“Asanas are just a puzzle” – Laurie Blakeney notes part 2

This is a continuation of the notes from the first basic class. The second hour was spent on standing poses: Vrksasana and a “vinyasa” of Utthita Parsva Konasana -> Utthita Trikonasana -> Ardha Chandrasana and back in same order.

In Vrksasana we did straight away in the middle of the room. Instructions were to lift from the perineum. She did not have us in udrvha namaskar, but a hybrid of urdvha hastasana and urdvha namaskar “lifting from the wrists.” She noted that bent elbows collapse the abdomen.

In our “vinyasa” we worked in depth on “skating” the back foot into ardha chandrasana from trikonasana. Rather than clunky movements getting the leg to lift, we moved the back foot in slightly and corresponded the straighting of the the standing knee to the lifting of the leg in one fluid movement. Then, with more sophistication, lowering the leg and bending the knee in the same fluid movement. She noted several time if the foot skates in too much it is a clunky lift and made reference to Guruji’s demo in Light on Yoga as seen below where is back foot is a healthy distance away just prior to the lift. We did this for about 30 minutes.

ardha chandrasana iyengar

She finished with prasarita padottanasana as a “headstand” substitute and setu bandha as a “shoulder stand” substitute with a intermediate transition with the lumbar spine resting on the block and knees bent before savasana.

During the course of all this, Blakeney made a statement that “asanas are just puzzles, and like a puzzle we put them away when we are done with them.” This is subtle, but comes from a deep philosophical approach from the sutras in which asanas are a vehicle to attain awareness to the inner self. The asanas certainly highlight areas that are unknown to us, as in the hips which were the emphasis of this class. Of course the next day I felt the hip work we did even though after class it did not seem like we did that much. That is the magic of a seasoned teacher!

*Laurie Blakeney has an advanced certificate in Iyenagar Yoga and is the Director of Ann Arbor School of Yoga.

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5 thoughts on ““Asanas are just a puzzle” – Laurie Blakeney notes part 2

  1. mishedup

    great. I’m always looking for a way into ardha chandrasana…I call it my nemesis pose! LOL….
    I have balance problems that I came into yoga hoping to solve, and now I accept. So some days I’m on it, others not so much..
    I love the idea of the puzzle tho, and putting it away. I absolutely agree with that….
    thanks for the info!

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  2. So...

    The sequence mirrors how we were taught in some of our early classes. The emphasis was always on the correct way of getting in and out even though it was not possible. And that too without props, except a brick!
    It’s only a few months down the line that we started to use props. And I can see how that hard learning initially made for a stronger understanding even if the body is slow to follow. Guruji’s system is designed so flawlessly, it never ceases to amaze.

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    1. yogibattle Post author

      We were on our back like Savasana, but with knees bent and feed on floor. There was a block under our lumbar spine on lowest height and rotated so our lumbar vertebrae rested on the long orientation of the block.

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  3. Pingback: “Asanas are just a puzzle” – Laurie Blakeney notes part 2 — Home Yoga Practice | IYENGAR YOGA BLOG

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