Archive for asana

Senior Iyengar Teacher Bobby Clennell returns!
March 15-17

Schedule of Classes:

  • Friday 3/15, 4 – 6 pm
    Teacher’s Class – Inversions:

    A regular inversions practice helps us cultivate insight, develops mental discipline and widens our spiritual horizons. These challenging but rewarding poses also help us develop strength and poise. We will learn the principles of alignment needed to sustain a safe and secure inversions practice.* (*The teachers inversions class can be attended by teachers, trainee teachers and “experienced” students:any one with a 5 minute headstand.) (Class a la carte: $70)
  • Friday 3/15, 7 – 9 pm

    Mentally calming and physically rejuvenating class. Restorative poses teach us to be in the asana longer so its effects penetrate deeper. We will also learn pratyahara and dhyana techniques to become familiar and more confidant with a deeper level of spiritual practice. No prerequisites: all comers, beginners, teachers and more experienced students alike are welcome! (Class a la carte: $45)
  • Saturday 3/16, 10 am – 1 pm
    The Elements:

    According to yogic principles, everything in the universe is made up of 5 subtle elements: earth element is grounding; water brings flow; fire energizes & stimulates; air expands & opens; and space connects us to universal spirit. Practicing a variety of poses, we will explore our own unique expression of these elemental forces. No prerequisites: everyone is welcome who is interested.(Class a la carte: $60)
  • Saturday 3/16, 3 pm – 5 pm
    “Baby” Back Bends:

    Here’s a way to radically rethink your backbends; sometimes referred to as baby backbends—these poses set the foundation for the deeper backbends.Rather than searching for intensity, we will work with awareness and search for a smooth, even arc in the spine, and then finish up with Urdhva Dhanurasana. No prerequisites: everyone is welcome who is interested. (Class a la carte: $45)
  • Sunday 3/17, 9 am – 12 pm
    Akarna Dhanurasana, The Archer – 
Direct the arrow of awareness:

    Akarna Dhanurasana develops strength in the arms and torso, flexibility in the legs and hips and calms the mind. We will prepare the body with a series of poses including Supta Padangustasana I, II and III, Baddha Konasana, and Janu Sirsasana.
    Prerequisites: Level 2 students and up. (Class a la carte: $60)
Total for workshop including 
teachers’ class: $270
pd before 2.19)
Total for workshop without 
teachers’ class: $200
pd before 2.19)

To Enroll – click here and select “online store” tab, then select “series & memberships”, then “workshops”
Download Bobby Clennell’s Workshop at Allied Yoga info here

* Cancellation Policy: If you cancel at least 2 weeks (14 days) before the workshop your money is refunded less a $40 admin. fee, and if it is less than 2 weeks, we will give the same refund (less the $40) only if we can fill your spot with some one from the waiting list.

Get to Know Elizabeth Hynes

This Fall, Allied Yoga added another certified Iyengar teacher to it’s capable staff of yoga instructors.
An interview modeled after the questions asked on “Inside the Actors’ Studio” with Elizabeth Hynes follows. Find out why we’re so thrilled to have her on board.

1. Favorite word: huzzah (because my eldest son uses it so amusingly to encourage his mom)
2. Least favorite word: indolent
3. Turns me on: natural beauty
4. Turns me off: the smell of trash
5. Sound I love: my grandson’s voice….(either of them)
6. Sound I hate: my cat gagging
7. Favorite curse word: rats!
8. Profession I would not like to do: all of them…i have avoiding work down to a fine art.
9. If heaven existed, what would I like to hear God say…: ” welcome, your mom has been waiting for you….”

- how did you find yoga?
EH: “I found yoga because a very very dear friend who was attending karate classes with me said “I think you might be ready to try yoga” after some random comment I had made concerning the relationship of the mind and the body.”
- how has yoga had an impact on your life?
EH: “Yoga’s impact on my life has been immeasurable. I really can not imagine who or how I would be, if I had not embarked on this course so many years ago.”
- Why the style of yoga that you practice?
EH: “I practice Iyengar yoga because it is where I started, and I think it encompasses everything a person could seek, at whatever level the practitioner is functioning. Once I was asked: what about thinking “outside the box” sometime? My answer was: “there is so much within the Iyengar yoga ‘box’, I can only hope to even reach an edge in this lifetime”
- why did you decide to become a yoga teacher?
EH: “I decided to begin teaching because I loved yoga so much, and in truth, because there was a need, and my teacher asked if I would try it…”
- what yoga pose is your favorite and why?
EH: “I have two favorite yoga poses that I can do: ardha chandrasana and pincha mayurasana…both because of the freedom one feels when in each pose. I have a favorite pose that I aspire to: Vrischikasana..because it is so beautiful.”
- what’s your least favorite pose?
EH: “My least favorite pose is Lolasana: because it is so frustrating, and I can not just leave it out, as it is required on the next Iyengar teaching certification syllabus.”

photo of Elizabeth H for blog

Categories : asana, life perspectives

Yoga CAN Help Back Pain

It’s official: Yoga (especially Iyengar Yoga) CAN help ease your aching back! Did you know that about 75 percent of all adults experience at least one episode of back pain in their lifetime?

Watch this video that explains the hows and whys:
Yoga and Back Pain — WVU Health Report

Then there’s this lovely article published by Harvard Medical School’s Heath Publications: Lower back pain? Yoga therapy can help.

There’s so much information out there that speaks of the clinical and anecdotal proof that your back can feel much better through the practice of Iyengar Yoga.
And, now you’re in luck: Allied Yoga will be offering a Special Series devoted to Back Care and easing back discomfort.

Back Care Basics

man's holding back in pain
Join Instructor Rebecca L’Abbe In a class designed for people who are experiencing tightness or discomfort in their hips, lower back, shoulders and neck due to muscular strain, injury, or weakness. The course introduces students to yoga tools and techniques for overcoming generalized low back pain and building a sturdy foundation for good low back health. 

In this series of classes you will learn:

-Ways to relieve muscle tension
    -Safe poses to increase flexibility in your hips, back, shoulders, and neck
-Strengthening poses to provide necessary support to your spine and neck

    -Poses to improve your posture and alignment

Series of 5 Classes:
October 14, 21, 28th and November 4 & 11th
2:30-4 p.m.

$60 for series

To Enroll – click here and select “workshops” tab

Instructor Rebecca L’Abbe has had a first hand experience of how Iyengar Yoga can heal back pain. She was sidelined by a serious back injury that had its roots in years of dancing. Yoga was the cornerstone of her recovery, not only on a physical level, but on an emotional level as well: through years of careful loving care from teachers who helped her to overcome her fears about hurting her back again. Rebecca was able to realign her body from its years of compensating for the pain and fear of re-injury, and regained her confidence, too!

I often wonder what percentage of a person’s thoughts revolve around health and the physical body.  Consider how often the following thoughts and questions cross your mind in just a day’s time.  “How do I feel?”  Perhaps weak, strong, energetic, tired, rejuvenated, nervous, anxious, calm, etc.  Another question, “Why do I feel the way I do?”  And, “If I feel a certain way and wish to reverse that sensation, how can I do it?”  “I want to be healthier, so I will…”  I know I devote countless seconds to these thoughts, both voluntarily and involuntarily.  Health concerns cross my mind so often that it seems impossible to keep an accurate record of their frequency.  In order to answer these questions and truly understand myself and the different layers of human existence, I carve out a space for yoga in my everyday life.  And, as a result, I come to experience life in a dynamic, healthy and evolutionary way.

True health starts with the physical body and penetrates deeper through the layers of our existence.  According to B.K.S. Iyengar, the father of Iyengar yoga, we must start with the body and from there, use yoga to cultivate a holistic vitality that unites the mind, body, soul, and consciousness. In his book “Light on Life” he describes health in the following words:

A yogi never forgets that health must begin with the body.  Your body is the child of the soul.  You must nourish and train your child.  Physical health is not a commodity to be bargained for.  Nor can it be swallowed in the form of drugs and pills.  It has to be earned through sweat.  It is something that we must build up.  You have to create within yourself the experience of beauty, liberation, and infinity.  This is health (pg 23-4).

The benefits of yoga can extend far beyond physical health if you allow the practice to spill into the intellect and the soul.  Yoga brings greater understanding of the fluctuations characteristic of human nature and the “monkey mind” that never seems to rest.  In order to embark upon this process of understanding, the physical body and an asana, or posture, practice serve as the most accessible and logical starting point.  In this outermost layer of existence, we have five senses at our disposal to aid us in the process of self discovery.  We may use these senses to bring greater self awareness, to perceive our strengths, weaknesses, and limitations.  Cultivation and experimentation in a yoga asana practice can lead to the most profound understanding of self, including intellect, consciousness, and the soul. Mr.  Iyengar further illuminates this discovery of self in Light on Life.  He writes:

“The yogi knows that the physical body is not only the temple for our soul, but the means by which we embark on the inward journey toward the core.  Only by first attending to the physical body can we hope to accomplish anything in our spiritual lives…To a yogi, the body is a laboratory for life, a field of experimentation and perpetual research.” (“LIL”:pg 22)

In order to fully understand ourselves, our minds, our physical bodies, and our emotions, we must unite the body, the mind, and the breath with awareness.  Asana, or the practice of postures, is the perfect place to begin. Iyengar describes asana as “…perfect firmness of body, steadiness of intelligence, and benevolence of spirit,” and he emphasizes the yoga as a practice that yields multiple benefits.  Yoga has a “…threefold impact on health. It keeps healthy people healthy, it inhibits the development of disease, and it aids recovery from ill health” (Iyengar “LIL” pg 23).

With the advancement of technology and science, we must be evermore cautious in how we choose to cultivate health in our personal lives. We can try to buy it with money or we can work diligently for it using our innate human faculties.  If we choose yoga as a means to greater health and self awareness we must remember patience.  True transformation requires time and pure, steadfast effort.  If we choose health through a lifestyle that incorporates yoga asana and philosophy, we must commit to it and wait to feel its profound effects.  Greater health, vitality, personal understanding and evolution, and happiness are all elements that you can bring to your life through a commitment to yoga.

Alex F in trikonasana

blog post and thoughts by devoted Allied Yoga student and aspiring yoga teacher, Alex Fitzsimmons


B.K.S. Iyengar states that Savasana is the most difficult of all asana postures.  This may seem strange at first thought because Savasana, or corpse pose, may be perceived as nothing more than a person lying flat on the floor, with his eyes closed, relaxed, and perhaps even sleeping.  It may be overlooked and underappreciated because it seems to involve no doing, but rather just pure chilling out.  It may be underscored as less important in the grand scheme of things, especially when compared to the daily responsibilities of life.  In reality, Savasana provides an ultimate challenge to the human body and mind: to exist in complete and utter stillness, a concept seemingly foreign and often shunned in contemporary western society.  The pose actually invites us to leave the world as we know it and to exist purely and completely in the present moment.  The pose entails complete surrender- surrendering identity, surrendering worries, surrendering distractions.  It means that you detach from time and from place.  In his book, Light on Life, Iyengar says, “Savasana is being without was, being without will be.  It is being without anyone who is.  Is it any wonder that it is the most difficult asana and the door to nondualist meditation and the cosmic future of Samadhi?” (Iyengar 234).

In Savasana, we try to surrender to the present so that we may experience the relaxation response.  By releasing the mind, body and spirit from tension, the entire body enjoys the benefits of this pose.  Heart rate, blood pressure, and tension decrease.  The body uses less oxygen and the muscles are able to relax.  The vital organs are rejuvenated and enjoy greater circulation of blood.  When the body is in a state of deep relaxation, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, which allows for self-regulation of the entire body.  Digestion, fertility, and immunity have been shown to improve as a result of entering the relaxation state because the body has time to refuel and re-energize.  We may free ourselves from the unwanted worries of stress and bring greater calm and intention to our lives with a regular practice that includes this pose.  Savasana is one of the most important and rejuvenating poses that is an essential thread in the process of self realization and rejuvenation.

blog post and thoughts by Allied Yoga student and recent yoga teacher training graduate Alex Fitzsimmons

B.K.S. Iyengar translates sutra II,46, sthira sukham asanam, as “Asana is perfect firmness of body, steadiness of intelligence and benevolence of spirit”. Edwin Bryant offers an economical reading: “Posture should be steady and comfortable.”

Ropes allow practitioners at every level of experience to seek and maintain steadiness and ease in a wide variety of poses with minimal manipulation of props.

Certain poses are more accessible to people with injuries or chronic conditions. For example, headstand done suspended on the ropes puts no pressure on the neck or shoulders.
The support ropes provide help one remain in poses longer to explore more confidently the effects of different postures and to delight in the benefits of moderate stretching, squeezing and nourishing of muscles and vital organs.

Similarly, the mind, aided by the breath, can be stilled more readily in supported poses. As asana practice deepens, it becomes more refined, more meditative and begins to illuminate the unity of body,mind and soul.

by Allied Yoga floating teacher and long-time Iyengar yogi Kris Onuf

Kris in rope sirasana (rope head stand)

Kris in rope sirasana (rope head stand)

Kris will be teaching Two upcoming special Sunday ropes classes on 11/13 & 12/4, noon-1:30 – the ocst for each is $15 – hurry! space is limited to 6 people

Calm, cool, forward bends

For the summer session in the Monday night class we are working with Shaaron on forward bending poses.

Forward bends can be done either standing (eg: uttanasana) or sitting (eg: paschimottanasana). Forward bends have many physiological benefits: they lengthen the hamstrings and extend the spine, they compress and massage the abdominal organs and increase circulation to the pelvic region. The psychological effects, however, are what I find even more rewarding, complex and often difficult to discover.


prasarita padottansana part 2

Shannon in prasarita padottansana

As a new yoga student, I found forward bends mentally challenging, especially the seated poses. I found myself fidgeting and losing patience wondering when the instructor would finally move to another pose. Looking for an escape, I would just fight with myself by trying to get deeper in the pose, the mind chattering away as a distraction. It was not calming.


As my practice has evolved – and for some reason this summer in particular – I have come to really enjoy forward bends. While I was on vacation with my husband and two kids, I tried to do a 10 minute paschimottanasana every day and I looked forward to it more and more every day. So much of our lives are oriented outward – interacting with spouses and children, friends, colleagues at work, people at the grocery store, etc… A forward bend is like an opportunity to take a mini retreat. The front of the body, which is otherwise open and exposed to the world is folded and protected, given a break. With nothing to look at the eyes become quiet and the gaze turns inwards.


Shannon in paschimottanasana

Shannon in paschimottanasana

Although there are still some physical challenges (keep the legs pressed down, shoulders down away from the neck), the beauty in the pose comes from the surrender to the present inward moment. For me, forward bends have taught patience and a way to calm an agitated mind. I find forward bends especially enjoyable if the head is supported with props and the skin of the forehead is drawn down towards the eyes rather than up towards the hairline.

Categories : asana

Props & chairs

From the New Oxford American Dictionary:
prop 1 |präp|
-”a pole or beam used as a support or to keep something in position, typically one that is not an integral part of the thing supported ”

verb ( propped , propping ) [ trans. ]
position something underneath (someone or something) for support : she propped her chin in the palm of her right hand.
• position (something or someone) more or less upright by leaning it against something else : a jug of milk with a note propped against it | she propped the picture up on the mantlepiece.
• use an object to keep (something) in position : he found that the door to the office was propped open.

Both the noun and the verb definitions are applicable when it comes to the use of the simple metal folding chair as a prop in Iyengar yoga. The Iyengar Method frequently incorporates the use of a chair (often modified) as an effective yoga tool to deepen and enhance the experience and practice of all types of asanas (yoga poses). Iyengar yoga practitioners use these chairs in all sorts of poses ranging from simple seated twists, to supported inversions and backbends.

metal folding yoga
A metal folding chair modified for use in Iyengar yoga

Want to find out more? Check this out:

“Make Your Own Yoga Chair” - CANCELED
Allied Yoga will offer this class again in the Fall
Sunday June 19th, Noon – 2 p.m. with Shaaron Honeycutt & Shannon Wilcox (reservation required) at Allied Yoga
B.Y.O.C. (bring your own chair)
(standard metal folding chair – call if in doubt): $30
or chair provided for modification: $50
A class will be taught on using the chair in asanas, too!

R.S.V.P – reservations only – must reserve space by Wednesday June 15th, 2011 – email ( or call us (434.218.0580)

prasarita padottanasana

prasarita padottanasana - part one

Remember to:
▪ Spread toes wide & press down on the four corners of the feet
▪ Stretch front thighs back & lift your inner legs
▪ Lift sitz bones
▪ Breathe evenly

Helpful alignment tip:
▪ Practice with heels at back edge of mat

▪ The intense stretch going up the entire back of the legs

Benefits of:
▪ Develops, strengthens, & stretches the feet, knees, legs, & hips
▪ Increases flexibility in lower spine
▪ Increases blood flow to pelvic region
▪ Increases digestive powers
▪ Reduces blood pressure, allows heart to rest
▪ Soothes nervous system

prasarita padottansana part 2

prasarita padottansana part 2

prasarita padottansana - diff perspective

prasarita padottansana from a different perspective

post by: Allied Yoga Teacher Christie Piedmont

and asana model: Allied Yoga Teacher Shannon Wilcox


Categories : asana, practice