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Weekly Class Theme: New Beginnings

Patrick in king dancer pose

When I think of “new beginnings,” I often think of the start of a season, the start of a school year, or the start of some large undertaking like starting a new job or moving to a new location.

Of course, new beginnings happen much more often than that. We can look at the astrological calendar and mark our new beginnings according to the new moons. Or we can look at the Gregorian calendar and mark it according to the years, months, weeks, or days.

But really, new beginnings are constantly happening. Literally every single second is a new beginning. Every single moment we have the opportunity to become the person we so long to be.

But how do we really take advantage of that?

Naturally because this is a blog found on YogaRenew, I am of course going to talk about how our yoga practice helps us achieve this. Now, this isn’t just for the sake of it …but it’s true! Yoga is all about stilling the body, mind, and soul in order to be fully present. And it is only in the present moment in which we can make a conscious choice to become a new person.

It’s only in the present moment that we can…

Choose love over shame.
Choose joy over anger.
Choose contentment over regret.
Choose new habits over old habits.

In terms of asana, I am going to focus on the “hardest” asana in Light on Yoga…King Dancer. If you weren’t aware, Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar organizes the asanas in order from easiest to hardest. As we progress through practice and as our bodies become more acquainted with the physical practice of Yogasana, it wouldn’t be wild to say that you’ve probably zoned out in child’s pose at least once.

Hero’s Pose with Cow Face Arms (Virasana with Gomukhasana Arms)

Patrick in hero's pose with cow face arms

  1. Sit on 1-2 blocks with the sit bones on the blocks and the shins on the ground alongside the blocks.
  2. Firm your outer ankle bones in and press the tops of the feet down into the ground.
  3. Take a strap and place it over your right shoulder (no loops or anything are necessary).
  4. Inhale to take your right arm straight to the sky and exhale to bend the right elbow and grab the strap lying across your upper back. You can use your left hand on the right elbow to encourage the hand to walk down the strap towards your bum.
  5. Take your left arm out to the left side of your space, flip the palm to the back of the room, and swim your arm behind your back to grab hold of the strap.
  6. Firm your shoulder blades into the back and towards one another to try and walk your hands together.
  7. Refine alignment of the rest of your body by firming your front ribs in and lengthening the back of your neck.
  8. Hold for about five breaths.
  9. Gently release the strap and repeat on the other side.

Lizard with Quad Stretch (Utthan Pristhasana)

Patrick doing lizard with quad stretch

  1. From downward facing dog, step the right foot outside your right hand.
  2. Lower your left knee onto the floor. Let your hips drop naturally as your knee lowers so you can begin to lengthen the front of your left hip.
  3. Reach your right arm to the back of the room while simultaneously turning the torso to the right. If you’re having trouble here, you can elevate your left hand to a block. If you want to increase the stretch, you can take your left forearm down to the ground.
  4. Bend your left knee so you can catch your left food with your right hand.
  5. Inhale to expand your ribs and exhale to deepen the posture by firming the left bum towards the floor, drawing the shoulder blades together, and twisting to the right.
  6. Hold for about five breaths.
  7. Gently release and repeat on the other side.

Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Patrick in tree pose

  1. Stand in mountain pose. Ensure all four corners of each foot are pressing into the ground and that the legs have integrity, i.e. lift the kneecaps & tone the quads. The standing leg in King Dancer is just as important as all other elements and this helps to establish that importance.
  2. While keeping the right foot grounded, externally rotate and bend your left knee so that your toes are on the floor and the heel of your foot is resting against your inner shin. Press the left knee to the back of the room while pressing your sacrum forward.
  3. Slowly move your left foot up the right leg. Traditionally, the foot is in the inner groin but if going that high forces you out of alignment, go to the level where you can maintain good alignment.
  4. Take your arms overhead and alongside your ears and bring your palms together.
  5. Press your palms together and up to the sky as you lengthen the sides of your torso. If you find that your arms are traveling in front of your face, focus on drawing the shoulder blades towards each other to pull the heads of the shoulders and biceps back.
  6. Hold for about five breaths.
  7. Slowly release to mountain pose.
  8. Repeat on the other side.

Our Peak Pose: King Dancer (Nataranjasana)

Patrick in king dancer pose

  1. Stand in mountain pose. Using the strap that was used in Warrior I, step into the small loop with your left food.
  2. Extend your left leg at the hip (aka bring it behind you) and place the long tail end of the strap over your left shoulder.
  3. Bend your left knee to bring the heel of your foot towards your left sitting bone while simultaneously walking the hands along the strap to create tension in the strap.
  4. With both hands, lengthen the arms and extend the strap up to the sky.
  5. Bend your elbows and walk your hands down the strap towards the upper back and in the direction of your foot.
  6. Hinge your torso forward while continuing to walk your hands along the strap towards your foot. At the same time, lift your left thigh up towards the sky coming into a backbend.
  7. If you can, walk your hands along the strap enough to connect your hands to your foot.
  8. Bring your head to meet your foot as you gaze towards the sky.
  9. Hold for about five breaths.
  10. Gently release out of the pose with control, and repeat on the other side.