Sri K Pattabhi Jois said, "Yoga is 99 percent practice, one percent theory." This blog is a resource to explore the one percent theory and to inspire you on the mat.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Everywhere looking only God seeing

Greetings! If you would like to read this on my current blog click here. Next weekend I begin my fall workshop season. To find dates and locations please visit my website. Hari Om, David
At the root of the practice of Isvara Pranidhana, devotion to the lord, is to see what Gregory Bateson called ‘the pattern that connects’, and that is to see the fundamental interrelationship of everything in existence, unerringly simple yet seemingly vexingly complex.

 To practice Isvara pranidhana is to endeavor to live your life from the perspective that everything under the sun shares a benevolent, invisible, cohesive, inescapable connection with everything else. This fundamental sacred connection is what gives integrity to existence, and is what each of us must tap in order to find peace and outgrow the terrifying, lonely, illusory divisions caused by fear and ego. Each of us must find our own way to live from this source if we are to leave behind the aberrant behaviors that are the source of the dangerous imbalances that we continue to create in our world. Part of the healing and restoring of balance is in training your mind onto the awareness that all the ingredients that go into making the ‘stuff’ of the universe are merely Self manifesting as variety. Everything that surrounds you earth, sky, mountains, ocean waves, and everything within you, your bones, organs, and psyche made up of thoughts, yearnings, feelings, fantasies, and projections is part of the large I. You exist as an individual person only in the way that you are an individual cell among billions of other cells that form the body of the Cosmic Person, and thus you are inseparable from this Self.

 To experience the spiritual dimension of existence you must look around and see only Self, this calls to mind Sri K Pattabhi Jois’s definition of drsti: ‘everywhere looking only God seeing’. Look anywhere in the cosmos, to the farthest extent in any inward or outward direction, at friend or enemy, feel the antagonist pull of the greatest opposing forces, use your imagination, or apply the most penetrating, concentrated awareness, you will arrive at your origin, you’ll see the grand pattern that connects your essential place in it. And if this knowledge penetrates your being deeply enough, you will feel radically compelled to care for everyone and everything in existence in the ways that you now reserve exclusively for yourself and a small circle of others.

 Isvara pranidhana is nothing more or less than the practice of devoting your self to experiencing the Self in everything. Taking up such a serious practice will cause you to grow, to see the traps of your ego, to live your own life less selfishly, to become more devoted to peace, to have more concern for the people, animals, and things around you and to have more compassion for all suffering. This calls to mind the life and teachings of Peace Pilgrim a woman who became a living saint through her vow to continually walk the earth until there was world peace. Her vow kept her walking for decades with nothing more than the clothes on her back and her message of simplicity and peace through surrender and devotion. Her travel mat was her consciousness and her yoga was her voice that she used to call for peace. And you may ask your self how would I start from where I am and end up as spiritually pointed and alive as Peace Pilgrim?
The answer for most of us is that we can do it in baby steps with patience and persistence. One such baby step is to use isvara pranidhana to come to know and follow your own individual calling. To identify and follow the ‘signs’ that come to you, to learn to trust that there is the potential for a greater significance in what happens to you, especially things that you don’t voluntarily choose. Towards the end of his life and his long time study of consciousness Carl Jung defined God as: “….. the name by which I designate all things which cross my path violently and recklessly, all things which alter my plans and intentions, and change the course of my life, for better or for worse.”

 Part of surrendering to the Lord is to trust in the directions that are thrust upon you by life, by forces that are beyond your control. Opportunities to let go and follow such signs are abundant, part of your job as you are faced with them is to grow rich in self reflection, to look for ways to allow what happens to you to continue to lead you meaningfully in the direction that you are being led from within and that you know you must travel.

 Another baby step to isvara pranidhana is in fearlessly examining your thoughts as a way of ceasing to identify with the unworthy contents of your mind, a major subject of the yoga sutra’s. In the yoga sutra’s the instruction on Isvara Pranidhana appears in a section of sutra’s about how to arrest the mind, overcome ignorance, and realize your spiritual truth by means of ‘citta vrtti nirodha’, causing thought (vrtti’s) to cease.

Contemplating devotion to god within the context of stopping thought gives you practical and tangible teachings that you can immediately put into practice. Stopping thought involves a patient, persistent screening of thought, an ongoing qualitative assessment of what passes through your mind, and an endeavor to discard and withdraw your energy from thoughts that don’t serve you in developing a mature relationship to your inner life. Your devotion to Self can grow out of such efforts to stop thought and help you in concentrating your mind on what matters to you.

 Abhyasa (practice) is defined as the effort to remain ‘there’. ‘There’ refers to the state of experiencing the pattern that connects, seeing Self everywhere. To cause thought to cease is to sort, discard and refine your inner psychic contents to such a degree that you cease to pay attention to and give energy to ‘junk’ thoughts. Peace Pilgrim said ‘I don’t eat junk food and I don’t think junk thoughts’. She did pay attention to the thoughts within her that enabled her to have a effective voice about world’s acute need for inner and outer peace and her life became a vivid example of how to accomplish ‘citta vrtti nirodha’ through isvara pranidhana, and also an example of how to center yourself in what is truly important to you.

 When you choose to practice Isvara Pranidhana, you will leap forward in your understanding of what yoga is and how to make best use of its teachings in your life. Sometimes your efforts may seem small, clouded, or difficult to sustain. You may not be able to define precisely what either devotion or God mean to you or how to centralize them in your life. But any effort that you make to become devoted to the self within you will be rewarded, any surrender to what is beyond your little ego world, will remind you that Self is literally everywhere and it is entirely natural for you to express your share of the sacred. The little seed of isvara pranidhana that you plant in your consciousness will eventually sprout and grow into a powerful force within you, leading to action that will yield its transformation, its benevolent, world changing fruits.
_________________________________________________________________________________ If you would like to learn more about Peace Pilgrim here is an excellent video clip.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Yogi’s Map of Imagery or “Help me. I still don’t understand Mula Bandha.”

Greetings, I am back home in Philadelphia for the summer and am thoroughly enjoying eating consistent home cooked meals ala Chef DG, going to the farmer’s markets after the Sunday Mysore class, and finishing my soon to be released book and dvd on Ujjayi breathing and the Ashtanga pranayama sequence. Joy and I haven’t decided the title of either the book or the dvd but I will be sure to let you know when it is finalized.

Today’s blog post might appear super advanced but imagery is an important step in the yogi’s journey and I have seen several students advance their asana practice drastically once they start incorporating Yogic imagery into their asana work. A yogic image can make the difference between utilizing the power of mula bandha or (in other words) being able to jump back or not. For a less advanced practitioner I highly encourage you to start understanding the Yogic language of imagery and for an advanced practitioner beginning to incorporate imagery into your practice will help refine and open up a whole new world of Yoga you never knew existed.

Yoga’s Map of Imagery

There are multiple internal maps that are intended to take you into asana practice, to orient you physically, inwardly in specific ways.At first the maps may appear to be overly elaborate or complex, however if you take the trouble to focus your mind where they lead to, you will soon find that becoming fluent in their unusual language, gives you an undreamed of ability to tune in, concentrate, and become absorbed in. The maps are necessary because we often don’t know well enough how to inhabit our bodies with a deep true enough centered, presence to connect to and create within our spiritual core.

The system of maps devised by and utilized by Yogi’s appears complex and heady, something that takes a lot of brain work to wrap your head around, something not intuitive. In fact when you first work with these concepts there is often so much analytical thinking required that people get overloaded and throw up their arms and say “to hell with it, I like to flow”. However the left brain, cerebral part of working with the maps of consciousness is only a phase, like learning a language.
**One of the most important maps is visualization or imagery.** So that rather than being physical first, you approach practice from a place of imagery or visualization.

This is one of the most fascinating aspects to the work. You work with your mind, your imagination as a way of accessing your physical body. Often the conscious attempt to make your muscles ‘do’ the actions will cause you to apply too much effort, cause you to adopt forced or unnatural mannerisms based on your habituated bodily misperceptions about what good form is supposed to look like. When working with Yoga images, you invite the body to organize itself according to new pictures, the images you are consciously embodying. There is something full, round and organic in this process, an emerging from within, an awareness, a trust that allows the body to find it’s grounded, spacious center using ancient, esoteric technology of how to become a tuner, a harnesser and transmitter of Shakti, power.

Mula Bandha Imagery

I have four different images you can work with in order to access Mula Bandha. The first two are classic yogic images that can be found in the classic texts of the Shiva Samhita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and the other two are modern images that can also help you.

1) The pelvic floor carries the image of a flower known as muladhara the root support. To glimpse muladhara imagine the four corners of the pelvic floor as petals of a red lotus flower. The number four conveys completeness, a strong foundation, while the lotus conveys a deep rootedness and an upward reaching trajectory. The color red helps infuse the lotus with vitality, increases it’s ability to support you at the root and helps you to become more dynamic within the immovability of your pranayama position.
2) Within the 4 cornered red petals of the muladhara Chakra is an upside down triangle. Within this triangle is a smoky ‘lingum’ and it is here that Kundalini in the form of a coiled serpent is wrapped 3 1/2 times around the lingum. She sleeps here with her tail in her mouth until the redirection of prana and apana vayu’s creates enough sealed in heat within the torso to awaken her. The triangle then turns and points upwards and she then uncoils her self, enters Shushumna Nadi, the glorious central axis and rides flowingly upwards to meet Shiva, the auspicious, in Sahasra, the thousand petalled lotus at the crown.

3) The pelvic floor is the source of a powerful geyser, imagine that your powerful life energy wells up from a deep source within the pelvic basin. Then this geyser of prana bubbles and shoots upwards from your base, up the core of spine and then flows outwards horizontally along either collarbone to the sides.

4) The pelvic floor is a magic carpet that ‘floats’ your pelvis atop the femur heads and gives your pelvic base a light, buoyant feeling. Your whole body feels supported by the effortless elevation of the magic carpet at your root.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ashtanga's Dynamic Dimension

Greetings from Kovalam,
The Mysore Intensive is coming to an end and its been an amazing month of learning and teaching. Joy and I are headed back to Philadelphia in 5 days. We will be there for only a couple of weeks and then we will be off to my annual Mysore Intensive retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs in Oregon. So within only two weeks we will be seeing the sun over the Indian Ocean and the moon in the Oregon forest!

I haven't posted in a few weeks because I have been crafting this very important blog post on Ashtanga and Dynamism. Joy has been working her magic on the Dynamic Transition music video that accompanies the written piece. A lot of love has gone into this post and I encourage you to make an intense art out of studying dynamism because it will forever change your practice.

Hari Om,

Dynamic is a word that aptly describes the personality and teaching of my late teacher Sri K Pattabhi Jois (Guruji). And what I learned about the connection between vinyasa and dynamism from him has been a major source of my love for the Ashtanga yoga method. In 94' when I began studying with Guruji at his old shala in Mysore, I used to stay after class just to watch him teach. He would work in many different ways to help each person better tap into the inherent dynamism that is found in every aspect of the practice. Here's a little story about Guruji on this subject.

One day it happened that there were several of us students hanging around in the front room of Guruji's old house hoping for some of Amma's delicious coffee. The atmosphere was rather loose at that time, there was no official conference, no distinct timing or plan, no official teaching from him. We'd just mosey over there towards sunset and see what was up. Sometimes questions about the practice would be introduced and if Guruji were in the right frame of mind, he'd answer. So the topic whether some people were teaching the method correctly or not came up, something that had to do with the speed of the practice.

During the discussion there was an interval of cross talk and commotion, and during this time Guruji looked at me, and for a moment it was as if it was only he and I in the room. He let me know that the method was to be done swiftly, that tempo, rhythm, and dynamism were essential to learning the practice properly. He said 'quickly you do, that is the method'. Without too many words he let me know that he was was trusting me to understand what he was telling me and that I was somehow responsible for remembering and sharing this aspect of the practice.

To me he was not saying that the practice is to be done in haste, unthinkingly fast, or in any sort of hurried fashion. Instead he was saying that the proper method is done by practicing dynamically, by moving into and out of the asanas in complete gestures born of free breathing, animal surety, confidence and energetic enthusiasm.

Learning from Guruji, observing his teaching, and hearing the repetition in his instructions was a true gift and his broken english, staccato commands still guide me in my practice daily. His limited use of english was perhaps extra eloquent in conveying the distinct nuances that he wanted to impart to you at any given time. Again and again he repeated: "yes you do!', 'No problem you go.', 'no fearing you go', 'why stopping?', 'Why waiting?', 'Hey bad man quickly you do!' 'yes you take it!', 'Why fearing?' 'Free breathing you do' or simply a gruff, guttural 'Breathe!'.

Through his instructions he often made sure you felt a sense of time pressure and urgency as you practiced. His tone could be stern, intimidating, and even dominating to the point of leaving you feeling that there was almost no escape from at least trying to do what he wanted you to do. He purposely created this tension so you would find new postural and movement patterns. By following his commands you bypassed habits born of inhibited breath, hesitation, lethargy and doubt so that you could start really breathing, you could do new things in new ways. He commanded you to become more brave, vigorous and focused; his words would send electricity, and a thrill of fear through you that would wake up your entire body with readiness and anticipation.

At times in a distinct reversal he would speak the same commands but with a different tone, with encouragement, humor, play and support. And thus he would continually play the line between pushing you and accepting you. He taught you to relax, accept your self, to champion your own style, to be patient and to let things come to you. In fact perhaps the most frequent commands I heard him give were: 'very good!',, 'Today is better!', 'Better!', 'Why crying?', 'Don't worry, after it's coming', 'no problem, it's coming', and the very special 'Very correct!'

The closing ritual of touching his feet and saying goodbye to him each day often included him giving you an extra lift, a boost of encouragement so that you finished on a high note. It made all the difference to feel his generous, weighty support when you felt exhausted, like a failure or incompetent. He would say something to disarm you, something poking fun at you, humorous, or distracting, to help you drop your inner battle for the time being and thus be more ready to take it up again in the morning.

The vinyasa knowledge that is developed in carefully studying the transitions is essential in understanding how to refine your awareness, how to see the practice as chiefly dhyana, as meditation. To this end experienced students and teachers within the lineage learn to list, from memory, the number of vinyasa positions in each asana. This memorization becomes more interesting and useful when you combine it with an ongoing investigation into the role of dynamism in the movements.

I'm saying that knowing what constitutes proper vinyasa extends beyond memorizing the number of positions of the asana; you are also meant to know the vinyasa positions dynamically within your body. There is a great art to understanding the subtle progressions of movement that bring you into and out of each asana, exploring this refinement is what brings you into readiness, poise, beauty and alignment in your postures.

Through the dynamic study of vinyasa you experience important energetic awakenings along the vertical axis known as shushumna, the most glorious channel. Using dynamism to find your vertical core helps you direct your mind inwardly showing the universal forms of the asanas, the underlying patterning that each asana shares no matter how different its external appearance may look. In this way dynamism leads you further into immovability and stillness, helps you accurately observe your fluctuating mental states. You learn to better see the context of your perceptions, and to enjoy a wider, expanded view that encompasses the greater wellspring of consciousness.

Following vinyasa positioning in its increasingly more subtle and dynamic aspects will also lead you back to the intimate connection between movement and breath. Practice becomes focused on moving through the sequences by tracing these two allies back to their common root source and this knowledge helps you to shape your postures with the presence and sense of adventure of an animal and at the same time with buddhi, (intelligence) and ananda, (bliss). By his buoyant and tangible enthusiasm Guruji showed you that yoga is found when you make it a long term daily endeavor to truly inhabit your body. This enthusiasm is the true source of dynamic awareness and alignment, and is what enables you to continue to renew the thrill and the fun of practice each day.

And it all starts with "...Samastihiti!"

Monday, February 6, 2012

Turn out or lift the heels in drop backs? Feeling sore, should I take a day off? My doctor says I should stop practicing Ashtanga?--Ask a question

Students often write me with specific questions concerning their practice. Here are a few of the answers I have given the past couple of months. Enjoy!

1) Hi David,

I have been attempting to come up from drop back by pushing into my arms and using momentum to rock up to standing. I am able to rock up about 50% of the time. My heals tend to come up most of the time. I noticed in the PT3 video your student's heel also comes up but in the other video's the students heels don't come up but sometimes the toes go out like in 2nd position in ballet. What is the correct position?

Hi ____,
The correct position for coming up is variable, it can be different for different people. Generally I prefer lifting the heels to turning the feet out. Or another good option is to use a little combination of heel lift and turn out. I do caution people not to turn out too much, because it can compromise the joints, especially knees. Also lifting the heels can be felt more like transferring the weight forward into the mounds of the toes. It is best to minimumize both lifting the heels and turning the feet out. Rather try to track the hips, knees, feet as straight as possible, but this can be very challenging! Hope this helps. Thanks for writing!! David

2)Hello David,

Thank you so much for your videos. I think they are great. Now I'm new to yoga (a month or so) and I want to practice every day but i feel so sore sometime i cant even do the asanas right. Any advice? I appreciate any help and thank you in advance.

Hi _____, thanks for your message. That's great you've taken to yoga. It's natural you're feeling so sore because it's all so new. Practice as often as you can, but don't be too hard on your body or your self. You can do a smaller practice on those days when you feel you can't do the asana's right. But it is good to try to do a little bit each day, it's only if you get really, really sore and tired that you should take an extra day off when you need it. Best Wishes, David

3)Hi David,

I've been practicing Ashtanga yoga since October last year during a vacation in Bali from Prem & Radha. And I've been following your blog since then.

Since learning the primary series, I practiced every day at home.
Unfortunately I live in a place where there is no authorized/certified teacher. After a medical check up, I was diagnosed with mild scoliosis to the right. Another doctor also found I have a carpal tunnel syndrome (right wrist).

I told the doctor my sole fitness regime: Ashtanga 6 days a week.
She told me to quit Ashtanga as it seems it gives lots of pressure to my wrist. And the inversions, will only make my scoliosis worse.

I stopped practicing this week and substituted it with swimming every day just like the doctor told me. And I feel terrible. I miss my practice. Is there any way to keep doing my practice with carpal tunnel syndrome & scoliosis?

Hi _____, thank you for sharing your challenges with me.
First I will say yes most definitely you can continue to practice with scoliosis and carpal tunnel syndrome, but there are some extra challenges involved. You most likely will need to modify things and having a teacher can be a big help with this. Concerning your wrist (or wrists), the pain can tend to be episodic or more cyclical. Sometimes the pain may flair up more than others. In that case you have to be sensitive and aware and have a good plan for when you have pain. For instance you can take the pressure off your wrists when you do surya namaskara by: 1) not bending your elbows in catauranga dandasana, and instead go from plank to your next position. Or 2) you can make a fist out of each hand and do the catauranga on your knuckles. Or 3) you can buy a set of those wrist protecting props made by hugger mugger that accomplish the same fist idea but in a little fancier way. And 4) you can simply minimize or not do the postures that involve weight bearing on your wrists. For example you can go through both surya namaskara a and b using the wall without putting weight on your wrists. 5) you can do less surya namaskara and spend more time on the standing postures and other postures that don't involve weight bearing on the hands/wrists. When you get to the seated postures you can modify, reduce or eliminate the jump back/jump through vinyasa. These are just some of the possibilities, please know that there is always a way to modify the practice to suit specific problems or other extra requirements.

The essential ingredient is a love of ashtanga and in maintaining a steady devotion and trying to do the practice as accurately as your given circumstances allow. Inversions don't necessarily have to contribute to your scoliosis, but I would advise you to eliminate them until you are able to receive instruction from a highly qualified teacher. There are many aspects of the practice besides inversions to develop and enjoy at this time. Hopefully sometime sooner than later you'll be in position to get some hands on help with the challenges you are facing. But in the meantime you can try experimenting with the suggestions I've made and let me know how it's going.

One last small note is that there will always be someone to tell you that you can't do ........... the list of possible things or activities or dreams is endless and so is the list of people who will tell you can't do that something. Sometimes they may be right but equally sometimes they are wrong. And ultimately you have to decide how important something is to you. And when you've decided on that something that is important enough to you, you may need to guard and protect the heck of it in order to for it to remain a strong, positive force in your life. As people we can tend to be suspicious of what we don't know about, and if on the surface something looks strange or exotic or very different from what we know or are used to, we can tend to form negative impressions of that thing. But our own fear and unwillingness to be open to new or different things can us cause to make wrong assessments of things and to unfairly judge what we don't have enough information to be judging. I believe it would be a true waste for you to stop developing the ashtanga yoga practice that you have begun and love. If you practice properly there is a strong chance that ashtanga can help correct or at least minimize the negative effects of both of your problems better than any thing else that you will try. I have found that ashtanga applied properly, has huge potential for transformation and healing. Om! David

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ashtanga Discussion Room: Guruji said, "Medium breath!"

Joy and I have landed in Kovalam and are enjoying our house nestled up in the jungle (there is a quarry near our house where I go swimming each evening!) It is now less than a week before the Mysore Intensive begins. I have been using the days off of to help Joy on her upcoming film, resting, practicing, and of course writing and talking about Yoga.

Last week Joy asked me the question about the difference between receptivity and effort in the practice? (This turned into the second video posted below.) However, the next morning while we were on a walk she asked me about how the role of breath plays into receptivity (first video posted) the discussion continued!

I decided to post both videos. If you only have time to watch one then I recommend the first video posted but if you want more information and to go deeper into the conversation then I recommend you watch both.
I hope you get some useful info out of these videos. Over the past 20 years of teaching I have realized that receptivity is one of the hardest aspects of the practice to teach but once a student understands and starts to truly work with the idea through their breath the students practice will completely change.
Hari Om,

Notes on the concept of receptivity (it could also be thought of as simply receiving).

The deepest person within each of us knows the larger, more comprehensive nature of things beyond the limited appearance of things that the ego and senses apprehend. Learning to identify ourselves with this greater perspective is the subject of receptivity. When we use our ego and senses to become aware in an inward direction, we will find that there is a sort of knowing that has its own direction, its own intelligence, its own necessity to fulfill something through us. And so in a practical, on-the-mat way, receptivity is the sustained effort to give up control enough to receive the wisdom that lies within our inmost core. And then to follow the direction of this wisdom with as much trust as we put in our ego and our ideas and feelings of how we control or shape our lives through our choices.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Set up to the JUMP BACK or Can a woman jump back?

Joy and I have been extremely busy the past five weeks with workshops and traveling. We have finally settled down in Kovalam where I am preparing for the month long Mysore Intensive and working hard on some short Asana Kitchen videos! You can expect my bimonthly blog posts to start in motion again.

Hari Om,


P.S If you are near Kovalam and want to make your way for some Mysore classes and some beach time there is availability! More info on my website.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Asana Kitchen: Pasasana

This will be my second to last blog post in the year 2011! In the month of December I will be traveling to Spokane for a workshop, holding a one day workshop on backbending in Philly, beginning the year with my Second Series workshop at A.Y.S, and then off to Tel Aviv, Mysore and Kovalam to start 2012 off with a bang.
I've had many students write in regarding Pasasana and since its the first posture of the second series I thought it would be fun to leave 2011 with an Asana Kitchen post on the ever challenging pose that wields Ganesha's noose. Please read the summary of notes and then scroll down for the video.

Hari om,

Summary Notes On Pasasana (The Noose Posture)

1)Establish a Grounded, Immoveable Foundation

Balancing in a full squatting position is one of the most important and challenging aspects to this posture. The feet are your foundation, they are directly in contact with the earth. Organize your posture directly over this foundation noticing when/if you are either too far behind or in front of your foundation. Start by planting the feet while feeling the support of the arches. Squat all the way down. Close the knee joints entirely. Lower the hips, touch buttocks to the backs of the lower legs. Orient your squat directly over your feet. If you have any difficulty squatting you will feel unstable when you squat as though the hips are too heavy, that they drag you down and back. You may want to lift up the heels. But instead elevate your heels with just enough height to truly balance on the feet as you feel your hips, torso and head align more clearly over this foundation. When you feel stable, centered and immoveable in your squat, then you are ready for the next step.

2) Remember the Twist
As you develop and refine how you work in the posture remember to return your orientation to the twist along the central axis. Study the rotation of the torso in order to study the middle channel. Remember that part of creating a satisfying twist is in becoming receptive, especially within the torso and spinal area. And so position yourself to receive the action of turning the spine, and endeavor to rotate your spine more evenly from base to crown. Notice the inner refinement that can take place along shushumna, the middle pranic axis.

3) Position of the feet/knees

To make the posture easier place one foot or knee slightly forward of the other. If you are twisting to the left you can facilitate the twist to the left by moving the right foot and/or knee forward of the left. This also brings the right hip forward of the left hip and thus makes twisting to the left easier. For some of you this will serve to clarify the central axis, and give you more freedom in a certain direction to twist, and will help establish a more stable, grounded foundation. Your posture and twist will not be served If you are too strict and insist on keeping the feet/knees together or the heels down.
But for others keeping the feet and knees more together will help you to hone in on the vertical axis and improve the feeling of the rotation. In each case you want to continue to refine your sense of the breath, cultivate an awareness of the actions and the resulting counter actions along the glorious axis set in motion by the breath, and observe how that awareness leads to intelligence in your asana's.

4) The Energetic Chain of The Noose

At one point in the video, using Rob as the model, I trace what I call an 'energetic chain' formed by the upper back, shoulders, arms and connected hands (the parts of the body that form the 'noose' that give the posture its name) Rob was twisting to the right and I used my hands to trace the energetic chain in a counter clockwise direction. But what I didn't mention was that the direction of the chain that I indicated in the video was actually the more subtle counter loop. If you are twisting to the right, first try experiencing a clockwise direction to the energetic chain formed by the loop of the upper torso, arms, and hands. And afterwards experiment with a counter clockwise direction to the loop.


I have also included an extra clip that didn't end up in the final video on How to work on lengthening your achilles tendon.