Headstand / Sirshasana

Hi guys,

We are working in our Yoga classes on  Headstand Postures / Sirshasana (sanskrit name). They are incredible as you stay in an inverted pose, build up lots of muscle strength and help you concentrate and clear your mind.

There are many nice variations for Headstand Postures, for example the “Supported Headstand Posture / Salamba Sirshasana”. You place your hands in front of your head forming a triangle, so the arms can support your Headstand. How does it work?

Sit in Thunderbold / Vajrasana with your hands in Namaste in front of your chest. Take 3 deep breathes to relax your body and mind.  When you feel ready to start,  bend forward, place both hands and the crown of the head on your mat. Make sure that your forearm and upper arm are at about 90° and both hands are in line. Both hands and the head should form a triangle. Arrange your head, your arms and hands until you feel comfortable. Relax your shoulders (push shoulders away from your ears).

Supported Headstand Posture / Salamba Sirshasana Video

Now lift up your knees and your hips and straighten your legs, have your feet together, and your toes tucked in. Again make sure your hands, neck and head are comfortable. Always listen to your body. If everything feels fine, you can start walking your feet towards your face, lifting up your back until it almost becomes straight towards the ceiling. Your legs are now close to your chest. Roll up your spinal cord a bit more and stand on your tiptoes. You can rest here, and breath for 3 -5 deep breathes until you finish in childs pose. Otherwise:

Try lifting one foot, leg bent, then lift your other foot, and hold both feet together in that position, legs still bent. Stay here for 3 -5 complete breathes to get acustomed to the Inverted Pose and, with training, build up muscle strength in your abdomen and arms before you go further. You should be able to hold this position for a minute or longer.

Next, start raising your thighs slowly and carefully, balancing your body weight, until they are almost in line with the spinal cord. Then lift your lower legs up and bring them in line as well.  Now you are in the Supported Headstand Position. Make sure your head and neck are fine, keep on balancing the weight and stay up as long as it is comfortable. Breath normally and try to relax.

When you wish to finish, bend your legs slowly and lower them in a controlled way to the floor, the same way as you came up. When your feet touch the ground again, keep your head on the ground and just sit in childs pose for a while before you raise your head again. Take your time.

If you are practising by yourself it might be helpful to be near a wall. You can place your head about 10 to 20cm away from the wall, so that in case you loose balance the wall will hold you or you can ask someone to assist you.

Beginners should always start slowly while listening to their body, starting one step after the other. If it is too hard for your head, double the mat, and make sure both hands are completely flat on the mat or floor.

Benefits of headstand: This posture is very energizing, and helps to keep your body healthy, balances the repiratory, digestive and circulatory systems, and relieves stress. It tones and strenghtens yours arms, abdomen and legs. It is said to be the greatest of all Asanas, as it has many benefits when practised regularly.

Sirshasana in general should not be practised if you have neck problems, heart disease, high blood pressure, inflammations or problems with the eyes, ears, digestive or respiratory system.  Do not practise when you do not feel well. Do not force yourself into a pose you can not do. Yoga is about practising, being in that very moment, knowing your mental and physical strength and improving step by step.

Have fun!

The green and underlined postures can be clicked on to find more information about that particular pose. If you would like to have more information also about HATHA YOGA in general, please visit my Webpage by clicking on this link: www.abouthathayoga.com

If you like what you read or have any comments, please contact me and give me a like and subscribe for my newsletters. I post whenever I have time to add something. Namaste !!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring and Yoga

Wintertime is over and spring season started. Yip. It is the favorite season for many. As the days get longer and warmer, plants and trees start to grow and flower, birds singing in the trees and life is full of energy.  It is a perfect season to fresh up, clean up and increase our energy level as well. Being more outside in nature, meeting up more often with friends, starting or extending with exercises, eating more fruits and vegetables and letting go of things in mind and at home comes almost naturally.

Maybe you always wanted to start with YOGA, but never really managed to do so. NOW is the perfect time to bring it in your daily routine. Here are some very nice YOGA postures, combined in a little flow, which you can practise e.g. in the morning or evening or whenever you have some time in between.

You only need a few minutes for this nice short flow of HATHA YOGA postures and you can easily practise it as a routine (every morning at the same time, e.g. 7:30am) to get used to YOGA if you are a beginner or to get used to practising regularly by yourself. That is the most important thing!. Go ahead and pick a good time for you to practise and then JUST DO IT for a week, you will see after that your body is getting used to the routine and does it almost automatically.

Please click on the above video and you can view the flow easily.  Before you start make sure you are completely comfortable and have read the above description of the exercises.

 

EASY FLOW  with

Thunderbolt/Vajrasana,  Cat and Cow/Marjariasana and Bitilasana, Downward facing dog/ Adho Mukha Svanasana, Childspose/ Balasana

Start sitting in VAJRASANA (Sanskrit name) on your lower legs, knees hipwide apart, your back is straight and your shoulders relaxed.                      With an INHALE, come to a kneeling position, lift both arms over your head and bend your upper body slightly backwards, in BACKWARD BEND.      With an EXHALE lower both arms and place hands on the mat, right under your shoulders, in CAT POSITION, arch up your back.  INHALE and raise your head while depressing your spinal cord, your arms are always straight in this position.  Next EXHALE lower your head, and arch up the spinal cord.      With your next INHALE come to a basic position with a straight back and head in line with your spinal cord, then tuck in your toes. With an EXHALE lift up your hips and come to DOWNWARD FACING DOG, arms and back are straight and in line, legs can be bend but try to straighten them as much as possible. The goal in this position to have the back straight. Breath continously in and out through your nose.  With an INHALE come down with your knees into basic CAT POSITION again. EXHALE and sit on your lower legs in CHILDS POSE, stretching your arms to the front. With an INHALE walk your hands to your knees and roll up vertebrae by vertebrae until you sit again on your lower legs in VAJRASANA.

Repeat this flow like 3 times in the beginning and remember it, so you can practise this as a routine easily every day.  Lateron it is easy to combine  more postures or stay longer, e.g. 3 to 5 breath cycles, meaning 3 or 5 deep in- and exhales while staying in the posture.

Please check out the VIDEO part on my Webpage www.abouthathayoga.com as I will add more videos with variations to this easy flow for you, so you can continue and extend your YOGA FLOW.

Thank you for reading and watching. If you like it, please subscribe to receive more interesting news about HATHA YOGA in the future.

NAMASTE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Yoga a good option for me?

Frequently asked questions:

1.) Is Yoga a good option for me?
If you are looking for sports that

    • improves your physical health
    • makes your body more flexible
    • improves your overall well-being
    • distracts you from thinking too much about too many things at the same time
    • gives you a break from stress
    • connects your body with your mind
    • releases tensions and/or
    • helps you prevent backpains, headaches and stiffness

then YES, Yoga is the perfect fit for you. It can be practised by anyone, no matter what age or abilty. Yoga can be done while sitting on a chair, on a mat in lying or standing position. This is a non-competitive technique with the only goal: to help yourself with whatever you want to be helped with (as above mentioned). It is not important how many postures or exercises you can do or how well you can do them, it is not important what you wear or how flexible you are. The only important thing is to challenge yourself in any revised exercise or technique and surpass your own goals.  If you are ever on Mallorca and would like to try out Yoga, please contact me and we can arrange to have a class of Hatha Yoga together. I offer group and private classes.

If you like what you are reading, please give my post a LIKE.  If you have any questions about Yoga yourself, please do not hesitate to ask.

Namaste!

P.S. To access my webpage, please click here: AboutHathaYoga.com  

 

Children and Yoga?

Children and Yoga?

Children love to play, run, be loud, be silent, be happy, imagine things and go on fantasy trips. They want to explore, have fun and show a general interest in lots of different subjects, as in animals and nature.

In doing that they develop to their best. Our job as a teacher, parent or friend is to support and help them in doing what they love. Today even little children may feel pressure and stress, already flooded by so many stimulations from their surroundings. Some become shy, create fear to perform in front of others, develop learning or communication problems.

Yoga, here Hatha Yoga, can help them to keep body and mind connected.  It is an old tradition from India, combining breathing, active movements (postures, asanas), time of silence and relaxation. It is non competitive. Especially in the beginning doing a perfect pose is not the goal. The goal is to explore Yoga with fun while learning to relax and combine breathing with the postures. Yoga can be learned step by step, starting from a young age, for example 3 years old and may be practised after for a life time!

Yoga kids

 

Benefits in practising YOGA are:

  • to improve co-ordination and posture
  • to become more flexible
  • to be able to focus and concentrate better
  • to increase attention span
  • to understand how to relax
  • to practise a non competitive activity
  • to tone and build up core and muscle strength
  • to learn to accept and respect themselves and others.

 

They can use YOGA in any situation of their life. In dealing with stress, pressure or fear. Using a relaxation or breathing method (pranayama) or allowing themselves to be strong as the lion, wise like an owl, fearless as a tiger or relaxed as a cat. Whatever fits best to them personally!

Yoga Kid balloons

 

 

You are very welcome to share your experiences regarding Yoga with children with me in sending a comment to this post and/or a LIKE. For further information, please click on the underlined green words! or access my webpage AboutHathaYoga.com 

Mudras

Hi guys, today I like to answer one question which is frequently asked.

What does “Mudra” mean and what is it ?

Mudra is a Sanskrit word for mark or gesture.  In Hatha Yoga we use a lot of hand gestures when we do meditation or breathing exercises. You also find them in Asanas, for example in Natarajasana/Lord Shivas Pose (a balancing pose with a straight arm performing Jnana Mudra). They help you connect and have influence on the energy flow in our bodies. Some mudras involve parts of the body or even the whole body!  Amazing how these “small” gestures can help us concentrate and focus more and even redirect the energy flow in our bodies.

Try it, and then really be aware of when you are holding your index and thumb finger together performing a mudra and all the many nerve roots in your fingertips are connecting, allowing a stimulation, an energy flow and redirecting the flow into your body!

Let me introduce 4 different Hand gestures you can use and which we often use in our practise of meditation, pranayama and asanas

1.Chin Mudra

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Thumb and index finger are touching and forming an O.  All other fingers are relaxed but slightly apart. It is said that this is the gesture of consciousness. When you use it in a meditation pose, place your hands on your knees with the palms facing upwards (receiving pose). You face your palms upward showing you are open in mind and consciousness.

2. Jnana Mudra

Jnana Mudra

This Mudra is said to be the Gesture of “knowledge” and is performed in the same way as Chin Mudra except that you place your hands on your knees with the palms facing downwards (“giving pose”). Also here the thumb and index finger touch and, along with the knees, they connect and redirect the prana (energy flow) into the body and brain. You also use the Jnana Mudra for meditation and breathing techniques.

3. Dhyani Mudra

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Right hand will be placed comfortable on the left hand, both palms facing upwards, thumbs can touch. Both hands rest in your lap completely relaxed while you do your meditation or breathing exercise. You have probably already seen this mudra on pictures or statues of Buddhas. The mudra is symbolizing freedom coming from the inside, purity, and emptiness.

4. Nasagra Mudra, nose tip position

Anuloma II Anna

Index and middle finger are placed between the eyebrows, and your  thumb, ring finger, and small finger are relaxed on the sides of your face. Your index finger and your middle finger should be straight. While having the index and middle finger on the spot between your eyebrows you will probably develop a very relaxed feeling, being able to concentrate better and focus more, e.g. on your breathing exercise as in Anuloma Viloma.

Have fun in exploring and trying out these Mudra exercises.  You are very welcome to share your experiences with me in sending a comment and a LIKE. For further information, please click on the underlined green words!       And to access my webpage, click here: AboutHathaYoga.com

Many thanks, muchas gracias und vielen Dank!!

 

 

 

Meditation

About Meditation, for Beginner, Advanced and every single person!

I love nature, to swim and snorkel in the ocean, walk in the mountains, work in the garden or just sit or lay outside in silence, feeling a bit of a breeze on my face or listening to the birds.  And I learned that when you do all these things with awareness, and focus on that very moment you might be already there, doing meditation. Like kids, when they are lost in their own world, their own fantasies and creations. It is when we calm our mind completely and everything around us becomes peaceful naturally and automatically. Then we disconnect from all our worries or discomforts and we are just there in that very moment.

There are also some very nice techniques to meditate! These can be shown as either
  • Objective meditations  focusing on a statue, picture, candle, flower or any object.
  • Active meditations  in Yoga for example, practising asanas (postures) or a series of asanas (as in the Sun Salutations),  doing walking meditation or karma yoga (e.g. helping others or working/volunteering)
  • inactive meditations  sitting still and silent, focusing on your breathing, on sounds or imagining and concentrating on light or colour.

The goal of meditation is to calm the mind, to center attention, to focus naturally and to be completely aware of what you are doing in that very moment. No noise or distractions will really affect you, they might even be integrated into your meditation.

If you like to practise meditation, you will see that it is not always easy.  Just stick with it, as you do with your yoga practise or any other routine you have, no matter how it goes … just stick with it and don’t let it slip away. Every day, every single time you practise will probably be different in the output, you might experience a different awareness and feel a very spontaneous or sensational feeling during your practise (e.g. peace, freedom or space)

Beginners might like to start with a 5 to 10 minute meditation in the morning. When you practise, use the same time. This will help you to create a routine and it will be easier to continue. After practising for a while, you might find that you can increase the time of practise to about 20 min easily. No fixed length of meditation is needed, adjust the time to your own needs and likes. Recommended times for the practise is sunrise or sunset or whenever you have time for yourself without disturbances, especially in the beginning.

Start position for a meditation

You can meditate sitting in a chair (feet hipwide open and completely on the floor) or sitting in a meditation asana, as Thunderbolt position or Easy crossed legs. Always have your back straight so the energy can freely flow along your spine. Your shoulders and arms should be relaxed, hands lay loose in your lap or on your knees.  In the beginning you might like to lay down for your practise, this is nice to start with, as long as you do not fall asleep.

Before you start with the meditation give yourself a couple of deep and steady breath to arrive and calm the mind.  When your mind is jumping to other thoughts, do not worry or question it, just let it pass or send it away with your next exhale, as if you put the thought on a cloud…..  In the beginning choose a meditation you like and stick with it, the more you practise it, the more you will enjoy it.

An example for an inactive meditation

Breathing meditation

while you sit or lay down comfortably with your spine erected, you may close your eyes. Breathe deeply, slowly and steadily through your nose, in and out. Be aware and focus on your breath, try to feel the air passing through your nose, how it touches the sides of your nostrils with every inhale and exhale. Find your own breathing rhythm, without forcing or holding your breath, just a gentle and conscious breathing.

You will find that your mind will probably, sooner or later drift away, but that’s fine. It also shows us that we are, mostly, constantly busy with all kind of thoughts, from shopping and to do lists to work, family, the neighbours… and that’s why its great to practise meditation to let go of all these distractions and focus only on important things. Be aware of your thoughts, but don’t let them disturb your meditation.

Come back to the breathing and if you like, count, while you inhale, to 4 and while you exhale to 6, while staying in your own breathing rhythm… Later, stop the count and just continue focusing on your breath.

Variation I Focus on your breath and imagine the scent of a rose while you inhale, when you exhale bring a smile on your face!. Continue inhaling the scent of the rose and while exhaling set a smile again!.

Variation II  Focus on your breath and imagine a warm, clear light. Inhale the light and when you exhale, imagine to release fear, negativity and darkness. With every inhale breath in more warm, clear light, which goes into every tiny cell of your body. And then exhale and let go of negativity, darkness and fear.

Practise about 2 to 10 minutes in the beginning. Its better to start for a short period of time but regularly!. Try to practise every day or as often as you can, the more the better!  At the end of the meditation, continue to sit still for a while with your eyes open and with your normal breathing cycle.

Be open on your experiences and have fun in exploring!  Your benefits will be a calm mind, and/or a free and open spirit, a more balanced life. It may help you to deal with problems in your daily life better, as you can use these techniques to focus and concentrate more.

If you like, give my post a LIKE, and if you want to know more, e.g. walking meditation, let me know and I am happy to help you with that.

Namaste!

P.S. you can click on the underlined green words to get additional informations! And to access my webpage: AboutHathaYoga.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alternate Nostril Breathing / Anuloma Viloma or Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

Different Breathing Techniques / Pranayama

In addition to my first Blog about Pranayama in general, I´d like to introduce you to a very powerful breathing technique we regularly practise in our Yoga classes.

It is called the

Alternate Nostril Breathing / Anuloma Viloma or Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

Wow, this one has a lot of benefits to body and mind. It helps

  • to calm the mind and the nervous system,
  • to strengthen the respiratory system (great technique for people with Asthma)
  • to balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain, optimizing both sides
  • to concentrate better
  • to focus more
  • to release tensions and settle stress.
  • to stimulate the Nadis or energy channels in our body

According to scientists our normal breathing does alternate between the nostrils about every 2 to 3 hours (may vary) without us actively noticing. But if this can´t be done by itself because e.g. of a constant blockage in the nose it can have a negative effect on our health as one hemisphere of the brain will be stimulated dominantly and the other less.

You can practise the Alternate Nostril Breathing perfectly before your start with your Asanas / Yoga postures as it helps you relax and focus. But this technique is also very helpful when you feel a bit out of space … nervous, anxiety, too many to-dos on the list, stress, problems with sleeping or if you just want to focus on balancing yourself.

Practise when you are of good health, no cold, fever or blocked nostrils.

In general keep your breath gentle, and in a natural flow without forcing yourself to inhale or exhale more or for a longer time.

How to practise:

  1. Sit comfortably with easy crossed legs in meditation pose or if that is difficult, sit on a chair, with your legs hipwide open, feet completely on the    floor. In both positions keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Start with a couple of normal inhales and exhales through your nose.
  2. For Beginners: place your left hand comfortable on your knee (or on your left leg).  For Advanced Yogis and Yoginis: Place your left hand in Chin Mudra or Jnana Mudra on your left knee. (These are Hand Gestures. The thumb and the index finger are touching and forming an O, in Jnana Mudra the palm of your hand is on your knee, in Chin the palm of your hand is facing up).
  3. Place right index and middle finger gently between your eyebrows, fingers are straight, thumb on the right and ring- and small finger are on the left
  4. Now close your right nostril gentle with your thumb and inhale gently and steady through your left nostril only.
  5. When you´ve finished inhaling, exhale gently and steady on the same side of your nostril. Keep about the same frequency for your in- and exhales.
  6. Then close your left nostril gently with your ringfinger and open the right nostril to in- and exhale there gently and steady as well.

This is one round.

After completing the exhale on the right nostril close the nostril with your thumb again, open left nostril and in- and exhale there. You can practise 4 to 6 rounds, but always listen to your body. When the breathing gets tough or you feel dizzy or uncomfortable do less rounds or stop with the next exhale. Always finish your rounds with an exhale. After finishing release your right hand, place it on your knee or leg in same pose as the left hand is already and stay for a couple of normal breath in this position. Feel the sensation of the exercise.

In the beginning and without any practise before, start with deep inhales and exhales. Later when you get used to the technique you can start a steady inhale while counting to 4 and a steady exhale while counting to 6.  (advanced: inhale for 5 and exhale for 8)

You will find that with regular practise you lengthen your breath automatically and with that, you will be able to increase the counts to your needs and liking.

I wish you much fun in exploring and practising this nice Breathing technique. If you like it, please give my post a LIKE, and if you want to know more about the variations this practise has, let me know and I am happy to post those as well!.

Namaste!

P.S. you can click on the underlined green words to get additional informations! And to access my webpage: AboutHathaYoga.com

 

Books

If you like to read and would like to go into more details, there are a couple of very good books on the market. Those I mention in this post I have read myself and are my recommendations, based on my experience with Yoga and as a Yoga teacher.

One of my absolute favorite books is:

¨How Yoga Works¨ by Geshe Michael Roach.

How Yoga works

This book was actually recommended to me by my friend Sheena. She was very excited about it as it explains a lot of YOGA, how it is supposed to be.  For example you will find phrases out of the old book, the “Sutras of Patanjali”, which is considered as the source of YOGA. But here it is explained so everyone can understand them easily in connection to an interesting story. It gives you a great insight and deeper understanding of how Yoga really is and works. For me an absolute must to read. To check it out, click here How Yoga works

German/Deutsch: Dieses Buch gibt es auch auf Deutsch. Selbst wenn man gut englisch spricht, mag man es vielleicht doch lieber in seiner Muttersprache lesen. Fuer mehr Informationen und Kaufoptionen koennt ihr diesen Link Damit Yoga wirkt anklicken und er bringt euch direkt zur Amazon.de Seite.

 

¨A year of living your Yoga¨ by Judith Hanson Lasater, PH.D., P.T. 

A Year of living your Yoga

Daily practises to shape your life. This powerful book was given to me as a gift. For every day of the year you have an aphorism. Aphorisms with different themes, e.g. about attention, letting go, enjoying life, fear etc. you can use for yourself as an intention for the day or your Yoga practise. Every aphorism is explained and gives more ways of thinking about it. This book is useable over many years, you can use it in order of the days or just open a page and choose one of them to read and to think about. Perfect to begin your day with as well. If you want more information and pricing, click here  A year of living your Yoga

 

Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff

Yoga Anatomy

This book is great if you are curious about how your muscles work, how tendances and legaments work together when you are in a Pose? Many, many detailed drawings and explanation will show you exactly that and much more.  As well it explains breathing in detail, your spinal cord, your muscle system and many asanas / poses in lying, sitting and standing positions. Check out for more information and click right here: Yoga Anatomy .

German / Deutsch: Auch dieses Buch ist auf Deutsch erhaeltlich. Den Link fuer weitere Informationen findet ihr hier: Yoga Anatomie

Pranayama

PRANAYAMA

Pranayama is translated as the “control of breath”, the “life force”. Breathing techniques as there are different ways you can bring your breath or your ¨life force¨ to special parts of your body or increase the flow of breath in your body or – and this is a main reason – to be more aware of your breath!.

In general Breathing Techniques are good for everyone (if you are not sick with cold, fever or any breath related illness). It may be practised in a comfortable, calm place where you can practise without interruptions and sit in a comfortable meditation pose or on a chair with a straight spinal cord.

Pranayama helps the body and the mind to stay healthy and can even extent your life span. It is really fascinating what we can actively do to prevent us from sickness or diseases. Your breath can calm your mind and help that it may flow freely in your meridians (NADIS) and chakras. It may even lead you to an advanced higher spiritual experience.

There are different breathing techniques, which can be used to bring breath everywhere in your body or to special areas in your body.

  • Pooraka (Inhalation)
  • Rechaka (Exhalation)
  • Antar Kumbhaka (internal breath retention)
  • Bahir Kumbhaka (external breath retention)