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Preparatory exercises

Training arm balancing while transitioning from upper dog to standing

The challenge here is to use belly strength to lift up the legs (if possible straigth) into a vertical hand stand, prior to lowering the straight legs to the ground between the hands (hence achieving a standing forward bend).

To train: jump-walk through the room, using belly and shoulders to lift legs and jump them forward a decimeter at a time. Move hands a decimeter and repeat. Keep a start distance between feet and hands of roughly 2 feets or less.

TODO: find a video showing it

Note: another variant is to come up with folded legs. In that case just train jumping up the bottom into a hand stand, with folded legs. (TODO: find video)

Training for navasana (the boat)

describe circling movement, with arms, then legs (like cycling in the air), while resting on the bottom in a low, almost lying, navasana.

Ashtanga primary serie

Asanas cracking notes

Marichyasana C

Detailed demo. Remember not to bend backward while locking.

Marichyasana D

Nice trick: pointing toes before locking

Bhujapidasana

Some keys: bend the back and open the hips, place knees as high on upper arms as possible, squeeze inwards the arms with the legs

Yoga practice notes

"Put your right arm above your left shoulder, your left arm above your right shoulder, and hug yourself. Put your left arm above your right shoulder, your right arm above your left shoulder, and hug your evil twin!" -- anonymous yoga teacher

Small daily pauses

(source: article by Sally Kempton on www.yogajournal.com)

  • Anti-rushing Practice: This practice releases the compulsion that often arises when you're in a hurry. STOP. Stand or sit totally still for one full minute. First, say to yourself, "I have all the time in the world." Then, bring to mind the image of a buddha in meditation. Hold the thought of the image in your mind while you breathe deeply and slowly five times. Keep that image in your mind as you continue on your way.
  • Finding the Nonverbal "I Am": STOP. Close your eyes. Ask yourself, "When I'm not busy, not productive, who am I? When I'm not thinking, not moving around, not emotionally engaged, who am I?" Instead of looking for a verbal answer, tune in to the space that opens up right after the question.
  • Finding the Still Point. RIGHT NOW, begin to sway slowly from side to side, inhaling to one side, exhaling to the other. At the end of each movement, notice the pause. Tune in to the pause on the right side, then on the left. Focus on the pause for a few seconds, then let the movement flow from that. Do this for two minutes.

Tips for avoiding knee injury

(copied from www.yogajournal.com)

  • Avoid hyperextending. When joints are overly mobile and flex too far back, they're hyperextended. In the knees, hyperextension often occurs in poses in which the legs are straightened, such as Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) and Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend), putting an unhealthy tension on the ligaments. If you're prone to hyperextension, keep a slight bend in the knees during standing poses and keep your weight evenly distributed among the four corners of your feet. In seated forward bends, place a rolled-up sticky mat or towel under the knee of the extended leg or legs.
  • Start with your feet. Proper alignment through the feet is the key to building strength evenly in the ligaments on both sides of the knee; when all the ligaments are equally strong, the kneecap glides effortlessly up and down and the cartilage doesn't get worn down. Separate your toes and press actively through the four corners of your feet in every pose, even inversions. If your feet are out of alignment, your knees are going to suffer.
  • Keep your knees in line. When moving into deep knee bends, such as Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II) and Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Pose), first align your bent knee over your ankle, then draw your kneecap in line with your second toe. Maintain awareness in your back foot, pressing down evenly, while lifting up from the arch of your front foot. "If you let the arch drop, the knee falls inside the big toe, and you're set up to suffer a number of different kinds of overuse and acute knee injuries," says Angela Smith, a professor of orthopedic surgery.
  • Tune in to subtle signals. "Oftentimes, the knees don't give immediate feedback," explains Iyengar teacher Joni Yecalsik. "Only later do you realize you've gone too far. When it comes to the knees, the sensation that would normally proceed the red flag is the red flag." If you feel achiness when you come out of a bent-knee pose, you may have worked too hard.
  • Build strength by balancing. Balancing poses, especially those that require moving through a bent standing leg, such as Garudasana (Eagle Pose), are especially beneficial. "Very dynamic balancing protects the knee against future injury by training the functional alignment, not just working the muscle," Smith says.
  • Be prop-friendly. When it comes to seated asanas, nothing makes a tight knee happier than a bounty of props. In Virasana (Hero Pose), try raising your seat with blankets or a block. Anytime the knees are deeply bent, such as in Balasana (Child's Pose) or Marichyasana III (Pose Dedicated to the Sage Marichi III), pressure can be relieved by placing a rolled-up washcloth as far into the knee pit as possible before bending the joint.
  • Warm up with hip openers. "If your big joints aren't open, your small joints will always take the stress," yoga instructor Sandy Blaine says. "Many people hurt their knees doing Lotus when their hips aren't ready." She recommends warming up with hip stretches like Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) and Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose).