One Pose—Three Ways


"The world is my studio," said Deena Berger, a recent finisher of the Wanderlust Voyager Program, a 200-hour training that split on-site instruction between Tribeca and Austin. Since earning her certification, Berger has taken full advantage of The Yoke, a web community for teachers and students. "It’s an incredible resource for recent graduates of teacher training who want to jump right into leading classes, but are having the trouble finding space on the schedule in their studios." Here among May tulips, she demonstrates extended side angle:

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

Deena Berger: Utthita parsvakonasana. I like this pose because it offers a lot of creativity to any yoga practice. However, because there are many variations, alignment often goes overlooked. The full extension, from the top fingers to the outer edge of the back foot, lengthens and opens the side body igniting a really powerful, yet graceful pose. The grounding through the lower body and lengthening through the upper body foreshadows the balance of stability and passion that we are often seeking in life.

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

DB: With any asana, I like to give cues from the ground up. Here we see the feet are totally

grounded ­ front foot pointed straight forward and the back foot is turned slightly in from parallel to back of the mat. The front knee is bent directly over the ankle in a 90 degree angle with the thigh parallel to the floor. The back leg is completely straight, grounding through the outer edge of the back foot. The torso extends over the front thigh as the chest twists up toward the sky.

The bottom arm extends down to the mat [or a block, or forearm on the inner thigh] as the top arm extends alongside your ear with fingers pointing outward. Soften the shoulders away from the ears. Gaze up toward the top hand for full extension (or gaze down or to the side wall).

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

DB: The second pose is a supported variation with the forearm on the inner thigh as opposed to the ground. This pose is my favorite version because it allows for the spine and torso to be more elevated and allows for a deeper twist of the chest toward the sky creating a heart opening pose.

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].

DB: For the third pose, I am posing in parivrtta parsvakonasana (revolved extended side angle). The legwork is classically the same, but a modification could also be taught with the back heel off the floor (like a low lunge back foot). Because this is a revolved (or twisting) pose, we are stimulating and massaging the abdominal organs, releasing toxins, and challenging balance. Twisting and detox poses are great for the spring as we wake up the body from the more internal, slower paced winter.

Follow Berger's teacher profile through her website or @dee.yoga on instagram. In the month of May, she teaches 7:30 p.m. Wednesday evenings at the stage at Garibaldi Plaza in Washington Square Park. Beginning this month, she will be teaching at Primary, Manhattan’s newest co­-working space and wellness studio. Get alerts when she's teaching near you through The Yoke.

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