Deconstructing Lolasana

Some poses come easily for some of us and other asanas are difficult.  We all have poses that we think we will never be able to do in a million years!!  However, I disagree with this thinking.  The beauty of having a regular home practice means that you can 'study' the asana that is your most difficult, instead of avoiding it.  Below is my example of breaking down and studying a difficult pose.  This method can be applied to any pose.

Lolasana - the mother of all poses! - and I don't mean that in a nice way!!

Lolasana is a pose that has always eluded me.  My issue was that I couldn't seem to get my brain around what was actually required.  Because I couldn't understand Lolasana academically I didn't have a way of translating the 'thinking' of the pose to the 'doing' of the pose.  I came across an excellent article by Richard Rosen which has allowed me to find a path to understand and practice the pose.  At Teacher's Practice last Friday we followed his reasoning and we all commented on how useful this was.  I hope the following will help you to understand Lolasana too, when you are ready to take it on.  

Breaking down or deconstructing Lolasana, or any asana, is a great way to practice.

Benefits of the Pose

Strengthens wrists, tones arms, develops abdominal muscles and strengthens back muscles.

Contraindications

Wrist injuries, shoulder pain or serious neck issues.

Round the Torso

Start on the hands and knees with your knees below the hips.  Place your hands a few centimetres in front of your shoulders, spread your palms and press the mounds of your index fingers to the floor.  On an exhalation press your tailbone down toward the floor and forward toward your pubic bone and round your back up toward the ceiling to create an arch.  Let your head hang to release the back of your neck and lengthen as much as possible between the tip of your coccyx and the base of your skull.  

Spread your shoulder blades as far away from your spine as possible, as if you're wrapping them around the sides of your torso.  Counter this outward movement by hugging the outer arms inward, as if you were squeezing the arms together.  Combining these two actions helps to round your back and strengthen your arms.  Your back torso will form a lovely arch (in a perfect world)!  In a perfect world the space between the shoulder blades should lift, instead of sinking to the floor.

The Arms

As per the energy channels that yogis mapped out thousands of years ago, the outer arm channel runs from the shoulder to the little finger (down the outer arm), while the inner channel runs from the base of the index finger up to the shoulder (up the inner arm).  On your hands and knees again, round your back by spreading the scapulas into the resistance of the outer arms from shoulder to floor.  Then, the counter action is from the mound of the index finger to the shoulder.  Feel how the outer arm channel anchors you to the floor (creating an earth element in the pose) and the inner arm channel lifts you toward the ceiling.  Hold this circuit for a few breaths then release back to a neutral position.  Repeat a few times.

The Belly

The belly is the final part of the jigsaw. On your hands and knees again in a table top position, round your back again but now lift the navel towards your spine and reduce the space between your pubis and sternum.  Counter the lift of your navel by pressing your index finger mounds into the floor.  Hold for 15-30 seconds, then release and take a few breaths.

Putting it Together

Use blocks under the hands (as per the image from our Friday Teachers' Practice).  Kneel with your thighs and torso perpendicular to the floor and hands on blocks beside the hips.  Cross your right ankle under your left, sit your buttocks back on your left heel - warming:  this is not pleasant.  

Press your hands to the blocks and on an inhalation, lengthen your front torso.  On an exhalation, round up your torso, lift your knees away from the floor but keep your feet on the ground.   Work on all of the points for the belly, arms, scapulas and hands.   This is the first step.  Hold for 15-30 seconds.  Repeat on the other side.

The next stage is to do what you just did but this time lift the shins away from the floor as your lift your knees on an exhalation.  Lastly, with the right ankle below the left, lift your left knee off the floor, then when you exhale into your round ball, push that knee downward, using the right ankle as a fulcrum, and squeeze your right shin firmly up.  The left leg will act like a lever to lift the ball of your body away from the floor.  Hold for as long as you can then reverse and do on the other side.  When finished, sit back on the heels with a straight spine for a few breaths.

As Richard Rosen quotes in his article on Lolasana, 'Remember what Krishna tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita:  On this path no effort is wasted, no gain is ever reversed'.  Level 2 students will particularly appreciate that quote as they have been studying the Gita.

Other articles:

Led Practice - now is a great time to start!

How does it work?

Led Practice runs every Saturday from 7.00am-8.30am.  It is not a class as such, but students set up as usual and then a teacher or a Level 2 student will 'lead' the practice.  The leader will call the poses and do them.  Everyone else follows.  The leader will give alternatives to the inversions so there is no pressure to do headstand or shoulder stand if you don't yet practice these poses.

What you will do

Each student follows the leader but does his or her own individual practice.  This means each student will use equipment for support if appropriate, and shorten the timings if appropriate.  Effectively, we are all practising the same sequence but adjusting it to suit our individual needs.   

You can sign up for 5 or 10 sessions of Led Practice during the term or you can come along and pay the casual rate.  I know some students have signed which is great.  

Start Now!

It is the beginning of a new year and a fantastic time to start Led Practice.  To make the transition smooth, I will be at Led Practice this Saturday to assist any students who are new to Led Practice and need a little guidance.  Sharon will lead and call each asana and I will be available to help.   So make use of this offer and come along.  The casual rate is $15 and it's a great way to start the weekend!  Below is a piece written by one of our students where she shares her thoughts on Led Practice.

Clair's Thoughts on Led Practice

Attending weekly classes allows us to become students of yoga.  Being a student of yoga and a yoga practitioner, rather than just 'dropping into a class', is a commitment to sit with ourselves.  We take the time to come onto the mat, once, twice, three times a week, or even daily,  to observe our habits, to notice what's happening the body, breath and mind.  Alan Goode spoke about this in his weekend workshop two weeks ago.  Alan noted that a yoga practice becomes a study of consciousness, rather than just a physical activity.  A regular and consistent yoga practice gives us the opportunity to observe whats happening within ourselves without reacting.  To watch the rise and fall of emotions rather than becoming entangled within the drama of our circumstances.  

The first step on this path is to attend a class or classes.   Once you are familiar with the basic asanas, it's a great idea to join Led Practice on Saturdays 7.00am-8.30am.  Led Practice is not a class but provides the support of other students of yoga.  We come together to practice, working at our own individual capacity.  A student or teacher will lead a sequence and we all follow along.  A very simple concept.

It's also a fantastic way to start the weekend.  If you have 3 months experience of yoga, please feel free join the Led Practice group.  You can pay casually on the day, or pay on line as you enrol for your term class(es).  

One of our students gives her perspective on why we should attend Led Practice:

Why do Led practice?

Having taken some time to get my head around the idea of an early Saturday yoga practice I have become a convert. Now, like all good converts, I’m driven by a need to convince others.

But isn’t it early on a Saturday?

Yes, but you have to get up at some point and sleep is what Saturday afternoons are for. No-one ever felt worse after yoga.

I’m not good enough though…

Good enough for whom? Does it matter? Would letting going of the comparisons and competitiveness make a difference to your practice?

….and I don’t know all those hindi names!

Most of the poses you will have done before and it’s a great way to learn all the names.

If a yoga class is like going to training, then led practice is like playing the game. It’s fun, it focuses, it challenges, it reinforces, it extends, it’s non-judgemental and it gives you confidence to build on your yoga practice. 

 

10 Week Introductory Course commences Thursday 7 February

Starting your New Year with a yoga class will help you find energy and focus for the other commitments in your life.  If you would like to start your yoga journey with us, or you know someone who might benefit from making yoga part of their week, then the 10 Week Introductory Course is an ideal way to begin.  Contact me for an information letter and start 2019 with a positive commitment to make some time for yourself.

Term 1 2019 starting Tuesday 29 January - have you enrolled yet?

Ok here we go!  Term 1 2019 and a fresh, clean slate to begin our yoga classes again this year.  If you have not yet enrolled, jump on line or send me an email to let me know which class you are attending.  

Steph, Fiona, Sharon and myself are all looking forward to seeing you on the mat again to progress our yoga and learn about ourselves along the way.  If you have any questions about classes, please ask - there is always a solution.

2019 will be a year full of learning and expanding our knowledge base.  Stay posted for news of workshops and other events at The Yoga Room.

See you in class.

Intensive - Make space for what has value in you life

There is a saying:  'Start as you shall proceed!'.  I'm not sure who said it and it's very old fashioned, but there is something that rings true for me in these words. Each year begins with a clean slate.  I love the prospect of starting the New Year in a positive way; taking stock and moving forward with positive steps.

I have recently read that popular book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo - it seems that every man/woman and their dog has too.  It is a method of clearing out everything in your home that doesn't 'spark joy'.  You only keep what you truly love.  I am about to embark on this mission.  I am looking forward to clearing out the old to make space for what is precious and significant to me.  I know that my Yoga Practice is a priority in my life and by clearing away what doesn't spark joy or hold significance will leave more space for practice in my daily life.  This is my goal.

However, there is another saying 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions'.  Hopefully we won't end up there, but you get the picture.  It's all very well to set our intentions but we must be accountable to take action and evaluate along the path, in case we take that fork in the road that goes South. 

The Intensive is an opportunity to set your compass to head North, to take the high road and to move to higher and greater things.

Would like to join me on the mat next week to start this process?  

YogArt for Young Adults

It was such a great experience to teach yoga to this group.  They were an attentive and focused group of students who approached their yoga with a willingness to learn and refine the poses.  

Milla took them through a 'dirty pour' and they produced some beautiful art works which you can see on the Facebook page 

YogArt 7-12yrs

This group of students worked really consistently on the yoga mat with Sharon to explore yoga poses through a story.  The poses were quite advanced and required the group to listen, watch demonstrations and then apply themselves to take the shape of each pose.  They had to feel what was happening in their body to produce  the interpretation of the pose that worked with their bodies.  It required a lot of focus!

In the art room Kate worked with them to produce some spectacular artworks and colourful headdresses adorned with feathers.   They were a pleasure to teach and expressed themselves enthusiastically and willingly.