Mar 112015
 

Featured SAVY Yogi of the Month – Aricia Haywood

Aricia Haywood

My name is Aricia.

SAVY YOGIBadha Parsvokonasana

I’m a 23 year old west coaster (from Victoria BC).

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I have been practicing yoga on and off from about the age of 8.

DSC_0015aUtthitta Hasta Padangushthasana

Growing up, I saw Yoga as a big part of my mother’s life.

DSC_0017aGarudasana

I faded in and out of my own personal practice.

DSC_0021aVeerbhadrasana I

Approximately two years ago I found a new appreciation for yoga while searching for anything that would help my anxiety and to help me with the stresses of everyday life.

DSC_0026aUtthitta Parsvokonasana

I was searching for something to calm my mind and heal myself with. I found it in yoga.

DSC_0030aParivratta Trikonasana

I usually practice moderately active flow style yoga, but have experimented with hatha, hot yoga, bikram, ashtanga, kundalini and other styles.

DSC_0040aPaschimottanasana

After almost two years of practicing (almost) every day, I decided it was time to take my practice to a new level, and begin to share yoga with those around me so that I can help others find what I found in yoga.

DSC_0042aParivratta Janushirasana

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I flew across the country, in February, to a bitterly cold and snowy London, to attend SAVY international’s two-week yoga teacher training program to become a registered yoga teacher.

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The training was fascinating, all-encompassing and in depth.

DSC_0068aParighasana

DSC_0078aSalamba Sarvangsamasana

The instruction was very encouraging, and really helped me to understand physical postures and find confidence in poses that I never thought I would progress in.

DSC_0080aKarnapeedasana

DSC_0085aJathara Parivritti

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During my training I grew to appreciate the depth of yoga, its history and philosophy.

DSC_0094aEk Pada Adhomukha Shvanasana

DSC_0100aChaturanga Dandasana

DSC_0102aBakasana

DSC_0106aParshva Bakasana

DSC_0122aEk Pada Chakrasana

At the end of two weeks, exhausted, inspired and frozen solid, I dragged myself onto the airplane that would take me home, inwardly beaming at my accomplishment.

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DSC_0128aUtkatasana

DSC_0129aChakrasana

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I left SAVY feeling inspired, confident and super-excited to share yoga with those around me.

 

A note from the President’s desk

Dr Jitender K Sahdev

Dr Jitender K Sahdev

 March, the month which marks the beginning of spring, is here! The March equinox on the 20th or 21st marks the astronomical beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. The name of March comes from Latin Martius, the first month of the earliest Roman calendar. It was named for Mars, the Roman god of war who was also regarded as a guardian of agriculture and an ancestor of the Roman people through his sons Romulus and Remus. His month Martius was the beginning of the season for both farming and warfare. 

In this now very popular Featured SAVY Yogi of the Month series, we present SAVY Yogis who have been learning the right kind of true, traditional yoga with correct techniques, have done wonderfully well for themselves and are a guiding light and a source of great inspiration for others.

In this month marking the onset of spring, it’s my pleasure to introduce Aricia Haywood, our new savvy SAVY Yogi  for the month of March. She completed her RYT 200 Yoga Teacher Training with me in February, 2015 and is a Yoga Alliance, USA registered Yoga Teacher now. She’ll be completing her DSBH Breathing Educator (DBE-I) training soon. A dedicated and devoted Yogi to the hilt with the freshness of a blossoming spring flower, a bold explorer who loves to meet challenges head on, she is blessed with a compassionate heart, a strong, sinewy, lithe, sculpted and flexible yoga body and a steely grit. She braved the merciless freezing cold and dipping temperatures to come and join us here at SAVY for Registered Yoga Teacher Training and ruffled the brutal February cold weather in London with the whiff of freshness and warmth of spring air all the way down from Victoria, BC! Always up to the demands of the rigorous, intensive training and the ruthless 16-hour routine for two weeks straight she chose to join us for, she seemed to thoroughly enjoy every moment of her encounter with the intense challenges and met each one of them head on! Her attitude, devotion and professionalism made the extreme weather conditions look like nothing more than a mere minor inconvenience. She had done traditional yoga before and enjoyed her re-encounter and rediscovery of authentic traditional yoga at SAVY Studio. She showed a very keen interest in learning new yoga poses. She is an avid learner of her new-found passion of Yogic breathing exercises and newer meditation techniques, and what they can do for her. Day in and day out, she worked her way through the routines with great dedication. She has a keen sense of inquiry, is quick to learn, came out with flying colors in the training, and is bound to do great for herself. She is certainly going to be a source of enormous inspiration for her future students.

All the best, Aricia! Keep it up.

Jitender

May 032014
 

 London SAVY Yoga – Surya Yoga

SAVY Yoga is now being offered at different locations in London ON : South London and North London. To serve London in a better way, instead of serving some run-of-the-mill pseudo-yoga routines, we offer some very useful Yoga/ Pranayama routines, ranging from gentle to very challenging routines, for a beginner to an advanced student alike. In this series we’ll be giving introduction to these classes one by one and what benefits you can derive from these innovative, all-new, all-yoga routines based on authentic Ashtanga Yoga.   The Sun is the source of all energy and the supporter of all life-forms. In India, it is more than just a star and Indian culture respects and worships this powerful source of energy as a deity. Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation, an integral part of Surya Yoga, is one way Hindus pay respect to the “sun god” and in turn gain enormous health benefits. Surya Namaskar, also known in English as Sun Salutation is a well-known sequence of twelve asanas. The obvious characteristic of Surya Namaskar is the fact that it exercises the entire body. The Sun Salutation is a graceful sequence of twelve postures performed as one continuous exercise. Each position is reverse of the one before, stretching the body in a different way and alternatively expanding and contracting the chest to regulate the breathing. Surya Namaskar There is unnecessary controversy about the origin of Surya Namaskara. The Surya Namaskara mantra comes from Rig Veda; so, in all probability, Surya Namaskara is as old as Rig Veda or Yoga itself, and was handed down from one generation to the next generation of yogis like the rest of yoga. Even Lord Rama was taught a variation of Surya Namaskar. Surya Namaskar originated in India. This sequence of movements and asanas can be practised at varying levels of awareness, ranging from that of just physical exercise, to a complete yoga, incorporating asanas, pranayama, mantra and chakra meditation. The body consists of various systems and organs which interrelate and coordinate with each other to give the best possible health and efficiency. Under the influence of various factors, these systems or their co-ordination may get disrupted; the result is disease and lack of vitality. Surya Namaskar tones up the whole body through its effect on chakras and simultaneously awakens the associated brain centres. Surya Namaskara brings these systems – the circulatory, respiratory, endocrine, excretory, generative, musculo-skeletal system etc. – into balance, thereby helping to prevent and even eradicate some diseases. Sun Salutation or  Surya Namaskar has many benefits and if done regularly can not only help you lose flab but can also help you combat diseases. Here are a few benefits of this asana.

  • Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutation, ideally done facing the early morning rising sun, helps our body to soak in the benefits of the rays of the sun.
  • This is the best and most complete series of asanas to improve lymphatic circulation and drainage. Hence, it improves body immunity.
  • Regular practice of this series of asanas can also help you lose the excess belly fat.
  • The postures in Surya Namaskar stretch our muscles and help make our body very flexible.
  • The moves and postures of the asana help all our internal organs function better — the various poses regulate our blood flow, benefit the digestive system and makes it more efficient.
  • It helps combat insomnia as it relaxes the body and calms the mind.
  • It helps regulate menstrual cycles and makes childbirth easier.
  • This is known to facilitate blood circulation and thereby help hair growth and prevent hair problems.
  • It reduces anxiety and restlessness and enhances our strength and vitality.
  • Surya Namaskar benefits not just adults, but kids as well.
  • From yoga point of view, it acts on Solar Plexus and regular practice of Surya Namaskar increases its size, hence increasing awareness and ‘gut feeling’ or intuition.
  • It acts on and balances all chakras and helps you achieve complete health.
  • The back and forth, up and down movements in Sun Salutations are fun and offer the opportunity to move playfully in the practice.
  • They warm up the body for the practice of more asanas.
  • They work the heart muscle. In William Broad’s book, ‘The Science of Yoga’, he refers to a study on the cardiovascular benefits of yoga. Results revealed that sun salutations provided the best overall benefit for the heart, specifically the left ventricle. For excellence of health, the left ventricle must relax very rapidly after each contraction and then again contract rapidly and forcibly, to push blood into aorta. Sun Salutations improve this function.
  • They bring the mind to a calm, serene yogic state.
  • They help to overcome motivation issues.
  • Sun Salutation is a very complete exercise.  If you only have fifteen or twenty minutes to practice, doing Sun Salutations alone properly cover almost all the benefits of yoga postures.
  • They keep your skills sharp.

The traditional format of Sun Salutations being taught at SAVY Studios helps you derive maximum benefits from this very useful yogic exercise. One feels very so alive after just a few rounds of this!

Learn all that directly under one of the most qualified faculty in the world!

Surya Yoga Class daily at London SAVY Yoga Studio

This class is available under all payment plans. Drop-ins are welcome subject to availability of space. Please Pre-Register at least one day before for the class.

Please check the full schedule of classes through London Yoga Classes page.

Sign up today and live life to your full potential.

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Pashchimottanasana – The West Stretch or Seated Forward Bend

 Meditation, Partner Yoga, Yoga, Yoga Posture -Asana, Yoga Therapy  Comments Off on Pashchimottanasana – The West Stretch or Seated Forward Bend
Jul 212013
 

Pashchimottanasana – The West Stretch or Seated Forward Bend

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Pashchimottanasana

Paschimottanasana stretches the length of the spine, and allows the life-force to flow to every part of the body.

परसार्य पादौ भुवि दण्डरूपौ दोर्भ्यां पदाग्रदवितयं गॄहीत्वा |
जानूपरिन्यस्तललाटदेशो वसेदिदं पश्छिमतानमाहुः || ३० ||

prasārya pādau bhuvi daṇḍa-rūpau
dorbhyāṃ padāghra-dvitayaṃ ghṝhītvā |
jānūparinyasta-lalāṭa-deśo
vasedidaṃ paśchimatānamāhuḥ || 28 ||

Having stretched the feet on the ground, like a stick, and having grasped the toes of both the feet with both the hands, when one sits with his forehead resting on the thighs, it is called Paśchima Tâna.

इति पश्छिमतानमासनाग्र्यं पवनं पश्छिमवाहिनं करोति |
उदयं जठरानलस्य कुर्याद उदरे कार्श्यमरोगतां पुंसाम || 29 ||

 

iti paśchimatānamāsanāghryaṃ
pavanaṃ paśchima-vāhinaṃ karoti |
udayaṃ jaṭharānalasya kuryād
udare kārśyamaroghatāṃ cha puṃsām || 29 ||

This most excellent of all asanas, Pashchimottanasana, makes the breath flow through the Sushumna, rouses the gastric fire, makes the loins lean, and removes all diseases.

Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Chapter 1, verse 29

Pashchimottanasana (Sanskrit: पश्चिमोत्तानासन; IAST: paścimottānāsana), Seated Forward Bend, or Intense Dorsal Stretch, is a yoga posture.

(PASH-chee-moh-tan-AHS-anna)

pashchimottana = intense stretch of the west (pashima = west, uttana = intense stretch)

Together with Padmasana (lotus), Siddhasana (half-lotus) and Vajrasana (lightning-bolt pose), this pose is an accomplished pose according to the Shiva Samhita. It was advocated by 11th century yogi Gorakshanath.

Etymology

The name comes from the Sanskrit word paschima (पश्चिम, paścima) meaning “west” and uttana (उत्तान, uttāna) meaning “intense stretch” or “straight – asana  (आसन) meaning “posture”.

  • Paschima (पश्चिम, Paścima) = Back, West, Back of Body
  • ud (उद्, ud) =Prefix for Verbs or Nouns which indicates superiority in Location, Rank, Power, Intensity.
  • Tana (तान, Tāna) = stretched
  • Uttana (उत्तान, Uttāna) = intense stretch, straight, straightened
  • Asana (आसन, āsana) = Posture, seat

Pashchimottanasana (पश्चिमोत्तानासन, Paścimottānāsana) = Intense-Stretch-of-back-of-body

Classification and Level: Basic seated forward bend

Concentration: On the back and the Manipura Chakra

Step by Step:

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. You may support your buttocks on a folded blanket. Press actively through your heels. Rock slightly onto your left buttock, and pull your right sitting bone away from the heel with your right hand. Repeat on the other side. Turn the top thighs in slightly and press them down into the floor. Press through your palms or finger tips on the floor beside your hips and lift the top of the sternum toward the ceiling as the top thighs descend.
  1. Draw the inner groins deep into the pelvis. Inhale, and keeping the front torso long, lean forward from the hip joints, not the waist. Keep the back and neck straight. Lengthen the tailbone away from the back of your pelvis. If possible hold the big toes or take the sides of the feet with your hands, thumbs on the soles, elbows fully extended. Be sure your elbows are straight, not bent.
  1. When you are ready to go further, don’t forcefully pull yourself into the forward bend, even if your hands are on the feet. Always lengthen the front torso into the pose, keeping your head raised. If you are holding the feet, bend the elbows out to the sides and lift them away from the floor. The lower belly should touch the thighs first, and then the upper belly, the ribs, and the head last.
  1. With each inhalation, lift and lengthen the front torso just slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend. In this way the torso oscillates and lengthens almost imperceptibly with the breath. Eventually you may be able to stretch the arms out beyond the feet on the floor.
  1. Stay in the pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes initially. To come up, first lift the torso away from the thighs and straighten the elbows again if they are bent. Then inhale and lift the torso up by pulling the tailbone down and into the pelvis.

Anatomy of the Pose

Focus on extending the spine towards head with each inhalation, and try to bend down with each exhalation.

Joint Actions: Spinal flexion (moving towards extension); sacrum nutation; hip flexion, adduction, internal rotation; knee extension; ankle slight dorsiflexion; scapula abduction, upward rotation; glenohumoral joint flexion, slight external rotation, adduction; elbow extension; forearm slight pronation.

Working

Gravity acts to pull the torso towards the top of the thighs.

Spine: Extensors can act to deepen action in the hip joints.

Legs : Vastii and articularis genus to extend knees.

Lengthening

Spine: Spinal extensors (if releasing into pose), latissimus dorsi.

Legs : Hamstrings, gluteus maximus, piriformis, obturator internus and gemelli, gluteus medius and minimus, gastrocnemius and soleus; popliteus works at length (eccentrically) to prevent hyperextension of the knees.

Arms : Rhomboids, lower trapezius, latissimus dorsi.

Breathing

Breathing can be very helpful while moving into this pose. Emphasizing the action of the exhalation deepens the flexion at the pelvis, whereas emphasizing the action of the inhalation assists in extending the upper spine. This will only occur if the exhalation is initiated with the lower abdominal muscles and the inhalation is directed towards the rib cage.

 

Therapeutic Applications

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Stretches the spine, shoulders, hamstrings
  • Stimulates the liver, kidneys, ovaries, and uterus
  • Improves digestion
  • Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause and menstrual discomfort
  • Soothes headache and anxiety and reduces fatigue
  • Therapeutic for high blood pressure, infertility, insomnia, and sinusitis
  • Traditional texts say that Paschimottanasana increases appetite, reduces obesity, and cures diseases.

 

Basic Benefits:

  • Stimulates the Manipura Chakra and life energy.
  • Increases blood supply in the back.
  • Stretches the muscles of the back and along the back of the legs.
  • Activates kidney and pancreas function and aids in achieving a slim figure.

Contradictions and Cautions

Those having the following problems should observe caution:

  • Asthma
  • Diarrhea
  • Back injury: Only perform this pose under the supervision of an experienced teacher.

Beginner’s Tip

Never force yourself into a forward bend, especially when sitting on the floor. Coming forward, as soon as you feel the space between your pubis and navel shortening, stop, lift up slightly, and lengthen again. Often, because of tightness in the backs of the legs, a beginner’s forward bend doesn’t go very far forward and might look more like sitting up straight.

Variations

Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana (urdhva = upward; mukha = face)

Lie on your back, exhale, and bend your knees into your torso. Then inhale and extend the heels toward the ceiling. Slowly, on an exhalation, swing your feet toward the floor above your head. You may or may not be able to reach all the way to the floor. Try not to let the back of the pelvis lift very far from the floor—this is an upside-down version of Paschimottanasana, not Salamba Sarvangasana or Halasana.

 

Modifications

Most students may sit up on a folded blanket in this pose. Extremely stiff students can place a rolled up blanket under their knees.

Partnering

A partner can help you release your lower back in this pose. There are various ways partners can help each other:

  1. Have your partner stand behind you facing your back. Perform the pose – then have your partner press his/her hands against your lower back and pelvis. The hands should be turned so the fingers point towards your tailbone. Remember though that the pressure isn’t to push you deeper into the forward bend; rather, gentle pressure (parallel to the line of the back) encourages the back spine and tailbone to lengthen away from the torso. Extend the front torso against this downward action.
  2. Have your partner sit behind you, tailbone to tailbone, back to back. As you deepen your pose, your partner may extend arms up, staying in close contact all the time and release his/ her weight on to your back slowly, almost lying down on your back as you complete the pose. You can do the same for your partner later on.
  3. Another way to get help from a partner is sitting in front of each other, feet apposed, holding hands while getting into the pose and keep holding hands while gravity acts to deepen the pose. You can walk your hands up your partner’s arms to get deeper, while directing your weight down towards thighs.

Preparatory Poses

  • Balasana
  • Janu Sirasana
  • Uttanasana

Follow-Up Poses

  • Ardha Matsyendrasana

 

Tips for Your Practice

Improvement with this pose is a lengthy process! The changes may take years, and you may encounter many roadblocks where your resistance temporarily slows you down.

Focus your mind on relaxing into the pose instead of pushing into it with force and meeting resistance. Relax and let gravity act. Where and how you use your weight depends on how deep your existing forward bend already is. If you are only a few inches from your legs, let the weight of your chest take you down towards thighs. If you can’t get so close to your legs, hold your feet or big toes and gently ease into more depth.

Here again, the mind can intrude, resisting the surrender that is required to fully benefit from this manoeuvre. Explore the mental patterns you’re bringing to the asana—an urge to push or a tendency to give up and space out—and redirect your attention to the sensations of letting go. As you deepen your pose by doing less, you will recognize how emotions stored in the body can tighten the muscles and hold you back. Surrender mentally and you will just ease into greater depth.

Here is another technique to help free your spine. Cup the back of your head in your hands. Drop your elbows toward the floor and let your upper back spread. Then keep your shoulder blades wide as you inhale and raise your elbows, stretching them away from your sides. Press the back of your head into your hands as you open your chest and lengthen your torso forward. Expand this motion for several breaths and then release your elbows, chest, and head down again. You may find your forward bend to be both deeper and more extended.

As you progressively surrender, stop resisting mentally and start easing into the pose, your pose grows quieter, supported by your legs, stay in touch with the form of the pose by sending delicate physical reminders to yourself whenever you feel the discomfort of misalignment disturbing your inner focus. Keep your heels, legs, thighs and tailbone in contact with the earth and active and your hip joints flexed. Continue to deepen the sensation that your torso is at rest on your legs, allowing your belly to stay on your thighs, feeling it as liquid and cool. Let distractions diminish and blur into the background and immerse yourself completely into the inner terrain of the pose.

Sustaining this inner focus is always a challenge. At some point, it becomes meditation. You will become aware of the struggle as you oscillate between effort and surrender, distraction and attention. Slowly, the influence of your mind becomes more and more obvious. You may be surprised by your resistance to prolonging the pose, particularly if you are quite flexible but not accustomed to holding the pose for long. At this point, whatever your tendencies, the mental challenges you encounter are the most likely threats to deepening your practice. A host of emotions will play upon your mind, and you thought this was a mere hamstring stretch! As you deepen your pose, you’ll encounter struggles that create agitation and sabotage a balanced, sattvic experience. You are determined to stay, no matter what, even though your whole being is begging for relief!

Shift your focus to the inner rhythm of your breath. It will be your guide. You can benefit from each insight that accompanies the process. With time and practice, Paschimottanasana will become a prolonged, body-oriented meditation.

Paschimottanasana forces you to deal with your resistance, attachments and habits. It teaches you what to hold on to and strengthen and what to leave. Introspection tells you that the mind does constantly influence your yoga. You learn that asana is a way to develop the psychological hardiness that comes from meditation and enlightenment.

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