Around the world in asana #1

Padmasana in Rotterdam

Journeys start with preparing yourself for them. Reading that lonely planet, buying that extra pair of socks and underwear, and making sure your neighbor is around to water your plants. It’s all part of making sure you are ready for your next adventure. Or at least as ready as you’ll ever be. And like any journey, mine starts at home. Preparing myself for what’s to come. It is for this reason I picked my home and more specifically the part of our apartment where I practice yoga, for the first picture of ‘Around the Word in Asana.

‘Around the World in Asana’ is my personal project for which I travel around the world and I break down every pose of the modified primary Astanga Vinyasa series that I’ve been working on during my yoga teacher training.

Padmasana or Lotus Pose

As said, every journey starts with preparation and that’s exactly what we do with this very first pose of the modified primary series. We’re preparing our mind and body for the practice to come. It is in this pose that we ground ourselves, that we ‘arrive’ on our mats. By closing our eyes, focusing on our breath and noticing how our body feels, we check in with ourselves and create our foundation for the practice.

Breaking Padmasana down

Padmasana or Lotus Pose
  • We start by sitting cross-legged on the floor. Your ankles can cross and be on top of each other, or, if it feels comfortable, place your feet the way mine are placed, so in front of each other. This actually feels more comfortable to me than crossing my legs. You can also put for example your left foot on top of your right thigh, making a half lotus. Or, doing this at both sides, making a full lotus pose. I don’t have enough flexibility in my hips yet to do this, so I’m sticking to this modified version
  • Then make sure your back is straight, and there’s a slight arch in your lower back (pelvis is slightly tilted forward) and your knees lower down in the direction of the floor. If you feel like your back is rounding and it’s hard to sit up straight, place something underneath your sitting bones. Personally, I always sit on a block in this pose, but you can also use a meditation cushion (or a regular one, doesn’t really matter) or a folded blanket. The same applies when you have difficulty lowering your knees to the floor
  • Lengthen the top of your head towards the ceiling, make yourself long, really lengthen your spine
  • Tuck your chin slightly in
  • Place your hands flat on your thighs (palms facing up), rest them in your lap or you can make a Mudra. I chose Gyana Mudra which is supposed to increase your concentration and make you feel more grounded

Twisting in Padmasana

Variations on Padmasana are twists to the left and right side and breathing in and out with your fingers interlaced:

  • If you wish to twist to the left, (sitting in Padmasana) you lift your right arm on an in breath and on an out breath you twist your upper body to the left, putting your right hand on top of your left knee. Place your left hand behind your left sitting bones. Place only your fingertips on the floor instead of your whole hand and push to lift your spine, keeping that length in your spine. Your focus (drishti) is over your left shoulder. Breath in and out a couple of times in this position, perhaps twisting a little deeper on the in breath (don’t go all in, we’re just getting started) and then switch sides.
  • When your done twisting to the left, com back to the middle on an in breath. To twist to the right, you lift your left arm up on an in breath and on an out breath you twist your upper body to the right, putting your left hand on top of your right knee. Place your right hand (on the finger tips) behind your right sitting bones. Push from your right finger tips to keep the length in your spine and your focus (drishti) is over your right shoulder. Breath in and out a couple of times in this position and then come back to the middle.
Padmasana with hands interlaced above your head
  • Breathing in and out with your fingers interlaced above your head. On the out breath you twist your hands (fingers still interlaced) so your hand palms face down and put them on top of your head. On the next in breath you twist them again and take them up, coming back to Padmasana with fingers interlaced above you. You can repeat this sequence a couple of times.

So that’s a wrap for the first of 40 asana around the world and the first pose of the modified primary series of Ashtanga Yoga. Thank you for joining me on my yoga journey around the world and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Next time we’ll continue with with Marjaryasana (Cat Pose) and Bitilasana(Cow Pose) at Rotterdam Zoo (Blijdorp) and you can also expect new asana’s from Venice, Piedmonte (on the slopes of Italy) and Paris soon. I look forward to sharing with and hearing from you. See you soon!

With a lot of love,