This video is part of a progressive series of classes taught alternately by Senior Teachers Betsey Downing and Jaye Martin. Betsey and Jaye teach a logically sequenced series of poses within each class, gradually advancing the poses across the series of classes. Perfect for beginners or experienced students looking for inspiration in their home practice. Get the entire set and experience the fun and power of progressive teaching!
Episode 5, led by Betsey, is intended for Beginner students. The pinnacle pose is Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose 1 & 2 (Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 & 2) and the theme is Express Yourself! The principle embodying the theme is Muscle and Organic Energy.
This video download is the fifth in a series of twelve Anusara yoga classes presented by Betsey Downing’s Garden of the Heart yoga studio. The sessions progressively build upon one another, although it is not necessary for experienced yoga students to have worked with each of the prior classes. Downing instructs this approximately 52-minute practice alone in a small room. In her brief introduction, she notes that the theme of this class is expressing yourself, which she suggests involves connecting with your own unique spirit as well as expressing your creativity, a concept that instructor Jaye Martin discussed in the previous session. Throughout this practice, Downing uses both English and Sanskrit names for the postures, and she mirror-cues for one of the standing poses (tree) only.As in the previous sessions, Downing begins the class in a seated position to focus and chant “ohm” before coming into to downward facing dog; from here, she moves through both one-legged downward dog and wild dog poses. Next Downing returns to standing for sun salutations, adding an upright lunge to the third repetition. She then begins preparatory work for the pinnacle postures of this practice, extended hand to big toe pose 1 and 2. Returning to the floor, Downing first performs extended leg stretch with a strap, both straight up and to the side. This is followed by “vishnu’s couch” pose, a posture which I’ve performed in class but have actually never seen in yoga media before—this is a side-lying version of the extended leg stretch which requires a good deal of balance. At this point, Downing brings you back to an upright position for a few standing postures, including tree pose, a variation on side angle called humble warrior, and triangle pose with optional block. She then introduces several postures to work on opening up the shoulders: standing cow’s face pose (using a strap if needed), reverse prayer pose, and intense side stretch with hands in reverse prayer. Finally, you are ready to attempt extended hand to big toe pose. Downing shows this posture either with the option of a strap, although unlike how Martin practiced the same posture in the previous session, she holds the ends of the strap in just one hand, raising the foot out to the front briefly and then out to the side for the second version of the pose. Next comes a restorative posture, legs up the wall pose, which is held for several minutes. The finishing poses of this class include a reclining spinal twist and a brief (about 3 minutes) final savasana; Downing concludes in a seated position with another “ohm.”Overall, this practice raises the difficultly level a fair amount from the previous four sessions. Not only does Downing move more quickly through the opening flows, spending less time pausing to rest in child’s pose, but also she adds significantly more challenging postures here, particularly for those who may be somewhat limited in flexibility. I would recommend this session for those who have either mastered the first four classes in this series or for those who are advanced beginner to low intermediate yoga students.