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Tag Archives: standing 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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Revolved Triangle Sequence: Stretch Your Hamstrings, IT Band, Outer Hips, and Spinal Muscles

Parivrtta Trikonasana Sequence | Sequence for Revolved Triangle Pose | Jason Crandell Vinyasa Yoga Method

You know those poses that you once loathed, but now you love? At first, they had the audacity to make you feel awkward, imbalanced, and mortal. Then, somehow, they started scratching an itch that no other posture could. You know the ones. For me Parivrtta Trikonasana, or Revolved Triangle, is at the top of this list.

Things changed for me in Parivrtta Trikonasana when I started working with the pose differently. My experience shifted when I started putting it later in my sequences. I remember when I was an Ashtanga practitioner thinking that Parivrtta Trikonasa was too early in the standing sequence for my body. It was the first posture in the sequence to stretch my IT bands, adductors, external rotators and rotational spinal muscles. Even though I was in my early 20s, all of these muscles and connective tissues were pretty tight and Parivrtta Trikonasana was a slog.

The pose was enough of a frustration for me during my Primary Series days that I started to prep for it with a few outer-hip and IT band openers before class. I could accept that Marichyasana D was hard, but I couldn’t quite cope with the fact that I struggled with the fourth posture in the standing series. Eventually, as I moved away Ashtanga Yoga, I started building sequences that were entirely designed to make greater peace with Parivritta Trikonasana and address the tight spots that this posture revealed in my body.

This sequence came about from many years of trying to relocate Parivrtta Trikonasana from my “No thanks, I’d rather not,” list, to my “Yes, please—and I’ll have A few more,” list. Like all of my sequences, it’s accessible, simple, straightforward, and effective.

Take a few moments to look at the sequence before you practice it and you’ll quickly see why it makes sense. It includes everything that you’ll need to prepare your body for Parivrtta Trikonasana and presents these components in a straightforward progression. Fingers crossed that it works as well for you as it’s worked for me over the years.

And, hey, while we’re at it, let me know some of the yoga poses that you’re still struggling with in the comments section and how you’re going about managing them. Maybe I’ll create a sequence just for you!

PS: For easier practice at home, you can sign up for our newsletter and we’ll send you a free printer-friendly PDF download. If you are already on our newsletter list, you still have to enter your email to receive 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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30-Minute Morning Sequence

30 Minute Morning Yoga Sequence | Jason Crandell Vinyasa Yoga Method

Practicing first thing in the morning has never been easy for me. But, I’ve adapted to the early hours by creating a simple, brief sequence that slowly eases my body open. It’s illustrated above. In fact, doing a mellow practice in the morning is something I’ve started looking forward to—and, yes, I usually savor a cup of coffee prior to the first pose, or along with the sequence. Call the yoga police if you must. If I want to do a more demanding practice—which I usually save for the afternoon—I can easily use the sequence above as template. Once I get my body moving and generate some momentum, I can insert more challenging postures or include some demanding standing pose combinations.

This sequence is simple, balanced, and brief since it’s designed to help you be consistent with your practice in the new year. You’ll start in Child’s Pose to release tension in your back before transitioning into a simple twist and forward bend. I start 99% of my home practices this way.

You will pick up intensity once you get into Down Dog and do both sides of Lunging Quad Stretch. Linger over these poses as long as you like. While you’re doing these postures, establish a long, slow breathing cadence. From there, you can insert any style of Sun Salutation you want to practice at this phase of the sequence. Do between 3-10 rounds. (Check out this infographic for Sun Salutation A and Sun Salutation B, if you need more info about Sun Salutations.)

Poses 7-10 are a straightforward combination of standing poses that will strengthen your legs, open your hips, and condition your entire body. If you want to include additional standing poses or sneak a few arm balances into your sequence, this is where they should go.

The sequence concludes with a mild backbend, a neutral posture, and seated meditation. You’re welcome to intensify your backbends by including Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) or Upward Bow aka Wheel Pose. (You can go here for a tutorial on Upward Bow.

And if you sign up for our newsletter, we’ll send you a free downloadable PDF of the sequence above. Make sure to print it out and get as many coffee marks on it as want. Enjoy.

6 TIPS FOR LAUNCHING A SUCCESSFUL HOME YOGA PRACTICE IN THE NEW YEAR!

The most important thing about practicing this time of year is to be consistent about getting on your mat. Sequence, duration, and intensity matter less than the habit of practicing. In my experience, students who fail to launch a consistent home practice do so for three reasons:

1. Their expectations and practice are overly ambitious given their time constraints and competing demands.

2. They try to do too many postures and make their practice overly intense.

3. They expect their home practice to feel the exact same as their favorite yoga class. When home practice doesn’t feel the exact same, they throw in the towel.

If your resolution for the New Year is to practice more consistently at home, try avoiding these pitfalls and including the following three keys to success for launching a home practice:

4. Focus on postures you love. Practice them frequently and shamelessly.

5. Focus on brief, sustainable practices that you look forward to returning to time and time again.

6. Once you’ve established a consistent home practice, scale up your intensity and focus on postures that are challenging for you.

{illustrations by MCKIBILLO}

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Peak Pose Sequence: Handstand

Handstand Prep Sequence | Jason Crandell Yoga Method

I know I’m not alone in my love for Handstand. It’s empowering, strengthening, and fun. Whether you’re working at the wall, in a studio, or trying to do the pose on a paddleboard, the following sequence will help you build a strong, stable Handstand.

Here’s a look at my thought process when putting together the sequence.

Continue reading Read More > >

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Essential Sequence: 30-Minute Whole Body Sequence

There are days when we want to work toward a peak pose, and there are other days when we’re not sure what to do with our bodies. On those days, I always find it’s most helpful to do an all-around balanced, whole body yoga sequence: One that stretches and strengthens all the different regions of the body, that works the front body, back, and side body, and that allows me to turn upside down, even if only for a 5-10 breaths.

Not only are these types of whole body yoga sequences physically balancing, they are often incredibly soothing to the nervous system.

To encourage this effect, I invite you to spread your attention evenly throughout your whole body as you do each pose in the yoga sequence below. Instead of focusing on the part of your body that feels the biggest sensation or stretch — which, by the way, can be a very valuable technique for focusing attention during asana practice — try to give all the different parts and pieces of the pose the same amount of attention. Let the shapes of the poses spark genuine curiosity in you — check in to what the back leg is doing in Warrior II or what the fingers are doing in Triangle Pose. By cultivating this type of attention, you’ll create a wonderful sense of soothing equanimity in your attention, in your nervous system, and in your poses.

Whole Body Yoga Sequence

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{illustrations by MCKIBILLO}

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