Archive for October, 2013


“What workshops do you think Joan is going to next year?”

“I don’t know, pass the fishee please.”


“I know! See below.”





Probably, duh:


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I could seriously get into practice with them and create sangha with these yogis:

old yogis

Today’s advice:

DO NOT read Tibetan Book of the Living and Dying before bed.

hungry ghost_lores

Seriously ruined my Monday.

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How many forms of trikonasana are there? It depends on what style you practice and if you use modifications or props. There are many modifications of the pose and you can utilize props if you like. Here is my analysis:

This is the Bikram form of Trikonasana:


WRONG says Iyengar! This form to me incorporates the upper body of an Iyengar/Ashtanga style with Virabhadrasana. I see this incorporation of poses in other Bikram poses, such as janu sirsasana, where he incorporate upavista konasana to stretch the adductors. This could also be a form of Utthita Parsvakonasana in the torso. The Bikram form is more ascending in the torso than the classic form of trikonasana. The arms are still equally outstretched and the bottom hand is reaching towards the toes without touching the floor.

The Bikram dialogue does not give much verbiage into the workings of the legs, just the angle of the feet and the bend in the front knee.


The Iyengar Trikonasana is a very wide stance, as wide as the Bikram without the bent front knee. The back foot is angled in 15 degrees from facing forward. The bottom hand is placed on the floor outside the front shin with the palm flat. There is a deep external rotation in the femur bones set up from the entry position to allow the hip joints to open.

I love the feeling of this pose and the very good approach to open eventually for vasisthasana, which is the beginning of Ashtanga third series or visvamitrasana:



The Ashtanga version is a closer stance, with the back foot angled in a little more to 45 or 60 degrees.
The reach is to the big toe of the bottom foot with thumb, index, and middle finger. The arms, as in the Iyengar version, with spine parallel. I have heard different methods of spiraling the femur bones. Gregor Maehle says rotation both in the same direction to enter and then change the spiraling once the pose is entered. This pose is also a prep for the more advanced asana mentioned above.


Of course, Iyengar and Jois had the same teacher, Krishnamacharya, but have their own approach.

All versions are great poses for strengthening the legs, opening the hips joints, and to continue to develop uddiyana bandha strength. Modifications and the use of a block for the lower arm is great for beginners, but go for the depth and don’t add on unnecessary flourishes, like arms overhead. There is enough work in these poses to open you up for advanced asana variations.

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For starters, if you are interested in more from Guy Donahaye, here is the full blog where the Saturday quotes came from. Everyone blogged about it so I assume most of you might have read it. Since the other bloggers covered it well, I decided to just add my favorite quotes. Here is the article:


On to Iyengar. Yesterday John and I took our second Iyengar class. We repeated the poses from the first class:

Virabhadrasana 1,2,3
Trikonasana (Which you ALL DO wrong.) This is going to be the topic of a serious blog real soon
Salamba Sarvangasana(against the wall)
Utthitta Hasta Padasana
Parsva Hasta Padasana

Might have forgotten a few.

Yesterday we added on

Urdhva Mukha Savasana(on the wall)

iyengar downdog
Ardha Chandrasana
Tiriang Mukha Eka Pada Paschimottanasana
Utthitta Parsvakonasana

She also did some extra shoulder openers in the beginning because John has such tight shoulders.

I like the set up of the poses for standing. Each standing pose starts from Utthita Hasta Padasana. Before she takes you into the pose, there is work in the set up of legs. Since this is a beginner level class, I do not know if they do the same for the experienced students, but I rather enjoy it. She usually takes us into the pose on both sides, shows us a correction, then has us do it again.

For Utkatasana, she had us go for a 90 degree bend in the knees before lifting the arms up. She did the same for John in some of the other standing poses. Since they are held for a long time and we repeated them twice, it got tiring for his shoulders. She taught asana from the floor up. I do not see many teachers that insist on the bend in the knees to that degree and do not see it practiced, so I appreciated that she established correct form early on.

John felt much better through the neck and shoulders afterwards, but he will have to commit to something to see real improvement. I am going along for the ride, but mostly because I want to play on that wall:


That picture could almost be Yoga Coop in Madison, with the light wood floors and general brightness and natural light in the room.

There is also this little corner with various torture devices I am curious about:


Plus many blankets, bricks, and bolsters.

Obviously a lot to explore in this practice. I find it an interesting side practice for my Ashtanga practice. All the poses we have learned are from Primary and in relatively the same order. I found out that to move up to the next level, we would need to do a five minute sirsana! So as basic as the practice is now, I am looking forward to the progression. My goal is to go twice a week, keep up my Primary Series 5-6 times and build one of those walls in the home shala!

Right now it is a fine supplement to practice. I practiced yoga 2.75 hours yesterday and am fine today. I always take my Saturdays and moon days off.

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Western asana practice may be compared to the epidemic misuse of medicinal drugs – we may alleviate some symptoms but through misuse we will exacerbate others. Practice with misguided focus often leads to undesirable results: vanity, injury, pain and humiliation. Without aligning with the purpose of practice, we may become its victim. –Guy Donahaye


The sequences of postures are just like musical scales – used for training – these scales/sequences should not be mistaken for real music. We are going through the motion of cleaning ourselves – asana practice is “internal cleaning.” It is not spiritual practice – it is completely self-indulgent. As a more relaxed person we may treat others better but this is a byproduct. To make yoga into a spiritual practice our intentional behavior towards ourselves and others is cultivated through perfecting the yama and niyama-Guy Donahaye


Dude is intense. I read a lot of intense yoga blogs and the Ashtanga ones are always deep like that. Guy is pretty much blowing my mind right now.

Several things I see frequently in Ashtanga blogs or articles:

1. Practitioners who stay with the practice with the quality of devotion stay with it for years. Those who expect quick results quit after a period of time.

2. People who stay in the practice have reaped the rewards of what is promised in a profound way. Those who expect quick results quit after a period of time.

3. People who stay in the practice are very honest about the highs and lows. People who can’t take the lows get out. If the practice is not rewarding to them in some way, they leave with a tarnished view.

In the past two days two things have come to fruition for me, the second having to do with intense cleansing per Guy’s second statement. The second was a deeper level of perception of the practice through studying the sutras.

It is all good stuff. It is like finding out Santa is real.

And not really about achieving a new pose.

I will write more about this in the upcoming months. I am going to be doing something odd in the next few weeks. I am not leaving this practice though, even if it seems like that.

Need to go rest, since I am not feeling so hot right now.

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Last weekend I tried my first Iyengar class. It is one of those things on my list for quite some time. I wanted to find some type of yoga my husband might find useful for his tight neck, shoulders, and spine.(Hamstrings, adductors, abductors……) He has tried Bikram and some Ashtanga lite, Richard Freeman’s intro tape.



“My wife is at Richard Freeman workshops and I all I get is this video…”

Or as Richard would say, yoga ruined his life.

Let’s just say he hasn’t acquired a love of yoga, so I thought maybeeee Iyengar, with his precision and support will stimulate Johns left brain hemisphere, so he agreed to try it and I went along.

It was an Intro class for 75 minutes and we did like 7 asanas. We did the three virabhradasanas and I was hooked. I enjoyed noting the subtleties of the different poses between Ashtanga and Iyengar, but the sequence was similar and recognizable, with no sun sals at this point. We did Vira 3 and salambha sarvangasana on the cool wall with ropes and I am sure John would never get into that pose without the five blankets and ropes.

One thing about Iyengar teachers, they are most knowledgeable, so John asked me why I didn’t offer that I taught yoga, but I find that extremely intrusive and annoying when people announce that to me, because I feel when I go to a class, I am not a teacher. I am a student, the other thing is that well, I do have a humble side, I think. Iyengar teachers go through intense training for years. They are expected to have at least five years practice experience first. Ashtanga teachers are expected to have ten. That really isn’t a bad idea. I think any teacher, any style, should teach from their experience and their practice should be their priority.

If I find a teacher doesn’t have a regular practice, I am no longer interested and won’t attend their class. I don’t care what level they are or what they can perform, there is just NO excuse. A few years ago I found my practice was suffering, so I cut back classes. Now I have a practice again. It is great.

I really enjoyed practicing on the wall with a few poses and intend to go back. I am really interested in learning more about the wall and props. The work Judith Lassiter has contributed in the form of Restorative Yoga, has roots in this practice. Iyengar is still active in finding more ways to move prana.

But don’t get me wrong, the practice is intense. Some people, especially those that like a vigorous practice, underestimate the intensity. We practiced asana that I do every day, but I felt it in a different way. The set up for the poses, such as Trikonasana, was different. She had us spiraling the thighs in the pose set up. Gregor Maehle, who has done an excellent job of explaining this is his book on Primary Series, has you change the spiraling once in the pose. The approach was intense and I felt like I was working into poses in a whole new way.


You do, I am just saying, you all do.

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