Ashtanga Yoga

ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA
The Asana I have chosen as my topic for the Anatomy assignment is Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog. Adho Mukha Svanasana level and classification is that of an intermediate arm support. This pose is practiced on the mat with the feet and hands pushing against the ground and the hips lifted as high as possible in the air.

The joints affected when in this pose, are feet and toes, ankle, knee, hips and pelvis, spine from bottom of spine to the top of the neck , shoulders, elbows, wrists and fingers. So pretty much all the joints in our body.

Assuming the spine is in neutral there should be slight flexion in the shoulder joint , scapula aducts, the hip joint is flexed. There is slight extension in the elbow and knee joint. The forearm should pronate slightly and the wrist joint is in flexion. The ankle joint is in dorsiflexion.
In terms of muscles used for this pose, the spine works the psoas minor, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominus, transverse abdominis, and erector spinae to ensure a neutral spine and trunk stability. The muscles of the legs should work against gravity, and the gastrocnemius, anterior tibialis, hamstrings, quads, (rectus femoris), iliopsoas, gluteus minimus, medius, and maximus, will work in this pose too.
For the shoulder joint and around, the muscles that are active include subscapularis, supraspinatus, pecs, deltoids and biceps, lower traps, rhomboids . These muscles ensure stability in the arm and especially the scapular. The triceps assist in elbow extension and stability. The smaller muscles in the lower arm region and around the wrist and fingers also assist in finger extension, and wrist hyperextension. The neck should be relaxed so rather than active, the muscles should be released, especially cervical erector spinae.

Being upside down strengthens the veins by increasing demand on the heart. Rather than the feet, knees, hips and spine supporting the body weight, the weight transfers and it is the upper body that support s the body weight. This pose is also a great way to become used to being upside down, and the first step towards performing what most beginner practioners fear – the headstand.


A2 WHAT IS RAJA YOGA
Raja Yoga is the path of systematic analysis and control of the mind. Compiled by Patanjali Maharishi, raja yoga is also known as ashtanga yoga, because its practices can be divided into eight limbs. Those eight limbs are:
1. YAMAS – RESTRAINTS
2. NIYAMA – 0BSERVANCES
3. ASANA – STEADY POSE
4. PRANAYAMA – CONTROL OF THE VITAL ENERGY
5. PRATYAHARA – WITHDRAWAL OF THE SENSES FROM OBJECTS
6. DHARANA – CONCENTRATION
7. DHYANA – MEDITATION
8. SAMADHI – SUPER CONSCIOUS STATE

Although this topic is very new to me and one which I am learning about, I have chosen to discuss YAMAS.
YAMAS –RESTRAINTS can be seen as guidelines for ethical standards and moral conduct. They are broken down in to five sub headed topics. YAMAS. refers to the five abstentions Ahimsa; satya, brachmacharys;, asteya;, apargraha;
AHIMSA Non violence should start from within. Violent thoughts should be replaced with non violent thoughts, all feelings of wanting to harm or injury, damage or speak ill of, can only leave that person feeling more anger, or in less control. The need to do harm shows weakness. Ahimsa means kindness and non-violence towards all living things including animals; it respects living beings as a unity, the belief that all living things are connected. Indian leader Gandhi strongly believed in this principle Avoidance of verbal and physical violence is also a part of this principle, although ahimsa recognizes self-defense when necessary, as a sign of a strong spirit. It is closely connected with the notion that all kinds of violence entail negative karmic consequences.
SATYA ; If I am truthful I feel powerful, if I have to tell the truth even though a lie may get me out of trouble in that instant, I feel brave. Speaking the truth or more appropriately non telling of lies, as the truth may be what you believe is the truth and therefore not a lie, but non telling of lies that you know not to be the truth will lead you into trouble and/or leave you with a bad feeling that may fester inside.
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, it is written, “When one is firmly established in speaking truth, the fruits of action become subservient to him.”[1] According to Paramahamsa Yogananda, “During deep, dreamless sleep (sushupti), and in the samadhi meditation of the yogi, man abides in his true nature, the soul, and cognizes Absolute Truth (Paramarthika). It is a mistake to think that ordinary persons are never in communion with God or the Ultimate Truth. If all men did not occasionally pass into the state of deep, dreamless sleep, even if only for a period of minutes, they could not live at all. The average person has no conscious recollection of his soul experiences; but, as a part of the Universal Whole, from time to time he must replenish his being from the Source of Life, Love, and Truth

BRAHMACHARYA As I am unsure how to describe this other than belief in celibacy, and marital fidelity therefore no sexual contact before marriage (Ages 14 -20 years) and then total fidelity which I translate to loyalty, I have used some quotes that can better explain brahmacharya. This also shows I do have an understanding of same.

One common usage denotes the practice of brahmacharya, which indicates the practice of sexual continence or celibacy. At its most basic level, brahmacharya means abstinence from sexual intercourse, by eight types of sexual contact
The word brahmacharya is also understood broadly in yoga as “sexual continence,” which can be understood as being applicable as appropriate in different contexts (e.g., marital fidelity, celibacy for spiritual aspirants etc.), in more extreme terms (complete celibacy) or in more specific terms in relation to preserving and sublimating male sexual energy rather than losing it through ejaculation.

In yoga, the term brahmacharya tends to take on a connotation of disciplining the use of and preserving sexual energy. Brahmacharya is discussed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras as one of the 5 Yamas, the foundational commitments for the practice of yoga. According to the Yoga Sutras, the end-result or fruit of Brahmacharya practised to perfection is unbounded energy or vitality. Many yogic techniques, such as meditation and asanas (e.g. shirsasana) can help one to achieve Brahmacharya interpreted as celibacy or strict control of sexual desires
ASTEYA, to me means the ability to share. If you can share then you will not steal, feel no jealousy, and do not want to covet (keep to yourself), that which you hold dear.

APARIGRAHA I understand this to mean not open to bribes, bribes . If somebody gives you something, they usually want something in return. Therefore there is intention, and intension is a motive. It can also mean means to limit possessions to what is necessary or important greedlessness or non-grasping. It comes from the word parigraha, which means reaching out for something and claiming it for oneself;


Assignment 3: Either on chakras, 3 gunas, what is yoga, 3 bodies, etc. What I understand on Chakras

Chakras are centers of the body from which a person can collect energy. They are connected to major organs or glands that govern other body parts. Its name derives from the Sanskrit word for wheel” or turning. Chakras correspond to vital points in the physical body but are generally understood as being part of the subtle body which cannot be found through autopsy. These chakras have corresponding centres in the spinal cord and the nerve plexus in the gross physical body. The astral and physical bodies are united by a nadi resembling a silvery thread, through which the vital energy flows. The death of the physical body occurs when this thread is cut, which constitutes their final separation.

There are seven principle chakras and each chakra represents a state of consciousness. It is a centre of subtle awareness, and has a specific feeling, tone, bliss or joy. It is, in effect, a storage place for energy forces. The seven chakras are:
1. Muladhara: located at the lower end of the spinal column, this corresponds to the sacral plexus.
2. Swadisthana: located at the genital organs, and corresponds to the prostate plexus.
3. Manipura: located at the navel, and corresponds to the solar plexus.
4. Anahata: located at the heart, and corresponds to the cardiac plexus.
5. Vishuddha:located at the throat, and corresponds to the laryngeal plexus/
6. Ajan: located between the eyebrows, and corresponds to the cavernous plexus
7. Sahasrara located at the crown of the head.

Kundalini is described as coiled power, a force which ordinarily rests at the base of the spine, described as being coiled there like a serpent. Through meditation, and various yoga practices, the kundalini is awakened, and can rise up from the muladhara chakra through the central nadi, called sushumna, inside or alongside the spine and reaches the top of the head. The progress of kundalini through the different chakras leads to different levels of awakening and mystical experience, until the kundalini finally reaches the top of the head, Sahasrara or crown chakra, producing an extremely profound mystical experience. It is this experience that most practioners desire.

Each chakra has a certain number of petals that are in the shape of a lotus with a Sankrist letter on each petal. The number of petals vary for each of the chakra. Muladhara has 4 petals, Swadhisthana has 6 petals, Manipura has 10 petals, Anahata has 12 petals, Vishuddha has 16 petals, and Ajna has 2 petals. All fifty sanskrit letters are on the fifty petals.

As I am newto yoga philosophy, I have only touched on the basics of what chakras are. I would love to learn more about Chakras, and yoga philosophy in general. I am quite surprised at this as I thought this would be the boring part of Yoga!

A4 Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2), projects strength and make me work hard. I also like the lines of the pose.
Technique
From Tadasana (Mountain Pose)Inhale and step the feet out into Utthita Hasta Padasana (Extended hands and feet Pose. Step the feet wider (as this will prevent injury on the knees), and roll the back leg in and turn the heel so that your right heel is aligned with your left foot arch. Contract the quads lifted the knees. Keeping your leg muscles engaged. Keep you arms outstretched and lengthened, keeping your hips and shoulders squared and in the frontal plane. Lift and open the chest, and lengthen the spine. Separate the shoulder blades and stretch and lengthen the arms, without tension in the shoulder (keep soft). . Keep your tailbone down to lengthen the spine. Keeping this position, exhale and bend the front knee until your hips and knee are at approximately a 90 degree angle , and your thigh is parallel to the ground. Make sure your knee stays above the ankle to prevent undue pressure on the hips and knees. Sink into the pose pushing the heels into the floor , the movement should be vertical not horizontal (no movement forward). Look to the forward hand and hold the position for 3 5 breaths (beginners) longer for the more experienced student. To exit the posture straighten the bent leg, rotate to other side. Repeat asana on the other leg. For the more intermediate student, can keep the arms in position, while repeating to the other side.
Muscles that are worked/stretched.
Muscles that are working include Back hip joint – primarily gluteus medius and minimus for internal rotation and abduction; gluteus maximus and hamstrings for extension, tensor facia latae, for internal rotation, vastii to extend the knee. For the front hip joint, the hamstrings, and quadriceps (eccentrically), gluteus maximus, piriformis, gluteus medius and minimus.
The muscles that are stretched from back hip include the tensor fascia lata, and iliopsoas and from the front hip are hamstrings and quadriceps Vastii (vastus lateralis and vastus medialis).
Benefits
The benefits of Virabhadrasana 2 are : Strengthens and tones the lower limbs, including the arches, ankles, knees and thighs. Strengthens and lengthens the shoulder s, hips and abdominal muscles. Lengthens the spine Improves the blood circulation to the inner organs while massaging them.
The therapeutic benefits include: improves concentration and communication skills, increased prana in pelvic area and the swadhisthana chakra; instills the values of bramacharya and saucha.
Contraindication:
High blood pressure keep the students in position for less time and instruct them to relax the face and neck. , students with neck injuries (instruct the student to keep face forward rather than to side,

Modifications for the pose.
If a student finds it difficult to keep their balance (or suffers from a medical condition that affects their balance), instruct them to bring the feet closer together, alternatively, you may use the wall to assist. If a student is new to the pose as well as finds it difficult to balance you can modify to Utthita Hasta Padasana, and progress the pose slowly. If the student is rehabilitating, or finds it difficult to bend the knee to 90 degrees, then instruct the student to bend the knee to less than 90 degrees. Very overweight students may find this asana difficult due to the extra weight they have to support. They will find it difficult to stand for too long, keep their arms up and may also be unable to reach forward and or bend the front knee to a 90 degree angle. It would be appropriate to break the asana down step by step till the student increases their strength using all of the above modifications. Overweight students may have high blood pressure, therefore caution should be taken to not keep the students in any pose for too long.