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Tag Archives: balancing poses

Essential Sequence: Winning in Warrior III

WHY THIS SEQUENCE WORKS

I spent my first two years of yoga avoiding Warrior III. Then, I spent another year avoiding it. Finally, after avoiding it for an additional 15 years, I’ve made it a mainstay of my practice. What can I say? I guess it takes me a while to warm up to things that expose my weaknesses, knock me off balance, and frustrate my ego. I have to admit, I actually like it now.

Part of the reason I avoided the pose was that I didn’t feel that I should struggle with it nearly as much as I was. The degree of difficultly that I experienced didn’t seem commensurate with the challenge of the pose. After all, standing postures like Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, arm balances like Eka Pada Galavasana, and balancing in inversions like Forearm Balance and Handstand weren’t very difficult for me. But, three seconds into Warrior III and I would topple over.

Now that I’m no longer avoiding the pose, I’ve figured out a few things that make it much more accessible and effective. Go figure, now that I’m not avoiding something, I’m actually learning about it—shocker. What incredible insights yoga teachers have, right?

Here are the things that I’m focusing on in the pose:

1) Strongly rooting down through the base of the big toe.
2) Strongly adducting both thighs toward each other like I’m squeezing a block.
3) Engaging the spinal muscles and hamstrings (of the top leg) like I’m doing Locust Pose.
4) Firmly pressing my hands together in Anjali Mudra for a few breaths to help me feel the midline of my body before reaching my arms forward.
5) Holding my breath, thinking about the future, judging myself, and assigning blame to others.

Here’s a quick sequence to help you build up to Warrior III. I’ve been enjoying this sequence quite a bit lately.

POSES 1-2

Simple, straightforward reclined Hamstring and Adductor lengthening to prepare for the upcoming demands of Warrior III.

POSES 3-4

Paripurna Navasana and Ardha Navasana pair perfectly to strengthen your core. Bringing your attention to your center early in this sequence will help you keep your attention focused on your midline when you get the wobbles in Warrior III later.

POSES 5-6

These two poses help you transition from the reclined and seated postures to the upcoming standing postures.

POSES 7-9

This is a progression of standing balances with the legs abducted and externally rotated. These postures will get you tuned in to standing balances and they’re typically easier than the upcoming standing balances.

POSES 10-12

These three postures shift the orientation of the legs and hips into the same orientation as the upcoming Warrior III.

POSES 13-15

Parsvottanasana gives you one more opportunity to prepare your hamstrings for Warrior III. Many teachers transition into Warrior III from Warrior I. I prefer transitioning into Warrior III from a high lunge. I think it makes more sense for the hips. Check it out and see what you think.

Want to practice this sequence at home? When you sign up for our newsletter we’ll send you a free printer-friendly PDF of the sequence!

AND, if you want to feel more confident and knowledgeable about your sequencing skills, check out my e-course, The Art of Yoga Sequencing. It’s great for yoga teachers and students who want to better understand how the body works and how to stretch and strengthen effectively.

{illustration by MCKIBILLO}

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A Shoulder Opening Sequence to Forearm Balance

30 Minute Forearm Stand Sequence | Forearm Balance Pincha Mayurasana Sequence | Jason Crandell Vinyasana Yoga Method

WHY THIS FOREARM STAND SEQUENCE WORKS

This sequence leading to Forearm Stand focuses on creating greater range of movement in your shoulders. Tightness in the shoulders—particularly flexion of the shoulder joint—will distort the spine, pelvis, and legs. More often than not, these distortions produce a banana shape in the posture. When the vertical integrity of the posture is lost because the body has moved into a banana shape, it’s harder to sustain the posture because the rest of your body is overworking to compensate. Core strength can minimize this banana shape pattern, but it’s important to work at the root of the problem, which is almost always the shoulders.

Poses 1-4 will stretch your shoulders and upper back and prepare you for the demands of Handstand and Pincha Mayurasana or Forearm Balance. I included two postures to stretch your rhomboids—Garudasana Arms and Cat Pose—because these postures help your scapulae and allow rotate more easily. Scapular rotation essential for all postures that take your arms overhead, especially inversions.

Poses 5-6 begin to warm up your entire body. Down Dog continues to stretch your shoulders and arms, while the Low Lunge with your fingers interlaced releases tension on the front of your shoulders, abs, and hip-flexors.

Poses 7-10 introduce balancing postures to the sequence. I always find that standing balances prior to hand balances help remind me to go slow and focus on my contact points with the floor. This helps prepare my mind for the demands of hand balances. Reverse Warrior is a nice inclusion in this sequence because it releases tension in the side body, especially the lats. Tension in the lats is one of the largest obstacles to Forearm Balance.

Two more things about Forearm Stand:

First, when you subscribe to our newsletter, we’ll send you a free downloadable PDF of the sequence above.

And second, for a more detailed look at alignment instructions for Forearm Stand (Pincha Mayurasana), you can check out this tutorial.

{illustrations by MCKIBILLO}

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Peak Pose Sequence: Build Your Vasisthasana (Side Plank)

Before we get to the post, a quick, shameless plug for my upcoming trainings. You can join me live at my 500-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in San Francisco, London, or Hong Kong. I also have three separate online teacher trainings, focusing on arm balances & inversions, sequencing, or anatomy.

Vasisthasana | Side Plank Yoga | Jason Crandell Yoga Method
In order to prepare your body for Vasisthasana, you need to open your hamstrings, adductors (inner leg muscles) and outer-hips. It’s also a good idea to awaken your core and learn how to work your shoulders safely in the posture.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to the peak pose sequence above:

Poses 1-2: Honestly, I love to start practice on my back—especially when I’m going to tackle demanding postures later on. Supta Padangusthasana is the perfect way to settle in, slow down, and open the hamstrings and adductors.

Continue reading Read More > >

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