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One Pose—Three Ways

Nancy Elkes is a long-time teacher of all types of yoga, including Kundalini and vinyasa. She teaches privately and at Crunch Gym where she incorporates principles of Pilates, TRX, and AntiGravity Yoga. Here she talks about Warrior three, which helps students find opposing forces, one of Elkes's favorite themes.

YogaCity NYC: What pose did you chose and why do you like it?

Nancy Elkes: I chose warrior three, because I love to feel the breath flow through the angle my body forms in this shape. It is a pose that on the outside is not thrilling, but, once in it, I feel like it is the ride of my life. I find this pose so incredibly nuanced that I feel like the journey in really nailing this pose will last my yoga lifetime. I love to feel the opposition of my spine drawing forward and my inner thighs reaching back. It enables me to feel long and lean and while facing an incredible mental and physical challenge. I take flight. I still struggle with finding a full straightening of my standing leg and squaring off my hip points as I endeavor to lift the other leg high. I seem to pick sacrificing the lift of my back leg to square my hips and spare my spine.

YCNYC: Describe the anatomy of the first pose and body parts engaged.

NE: In the first pose with the arms on a wall, chair, or the edge of a table, I am able to feel the muscles involved in the pose more evenly distributed since the wall is helping to support my weight. In essence all three poses work the same musculature but with different levels of support, one group will intensify. Here you can feel your standing foot, ankle, legs and glutes. The front thigh muscle is working hard to extend the leg as straight as it will go. You will feel a nice stretch in the backs of your legs and calves. Your hip-flexors bring your spine to fold in half and your core, erector spinae (muscles around the spinal column), and postural muscles are all working to maintain the spine in its neutral position. In this variation, you will get the added benefit of the hands on the wall to fire-up muscles that stabilize your shoulders.

YCNYC: What body parts are engaged in the second pose?

NE: In the second pose, with the back foot on the wall, you still feel all the muscle groups mentioned above, but there will be a bigger emphasis on the back muscles and core.

YCNYC: What is the overall effect of the third pose on the body, and what does this one add to the understanding of the pose—and mind?

NE: In the third pose, your whole standing leg will be on fire. The angle between the spine and the hips, allows the breath to deepen and become more powerful. Without the support of the wall, balancing demands increase and the mind becomes more focused. (I believe all poses are dynamic in nature and should be considered balancing poses, but once a foot comes off, the balancing aspect of the pose commands more attention). Now you are as powerful and focused as a warrior.

YCNYC: Tell us if you have any new workshops we would like to attend?

NE: I am working on an exciting Internet project with my friend and teacher, Michael Gilbert, about opposing forces as a tool for pain and stress management. I am also developing an AntiGravity training with a team of teachers in Basel, Switzerland. If anyone would like to attend my classes at Crunch they can download a guest pass and check my schedule out on line.

If you would like to be part of "One Pose—Three Ways," send an email to

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