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One Pose—Three Ways

A native New Yorker, Erica Robinson takes her dancer's spirit to Harlem where she is the owner of Asali Yoga. Also a Pilates instructor, she said, "My yoga style is creative slow flow sequencing, which focuses on the breath and integral alignment of postures." Here, she demonstrates boat pose because it is a sister to the Pilates teaser.

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

Erica Robinson: Navasana (boat pose). I like it because it strengthens the core and activates the solar plexus. I also like it because of the different stages one can take in this pose as they get stronger. Before I taught yoga, I was a Pilates mat teacher and we did an exercise called the teaser. While many people think of core strengthening being exclusive to the Pilates method or an abs class, yoga has its powerhouse/trunk toning poses too. Navasana and teaser are essentially the same thing. So one does not have to go to a separate Pilates class to get the same results if one gives enough attention to navasana.

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

ER: This first variation primarily targets the spinal extensors. The feet are on the floor so it is less strenuous, and the practitioner is focused on keeping a straight and upright back using the assistance of the hands on the shins. It is very mild and suitable for those with spinal injuries or those needing to build more back strength before moving to the next variation.

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

ER: Body parts engaged here, are the spinal extensors, rectus abdominis, sternocleidomastoid (front neck muscles), and the vastus lateralis (quads).

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]?

ER: It works the same muscles as variation two, with the addition of the hamstrings and with a bit more vigor and challenge. This adds to the understanding that one must really lift the sternum up and broaden the collar bones to avoid sinking back, while engaing the navel towards the spine. It also teaches about a direct focus and tenacity of the mind.

To read more about Robinson and Asali Yoga, visit here. Reserve your spot for Meditation for Yogis 1-4pm, February 21. You can also check in for future workshops at

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