Jaye opens your hips in a lunge variations and ensures that you have focused on lengthening hamstring muscles in parsvottanasana before a demonstration of eka pada koundinyasana 2 in his garden with friends. Please warm up with surya namaskar, virabhadrasana 2, and utttitha trikonasana or other standing hip opening standing poses before beginning this practice.
Tadasana is “home base” for standing poses. Dissection of the pose enables us to establish a solid foundation, and the complexities of doing so include knowledge of the four corners of the feet and ensuring that the feet are parallel to each other. If you are a yoga teacher describing the steps to setting a good foundation in tadasana can be complicated because placement of the feet parallel and describing hip distance apart often comes with misinterpretations. Jaye gives us a few pointers to figure out how to create understandable cues to ensure that the foundation is established correctly. One exercise includes marching in place where you can visualize if you naturally have a sense of what parallel feet feel like. We are entertained by the neighbor’s kitty who stopped into the garden during this instruction of tadasana. The neighbor’s cat, “Lucky” decided to stop in for the practice.
Learn the meaning of the first principle of the Universal Principles of Alignment® – e.g., to set your foundation and open to grace. In this centering talk before yoga practice, Jaye Martin leads a contemplation on how you can set your foundation not only physically, but also as you establish an intention. Remembrance of the foundation for your practice of hatha yoga and of course off the mat as well enables clarity and focus of your purpose, and sets the foundation for your very being. Jaye completes the talk and blows through his conch shell.
Follow Jaye’s explicit and detailed instructions for a deeper understanding of Ustrasana. You will join Jaye in the garden alongside a beautiful puja for three cycles and different variations of the pose. Have two blocks available and if your knees are sensitive please be sure to either double fold your mat or have your knees on blankets. So many of us start this pose by whipping our head back first, which causes all sorts of limitations in getting the full value of the actions of this backbend. Go through the stages that Jaye describes – e.g., of rooting down through the foundation, breathe in fullness for length on the front and sides of the body to enable you to lift the heart high while keeping the hips aligned and forward. Naturally, most of us take the hips back slightly for this pose which only increases the difficulty in getting into this backbend. Once you achieve a lift of the heart and the heads of your arm bones draw back you release your hands toward either blocks or your heels. Only at the very end of the pose do you draw your head back to discover the fullness and freedom of the pose and in your neck. This stepwise approach that Jay leads us through requires some warmup on your part — prepare yourself through poses like lunges, anjaneyasana, eka pada bhekasana; eg., warmups that might include lengthening the quadriceps as well as some postures to open the shoulders so that you have the flexibility to take the heads of the arm bone back to open the upper back.
If you can do virabhadrasana 2, you are on your way to koundinayasana. Jaye Martin demonstrates how the importance of open hips in a deep virabhadrasana 2 enables access this strong and fun arm balance pose. Didn’t make the workshop at Garden of the Heart Yoga Center in Sarasota Florida in 2016? Not to worry – here is one of the finer demonstrations that Jaye included in his weekend workshop exploration of some challenging poses.
As you become sensitive in yoga practice you learn how to support the breath and specific areas like the lumbar curve. Learn how to express the poses with sensitivity and without gripping. This gentle practice enables you to feel the effects of practicing with sensitivity in standing forward bends as you also learn your limits –without force. You flow with sensitivity in lunges, uttanasana, virabhadransana 2, parsvakonasa, prasarita padottansana, uttitha trikonasana, vrksasana, supta padangustasana, setubhanda sarvangasana (with variations), and savasana. You learn the stages of forward bends while engaging sensitivity to the lumbar region of the spine.
Explore ardha chandra chapasana in a beautifully sequenced practice to lengthen the quads, practice balance, and lengthen the side body. This sequential practice incorporates precise alignment and muscular engagement cues while taking on the playful attitude of a child. Notice how adopting a playful feeling affects challenging balance poses like vrksasana, natarajasana, and ardha chandra chapasana. You’ll also be able to balance on your head as the sequence takes you from prasarita padottanasana to sirsasana. If headstands are not part of your practice Jaye provides alternatives including badha hasta padottanasana. Notice how Lionus the cat sneaks into the practice!
Explore how to tap into peace in this practice to express poses with your power of intention. Practice in the garden with Jaye and listen to detailed asana alignment and physical actions along with the garden songbirds! Included in the beginning of the practice are vajrasana, wild dog, forearm plank and setubandha sarvangasana. This asana sequence was developed by Jaye after he recovered from a fracture of his kneecap and learned a lesson that yoga practice — as other actions in life — must be done in an easeful flow, rather than being forceful. You will tap into your breath to go deeper in supine poses such as supta padangustasana, sucirandhrasana, and a psoas release pose.
Explore utkatasana (chair pose) as you practice in the surrounding of Jaye’s lush Florida garden. You will enjoy an asana practice while learning about yoga philosophy – including the classical view compared to the Tantric perspective. As you explore the asana that comprise surya namaskar (sun salutation) Jaye explains the actions of Anusara yoga to ensure proper alignment. You will invite a feeling of infinite potential and possibility as you absorb yourself into the actions and strength of utkatasana. Jaye explains that this “fiercely awkward pose” has many components, and through an expert dissection of actions and alignment from the foundation of the feet you will gain confidence and skillfulness in this powerful pose. Have a chair available for this practice so you can gain clarity of vertical spinal alignment while keeping your thighs parallel. Jaye starts and ends the class by blowing a conch — a symbol of purity, brilliance and auspiciousness. The sound of the conch is compared with the sacred ‘Om’ – said to be the first sound of creation. Asana sequence poses also include bhujangasana, adho mukha svanasana, sucirandrasana, setu bandha sarvangasana and of course savasana. This class was part of a long series of Zoom yoga classes offered in Jaye’s garden in Sarasota Florida.
Come alive just like the cosmos flowers in Jaye’s garden. Jaye artfully weaves the comparison of dormant plants in his garden to blossoming into fullness in your yoga practice. Follow the asana sequence to explore surya namaskar, and virabhadrasana 2. Enjoy the sensation of opening the upper inner thighs through drawing the shin bones as you are guided to a deeper uttanasana. A block is useful for standing poses such as uttitha trikonasana, prasarita padottansana, and parvrtta prasarita padottanasana. Yoga teachers will especially benefit from understanding through this example of how to center the class with a story, then deliver an asana sequence wherein instruction combines the elements of the story with a teaching of physical expression like dormancy and aliveness – learn the actions of drawing in to and expand out more fully in each asana.