Yoga Asanas | Savasana – to let go or not to let go, that is the question.

Posted by on Oct 17, 2011 in Iyengar Yoga, Yoga Positions and Asanas | 0 comments

I was once asked which, out of all the Iyengar Yoga Asanas could I name as my favourite. Without hesitation I replied Savasana.

Literally translated as Corpse Pose, Savasana usually comes at the end of physical Asana practice and brings the opportunity to release, relax and surrender.

However, letting go is possibly the most difficult task in our practice. Just when we think we’ve reached the limit of what we can do, we are asked to let go of our thoughts and surrender our bodies to the floor.

As a teacher, when the time comes for students to come into Savasana I can tell that some of them feel a sense of relief; “thank goodness it’s time to lie down and relax” but for others I can see a sense of restlessness, a gravitation towards the door, a sudden need to leave as something urgent has cropped up.

This is precisely why these students need time for Savasana at the end of a demanding physical practice.

Learning to relax and let go is a skill in itself for the practice of Iyengar Yoga.

So I could now become very philosophical and intellectual and discuss rebirth, inner peace and the bliss of finding ones true self.  Realistically these maybe very lofty and seemingly unattainable aspirations, when all we want to think about when lying down in Savasana is either going to sleep or what we need to pick up at the supermarket on the way home.

Whatever thoughts you now have about Savasana as one of the key Yoga Asanas and how it fits into your Yoga practice, just take a quick look at some of the benefits that students have discovered when taking the time to perform this Yoga pose with integrity and intelligence:

  • Savasana wards off mental fatigue and makes the “Citta” (mind, intelligence and ego) calm and quiet
  • Steady smooth breathing in the pose allows energy to flow into the body, invigorating it and reducing stress
  • It reduces physical fatigue and soothes the nervous system
  • It can help treat high blood pressure and relieve migraine or stress related headaches
  • Savasana can assist in alleviating the symptoms of respiratory diseases and ease breathing, especially if the thoracic spine is supported to help open the chest
  • It speeds up recuperation after illness
  • Finally it can help towards a good night’s sleep

Think of Savasana as precious time to devote to you, your body and your breath.  Think of it as a way to be present in the here and now without the distractions of the outside world.

Next time you practice Iyengar Yoga, make your Savasana a new experience. It has many benefits, physical and mental, you just have to let go enough to let them in.

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Iyengar Yoga Posture Review – Sarvangasna

Posted by on Aug 4, 2011 in Iyengar Yoga, Yoga Positions and Asanas | 0 comments

Iyengar Teachers love the Shoulder Stand.

The Shoulder Stand is a key posture in the practice of all forms of yoga, including Iyengar Yoga.  It opens the chest, it encourages our breath to flow freely, it calms the mind and creates energy.

Done properly with the correct alignment in the pose, it can be almost effortless.  However, some basic errors often cause many to not actually even perform a Shoulder Stand and put themselves at risk of injury.

The key is to ensure the armpits are opened sufficiently to  enable you to get on top of the shoulders.

In this Iyengar Yoga Posture review, I’m going to give you a list of exercises you can do to that will stretch the armpits and chest regions, encouraging you to rotate the upper arm and allow much better movement in the shoulder.

I’m not going to go into the actual performance of the following Asanas as these are all well described in many Yoga Books which can be found in my Yoga Store.  What I want to do, is simply provide a tip or two for each posture to help you get the most from your practice.

I will also be adding videos to this site in due course and releasing lots of free content to help you with your Iyengar Yoga practice.  So for now, I hope you recognise the posture and perform them as a means of improving your Sarvangasna.

Iyengar Yoga Routine…

1. Gomukhasana

This is a classic pose of opening the shoulders,  keep your frontal ribs back to prevent straining the lumbar, and use a belt if you find it difficult to clasp the hands. Roll the top arm shoulder in towards your head and the bottom arm shoulder from the inside out.

2. Garudasana

Although usually performed standing up, I’m happy for you to sit in Virasana as I want your focus to be on your shoulders, not your legs and balance.

My key tip here is to keep your elbows at shoulder height and move your forearms away from your face.

3. Adho Mukha Savanasana

The effort of pushing through the shoulders in this classic pose is incredibly valuable for preparing for the Shoulder Stand.  My tip here is to rotate the inner upper arms towards the ceiling which broadens the collarbones and lift strongly through the arms into the shoulders.

4. Chatushpadasana 

Use a blanket or foam blocks under the shoulders to help with lift and roll the arms from the inside out, clasp the hands together to enable even more rotation – this will also help to get more onto the tops of your shoulders and move your shoulderblades in.

In all these poses focus on lifting your sternum to the ceiling and moving your dorsal spine into the back chest.

Then when you’re finished, lie in Savasana and this time focus on shoulder rotation to again open the chest and shoulder blades.

The performance of these  4 Iyengar Yoga Exercises key Iyengar Yoga Poses on a regular basis will definitely improve your ability to perform a better Sarvangasna.

Please leave a comment, share your experiences with this posture or submit any questions you have and I’ll be glad to help improve your Iyengar Yoga practice.


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