Dancing Shiva - Overview
Beginner: Dancing Shiva, when taken with a light heart and from an experiential viewpoint, is a challenging and fun practice to attempt. Don't push the poses. Take baby steps with the more challenging postures. If you enjoy them, return to them over and over! The Earth-Rain breath body link pulls grounding energy from the earth while showering the mind and body with positive energy flow. Elbows seal as you lift your hands on the inhale. Drop shoulders and release tension on the exhale breath. Keep your weight balanced on both legs and feel grounded in your feet through the link.
Advanced: Dancing Shiva is an empowering practice for the advanced yogi. It will test your strength, balance and sense of humor. This is a great workout for all the muscles. Enjoy the sequence and it will teach you as much about your spirit as it will your physique! The link is Earth-Rain. Focus on creating energy in the palms of the hands and as the forearms and elbows connect on the inhale lift. Drop the chin and lift from the head as your arms rain down on the exhalation. Feel grounded in your feet and tuck your tailbone gently under.
Beginner: A great pose for beginners to strengthen their thighs and arms. Sink the tail from diver pose down as the arms raise to align with the ears. Watch that the knees do not overshoot the toes. Don't force the position, let gravity do the work and pull you in the perfect amount of comfort and resistance.
Advanced: To deepen in powerful squatting/chair pose, focus on super straight arms and really lengthening through the hands and fingers, while sinking the tail. Are your knees turning out? Keep your inner thighs engaged to keep the knees in proper alignment.
Beginner: Beginners benefit greatly from forward fold, as it stretches the leg muscles where we most commonly hold on to tightness. Feel the weight of the head as you fold forward. Be mindful of your body. Do you feel any pain behind the knees or near the tail bone? If so, bend your knees deeply until that tension is relieved. Only go to your limit. That is your perfect expression of the pose.
Advanced: Advanced practicioners can continue to benefit from this posture. To deepen your fold, lay your chest on the thighs as you deeply bend the knees. Now, as you straighten your legs, keep your chest glued to the thighs - the strength here comes from your abdominals and hip flexors. Engage mula bandha as you stretch your upper body towards the earth and your tail towards the sky - feel the expression of perfect opposition.
Beginner: Tree pose is a great place for a beginner to improve their asymmetrical standing balance. For now, place your raised foot against the inside of your grounding leg wherever you feel most stable. You may keep your arms in prayer position until you feel strong enough to send the arms up through center on the exhale breath.
Advanced: Tree is a comfortable pose for the advanced yogi. Focus on pulling the kneecap up the standing leg. Check the alignment of the knees and hips. It is common to turn the knee out too far. Are your hips both facing forward? If not, you may be turning the raised leg out too far.
Half Lotus Crane Balance
Beginner: Half-Lotus Crane Balance is a great posture to begin to find balance with your legs in an asymmetrical position. For now, don't worry about lifting the foot of the grounded leg off the floor. Focus on finding even distribution of weight and comfortable leg placement along the arms.
Advanced: For the advanced yogi, Half-Lotus Crane Balance is an adventure in asymmetry! Use the same principals for the upper body as you would when approaching Crane Balance: strong core and even distribution of weight across arms and hands. Are all of your fingers working? Make sure they are actively pushing into the ground!
Beginner: Dancer Pose is a beautiful pose for the beginner yogi to attempt. This is a great pose to practice along a wall or using a chair for balance. For now, it may be enough to simply raise your leg behind your body! Reach your hand back toward the foot if possible.
Advanced: Advanced yogis can deepen their Dancer Pose by continuing to lift from the chest and also the foot of the raised leg. Shoulders should stay relaxed and low. How does your neck feel? If there is tension or compression in the spine or neck, you may be over-exerting, so consider relaxing a little bit!