Friday, April 4, 2014

NYY's Pose Of The Month: April

parsva bakasana: side crow pose

Happy APRIL everybody!

After a long winter, we are all in need of a spring cleanse. Twisted postures in yoga not only increase mobility in the spine, but also help to cleanse the organs and promote good circulation. When twisted, the organs are compressed and squeeze out stale blood which is then replaced with newly oxygenated blood once the twist is released. Twists can relive back pain by stretching and strengthening the spine and most importantly, they help to relieve anxiety and stress because they require lengthening, deepening and regulating the breath.

April's pose of the month is Parsva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose) which is a twisted arm balance.

1) Beginning in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), make sure your toes and heels are together, bend your knees and come into a half squat position.
2) With your hands together in prayer position at your heart's center, take a big inhale to lengthen the space between your vertebrae and exhale to twist deeply to your right side pressing your left arm against your outer right thigh.
3) Continue to breathe, bend your knees a little deeper and place your hands on the floor. Hands should be shoulder distance apart, but make sure your left hand is on the right side of your right foot and your left arm and right thigh remain in contact.
4) Pressing your hands into the floor, begin to shift the weight of your pelvis toward the right lifting the abdomen toward the space between your hands.
5) Squeeze your toes and heels together and begin to lift them toward the sitting bones. Keep your neck long (no wrinkles in the back of the neck!) and stay broad across your collar bones.
6) To go a little deeper, keep twisting and begin to straighten  your arms slowly as much as you can!
7) Repeat on left side.

Remember, you can ALWAYS use blocks. In this pose, a block on its lowest height can be really helpful underneath each hand. Blocks will allow you to find more space to lengthen and twist.

Poses to consider practicing FIRST in preparation for Parsva Bakasana:

  • Chaturanga  
  • Marichyasana III 
  • Utkatasana with Anjali Mudra Twist (Twisted Chair Pose) 
  • Prasarita Padottanasana with a Twist  
  • Crescent Lunge with a Twist  

KEEP PRACTICING and see you on the mat soon!

written by: Teresa Harris

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

At the front of the room: Agustin McCarthy

From film to yoga, Agustin McCarthy keeps himself inspired and on the move. Students love the vibrancy of his challenging physical class matched with his enthusiasm. If you haven't taken a class with him yet... what are you waiting for?

Why did you decide to become a yoga teacher? 
-Yoga helped me to heal my back after experiencing back pain for many years. I decided to become a yoga teacher in order to share these healing techniques that have helped me to live with more balance and without the need for a chiropractor.

Did you ever imagine yourself doing something else?
-I graduated from Columbia Film School and still am pursuing a career as a filmmaker. I teach college film history and screenwriting courses and find that teaching yoga classes is similar in many ways. A screenwriter and a yoga teacher are both offering a personal journey that can help to bring insight and decrease stress in our lives.

What is the most challenging aspect of teaching?
-I aim to offer juicy, satisfying sequences that will challenge and engage the more experienced practitioners while, at the same time, my top priority is always to retain a safe environment for all my students regardless of their level. Striking this balance in an Open-Level class is the biggest challenge I face as a yoga teacher. 

What is your favorite pose? 
-Anjaneyasana (low lunge): This is a simple pose with many benefits. I love how it opens up my hips and helps me to release tension in my psoas muscles. But it engages me on more than just the physical level. This pose is a wonderful place to find the qualities of Shtira-Sukha (strength and softness). My upper body lifts up and lengthens while my lower body softens and lets go. Practicing these in the asanas helps me to bring these qualities in to the rest of my life – holding on to what is important and letting go of everything else.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your practice?
-My practice has helped me cultivate a relationship to my body and mind in a way I’d never experienced before. I can observe and listen without getting caught up in the drama of it all. This makes my rest of my life easier to manage.

Who inspires you most? 
-My students inspire me to go deeper into my understanding of yoga and to become a more insightful and sensitive teacher. When I see students with physical limitations, due to injury or pregnancy, these are particularly inspiring to me since I see a concrete example of yogis working with their discomfort without allowing it to take away the opportunity to breathe deeply and open up to the present moment.

Catch a class with Agustin:
Tuesdays, NYY York: 4:35-5:50pm
Thursdays, NYY York: 7:35-9:05pm