One of my favorite yoga postures is the crane pose, and it demands balance and arm strength. The amount of stamina and balance needed to perform this posture increases the longer you stay in the position. After mastering the crane pose, try the side crane pose (parsva bakasana).
How To Do Crane Pose Step by Step
Squat down from Tadasana with your inner feet a few inches apart. If it isn’t possible to keep your heels on the floor, support them on a thickly folded blanket. Separate your knees wider than your hips and lean the torso forward, between the inner thighs. Stretch your arms forward, then bend your elbows, place your hands on the floor and the backs of the upper arms against the shins.
Snuggle your inner thighs against the sides of your torso, and your shins into your armpits, and slide the upper arms down as low onto the shins as possible. Lift up onto the balls of your feet and lean forward even more, taking the weight of your torso onto the backs of the upper arms. In Bakasana you consciously attempt to contract your front torso and round your back completely. To help yourself do this, keep your tailbone as close to your heels as possible.
With an exhalation, lean forward even more onto the backs of your upper arms, to the point where the balls of your feet leave the floor. Now your torso and legs are balanced on the backs of your upper arms. As a beginner at this pose, you might want to stop here, perched securely on the bent arms.
But if you are ready to go further, squeeze the legs against the arms, press the inner hands firmly to the floor and (with an inhalation) straighten the elbows. Seen from the side the arms are angled slightly forward relative to the floor. The inner knees should be glued to the outer arms, high up near the armpits. Keep the head in a neutral position with your eyes looking at the floor, or lift the head slightly, without compressing the back of the neck, and look forward.
Stay in the pose anywhere from 20 seconds to 1 minute. To release, exhale and slowly lower your feet to the floor, back into a squat.
Add comment March 9, 2013
Performing the warrior III pose requires a bountiful amount of balance. Be sure to lock your eyes on one object as you lock the pose. Staring at one thing helps you to keep your balance.
Virabhadra is the name of a fierce warrior, an incarnation of Shiva, described as having a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet; wielding a thousand clubs; and wearing a tiger’s skin.
How To Do Warrior III Pose Step by Step
Stand in Tadasana, exhale and fold foward to Uttanasana. From Uttanasana, exhale and step your left foot back into a high lunge position. Your right knee should be more or less at a right angle. Lay the midline of your torso (from the pubis to the sternum) down on the midline of the right thigh (from the knee to the hip crease) and bring your hands to your right knee, right hand to the outer knee, left hand to the inner. Squeeze the knee with your hands, lift your torso slightly, and with an exhalation, turn it slightly to the right.
Now from the lunge position, stretch your arms forward, parallel to the floor and parallel to each other, palms facing each other. Exhale and press the head of the right thighbone back and press the heel actively into the floor. Synchronize the straightening of the front leg and the lifting of the back leg. As you lift the back leg, resist by pressing the tailbone into the pelvis.
Normally students come up into Virabhadrasana III by lunging the torso forward. This tends to shift the body weight onto the ball of the front foot and unbalance the position. Don’t allow the torso to swing forward as you move into position; instead, as you straighten the front knee, think of pressing the head of the thighbone back. This centers the femur in the hip joint, grounds the heel into the floor, and stabilizes the position.
The arms, torso, and raised leg should be positioned relatively parallel to the floor. For many students the pelvis tends to tilt. Release the hip [of the raised leg] toward the floor until the two hip points are even and parallel to the floor. Energize the back leg and extend it strongly toward the wall behind you; reach just as actively in the opposite direction with the arms. Bring the head up slightly and look forward, but be sure not to compress the back of your neck.
Stay in this position for 30 seconds to a minute. Release back to the lunge on an exhalation. Bring your hands to the floor on either side of the right foot, and on an exhalation, step your left foot forward to meet your right. Stay in this forward bend for a few breaths, then repeat for the same length of time on the other side.
Add comment March 2, 2013
It’s not uncommon in the yoga community for people to find themselves changing in ways that they may never have signed up for – and that their partner isn’t interested in or feels threatened by.
While we’re all well-schooled in accepting differences of opinion to make a relationship work, it seems a lot easier to work through a disagreement about what color to paint a bedroom than to come to terms with divergent spiritual beliefs.
You might wonder: Can a relationship weather differences that seem so, well, fundamental?
Spiritual teachers say the answer is YES – if you fully embrace the practice of acceptance.
When you’re annoyed that your partner isn’t interested in your latest yoga revelation, or upset that they’re heading down a spiritual path that doesn’t appeal to you, focus on accepting them as they are instead of judging them or needing their behavior to change.
To do that, it helps to practice acceptance of yourself and the issues you bring to the situation.
Add comment May 5, 2011
Many Americans put faith in scientific experts for dietary guidance. They’re willing to overhaul their kitchens in the name of health, certain that science will eventually show them a way out of their continual uncertainty over diet.
They look to the food industry, nutrition experts, and the government to dispel their confusion – yet these powerful forces only deepen it.
But there’s an often-overlooked force that could help us out of our bewilderment: the teachings of yoga.
The discipline’s philosophy teaches you to make your meals from plant-based foods that form the foundation of the food pyramid – foods over which there’s much less squabbling among nutrition experts.
The physical practice deepens your awareness of your body, so you become more conscious of foods that bring a consistent sense of well-being – and of those that make you feel bad after you eat them. Over time, many practitioners find themselves in a more comfortable and relaxed relationship with food.
Yoga can help its practitioners resist mixed messages, learn to trust themselves, and reclaim the pleasures of healthful eating.
Add comment May 5, 2011
At first glance, Virasana (Hero Pose) looks simple. You don’t have to balance on your head or bend your spine backward or support all your weight with your hands.
Yet the classical seated posture can be enormously challenging the first, say, 12,000 times you practice it. Some students have reported feeling that their thighs were on fire, that their knees would explode, or that their ankles were going to break off.
Since you don’t come to yoga to increase your physical and mental discomfort, how can you make this pose more accessible?
The answer is not simply to avoid it. While Virasana’s benefits aren’t immediately obvious, there are many. The pose increases flexibility in the knees and ankles, teaches internal rotation in the thighs, reduces tension in the legs, and is said to aid digestion and soothe abdominal discomfort.
It is also one of the traditional seated postures for meditation and breath awareness. When your body is properly supported, you can sit in Virasana for several minutes at a time, becoming aware of the natural curves of your spine, the contours of your chest, the movement of your breath, and other internal sensations.
How To Do The Hero Pose
Add comment May 2, 2011
We all know how important it is to use our asana practice to tap into the core, the literal and symbolic center of our power. But instead of focusing on the rectus abdominus (the “six-pack”), the focus should be on working the deeper layers of the abdominal area, such as the transversus abdominus.
Switching from the six-pack to the deeper layers takes subtle awareness, so be patient even if you can’t access the muscles right away. (When all else fails, try laughing, since you use the transversus to laugh or cough.)
Or try this simple exercise: Lie on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Bring your fingers to your lower belly to feel your TA engage. Lift your legs off the floor, with your knees over your hips and your shins parallel to the floor.
Breathe normally as you slowly tap your right toes to the ground and return to neutral. (The slower and more controlled your movements, the more you’ll work the TA.) Do the same with the left foot. Repeat 4 times, feeling the strength and power contained in your mid-section.
Add comment May 1, 2011
The Yoga Sutra, a guidebook of classical (or raja) yoga, was written by an Indian sage known as Patanjali. Although the fruits of his efforts are widely quoted in yoga classes today, few know much about Patanjali.
Like many tales about the world’s spiritual heroes, the story of Patanjali’s birth has assumed mythic dimensions.
One version relates that in order to teach yoga on earth, he fell from heaven in the form of a little snake, into the upturned palms (a gesture known as anjali) of his virgin mother, Gonika, herself a powerful yogini. Here he’s regarded as an incarnation of the thousand-headed serpent-king named Remainder (Shesha) or Endless (Ananta), whose coils are said to support the god Vishnu.
It seems odd to us, in this time of superstar teachers with their eponymous schools of So-and-So Yoga, that so little is known about Patanjali. But anonymity is typical of the great sages of ancient India.
They recognized that their teaching was the outcome of a cooperative group effort that spanned several generations, and they refused to take credit for themselves, often attributing their work to some other, older teacher.
Add comment April 29, 2011
Lucid dreaming, also known as dream yoga, is gaining attention in the West. But the practice has been refined over the centuries by Tibetan Buddhists and Taoists, who use it as a tool for reaching enlightenment.
Yogis, believing that the “dream body” is better able to feel subtle channels and chakra, have also used lucid dreaming to perform physical yoga and meditation, and to communicate with spiritual teachers.
But the main point is to help you see that “reality” is like a dream—constructed in the mind. If you can see through the illusion of your dreams, you can more easily see through the illusion of reality, too.
Lucid dreaming can be particularly useful for breaking through negative emotions. For example, if you interpret a nightmare about a monster to be, say, fear about a relationship, making that mental association can be therapeutic.
And in a lucid dream, you can actually confront or change that monster.
Add comment April 29, 2011
You practice yoga to stimulate the healthy flow of energy throughout your body. By incorporating some basic principles of feng shui (pronounced “fung shway”), the ancient Chinese practice of shaping your environment to achieve harmony, you can encourage healthy energy flow in your home, too. During winter’s chill, give your love life a warm jolt by attending to your bedroom.
Start by coupling up all your decorative items to encourage an intimate, equal relationship. Set up two nightstands and two bedside lamps, and allow equal, easy access to both sides of the bed. Make sure the color scheme is soft and soothing.
A touch of red, the fire color, can spark romance, but don’t overdo it by having red walls or rugs. Steer clear of water symbols, such as fountains or paintings of seascapes, which douse flames and encourage tears.
Finally, make sure the room is organized around rest and intimacy; anything that doesn’t support those two functions is an obstacle. Move your computer and television to another room, and don’t work or pay bills in bed.
Always make feng shui adjustments with intention. As you make changes, pause and visualize the way you’d like your relationship to be. Silently state that with the actions you’re taking, you welcome deeper love into this space. Soon you’ll notice that changing your surroundings really can change your life.
Add comment April 27, 2011
Do you ever notice yourself holding the telephone or a steering wheel with a death grip, or scrunching your face when staring at a computer screen?
These unconscious habits can lead to chronic tension, muscle fatigue, and soreness in the wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, and face, which can increase stress and worsen your mood.
As you practice yoga, you begin to notice where you hold tension: It might be in your tongue, your eyes, or the muscles of your face and neck.
If you simply tune in, you may be able to release some tension in the tongue and eyes. With bigger muscles like the quadriceps, trapezius, and buttocks, it may take years of practice, but you can learn to relax them, too.
Add comment April 26, 2011
Life’s obstacles can cause even the most accomplished yogis to wobble. Thankfully, yoga has a proven track record of helping practitioners get through the worst situations. The next time you’re facing a difficult life challenge, keep in mind the following coping techniques inspired by yoga.
Dedicate space for reflection
It helps to have a corner of your home that feels sacred—somewhere you can retreat to when you feel overwhelmed. It can be something as simple as a candle on your night stand or as elaborate as an altar.
Find a personal refuge
Choose a location with meaning for you—a beach, a park, a special place from childhood—and go there. Even if it’s just for a few hours, find a way to take a mental hiatus.
Calm your breath
Notice when you’re holding your breath or taking rapid, shallow breaths, and make an effort to focus on your inhalation and exhalation. A few breaths with a present mind can change not only your day, but your entire outlook on life.
Add comment April 23, 2011
The most basic standing posture in yoga, Tadasana (Mountain Pose), can help you find alignment. This asana is the foundation for all other poses, because it teaches you correct alignment and can be excellent practice for improving posture and strengthening the lower body.
Stand with the bases of your big toes touching and your heels slightly apart. (If you feel unsteady, bring your feet hip-width apart.) Lift your toes and fan them out onto the floor without gripping.
Feel the soles of your feet connect with the earth as you invite energy to rise up your legs, firming your thigh muscles and lifting your heart.
As you root down through your feet, let the top of your head extend toward the ceiling, lengthening your spine and releasing your tailbone toward the floor. Gaze softly toward the horizon, with chin level and face relaxed.
Drop your shoulders away from your ears and bring your palms together at your sternum – the heart center. Take several slow, full breaths.
You can practice this pose anytime during the day – try it out while waiting in long lines!
Add comment April 23, 2011