Sunday, May 18, 2008

Focus Pose - Suyra Namaskar B

In picking the next focus pose, I had a bit of a conundrum - if I pick a single pose as part of Suyra Namaksar B as I've been doing - I would be repeating it in again in just a few short weeks. Padangusthasana (forward folding), Utkatasana (Chair) Virabhandrasana I and II (Warriors) all show up again in the standing sequence. I decided to wait to break down those asanas and touch on Surya Namaskar B as a whole sequence at this time.

Suyra Namaskar B is where the body really starts to generate some heat and is often the most strenous part of the series for a student. Depending on what tradition of the Ashtanga practice is being taught or the time limit of the class, Suyra Namaskar B will be repeated 3 times or 5 times.

The important thing is to follow the breath, making each movement match the inhale or exhale - full, smooth and without strain. At the end, I've included a couple modifications if you are initially finding moving through this rather strenuous.

There is no break between Surya Namaskar A and Surya Namaskar B. When finished with the first, one moves right into the next.

Starting from Tadasana;



Inhale - reach down, touch the floor with your finger tips then sweep the arms overhead to come into Utkatasana (chair pose). Alternately, one can just "sit" into chair as they bring the arms overhead. There are two mind sets on how to move into this first chair - they are both correct. Either variation, Drishti is straight ahead or up at the thumbs. Often it is a matter of what is more comfortable for the students neck.

Exhale - come into a Forward Fold THEN straighten the legs. No matter if your hands are on the knees, shins, ankles or floor, the back remains long and shoulders blades are broad. Try not to round the shoulders toward the ears. A little bend in the knees always acceptable. Drishti - nose.


Inhale - all levels: look up toward the horizon. IF your hands touch the floor, you can either come up to the finger tips or palms can remain on the floor. Drishti - horizon.


Exhale - Walk, lunge or jump back to a plank position, elbows remain by ribcage and lower yourself to the floor (called "Chataranga"). Level 1: come into plank, bring knees to floor and lower down. Level 2: straight legs come all the way to the floor. Level 3: straight legs, lowering to 1" from the floor. Drishti- nose/floor.

Remember ! While in plank, the wrists must remain below the shoulders* and the feet flexed and strong. Have the feet hip distance apart so as one moves into Ardo Muka Savasana the feet are in place and the foundation remains solid. In all levels, the abdomen is gently engaged to support the lower back.


Inhale - Move into Cobra or Up-Dog position. This is a small backbend - keep the ribcage moving forward through the arms, the sternum is lifting upward, shoulders are opening and broad, shoulder blades moving down the spine. This motion applies if you are in a cobra position (Level 1) or a full up-dog (Level 3). Drishti - nose or ceiling.

Exhale - lift up through the hips. Press the thighs toward the back of the room. Keep the hips lifting. Hands are pressing fully and firmly into the mat. Heels are sinking toward the floor. It’s okay if they don’t touch, but don’t stand on your tippy-toes. Remember! DO NOT MOVE THE HANDS AND FEET. I cannot stress this enough. The hands and feet are our foundation, which was set when we moved into plank position. This foundation, if set correctly, gives us the correct alignment for the entire salutation.


Inhale - Right foot comes to the right hand. Left foot presses completely into the mat. Envision the space between your pinkie toe and your heel anchoring you into your mat. Further inhaling, your arms sweep forward and up, palms touch, hips moving forward. We do not hold this pose...

Exhale - sweep the arms back down and plant the hands on the map. Step the right foot back into a plank plank position(chataranga) as reviewed above. One exhale should bring you from Warrior I down to the floor where on your next...

Inhale - Move into Cobra or Up-Dog position.

Exhale - lift up through the hips, rolling over the toes or flipping the feet, to move into Down Dog. We do not hold this pose...

Inhale - Left foot comes to the left hand. Right foot presses completely into the mat. Envision the space between your pinkie toe and your heel anchoring you into your mat. Further inhaling, your arms sweep forward and up, palms touch, hips moving forward. We do not hold this pose...

Exhale - sweep the arms back down and plant the hands on the map. Step the right foot back into a plank plank position(chataranga) as reviewed above. One exhale should bring you from Warrior I down to the floor where on your next...

Inhale - Move into Cobra or Up-Dog position.

Exhale - lift up through the hips, rolling over the toes or flipping the feet, to move into Down Dog. HOLD FOR 5 BREATHS. Drishti - toes, knees or belly button.

Inhale- LOOK up between the hands, bend the knees and walk, lunge or jump (float) the feet forward. The feet DO NOT need to be in a straight line with the hands when they land. Lengthen the spine as the gaze continues toward the horizon.

Exhale- come into your Forward Fold. Drishti - nose.

Inhale- sweep the arms alongside the body and overhead as the sitbones drop down into chair position.

Exhale- Straighten the legs, sweeping the arms actively along side the body to return to Tadasana.



This is where the body really starts to generate heat and is often the most strenuous part of the series in my opinion. Depending on what tradition of the Ashtanga practice is being taught or the time limit of the class, Suyra Namaskar B will be repeated 3 times or 5 times.

Some suggested modifications:
If you are just starting out, you can move into half dog when you come to the down dog for 5 breaths. This is a great place to re-connect with the breath and to take out some of the "aerobic" aspect of the sequence.

A beginning student can also take a high lunge rather than coming all the way up into Warrior I. This is especially true if bringing the leg fully forward is an awkward motion at this time.

If you are feeling short of breath, remain in Tadasana for one cycle following the breath and envisioning each movement. Join in on the next set.

I was hoping to start taking my own pictures now that the snow is gone, but the weather didn't cooperate this week. All pictures are from pose finder feature at Yoga Journal.com.

2 comments:

marian said...

Kristin--Here's that video I was telling you about!

http://youtube.com/watch?v=ZQYHCzioJTQ&feature=related

Kristin said...

Marian,

That was pretty cool. Thanks for the link.