Tag Archives: sequences

Sequence as Mantra

It may not be necessary for all yoga practitioners to have a mantra practice. However, I do feel if you are earnest in your practice, you tend to develop one anyway as a consequence. Most Iyengar practitioners have had some exposure to the invocation of Patanjali, which is normally chanted before class. After Iyengar’s passing in 2014, some may have even heard the Guru Mantra which has been added to the end of the Patanjali Invocation.

Iyengar said a curious thing in one of his many writings to the effect that doing asana is like doing japa, or a practice of repeated sound forms or mantra-s. As I am heavily subbing for my teachers this month who are in China doing a teacher training, I have been writing out as many as three times as many sequences to prepare for classes.

Writing a sequence is much like writing an essay, or music composition. It is best to start with a theme. I have been taught to stay within a “clan” of poses or poses of a similar action. For example, standing poses or back bends or abdominal poses. There is a definite beginning, middle, and end to each good sequence. There is also a “sirsasana” and “sarvangasna” in each Iyengar sequence, even though you may do something in lieu of those poses. Typically, dwi pada viparita dandasana is substituted for sirsasana, and setu bandh is substituted for sarvangasana.  I have been studying long enough to see that all rules can be broken, but it is best to stay within logical limits unless there is a deliberate effect you are trying to achieve through the sequence.

ganesa-sculture

As I utter my daily mantra-s I notice too that they have a logical beginning, middle, and end. Take the Ganesh mantra of Om Gam Ganapataye Namah. Most of the times mantra-s begin with the Pranava or OM. Then there is a seed syllable like “Gam.” Then there is a name of the diety Ganapataye.” Then the ending “Namah” which means this is not my “self”  or not my “ego.”

It is said if you utter a mantra enough times, you develop the siddhi of that mantra, or obtain the power that it beholds. Not an easy task. Some mantra-s are said to have be uttered thousands of times before this takes place.

However, if you do a sequence only a few times, you immediately understand its benefits and its limitations. In essence, the “siddhi” of the sequence is revealed to you much sooner than in the mantra practice.

As pictured above, I write my sequences in spiral notebooks and file them away once the book is completed. I have dozens of these filed away through my years of teaching. I like to look in the old ones to see where my practice and teaching have developed, or more importantly how they have stagnated.

Many blessings!

 

 

 

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A standing pose sequence accessible to everyone

Standing poses, or Utthistha Sthiti, are the foundation of any good asana practice. They are accessible to anyone and allow the practitioner to work on the fundamentals that come up later in more “advanced” poses. Here is a standing pose sequence that is accessible to most people. I have provided links to instructions for some of the asanas.

Tadasana

tadasana

Urdvha Hastasana

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Utthita Trikonasana

shin triangle pose

Utthita Prarsvakonasana

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Vrksasana

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Ardha Chandrasana

ac IV

Prasarita Padottanasana

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Chatuse Padasana (use a strap over the shins to get greater access to proper shoulder action)

Chatuse padasana 9

Urdvha Prasarita Padasana

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(illustration courtesy IYAGNY)

Savasana

IMG_0381

Do this sequence according to your schedule. It can take 45 minutes to 1.5 hours depending on how many times you repeat the poses. Always allow at least 10 minutes for Savasana. A question I get a lot as an instructor is “how long should I hold the poses?” Each pose has a different effect and requires different actions. In addition, everyone is built differently. So the common answer is to try the pose, and come out. Then assess how difficult or easy it was, then try again and stay according to your assessment.

Have a wonderful and blessed practice.

A sequence for men

Cavemen

Now that I have highlighted the fact that there are very few yoga resources for men, I would be remiss in my duties to not offer a solution. So here it is: a sequence for men. This sequence addresses men’s issues primarily prostate health and depression. I used cavemen for my cover photo of this post because that is how many men feel they are viewed when they walk into a boutique yoga studio. This sequence you can do in the privacy of your own home judgement free. I do this sequence frequently in my own practice. Enjoy!

Supta Padangusthasana I and II

supta padangusthasana guruji

Utkatasana

utkatasana

Virabhadrasana I

virabhadrasana I

Vrksasana

iyengar vrksasana

Malasana with sacrum on wall

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Virasana

prop virasana

Adho Mukha Virasana (classic with legs in Virasana)

adho muka virasana classic

Supta Virasana (with support)

supta virasana bolster

Supta Baddhakonasna with arms underneath to open chest and address stiff shoulders

Classic supta baddha konasana

Rope Sirsasana (if you have the means), otherwise Salamba Sirsasana

rope sirsasana with baddhakonasana  or Sirsasana N

Chair Sarvangasana

chair sarvangasana

Setu Bandha on two blocks or bolsters with feet same level as hips.

setu bandha

Savasana

savasana