This page of the Sensational Yoga Pose Index focuses on balancing yoga poses including balancing on one leg, inverted and semi-inverted poses, arm balances and miscelaneous balance poses like balancing cat pose and side plank.
This yoga pose index focuses on poses where the belly is close to or on the floor, poses where the belly is lifted by the position of the legs and also kneeling and semi-kneeling poses with the torso upright or laying back.
This yoga pose index includes image links to seated and supine yoga poses. It includes cross legged poses, poses with one leg in hero pose, marichyasana type poses, lotus pose variations and more.
The 12 Normal TCM meridians are linked in a network with a specific pattern of flow. Both the meridians and the associated elements can be used for guiding the order in which parts of the body are stretched and strengthened.
Meridian stretches uses TCM meridians to guide either a complete stretch of the body or a focused stretch. Both meridians and associated elements can be used to guide the order in which you stretch the body.
Learning to balance on one foot can be made easier if you focus on poses where the legs aren't touching or "bound." With the standing leg free you can practice stabilizing the hip, ankle and foot while moving in and out of standing on one leg balancing positions.
Balancing on one leg in yoga poses like utthitta hasta padangustasana, dancer, tree pose, half bound lotus and eagle, the lifted foot is either bound or held by one hand or the legs in some way contact each other. This can make balancing (or staying balance) a little more challenging.
Yoga Ab exercises include standing and seated positions as well as belly up and belly down yoga poses. You can exercise (or train) the abs by working at keeping the midsection stable or by using the abs to move the ribcage relative to the pelvis and vice versa.
Seated yoga poses can be used to help isolate your spine, hip joints and pelvis. Feel and control your spine while seated, to make these same movements easier while standing.
Eagle yoga pose combines balancing on one leg with hip flexibility and shoulder stretching. To make eagle pose easier to learn and you can focus on the leg crossing element in isolation. Then you can intergrate the arms.
Learn how to work towards the arm position from eagle pose. If you first get the hang of eagle pose arms in isolation you can then combine it with various leg positions including eagle legs.
The sensational yoga pose index lists standing yoga poses in the following categories: symmetric, single leg balancing pose, asymmetric forward facing standing poses and asymmetric lateral standing yoga poses.
Use standing side bend yoga pose to stretch your outer hip, side of the waist, side of the ribcage, lats and shoulders. Use your feet to push your pelvis one way and reach your ribs and upper body away from your pelvis.
If you have tight knees (i.e. you can't knee with your bum on your heels) and/or tight ankles, a simple way to work on improving knee and ankle flexibility is to lean forward while kneeling and slowly sit up. Then lean forwards again.
Why improve body awareness? So that you can become your own mechanic and fix problems yourself. Instead of being able to fault find and fix your own car, the idea is that you can fault find and fix your own body.
The idea of counterposes is to help bring the body back into balance. Here's a look at several different ideas for counterposing yoga poses.
Marichyasana B is a forward bending binding yoga pose with the non-marichyasana leg in lotus. One way to prepare for this position is to use the janusirsasana C foot position.
One of the ideas of self mastery is that the easiest thing to change is ourselves. This can start by becoming aware of our habits and the way that we think so that we can begin to change them.
Here's a look at the forward bending and twisting marichyasana yoga poses with an emphasis on learning how to bind. I've included two simple marichyasana variations that can make binding easier, even for those with limited flexibility.
I first learned yoga poses from a book in 1997. I didn't have a lot of money and the book explained the sequence of Ashtanga yoga poses and so I thought "why bother with yoga classes?"
Each day I'd read a couple of poses, try to do them from memory, check to see if I'd done them correctly and then move on to the next set of poses.
As a beginner the Ashtanga yoga sequence was ideal because I could practice the series of poses without having to worry about what to do next. The sequence told me what to do. When I'd memorized the sequence I know longer needed the book.
Later on I started going to classes and I realized that I had a lot of room for improvement. But even so I was off to a good start.
Two years after I first started doing yoga, I took a teacher training course and learned how to vary and play with the Ashtanga sequence of yoga poses. All of these variations started with sun salutations as a warm up and ended with some variation of the finishing sequence as a cool down.
I then got interested in learning the second series of ashtanga poses. I learned mainly from David Swenson's book. And the stuff that looked too difficult I left out.
Later on after a motorcycle accident injured my knee a teacher suggested that I focus on the primary series. Looking back I believe that I should have carried on with what I was doing. I was exploring my body through yoga and an injury provides an excellent opportunity to explore.
Despite that my knee healed anyway. (I never went to a doctor about it, never got x-rays. There were times were I wondered if it would heal or if I was beyond repair. It was very frustrating to be walking along and then all of a sudden my knee would pop out of place, like the ligaments were too lose. And so I'd play with tension to try and wiggle it back into place again.)
I continued to teach and was told that as a teacher I made Ashtanga yoga interesting even though it was the series of poses. I found ways to play within and explore the body while doing the same poses over and over again. Despite that I couldn't imagine teaching the same sequence for the rest of my life.
It was about that time I met with Andrey Lappa. I'd heard some stories about his class and so was a little bit scared. But fate intervened. One of the studios I worked at was having him over to teach a guest class. Thinking the owner was crazy I took the class anyway and was amazed enough to want to take his teacher training.
I then learned a method for teaching and doing yoga that freed me totally from the Ashtanga framework. No more sun salutations, no more wondering about when I need a counterpose or whether I was harming the body or benefitting it.
Instead I had a framework for a totally free style of yoga practice but one that was still meaningful. It was like he gave me a road map. You are going from Toronto to Vancouver. You can choose how to get there. I could use any of the roads on the map, or I could fly if I chose. That's the level of freedom Andreys course helped me to aspire to.
It made it a lot easier teaching private yoga classes to clients of limited flexibility. Finally I could develop a yoga program to suit their needs rather than trying to get them to fit into the Ashtanga mold.
What I later realized was that he'd given me the tools to teach myself. Among those tools was the dance of shiva, which is a master level practice in how to break things down meaningfully and maximize potential and flow.
However, I still wasn't flexible despite years of doing yoga. Or at least not as flexible as I wanted to be. I later moved to Taiwan (I'd gone bankrupt and didn't know what to do with myself. At the time Taiwan was the only thing that "felt" right. Plus I was also interested in Tai Ji and Chinese calligraphy.) I taught English for my first year while continuing to teach yoga. Then I got back into teaching yoga full time.
For the next five or six years my focus was on increasing flexibility. I tried relaxed stretching but found it slow and ineffective (and painful) so then I began to play with activating and relaxing muscles while I stretched. I figured out the stretching mehtods that worked for me. And then I began to work on strength again.
I still do relaxed stretching but it is only one of the ways that I choose to stretch.
The interesting about focusing on flexibility was that I became mentally "flacid." Adding the strength element I began to get more focused more intentful. I also feel that for myself, focusing on flexibiity first was helpful. Generally whenever I do a yoga practice I normally focus on flexiblity first and then strength, or work on ways to combine them.
As I was in Taiwan I continued my studies of tai ji even taking part in a couple of competitions. I also began mixing Tai ji with yoga. I learned how to become more soft and sensitive and applied that same sensitivity and softness to doing yoga.
I also began to work on posture.
I learned how to better feel my body and control it and that is something that can be applied to anything.
And now I write this web site.
Like a yoga pose, sensational yoga poses is a work in progress. I'm working on updating outmoded material while still continuing to add new content. Hopefully even the outmoded material is still helpful. (Steps towards perfection.)
Among other things sensational yoga poses is a reference or dictionary of yoga poses. I've included yoga poses I'm familiar with and tried to describe them so that you can learn them. This may be handy if you have already been practicing yoga for a while or are a teacher. Tips and tricks to make doing these yoga poses or working towards them easier.
Ideally the links below make it easy to find the yoga poses that you are looking for (assuming that I've written about them. If I haven't, then use the contact form to ask me a question about a yoga pose and I'll create a page for that pose if I have the necessary experience.)
I'd say that right now my real expertise is flexibility and strength.
These are techniques, stretches and exercises that I use to help me get more flexible and increase strength while using the body intelligently.
An important element for both strength and flexibility is muscle control. Muscle control isn't just about contracting muscle. It's about learning to feel our muscles and how to learn to contract or relax consciously.
So that muslces are easier to understand and use effectively it can be helpful to rename muscles. Muscle anatomy gives suggestions on how and why.
But more than using intelligent naming, Muscle Anatomy is the basis for muscle control. When you know where your muscles are located you then have a guide for directing your awareness so that your muscles are easier to control.
Another area of interest to me is balance and as such it gets its own little section (yoga balance poses). This is one of the main starting points for building awareness and control. Imagine that with balance you feel and control your relationship with the earth. You can then apply that same awareness and responsiveness to all the relationships within your body. Or you can go the other way.
I've even written a book about balance. It's called Balance Basics and it's a step-by-step guide to understanding balance and experiencing it.
Note that a special sub group of balancing yoga poses is yoga inversions.
Arm balances can be a little less scary than full inversions, however flexiblity may be a limiting factor. Inversions can be made less scary by first learning to use a wall for support. You don't even have to worry about balance to begin with. You can simply get used to being upside down.
One way to improve balance is through posture awareness. This can be separated from balance and worked on separtely and then the two can be added together.
Both balance exercises and posture practice are ways to improve body awareness, which means being able to sense our body and how it relates to what is around it.
Another interest of mine is anatomy.
A while ago, (twenty years ago or so) I bought a series of books by burne hogarth called draning dyanamic anatomy. He taught a canon for drawing the ideal human body without requiring a model. I applied some of his lessons to doing my own anatomy sketches. (I still haven't gotten comfortable with the feet, hands and head!) And it's also a very similiar concept to what andrey lappa taught me with respect to developing a creative yoga practice.
This section is in some need of rewriting but even so you may find it helpful. My notion of yoga anatomy (an-atomic yoga) is to focus on anatomy that you can feel or consciously control. These are anatomic elements that you can isolate in your body. You can practice feeling them and controlling them. You can then use that same awareness and responsiveness within the context of an actual yoga pose.
Principles for yoga are the things that I use for any yoga pose. What makes a yoga pose a yoga pose? These principles may help.
For beginners, where do you start? Standing poses are a good way to develop some basic body awareness. These standing yoga poses are specifically for beginners.
You could also experiment with this beginners yoga workout I designed for a friend.
I should also mention the meridian and meridian stretching section. This is something that I learned after Andrey Lappa and it can make for a more meaningful exploration of the body. Understanding the meridians (and how they connect and inter relate) can make it easier to sequence yoga poses meaningfully. The chakras can also be used as a guide to sequencing yoga postures.
One of my special interests has been in figuring out meridian chakra correlations.
For people who want yoga workouts for flexibility, or strength, or just a balanced workout, then the yoga workouts section is for you.
Use the contact form to find out about custom designed yoga workouts.
All the pictures are either of me or by me. I set my camera to take bursts of 10 shots. And then I pick the shots that ideally show you what you can be trying to do. For poses that I just can't get into quick enough, I use video and then take out the frames that I need.
By the way, I love drinking coffee. If you like, you can support my coffee habit by checking out my pdf's (in the sidebar to the right.) And any feedback, especially if this site has helped you in any way, is also welcomed.