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"The postures of yoga are a focused seat designed to bring the scattered mind inside."           

From the skin to the core, the postures of yoga start with the body but do not end there. Called asanas they are known as a seat; a physical position with a focus. When I began learning to practice the postures I was focused on how far I could go physically; what the body could do with consistent practice. What I learned over the years, however, is that the postures are only a way of channelling energy, emotions, expressing oneself and developing the ability "to stay". In fact, the postures have very little to do with the body. The postures are about one thing: meditation.

When we see the physical practice it can be easy to mistake the external form for an inner experience. The asanas are more like the shell of a turtle in which there are hidden mysteries that the physical eye cannot detect. Grabbing one's ankles in a backbend might happen after prolonged practice, but it is not necessarily the goal or even yoga. That said, the techniques of the practice should be learned properly as they develop the foundation for the practice. As the practice evolves, however, technique alone does not bring one deeper. It is learning to watch and be with the breath as well as becoming aware of the mental tendency to push at the body´s edges rather than feel the body´s edges. These are not the same thing. The videos here include a commentary on the techniques including the breath and the benefits. Other discussions shed light on the internal practice such as learning to watch the breath, the mental fluctuations and the body itself.  

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The drop-back begins from standing (tadasana, mountain) to wheel (urdhva dhanurasana, upward bow). The pre-requisite is  wheel from the ground up and the half-waist bending pose from standing. Once you have conquered the fear of dropping your head backward these two postures get combined.

The focus is on the breath and moving with it. Exhale, rechaka, drop-back, inhale, pooraka, come up. By firmly pressing onto your feet, engage the buttocks and thighs to lift from behind. Extend from the hips, along the waist and in the chest. This creates space rather than compresses the lower back. A common cheat is to sneak the feet outward. However, this rotates your hip flexors out. You may get up but you do not develop the correct alignment. Learning to use your legs allows the flow to continue while coming up. Flexing in the knees creates fluidity on the descending motion.

To stand from wheel, use the force of the hands to rock back and forth and keep the thighs active. Roll the shoulders down and back. On the way up lift from behind; on the way down open the chest and heart wide. This practice is not recommended for beginners.

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Backbend Vinyasa Flow




The backbend vinyasa is focused on a cominbation of postures that flow from one pose to another. The advanced extensions are brought together after the basic cobra, the bow and their variations are learned. Unlike what it may look like it is more than flexibility. Each combination is directed by watching the breath. Both the cobra and bow are very good for opening the lungs, chest and shoulder girdle. They also expose vulerable areas prone to being closed.   

Similarly the cobra and bow strengthen the abdomen and the ability to roll back and forth. The focus is to balance the weight onto the abdomen and allow the weight to either move you forward or backward to extend the shoulders and chest. A point overlooked in practice is the understanding of holding a group of muscles and using them to allow another group to stretch or extend. When the balance is maintained this naturally evolves  while moving from one extreme to the next.          

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