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Your Legacy at Death: what matters in life: being a good human or having great abs?

When you die, what do you want people to remember you by? What is your legacy?

 

What matters

At the end of the day, do those super loose hamstrings matter? What is yoga?

Live your yoga. Focus on what matters. Be a good human.

 

*Special thanks to Wendy Cook who shared with me some of her notes from Judith Hanson Lasater‘s workshop on the sacrum and lower back this weekend in Boston. This comic was inspired by said notes and quotes.

UPDATE:
From Wendy’s notes. What inspired this post:
“yoga is every moment: atha yoganusasanam. when we die are people going to say, I miss her loose hamstrings?!!”

and Wendy sums it up so perfectly: “what’s more important: touching your toes or having a kind heart?”

Anatomy of Trapezius: insertions around scapula and acromium of lower, middle, and upper parts from spine attachments

Notes from Brock & Krista Cahill’s yoga workshop. Notes on handstand & bakasana transitions, drawings of trapezius muscle, opening block shoulder sequence, plus various notes and musings.

Balasana (Child's pose) to Ustrasana (Camel Pose) to Balasana transition steps in a comic tri-panel

A simple sketch from after yesterday’s class with Ryan Cunningham at Back Bay Yoga.

Nice to go to class and explore yoga asana practice through the lens of another teacher. In this case, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d done the transition into Ustrasana (or Camel pose) from Balasana (child’s pose). Ryan’s sequence was particularly well thought out to build up a fluid, waving spine which supported back and forth the transitions between backbends and forward bends.

In all, a lovely class and interesting vinyasa to work with. Thanks Ryan.

 

Starting in child’s pose, hands holding the heels.

Inhale–lead with the head and heart up to camel. Wave spine up through backbend. (Stay)
Exhale–fold forward. again lead with the head, sternum, and heart. The head is the last thing to come down.

Start and end points at top right and bottom left corners.

Balasana (Child's pose) to Ustrasana (Camel Pose) to Balasana transition steps in a comic tri-panel

Drawing notes:

Since this was less a pose than a vinyasa–a series of movements linked with breaths–I was thinking about time and time-lapse photography. Comics and panels do a nice job of this time traveling sensation. I like the idea of each moment being sketchy. As such, each individual “frame” was quickly drawn, speed style to not get stuck, as the momentum was forward and on.

I sketched this series from bottom up, bottom to top, left to right, but when I put the panels together I realized it can be read from top to bottom, right to left, which is nice, seeing as this vinyasa and transition doesn’t have to start any particular place. It oscillates back and forth from balasana to ustrasana and back again. Like a pendulum.

Illustration of a grounded savasana. The soles of the feet touch the wall. The yoga sketch says: "Ground feet into the wall."; "Charge up body from ground.", " 'Charge' up from the ground/earth." "Imagine earth as a reservoir of energy, electricity, capacity. Ground into this; soak it up; get recharged from it.

The following is part of a series on Restorative Poses. Over the next weeks and months I will be posting some sketches highlighting restorative poses you can do at home. Each sketch will focus on a pose, action, or sensation. Please leave any questions below!

Grounded Savasana or Grounding Corpse or Final Relaxation Pose

Illustration of a grounded savasana. The soles of the feet touch the wall. The yoga sketch says: "Ground feet into the wall."; "Charge up body from ground.", " 'Charge' up from the ground/earth." "Imagine earth as a reservoir of energy, electricity, capacity. Ground into this; soak it up; get recharged from it.

Savasana literally means “Corpse Pose”. This pose is used at the end (or beginning!) of a yoga class or practice to relax deeply. By pausing at the end of your practice in savasana you enable the physical and subtle bodies to integrate the work you have done.

I love this variation of savasana. It is incredibly grounding and the sensation and experience it provides is most exquisite.

I discovered it accidentally after a practice where I had made heavy use of the wall. Once I finally lay down my body was too close to the wall. My legs were straight but the soles of my feet connected into the wall. My first instinct was to move away by pushing off, but the curiosity in my mind said “why not stay?”

So I did.

And let me tell you, this was the most incredible savasana. No, it’s not the same as the usual, no-wall-middle-of-the-room savasana. Its different. It has a different flavor. It tastes different. It’s like discovering a new blend of coffee or tea–familiar yet layers of complexity revealing themselves as you smell, taste, and sit with the warm cup in your hand and on your tongue.

There is a depth to this variation.

For me, the depth is not immediate. In fact, most times I use this grounded savasana variation I start out all excited about how great it’s going to be, only to be confused by how weird it feels at first. The first initial connection of my feet to the wall feel kind of strange. Your feet bones, ankles, femurs, pelvis all have to adjust–they’re standing on the floor, but not.

But once I settle and give it a bit of time, this savasana variation just feels so charged. It feels like you are charging up from the earth; it’s really connecting, really grounding. I feel super connected and integrated; solid and secure. And when we are grounded and integrated there is an incredible lightness and gaiety.

Basically, it feels amazing.

I encourage you to try it out. Give it a little time once you are in the pose. Let the complexity of sensation build up and play out. Try out subtle variations. Leave comments below–I’m curious how it goes for you!

 

Benefits of Grounded Savasana

Savasana is beneficial for everyone.

This grounded variation may be particularly beneficial when you are feeling:

  • anxiety
  • nervous
  • spacey
  • flakey
  • out of place
  • Vata-disorder (Ayurveda)
  • overwhelmed
  • pulled in many directions;
  • stressed
  • after lots of back bends
  • after lots of inversions

 

How to set up the pose Read More

Restorative Yoga-Supta Baddha Konasana-Bacigalupe

The following is part of a series on Restorative Poses. Over the next weeks and months I will be posting some sketches highlighting restorative poses you can do at home. Each sketch will focus on a pose, action, or sensation. Please leave any questions below!

Supta Baddha Konasana or Reclining Bound Angle Pose

Supta Baddha Konasana, literally means “Reclining Bound Angle Pose“. This pose opens the pelvis, groins, and chest. It is one of my student’s favorite restorative poses. Once you get comfortable in this pose you won’t want to get out of it!

In this position the soft abdominal and pelvic organs are gently exposed to the sky. Normally, we spend the day protecting these areas. As such, we carry a lot of tension in the front body. If we can gently allow these areas to soften, we encourage circulation and reap a host of benefits.

 

Benefits of Supta Baddha Konasana

Supta Baddha Konasana opens the whole front of the body: pelvis, belly, chest, and throat. It is especially beneficial for the pelvic organs.

In this pose, the legs are supported. The inner groins can soften and the lower belly and pelvic area can soften. When we release tension (by softening) in an area, we allow circulation to flow. Fresh blood and lymphatic fluid can circulate in the pelvic region. As such this pose is very healing for the pelvis.

Since it promotes circulation around the pelvis and the front body, Supta Baddha Konasana is often recommended for:

  • women, in all stages of life
  • supporting fertility
  • pregnancy
  • easing PMS symptoms
  • easing menstrual cramps
  • improving indigestion
  • increasing flexibility in the inner hips/groins

In addition, Supta Baddha Konasana can be very grounding and soothing. It calms the sympathetic nervous system.You can practice this pose when you seek to:

  • calm anxiety
  • reduce stress
  • soothe and comfort
  • improve focus
  • calm and clear a scattered mind
  • reduce tension
  • relieve headaches

I can personally speak to headache relief this yoga pose provides. My best cure for bad migraines is supta baddha konasana coupled with several supported forward fold variations [restorative yoga poses post for next time]. The combo releases tension and gets me into “parasympathetic nervous system” mode.

To get the most benefit our of this pose, focus on 1) releasing your body weight into the props and floor and 2) releasing tension in the low belly by softening. More tips are below. Read More

Head Heart Hearth


Movement. Woozy. Wild Thing. Front Heart Energy.

Head Heart Hearth

Sacrum

 

You might also like the upcoming continuation of this series: Yoga Art: Spiral Twist: Sacrum Kidneys Heart

and the continuation of the front heart opening poses in Yoga Art: Heart Opening Poses: Front, Back, and Ground Study

Or the Yoga Art: Kidney Ribs Study: Thoracic Heart Cavity

Backbend Poses- Front Heart Energy

A potpourri explosion of asanas. [four sketches].

Backbends. Forward bends. Breathe open shoulder blades, to sides.
Open Front of Heart. Open Back of Heart. Balance and find ground.

You might also like Yoga Art: Kidney Ribs Study: Thoracic Heart Cavity

Or the Yoga Art: Grounding Study

Study Ground 1.2 Tadasana Handstand

Balasana. Child’s Pose. Earth. Center of Gravity. Center Line Balance. Spine. Feet. Hands.

  • Ground through your feet + hands.
  • Dance Balance through your center (of gravity, aka by the pelvis.)

Tadasana. Adho mukha vrksasana (Handstand). A potpourri of poses: Vrksasana (Tree pose), Lotus, Parsvakonasana, Urdhva Dhanurasana, Virabhadrasana 2, and Virabhadrasana 3.

 

You might also like this post on a grounded variation of savasana.

Center-Bacigalupe

Parsvakonasana. Side Angle. Side Bends, Side Waist, Twist Ground. Cones of torso shoulders, hips, body. Heart. Center Plane. Yoga Center of Gravity. Pelvis. Sacrum. Heart.

Restorative Yoga-Supported Child's Pose (Balasana)-Bacigalupe

The following is part of a series on Restorative Poses. Over the next months I will be posting some sketches highlighting restorative poses you can do at home. Each sketch will focus on a pose, action, or sensation. Please leave any questions below!

Balasana or Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose, or Balasana, is many yoga student’s favorite pose. Balasana may start a yoga practice session or close it. Or it may just be a welcome break or pause in a vigorous flow. For some students, however, Balasana is not comfortable. For these students, child’s pose can actually a source of frustration and stress. While everyone else is blissed out, they feel pain in their ankles, knees, hips, neck, you name it. If you find Balasana uncomfortable or even painful take note!  This supported variation can give even the most cranky bodies a chance to delight in Balasana.

 

Child’s Pose Benefits

Child’s pose naturally brings the body into fetal position. It is soothing and comforting. Think of a baby being cradled and rocked over its mother’s arm.

In this position the limbs protect the soft abdominal and pelvic organs. The back of the heart, the kidneys, and the sacrum are gently opened as they are exposed to the sky.

The posture allows you to feel the breath in the back body. We normally live in the front body–our eyes and line of sight propels us forward. We are on constant alert to protect our vulnerable organs from “attack” in front of us.

Child’s pose allows us to settle into the back body. Your attention shifts and you feel grounded.

[Visualize grounding in balasana via this post where drawings and artwork explore grounding and the center of gravity in yoga poses, including balasana and tadasana.]

The gentle cradling of the abdominal cavity allows the abdominal organs to soften, supporting digestion. The kidneys gently open. When done correctly (i.e. hips well supported) the low back releases. The groundedness of this pose can also help calm anxiety, stress, and scattered minds.

 

How to set up the pose

Traditionally, the instruction for regular Balasana is to come to hands and knees, uncurl your toes, bring the big toes together and bring the hips back towards the heels.

In this restorative version, first build up a support with (firm) blankets or a bolster. If blankets aren’t available, try firm pillows or lots of firm towels. I usually tell students to start with a support that is higher than you might think. You can always lower the support height.

Then place the knees to either side of the support, set your hips down on the support, and reach your belly over the length of your support. Rest your forearms on the floor along the support. Place your head so you neck is most comfortable (for example, place your forehead on the support or turn your head to one side.)

 

Tips and Hints:

  • Make sure your hips are entirely on the support and not floating in the air. Well-supported hips = happy low-back.
  • If your knees feel compressed (especially if child’s pose is usually uncomfortable for you): try adding more height to your support. 
  • If your knees or forearms don’t comfortably rest on the floor: place a blanket or pillow beneath them.
  • If your ankles are uncomfortable: place a rolled up towel between the floor and the tops of each ankle.
  • If your neck is cranky and uncomfortable : try placing a small pillow or folded towel or blanket beneath your head. Also, try turning your head to one side and resting on your cheek.

 

While in the pose

Close your eyes if this is comfortable. Allow the skin of your face to relax.

Let the entire weight of your body drop into the support. Especially feel the support under your pelvis/hips, under your heart, and under your head.

As your weight settles into the bolster, blanket, and floor, watch your breath. See if you can observe the inhales expand the back body. Work your way down your back. Inhaling into the back of your heart, the back of your ribs, the backs of your kidneys, the lower back, and finally into the sacrum.

Turn your head to the other side half way through.

Stay as long as you feel comfortable sweetness.

 

To come out of the pose

As always, move slowly. First bringing awareness through the feet, legs, and hips. Then become aware of the low back, mid back, shoulders, arms and  hands. Find the ground beneath your hands and gently press up to seated.

Slide off the support and sit quietly for a few moments, allowing your body to adjust to gravity.

Smile.

Disclaimer: Consult with your doctor before trying these postures or those of any exercise program. Yoga In The Sky, this website, this website’s owners and this website’s contributors are not responsible for any injury, pain, harm, or distress that may result from the information contained herein. You are responsible for your own health.

Please use common sense. Pain is NEVER good.

Website by Bethania Design. All content © 2009 – 2013 by Bethania Bacigalupe.