Asana

Asana means seat.

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Joints Overview

Our bodies have energetic points called marmas. Many of them exist near the joints. Each asana/posture/pose activates one or many different marmas. It is similar to playing a chord on a piano. Each marma is a note. More complex asana means more notes hit at same time.

When you do an asana, it stimulates particular neurons in the brain and the central nervous system.

We want to activate all the neurons in each practice.

Conceptually, each joint is a chakra. Doing an asana is modifying the aura.

Asanas direct our energy inside, so even a couple asanas can change our state. But ideally we want a complete practice.

There are active, passive and muscular holds in asanas.

Limitations to being able to perform an asana:

  • Level 1 - limitation of the flexibility of muscle
  • Level 2 - tendons and ligaments limitations
  • Level 3 - limitation of joint capsules
  • Level 4 - limitation of emptiness, meaning if there is too much mobility

Hips Overview

  • Longitudinal mobility can have 4 levels
    • Level 1 - Warrior + triangle because combined they get both legs
    • Level 2 - Half split
    • Level 3 - Full split
    • Level 4 - Split with block under foot
  • Transversal Mobility
    • Level 1 - Prasarita Parsvotanasana
    • Level 2 - Half split
    • Level 3 - Full Split
    • Level 4 - Split with block under foot
    • Important to note that the opposite of this is legs crossed with a twist
  • Twist Mobility
    • Level 1 - Virasana / Half-Lotus or Janusirsasana
    • Level 2 - Full Frog / Lotus
    • Level 3 - Inverted Frog / Lotus inverted on headstand
    • Level 4 - Frog but toes stay on belly without arms / Kandasana

There should be equal number of postures for the arms as there are for the legs. In most yoga schools around the world, this is not the case.

It is common to have atrophy of the arms because they are not as used as the legs.

Arms Overview

  • Longitudinal split of the arm
    • Downward dog
    • Rack pose
  • Transversal split
    • Roll on external rotation
    • Half dragonfly
  • Rotation/twist of the arm
    • Virasana of the arm
    • Puja ardha padmasana - half lotus of the arm
  • Strength of the arms
    • Many of these have names of birds
      • Pelvis down with gaze up like birds always looking towards the sky
    • We want to balance stretching asanas with strengthening asanas
    • Bakasana
    • Eka pada bakasana I
    • Eka pada bakasana II
    • Eka pada koundinyasana I
    • Eka pada koundinyasana II (twisted)
    • Eka pada galavasana
    • Kukutasana
    • Parsvakukutasana
    • Galavasana
    • Ashtavakrasana
    • Mayurasana

Waist area of spine

Backbend

  • cobra - level 1
  • cobra with legs touching head - level 2
  • scorpion feet on the ground - level 3
  • scorpion knees on the ground - level 4

Forward bends

  • Paschimottanasa - kind of - Level 1
  • Full paschimottanasana- Level 2
  • 2 legs underneath head - Level 3
  • 2 feet under armpits - Level 4
  • Leg behind head is a forward bend

RIbcage

Backbend

  • perpendicular legs chin and chest down - level 1 and setubandasana
  • scorpion chin on the floor - level 2

Forward Bend

  • Plow
  • Plow with feet down
  • Mahahalasana

Most likely you will not be using the fourth level. If you are going to teach yoga it is important to have a full spectrum of what is possible to do. It is not like a sport when you need to achieve more. It is more about accumulation of quality of practice that leads to deeper version.

Classifications of Asanas

  1. Stretching
  2. Strengthening
  3. Coordination
  4. Balancing
  5. Reaction

Substyles of Yoga

If you want to determine what type of asana practice you are doing, classify using these substyles. All of these are proportions:

  1. Static - Dynamic
    1. How much of a practice is holding vs. flowing
  2. Strength - Stretch
    1. Some asanas develop strength
    2. Others develop stretching
  3. Innate - Learned
    1. If you get qualities from being born then you don’t need to learn it
    2. For example, women are generally less strong but have more flexibility and endurance
    3. Men get tired faster but have more strength in general
    4. So we want to learn that which do not naturally have
    5. What do you believe you need? What do you believe is good or bad?
    6. Don’t focus on satisfying ego by practicing what we have already
  4. Individual - Group
    1. Are you practicing by yourself?
    2. Practicing in a group is most common but there are aspects of individuality in group practice
  5. One Direction - Multidirectional
    1. Are you facing one direction on the mat?
    2. Do you move between directions on the mat?
    3. Do you have a cross mat?
  6. One Level - Multilevel
    1. What level of complexity of the asanas that you are practicing?
      1. Muscles
      2. Tendons
      3. Capsules of the joint
      4. Too much hyper-mobility
    2. Do you start at first phase and move through the levels?
    3. There must be a system of levels that actually makes sense and be scientific
    4. There is also gradation within one level depending on how stiff or flexible you are
  7. One repetition - Multi repetition
    1. How many times are we stretching each direction of mobility of the joints?
    2. It is ideal to step by step go deeper into the repetition
    3. Multi-repetition is like japa mala for asana
  8. Single sector - Combined
    1. Are asanas focused on one sector of influence?
      1. Do they focus on one direction of mobility of one joint?
    2. Are the asanas complex and focus on multiple areas of focus?
  9. Specialized - All Directional
    1. Many schools only practice the most well known asanas
      1. Workshop for hip-openers or backbends is all specialized
      2. If we work towards a backbend as the focus, this is specialized substyle
      3. Maybe you use 70% of the mobility which is somewhere in the middle
    2. Universal yoga focuses on all directions
      1. All directions of all mobility of the joints
  10. Monoenergetic - Multienergetics
    1. Are we looking to sweat and look beautiful? If so, our practice is for fitness and there is almost no energetics
    2. If we have a special order of the asana to control flow of the energy then we at least move into monoenergetics
    3. Asanas with mudras and bandhas is moving into a more multienergetic substyle
  11. Monopsychic - Multipsychic
    1. Is there an order to changing the psychic condition of the practitioner?
    2. Multipsychic classes are specifically designed to change the state of practitioner
  12. Monovisualization - Multivisualization
    1. Are you getting specific instructions about what to visualize?
    2. If you get no orders about what to visualize, it is like chaos
    3. Special order of what to visualize like ‘always visualize light’ is monovisualization
  13. Spontaneous - Preordered
    1. Are you choosing the structure yourself or is there an order of what you are supposed to do?
    2. Follow a videotape or poster?
    3. Limited by a program - even if you create the program yourself, it is still preordered
    4. Spontaneous practice is when you don’t know what will be. Decision of next asana is coming from inner motivation
  14. With Partner - Without Partner
  15. Ha - Tha
    1. Ha - concentration of willpower
    2. Tha - Release of willpower
    3. This is about intention
    4. Understanding this conception you can see how much desire someone has to develop
    5. Extreme tha is shavasana all the class
  16. Authoritatian, karmically limited - Free, Universal, Karmically non-limited
    1. Are you agreeing to be nothing and just following completely?
    2. Are you taking into consideration your own needs?
    3. Intelligence and understandinng allows someone to practice based on their own needs
    4. Other Notes

    5. Practices should correspond to the time of day, condition of the body, etc
    6. The season can also affect the type of practice
      • Do more static holds when it is hot out
      • Do more dynamic when it is cold
    7. Dynamic practices are easy for people who do not have a stable mind. Vinyasa flow is easy for an unstable mind. Nothing is wrong with this but it is important to use the right practices at the right time. Absence of stability of the mind combined with too long of holds can lead to injury
      • Increase the ability to be stable over time. Chaos of the mental processes is strong.
      • Lead to a more static practice over time
    8. Eventually combining asanas together saves time
      • This also can apply to pranayamas