Monthly Archives: June 2011

Food for Thought…

What an amazing weekend with David Swenson and his wife, Shelly, this weekend!

We had a led primary practice followed by pictures and videos of David as a young teen practicing on a towel to his time in India with many fond stories and memories of Pattabhi Jois.  The next day we went through second series, worked on back bending and finished with inversions on Sunday.  David shared many good tips and advice!

However, I think the biggest gift I got from this workshop was compassion.  The real challenge with an Ashtanga practice is not to get swept away with trying to do more, get better, and progress in your series.  This weekend I was deeply touched by how much David and his wife, Shelly, respect and love each other so completely and fully.  I felt that love spills out into the entire room and to all of the students.

I started wondering…”how did they get there?!”   Then I was reminded that a true yoga practice is so much more than the asanas we do on our yoga mat.  It is about finding acceptance, love and compassion on and off of the mat, and once that is found within, how can it not flow without.  In Mysore, India, they do not praise the guy with the leg behind his head any more or less than the girl who cannot get her legs into lotus.  We are all equal and yet very unique.

There are many health benefits to a regular yoga practice, but this weekend reminded me to not forget about the bigger emotional and spiritual benefits yoga offers us as well.



David Swenson, here in Austin …

Sunday, June 19th through July 1st teaching at Castle Hill Yoga:

David Swenson has been practicing yoga since the age of 13, initially learning from his older brother, Doug Swenson. 

In 1977 he took his first trip to Mysore, India to learn the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga system directly from K. Pattabhi Jois.

Today David Swenson is one of the worlds most prized teachers of Ashtanga!


Krishnamacharya videos…Amazing!


Below are some links to a couple youtube videos filmed in the early 1930’s of Krishnamacharya, one of the most influential yoga teachers, teaching both K. Pattabhi Jois (who then went on to teach Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga) and B.K.S. Iyengar (who created Iyengar Yoga).

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Utthita Trikonasana & Parivrta Trikonasana

Utthita Trikonasana or Extended Triangle

Trying to eliminate belly fat?   This asana is said to help dissolve excess fat at the waist.  Working to open the collar bones, we expand the narrow portion of the breathing channel while strengthening the backbone.  This asana tones the hamstrings, trunk and chest, as well as aiding in the recovery of groin injuries, sciatica and spinal compression.

Utthita Trikonasana

Inhale, jump out to the right placing the feet about 3 feet apart,

Exhale, extending at the waist, keeping the legs straight, reaching for the big toe.  If you cannot reach the big toe, try grabbing your shin.

Inhale, opening the chest and reaching the left arm up to the sky.  Working to shift the right hip forward and the left hip back, ultimately aiming to stack the hips in a line above each other.  The fingers are together and gaze is to the palm.

5 Breaths here…

Inhale up to center and switching sides.

Parivrta Trikonasana or Revolving Triangle

In this asana the twisting works to stimulate the spine and nervous system. A healthy, straight spine allows for energy to flow more fluidly throughout the body causing more clarity and mental stability.

Squaring the hips to the right, bring your right hand to the waist while the left arm is straight up, opening the chest and looking forward

Parivrta Trikonasana

Exhale folding forward and placing the left hand to the outside of the right foot.  Twisting the spine and opening the chest, bringing the right arm up to the sky.  Both legs are actively engaged and gazing to the palm.  If it cannot get your palm flat on the ground, try first grabbing the shin or the foot.

5 Breaths here….

Inhale up to center and switching sides.

Exhale back to the front of your mat in Samastitihi

Padangusthasana and Padahastasana

Standing Forward Bends – Encircling the big toe and hands under feet

Padangusthasana and Padahastasana are the first standing asanas in the Primary Series after warming up with Sun Salutations.  These asanas are believed to help dissolve the fat of the lower stomach and purify the kidneys.  If done with patience, they can induce calmness and peace in the mind. Those suffering with bloating in the stomach, acidity and gastric issues will benefit immensely by practicing these asanas.

In addition, forward bends increase the blood supply to the brain, helping to regulate blood pressure, while gently stretching the spine, hamstrings, and arms.


Jump the feet hips width apart and place the hands on the hips.  Inhale open the chest and look up.

Exhale fold forward, grab the big toes with the “peace fingers” (pointer and middle fingers) wrapping the thumb over the top of the toe.

Inhale, flatten the back and look up, gaze is between the eyebrows


Exhale, folding forward, working to get your nose to your knees, elbows out to the sides, and holding for 5 breaths.  Making sure to keep the shoulders away from the ears and workiing to get the legs straight.  If the legs are very tight, you can slightly bend the knees, and to deepen the stretch bring the weight into the balls of the feet.

Inhale, flat back, placing the hands under the feet stepping on the palms, while the toes touch the wrists, setting up for Padahastasana.


Exhale folding forward, once again working to get the nose to the knees and holding for 5 breaths here.

Inhale, place the hands on the hips and look up, exhale here


Inhale coming all the way up, and Exhale back to Samastitihi.