My Anusara Trail

www.hushyoga.comLast week I attended an Anusara immersion with Noah Maze.  He had travelled from L.A. to teach the first module of a three part, in-depth study of this heart-opening style of yoga.  After completing the 5-day practice, I am more energized and persuaded by Anusara yoga than ever before.

I first heard about Anusara yoga back in late 2006.  At that time I was not aware of its universal principles of alignment, its congruency with tantric philosophy, or its founder, John Friend.   However, even with so little understanding, I was drawn to its beautiful practice.

Parallel to this, I had started to feel my yoga practice and teaching had got a little flat.  While I don’t know exactly why, I think it was simply the yoga version of writer’s block.  I had lost my inspiration and was looking for something to reignite my love for yoga practice and passion for teaching.  A friend mentioned something about Anusara, and in particular, its characterization as a heart opening practice, and that was enough to spark my interest.

I went to NYC in the summer of 2007 to find my yoga buddies all raving about Anusara and telling me I’d love it.  So off I went to Kula Yoga with my pal Carolyn in August 2007 and there began my Anusara trail.

I was immediately engaged in the class.  The teacher gave a heart-warming introduction; the group chanted a beautiful invocation and the class started with an uplifting beat.    The teacher was giving directions in class that I didn’t understand, but I could see how the group responded to these instructions and I learned from watching fellow students.

When the instructor mentioned ‘kidney loop’ I saw everyone lengthen their lower back and draw into their core.   While I listened to many instructions throughout the class, I captured the concept of ‘kidney loop’ internally and this alone made my participation worthwhile. This is probably because, up and to that point, my teaching of that movement would have been, “lengthen your lower back, lengthen between the hip and the rib cage, pull your belly back to your spine, and draw your lower rib cage in.” Whew!  Yet, all she said was “more kidney loop” – amazing!

From that class, I gained the understanding that Anusara yoga has a clever method of language to explain alignment.  I wanted to learn more. That autumn I went to an intensive immersion in Berlin with Bridget Woods Kramer.

From a teaching point of view, the way John Friend has compiled the method of alignment alone is genius.   Each class is centred around the ‘Universal Principals of Alignment’ that not only include the alignment of the physical body, but also aligning to supreme consciousness: Opening To Grace, the first principle of alignment.

I am inspired by the physical system of Anusara.  The alignment techniques work so well that I am enthusiastic and feel uplifted in sharing this knowledge and experience with my students.

The physical alignment and the heart-opening interpretation was enough to draw me to Anusara.  I never expected to gain the amount I have from delving into this fully rounded system of yoga, and my learning curve is still on the up. It is not possible to do justice to this system of yoga in a short blog, so I will be back with more Anusara detail and love.

…To be continued

Om Shanti,

Sinead.

My Breakfast Yoga: Warm Up Sequence

It’s been a few weeks since I last wrote a blog.  Mainly because I have been updating my website with a New Look and haven’t been able to follow up on the blogs I had promised.  However Hush Yoga’s new look is nearly finished and the site is ready for me to post weekly yoga blogs.  I still have some work to do, like changing the menu photo – it’s a bit large, to say the least!!! So I am toying around with other ideas at the moment.  If you’d like to offer any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

So here’s the continuation to the warm up blog as posted below.hush yoga, Sinead in lunge pose

We’ve already sat for a few moments in meditation, focused on breath to centre body and mind and gone through postures such as Child’s pose, downward dog, baby cobra and cobra (as previous post).

Continuing along from the last posture, child’s pose I move back into downward facing dog holding for a 5-7 deep ujjiya breaths.

From downward dog, step your right foot forward to your hands to lunge pose.

In lunge pose stay on the finger tips, lifting chest up and forward while drawing the shoulder blades towards the spine.

The right knee should be directly over the ankle in correct alignment.

The back leg is straight with the thigh bone lifting up towards the ceiling which keeps the leg active and strong.

The left heal is stretching back while the right knee is moving forward, creating length and flexibility  in legs, while the feet are energetically moving towards each other to create strength and stability.  This also helps to align the hips. The right hip pulls back, left hip forward.

The left thigh is rotating inwards, slightly while tailbone moving forward and core muscles should be engaged.

Hold Lunge pose for about 5-7 breaths, step back to downward dog. Hold for 5-7 breaths.  Then step the left foot forward to lunge following the same instructions as above

Move back to downward dog and repeat the sequence in previous blog.

hush yoga, Sinead O'Connor YogaFrom Downward Dog,  step right foot forward to lunge, then left foot forward so you end up in a forward bend.  In the photo I have my legs straight but I often keep knees bent in the warm up sequence until I feel the hamstrings have warmed up.

Viola!  Including the postures in the post below it is a 10 minute warm up giving time to your body and mind to get into the yoga practice.

I’ll be back with more blogs next week.  Unless more website  problems.

Peace,

Sinead

My Breakfast Yoga

This weeks breakfast yoga is all about warming up the body before leading into a strong flowing Vinyasa style practice.

Last week I let you know the main postures I use to warm up the body.  I tend to mix it up from time to time. Here is the first warm up sequence to get you going on your yoga mat.

I always sit and focus on my breath for a minimum of 5 minutes. Often I focus more on the exhale and a sense of my body weight dropping towards the floor with the out breath. However always keeping the the spine straight, with shoulders directly over the hips and the chin parallel to the floor.  This meditation practice helps to ground the body and clear the mind.

Move from this short meditation into a childs pose. Hush Yoga, Sinead in Childs Pose

When in Childs pose begin Ujjaya breathing.  Also begin to connect to the core centre, applying Uddiyana Bhanda and Mulabhanda (drawing the navel gently back to the spine while using the pelvic floor muscles).

Stretch the arms, lifting the whole arm off the floor so only the hand is resting on the floor.  Draw the head of the arm bone back and hug the arms towards each other to create strength and stability.

Move forward onto hands and knees. Place hands directly under shoulders and shoulder distance apart, knees under hips, hip width apart.  Begin Cat, dropping the head and tail bone down to toward the floor while lifting the middle spine up towards the ceiling like a cat.   Reverse into cow stretch lifting the head and tail bone up towards the ceiling while dropping the middle spine.  Maintain a strong connection to the core centre, trying not to let go of the belly, especially in Cow stretch. (sorry no photos)

Move back into child’s pose for 2-3 breaths.

Hush Yoga, Adho Mukha SvanasanaMove into downward dog, keeping knees bent at first, with heals lifting high up off the floor.

Then stretch into the full pose.  You can bend one knee while stretching the opposite heal towards the floor.  This helps to warm up and loosen the calf muscle and hamstring, ( great after a night in high heal shoes ladies 😉 ).  Then make sure you hold a still downward dog for a while, focusing on breath and Bhandas (core centre)


Hush Yoga, Uttihita Chaturanga Dandasana

Plank Pose, Hush Yoga From downward dog move into plank pose holding for a few breaths and then lower through chataranga to the floor.



Prepare for baby cobra pose.  Place hands Beside shoulders and lift chest off the floor, with out using in the hands to lift the chest up, so only the back is doing the work.

Hush Yoga, Baby Cobra

It is important to use your core muscles in cobra pose and also make sure the legs are strong by stretching the thigh bone back, spreading toes wide, turning thighs in slightly and moving tailbone forward without gripping the buttox.  Lower to body back to floor.Sinead, Hush Yoga

Move through baby cobra to full cobra however keep the elbows slightly bent, making sure the shoulder blades are moving in towards the spine and the shoulders are pulling down from the neck/ears at all times.

Move back to Childs pose for a few breaths.

Voila!  Ther’s  a simple yet very beneficial warm up.

Over the  next week I will break down the above postures in more detail.

Next weeks Breakfast Yoga will be a continuation from this warm up leading  through a flowing sequence towards sun salutations.

Enjoy your yoga practice.  Be kind to your body, take your time and warm up properly.

Peace,

Sinead.