Monday, November 29, 2010

Tripod Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana II)

If you have been following my blog, you would know that I am getting more confident in my Headstand and have sometimes managed to add in a variation by opening my legs wide in the pose.

In the flow class I have always been just doing the Half Tripod Headstand where my knees would be resting on my triceps.    For the past few weeks, I have managed to lift my legs up for the Tripod Headstand but with Azmi’s help.  Yesterday in the flow class, I managed lift my legs up on my own and stayed up for the five breaths.   

What’s the difference between the Traditional Headstand and Tripod Headstand?   In the Traditional Headstand, the elbows are on the floor shoulder width apart while in the Tripod Headstand, the palms are on the floor with the elbows pointing skyward, shoulder width apart.

How to do the Tripod Headstand

Begin with your hands and knees on the mat. Lower the top of your head to the floor so it is in front of your hands. You'll know your head is in the right position because your elbows will be directly over your wrists and you'll be able to see your hands. Your head and both palms will form the points of an equilateral triangle.

Once your head and hands feel stable, straighten both legs and walk your feet towards your face as far as you can. Shift your hips over your shoulders, and keep your hands planted firmly on the mat. Bend the legs and bring the knees up onto the elbows.  Stay here or work on lifting both legs up into the air coming into Tripod Headstand. Keep your legs together and point your toes.  Hold this pose for five deep breaths.  To come out of the pose, bend your knees, fold them in towards your chest, and lower your feet to the floor.  Bend your knees and push yourself back into child's pose.  

The Tripod Headstand puts more weight on the neck and head and requires more core strength but with the knees on the elbows, the pose feels more stable as you slowly lift your legs.  I find that in order to lift my legs, I need to engage my core and lifting both legs together keep my center of balance. 

It feels great that I have fulfilled my wish to be able to execute my challenge pose for this year which is Headstand (read my January blog post). and I believe that if we change our mindset, nothing is impossible! 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Beautiful Yoga

This is so beautiful that I have to share it here....:)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rooting in Urdhva Dhanurasana

I love this blog post from Five Minute Yoga on Rooting: a yoga lesson from the garden. Quote: “In the garden of our practice, we cultivate our poses. Sometimes we have to pull out weedy bad habits. Always we have to till, prune and water. Neglect usually results in decay, but sometimes, as with a perennial tucked away in a far corner, poses bloom when we least expect them to. And then there’s patience: in a garden, as in a yoga practice, nothing happens overnight. But of all the links from your mat to your garden, nothing is more fundamental than understanding that what goes down must come up. Learning to root down will revolutionize your yoga practice because it gives you the ability to lift up and create space in your body." 

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel pose) has always been my nemesis pose…this pose has always been difficult for me and on certain days, I would rather not do the pose especially when I feel the compression in my lower back when I lift up.

At the recent yoga retreat in Angkor Wat, as Azmi helped me in the pose, with me holding onto his ankles as I lifted up and using his hands to help me to draw in my shoulder blades, I could lift higher in the pose as I pushed down on my feet.

Today in the Flow class without Azmi’s assistance, I managed to lift higher than usual and did not feel any compression in my lower back.  It was a sensational feeling as I could feel my shoulders opened more as I draw in my shoulder blades and keeping my toes turned in and my feet parallel as I pushed down on my feet.  I believe I have found the root to this pose..:)

 "I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can." — Little Engine That Could

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Angkor Wat Amazing Yoga Retreat

I have just came back from my Angkor Wat Yoga retreat with Azmi and had such a wonderful time there. 

As there were only Bee Yen and myself, Azmi had specifically planned poses that work on the shoulders and upper back for me and balancing and foundation for Bee Yen.   I learned so much more about opening my shoulders and not to force the resistance in my left shoulder but instead to work with it with awareness.  The yoga sessions were held in the morning before we venture out to explore the temples and on the final day we also did a session of yin yoga in the afternoon before going out for a relaxing and heavenly massage at Bodia Spa to end our trip. 

The Angkor temples were amazing and I love Ta Prohm which was both beautiful and eerie with gigantic roots twisted round the stone pillars of the temples and Bayon temple was majestic with its 54 towers with four large faces on each and the large smiling faces gave a welcoming and serene feeling to the place.  It was worth the effort of getting up early to watch the spectacular sunrise at Angkor Wat as sunlight slowly bathed the five towers.   As we visited the inside of Angkor Wat in the evening, I managed to see the sunset from one of the turret inside the temple.  Before the trip I had posted in FB that I would be doing the tree pose in Angkor Wat and I actually did two yoga poses;  the tree pose as well as utthita hasta padangustasana (extended hand to big toe pose) while I was there.   

One of the special moments of the trip was when we went to a concert by Dr Beat (Beatocello) Richner who plays the cello.  It was so heart-warming to see how Dr Beatcello had started and continues to embark on his life project of providing free health care treatment to the people of Cambodia by building the chain of Kantha Bopha hospitals.   The free concert is held every Saturday evening at 7.15 and donations are welcome with a special appeal to young tourists to do a blood donation.

As we had stayed in the heart of the city, it was a short walk to the cafes and local hawker stalls and we had our dinner three days in a row at our favourite local hawker stall where the food is cheap and delicious.  We also got to learn some simple Cambodia phrases like Aw kohn (thank you), Sohm toh (sorry), Niak sohk sabaay te? (how are you today) from the local friendly people and when buying souvenirs that they are "same same but different". 

It was an enjoyable holiday with beautiful sights (with lots of photos for memories) meeting lots of  friendly people and eating the delicious Khmer food (love the Amok fish!) and being able to practice yoga with Azmi and Bee Yen in this amazing city has been fantastic.   Thanks Azmi for being our tour guide and photography teacher besides the great yoga sessions and insights on incorporating the yoga asanas into our daily life and Bee Yen for the company.  

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Yin Yoga Self-Practice

There were no classes for the past few days with Azmi away, so self-practice is the option to maintain a constant practice.   However, it is not easy to do a self-practice as it takes a lot of discipline and there are always many excuses about not being to find time to do the self-practice. But in actual fact, we only need to do a 10 to 15 minutes practice daily to reap the benefits.

Often most of us would think that we will need to do a yang practice for the self-practice but have you considered doing a yin practice instead.   A yin self-practice has its benefits especially if you have been doing a lot of yang classes.   A yin practice allows us to focus on those tight spots in our body and there are many yin poses that help to stretch out those tight muscles.   And if I am feeling lazy, I can do the poses lying on my back and still get the satisfaction that I have done a self-practice.  In yin yoga, the pose is held from 3 to 5 minutes to stretch the connective tissues in our body.

The following are some of the yin poses that I have been doing in my yin self-practice where the target areas are my tight shoulders, hamstrings and hips.

Before ending the practice with Savasana, I do Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall pose) which is a restorative pose and a gentle way to do an inversion pose.

Below is a video from Yogatic where a few yin yoga poses are demonstrated.