Arquivo da categoria: ASANAS E ANATOMIA

Answers from Dr. Loren Fishman about Vasisthasana

Friday Q&A: Answers from Dr. Loren Fishman about Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana)

Rama with the Sage Vashisthasa

The excitement around the use of a single pose to help correct the curve of scoliosis continues! I wrote an initial post on the study Friday Q&A: How to Practice Side Plank Pose for Scoliosis  and then did a little follow-up More on Side Plank Pose and Scoiliosis after Nina announced the Side Plank pose challenge (see Take the Side Plank Pose for Scoliosis Challenge). As our good fortune would have it, one of our readers forwarded my first postFriday Q&A: How to Practice Side Plank Pose for Scoliosis on the new study of Side Plank Pose to the lead investigator, Dr. Loren Fishman. In quite a generous spirit, Dr. Fishman responded to the various questions that arose for me as I looked over the study results. Below are his answers to my most pressing inquires. The original text from my post is normal font and Dr. Fishman’s responses are in bold. —Baxter

Dear Baxter: I appreciate your thinking about the paper that Karen Sherman, Erik Groessl and I wrote about Vasisthasana in treating scoliosis. Maybe I can clarify things a little:

One question I have also heard from a few different readers is: what do you think of only doing it on the one side? Before I answer that, I am wondering if the study author Dr. Fishman thinks these folks should only do one yoga pose each day and not have a balanced yoga asana practice in addition to this special practice? I’d hope not, but don’t know his thoughts on this. However, if a person with scoliosis wanted to have a regular practice, too, I’d use this new info to inform certain poses.

Yes, naturally, all the other poses should be done as they were before. Our study would have been meaningless if people didn’t continue doing what they did before, apart from performing the side-plank, Vasisthasana, with the convex side of the lumbar curve facing downward, but not the other way, not with the other side down. If you have scoliosis and are in a yoga class where Vasisthasana comes up, then when the class does it on the other side, you do it on the same side twice.

Personally, if I had scoliosis, I might consider:

  1. Doing the convex side of Side Plank pose first with the hip/side body arch as in the study.
  2. Then doing the Pose on other side, but without the lift, focusing on keeping the two sides of the chest as parallel as possible.
  3. Then repeating the first side again with the study lift variation.

Baxter, scoliosis is an asymmetrical condition, and requires an asymmetrical measure to correct it. Doing a little this and a such an little that (sic) just vitiates what one needs to do to get better. I recommend doing the one-sided pose whole hog, and re-measure your curve in three months. Such an X-ray only exposes you to 140 mVs, about as much radiation as you’d gather sitting in a room in your house for a year. By contrast, one CT scan is 3,000 to 5,000 mVs. However, Baxter, your intuition’s in the right place: a few people continue doing the pose too long without any monitoring. Two people went so far as to develop slight curves in the other direction! They did not do anything to monitor their progress for more than 6 months. 

I would then apply this body arch idea as well to other side bending poses, such as, Triangle pose (Trikonasana), Extended Side Angle pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana), and Half Moon pose (Arda Chandrasana). And I would be very interested in not only the improvement in physical appearance of the vertical alignment of my spine, but just as or more importantly in the functional improvement of my body and the subjective improvement in how my body is feeling.

We’ve experimented with a number of other poses, and it is really good that you’re considering it too, but so far none of the ones we’re tried come close to Vasisthasana. A few people [in the study] have wrist pain (no carpal tunnel yet), or mild shoulder pain, and two had transient pain in the SI joint, but otherwise, no side effects, and a pretty potent main effect.

The study is a first, exciting research step in using yoga to improve scoliosis. I hope there is a larger and broader look at it in the near future.

Thanks, Baxter. We’re looking to do a more complete double-blinded, controlled and randomized study. According to the American Orthopedic Society the medical establishment spends an estimated $7,100,000,000 annually on a several hour surgery. In actual practice this involves girls 11-17 years old, and the surgery has to be redone more than 50% of the time, effectively obliterating their teen-age years. This happens 38,000 times per annum.

Well, I am feeling very grateful for this feedback and hope that it is of further use and benefit to our readers!

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Featured Pose: Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana)

Featured Pose: Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana)

by Baxter

Extended Side Angle pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana) is one of my favorite poses. It improves your balance and strengthens your legs and the sides of your body, especially the side abdominal muscles on your top arm side. And when you hold the pose statically for up to a minute, it also encourages bone strengthening in your hips, spine, and bottom hand wrist. In addition to strengthening, this pose increases flexibility by stretching your inner thighs and the shoulder joint of your top arm. The variations described below make it accessible to almost everyone, as it can even be done on a chair.

Because this pose is energizing, it can help enliven you when you’re feeling tired or lethargic. And because it is grounding, it can be helpful for anxiety or stress.

I prescribe Extended Side Angle for:

  • osteoporosis
  • balance problems
  • anxiety
  • general weakness and fatigue

General Instructions:

1. Start by standing in the center of your mat.

2. Step your feet wide apart, about the length of your legs. Then turn your right foot out about 90 degrees and your left foot in slightly, so the pinky edge of your left foot lines up with the long edge of your yoga mat.
3. Inhale and extend your arms out to your sides.
4. Exhale and bend your right knee toward 90 degrees (but not further), making sure your right knee is aligned with the middle toe of your right foot. If it’s comfortable for you, turn your head to gaze over your right hand (essentially entering Warrior 2).
5. Keeping your front knee directly over your front ankle, side-bend your torso and belly from your hips out over your front thigh, and place your right hand on the floor to the outside of the front foot or on a block that is snuggled up against your right shin. Try to keep the right and left sides of your chest even with each other, avoiding the tendency to round your spine like a bending sapling over the front leg.
6. Keeping your hips stable, rotate your upper belly and chest slightly up away from your right leg. Bring your left arm overhead in line with your back leg and the side of your chest.
Hand on the Floor
Using a Block
7. Traditionally, in this pose, your head (and gaze) turn up to look under your left armpit. But I also like to look straight ahead or turn my head to look down at my right foot. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds (8 breaths), working up to 90 seconds (approximately 16-20 breaths).
8. To come out of the pose, inhale as you straighten your right leg and use your left arm to swing your torso back to center, with your arms out to the side. Then, on exhalation, release your arms and turn your feet to parallel. Then repeat the pose on your left side.

1. Tight Hips or General Weakness: For this variation, you stand with your feet a bit closer together than usual and then either use a chair for your bottom hand or place your elbow on top of your thighbone, near your knee, with your palm facing up. If you are using a chair, before entering the pose, place the chair so when you’re in the pose, it will be just to the outside of your front knee.
2. Arm Strength: You can use this pose to build arm strength by keeping your arms up while you change from your right side to your left.
3. Balance Problems: If you have balance problems, I recommend you use a wall. You can practice with your back to a wall, with the hip of your front leg touching the wall. Or, you can practice with your mat perpendicular to the wall, and your back foot against the wall. This is a good way to get a clear sense of the straightness of your back leg. Either position the entire outer edge of your back foot flush against the wall or have just your heel against the wall, with your back foot turned just slightly in.
4. Shoulder Tightness: For those with shoulder tightness, taking the top arm overhead in line with your side body can be challenging at first. Instead, take your top arm straight up in the air, as in Triangle Pose. Then, gradually, over time, you can bring your arm closer to the full position.

5. Chair Version: For those who cannot stand to do this pose, start by sitting on a chair as you normally would. Then swing your right leg so it is parallel with the front edge of your chair and your right buttock and part of your right thigh are supported on the chair seat. Then extend your left leg back away from the right, as in the full version of the pose. If your left hip is tight, you can move your left leg a bit forward of the chair to make sure the sole of your left foot is grounded. Inhale your arms up to your sides, and and then side-bend over your right leg, placing your right elbow in your right thigh, palm facing up. For this variation, take the left arm up towards the sky as in Triangle pose. If your shoulders are more open, you can move your left arm in line with your side body and back leg. To come out of the pose, inhale as you bring your torso back over your hips and your arms to your sides. Then, exhale and release your arms down and swing both legs to your starting seated position. Repeat on the other side.

Cautions: If you have knee problems, don’t bend your front knee quite as deeply. Make sure it stops just shy of being over your front ankle. In addition, standing with your feet a bit closer than the 4 to 4 1/2 feet apart can also help. And if your knee is acutely painful, you could sit on a chair with your front thigh supported by the chair seat. This will take all weight off your front knee. Those with lower back pain on one side or sacroiliac pain on one side should try the higher versions described above for hip tightness. And, as with all held standing poses, those with high blood pressure should stay for much shorter periods of time, such as 4-6 breaths. You should work with a qualified teacher to advance your timings appropriately.

Want to Improve Your Balance? Take Off Your Shoes!

Want to Improve Your Balance? Take Off Your Shoes!

by Nina

Eagle Pose Outside by Melina Meza

“Balance is a complicated equation involving vision, muscle strength, proprioception (the body’s ability to know where it is in space), and attention. As people age, those elements deteriorate.”

Well, if the New York Times can write about falling twice in one week (see A Tiny Stumble, a Life Upended), then so can I! Because after reading part 2 of their series on falling, I have a lot more to say. The main article detailed what can happen after an older person falls, saying, “life is upended in an instant — a sudden loss of independence, an awkward reliance on family and friends, and a new level of fear for those who fall, and their contemporaries.” So, there I was, getting all depressed again. But at least the article end with a quote that confirmed what I wrote on Monday (see Morning Wakeup Call: Preventing Falls with Yoga) about the downward spiral that happens after people fall and become fearful of falling again.

“Dr. Tinetti warned that excessive tentativeness can actually increase the risk of falling. “People who are more cautious cut down on their activity,” she said, “which makes their balance worse, their strength worse, and reflexes that prevent falls worse.”

But it’s the supplementary article on Steps to Avoid an Accident  that really got me upset. (Yes, I feel a rant coming on.) Here is what they recommended:

“Regular exercise classes can help, especially those that include balance drills, such as standing on one foot, or working with Bosu balls, the squishy hemispheres seen at gyms.

“The regular practice of tai chi has also been found to help. Tai chi involves very slow, purposeful movements in coordination with breathing and muscle activity, which in turn affects respiration, balance, and gait.

“Integrating balance and strength work into daily life — standing on one foot while brushing your teeth, for instance, or simply putting one foot in front of the other — can help as well.”

Uh, yes, although they came up with the brilliant idea of brushing your teeth while standing on one foot, they did completely forget to mention yoga. Yoga is particularly beneficial for balance not just because it includes so many balance poses but also because it cultivates muscle strength, proprioception (the body’s ability to know where it is in space), and attention, which the NY Times mention as being needed for good balance. When we work in our all our poses—whether or not they are balancing poses—with careful attention to our alignment, we are developing our proprioception and our attention. (My teacher, Donald Moyer, who always has us work with subtle alignment cues in our poses, has observed how his long-time students have developed very refined proprioception over the years.)

But in the end, there was something else the article didn’t even mention that made me feel rant-y: our feet! I’m a firm believer that exercising with bare feet is the best way to keep your feet healthy, strong, supple and agile, which in turn will improve your ability to balance. Imagine if you wore thick mittens all the time. Wouldn’t it be hard to use your hands effectively? Now think about your poor feet being trapped in their shoes all your waking hours. No wonder so many older people become less agile. I once watched a woman who had been born with no arms eat an ice cream cone and take care of her baby just with her bare feet; they’re capable of so much if we just let them out of their little prisons. That was a lesson to me about the power of our feet that I will never forget.

Of course we do yoga with bare feet. And moving into and out of a variety of yoga standing poses in bare feet definitely helps keep our feet more agile. As a matter of fact, in an early post of ours Friday Q&A: Feet and Comments, we addressed a question from someone who had trouble balancing in Tree pose and who also wore orthotics. Shari actually recommended that the reader spend at least some of her time practicing with bare feet to help her with her balance:

“If you wear orthotics in my mind it might be good to explore in yoga wearing them in some type of non-skid sock so your toes can still feel the floor when you are practicing your balancing poses. It sounds like you have very high arches so to contact the floor without your orthotics will be difficult. I might suggest that you explore doing the balancing poses (such as Tree pose) with your orthotics and non-skid socks, then take them off and try in your bare feet directly afterwards. Sometimes this can work to build muscle memory to teach your feet what to do. I wouldn’t push your feet to hurt your knees though. Be patient and kind to yourself when you try this.”

The NY Times article didn’t even mention how important it is to walk on uneven surfaces! If you’re always walking on a flat surface—especially wearing shoes—your feet and the rest of your body are going to be, well, just plain inexperienced and unprepared to handle any sudden unevenness, like a crack in the sidewalk. Of course, hiking on a dirt trail is effective for training your body to handle uneven surface. But it strikes me now that all those people taking photos of themselves doing yoga out in nature are doing something really good for their feet—and their balance—even if they are torturing us with their selfies. So maybe we should all start experimenting a bit with doing yoga outside.

But if you’re not ready for that, in the same post in which Shari stressed the importance of balancing in bare feet, Baxter recommended a very simple yoga vinyasa, Tadasana (Mountain pose) to Urdva Hastasana (Upward Arms pose), to help keep your feet healthy and improve your balance. He said that this exercise can strengthen the foot muscles that are associated with a healthy arch.

  1. Start in Mountain pose.
  2. Inhale and lift your heels off the floor as you swing your arms up into Upward Arms pose. Focus on keeping the balls of your feet even on the floor as your rise up.
  3. Exhale as your lower your heels down to the floor and release your arms by your sides. Focus on keeping the balls of your feet even on the floor as your lower down.
  4. Repeat for at six rounds or more.

Baxter also recommended that practitioners with flat feet should practice their standing poses keeping the balls of their feet grounded as they lifting their toes off the ground. This will encourage strengthening of the medial and lateral arches of their feet.



Practicing the LOY sequence and part of the sequence itself.

Here’s the  sutra for today. It is the one Patricia had us chant at the pranayama workshop, B.K.S. Iyengar’s favorite sutra.


3.35/ 3.34 hṛdaye citta-saṁvit
By samyama on the region of the heart, the yogi acquires a thorough knowledge of the contents and tendencies of consciousness.  (I)

By samyama on the heart, knowledge of the  mind ensues. (B)

word  study

hṛdaye- on the heart

citta – mind

saṁvit – knowledge

Yesterday,  I spent most of the morning at the Doctor’s office with various annual appointments.  I got a good bit of work on the Theaetetus done while I was waiting around.  Then I did more sabbatical work  until it was  yoga  The draft of my paper is due to writing group  by the end of the week.

Since I had just gone to Devon’s class yesterday, I decided to see how far I could get in the LOY sequence for my afternoon practice .   I went ahead and  added in the Standing Poses that aren’t in the book,  Parivritta  AC  Parsva Hasta Pad and Parivritta  Hasta  Pad.  I also did my normal BK work  between BK and  AM Bk in the book.  and some  more  padmasana work before  simhasana II.

I repeated a few poses like the parivritas and Ustrasana and  Parighasana  (planting some seeds for the shins of the kapotasana project)  but didn’t linger  super long in anything.  I also  took advantage of having a rope wall to help  keep space in the  SPs.   I did the parts of the sirsasana and sarvangasana cycle that I can do  but  again, didn’t hold anything as long as  I could.  and that Kukktasana- gorkasasana section  I just attempted as they are currently pretty much beyond me in the full padmasana

I got to M3  in a little over  two hours. I kind of ran out of steam and the prospect of M4  was a bit daunting, but  I can see how malasana  and the  other arm balances would come quite well…   I also  added in some  backbender work and twist sequence I regularly do between  Sirsasana and sarvangasana, but more or  less I just did the poses in the order of the book.

Things I noticed.  It is sort of nice having  a set  plan to follow.  It made me do poses I would not normally get to in a two hour practice.

Padmasana itself came quite well where it  is  but  Matseyasana, Simhasana (opening the lotus in other words)  wasn’t really there for me.

GOmukasana also comes surprisingly well  and paschima namasacar. This surprised me as there’s a lot of overhead arm work, but not much to prepare the arms for behind the back before  you just do it in parsvottansasana.

Anyway, it was pretty fun and I also definitely felt  like I had accomplished  something  in a different way than I do  after having  “just” done an afternoon practice.

Here’s the list of poses  with my additions in  parens.



Utthita Hasta Pad


Parivritta Trik


Parivrritta Parsvakonasana

Vira 1, 2, 3


(Pari AC)

Utthita Hasta Padangustasana

(Parsva UHP and Parivritta HP)


Prasarita I and II








Ardha Baddha Padmottasansa






Parsva Dhanurasana

Chaturanga Dandasana







Ardha Navasana




Virasana cycle

Supta  Virasana




(BK with brick)





Simhasana I

(Padmasana prep  intermediate course stuff)

Simhasana II



Garbha Pindasana


Yoga Mudrasana

Maha Mudra


Parivritta JS

Ardha Baddha  Padmot






Parvsva UVK


Parivritta  Paschimo

UM Pashchimo I and II


Acarana Dhanurasana I and II

Sirsasana  cycle

(Backbender work and some twists)

Sarvangasana cycle

Jathara Parivartanasana

Urdhva Prasarita  Pad asana

Supta pad  cycle.


Uttana padasana

Setu Bandhasana  (sort of )




(brick setu bandha)



Posted by Anne-Marie Schultz at 5:50 AM

Labels: Light on Yoga, Patrica Walden, Sutra Study, the writing life

Yoga For Back Pain (Infographic)

Yoga For Back Pain (Infographic).

Sukasana Pointers

Sukasana Pointers.

Upavistha Konasana

Asana Of The Month: October 2014 

Upavistha Konasana

(Seated Wide Angle Pose)

 The Yoga Place La Crosse | Asana of the Month: October 2014The Yoga Place La Crosse | Asana of the Month: October 2014

Upavistha means seated.  Kona means angle.


From Light on Yoga


The asana stretches the hamstrings and helps the blood to circulate properly in the pelvic region and keeps it healthy.  It prevents the development of hernia of which it can cure mild cases and relieves sciatic pains.  Since the asana controls and regularizes the menstrual flow and also stimulates the ovaries, it is a boon to women.


  1. Sit on the floor with the legs stretched straight in front.

  2. Move the legs sideways one by one and widen the distance between them as far as you can.  Keep the legs extended throughout and see that the back of the entire legs rests on the floor.

  3. Catch the big toes between the respective thumbs and index and middle fingers.

  4. Keep the spine erect and extend the ribs.  Pull the diaphragm up and hold the pose for a few seconds with deep breaths.

  5. Exhale, bend forward and rest the head on the floor.  Then extend the neck and place the chin on the floor.

  6. Then, clasp the feet with the hands and try to rest the chest on the floor.  Stay in this position from 30-60 seconds with normal breathing.

  7. Inhale, raise the trunk off the floor and release the hold on the feet, bring them together and relax.

  8. Hold the left foot with both hands, exhale and rest the chin on the left knee.  Inhale and raise the head and trunk.  Now catch the right foot and with an exhalation rest the chin on the right knee.  Inhale, raise the head and trunk, release the hands, bring the feet together and relax.

The Yoga Place La Crosse | Asana of the Month: October 2014