Main Event: Eka hasta bhujasana (leg over shoulder pose)

Our Spring 2018 yoga courses are focusing on the varying biomechanics of yoga poses through “main event” poses – end starting with forward folds. The first week’s pose is aka hasta bhujasana, leg over shoulder pose, which requires the practitioner to have full range of motion in the ball-and-socket hip joint and pliable hamstrings. The poses below will help you on the journey to the pose – the journey might not end next week, next month, or even next year, but it’s well worth it to nurture “well-oiled” hips (and lower back as an incidental positive effect). Happy practicing! ~namaste, Sylvia

Supta padanghustasana: Press the foot into the strap with the same pressure as you pull on the strap. Keep bottom of extended leg moving toward floor.
Bending and straightening the leg can help in finding space in the hip socket
Turn foot and knee out at the same angle starting at the hip joint. Keep hip bones even on floor – do not be tempted to go too far at the expense of alignment.
You can allow the leg to cross all the way over the body for this twist. Draw the upper hip away from the shoulder and keep pinky side of foot drawn back/flexed.
Anjaneyasana – high lunge: Counter pose to forward folds
Anjaneyasana – low lunge: Arms can be raised above shoulders for additional stretching of hip flexors. Press top of back foot into ground for stability; pad under back knee with blanket if uncomfortable.
Half pigeon pose extending forward: Flex the foot of the bent leg, and place the bent knee far to the right (if right leg bent). Keep the weight evenly distributed on both hips. Keep the front of the body long.
Flex the back foot, draw the heel back enough for the knee to leave the ground, encourage the hip on the same side to move forward – this stretches the hip flexors.
For a bigger stretch of the hip flexors and front of the thigh, draw hip of back leg forward.
Rocking the leg in the hip socket 1: Sit with spine upright – a blanket under the hips will assist in this
Rocking the leg in the hip socket 2
Cradling the leg: The preparatory pose prior to moving into full leg over shoulder pose
Eka hasta bhujasana – leg over shoulder pose: Place the leg as high up on the back of the shoulder as possible, and press the upper arm into the leg to encourage it to move further back. Keep chest lifted.

PS: Our asana practice is followed by philosophical readings from TKV Desikachar‘s The Heart of Yoga to set the context for physical practice – if you practice with us remotely, please join us in reading this lucid, guiding text, and leave your thoughts below!



Author: Sylvia Vitazkova, PhD, CYT

Dr. Sylvia K. Vitazkova is a certified yoga teacher, life coach, horsewoman, and conservation biologist. Sylvia’s formal study of yoga began while she was an undergraduate at Cornell University, and intensified when she began to practice Ashtanga Yoga in 1997 while attending Columbia University for doctoral studies in biology. Sylvia soon realized that she wanted to help others experience the consciousness and transformation that her own practice fostered in her and began to teach in 1998, subsequently studying in Mysore, India, in 2002. Sylvia continues to evolve her practice by learning from senior teachers, the most influential of whom has been Barbara Benagh. Her teaching focus is on correct alignment, the joy of being fully present in one’s body, and the psychological and spiritual context within which the physical practice is embedded. Parallel to being a yoga teacher, Sylvia had a full-time career as a professor of Conservation Biology, having taught undergraduate and graduate courses, including a course she created on nature and spirituality, which brought her two areas of expertise together. She has conducted and published the results of her research on wildlife in the tropics, and has been involved in the creation of a number of conservation studies programs. Sylvia’s experience in mentoring students naturally led her to life coaching, in which she became certified through George Mason University in 2014. A lifelong connection with horses has been woven throughout these experiences, from her first pony while a child in Africa, to teaching at riding camp in the U.S., then Claremont Riding Academy in NYC, to the current and ongoing exploration of how yoga can be a tool for better and more connected riding. Sylvia now leads InBodied Living LLC, a wellbeing organization and consultancy, with her partner, James Houston. 

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