Fundamental Anusara yoga session for beginners and beyond | iHanuman


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Fundamental Anusara yoga session for beginners and beyond

Yoga instructor Betsey Downing introduces this video as “Yoga Today,” the first in a series of twelve Anusara yoga classes presented by her Garden of the Heart yoga studio. Downing teaches the practice one-on-one in a small room with both soft music and a burbling fountain in the background. Prior to beginning the postures, Downing emphasizes the importance of not pushing yourself beyond your limits—i.e., giving 100% rather than 110%. This is consistent with the theme of this practice, self-honoring; Downing returns to this theme throughout the class.Downing starts off the session in a lying position. Here she offers instruction on diaphragmatic breathing, placing an emphasis on the out breath. From a hands and knees position, she then teaches the Anusara concept of “melting the heart” via contractions and retractions of the rhomboid muscles. In all postures involving the hands on the mat, Downing cues the viewer to “claw” the floor both to engage the forearms and to provide greater stability. In addition, she takes plenty of time to setup up basic, foundational poses such as downward-facing dog and mountain pose. Going beyond the basic, this class also includes a few postures designed to present beginners with a bit of a challenge, such as one leg downward facing dog pose, no-hands cobra pose variation, and a beginner’s balance posture, tree pose. The work culminates in a pinnacle posture, side angle pose.After a reclined twist and brief rest, Downing leads an approximately 10-minute guided relaxation. She describes this sequence as progressive muscle relaxation: starting with the feet, she gradually moves through each part of the body, cueing the various muscle groups to relax. Although Downing stresses the importance of not falling asleep during this segment (she makes a distinction between relaxation and sleep), I could definitely feel myself drifting off towards the end, lulled by her tranquil voice. Overall, even though this class is intended for beginners and I am more experienced in my yoga practice, I enjoyed this session, appreciating in particular Downing’s nuanced reminders for adjusting alignment. Although true yoga novices might desire a greater amount of instruction than Downing provides, most beginning yoga students are apt to both learn from and grow with this practice.

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