Posts In: flexibility

One of the main intentions of practicing yoga is the management of prana – moving and working with life-force energy.

At times in life prana can become unsettled or deficient, and this can feel like loss of enthusiasm and motivation, stress or a feeing of downheartedness. 

Staying grounded and stable can be challenging, which is why we’re so fortunate that Hatha Yoga gives us the tools to stay balanced amidst change (both around us and also in other aspects of life) ❤️

A way to work with activating prana is with our balancing asana Virabhadrasana III aka Warrior 3 😊

Warrior 3 is a standing balance posture, a pose that requires focus and considered movements to get into the shape. Grounded and strong, yet light and fluid.⁠ ⁠ Explore different arm variations, use of props and ways to get in and out of this pose to work with ease and comfort in your own body.

Warrior 3 helps to propel easeful and abundant movement of Prana in body and mind, creating balance within and a healthy enthusiasm for life ✨

Vata is the dosha of autumn and is ruled by the two elements Ether and Air (the other elements being Fire, Water and Earth).

Cooler temperatures and the quick changes in our environment – think warm days suddenly becoming very cool, how quickly the mornings are becoming darker – these all increase the energy of Vata around us.

For us as humans living amidst this energy, an imbalance of Vata energy can manifest as feeling a little ungrounded from the cold wind, unsettled by routines that become disrupted as we transition from summer to winter activities and a feeling of coldness in hands, feet and within.

The antidote to a Vata imbalance is to embrace the opposite qualities – moving the energy of practice towards a state of feeling balanced, grounded and secure 💫

Physically this may mean exploring Skandasana, a side lunge that allows for exploration of different heights, arm positions and use of props to support yourself in this posture 😊

Focusing on lower body flexibility, hip mobility and core strength, learn to move through Skandasana in a way that suits you best, warming the body with movement so you can move into the sweet rest of savasana at the end of practice 💕

It can be really lovely to take time to focus your practice on seated twists, such as Marichyasana III.

Marichyasana III, the sages twist, is a beautiful shape to focus on creating a stable, grounded base. By grounding through the points of your body touching the earth, you’ll be able to focus on the internal lifting and rotation of your spine, starting from your navel and working all the way up to the top of your head.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali tell us “sthira sukham asanam” – steady and comfortable should be the posture.

In this twist, you can explore the interplay of these qualities of sthira (steadiness) and sukha (ease) – finding stability through your base, connected to the earth, so there can be ease and freedom in your movement and breathing. Your breath helping to release tension in your body so you can settle deeper into the stillness of your practice ❤️

Malasana is one of those poses that can communicate so much about what’s going on in your body. We all have different body proportions, mobility, areas of tension, strengths and challenges and these all play a big role in how you feel and look in this posture.

In English we call Malasana garland pose or yogi squat and yes it’s a get-your-knees-wide, bottom-close-to-the-ground squat 😊 Unless squatting is a daily part of life (which for most of us it isn’t!), Malasana can feel a little awkward and clunky. It’s important in this asana to pay attention to bringing fluidity to the ankles, knees and hips so you can find your most comfortable, stable Malasana.

And this might mean your feet are facing the sky! Try exploring Malasana as both a standing, grounded asana (with prop options to support your body) and a supine, fire building core asana.

Being the Vata season of autumn, practice should continue with the qualities of nurturing and centering but also warming, staying with the focus of activating your parasympathetic nervous system so you feel tranquil and balanced after practice.

Twists are an important part of our personal practice, and there’s rarely a class we teach where there isn’t some kind of twisting asana included.

Standing, seated or lying down, twists are amazing for spinal health and feel so good too 🌟

Building stability and flexibility in your spine, twists are also super helpful for stretching and lengthening your spine, helping to keep your back happy and healthy 😊

The breath is an important focus as you move in and out of twists and focusing on the exhale while moving helps to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system (the part of your being responsible for rest and digest).

And it’s something important to consider adding in to your own practice! Playing around with different variations of lunge twists to enliven your spine, creating an inner experience that is calming, grounding and centering.

Can you feel the shift? The days are getting shorter and autumn’s cool embrace is slowly coming into our nights 😊

In Ayurveda, autumn is known as a Vata dominant season, bringing dryness, wind and subtle changes as we transition from summer’s fiery days to winter’s chill.

Honour this beautiful time of change by infusing your practice with grounding, nourishment, steadiness and warmth. And a perfect asana to weave these qualities into practice with is Parsvottanasana – pyramid pose.

The invitation in this asana is to focus on grounding through the feet, creating steadiness and stability. Allowing your deep belly breathing to regulate and soothe your nervous system, creating calmness in body and mind.

Nurturing your inner balance with movement, breath and eventually, stillness 💕

It’s important to honour the external and internal shifts as we move from season to season, and coming up on 20 March is the Autumn Equinox, one of two moments in the year where day and night are equal. A balanced moment in time as we begin our journey into autumn 🍁

Ayurveda attributes certain qualities to everything that we share our planet with, and autumn is seen as dry, rough, windy, erratic, cool and subtle.

There’s the variable weather, some hot days still sneaking in as our environment gradually begins to cool down. The wind can feel a little chilly, especially at night and you may begin to notice nature’s delicate changes ☀️

To counteract these qualities of vata, it’s important to draw in the balancing qualities to create stability – warmth, grounding, nourishment, heartfelt relationships and a sense of routine.

Balancing vata means connecting with deep, restful forward bends, and a beautiful asana to introduce into your practice this season is Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Legged Forward Bend).

Slowing down the breath to soothe the nervous system and focusing on stillness, stability and support ❤️

Have you noticed it yet? The cooler nights and not-so-hot days as you into autumn 🍁 For us in Perth, it’s not the golden colours of other parts of the world (where you might be!), but it’s our unique way of experiencing the seasonal shift.

Speaking of shifts, have you heard of the astronomical autumn equinox? It’s that special moment when day and night are perfectly balanced, and it happens around 20 March in the Southern Hemisphere each year. The autumn equinox is a wonderful opportunity to encourage the idea of balance into your yoga practice too.

To honour the transition from summer to autumn, from Pitta to Vata season, start by exploring some fun balance asanas in your practice. Poses like Vrksasana (Tree Pose), which requires a strong connection to the earth while reaching for the sky. Just like a tree, you’ll be finding stability and steadiness through your grounded foot, while letting your upper body be fluid and supple.

As you step onto your mat in this transitional season, consider setting an intention to cultivate calmness, steadiness, and focus in your body, mind, and spirit. These are all wonderful benefits that your practice can bring during this time of change, and the qualities that we look to cultivate throughout Vata season.

Have you ever noticed the subtle shifts in your body as you inhale and exhale? How in the simple act of sitting and breathing, you can be witness to the movement of energy in your body?

Inhale, exhale.

Prana, apana.

Expanding, grounding.

This movement of energy can be felt when moving and being in asana too, and Kraunchasana (Heron Pose) is one of those asana where you can focus on uniting these energies.

Prana vayu is the vitalising force, moving into the body with the inhale. You’ll feel this energy lengthening and vitalising your body. In Heron pose this is felt as the spine lifting, the collarbones broadening.

Apana vayu is the grounding force, moving to the earth with your exhale. You feel this as the softening in your body, letting go, being still. In Heron pose this is the dropping of your sitting bones, tailbone and pelvis towards the earth.

As you consciously work with these two aspects of energy – prana and apana – you’ll be able to feel and observe they way they integrate in your body and breath.

Calming your nervous system, releasing stress in the body and mind and on a more subtle level, helping you move towards a meditational and tranquil state of being 🥰

Calm in the midst of it all

February 25, 2024

After months and years of consistent yoga practice, two magical things happen. Things that we’ve felt and experienced, that have kept us steady and calm in life.

The first is a sense of harmony that infuses life, the knowing of being in the right place, doing the right thing, and feeling in sync with nature and the universe.

Secondly the building of resilience that you need to navigate the complexities and challenges of your daily happenings.

It never ceases to amaze us how the combination of moving meditatively, consciously breathing and meditating helps to cultivate consciousness and presence! These qualities that you can embody in practice and carry with you from your mat out into your world.

You can refine these qualities of consciousness and presence with a standing balance that combines a forward bend, a big hamstring stretch and the most delicate of touches on the earth. In Sanskrit it’s called Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana, but you’ll know it as standing splits 😊

As well as finding steadiness and ease in this posture, it’s important to focus on stabilising your breath – staying connected to the pure, natural inhales and exhales that help you to be calm and grounded in your posture.

And how does this translate to everyday life? Think about the moments when you can feel your stress levels rise… at these moments, you have a choice. React and let whatever happens, happen. Or choose to feel your body, take a full breath into your belly and find the calm within the storm.