The main elements of this posture—the standing leg and hip—can be overshadowed by the challenge of balance and the effort to straighten the kicking leg. First and foremost, this posture is about the uprightness of the standing leg and spine.
If you must keep the kicking leg bent in order to maintain an upright spine, that is perfectly acceptable. Push the big toe of the standing foot down and keep the standing foot as still as possible, though it may be wobbly when starting out.
Breathe deeply and relaxedly in this posture. You may notice that your breath shortens as you focus on staying upright or stretching the leg forward, but breathe deeply, expanding the chest.
This posture builds strength and stability in the legs, hips and back. It creates flexibility in the hamstrings and improves balance and focus. It twists the spine slightly, improving circulation to the vertebral discs.
Excerpt from the Ghosh Yoga Practice Manual - Beginning.
This posture deepens the stretch of the ankles and knees of Firm and Hero postures. It adds a lengthening of the inner thighs by separating the knees and internally rotating the hips.
This position, with the knees deeply bent and also separated, is unique in its isolation and lengthening of the muscles that connect to the pubic bone and cross the inside of the knee.
Your pelvis may want to tilt backward. Keep the pelvis upright to facilitate a neutral spine.
Breath can be relaxed and relatively deep in this position. In general the muscles of breathing are unhindered.
This position lengthens the quadriceps and the front of the knees and ankles. The length is vital for seated meditation postures like Lotus.
This posture is named Mandukasana (Frog Posture) by Buddha Bose, Gouri Shankar Mukerji and Dr. P.S. Das. The students of Bikram Choudhury do not practice this posture, instead giving the name “Frog” to a position with the legs outstretched and separated, with the arms underneath the legs and the upper body pressed toward the floor. Bose calls that posture “Tortoise, Phase 1”, Mukerji calls it “Half-Tortoise II,” we call it Tortoise (in the Intermediate Manual).
Excerpt from the Ghosh Yoga Practice Manual - Advanced.
In Standing Deep Breathing (with Folding Hands/Arms) we move the chest and arms in harmony with the expansion and contraction of the breath. We use the arm movements to aid us in deepening the breath, stretching and strengthening our breathing muscles.
As the chest expands on the inhale, we open the arms to stretch the shoulders, chest and throat. As the chest contracts on the exhale, we draw the arms, shoulders and chest inward, easing the muscular effort and encouraging relaxation.
With this exercise, slow and deepen your breath as much as possible without creating tension. If you find yourself tensing in an effort to lengthen the breath, relax your effort. Try six seconds on the inhale and six seconds on the exhale.
This exercise stretches and strengthens the breathing muscles in the chest, upper back and belly. It increases lung capacity. Any exercise that slows the breath will slow the heart rate, lowering the blood pressure and reducing stress.
An excerpt from the Ghosh Yoga Practice Manual - Beginning.
This posture stretches the hamstrings and inverts the upper body.
At first, when the hamstrings are tight, you may feel a stretch in the lower back along with the legs. Focus on creating length in the back of the legs. Point the tailbone up and flatten the spine to bring the head closer to the floor. Hold the position in complete stillness and appreciate the peacefulness of the posture.
Take full, deep breaths in this posture.
This is an inversion with the head below the heart. It slows the heart rate and slows down the thoughts in the mind. It deeply stretches the back of the legs (hamstrings). If fosters stillness and a sense of calm. It increases strength in the feet and improves balance.
When you come out of the posture, be careful of lightheadedness, which is normal. Your blood pressure is returning to its upright status, so breathe deeply and take a moment to let the lightheadedness pass. If dizziness continues, squat down or kneel until it passes.
Excerpt from the Ghosh Yoga Practice Manual - Beginning
This posture comes in many forms. It is a stretch of the knee, quadricep, front of the hip and the femoral nerve. It prepares the lower part of the body for full backbends and Lotus.
Be careful not to strain the knee in this position. Seek length in the mid-thigh and the front of the hip. You will achieve these things by pushing the hip forward, engaging the glutes (butt) to tilt the pelvis backward, and lifting the belly and chest up as if you were backbending (pictured above, top).
Alternately, you can tension (stretch) the nerves in the low spine by creating a spiraling action (pictured above, bottom). Grab the back foot with the opposite hand. Lean forward with a little bit of a twist.
Breath can be normal and relaxed in these positions. Focus on exhalation to help relax the body.
Bow-Leg positions lengthen the hip flexors (front of the hip), an area of the body that is generally very tight. This can have a positive impact on back pain and even digestion. It will also help prepare the hips and pelvis for deep backbends and Lotus.
The Bow-Leg can be done in a number of positions including Pigeon, Splits and even Cobra (see below). Use the position to lengthen the front of the leg, hip and knee. Be careful not to strain the knee.
Excerpt from Ghosh Yoga Practice Manual - Advanced
This posture has two main elements: the standing leg/hip and a straight spine. This is the most demanding strength posture we have for the hips, with the weight of the upper body bent all the way forward and the arms stretched overhead, making the upper body even heavier. The standing hip needs to be very even and very strong in Balancing Stick. Keep the standing leg straight and balanced—don’t hyperextend the knee, roll to the outside of the foot, or let the kicking hip come up.
Lengthen the spine as much as possible. Avoid collapsing the chest. Stretch the arms strongly forward.
If you are unable to maintain a straight spine with outstretched arms, bring the hands to the hips. This reduces the load on the back and hips. You can also try this modification if you have a weak or injured lower back.
This pose requires a lot of exertion, so the breath will be a little shorter than usual. Keep the breath smooth and relaxed.
This posture builds strength in the legs, hips, back and shoulders. It stretches the hamstrings and chest. It builds intense focus, balance and determination.
Focus on not allowing the hip of the lifted leg to tilt upwards. Keep both hips square to the floor.
Excerpt from the Ghosh Yoga Practice Manual - Intermediate.
The most important element of this posture is the compression of the front side of the body, namely the throat (massaging the thyroid gland) and the belly (massaging the stomach, liver, pancreas and intestines). The goal is to touch the forehead to the knee, but the most important element is the compression. Whatever depth you attain, compress the throat and belly as much as possible. Don’t be tempted to hold your head with your hand and pull it toward your knee. That defeats the purpose of the posture.
With the front-side compression in this posture, breathing is limited. Keep the breath short. Don’t release the compression of the posture to take deeper breaths. Focus on the exhale, using it to shrink the chest and increase the compression of the belly.
This posture massages the internal organs, intestines and the glands in your throat, improving digestion and helping to balance the endocrine system—a tremendously therapeutic posture. It strengthens the muscles of the abdomen and stretches the muscles on the back of the spine. It stretches and strengthens the hips and legs.
This posture can be remarkably uncomfortable, especially at first. The low belly is an area of the body that is often neglected and weak. This posture tightens and massages the low belly, creating movement in the intestines that can cause nausea. Don’t let the discomfort deter you from earnest practice. This posture is very beneficial and unique to the Ghosh lineage of yoga.
Excerpted from the Ghosh Yoga Practice Manual - Beginning.
Easy Posture is the first and simplest of the Lotus postures—seated, cross-legged posi- tions that are used for breath control and meditation. The most important part of this posture is making the spine and pelvis upright. An upright spine enables an open and relaxed chest for breath exercises and an aligned nervous system for meditation.
Breathe deeply and slowly in this posture.
The physical benefits of this posture include rotation in the hips, flexibility in the legs, knees and ankles, and strength in the pelvis, abdomen and lower back.
Exerpt from the Ghosh Yoga Practice Manual - Beginning
This exercise deepens the breath, expands the lungs and strengthens the breathing muscles in the chest. Use the lifting arms to stretch the ribs wide and help the lungs fill completely. Pull the belly in at the end of the inhale; it helps to isolate the muscles in the ribcage, making them stronger and opening the lungs. On the exhale, as the head drops back, stretch the chin up and away to get an even bend in the neck. The natural motion of the torso on an exhale is to contract. By extending the throat here we create tension and build heat in the body.
Work to slow your breathing down. As a beginning student try for four to six seconds on both the inhale and exhale. As an intermediate try for eight, and as an advanced student ten.
Start to develop the connection between breath and physical movement. It will bring about calmness and steadiness in your postures. Notice your body calming and thoughts slowing down as you progress through the exercise. Notice your focused and present state of mind. Learning simple breath control techniques like this can be used in stressful or emotional situations in your daily life.
Any exercise that slows the breath will slow the heart rate, lowering the blood pressure and reducing stress. This exercise increases lung capacity and strengthens the breathing muscles in the chest. It also stretches the shoulders, hands and throat.
Excerpt from the Ghosh Yoga Practice Manual - Intermediate
This posture compresses the intestines, encouraging movement that aids digestion and elimination, removing air.
Most of the power of this posture comes from the breath. Once you are holding the knees tightly, relax the abdomen and breathe deeply into the belly. The belly will push against the thighs, building pressure within. This creates internal heat and massages the intestines.
Keep the spine as straight as possible.
Breathe deeply into a relaxed abdomen. Inhale and exhale slowly and completely.
This posture improves digestion and reduces bloating in the belly. It stretches the hips and knees. It strengthens the breathing muscles, including the diaphragm. It improves lung capacity and breath control.
Excerpt from the Ghosh Yoga Practice Manual - Beginning.
Scott & Ida are Yoga Acharyas (Masters of Yoga). They are scholars as well as practitioners of yogic postures, breath control and meditation. They are the head teachers of Ghosh Yoga.
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