A home office journey through the deep healing that is yoga…
One of the only “necessaries” for practicing yoga is a focus on bodily awareness and breath-connection. That focus allows us to investigate the concept of Vinyasa – the linking of breath and movement. Since Vinyasa is one of the foundational aspects of Ashtanga yoga, my goal is to emphasize breath and movement in all classes. This particular sequence was rooted in the primary and secondary series of my Ashtanga practice, which are designed to provide grounding energy, or apana, deep healing, and cleansing of the nervous system, through the use of breathing, posture and gaze.
On August 3rd, I had the pleasure of joining the Free People community at its home office to teach a one-hour, Ashtanga-inspired Vinyasa yoga class. The team had created a beautiful space for practice, decorated with tall plants, soft candlelight and a special Free People touch, which provided a tranquil atmosphere for the students.
Class began with several rounds of cat-cows. Cat-cows are done to open the hips, spine, chest, and shoulders, and serve to bring attention to our bandhas, or internal energy locks. On an inhale, we entered cow pose by arching our back, tilting our pelvis forward, and dropping our head back. On an exhale, we transitioned to cat pose by rounding our back, tucking our pelvis, and dropping our head down.
Next, we heated the body by flowing through 5 sun salutation A’s and 3 sun salutation B’s, then transitioning to standing and balancing postures, including two standing forward bends, triangle, revolved triangle, side angle, revolved side angle, wide legged forward bend, pyramid pose, standing big-toe hold, tree pose, chair pose, a vinyasa with an optional exit through crane pose, warrior one, warrior two, and reverse warrior. The benefits of these postures include opening our spine, hamstrings and hips, as well as strengthening our quadriceps and core. These postures are also nice because they detoxify our bodies, provide a grounding energy, and prepare us for seated postures and back bends.
We opened the seated sequence with staff pose, to lay a foundation for what was to come. We did a seated forward bend, table-top, head to knee pose, seated spinal twist, bound angle, and boat pose. This specific sequence includes highlights from the primary series of Ashtanga yoga. The benefits of these postures are similar to those in the standing and balancing section, and further serve to prepare the body for back bending.
The peak of our practice was our back bending sequence, which included locust pose, bow pose, and a vinyasa forward from downward facing dog to enter the option for either bridge or upward bow pose. Back bends, which serve to energetically awaken the body, open our front (specifically the heart) and strengthen our back. After our back bend sequence was complete, we took a supine twist on each side and another seated forward bend to release our spines. Finally, I closed our practice with viparita karani, an inversion. Inversions are extremely restorative and improve our circulation. After many breaths while inverted, the group took savasana, or final rest.