Category: Asanas (poses)

What to look for in a yoga class to find your favorite teacher, style OR become a better instructor

Yoga Teacher’s Eye: what a yoga instructor can learn at a yoga class

Things to think about in a yoga class to find your favorite class or style OR learn to be a better instructorThings to observe in a yoga class

Here are a few concepts you can keep an eye out for in class if you are learning about teaching yoga.  These aspects can also help you find your favorite teacher or style of yoga if you are trying different classes.

  • style– along with the style of yoga, how does this instructor interpret it?  e.g. Is it classic vinyasa or a little slower?  Is it heavy on lunges? Do they hold the poses for a long time or flow freely between asanas?  Did they bring in a few poses from another style of yoga?
  • personality– how does the teacher add their own flair to the class? What attributes do they bring to the class that make it different from another class in the same style of yoga?
  • voice– what is the quality of the instructor’s voice?  e.g. Are they loud enough? Is their voice gentle and soothing?  Is it firm and encouraging? Does it inspire you to add energy to your poses?
  • cues– how does the instructor describe the poses and transitions?  Does it give you a new way of thinking about the pose?  Is there an alignment tip you hadn’t heard before?  Is it clear what you need to do?
  • sequencing– how do the poses flow together?  Is there a connection between poses you hadn’t thought of before? Was the class leading to one particular pose?  Were there groups of types of poses (like standing then arm balances then abs?)
  • theme– how does the instructor bring it all together?  Did the class focus on one aspect of alignment? A concept, like propping vs. collapsing vs. yielding?  Was the class devoted to the idea of peace, balance, femininity? Or one of the Hindu gods? A full moon?
  • reflection– the last thing to think about is how the class affected you.  Did you like the style? Would you prefer to do things another way if it were your class?  What did you learn?  What take-aways can you find- about yoga, any of these concepts or yourself?

Putting it all into action- my experience at a retreat

A couple of weekends ago, 2 gal-pal yoginis and I headed down to the beach for a yoga retreat and some rest and relaxation in the sun.  Since I haven’t been to a yoga class in a couple of months, I was excited to listen and learn and of course move.  I practice and teach regularly, but it’s so nice to also receive some instruction and improve my own poses and practice.

What to look for in a yoga class to find your favorite teacher, style OR become a better instructorI think since yoga teacher training, though, I will likely never see a class in the same way.  I am forever filing away phrases for cues and noting things down about transitions and a teachers’ style and personality.  In ytt, our instructor warned us about this, saying, “you will never be the same again, but that’s probably a good thing.”

At the retreat, one of the most interesting things for me was the structure of the classes.  The teachers spent probably 75% of class in standing postures.  Especially in the early morning, that was hard for me.  I’m not exactly lazy, but I’ve never been the most energetic person either.  Also, it doesn’t go with the style yoga I’ve learned and embraced.  I know many people enjoy this active yang style of yoga, but I learned during that weekend that my style is a little calmer.

I think yoga is a sort of spectrum.  There are yogis who are there for the workout and yogis who are there for the spiritual practice and yogis who want some combination of the two.  The names of the yoga practices can help identify that sort of balance that a teacher offers or a practioner desires but there’s such a range within each style, so in a way the only way to know about any given class or style is to try it.

Something else I noticed at the retreat was the use of voice.  The main instructor had a very strong voice with clear, deliberate cues.  She was firm and energetic, like her class.  She used great imagery to describe the way the poses could be gracefully transitioned and practiced.

What to look for in a yoga class to find your favorite teacher, style OR become a better instructorThe instructor gave supportive guidance in the arm balance workshop- talking with each yogi individually about their struggles with gravity, strength, balance and fear.  She showed some humility in inversions as she modeled a pose that wasn’t her strongest, still giving valuable tips and demos.  I also noticed how incredibly important it is to be personable off of the mat with each of the students.  I admired these qualities in instructors.

At the retreat, we had early morning meditations.  The instructor encouraged us not to speak before mediation in the morning, which I really liked.  It made the practice more serene and organic. I noticed in the meditation, she didn’t give direction for our thoughts.  Some styles of meditation try for a mind completely free of thoughts, in which case no instruction is needed.  I found out I prefer a meditation where the mind is focused on one train of thought, like the breath or a mantra.  It is easier for me, but it also lends itself to a practice that feels more meaningful to me.

It’s interesting how seeing a style that was quite different from mine reinforced my understanding of my preferences and my yoga style.  I had a great time and learned a lot, but much of it was about myself and my yoga.

“Yoga is not about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down.” -Judith Hansen Lasater


Restorative yoga is a super yummy way to relax, de-stress and stretch at the same time. These 7 poses can help your nervous system and increase your energy #restorative

Restorative Yoga: 7 Soothing Poses to Try

Restorative yoga is a super yummy way to relax, de-stress and stretch at the same time. These 7 poses can help your nervous system and increase your energy. #restorativeRestorative yoga is one of my new favorite ways to relax.  As your stretch, these poses help activate your nervous system.  It also increases your energy and helps release tension.  The organs also benefit from deep relaxation.  Restorative yoga can also help you find balance and focus as you release control and movement of your body and focus on your breath or simply one thought at a time.

[Just so you know this post contains affiliate links]

For most restorative poses you need a bolster, but before I sewed my official yoga bolster, I used a very full bed pillow (or you could try two smaller ones stacked on each other too).  Some poses also require a block, a strap, or a blanket.  In any of the supine poses (poses on your back), you can also use an eye pillow to block out light and add a little pressure to increase your relaxation.

As with any yoga poses, listen to your body- if it feels uncomfortable or painful, try a different pose instead.  I recommend you try these poses for 5-10 minutes, but you can hold them for up to an hour.  I recommend using a timer so you can relax your mind rather than wondering and checking how long it’s been.  In these poses, you can add additional soft props to hold up almost any part of your body that needs a little extra support (eg your arms if they are out to the side, under your knees if they’re uncomfortable on the mat, or under your head if your neck would benefit from a pillow in a reclining pose).  After each pose, I have also listed a counterpose, but if your body asks you to counter in another way, that’s fine too.  Here are a few restorative yoga poses for you to try.

Supported Child’s Pose

Restorative yoga is a super yummy way to relax, de-stress and stretch at the same time. These 7 poses can help your nervous system and increase your energy. #restorativeTo come into this pose, bring your big toes to touch and sit back on your feet with your knees spread open (as you would for traditional balasana).  Bring the bolster in close between your legs.  Stretch your torso up tall and use your hands to walk your torso forward and fold over the bolster.  Once you’re laying on the bolster, hug the bolster with your arms.  You can turn your head to either side and switch half-way through your pose.

Afterward use your hands to help you sit back up.  From there, send your weight forward for table top or downward facing dog for a counterpose.

Supported child’s pose soothes the shoulders and lower back.  It’s also calming.

Spinal twist

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Shanti (Peace) Women's Yoga Tank Top is a colorful reminder of the sanskrit mantra meaning peace
Also see our yoga shop 🙂

For this pose, put your bolster in the center of the mat so both the mat and the bolster are the long way.  Sit sideways beside the short end of the bolster so your knees are bent with your legs tucked behind you (not under you).  One hip should be touching the end of the bolster.  Turn our torso so that you are facing the top of the mat.  Place your hands on either side of the bolster and lengthen upward before folding forward over the bolster.  For the pose, you will be laying on the bolster with one arm on the mat on either side of the bolster.  You can turn your head either way, depending on how deeply you wish to twist.  Afterward, walk your hands in, bringing your torso up.  Take a few rounds of cat/cow before doing the same pose on the second side.  Try to hold this pose for the same amount of time on each side.  After the second side, also do some cat/cow to help release the twist.

There is also a version where you lay on your back with your arms outstretched in line with your shoulders.  Bring your shins up parallel with the floor and place a blanket or small pillow between your knees.  Then let your legs come down to one side onto the mat as one if they were connected as one leg.

This pose is good for the back muscles, digestion, and breath.

Supported Virasana (Hero Pose)

Restorative yoga is a super yummy way to relax, de-stress and stretch at the same time. These 7 poses can help your nervous system and increase your energy. #restorative

For this pose, begin with the legs in tradition virasana- with the knees bent so the lower legs are outside of the thighs, but both parts are touching the mat.  If this is uncomfortable for you, you can try sitting on a bolster (between your legs) to decrease the tension in your knees.  When your legs are in position, bring a bolster up behind you, next to your sacrum and slowly use your hands, then forearms to lower yourself back onto the bolster.  Once you’re laying on the bolster, bring your arms out to the side.

When you have finished this pose- due to time or discomfort/tension, slowly come up onto your forearms and sit up, leading with your chest.  Take a few rounds of cat/cow to release your back or downward facing dog to work into the legs as well.

Supported virasana helps clear the respiratory system.  It can also help sinus and head pains.  It also relieves the leg muscles and aids in digestion.

Supported Bridge Pose

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For this pose, you need a block instead of a bolster.  Lay on your back and bring your heels in close to your pelvis.  Press into your feet into the mat to lift your pelvis high enough to bring the block in under your sacrum (the bony area near the base of your spine) with your hands.  Rest your sacrum down onto the block and bring your arms down onto the mat at an angle from your body.

When you release from this pose, press into your feet just enough to lift yourself off of your block and remove it from underneath you.  Then roll onto your side for a few breaths with your legs bent and tucked toward the chest.

Supported bridge pose stretches out the spine and helps clear the mind.

Supported Reclining Bound Angle Pose

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sit at the lower end of your mat with the soles of your feet touching and your knees open down toward the mat (as you do for traditional Supta Baddha Konasana).  You have the option to wrap a yoga strap around your feet below the ankles, over your legs and around your sacrum in the back.  Fasten the strap along the side so you can adjust it if you would like.

Amazonite and Rudraksha Mala Necklace- 108 Hand-knotted beads
Also see our malas on Etsy

Bring your bolster in behind your back, all the way up so it’s touching your sacrum then slowly lean back, walking your hands back along the mat to help you recline smoothly.  You can keep your arms at your side, resting on the mat, or your can stack your hands over your head.  The arms overhead configuration is actually an inversion because your arms are above your heart so it changes the way your blood flows, which can be a nice shift.

When you are ready to come out of the pose, roll off of the bolster to the side, release your legs from their strap and rest on your side for a moment with your knees tucked up toward your chest.

Supported Supta baddha konasana helps relieve stress.  It is also good for the back and groin.  It can lessen menstrual pains.  It also helps with breath.

Legs Up the Wall

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Step by step instructions for how to make a yoga bolster, including standard dimensions. Also, some restorative poses to try with this yoga pillowFor this pose, set your bolster right up next to the wall.  Then crouch in a little ball, sitting on the bolster, with one side of your body touching the wall.  Using your hands to guide you, roll back and toward the center of the mat so your back comes down onto the floor and your hips are still on the bolster.  Now your rear should be touching the wall.  If this roll doesn’t work for you, you can sit on the bolster and lay back, then scoot yourself closer and closer to the wall.  Once your rear is touching the wall, extend your legs straight up it.  You shouldn’t have to engage your muscles much to hold them in place- they should be able to lean against the wall comfortably.  Your arms can either come out at an angle from your body, or you can stack your hands overhead with elbows bent.

To exit the pose, push yourself off of the bolster, then bring your legs down and roll onto your side.  Take a few breaths here.

Because the legs are inverted, the blood from your legs will be sent down toward the pelvis then chest.  With the arms overhead, the pose version changes the blood flow in your arms as well because they are above the heart.

This pose, also called viparita karani, relieves stress and improves the functioning of the parasympathetic nervous system.

Supported Savasana

Restorative yoga is a super yummy way to relax, de-stress and stretch at the same time. These 7 poses can help your nervous system and increase your energy. #restorative

Some people find savasana to be very uncomfortable.  You can add a pillow under the knees to help support the legs and lower back or add a blanket under the head and shoulders to support the upper body.  The arms rest on the floor at an angle from the body.

When you are ready to exit the pose, roll onto one side, with the knees tucked up for stability.

Savasana is the tradition final pose in most yoga classes because this neutral position is a great way to let the body relax and rejuvenate from the more strenuous poses.  This pose helps relieve stress and fatigue.  It also improves posture and breath.

Restorative YogaRestorative yoga is a super yummy way to relax, de-stress and stretch at the same time. These 7 poses can help your nervous system and increase your energy. #restorative

Restorative Yoga is a fantastic way to work on calm, breath, peace of mind, and bodily functions all at once.  Treat yourself and give it a try.

Guide to the 8 Limbs of Yoga: Asana. Learn about the origins of yoga poses and how asana can be incorporated with other aspects to fully experience "yoga" history, theory and philosophy. #yogasana #asana

Guide to the 8 Limbs of Yoga: Asana: history, theory and philosophy

Guide to the 8 Limbs of Yoga: Asana.  Learn about the origins of yoga poses and how asana can be incorporated with other aspects to fully experience "yoga" history, theory and philosophy.  #yogasana #asana

The third and most well-known limb of the 8 limbs of yoga is asana.  This means all of those yoga poses—the physical practice of making all of those shapes with your body.  In the West, asana often is yoga.  We sometimes forget about the other 7 branches.

[Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links]

When yoga first started, about 5000 years ago, it was all based around meditation, with the goal of gaining self-awareness.  As yoga progressed, different postures for meditation were created, at first only 16 poses.  Yoga asanas were created as a means of building discipline and concentration for meditation.  The body’s sole purpose was to house the spirit.  As time went on, the number of postures grew.  In early 1800’s there were just over 100 poses or asanas and now there are thousands.  In modern yoga, more and more poses are being created as people experiment with their bodies and transitions into new shapes.

Asanas are often grouped based on the orientation of the yogi or the goal of the pose, like standing postures, balancing postures, folds, back bends, seated poses, inversions, hips openers, twists, supine poses, etc.  Instructors often try to incorporate all of the types of postures or parts of the body in a class.  Other classes aim at a “peak pose,” opening the muscles needed for a final, specific posture.  Other classes are based on a theme and all of the poses relate to exploring the theme conceptually.  There are lots of different ways to sequence a yoga class, practice or flow.

Guide to the 8 Limbs of Yoga: Asana.  Learn about the origins of yoga poses and how asana can be incorporated with other aspects to fully experience "yoga" history, theory and philosophy.  #yogasana #asanaIdeally, yoga poses (asana) should be combined with the other 7 limbs of yoga to create a fuller experience; body, mind and soul should unite in yoga.  The word “yoga” itself is translated as union or yoke.  The limbs of yoga must be connected to reach yoga’s full potential.

 

How to get up into handstands: asana sequences and tutorial

Guide to Handstands: Asanas, Sequences and Tips for Getting Comfortable Upside Down

Being able to easily hang out upside down in a handstand is definitely one of my personal goals.  It’s something that I am still working on as I write this, but I have gained substantial progress.  My biggest obstacle now is confidence.  I need to get myself away from the wall and trust that my muscles know how to hold me up even without that wall a couple of feet away “just in case.”  In this post, I want to share the asanas and exercises that I’ve done to get myself to the verge of being able to successfully handstand.  I feel like I’m just about to push over into the place where I can DO handstands (Adho Mukha Vrksasana in sanskrit).

Building Strength

First, it’s important to have the strength to hold yourself up(side-down).  We don’t usually spend so much time upside down so this strength may be totally new.  The most important areas that I had to work were my core, my shoulders, my arms, and my wrists… so everything but the legs!

Arm Strength

For arm strength, I practiced a variation on chaturangas.  Starting from child’s pose, keeping the knees on the floor, press your body forward toward your hands (with fingers spread wide to make a solid base).  When your body is over your arms and your elbows are bent nearly to 90 degrees, drop your chest down and forward like a chaturanga.  Then press your body forward and up to cobra pose.  From there, back to child’s pose and repeat!  Again and again and again.

I also tried sitting on the counter or a bench and lifting myself up by pressing into the bench or seat (or whatever surface is available to you).  Try this with your hands on the outside of your legs and from in between your legs.

Dolphin Pose/Ardha Pincha Mayurasana

Shoulder Strength

For my shoulders, I worked on dolphin pose (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana in sanskrit).  Since you’re nearly upside down in this pose, I found it helpful for building the muscles that I would need to flip all the way upside down.

Core Strength

For core strength, I worked on lots of plank variations– side plank, forearm plank, holding plank, etc.

Also, I tried this sort of C-shape pose, lifting my legs and head from the ground.  I listened to a podcast from The Yoga Talk Show with Lucas Rockwood.

C shape poses to build core strength

He recommended this pose for training your body to be long and straight for handstands.  As you can see in my handstand, the body can bend in backwards, rather than being perfectly stick straight.  This C shaped pose aims to correct that.

Preparatory Poses: L Shape Pose

Another great training pose for handstand is L-shape pose.  To measure for this position, sit on the floor with your feet out straight in front of you touching the wall.  Where your hips and hands hit the ground is where you want your hands to be when you are upside down instead.  With your hands in that place on the floor, walk your feet up the wall until your legs are parallel with the floor/perpendicular with the wall.  You want your body to be a 90 degree angle.  When you feel comfortable and confident in this position, try extending one leg at a time over your body in line with your body, as if you will go into handstand from there.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lucas also says it’s better to practice your handstands facing the wall.  That way you can walk your hands into the wall, gaining strength.  If you need to fall out of the handstand from this pose, it’s easy to let your body to fall to one side, supported (physically or emotionally) by the wall.

In teacher training, however, we practiced with our backs to the wall.  We practiced from standing, exhaling as you bend over your front leg and reach your hands to the floor, then inhaling as your feet extend up to the wall.

Preparatory Poses: Kicking Up

We also tried kicking up, starting with both hands on the floor.  This is harder because you can’t use as much momentum.  However, it’s good for building strength, confidence, and understanding of what straight really feels like.  If you kick up with just one leg, it’s nearly impossible to topple over the back, but you can still get a good feel for what it will be like when you are ready to try both legs.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A few more handstand tips:

Spread your fingers to make a solid base for handstands
  • Try looking a little bit in front of your hands instead of at them
  • Spread your fingers for a nice solid base to support yourself
  • Stretch and strengthen your wrists so they can handle the weight of your body.  If your wrists are not flexible, try putting a small board or a thin book/notebook under the heel of your hand when you practice handstands
  • Press into the ground with your hands to engage your arms more
  • Squeeze your legs together like you’re trying to hold an apple between them
  • Keep working at it every day!

 

[Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click through and purchase something I will receive a commission. I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t love it!]


The Magic of Self-Practice: how to start a home yoga practice with tips and ideas #selfpractice #yoga

The Magic of Self-Practice: how to start a home yoga practice with tips and ideas

The Magic of Self-Practice: how to start a home yoga practice with tips and ideas #selfpractice #yogaFor many years, I only did yoga asana in a group fitness class or with a video. I needed someone to follow, someone to tell me what to do next and guide me from one pose gracefully into another.

When I moved to Myanmar, I had two dreams: that I would be able to drive a motorbike around and that there would be a fabulous yoga studio for me to practice at. Only one of those wishes came true: I bought a motorbike on my first Saturday in the country.

So to make up for the other unanswered dream, I started doing videos online.  However the electrical power supply and the internet were both unreliable. I started doing 20 minute “Yoga Download” podcasts. I liked it, but the podcasts were definitely very complete sessions—straight through from warm up to cool down. So I never felt that itch to do just one more pose, though my muscles and joints longed for more.

[Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links]

Intro: My Start Slow with Yoga Self Practice

One day, I didn’t have any new podcasts so I simply rolled out my mat. That’s always the first step: roll out the mat. At first, I just sort of stood on it awkwardly in mountain pose, thinking soooo wait what do I do again?

Then I remembered sun salutations. I struggled at first with small things, like wait, when do I raise up to the flat back again? Before or after the downward dog? Or both?

The Magic of Self-Practice: how to start a home yoga practice with tips and ideas #selfpractice #yogaBut after a bit, my muscles started to engage and my mind started to connect with my body. I could feel my blood flowing and my lungs pumping. It all felt so right. I knew I needed the movement. After a few rounds, I sort of stopped again, stuck. Well. Then what?
Slowly poses started to come to mind and I threw a couple of vinyasas in here and there when I remembered. My transitions were clunky and disjointed.  As I remembered various poses, I did them. I was standing, balancing, then laying on the mat, then seated before standing again. I had a hard time remembering what I did on one side so I could also do it on the other. I just did everything I could think of! Then after a while, more and more poses were flooding my mind but I had to take savasana because I tired myself out!

The reason I’m sharing this story is to spread encouragement. It’s wonderful to start and to try asana on your own.

Starting your yoga self-practice

If you’ve been to a fair number of classes, you probably know more poses and more about them than you think. Trust yourself and your knowledge when you’re on the mat.

Get visual reminders

Look for some resources, like info-graphics from Pinterest with a whole collection of poses. Print them so you can glance at them for inspiration from time to time.  I recommend printing or buying an image or poster that’s how lots of poses at once for easy reference.  You won’t have to stop your practice to see what poses you can do next.  Alternatively, you could get a Yoga Sequencing Deck to help inspire and remember poses AND put them in order for your practice.  This particular deck corresponds with the book,Yoga Sequencing: Designing Transformative Yoga Classes which helps break down poses by levels and gives many sample sequences.

Inspirational Books

Read some yoga books, like Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit. This book is very helpful for describing the process for getting into each pose and what to focus on once you’re in it. It was great for me as a reminder of the alignment and goals of the poses. If you’re worried about hurting yourself in self-practice, this book could be the reassurance you need to find yourself on the mat.

Another fantastic book is 2,100 Asanas: The Complete Yoga Poses.  It literally has 2100 different poses.  It’s a great book to grow with.  As you become more flexible and develop more strength, you can find new poses to challenge you every step of the way.

Draw it out

Drawing little sequences for yourself so you know which poses in particular you want to tackle. It is ok to stray from the plan if you find your body actually wants to do something else.

Listen to your body

As you became more and more comfortable with poses and sequences, you’ll start to hear from your body more and more. For example from my experience, I could feel tightness in the back of my leg and I knew from experience downward dog would elongate the muscle perfectly to soothe it. Or I would just get a sense that my body really, really wanted to drop down into malasana (garland pose). That was one of my most common distractions from standing poses: desire to do malasana. I almost always give in to whatever my asks.  I think it’s good to give your body what it wants in terms of asana.  It usually knows what it needs.  There’s a quote, something like, “I listen when my body whispers so I won’t have to hear it shout.”

Pain

On the topic of listening to your body, be aware of signs of pain. In yoga, it’s good to challenge yourself and push yourself. Try new poses, new binds, new variations. However, it’s also good to stop where you feel resistance. You never want to feel real pain in yoga. Injuries take a long time to recover from, physically and mentally.

Start slow when you need to

Sometimes my body would tell me it was too tired to start so I’d lay on the mat in supta badda konasana (reclining bound angle pose) and just wait to feel the pull to shift into a supine twist or happy baby (ananda balasana). Once I got going, I often found starting a few poses begged for more and I would be standing, balancing and striving for new limits before I knew it.  Usually, a little movement will coax you into wanting more.

Some days I practice for 10 minutes and some days I have to cut myself off after an hour and a half or so because I have other things I should do. You never know what may be waiting inside that will find you on the mat.

Creating a Yoga Space

The Magic of Self-Practice: how to start a home yoga practice with tips and ideas #selfpractice #yogaOne of the other most important things about practicing is finding a good place to do it. Make sure you have enough room and set up a pleasant atmosphere for yourself. BKS Iyengar says you must find a place with good light and no insects, but I think it goes way beyond that. Make your space sing: light a Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation spacecandle or incense, turn on some music that reflects your mood or your practice, de-clutter, add something nice to look at or inspire you. If you have props, like a bolster or block or strap that you use, bring them to your space. If you feel at peace and at home in your yoga space, you will be much more likely to feel drawn to it and want to practice.  Click the image at the right to learn more about creating your own yoga space.

Final words of Encouragement

I’m 100% sure you can do it!  Roll out your mat today.

“Yoga isn’t about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down.” Self-practice will teach you a lot about yourself inside and out; body, mind, and soul.

Self-practice Suggestions

• Roll out your mat and start
• Trust yourself and your knowledge
• Be present
• Listen to your body

Kaliasana: how to do the poses, meaning, benefits, and info on the Goddess of Destruction #kali #kaliasana #goddessofdestruction

Kaliasana: how to do the poses, meaning, benefits, and info on the Goddess of Destruction

Kaliasana: how to do the poses, meaning, benefits, and info on the Goddess of Destruction #kali #kaliasana #goddessofdestructionKaliasana is one of my favorite poses.  It’s so strong and empowering, just like the Goddess of Destruction herself.  I hope you enjoy the pose and the great goddess as much as I do!

[Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links]

About Kali

Kali is the Hindu goddess of destruction, power, time, and transformation.  She is also sometimes called the Divine Mother.  She has blue or black skin and usually sticks out her tongue.  In 4 of her hands, she carries a trident, a sword, a human head, and a bowl catching the blood dripping from the head.  She is often portrayed dancing on her consort, the God Shiva.  She is a ferocious goddess with a necklace of human heads and a skirt of arms.  This is symbolism; Kali helps souls find liberation from attachment to their bodies at the end of their life.

Kaliasana: How-to

For Kaliasana, spread your feet wide and at a slight outward angle.  Sit into a deep, low squat, keeping your back straight.  Bring your arms up parallel with your shoulders then bend at the elbow to create a goal post shape.  Bend your wrists so your palms are facing up to the sky.  For the full expression, look at your third eye with your two open eyes and stick out your tongue as far as it can go.  This powerful pose helps create energy, and strengthens the body, especially the legs.

Pranayama: Breathe like Kali

To take it even further, you can add Kali pranayama or breath-work.  I have seen a few different variations.  Also for other types of pranayama, click the pranayama image below

Kali Breath Variation 1

  1. Begin in Kaliasana as described above8 Limbs of Yoga: Pranayama, breath control: about and how to
  2. On an inhale, rise up from your squat, keeping your legs wide and opening your palms with fingers pointed up to the sky. Bring your tongue into your mouth
  3. On an exhale, sit back down into the squat, squeezing your hands into tight fists.  As you exhale, stick out your tongue and breath out like a daring dark goddess would, or as if you want to fog up a mirror.  Remember to look up toward your third eye
  4. Continue for 10 rounds

Kali Breath Variation 2

  1. Begin standing in mountain pose, tadanasa
  2. On an exhale, step out wide into Kaliasana, using the goddess breath, like you want to fog up a mirror, and sticking out your tongue
  3. On an inhale, step your leg back in and return to mountain pose
  4. On the next exhale, step out with the other leg, alternating which foot you step out with on each round
  5. Continue for 10 rounds

Kali Breath Variation 3

  1. Sitting deeply into your squat, start with your arms extended down, straight in front of you, palms together
  2. On an inhale, raise your arms in front of your body until they are overhead, keeping your palms together
  3. On an exhale, open your arms out to the sides and bring your hands to meet in front of your body again (option: stick your tongue out and breath out like you want to fog up a mirror on each exhale and bring your tongue back in on each inhale)
  4. Continue for 10 rounds

Natural Jute Yoga Mat Recommendation and Shop

Natural Jute Yoga Mat Recommendation

People have been asking me about my jute yoga mat, so I’ll share the secret with you! [Just so you know, below, there is an affiliate link, meaning if you click through and purchase something I will receive a commission. I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t love it!]

Over the Summer, I visited a couple of studios in Bali in preparation for Yoga Teacher Training.  I wanted to practice as much as possible so I would be strong, flexible and ready.

At The Practice in Canggu, I got to try out an awesome natural yoga mat.  I loved how I felt like it had a good grip on the grain of the fibers as I moved through the poses.  I also liked that it was natural and biodegradable.

After class, I decided to get one of the Jute mats.  Later, I saw them for sale at the Yoga Barn in Ubud in different colors.  It seemed to be a popular thing in Bali.

At first, when I started using mine, it slipped a little bit and left impressions from my hands and feet pressing in.  After a few practices though, it was perfect!

I brought it with me to Nicaragua because I love it so much!  I’d definitely recommend this mat!

Amazing must-have book for yoga teachers and learning yogis: recommedation and shop

2100 Asanas Recommendation: Awesome Yoga Inspiration Book for Yoga Instructors and Students

I have to give credit to my sister for finding this yoga book, 2100 Asanas The Complete Yoga Poses.  When I was visiting America, she brought it over to my mom’s house to show me.  We were both really excited as we flipped through together and started trying some of the new and different shapes on the living room floor.

[Just so you know, this post contains an affiliate link, meaning I will get a commission if you click though and purchase something on Amazon. I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t love it!]

Click here to check out 2100 Asanas on Amazon

2100 Asanas has really rocked my yoga world.  I find this book to be great inspiration for my self practice.  It literally does have 2100 yoga asanas, which means there are hundreds that I hadn’t seen before.  When I flip through the pages, I can’t help but think “ooh that would feel good!” about some poses or “wow, that’s something to work towards.”  It really motivates me.  I like to keep it by my mat when I practice.

One of the the hardest things for me in creating yoga lesson plans is thinking of new poses to keep each class fresh for my experienced yogis but still have do-able poses for my new yogis.  This book has a good variety of levels and variations for each pose, which helps me create simultaneously challenging and accessible classes. For self practice or teaching, I recommend this book for inspiration.