The “Learning the Asanas” Lessons were designed so that you can develop a full understanding of each of the asanas and incorporate them into your practice, as well as the classes that you will develop. Unlike in the “Vinyasa Yoga – Asanas, Mudras, and More” guide, we have broken up the asanas into different Lessons based on their Pose Type. This was done to match your textbook, “THE ART OF VINYASA: Awakening Body and Mind through the Practice of Ashtanga Yoga” by Richard Freeman & Mary Taylor, to make following the readings easier. We also added additional Lessons under the “Learning the Asanas” sections so that we could provide additional information on practicing and teaching the asanas in an easy to follow manner. Keep in mind that you do not need to practice the asanas in any particular order. If there is an asana that is difficult for you to complete now, you can skip that asana if you wish. When you are ready to practice that asana, we have provided modifications and described how to use props to help you build strength and gain confidence. This will allow you to safely build up to practicing the full asana(s).
Even if you have been practicing Yoga for years, and are comfortable with practicing these asanas, it is important that you practice the modifications and practice with props as well. By practicing the modifications and using props, it will allow you to understand these asanas from various perspectives. This will also help you relate with your students that require modifications and/or props and to develop firsthand knowledge on how to assist these students. This will enable you to easily explain how to practice the modifications and/or use props in a fluent and comfortable way.
Through your textbooks, and the information provided in the “Learning the Asanas” Lessons, many asanas are are covered. However, we dive into 60 postures, in particular, that are for beginner to intermediate students. These 60 asanas were chosen because they are the most common asanas that you will find in a beginner Yoga class. Most of these 60 asanas you will also find in your textbooks, however, some you will not. You will also find additional asanas in your textbooks that we did not provide additional information on. Any additional asana information provided in your textbooks can be reviewed separately to continue to build your knowledge.
- Note: Since the “Learning the Asanas” Lessons were designed around your textbook “THE ART OF VINYASA: Awakening Body and Mind through the Practice of Ashtanga Yoga” by Richard Freeman & Mary Taylor, at the beginning of each new lesson, we will provide what chapter in this textbook that you will want to reference for more information on that Pose Type. Also, at the beginning of each Lesson, we will provide the Pose Guide section of the Yoga: Gentle Vinyasa Flow DVD with Zyrka Landwijy that applies to that section (if available). Please note that each asana can have more than one Pose Type, so the DVD may include an asana in a section that is different from how your Textbook has divided up the asanas. However, that does not make one or the other incorrect, as they are both correct. Because of the fluidity of Yoga, and it’s evolution over time, asanas can belong to multiple Pose Types. This Dashboard follows the textbook as close as possible in Pose Type, however, the DVD has some of the asanas listed under a different Pose Type.
Each asana that you cover in the “Learning the Asanas” Lessons will provide particular information for you. Each asana starts out with its name in English, followed by it its Sanskrit name, and then the phonetics on how to pronounce that Sanskrit name. An audio recording and a breakdown of the Sanskrit name is also provided. Next you will see the alternate names for the asana, followed by a picture(s) that provides important cueing notes for a quick reference. Next the difficulty level and pose type(s) are listed. After that, it goes into the drsti (or dristi) and then provides an in-depth explanation on how the asana is practiced, how it affects us, and other important information. Each of these sections are covered to help you develop a deeper understanding of the asanas and how practicing them can benefit you and your students.
So that you can fully utilize these Lessons, we have provided a reference guide below that explains each section that is covered for each of the asanas and what you can get out of it.
- English Name: the most common English name translation for the asana. Most instructors will typically use this name during class instead of its original Sanskrit name. This name also tends to be easier for students and instructors to remember.
- Sanskrit Name and Sanskrit Text: some instructors like to use the original Sanskrit names of asanas. We have provided the most common one in this section for each asana. Some instructors will also switch back and forth between using the English name or the Sanskrit name depending on the asana being practiced. Next to the Sanskrit name, in parentheses, you will also find it written in the Sanskrit text for your reference.
- Phonetics and Audio: how to pronounce the asanas Sanskrit name, written out and with audio.
- Sanskrit Break Down: the Sanskrit name of each asana can be broken down so that you can see how the asanas got their names. This section breaks downs the Sanskrit word and then translates it into English.
- Alternative Names: over the years as Yoga has developed, and multiple different styles have been practiced, a lot of asanas are reference by multiple names. This provides an extensive list for you to reference.
- Difficulty Level: this shows how easy or difficult an asana is for most practitioners. Depending on your body, you will find that some asanas easier than others. Each student will have their own challenges; however, this helps you to understand how the asana will be for the average beginner and will help you develop lesson plans. During practice, you will want to start with easier asanas for a warm-up, move to more challenging asanas in the middle, and then end with easy restorative asanas.
- Pose Type: each asana is associated with a type depending on how the asana is practiced:
a. Backbend: means you will be arching or bending back.
b. Balance: means that you will need to use your core and or legs to hold the asana and balance.
c. Forward-Bend: means you will be bending forward.
d. Hip Opener: means that you will be able to open your hips in this asana. Students with tight hips or had a hip replacement should be cautious in these asanas.
e. Inversion: means your heart will be at a higher level than your head. This guide shows mild inversions, however, your textbooks will cover more intense inversions.
f. Kneeling: means you will be on the mat kneeling.
g. Prone: means you will be face down and/or on your stomach in this asana.
h. Restorative: means this asana is a good for relaxation and will help restore your energy.
i. Seated: means you will be on the mat in a seated position.
j. Side-Bend: means you will be bending to the side.
k. Standing: means you will be on your feet and standing in this asana. Could be on both or one leg.
l. Strength: means you will build strength and endurance in this asana.
m. Stretch: means you will be reaching and stretching in this asana.
n. Supine: means you will be facing up and/or on your back in this asana.
o. Twist: means you will be turning or revolving at either your spine or hips. Mostly found in variations.
- Drsti or Dristi: these are the gazing points during asana practice. Since this course is based on a more creative and adaptive Vinyasa Yoga style, we have listed drsti outside of the traditional 8-10 drsti found in an Ashtanga Yoga practice (See the end of APPENDIX 3 for a list of all 10 traditional drsti). There is no one place to look, so we have provided a few of the common gaze points. This will help you and your students center yourselves, but also help to create an atmosphere of Self-awareness.
- How to Demonstrate the Pose: you will find a video demonstration of the asana, a breakdown that describes how to safely and correctly practice the asana, as well as teaching cues provided throughout the description. Keep in mind that this describes only one way to get into an asana. You will find that, with continued practice, there are many different ways to start an asana. Keep this in mind when working on sequences and creating your Lesson Plans.
- Common Adjustments: these are common mistakes to look for when modifying your students. These usually have to do with alignment and areas that students could get injured if not corrected.
- Modifications: these are ideas on how to help beginners or students that need assistance in an asana(s). Modifications are usually needed for beginners, students with medical concerns, for students that have a limited range of motion or are tight in certain areas. Note: you will see modifications for pregnant students in this section, however, you should not conduct Prenatal Yoga classes unless you are a Certified Prenatal Yoga Instructor. These modifications are provided as additional knowledge but does not provide the in-depth information that a Prenatal Yoga Instructor would need to safely conduct a class. Prenatal students should always attend a Prenatal Yoga class instead of a regular class.
- Counter Poses: this is a list of some of the asanas that can be used to help realign your body after completing an asana. This is especially important for Backbends, Forward Bends, and Inversions. Note: these are not the only asanas that can counter each asana, just a few are listed.
- Anatomy: this section lists the major muscles that are activated when practicing the asana.
- Benefits: these are the rewards for practicing the asana. With continued and routine practice, you and your students will start to gain these benefits.
- Contraindications: these are cautions and warnings for you and your students. When practicing Yoga, it is important to know when practicing an asana could potentially harm you or your students. Knowing if your student(s) have medical concerns or ailments, have had surgery, are tight in a particular area, or are looking to strengthen a particular part of this body, will allow you to guide your students through their practice safely. Having this knowledge will allow you determine if you or your students should not practice an asana or if modifications and /or prop use is appropriate.
- Bandhas: these body locks are typically first practiced during pranayama practice; however, they can be practiced along with your asana practice. Keep in mind that it can take some time before you are able to engage bandhas during your asana practice. Note: Students with high blood pressure or heart problems should avoid breath retention practices and/or check with your doctor. If you have any neck or spinal issues (Ex. Cervical Spondylosis, hernias, etc.) you should avoid practicing Bandhas and/or check with your doctor before practicing.
- Chakras: this section lists the charkas that are activated when practicing the asana. It also provides a brief description of the chakra. This is useful in helping you gain a deeper understanding of the asana as well as can be used for sequencing when creating a Lesson Plan. Some instructors like to use themes for their classes so this helps if you would like to use a particular Chakra as a class theme.
Lastly, even though we provide at the beginning of each Lesson if any of your textbooks provide information on the Pose Type for that Lesson, we will also provide additional information at the end of each asana, letting you know if a particular posture is in one or more of your textbooks. If there is nothing listed at the bottom, then you will not find additional information on that particular asana in your textbooks.
As an overview, any additional asana information provided in the textbooks will be in the below chapters/sections.
- In your “THE ART OF VINYASA: Awakening Body and Mind through the Practice of Ashtanga Yoga” by Richard Freeman & Mary Taylor textbook you will find asana information in “PART TWO: Āsana: Movement and Poses Strung Together Like Jewels on the Thread of the Breath” in chapters 5-11.
- In your “Yoga Anatomy – Second Edition” by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthew textbook, you will find anatomy information on some of the asanas in chapters 6-11.