Monthly Archives: May 2011

Surya Namaskara B (Sun Salutation B)

Just like Surya Namaskara A, Surya Namaskara B is also practiced 5 times.  The standing postures in this sequence help us achieve alignment in the body and also build strength.  After finishing 5 sets of Surya Namaskara B you should feel good and ready to tackle the rest of the asanas…

Utkatasana

Inhale, bending the knees and reaching the arms up over the head for Utkatasana

Uttanasana

Exhale, folding forward, nose to knees

Inhale, flat back gazing between the eyebrows

Chaturanga Dandasana

Exhale, jump or step the legs back into plank, bending the elbows and engaging the abdominals.

Urdva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog)

Inhale, pushing forward with the feet and rolling over onto the top of your toes, straightening the arms and opening the chest and shoulders.  Ideally the knees come off of the ground, but beginners feel free to rest them on the ground at first.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog)

Exhale, lifting the hips for downward facing dog

ViRABHADRASANA

Inhale, stepping the right foot through the hand, lunging in the front leg and turning the back foot about 45 degrees, working to get it flat on the ground, reaching the arms up over the head for Warrior One or Virabhadrasana

Exhale the leg back, taking the vinyasa, and switching sides, holding for 5 more breaths.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana

Exhale the leg back, taking the vinyasa, Holding downward facing dog – Adho Mukha Shvanasana for 5 breaths

At the bottom of your 5th exhale bending the knees and jump or step the feet between the hands, Inhale, flat back gazing between the eyebrows

Uttanasana

Exhale folding forward,

Utkatasana

Inhale reaching the arms all the way up over the head, bending the knees into chair position – Utkatasana

Samastitihi

Exhale back to Samastitihi

Now your body should feel completely warmed up and awake…ready to take on our Ashtanga Yoga Practice!


Oujaii Pranayama (Upward Victorious Breath)

Oujaii Pranayama is the breathing applied throughout the Ashtanga Yoga practice.  Breathing through the nose, with the mouth closed, a subtle sound is created throughout the inhale and the exhale.  This sound is created by slightly contracting the throat, almost as if you are breathing through a straw.  The length of the inhale should be equal to the exhale and when done correctly the breath should resemble the sound of the ocean.

Each movement is linked to an inhale or exhale.  This might seem challenging at first as you may need two or three breaths for each asana.  If you are a beginner, try not to get too caught up with the breathing, this will come with practice. 

By constantly keeping the awareness on the breath, practice will start to feel similar to a moving meditation, offering many relaxing and calming benefits to the body and mind.

Here is a helpful video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvdiMjSgItg&feature=related


Surya Namaskara A (Sun Salutation A)

Salutations to the sun, practiced 5 times.

Surya Namaskara A is the first set of asanas (yoga postures) practiced in the Primary Series of Ashtanga Yoga.  Traditionally, these are practiced facing east to greet the rising sun, which is worshiped in many cultures as the giver of life.  Surya Namaskara A is practiced 5 times.  This sequence of asanas is great for warming up the body, improving cardiovascular fitness and is also believed to alleviate depression.  More can be done on cold days and less in extreme heat.  The goal is to achieve a feeling of warmth and balance in the body.

SAMASTITIHI

Starting in Samastitihi, arms by your sides, toes together, heels slightly apart so the knees are facing forward.

Inhale, reaching the arms up over the head, palms touching and gazing to the hands.

UTTANASANA

Exhale, folding forward, working to place the palms on the ground, gaze is to the knees.

Inhale, flat back gazing up between the eyebrows (to the third eye).

CHATURANGA DANDASANA

Exhale, jump or step the legs back into plank, bending the elbows and engaging the abdominals.

URDVA MUKHA SHVANASANA (Upward Facing Dog)

Inhale, pushing forward with the feet and rolling over onto the top of your toes, straightening the arms and opening the chest and shoulders.  Ideally the knees come off of the ground, but beginners feel free to rest them on the ground at first.

ADHO MUKHA SHVANASANA (Downward Facing Dog)

Exhale, engaging the abdominal muscles and lifting the hips.  Lifting the tailbone up towards the ceiling or sky, and working to get the heels to the ground.  Bending the knees at first if it is more comfortable.  Beginners gaze is to the knees, advanced gaze is toward the navel.   Hold this asana for 5 breaths.

At the bottom of your 5th exhale bending the knees and jump or step the feet between the hands.  Inhale,  flat back gazing between the eyebrows.

UTTANASANA

Exhale, folding forward.

Inhale, reaching the arms up over the head, gazing to the hands.

SAMASTITIHI

Exhale, bringing the arms back to the sides for Samastitihi.