Yoga Teacher Training is moving along just like the seasons! We’ve even been able to walk to and from our studio, Yoga Loft in River North to enjoy the delightful pre-Spring Chicago weather. Within our training, we have already learned half of the full Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series. This includes: Surya Namaskara A, Surya Namaskara B and the Standing Sequence. It’s pretty cool to say we’re halfway through, but there is still so much to learn! We’ll continue to study and learn the seated and finishing sequence, take deep dives into the individual postures, master adjustments, learn sequencing and more.
Pretty soon we’ll be ready to teach our own community classes! Community and karma classes are opportunities to teach a deserving group who may not have access or the opportunity to try yoga. If you have any suggestions of where we should teach – holler at your yogis! Please share in the comments or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t ever be intimated to try yoga! There is a variation for every pose to meet your needs, and whatever you decide is right for your body, is your practice. Yogis are generally the nicest people around – your teacher will be thrilled to help you! We recommend trying a Vinyassa Flow for beginners, a full Ashtanga class is actually very strict.
Some days you will be able to touch your toes and on a different day, maybe not. There’s nothing wrong with that! Although trying and “perfecting” difficult poses is so satisfying – that is NOT the purpose of Yoga.
We’ve mentioned this before, but Ashtanga Yoga is a traditional practice with ancient roots. Ashtanga literally means eight limbs, and the two we have primarily focuses on are the Yamas (how you relate to the outside world) and the Niyamas (how you relate to yourself). Read more about them here.
Keep in mind how you are feeling the moment you come to your mat. Listen to your breath. That alone may be your practice. Trust me, we have days when downward dog is just as intense as Iyengar meant for it to be. With that being said, The dolls do love a good challenge and that is what a Kakasana “crow posture” into headstand really is… Danielle had no idea this was even a variation until Caitlin taught her!
Kakasana (crow pose) to headstand instructions:
- Start in Malasana – a hip opening pose. Bring your feet mat-width distance apart, toes pointing out. Squat down with a straight back, tail tucked under. Bring your hands to prayer position and use your elbows to push your knees outwards. Gaze towards your nose.
- Place your hands on the mat, shoulders width apart, fingers spread with even weight distribution. Bring your gaze forward and start to shift your weight forward. Lift your one foot up off the floor and then the second. Voila! You’re in Kakasana (crow pose).
- If you have good balance and a strong core, you can now move into Sirsana II (tripod headstand). Slowly place your crown on the floor, protecting the head and neck.
- Engage your core to lift your legs overhead. Gaze is towards your nose. Enjoy this inversion and come down carefully when you’re ready.
Natarajasana, or Dancer’s Pose is a beautiful posture for balance. It also helps to stretch the shoulders, chest, thighs, groins and abdomen while strengthening the legs and ankles.
- Start in Samasthiti (standing), then turn your left arm actively outward (so the palm faces away from the side of the torso), bend the elbow, and grip the outside of the left foot. (You can also grab the big toe with the first two fingers and the thumb.)
- The fingers will cross the top of the foot, the thumb will press against the sole.
- Inhale, lift the left leg up, and bring the thigh parallel to the floor. As you do this, rotate the left shoulder in such a way that the bent elbow swings around and up, so that it points toward the ceiling. It requires extreme flexibility to externally rotate and flex the shoulder joint in this way.
- Reach the right arm straight forward, in front of the torso and parallel to the floor. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, release, and repeat on the second side for the same length of time.
We clearly used the partner variation. TRY IT!
Lastly, we love a good Vasisthasana (side plank pose) and wanted to share with you. This pose strengthens the arms, abs and legs while stretching the backs of the legs. This is another wonderful posture for balance, and you can always use a variation if needed! Ask us how in the comments 🙂
- Start in plank pose. Bring your right hand to the center of your mat.
- Turn your body, bringing your gaze to the left and bring your left arm up overhead.
- Stack your feet on top of each other.
- If you feel balanced, brig your gaze to meet your left hand.
- If you feel steady, hover your left leg high for a challenge.
What’s next you may ask?! We’ve been challenged to perform one of the standing postures from the Ashtanga Primary Series every day for one week. The pose is called Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (say that 10-time fast), or extended hand-to-big-toe-pose challenge. Stay tuned!