Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fun with a chair

Good morning!

I am up enjoying my chai after my morning sitting practices. I am going to go to Gioconda's yoga class and then she and I are going to hang out until she takes me to the airport this afternoon. I really love it when my flight is in the afternoon and I can have a whole day to do some stuff before I travel. I am packed and ready to go and so excited about the Immersion.

Last week I wrote about using chairs for urdhva danurasana in my Focus on Form class. I had several people write to me wanting some clarity about what I was talking about and so I have posted the following sequence. It is certainly not the only way to use the chairs as an aid for opening the upper back and for prepping for urdhva danurasana (nor is it the entire sequence) but it is how we worked on it in class the other day. Those of you who have known me for years know the work with the chairs is endless. I really love it and am completely convinced it is working with the chairs in conjunction with the Anusara Yoga shoulder principles that opened my back up.

So this sequence begins and mostly consists of the primary actions of with hooking your thumbs over your head and drawing your outer shoulder blades onto your back. Yes, think arm bones back but work more on getting the shoulder blade firm an the back and keeping that while you straighten the arms with outer spiral in the upper arms. Anytime your arms are overhead in this sequence, do this with your arms. And switch the dominant thumb each time.

Urdhva hastasana with thumbs hooked overhead.
Lunge- plank- cobra- AMS-uttanasana-urdhva hastasana
anjaneyasana- Practice this pose in two distinct stages with the arm work.
Stage one is with lots of Muscle Energy- as you draw in and activate the inner body, really set the arms and shoulders

Stage two is more Organic Energy where you sit deeper by extending through the leg bones in the pose and straighten the arms while keeping the shoulder blades firm on your back.
Vira One Variation with the same actions and same stages.
Stage One -drawing in

Stage two extending out.
Down ward facing dog pose with the shoulder actions
Handstand prep at the wall with shoulder actions-
(Here is the logic- we are increasing the weight bearing load here. First we learned the primary actions out of weight bearing with the arms over head, then we gave some additional work to do(Anjanyeaysana and vira 1) while remembering the actions. Down dog shifts the focal point to the shoulders as does this L-pose. Since this is a more basic level class so we did not take this to full handstand although that would be the obvious next step. However, once you get to handstand the zeal for attempting to balance tends to override most people's interest in the shoulder actions and so it is always a toss up to add it in in a case like this. )

Stage One:
Stage Two:You can see in this particular phot that my arms did not quite rotate around enough but you get the point. I am keeping my shoulders stable while attemptiong to turn the humerus bone. Think eyes of the elbow facing each other. This picture was snapped before that work was complete. Also I have a little inner body twist I didn't quite take care of. (Such a perfectionist!) Anyway, this part is NOT EASY and I am a work in progress on it for sure!

Cultivating the shoulder loop over a chair. Same actions and now with the shoudlers on the back you have to create some bend.

Stage One:

Stage Two:

Stage Three:

At this point in class we actually did some work on cobra and took a break from the chairs. BUt here we go into the urdhva danurasana set up.
Step one:Slide your buttocks off the chair, begin pressing your elbows into the chair to get your chest to lift.
Step 2- Slide your shoudler baldes down the cair and get your buttocks on the chair, using the chair to help you get a good pelvic loop. Lift your chest with a major shoulder loop action.
Step 3 place your hands on the wall and bend your elbows out to the side and do the shoulder work we ahve bene doing all along.Step four: Push down with your arms and leg and lift your buttocks off the chair
Step Five- take your chest to the wall, and straghten your arms without losing the the shoulder blades.
Come out like you went in lefiting your chest so that your head follows your heart.

Anyway- that is one way to work towards urdhva danurasana if pushing up is difficult. Have fun!Also, Jeff, Anne's boyfirend has a chair seling business so if you want to purchase a chair (or 20 for your studio!) let me know, I will get you his contact info. And yes, he can ship them!


Leslie Salmon said...


Thank you, thank you, thank you. Great photos and very clear on instructions.

I have about 75 (yes, 75) chairs in my studio, but none like the one you used (similar, but all have the back filled in). So, not knowing where to get one like you have locally, can you have Anne's friend contact me?

Thank you, again.

mandy said...

Thanks for taking the time to post with pics! Love it!

Marcia Tullous said...


Thanks for the inspiration and direction. I friggin' love this!


carol said...

Wonderful! many thanks for taking the time to convey such detailed and exact instruction---one of the many qualities of you! I'd love the contact info for jeff's chairs. Thanks, Carol

Deirdra Harris Glover said...

Ooooh, I'd love a chair with the back knocked out. We have some at the studio where I teach, but your chair looks smooth and intentionally backless!