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.


Ashtanga Yoga Mantra

At the beginning of each practice, the Ashtanga Yoga Mantra is chanted.  The Mantra is chanted in Sanskrit and is basically honoring the wisdom and showing gratitude to the teachers who passed down the ancient yoga traditions.  In addition, we are quieting our minds and beginning to bring the awareness within.

Madonna, a longtime Ashtangi, chanted the opening Ashtanga Mantra on her Ray-of-Light album.  You can hear it at the link below:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAevWKpy2tM&feature=related

Stand with the feet together at the front of your mat.  Place the hands in prayer position, fingers spread and thumbs touching the sternum.  Close the eyes and relax the facial muscles.   

Chant the following:

 OM

Vande Gurunam charanaravinde

Sandarashita svatmasukhavabodhe

Nishreyase jangalikayamane

Samsara halahala mohashantyai

 

 Abahu purusakaram Shankhachakrasi dharinam

Sahasra sirasam svetam Pranamami patanjalim

 

[I worshiop the lineage of the guru’s lotus feet

There by awakening the happiness of the self revealed, acting like the

Jungle physician to pacify the poison from the delusion of conditioned existence.

 

 I practice before the sage Patanjali, who has thousands of radiant White heads.

He assumes the form of a man until the arms, which hold a conch shell, a chakra and a sword]

 OM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFbUTD0SeLA

 

 


What is Ashtanga ?!?

Ashtanga Yoga is a system of yoga preserved and passed down by the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009) of Mysore, India. The practice combines breath and movement, which is believed to be the link between the physical and spiritual aspects, and allows the practitioner to achieve deeper meditation and greater mental clarity. In this practice, over time, one develops core strength and flexibility, while enhanced circulation aids in reducing stress and increasing endurance. Additionally, the twisting and squeezing of each asana (yoga posture) helps to massage internal organs which aids in the elimination of toxins, among other wonderful benefits.

 Ashtanga consists of three series: primary, intermediate, and advanced, with further divisions in the advanced series. The Primary series is what I’ll be sharing with you here  and it consists of about 75 asanas (yoga postures). It begins with surya namaskara A and B (sun salutations A and B) to heat and warm up the body. Next there are a series of standing asanas, followed by sitting asanas, inversions, a back bend, headstand, and finally a seated meditation. The order in which these postures are performed is very important as each asana prepares the body for the next, allowing for deeper stretching, physical strength and mental focus. The result of continued practice is improved circulation, a light and strong body with even muscle tone, and a calm and peaceful mind. 

Is Ashtanga Right for Me?

Ashtanga yoga can be a vigorous, athletic, and intense form of yoga. It will appeal to those who are looking for a physical challenge and for people who like a sense of order. Ashtanga can also be modified for those with less stamina or just getting back into physical activity.  Although it may seem intimidating and difficult at first, with practice and patience you will begin to find a deeper connection with your body and your true Self will spill out into all other areas of your life. 

“Do your practice and all is coming.”  [-Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois]


Hello world!

Welcome to Yoga Du Jour!  If you’re looking for a personal yoga practice and to learn some easy, healthy recipes, this blog is for you. 

 I will be taking you through the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga system, each week introducing a new asana (yoga posture) in the order that they are practiced in the Primary Series.  In addition, I will be sharing healthy, plant-based recipes that you can try at home.

I truly believe that the benefits of a regular yoga practice along with a healthy diet can change your life.  From obtaining your ideal body weight to finding inner peace, mental clarity and direction in life, it is all possible with balanced diet and exercise.

Thank you for joining me!