Monday, December 29, 2014

In Rhythms Yoga: Monday Morning Bird of Paradise

Lift into Bird of Paradise, Svarga Dvidasana, in order to build strength in the legs; create opening in the shoulders; as well as creating deep opening in the areas of the groins and in the hamstrings. Move slowly while building balance and concentration in the body and mind.

Preparatory opening for the Pose: Come into Gomukhasana in order to open up in the hips and shoulders. Come to a seat. Option to sit on a block for support. Bend the left knee and place the left foot to the right side. Lift the right leg and bend the knee, placing the leg on top of the left, bringing the right foot towards the left side.

Lift the right arm towards the ceiling, and bend the elbow, bringing the palm down the back. Bend the left elbow and reach for the right palm, clasping the hands if accessible. If the hands or fingers do not clasp, use a towel or a strap for support. Broaden through the area of the collarbones and lift the crown of the head towards the ceiling so that the spine is strong and straight rather than rounded. Ground down through the sitting bones and sit tall. Draw the shoulder blades down the back and draw the low belly in towards the spine.

Align the right elbow straight up towards the ceiling and the left elbow downwards towards the ground. Stay here and breathe, 3-5 full rounds of breath, creating smooth and even inhales and exhales. If using a strap or towel, slowly walk the palms closer to one another as the shoulders begin to open.

Repeat the instructions on the opposite side.

To move into Bird of Paradise, Svarga Dvidasana from Extended Side Angle Pose: Come into Extended Side Angle Pose, Utthita Parsvakonasana. For step-by-step instructions for Extended Side Angle Pose, click here.

From Extended Side Angle (leading with the right leg,) drop the right arm under the leg, and reach it up towards the right hip. Wrap the left arm around the back and grasp the hands together or use a strap or towel for support. Option to grab the left wrist with the right palm. This is a more challenging variation, if accessible.

Stay here and breathe for 3-5 breaths. Reach the crown of the head towards the front of the room in order to lengthen and extend through the spine, rather than rounding.

Keep the bind behind the back and slowly begin to walk the left foot in so that the left shoulder, hip and left foot are aligned. The right foot is lightly touching the ground and the weight is primarily resting on the left foot. Take your time and move with intention.

Once you are aligned, find your drishti gaze, focus on a non-moving object on the ground. Slowly begin to straighten the spine, and lift the right knee while reaching the crown of the head up towards the ceiling. The gaze moves with the movement. Find your balance and stay with the right knee bent.

Use the strength of the core to extend the spine upwards rather than rounding and create more opening in the right hip. Draw the shoulder blades down the back and broaden through the chest and collarbones. Press the left thigh bone back in order to straighten more through the left thigh. Stay here and breathe.

Perhaps this is the full extent of the pose or notice if you want to move further. Do not muscle your way in deeper. If you feel pain, slowly come out of the pose and work on building strength while in a bound, Extended Side Angle Pose.

To move further, begin to straighten the right leg and work the gaze over the left shoulder. Focus on the breath. Bring balance back into the pose by softening with the breath. Stay here for 3-5 full round of breath. Create smooth and even inhales and exhales.

To come out of the pose, move slowly and with intention. Slowly begin to come out the same way that you came into the pose. Allow the right knee to move closer towards the ground. Once the right foot to touches the ground, reach the left foot back into a bound Extended Side Angle Pose and release the bind behind the back. Bring the torso back upright.

Move with intention and repeat the same instructions on the opposite side.

The pose is named after a flower rather than a bird. Find the variation that best serves your body and like a flower, grow and extend upwards towards the energy source, the sun. Yoga is a practice. There is no perfect pose. Wherever you are in the pose, practice finding contentment, “samtosha” and focus your attention on the breath.

After moving into the variation that best serves your body, allow yourself a moment in Child’s Pose
to allow the breath to calm and the body to restore. Notice how you feel after challenging the mind and body. Acknowledge your efforts. Be content with where you are in your practice. No efforts in yoga are ever wasted. We learn to become more aware of ourselves, including our strengths, weaknesses, fears, as well as bringing more understanding towards why we react in certain situations. We also learn to sit and breathe with discomfort (not pain, notice that there is a difference) and challenge.

Check with your doctor before performing any form of exercise including yoga and breathing techniques. Always honor your body. If a posture gives you pain, gently come out.

Christi Iacono, owner of In Rhythms Yoga

Christi Iacono is a certified yoga teacher, at the 500 hour level. She is the owner of In Rhythms Yoga, in Clairemont. IRY is a small neighborhood studio in Clairemont, S.D., located in the Mount Streets. Christi guides adults, kids and families in the tradition of yoga. Christi has experienced many positive physical and mental transformations from her regular yoga practice. She enjoys sharing her experience, passion, and dedication with her students. She believes that yoga is accessible to all. Rather than forcing someone’s body into a pose, Christi carefully works with each individual to find the variation that will best serve their body.

IRY offers regularly scheduled vinyasa-based classes on, Sat., Sun. (Yin-Yoga) and Wed. mornings as well as a Tues. evening class.

Special Holiday Yoga Events include:
* Special Holiday Restorative Candlelight Class on Monday evening, Dec. 29th, from 5:30-6:45 pm. RSVP for both of these events to Christi at
Go to to see the full schedule, instructors and for private lessons.

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