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:

Philosophy Term 2 2021 - The Klesas

Obstacles

Life is never predictable, and sometimes not easy.  I really feel that having a regular yoga practice helps us to keep a healthy perspective on our place in the world.  It is said that 'yoga cleanses the lenses of perception'.  How we perceive or see the world, our reality, has an effect on how we react, what actions we take, and the consequences of those actions.  Obstacles are a breeding ground for tendencies, but they are also an opportunity for reflection and change.  Below you can read about the Klesas, which are often translated as afflictions or personal obstacles.

The Klesas

Each term we teach an aspect of Yoga philisophy.  This is integrated into the classes and it may involve a quote, explanation from the teacher or instruction.  This term we are looking at The Klesas.  The Klesas are translated as afflictions, pain, obstacles, distress or disturbances.  They are internal objects that arise in our minds and cause us suffering.  The five Klesas are:

Avidya -  Lack of knowledge or insight, or ignorance
Asmita - selfishness, or over-identifying with the ego
Raga - attachment
Dvesha - aversion or avoidance
Abhinivesha - fear.

Patanjali writes about the Klesas in the second chapter of the Yoga Sutras.  

'Obstacles (Klesas) are the breeding ground for tendencies (samskaras) that give rise to actions and the consequences (karma) thereof.  Such obstacles are experienced as visible or invisible obstacles'.
Yoga Sutra 2.12

In our western culture, the Klesas can seem a little moralistic but the principles are very useful.  I think a productive way to approach the Klesas is to think of them as obstacles that give rise to traits or tendencies to examine within ourselves.  The Klesas require self-examination, or self-study (Svadhaya).  If you have a regular yoga practice you will already be working closely with Svadhaya, but most people only start to look deeper into themselves when things go wrong in life.  For example, the break up of a relationship, loss of employment, or financial devastation forces us to stop and take stock.  These obstacles that we inevitably encounter in life, present the opportunity to look at our actions, habits, ideas of ourselves, and how we move through the world.  As Marcus Aurelius pointed out, the obstacle becomes the way.  It is the catalyst for a journey from the self to the true Self.  In this sense, the Klesas are opportunities as much as obstacles.  When we are aware, we realise that change is part of life and fighting it is where suffering arises.

By stepping onto the mat to practice each day we encounter lack of knowledge, we get attached to ways of practising, there are poses we despise, and poses we are afraid of.  A practice can be a microcosm in which to examine ourselves and the Klesas so that we gain clarity.  If an obstacle shows up, we can look at it from different perspectives, with less fear, and move forward without being attached to the present situation or the outcome.  We can sit in the uncomfortable space of change.  Let's look at the first Klesa, Avidya.

Avidya is the source of most Klesas, which is why it's one of the most important ones we need to face.  An example of Avidya is when we think negative emotions will last forever.  We're not able to see the temporary nature of negative emotions, and we are unable to see the true nature of ourselves.  This causes pain and suffering.  When things don't go the way we expect, it causes us pain.  We are unable to see something for what it is, or what it's not.

Asmita puts the ego on a pedestal and values material possessions more than anything else.  It's when we believe our individual 'self' is separate from everything around us.  All that matters is how 'I'  perceive something or how it affects 'me'.  We may take things personally and need our ego constantly 'stroked' to be happy.

Raga is the attachment to our desires.  It often means our happiness depends on external factors.  So what happens when those external factors are taken away?  Because we are afraid of this, we create stronger attachments, which can eventually create insecurity, anxiety and fear.

Dvesa is aversion or avoiding things that cause unhappiness.  As humans we are always moving towards pleasure or away from pain.  Anything that threatens the ego, we tend to avoid.  Unfortunately, we can't avoid everything that doesn't make us happy.  Going to the dentist is usually not a particularly happy experience!

Abhinivesa is the fear or anxiety of change, and ultimately fear of death.  We fear death because we fear losing everything and not being able to control what we are facing.  We fear change because we have to let go of certainty and the old way of being.  Letting go ultimately creates the space for new things to come into our lives, but first we must let go of fear and stare uncertainty in the face.  We have to let go of everything we are attached to and live life as it unfolds. 

 

 

Term 2 2021

I hope you enjoyed a relaxing Easter and are ready to get back on the mat for some holiday classes and get organised for Term 2.  Below is the Term 2 Timetable with some changes.  

Everything is ready to book online for a fresh new Term so jump on and get organised and ready to go!  Link below to book.

 Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Saturday

6.30am Led Practice 60mins 8.30am Self-Care Saturday Tricia 75mins
9.30am General Steph 90mins 9.30am Gentle Sharon 90mins 9.30am General Tricia 90mins
6.00pm Experienced Tricia 90mins 6.00pm Beginner Tricia 60mins 5.30pm Beginner Fiona 60mins

5.30pm Developing/Gen

Tricia 75mins

3.30pm 10 April Self-Care Saturday students  parents
6.45pm Developing/Gen Fiona 90mins 6.00pm Beginner Streamed Tricia 60mins 3.30pm 17 & 18 April Yoga Basics

 

Link to Book on Punchpass:  https://app.punchpass.com/passtypes.

See you on the mat!
Tricia

Easter Holiday Timetable

Hi there!  

Below is the timetable for the Holiday Break.  Please join us for a class to maintain your practice and good health over Easter.  Alternatively you could stream one of our classes at a reasonable price over one week.  Kids Yoga Stories are available stream during the holidays, including Ralph the Puppy Dog, which is a free class (link below).  

The Yoga Basics classes are for anyone wanting to 'try yoga'.  If you have a friend or family member who fits this description, please ask them to contact me or book online (link below).

 

 Friday 2 April 6.30-7.30am Pranayama Tricia
Saturday 3 April 7.15-8.30am Led Practice Kim
Wednesday 7 April 9.30-11.00am General Open Class Sharon
Thursday 8 April 6.00-7.30pm General Open Class Sharon
Saturday 10 April 3.30-4.30pm Yoga for stress and resilience for students and parents Sharon
Wednesday 14 April 9.30-11.00am General Open Class Sharon
Thursday 15 April 9.30-11.00am General Open Class Fiona
Saturday 17 April 3.30-4.30pm Yoga Basics Fiona
Sunday 18 April 3.30-4.30pm Yoga Basics Tricia

 

Term 2 starts on Monday 19 April.  Bookings for Term 2 will be open on Saturday afternoon (3 April).

I hope you have a safe and fun Easter that includes some yoga and some chocolate!!  What more could you want?

See you on the mat,

Tricia

Link to book Yoga Basics and Term 2 passes:  https://app.punchpass.com/passtypes

Link to Stream a class:  https://vimeo.com/user111945976/vod_pages.

Link to Kids Yoga Stories:  https://vimeo.com/ondemand/kidsyogastories1

 

Philosophy Term 1 2020

Each term we teach an aspect of Yoga philosophy.  This is integrated into the classes and it may involve a quote, explanation from the teacher, or instruction.  This term we are looking at Kriya Yoga.  The three great paths, as Iyengar calls them, are represented by Tapas (the work of practice), Svadhaya (self-study), and Ishvara Pranadhana (surrender).  In this blog article, I am focussing on Tapas.

Tapas is the path of selfless action.  It often gets translated as a burning desire to practice.  In reality, it is the willpower to step onto our mat each day and look at ourselves.   It requires that we see our faults, our characteristics, and our habits.  It requires that we overcome obstacles within ourselves.

 Instruction in our classes is around how to do an asana, then on developing Svadyaya (self study).  We work to refine our efforts, and identifying and overcoming obstacles within ourselves.  BKS Iyengar says:  

'Practice involves tapas (the purifying fire of action).  Tapas is nothing but disciplining the mind through the eight limbs of yoga.  This practice is not complete without faith (sraddha) and courage (virya).'  

I agree that having a yoga practice requires courage on some days.  If you practice regularly, you will come up against obstacles that require the courage to persist and push on.

The nine obstacles to practice are:  
  • disease
  • inertia
  • laziness
  • doubt
  • heedlessness
  • indiscipline of the senses
  • erroneous views
  • lack of perserverence
  • backsliding.


Alan Goode comments:

'Through practice, we become present in our acts and reshape the way our mind absorbs experience - instead of interpreting things which happened to us through the filter of our mind (views formed from past experience) we move to experience them without the veil of thought.  An example of this is where we have an experience in the past of someone abusing our trust – this often makes us wary of future interaction with others, but in the extreme we become unable to trust anyone; our actions are limited by our beliefs.

In Tapas we experience directly.  In doing so we burn off past impressions which limit us, and our ideas of what we are capable of change.  Through action (tapas) we can refine our consciousness – change and grow.  This is the first tier and cannot be transcended.'

What does Tapas look like in your yoga practice?  For me, Tapas means stepping onto my mat each day, whether I feel like practising or not, and just doing each asana, or pose, steadily and consistently.  Of course, we can adjust our practice to respond to what is happening in our bodies, but we still have to get on the mat, get quiet, observe, listen and proceed.  This is the daily work of Tapas.

In the next blog post, I explore the second great path of Kriya Yoga, which is Svadhaya (self-study).

Until then, keep practising and learning.

Tricia

 

Timetable Term 1 2021

Welcome back and Happy New Year!  

The teachers are so excited to be teaching in the studio and online.  I encourage you to make a commitment to your yoga and carve out time to look after your physical and mental health.  We look forward to serving you in class again and watching your progression.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
6.30am Dynamic
60min - Sharon
6.30am Pranayama
60min - Fiona
7.15am Led Practice*
75 min
9.30am General
90min - Steph
9.30am Gentle
90min - Sharon
9.30am General
90min - Tricia
Weekend Workshops
(see website for details)
6.00pm Experienced
90min - Tricia
6.00pm Beginner
60min - Tricia
5.30pm Beginner
60min - Fiona
5.30pm Developing
75min - Tricia
Yoga Basics
Sat 17 & Sun 18 April 3.30-4.30pm
6.45pm Developing
90min - Fiona
6.00pm Beginner**
60min

 

*    Denotes Online only

**   Denotes Streamed Class

Join us and book your class online:  https://orangeyogaroom.punchpass.com/classes?jw=undefined&as=client.

 

Kids Yoga Stories - Learn, Listen and Play!

Perfect School Holiday Fun

 

Kids Yoga stories from TheYogaRoom on Vimeo.

 

The Yoga Room is excited to offer Kids Yoga Stories!  Each story is written and presented by Fiona Hawke to engage children between the ages of 3 and 7yrs.

Fiona creates a space for children to learn Yoga, listen to a story and play, using their imagination.  Children move their bodies to form yoga poses in the shape of animals, trees and elements of the natural world.  They may go on an adventure to the moon, have a tea party with their fury friends, or go on a picnic to the beach,  all from their living room.  Kids Yoga Stories is Perfect fun for the school holidays and rainy weekends.

 

Buy or Rent a Story

We currently have six stories to choose from, with more to follow.  Choose to buy and download a story to keep, or rent for one week.  Click here to go to our Vimeo platform and choose your story.  Kidults love Kids Yoga Stories too!