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Advanced Yoga Sequences

8 Poses to Feel Empowered and Sexy

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Try an affirmation practice to create a more satisfying sex life and spiritual life.

“I’ve learned that having sex and feeling sexy can and should come from the purest space.” — Rina Jakubowicz

When I was going through a divorce 10 years ago, I used affirmation practices to try to shift my mindset during the healing process. One phrase I repeated often was “I am beautiful.” 

As silly and simple as this may sound, it really helped me. Failing at a marriage is very painful and I carried a lot of judgments about myself, especially since I had been the first in the family to get a divorce. Walking around each day with this affirming thought, even if I didn’t believe it in the beginning, was life-changing. It helped me realize that my words and thoughts are powerful and that I’m in control of how I feel about myself. I began walking with confidence and maintaining a sense of calm in my communication and interactions. In addition to the affirmation practices, I started studying in the Bhagavad Gita and began to apply some of the teachings to my relationships, including in the bedroom. It took several years, but I began to develop a healthier relationship with myself and my sexuality. I learned how to break down my sexual walls and release judgment and fear to become my gorgeous, badass self from within.

I’ve learned that having sex and feeling sexy can and should come from the purest space. That will create the most euphoric and pleasurable experience for both you and your partner. I now teach “Sattvic and Sexy” workshops and courses because I want to help more women tap into this empowering space where they can stop harshly judging themselves or suppressing their sexuality. 

See also “Three Things Divorce Taught Me About Love”

Sattva is the highest of the three gunas (mental qualities) in Ayurveda. It means pure, poised, or objective. The lower two gunas are tamas and rajas. Tamas is a mental state of inertia, dullness, or laziness. Rajas is associated with mental agitation and hectic activity. We need rajas to move us away from tamas, but our ultimate goal is to move into sattva. If you’re passionate about something or someone but you’re overthinking, emotional, or getting caught in your head, then there’s an attachment and you’re in rajas. If you have passion from a pure place and it doesn’t control you, then you’re sattvic. 

See also How a Sattvic (Pure) Diet Brings You Into Balance + 2 Ayurvedic Recipes

To start feeling more empowered, sexy, and content in your life and relationships, try this 8-pose sequence. Each posture is paired with an affirmation to inspire you to become the best version of yourself, both as a lady and a lover, so you can create the sex life and the spiritual life you deserve.

Then, join me for a free “Sattvic and Sexy” webinar on April 10 at 2:30 EST. I’ll share more tips for developing a healthier relationship with yourself, your sexuality, and your partner. Register today!



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Advanced Yoga Sequences

A Gentle Yoga Sequence to Target Your Nerves

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Your yoga practice can be a therapeutic tool for pain management and prevention. Try this gentle sequence to target your nerves and protect their signaling powers.

Join Tiffany Cruikshank at Yoga Journal’s upcoming event in January at 1440 Multiversity. Learn more at yogajournal.com/thepractice.

With all of the new and emerging information on pain science, yoga students and teachers have the opportunity to apply modern research to their practices and help alleviate and prevent pain.

Preliminary research suggests that gentle movement of your nerves is vital to both managing pain and supporting the general health of your nervous system. The idea is that healthy nerves should be able to gently slide, elongate, and angulate within neural tissues (some nerves can move as much as ¾ inch) in order to adapt to different loads and minimize pressure that can worsen existing pain, alter sensation, or lead to new pain patterns. Sometimes, tone and tension around neural tissues can be a problem. These tissues are bloodthirsty and rely on an important pressure gradient around them to maintain adequate blood flow. So even small changes in tissue tension around a nerve can be enough to block nerve mobility and lead to compression that disrupts blood flow and nerve signaling back to the brain, contributing to pain.

See also Low Back Pain 101: 3 Sequences to Ease Your Pain

To help you keep your nerves adaptable and protected, try the asana technique on the following pages based on an understanding of neurodynamics (the study of nerve movement through its surrounding tissues) and nerve pathways. We have the ability to alternately put tension on different ends of the nerve to create a movement of the nerve through the tissues, often referred to as nerve gliding. As you floss the nerve, you potentially allow it to move more freely so that it can communicate more efficiently with your brain. For example, the sciatic nerve runs through the back of your leg, so in Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose) if you bend your knee (raised leg) and flex your foot, you’ll put tension on one end of the nerve (by your foot) and slack the other end (by your knee). This action draws the sciatic nerve and its branches toward your foot. Then, as you extend your knee and point your toes, you’ll reverse the areas of tension and slack. This action draws the branches of the sciatic nerve toward your knee. When you put these movements together you can encourage the sciatic nerve to move back and forth through its tissues more effortlessly. You also may down-regulate local inflammatory responses, restore healthy blood flow to the hard-working nerve, and encourage more efficient communication between your brain and body. Optimal signaling is crucial if you want your immune and nervous systems to function at their best, which is another reason to add nerve gliding to your repertoire.

The key to nerve gliding is to move gently within an easy range of motion. Since your target is the pain-free movement of your nerves, not of your muscles and fascia, you want very little sensation or stretch. It’s a great reminder that even in the physical body there’s clearly more to what we do than just sensations or the feel-good endorphins associated with them. Another thing I love about this approach is that, in addition to being a safe way to work with pain, it’s very accessible since it’s about simple, gentle movements.

See also Reduce Pain and Discomfort with These Poses for the Pelvis

Sequence – Neurodynamic Movement

To begin, pick a nerve you want to focus on and find a range of motion that’s accessible, pain-free, and with very little (if any) stretching sensation. Do 5–10 repetitions of the pose or this sequence once or twice a day. If you’re using these moves more preventatively, try rotating a few of them into your regular practice a couple times a week, and remember that in group classes there’s more than just stretch and sensation affecting the tissues. Happy flossing!

Learn more

Join Tiffany Cruikshank at Yoga Journal’s upcoming event in January at 1440 Multiversity. Learn more at yogajournal.com/thepractice.

About our author

Teacher Tiffany Cruikshank is the founder of Yoga Medicine, a community of teachers focused on fusing anatomy and Western medicine with traditional yoga. For more information, go to yogamedicine.com. 

Model Jenna Nishimura is the general manager of Yoga Medicine and a teacher of gentle, yin, and restorative yoga in Denver, Colorado.



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Advanced Yoga Sequences

Try This Viniyoga Sequence to Manage Addictive Behavior

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The founder of the American Viniyoga Institute shares insight on Viniyoga practices and a sequence for helping to manage addictive behavior.

Gary Kraftsow

We use the term Viniyoga—an ancient Sanskrit term that implies differentiation, adaptation, and appropriate application—to refer to an approach that adapts yoga practice to the unique conditions, needs, and interests of each individual. This traditional yoga lineage gives each practitioner the tools they need to individualize and actualize the process of self-discovery and personal transformation.

In Viniyoga, we believe that yoga can effect positive change in each practitioner. This requires an understanding of a person’s present condition, personal potential, and goals. Using the teachings and practices of yoga—including asana, pranayama, bandha, sound, chanting, meditation, personal ritual, and the study of texts—we create an integrated practice to help practitioners move through pain, grief, depression, addiction, and more.

See also Meet Gary Kraftsow: A Leading Teacher of Viniyoga Yoga Therapy

There are four main differences between the Viniyoga approach to asana and most other forms of asana practice:

  1. Function over form. We emphasize the function rather than the form of asana and use the science of adapting the forms of the postures to achieve different results and benefits. 
  2. Breath and adaptation. We focus on breath as the medium for movement in asana, and the science of adapting the pattern of breathing in postures to produce different effects, depending upon the goal. 
  3. Repetition and stay. The use of repetition into and out of the postures, as well as holding the postures, enhances the structural and energetic effects of practice. 
  4. The art and science of sequencing. Viniyoga teachers create practices of different orientation, length, and intensity to suit the intention and context of each practice and practitioner. 

According to Krishnamacharya, the grandfather of most Western forms of the practice, a yoga teacher must strive to understand the true needs of the student and to adapt a practice to serve those needs. He reminded teachers emphatically that teaching is for the student, not the teacher. It is through the choices that we make in sequencing that we are able to create usable and relevant yoga practices for specific students.

Patanjali and other great yoga masters recognized the diversity among people and within the same person at different stages of life. They proposed a range of tools, leaving it up to the teacher to decide which were appropriate. Those tools include asana, pranayama, meditation, ritual, chanting or mantra, and prayer.

See also YJ Interview: Gary Kraftsow

A Viniyoga sequence is a logically ordered, context specific strategy that uses the tools of yoga to actualize an intention. It is effective, efficient, and elegant.

In the following sequence for working with addiction, you will notice the integrated use of all of these tools. Addiction impacts us in a multidimensional way, affecting our anatomy and physiology, emotions and cognition, and behavior. As such, an integrated practice that works on all of these levels is the ideal way to create a positive direction of change in our lives.

Find a comfortable, quiet space and be mindful of your breath—a primary focus of Viniyoga—as you work through the following sequence. As Krishnamacharya once said: “If you’re not regulating your breathing, you’re just doing calisthenics.”

Try This Viniyoga Sequence Below:

About our author

Yoga therapist Gary Kraftsow evolved this approach to yoga from the teachings transmitted by T. Krishnamacharya and T.K.V. Desikachar of Madras, India. Gary is the director and senior teacher of the American Viniyoga Institute; the author of two books: Yoga for Wellness and Yoga for Transformation, four DVDs, and several online workshops, including Pranayama Unlocked, Meditation Unlocked, Yoga Therapy for Depression, Yoga Therapy for Better Sleep, Yoga Therapy for Anxiety, and Asana Unlocked. Learn more at viniyoga.com.

About our Model

Model Evan Soroka is a Viniyoga therapist in Aspen, Colorado. Learn more at evansoroka.com.



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Advanced Yoga Sequences

Master An Inversion Practice with This Sequence Designed by Schuyler Grant

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Schuyler Grant, co-creator of Wanderlust and founder of Kula Yoga Project, shares sequencing strategies for inversions.

Schuyler Grant, co-creator of Wanderlust and founder of Kula Yoga Project

“Meditation in motion” is a recurring trope when teachers speak about vinyasa. I confess to using it regularly myself because it perfectly describes the magical elixir that has kept me hooked on this particular way of practicing yoga for almost 30 years. But using posture, breath, and attention to attain a meditative state is easier said than done. Linking posture and breath isn’t sufficient. There must be intention and intelligence behind sequencing, or flow-style yoga becomes tedious at best, injurious at worst.

My introduction to yoga was Ashtanga Yoga. I loved the practice for its rigor, straightforward approach to spirituality, and the reliable access to a state of flow that came from a set sequence of postures with a priority on the breath. But I developed as many injuries as I overcame and craved more breadth and knowledge. Stage II of my evolution was a love affair with the Iyengar Yoga tradition. Since then, I’ve developed and refined a way of sequencing that artfully weaves the two influences, creating a rigorous practice that heals the body and tones the nervous system: Kula Flow (which is what is taught at the Wanderlust Hollywood studio today).

See also Ashtanga Yoga Sequences

I’m often reluctant to talk about what I love to do on the yoga mat as a brand. For many years, the notion of “branding” yoga completely turned me off; it seemed silly and presumptuous to put a stamp on a particular way of serving up asana. My New York City studio, Kula, had been open 10 years before the issue of branding came up. During that time, students continually asked our teachers what style we taught, and we all said, “Um … I dunno … vinyasa…” And they would say, “No. This is different.”

See also What’s Your Style? Explore the Types of Yoga

Eventually, I conceded that names are powerful, that in its purest sense branding is simply naming and that by codifying my style I could more clearly communicate with students and the teachers I train. What is yoga if not communication? The illumination of the unseen? As a practitioner, this dialogue often involves observing the ego and happens among brain, body, and, especially the breath. As a teacher, you are the guide for students on this same journey.

My hope is that a Kula Flow experience is both visceral (sweaty and present-moment focused) and smart (alignment-heavy and aspirational); that the lower and upper chakras are both well served; and that through the practice we fully express the definition of vinyasa—to place in a special way. Place the mind on the breath. Place the breath in the body. Place attention to the nuanced transition of thoughts, movement, and energy—illuminating the seemingly mundane as exquisitely special.

See also Yoga Hybrids

KULA SEQUENCE: ROUND 1

Creating a Kula Flow sequence with a challenging peak pose is like untangling a rat’s nest from my daughter’s hair: You can’t just go at it. You have to tease it out slowly, through patient deconstruction and repetition. In asana, that translates to progressively opening and strengthening the body and channeling the power of the breath. If you slowly practice the shapes and actions that comprise a tricky pose, you might find you have more ability and less fear when you finally do get there. For example, to safely practice Pincha Mayurasana (Feathered Peacock Pose, aka Forearm Balance) with a stag-leg variation, you need to open your chest and shoulders and prepare them to support the weight of your body. And you need to both open and engage your hamstrings. You need to wake up your core, and you need to open your hip flexors and quadriceps. Kula Flow is creative, but the posture choices are never arbitrary. There should be a reason behind everything that you put into a given sequence.

KULA SEQUENCE: ROUND 2

KULA SEQUENCE: ROUND 3

About our Author

Schuyler Grant co-created the Wanderlust festival and founded Kula Yoga Project in New York City. As developer of Kula Flow, she was noted by The New York Times as a go-to teacher for advanced practice. Learn more at wanderlust.com.



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