot lifted and active.
  • They show us:
  • 1) How to ground the body weight towards the floor.
  • 3) Make the proper rooting of the soles of the feet.
  • 2) How to fully grasp the rebound effect in upward projection.
  • Keep the sagittal axis on the pelvis. From there stretch.
  • Active gluteus and hamstrings.
  • Avoid the hyperextension of the knee.
  • Aligned ability of the knee to keep safe angles in all poses.
  • Muscle tone in the front and back of the legs including the gluteus.

HATHA YOGA HANDSTANDS

Building the body up side down
Postures on the hands in the are executed immediately after the practice of standing asanas. The body is still strong and receptive for the demanding task of these asanas. This may be very interesting if your approach to the class is handstand asanas. In Iyengar it is very common to see advanced classes starting with handstands and in Ashtanga the traditional form of Vinyasa includes a jump into a handstand. In you find them present during all the practice styles of Power Yoga, which are used to energise and invigorate the class.
Vigor and great vitality They are very vigorous postures which give us great vitality. Energy is created and it wraps you inside a storm of activity, the practice tucks you like a hurricane of dynamism which activates you with its demanding presence.
Before getting into sequences of handstands it is recommended to practice abdominals, as they will help you to find the right tone to connect with the body centre, an essential aspect to develop the practice of these asanas.
Every action has an end, but we still have a lot to learn and the lessons never end. B.K.S. Iyengar.


Study Guide

ACTIONS

  • Open hands pressing the floor as if you were grabbing it.
  • Extend elbows, straighten arms.
  • Broaden shoulders and balance between the integration of the scapulae and its necessary expansion.
  • Body weight forward onto fingers.
  • We walk forward until the coccyx is above the sacrum.
  • The psoas is active and transmits the action which originates from the interior of the abdominals, a balance between the inner spiral and the outer spiral.

DIFFERENT SCHOOLS WORK FROM THIS POINT IN DIFFERENT WAYS:
Iyengar
: balanced action from the arms and rotators of the shoulders, wide shoulders, relation between the outer elbows, inner deltoid and the scapular point (Anusara instructions also but taken from Iyengar) Action is to awaken inner structural chains with bricks, belts, etc.
Anusara: back leg extended and slightly rotated, your partner holds and presses like a lever, he holds a fist between the thighs and while you do the inner rotation, the ascending structural chain is maintained.
Ashtanga: the lightness of the asana is obtained from the deep action with Udiyana Bhanda, which places the psoas in constant Challenger and re-places the actions from the transitions from four supports to the up Racing dog, giving great muscular tone to the shoulders (attention to the over use of this transition).
Scaravelli: it develops the consciousness of the body weight on the floor and waits for the answer of an ascending rebound ( the lack of emphasis on muscular strength is the main element of attention to this biomechanical presentation)
Bowspring: back leg bent with great muscular tone in the hamstrings and gluteus (we check), we hold the instep of the foot and press in “lever reciprocally”, we change the weight to the hands, we maintain or stretch the leg with great attention on the semi-flexion of the knee (where we do do inner rotation).

STUDY GUIDE

Study, assimilate and practice:

Practicum: work in couples, three ways to help raise each other.

  • Pushing foot into partners hip: the other foot rises.
  • Hold the back leg with internal rotation: horse stance in side angle , fist between the thighs.
  • Support on the wall: we hold shoulders to knees hips and a leg up .

Basic Handstands: Embracing the medial line, activating the feet and deepening in the groins with inner spiral.

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