Category Archives: Asana

Yoga Lessons in Benjasiri Park

Hello! For the next four weeks I’m teaching Yoga lessons once again in Benjasiri Park at Phrom Phong BTS next to the Emporium. The classes are open to anyone and will take place at 9:00-10:30am, coming Fridays the 17th, 24th, 31st, and 8th. The cost is 300฿.

The Practice

 

Develop your techniques in yogic breathing which are the foundation of good practice and health. These techniques are essential and make spiritual awareness flourish and more challenging asana possible. Did you know you can breath your way into every pose, even handstand! Learn to take deep dynamic breaths, your body will teach you how to be in the Asana. I will also teach you the key movements that are the most natural way to enter each Asana and help to understand where to be engaged and relaxed so the focus is more on exploring your inner space rather than trying to just stay in a pose. This has been the motivation of my approach  and the results are a very integrating and enjoyable practice!

If you would like to attend please send me a message on fb, call, or email. Come to the left side of the park from Sukhumvit road and you will see me under the trees. Please bring your own mat and small towel for shavasana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace ॐ Shanti

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Filed under Alignment, Asana, Breathing, Practice, Teaching, Yoga

How to Sit for Meditation: Classical Meditation Poses

Meditation Asana

Meditation Asana share two main features; an upright spine and stability. The spine, up right in extension, provides the mental poise needed for sustained concentration. Stability calms all systems and gives us more internal awareness.

In classic meditation poses the legs cross and the thighs form a wide base of support. The hands rest on the knees further helping to stabilize the spine. The individual parts support the total body alignment with minimum effort, yoga. At first the flexibility of your body is the main determining factor for which of the meditation asana you should use, then time. Remember that you should be comfortable in the pose so as to focus easily on your inner environment. Do not sit in a position that irritates or nags you to release the pose. When all of these poses are accessible to you can explore their different qualities.

The Poses here are listed in order of most effort to remain upright and least stable to least effort and most stable, generally…

 Throne Pose

This pose is appropriate for those who cannot sit comfortable on the floor from lack of mobility or injury. It’s also a good way to sit anytime you’re in a chair.  Sit in a chair with both feet flat on the ground hip distance apart, hands on the thighs or in a simple mudra, and spine upright. It has a very attentive feeling but requires the most total body engagement to maintain. Keep focusing to the center of the head and harboring in the axis of your balance for a “light head” feeling. You know I don’t mean that kind!

 Sukhasana – Happy Pose

Sukhasana is a simple cross legged position. Compared to the other cross leg positions it is not very stable and easy to slouch in but generally better than the Throne pose as it opens the hips. It is better suited for short meditation periods like at the beginning and end of Hatha Yoga classes, for those that cannot yet perform the three classical meditation poses, and for casual sitting. For balance, in this, and each cross legged position, you should change the cross of the legs everyday, practice, or time performing the pose. Bring each foot under the knee of the opposite leg and then slightly rocking your hips from side to side roll the flesh of your buttocks out and widen the sit bones. You can do this pose sitting on the edge of a folded blanket or block to elevate the hips and make an easier time of it. This works because the knees drop lower relative to the pelvis and create less pull that would cause the lumbar vertebrae to round and the whole spine to “sink”. Use something that lifts you just enough to make it feel easy to stay with the chest broad and spine upright. This makes a thick blanket best because you can fold it to your needs.

 

Vajrasana – Thunder Bolt Pose

Same as Sukhasana, this asana can be useful for short periods. Long holds can be straining to the knees and ankles for some people and in extreme conditions can result in temporary paralysis of the muscles that flex the foot. If this pose is used with a thick cushion between the calves and thighs, or a small angled bench, it can be one of the most comfortable seated poses as the knees are only partially flexed, pressures in the body are evenly spread out, and it’s easy to maintain an upright spine. The downside is that it’s still not as passively stable as the three classical seated poses, described next.

 Swastikasana – Auspicious Pose

This is the first traditional meditation asana and similar to the next one, Siddhasana, but is less demanding to accomplish. Pull one heel towards the genitals with the sole against the opposite thigh. Pull in the second foot similarly and tucking the toes between the calf and thigh muscles. Each heel will be on the opposite side of the body. You can stay with this pose for a long time. It is rather stable and much more accessible than the next two.

 Siddhasana – Accomplished Pose

This pose is claimed as the best for pranayama, meditation, and realization. It is also said to bring powers or siddhis to the yogi who practices it daily for 12 years. Siddhis are not to be used from a will directed by ego but if they are experienced as divine phenomenon they are fine. Draw one heel inwards and right to the perineum.  Draw the second inwards and over the genitals, stacking the ankles on top of one another and placing the toes between calf and thigh. The backs of both heels should be on the midsagittal plane. There are claims that performed properly this pose helps control sexual energy, and those that also say it can cause male impotence.  This can be caused primarily by the lower heel traumatizing the arteries responsible for dilating during erection. This makes the earnest practice of siddhasana better for celibates. If you still want to explore the pose without this danger and are able to achieve it, try it with modest elevation of about one inch for the hips and you will find everything much nicer yet still subtly subduing.

 Padmasana – Lotus Pose

This is the most stable of the meditation asana. Place the feet on the upper thigh of the opposite leg with the knees close to or touching the floor. The legs are essentially locked into place and this is what makes it possible to use this arrangement in many other poses as well as providing the unparalleled steadiness of this pose. Be especially mindful of the knees when learning padmasana. Do not force you’re feet into the position.  With this and the other classical meditation poses keep your arms lightly extended to your knees with the palms up to steady the spine even further. Use the Jnana mudra with the tip of the thumb and index finger touching and the other three fingers extended straight, touching side by side.

Mula Bandha in Meditation

Mula bandha is used to govern the energy in the body during meditation. It is essentially the fail safe for concentration techniques and can be used as the technique itself. In each of these poses for meditation it will have a slightly different dynamic. The more spread apart the space of the perineum the more consciously you will have to focus to maintain it. It is almost naturally occurring in the propped version of Vajrasana and Siddhasana, with the pressure of the heel stimulating the PC muscles.

It is advised for most practitioners to come to meditation after a full practice of asana and pranayama that gives the energy, alertness, and physical comfort needed to stay focused. Those who can be fresh and focused enough to meditate without preparatory practices may do so but will most likely still benefit from preparing with at least kriya and pranayama. I also recommend unplanned meditations whenever conditions are right.

Namaste

George Anthony

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Filed under Alignment, anatomy, Asana, Meditation, Practice Advise, Yoga

Teaching Tips for Yoga Teachers 1

These tips could be applied to many aspects of life I think.

1. Teach with candor. Be frank and honest about yourself and share your experiences, even if that experience is nervousness. Most people can already tell how you are feeling by observing you. If the nervous teacher comes right out and says “Well, ok, I’m feeling nervous but…” they’ll make a connection with people who can identify with that feeling (which is most people)  and they’ll dispay confidence for being able to admit it.

2. When you’re sure all of your students are adept(and keep checking anyway!) with a certain flow of practice, a warm up if you will, teach with unrelenting focus and energy. Don’t let them, or you, slip off into some tangent. This is to get everyone established in the streaming focus that is the paradigm of many yoga practices. Speak rhythmically, directly, and concisely with a encouraging power in your voice. Keep coming back to the same points. In my case it’s usually, bandha, ujjayi breathing, and describing the sensations of deep, empowering breath.

3. Lighten up!  Let the play begin. Teach more casually and be open to make humorous comments or observations. Begin to teach more rather than conduct like in #2. This means be aware of the skills of the people in the room and work on what you can help them achieve or create. Break things down, give more time for detailed demonstrations, even using the students as models for one another while you do an adjustment to show how to align one’s body in a particular Asana.

4. Keep a good pace until the end and then let everything drop into relaxation. Slow down your voice  and lower it’s pitch. Give enough time for relaxation. Savasana should be proportionate to the amount of work and time you spent working. In a light or short class 5-7 minutes is adequate. After a long or challenging class, up to 10 minutes. Savasana should not be too long, otherwise the nerves will become dulled. It should not be too short or the body will not be refreshed or adapt to the structural changes from the practice.

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Tadasana or Samasthiti – Mountain Pose and Standing in Balance

Mountain pose is often touted as the prime posture for experiencing the inherent poise of properly performed Asana. What is poise, first? We should perhaps consider. Poise comes when we feel present in every fiber of our being. It feels like all your inner resources are right there at your beck and whim and you can play it as cool as having an ace in the hole. Physically, it is feeling balanced and at ease to deftly move in any direction.

Truth is, lately I think about mountain pose or “the upright standing posture” of people more often outside of the yoga class. I watch how people stand everywhere. I look inside them, and see their spine.

When we stand tall our bodies naturally moves towards balance. This means that all of our postural muscles are working with the appropriate weight load and don’t become stressed. All of our vertebrae, joints, and organs come close to an internal stasis, of having equal pressure.

The lungs also move towards this stasis and breath is distributed evenly to and from all portions of the lungs. I don’t need to cite all the benefits this has for your metabolism, immunity, mental health, etc.

So why does it seem many people slouch, have bad posture, or curl over with age? They are being pulled away from their center in one way or another. Physical objects like our gadgets pull us in, social confrontations pull us to a side so we feel stronger to move in a certain feeling or direction, and gravity pulls us down. It is also accepted that many peoples’ posture is a result of cultural conditioning. We hold ourselves the way we see other people do. All the more important for us than to be a good role models!  To come back to center takes recognition, some concentration, and sometimes  more. Keep going through the process. Be aware. Recognize. Re-adjust. Notice what it feels like to be in your balance physically. Consider what it means to be in emotional and intra-personal balance. Can you still feel poise when someone is creating invasive or reactive energies.  When your in balance does it seem like there is a bigger world, more energy, or a better feeling about yourself? Keep doing it and make yourself new. This process of coming back to your physical balance center with the spine is the symbolic representation of bringing your self back to the present moment in which lay your real work and pleasure of discovering a new manifestation of your eternal soul.

Soo….to a group of readers who are probably very familiar with how to practice mountain pose, I lead you to my presentation now!

Mountain Pose – How to Stand Tall

A lot of people make a big deal out of feet in this pose. And as they should, the base affects the entire structure. We can spread our weight evenly on our feet in this pose easily. Place the feet so the big toes are touching side by side. Your heels may be slightly apart or touching. Put them in the place that makes you feel balanced in the center of your heel and you can put weight into the balls of your big toe and pinky toe.

You can also try placing the heels to the position that makes your legs face straight forward. Pay attention to the relationship of alignment from your toes, to your knees and upper thighs.When your feet are set right, your ankle joints should feel centered, or even hollow. When you are setting your feet it’s also good to lift and spread your toes as high as you can to wake up muscles and broaden your base for greater  balance. If you are set in the feet but your knees seem rotated inwards or outward it may mean you need to develop balance in hip and thigh muscles.

With your alignment set you can now create the synergistic action of engaging the quadriceps to lift the knees and push down through the axis of your legs to “root in” to your feet. This kind of synergistic action should be created in all standing poses and in a similar way, into any part of your body that touches the ground to create lift in another part or vice versa. This makes mountain pose a model for proper asana practice.  At the same time let the lower back lengthen down through the tailbone towards the floor and the pubic bone to lift slightly upwards, if at all. Here you should essentially be making the bowl of your pelvis level with the earth. All of these muscle contractions should be done to create a sense of poise but can also be engaged stronger on exhales to give you a therapeutic alignment “reset” if you will.

While you were doing all that you were probably already beginning to feel your posture growing taller. When you practice focus on the crown of your head and the sensation of being perfectly centered. You may feel slight sways in your posture. Don’t fight them, just feel where the center is, and increase your sensitivity and with practice you’ll stay there more easily. Let your breath also guide you in this. Observing the dimensions of your breath as it changes inside of you is powerful way to learn about your body and your balance. As for arms… I always say arms are for expressing so explore what feels right for your arms. I like to gently turn my palms forward to open the chest for breathing. Keep your head level and your face calm.

To me, mountain pose, and good posture in general, is as if a straight line is passing through the center of my head, the center of my hips, and the center of the earth. My body is soft and open, the spine feels comfortably suspended in the fluids and tissues of the body. I feel equally connected to the earth, aware of space all around me, and a little something extra special pulling me upwards and ever closer to my balance wth the center.

Namaste.

George Anthony

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Filed under Alignment, anatomy, Asana, Breathing, Meditation, Practice, Yoga

Workshop at Mui Ne Yoga in Vietnam

Here’s the next piece of excitement. Mui Ne is located outside of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. I’ve seen some pictures and the practice space looks beautiful, tucked away as it is out in the jungle.

Pretty isn’t it? Looks like a great spot to feel connected and free. I’m excited to meet the providers of this space and learn about the charity work they are also involved in. Part of the income from the workshop will be going towards their karma yoga. Here is the website for Mui Ne Yoga Den and FB page.

Of the four classes one of them will be taught by my friend Quyen. It is because of her and my friend Lee that I’ll be able to make this visit to Mui Ne to teach. Thanks so much you two.

Come learn to enjoy your perfect practice!

 

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The Possibilities of Form

Hello!

I’m back from my week long excursion to southern Thailand! After 5 days of climbing in beautiful Krabi and the weekend workshop at Koh Samui I’m feeling charged. For those of you that attended my classes at Trinity Yoga many thanks to you. Kosta and I are already discussing my next visit in a few months coming.

For my classes in Bkk my schedule is updated with some new times!

It felt really great to get to use my muscles in different ways on the beautiful rock walls around Railay Beach. Climbing isn’t too much different than yoga. A body that is both strong and limber will have the most options for moving gracefully up the rock. It’s also no secret that you need to have fine control of your breath and focus during the crux, the hardest part of the climb.

During a conversation I had with Kosta we talked about what type of Yoga practice is appropriate during different stages of ones life. We agreed we were both mostly still Asana stage. As a yoga teacher, Asana typically takes up all the time I have for “exercise” but climbing showed me that as a young man I need something else for my body to live up to its potential. For all  practical purposes I’ve essentially maxed out my flexibility but I’ve realized that my strength has lots of possibilities left. Maybe none of this seems very “yogic” in the grand sense but being 25 years old I think exploring the possibilities of form is a big part of what I need at this stage.

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Walking Standing Splits to Handstand

Give it a try and see what happens. You might be surprised how easy it is to lift into handstand this way. Edward Clark, founder of Tripsichore Yoga, teaches it this way.  If you can’t do it yet, you’re working on it. Lift the mula!

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