Tag Archives: vrksasana

New classes going well!

Kombucha pumpkins I am settling into my new schedule of early morning classes. Today I had the same group as Tuesday give or take a few new students. We worked on the hip actions of Parighasana and I related them to the hip work in Vrksasana. The students took well to the instructions. I remember laboring over these poses while preparing for my Intro I back in 2011. It is easy to do a pose like Vrksasana, but to learn how to teach it properly is very difficult.

My classes have been averaging about 10 students. There was a time when I don’t think I could have handled more than 10 students at once. But because of how the Iyengar system is logically laid out, it is easy to organize many more than 10 students if you have a good plan. The shape of the room is critical to where you place yourself as a teacher relative to how many students you have. If I have less than 6 students, I will teach in a different location in the room because I don’t want to seem too far away.

A new challenge for me as a teacher is to make each class unique even though we have the same clan of poses taught to the same students two days apart. My plan is to use the class earlier in the week to go over rudimentary actions of certain poses, and then use later class in the week to add refinements to those actions. That should keep things fresh and interesting for my students.

Another challenge for me is adjusting to the early morning teaching schedule. My wonderful wife is accustomed to waking up at 5 am and is a morning person. As I rouse from my umpteenth snooze, she joyfully helps me get through my morning routine. This week she gave me simple math problems to get my brain moving. I am grateful that she married me.

I wrote in my previous post that the many benefits one gets teaching Yoga are so unique that they are difficult to write about. I will try to highlight these benefits in future posts. The one benefit from this week is that there is farmers market at Manoa Marketplace on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And since my class is early, I have first pick of the fresh produce. Today I bought a Kaboucha pumpkin, slathered it in olive oil,  and roasted it for dinner for my wife and I. It was delicious and caramel-ly. Since I’m sure all of your are tired of seeing the same version of the lithe Lululemon ambassador in the #namasteeverydamnday #bakasanadujour, I instead posted a picture of my beautiful roasted pumpkin.

Enjoy your weekend!

The ecology of Vrksasana


This is a  Koa tree my wife and I came across during a walk we took in Maunawili on the Windward side of O’ahu. Due to overcutting, you don’t find many Koa trees this size anymore on this island. Koa wood is a magnificent tropical hard wood that has a beautifully deep pattern as seen in this picture of a Koa wood door we took at the Hawai’i State Legislature. It also is made for Koa bowls which are worth their weight in gold.

Image.koa bowl

This Koa tree reminds me of Vrksasana, or Tree Pose. It is a rare tree that is getting rarer with demand. It is like how yoga is becoming in the West. In today’s practice, there is too much emphasis on yoga as a workout, or yoga as a fashion enterprise instead of its original purpose: to stop the mind so the practitioner can see his or her own splendor. Because of this, all the old teaching is dying out in favor of trendy yogas which incorporate style over substance. Soon the old teachings will be dead if we don’t preserve them.

Here is a presentation of Vrksasana the way my teachers have taught me.


As many have difficulty balancing in the middle of the room while maintaining the proper actions of the pose, I will teach with a wall.

Start in Tadasana with the wall by your right side.


Extend your right arm up and lean into the wall with your hip.


Rotate your left leg and place the left foot high to the root of the thigh. Rotate your ankle so the toes are pointed straight down.

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As the thigh is shaped like a cylinder, placing the foot to close to the edge will make your foot roll off.

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Correct foot in the middle of the thigh

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Incorrect, foot too close to edge

From here, squeeze your hips together intensely until the hip comes off the wall. Keep the right arm up to maintain balance.

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Then extend the left arm up to match.

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Now work the hands together but not by bending the elbows.

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Because abdomen and the chest sink.

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Instead work your hand together by lifting them higher and higher until the meet at a point like railroad tracks in the distance. This is Urdvha Namaskarasana.

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Then the abdomen and chest lift.

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Hold the pose for 30 seconds to a minute. And repeat on the other side. Eventually Work towards balancing in the middle of the room.

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Preserve old growth trees. Preserve old growth teaching!chris_hug_koa