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Practice with Clara

Drishti (60-min) Vinyasa

A strong vinyasa practice that works with the bandhas and Drishti to bring focus, clarity, and energy to the body and mind. This class features inversions and arm balancing with a tripod headstand into a crow pose as the peak. Hip opening, leg balancing, core work, and back body strengthening connect you to your body to prepare for the peak flow sequence. Your class ends with Nadi Shodhana, aka alternate nostril breathing.

Style: Vinyasa

Duration: 60-minutes

Level: intermediate/advanced

Props: 2 Blocks

Focus: inversions and arm balancing.

Location: Vancouver, BC

Spotify Playlist: Stand on Your hands

Considerations:

** For those with neck injury/sensitivity, those who are not taking the arm balance/inversion, and those with knee sensitivity, you can take malasana instead of crow pose, and standing splits instead of the headstand variation. 

Meditation

Come to sit on your mat and close your eyes.

As you connect to your breath, soften around the edges of your body.

Drishti translates from Sanskrit as ‘focused gaze.’

It is a means of developing focused attention. It is a way to hold yourself to one thing.

Drishti relates to the fifth and sixth limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

The fifth limb, Pratyahara, uses Drishti for sense withdrawal.

The sixth limb, Dharana, uses Drishti for concentration.

Drishti is very important in the Hatha yoga practice as it points to where you are looking and where you hold your gaze during the postures. It’s highly encouraging to have a single-pointed focus and gaze at one point. This focuses the mind and allows us to feel and be in our body’s with more awareness and attention.

Questions to sit with:

  • What is your Drishti right now?
  • What have you been focusing on?
  • What is your mental/emotional Drishti?
  • Is your Dristhi serving you right now?
  • How does it feel in your body? What is occurring?

Try not to create any judgement or story around where you land.

Remember: where our focus goes, our energy flows.

Mantra

Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu

Translation of the mantra = may all beings be happy and free.

Pranayama

Bhastrika breath (aka, bellows breath)

  • Inhale through the nose and lift the chest, sliding your hands to your hip creases.
  • Exhale sharply through the nose, pressing your hands to your knees as you round your spine.

Benefits of Bhastrika Pranayama:

It is good for brain oxygenation and benefits the nervous and motor system. It energizes the body and mind and is excellent for anxiety or depression.

Maha Bandha (aka, the great seal)

  • After your last cycle of bellows breath:
  • Exhale fully and round your spine
  • Draw the belly inwards and draw the chin to your chest.
  • Hold here for as long as it serves in your body.
  • When you are ready, inhale and soften your body.

Benefits of Maha Bandha:

It strengthens the pelvic area and the nervous system. It supports immunity, betters digestion and the inner organs, promotes strength and energy in the body.

Maha Bandha is the combination of all three bandhas that includes mula bandha (the pelvic/root lock), uddiyana bandha (core/abdominal lock), jalandhara bandha (chin/throat lock).

A bandha is an energetic lock/seal we create in the body. Bandhas channel and move the Prana through the body with more integrity.

Opening Movement

10-15 breaths to move as you like, options:

  • Balasana (child’s pose)
  • Adho Mukha Shvanasana (down dog)
  • Uttanasana (forward fold)
  • Bidalasana (cat pose)
  • Bitilasana (cow pose)

Come to Tadasana at the top of your mat.

Wave 1

Tadasana (mountain pose)

Urdvha Hastasana (hands to sky)

Uttanasana (forward fold)

Ardha Uttanasana (half lift)

Anjaneyasana (lunge) variation

  • Put your back knee on the ground
  • Bring your hands to your shoulders and take your elbows wide
  • Make circles with your elbows going in one direction
  • Repeat 5 cycles

Anjaneyasana (lunge)

Bharmanasana (tabletop) variation

  • Take the palms as wide as your mat and turn the fingertips outwards
  • Sway your shoulders side to side to release the forearms
  • Breathe deep and move slowly

Bharmanasana (tabletop) variation

  • Place your palms under your shoulders
  • Keep one palm facing forward and turn the fingers on the other palm to the back of your mat.
  • Soften the elbows and press the fingertips down to release the wrist
  • Option to take your hips toward your heels to intensive the stretch
  • Switch sides and move to the opposite hand to repeat the wrist release

Bharmanasana (tabletop) variation

  • Take the back of one hand to the ground
  • Rock genty forward and backward to release the back of the hand
  • Repeat on the other side

Adho mukha svanasana (down dog)

Phalakasana (plank)

Chatarunga

Bhujangasana (cobra pose)

Adho mukha svanasana (down dog)

Eka pada adho mukha svanasana (3-legged downward dog)

Anjaneyasana (lunge) variation with cat/cows

  • Place your back knee on the ground
  • Walk your front foot wide to the edge of your mat
  • Come onto your fingertips with your palms under your shoulders
  • Inhale and arc the spine, lifting your chest
  • Exhale and round your back, taking your chin to your chest
  • Repeat several cycles

(wide-legged forward fold) variation

  • Step your feet to the top of your mat and bring your pinky toes to the edge
  • Bring your palms to the ground
  • Inhale and bend your knees, lifting your chest and gazing forward
  • Exhale and bow, taking your hips toward the sky
  • Repeat several cycles

Urdvha Hastasana (hands to sky)

Tadasana (mountain pose)

Repeat the same sequence starting on the opposite leg.

** Second set: 

Malasana (yogic squat) with Kapalabhati pranayama.

Kapalabhati translates from Sanskrit as Kapal, meaning the forehead, and Bhati, meaning light or knowledge. Kapalabhati is an energizing pranayama, also known as Skull Shining Breath, clears the lungs. This pranayama brings lightness and clarity to the mind and frontal cortex of the brain.

This style of pranayama involves sharp, active exhales through the nose to stimulate the clearing of the lungs by clearing the stagnant air that collects around the sides of the lung cavity. The sharp exhale pulls the stale air in toward the center of the lungs and pushes it out. Energetically, we’re drawing the air upwards to revitalize the mind and body. The inhale is passive, and as kapalabhati breath is performed, the abdomen repeatedly contracts on the exhale and releases on the inhale. This pranayama is best done on an empty stomach during the earlier partition of the day as its excitatory and stimulates the digestive fire.

Benefits include:

  • Enhanced mental focus and clarity
  • Clearing of the lungs and nasal passages
  • Excitatory to stimulate blood flow and boost circulation
  • Tones the abdomen and lower organs
  • Sharpens senses and concentration
  • Balances nervous system
  • Stimulates the digestive fire and appetite
  • Purifies the nadis (energy channels) of the body through prana (breath)

Uttanasana (forward fold)

Tadasana (mountain pose) variation

  • Reach your hands overhead
  • Stand on your tiptoes
  • Bring your hands to prayer at your heart
  • Bing your hips to your heels

Bakasana (crow pose)

Uttanasana (forward fold)

Urdvha Hastasana (hands to sky)

Tadasana (mountain pose)

Wave 2

Tadasana (mountain pose)

Eka Pada Utkatasana (one-legged chair pose)

Eka Pada Tadasana (one-legged mountain pose)

Anjaneyasana (lunge) variation

  • Inhale and take your arms up toward the sky
  • Exhale and sweep your arms forward, down, and back behind you
  • Repeat several cycles

Adho mukha svanasana (down dog)

Bhujangasana (cobra pose)

Chatarunga

Phalakasana (plank)

Adho mukha svanasana (down dog)

Eka pada adho mukha svanasana (3-legged downward dog)

Virabhadrasana II (warrior 2) variation

  • Walk your hands off the top corner of your mat
  • Tent out your fingertips
  • Roll the front thigh out toward the opposite side of your mat to release the groin

Anjaneyasana (lunge)

Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana (standing splits)

Rollerskating pose

Come to lay on your back for core work

  • Extend your legs toward the sky
  • Take your hands behind your head
  • Inhale and lift your toes a little higher
  • Exhale and extend one leg toward the ground
  • Stay here and flatten your back against the ground
  • Inhale with your head on the ground
  • Exhale and lift your head and shoulders from your mat
  • Do five cycles on the one side

Bharmanasana (tabletop)

Sirsasana B (tripod headstand)

Balasana (child’s pose)

Adho mukha svanasana (down dog)

Uttanasana (forward fold)

Ardha Uttanasana (half lift)

Uttanasana (forward fold)

Tadasana (mountain pose)

Repeat the same sequence on the other side.

** Second set:

Tadasana (mountain pose) variation

  • Reach your hands overhead
  • Stand on your tiptoes
  • Bring your hands to prayer at your heart
  • Bing your hips to your heels

Bakasana (crow pose)

Uttanasana (forward fold)

Urdvha Hastasana (hands to sky)

Tadasana (mountain pose)

Peak Pose Flow 

Tadasana (mountain pose) variation

  • Reach your hands overhead
  • Stand on your tiptoes
  • Bring your hands to prayer at your heart
  • Bing your hips to your heels

Bakasana (crow pose)

Sirsasana B (tripod headstand)

Bakasana (crow pose)

Uttanasana (forward fold)

Considerations:

** For those with neck injury/sensitivity, those who are not taking the arm balance/inversion, and those with knee sensitivity, you can take malasana instead of crow pose, and standing splits instead of the headstand variation.

Floor Sequence 

Balasana (child’s pose)

Hip/thigh stretch of choice:

  1. For those with knee sensitivity, take Utthan Pristhasana (lizard pose)
  2. For everyone else, take a variation of frog pose:
  3. Bring your abdomen to the ground
  4. Come up to your forearms for a soft sphinx
  5. Bend one knee and kick it in to your hand
  6. Press your pubic bone and thigh into the ground
  7. Hold and breathe before switching sides

A backbend of choice for eight breaths:

  1. Dhanurasana (bow pose)
  2. Ustrasana (camel pose)
  3. Urdvha Dhanurasana (wheel pose
  4. Salabasana (locust pose)

Balasana (child’s pose)

Adho mukha svanasana (down dog)

Kapotasana (pigeon pose)

Pranayama – Nadi Shodhana, aka alternate nostril breathing

Nadi Shodhana set up:

  • Take your thumb to your right nostril,
  • Take your ring and pinkie fingers to the left nostril
  • Place your index and middle finger to your third eye between the brows.

Nadhi Shodhana how-to:

  • Plug your right nostril and inhale on the left side
  • Plug both nostrils and hold at the top
  • Release the right nostril and exhale from the right side
  • Pause at the bottom
  • Inhale on the right nostril
  • Plug both nostrils and hold at the top
  • Release the left nostril and exhale
  • Pause at the bottom
  • Repeat several cycles on your own.

Nadhi Shodhana benefits:

This style of pranayama carries more oxygen to the blood than regular breathing; it also soothes the nervous system, helps create calm in the body and mind, and balances the subtle body. Nadi Shodhana lowers the heart rate and reduces stress and anxiety as it purifies the subtle energy channels so the Prana (breath, life-force) can flow with ease.

Sushumna is the body’s central channel and largest energy line. It is the home to the seven chakras. Two energy lines traverse Shusumna—the spine—called Ida and Pingala. Ida and Pingala represent the other two main energy lines that move from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. These two energy lines refer to the right and left sides of the brain; through these energy lines, or Nadis, we create balance in the body and connect the two hemispheres through the breath.

Pingala represents solar energy, masculine, extroverted, bright, left hemisphere.

Ida represents lunar energy, feminine, introverted, dark, right hemisphere.

We need both energies to be whole. We need both energies to feel balanced in body and mind. When we connect such dualistic expressions, we create our reality. Without the opposition of the other, there is no creation story.

Seated meditation or savasana to close.