How to do Rabbit pose (sasangasana)

Rabbit is one of the hardest postures to do, initially because you cannot see what you are doing!

Sometimes, we give up in our heads before we’ve even started a pose because we find the posture difficult. We decide that it will be hard and so we don’t give ourselves the best chance. There is one simple way to change this.

It is by paying 100% attention to the setup, the start of the posture. This gives you focus, stills your monkey mind (your own worst enemy!) and gives you the instructions necessary to execute the posture to the best of your ability on that day.

Once you understand Rabbit’s set up you will get so much more out of this fabulous posture.

By the time you arrive at Rabbit your spine is very warmed up. Joints are more mobile and comfortable, ready to take on one of the most radical and effective postures of the 26.

Benefits of Rabbit

Rabbit extends the spine and compresses the organs in the front of the body. It does a tremendous job of increasing the mobility of the whole spine, feeding the nervous system and relieving tension in the neck, shoulders and back.

Rabbit is one of the best postures for insomnia, depression and anxiety.

How to set up Rabbit 

Sit down on your heels. Knees together. Hips on your heels, ankles flat on the floor.

The GRIP

  • Flick your towel over your heels so that you have a dry strong grip.
  • Grab your heels over your towel, thumbs outside, fingers inside your foot.
  • In the beginning this grip can be awkward because your shoulders and wrists are a little tight. Don’t worry, in time these things will loosen!

THE CHIN

  • Tuck your chin in to your chest and hold your stomach in.
  • Keeping your hips down on your heels, slowly round into yourself. Think of your back curling round, nose to belly button.
  • The second you see your stomach keep looking at it. HOLD IT IN!
  • You are trying to get your forehead to your knees and top of the head on the floor.

THE MOVE

  • Adjust your grip now so it is strong.
  • Holding your stomach in, pull on your heels so that your hips lift up to the ceiling.
  • In the beginning, you may feel like this will be almost impossible. Like you are stuck in this position and nothing will move. Again, be patient because this will change as you practice regularly.
  • You will be surprised one day when you pull and your hips do rise beautifully towards the ceiling!

Now you must KEEP PULLING. This is the key to this posture.

Tips to help when you are in the posture

If your forehead is not touching your knees, walk the knees forward. In the start, this might be tricky. Your lower back feels tight, belly is in the way. Each time you come to class, you must try. Keep your stomach in and walk one then the other knee forward.

Keep your chin tucked into your chest.

Walking your knees forward starts to stretch your lower back gently. It’s relatively easy to stretch the upper back in rabbit, you want the whole spine to stretch.

There shouldn’t be too much weight on the head. Keep pulling on your heels to lessen that weight.

If you are practising a while, and rabbit feels more comfortable, bring your heels together. Both heels equally, and hold them tight.

And finally, one last time, the two key elements to make rabbit work for you – keep pulling on your heels and sucking your stomach in!

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The one thing that can help your Yoga practice!

Sometimes it can be frustrating as a beginner or even as a regular practitioner to feel like you aren’t moving forward in your yoga practice.

It can be physical, mental and emotional walls we face. I personally believe that we need to understand the fundamental parts of the body that need to connect and work together. The “core” or what ancient yogis harnessed and mastered over time are called “bandha systems”.

This is what we are essentially trying to tap into and use. By understanding the importance of our core stability in our yoga practice we become increasingly in control of our long term health, longevity and wellbeing. Learning about your body and mind can have a ripple effect into your discipline as a yoga practitioner and can help to change your attitude and approach to life holistically.

At the end of the day it’s important to feel we have a choice to be in control of our minds and bodies. We have a choice to be responsible for our own health and wellbeing. For ourselves, our family and our community.

And this starts from going back to the core.bikrams16library-177-of-181

love Kash

Kash Bazil

Bikram Yoga Teacher and Core Devotee1

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Learn How to Love Triangle!

“Triangle is the key posture to bring faith back to the spirit” – Bikram

Of all the postures in the standing series, this one can be the most challenging. It requires determination and focus but the pay off? So many benefits!

Your overall strength and muscle tone will increase tremendously building equal amounts of strength AND flexibility through the hips, pelvis, shoulders and torso. Whichever quality your body needs you will feel in this tremendously powerful posture. Just do the best you can and remember to breathe.

Ultimately in any yoga posture, the more you are willing to work, the easier it will become.

8 important Points to help make Triangle easier

  • Take a big step, 4 feet minimum!

Many people especially when they start, don’t take a wide enough step. Look 20160706_163257how wide apart Brandon’s legs are in the pic on the right.

  • In the set up, stretch your arms apart and lift your chest up

This engages your core. Your upper body support starts from your core – your whole pelvis is included. Think of sucking the whole area up. Not just in. Your pelvic floor will thank you in years to come. 🙂

  • Moving into the posture, when you move your arms, JUST move your arms, don’t let your whole torso collapse to the side. This way you will use your core from the start to support your upper body and your upper body strength will improve. But we’ll not lie to you, it’s going to be hard in the beginning.
  • Have a sneaky peak in the mirror at your arms. They should be in one line, that’s what you are aiming for. Why? Because that means you are really stretching down the side of your torso from the hip right up to your fingertips.
  • Gently push your knee back with the elbow. Keeping the fingers between your big and second toe will start this happening.
  • Can’t touch your toes? Quick check in the mirror to see if you are you sitting down low enough. You’ll get there with perseverance. If you struggle to get down, widen your step. 20150717_101930 (Copy)
  • Look up to the ceiling and TOUCH your chin to your shoulder. Tuck the chin in more to get this connection. Best remedy for stiff necks!

Now you are in the posture, keep your breath flowing and keep stretching UP. The upward stretch will naturally instigate the downward stretch.

  • The straight leg should be lovely and strong and locked out. Triangle builds strong legs. Bikram says you should be able to do this posture on ice! It will build tone and strength especially in the inner thighs. On the way to building this strength, you are going to feel things. Keep breathing and keep smiling.

Benefits of Triangle Posture

  • An excellent cardiovascular workout, with very little movement.
  • Increases stability
  • Tones arms, abdomen and thighs
  • Builds better overall body alignment through strengthening of the legs
  • Intensely stretches the side of the body
  • Lengthens the spine, opens the torso and broadens the shoulders which allows proper function of other physiological systems (cardiovascular, digestive etc.)
  • Reduce saddle bags
  • Good for frozen shoulder
  • Helps regulate hormone levels
  • Helps to build awareness of hunger, helping with eating disorders
  • Helps with: constipations, colitis, low blood pressure, appendicitis, spondylitis, menstrual disorders
  • Helps to balance adrenal glands and the production of the stress hormone, cortisol

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My Back to Bikram Experience!

by Michelle SimpsonMichelle Simpson

One morning I woke with yet another headache. Every second to third day I was waking with screaming headaches.  I had been going to my physio on a regular basis over the past year which definitely helped but the situation was not fixed. This particular morning I had enough!  I thought, “this has to stop and I’m the only one that can fix this”.  On the spot I decided to go back to Bikram.

I had stopped Bikram when I became pregnant with my son and so it had been about 2 years since my last class at Brookvale.  I took myself along, signed up for the month and headed for the room.  As I approached that Essence of Bikram hit me and immediately a loud crazy voice in my head screamed “OH NO, what were you thinking?!?”.

I walked into the room and an even louder voice… “You have GOT to be KIDDING, did you NOT remember how HOT this place was!”

Day 1  I survived!  

It went surprisingly well. After the initial shock of the heat I focused on following and it was OK.  The most significant moment was doing the Locust Pose where you turn your arms towards the floor and lay on your arms.  I was in excruciating pain and couldn’t bare my own weight.  This was so significant for me as I used to be able to do this pose, it was a defining moment that I had to establish a regular practice again.

Day 2 and 3 OMG I was sooooooo stiff and sore, I was questioning taking myself back to the torture chamber but I was determined to do a few days in a row.

Day 4 was a turning point, I was starting to feel good and decided to keep coming back.  I hadn’t planned to do a challenge but knew it was good to do a number of days in a row getting back into Bikram so decided to aim for 5 to 7 days.

Day 6 I went into the class with such high spirits. After 5 days of Bikram I was feeling amazing.  Guess what happen on day 6?  I was able to bare weight on my arms in the Locust Pose!

Day 7 was great and I decided “Well I’m at day 7, might as well go to 10 now” but the rest of the day I was exhausted.  I had the biggest energy slump since I started and struggled with the idea of going back the next day but I had already committed in my head to 10 days… so off I went!

Day 8 to 10  I was glad I dragged myself back as every day I was just feeling amazing and it was easy to go back each day (with enthusiasm).  I got to day 10 and it was basically…. “I’ve got this far, I might as well go for 14 days”.  The detoxing and the increased vitality I was feeling made it an easy decision.  I had not had a single piece of junk food, I was eating well and hadn’t craved anything sugary since I started.  Paul was a great support, encouraging me to keep going and chatting to me about food. In fact, all the teachers were awesome. Everyone was so supportive and I really felt welcomed back.

Day 11  After class – Yep another big slump day but… I still went back….

Days 12 to 14  Every day I was just feeling amazing, I was looking forward to each session and believe it or not I had to stop myself from going!  At that point I could have gone on and contemplated going to day 20.  I would have but by this stage I was so busy and things had got crazy as I hadn’t planned to do 14 days straight of Bikram so I had to do some serious catching up!

How would I describe the 14 Day Back to Bikram Experience?

I was really happy I had completed 14 days.  I felt fantastic and couldn’t believe how well, vibrant and energized I felt and no surprise – I had not had a single headache for 14 days!  For the next 14 days I continued going every second day and I’m still going regularly.

Reflecting on when I use to go a couple of years back compared to today, now I seem to be able to focus on the teacher’s instructions whereas previously it was over and over in my head…”it’s too hot, when are they going to open the window/door, when is the floor exercises, when is this going to end etc etc”.  It’s great knowing I can go to yoga and focus on what I’m there for (not saying there isn’t other chatter that cuts in every now and again but it is not usually heat related).

BikramsBrookie (147 of 53)Lastly, the whole month since I’ve come back for some unknown reason I’ve struggled with Standing separate leg head to knee pose. As Jodie would say, I have a relationship with this pose.

I have no idea why I struggle mentally and physically with it.  After a month of Bikram I decided I must just be trying too hard and, low and behold…our relationship is getting better!

 

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Balancing Stick (Tuladandasana)

BikramsBrookie (57 of 106)One of the great things about this posture is that it is relatively simple for a beginner.  But be warned – by simple, we don’t mean easy! One of the most challenging postures to do as a beginner, this posture builds mental and physical resilience, is a great calorie burner and will tone the entire body.

How to set it up?

Stretch tall in the set-up, keep your arms and head together and stomach in. Try to keep your arms and head together the whole time, just like Paula is doing.

Keep both legs locked to provide a firm foundation for the rest of the body. When you are doing Tuladandasana, anchor your focus to a point in the mirror. This will help you to maintain your balance. When you come down keep your eyes still. You are focusing through the mirror, not on it.

Benefits of Balancing Stick

The forward tilt of your torso sends high-speed blood pouring into the heart, especially the neglected lower region, cleaning out the veins and all the arteries, therefore strengthening the heart muscle. The same rejuvenating flood rushes into the brain as well.

Like standing head-to-knee and standing bow-pulling pose before it, bringing the chest parallel to the floor helps to stimulate and strengthen the heart muscle giving huge cardiovascular benefit.

Your lower legs and particularly the inner muscles of your quadriceps (front of the thigh) will become stronger and will develop higher endurance. It requires extreme concentration and mental focus to hold the posture for the duration. 10 seconds can seem like a very long time!  By perfecting balance and body control, balancing stick strengthens physical, psychological, and mental powers.

Imagine you are trying to stretch your shoulders forward to the mirror. This posture is excellent for relieving any stress and tension along your entire spine. Your body posture will improve as well, as the muscles of your lower back and shoulders will be strengthened.

In fact, this posture is one of the best exercises for bad posture.

As you become stronger and more proficient in this posture, every muscle will be contracted in your body as you learn to concentrate your mind for 10 honest seconds.

Bikram says “The hardest thing in human life is to concentrate, even for ten seconds.”

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Four tips to help you fly …

…… in Poorna Salabhasana (aka aeroplane pose)

Full Locust firms abdominal muscles, upper arms, hips and thighs. Good for scoliosis, kyphosis, sponylosis and slipped discs. This is backbending and weightlifting for your spine, and full locust does what no Full-Lotus.jpgmachine can do.

Bikram says that of all the poses it is the one students find it hardest to improve in, but again, as long as you are TRYING the right way you are receiving all the benefits, so don’t be despondent.

1. Keep your knees and feet together and clench your hips and leg muscles TIGHT!

While it’s tempting to let your knees and feet (heels especially) part company as you try to come higher, try your very hardest not to. Do not allow your knees to bend!  Keep all your muscles tight and you will be able to lift your chest more. Plus you’re building up leg strength and toning your butt (and that’s a good thing, not just because it looks good in jeans, but it helps take the load off your poor over-worked lumbar spine).

2. Take a deep breath in as you lift

This inflates the lungs to maximum, encouraging the chest to lift and then the back muscles need to turn on to hold you up there.  Ideally you’ll use the muscles in the middle and lower spine to remain perfectly balanced on hip bones for 10 seconds.

3. Think of lengthening the body

How much can you stretch your arms out and your legs back, and your chest forward. Once your body creates space, then your muscles can contract more easily to get you higher.

4. Look up and back

While the ceiling and the teacher are often fascinating, you’re really trying to see the BACK of the room.  Whether you do or not is not so important as your intention. Yoga is about INTENTION to create CHANGE.You will open your chest, your heart chakra, your arms will begin to lift more and you will engage the back muscles.1

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Sasangasana – Rabbit Pose

Benefits

  • Maximum extension of the spine increasing its mobility and elasticity, and does the same for the back muscles
  • Relieves tension in the neck, shoulders and back
  • Helps alleviate colds, sinus problems and chronic tonsillitis
  • Through compression of thyroid and parathyroid, rejuvenates and improves function of those glands
  • Can also be therapeutic for insomnia, diabetes and depression
  • Spine stretching  feeds the nervous system with fresh blood and oxygen
  • Helps to ensure proper spinal alignment
  • Improves digestive function

Rabbit is a complex posture and for beginners, sometimes difficult to conceptualize. As with all postures, a correct set up is essential.

If your hands are slipping, you might find it hard to pull on the heels.

Don’t compensate for this by grabbing just your towel, ankles or worse – nothing at all!

 

If you’re a slippy gripper, or want a better posture, read on…

  • Tuck your chin into your chest first, then bend forward while gripping the heels.
  • Lift the hips up all the way.
  • Once the body is curling forward and the hips are lifting, then redjust if necessary to get a tight grip on your heels.
  • Now it’s easier to pull on the heels and work towards straightening the arms.
  • Now you get your forehead to your knees. You MUST walk your knees forward to your forehead, not the other way around.
  • By doing all this, you will work towards eventually stretching your entire spine and achieve maximum stretching in the posture.
  • And finally, as you exit the posture maintain your grip and chin into your chest until you are all the way back up.

If you’re struggling with Rabbit, keep on trying and feel free to ask any of our teachers if you’re not sure you’re doing it correctly. Aside from the incredible benefits the posture offers, doing Rabbit in your deepest expression feels unbelievable.0

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