Alchemy week 2

The asanas I teach on Mondays at the Alchemy Center, I weave through the rest of my weekly classes, in different variations. Since I can’t post every class sequence of the week, I will be posting weekly under this Alchemy heading. So, if you are in Tuesday, Wednesday, Thurs. or Saturday classes, please check here!

This second week I paid attention to introducing/reestablishing solid standing poses. The “kona -asanas” (angle poses) and strong leg work. Establishing rooting, grounding and stability from the earth up.

We began in Tadasana with a focus on spreading the feet, keeping the weight even over the tops of the feet, engaging the thighs to pull up the knee caps, take the navel back and upwards to the solar plexus.

Parivrita Trikonasana (extended triangle) was next. Learning to keep both rib cages extended, while pressing the feet firmly to the ground and rotating the lower rib cage towards the upper. Observing the opening from the spine and the lengthening into the crown of the head.

From here we learned to make a kona (angle) with our front leg to take us into Utthita Parsvakonasana, keeping the knee and ankle in line to form a 90 degree angle. Pressurizing the back foot we learned to extend the upper arm way over in line with the ear and turning the torso skywards.

In Parsvottanasana I showed 4 different hand position possibilities. The hands clasped behind the back, holding the elbows behind the back, namaskarasana (hands in downward prayer) and namaskarasana (hands in prayer finger pointing upwards, the final position). We took our elbows towards one another to open and spread the chest, we looked up and back as we first surrendered the head back, then with a straight back drew an invisible line with the chin down the extended front leg to draw our chest towards our thigh. We then took the hands beside the feet onto blocks.

We then took Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog) and used it as a platform to move into a forearm asana. In preparation for Pincha Mayurasana (elbow balance) we worked in AMS from the forearms with foam blocks between our hands to train our upper backs to stay alive and strong readying us for the moment when we balance our whole bodies on our forearms and bring that glorious strength into ourselves. Some of the more advanced students went up against the wall beautifully.

Paripurna Navasana (Boat Pose)

For this pose we used an eight -foot looped strap. We put it around our upper backs and then pressed our feet into it, to train the chest to lift, the collar bones to spread, the lower back to strengthen and draw upwards!

Whew, the room was warm after that sequence!

Next we took chairs and placed the chairs against the wall, with one foot at a time on the chair, reaching forward towards the wall to activate hamstrings and balance. From here we took bolsters and moved into a restorative Viparita Dandasana, keeping the feet in line with the ankles on the wall, and resting the head on a bolster.

Savasana was deep and well-deserved. I allowed the class 6 minutes overtime but not without taking the opportunity to explain about ‘asteya’ in the context of non-stealing. When teachers (or students) arrive late to a yoga class, this is actually a form of stealing– it is the stealing of time from oneself and from others. When teachers go overtime, we have to aknowledge that our students time is paramount, they could have a sitter booked, an appointment to get to, a meter running out of coins, any number of scenarios could be possible.

One of my students emailed me later that evening and wrote that she saw the extra few minutes in savasana as a gift of time, and deeply appreciated it. Pointing again to our countless differences and characters, and that yoga, truly does unite and harmonize.

The pictures in this post are from It is an excellent resource for yoga practitioners.

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3 Responses to Alchemy week 2

  1. Yoga Spy says:

    What is your take on the hand position in the parsvakonasana photo? I never place hand on ankle in this pose: rather I would place fingers on floor behind ankle (or in front). To me, the hand-on-ankle position rotates the humerus inward instead of outward and thus collapses the chest.

    I wrote a related post on using palm versus fingers in these types of standing poses:

    Looking forward to more sequences!

    Yoga Spy

  2. dhana says:

    I prefer the hand on a block on the outside of the ankle for sure. Sometimes though, when blocks aren’t available and the floor is too far away, I opt for this .

  3. Charlotte says:

    That sounds like a great way to practice Boat Pose. I have never tried using a strap but can definitely see how that would help with opening the chest and not rounding forward. Time to explore … thanks for the idea!