Alyssa Snow, owner of MindBodySoul Yoga Studio in Washington Heights, has been teaching for more than a decade. Her disciplines include hatha, vinyasa, and kundalini. "But no matter what particular asana class I am teaching, I teach yoga as a tool for our expanding awareness," Snow said. "Attention is paid to the breath and how we feel in our bodies in this moment now."
YogaCity NYC: What pose did you chose and why do you like it?
Alyssa Snow: I chose revolved triangle (parivrtta trikonasana) because I find this pose so interesting to experience in my body. It has it all — a sense of solidity in the legs and feet, the experience of expansion in the chest and arms, a deep twist of the spine and the challenge of balance. The pose feels complex and therefore really provides an opportunity for me to be deeply aware of where my body is in space and how it feels. If I “check out” in this pose, I topple over — so attention is required.
YCNYC: Describe the anatomy of the first pose and body parts engaged.
AS: Many people feel unsteady in this pose - so the first version, where we use a block on the inside of the front foot requires less flexibility of the hamstrings and hips and offers a softer twist of the thoracic spine. Strength and stability of the legs is key to this pose. Feet are rooted down, both knees are straight and the thighs are engaged. The hand opposite the front leg holds the block which brings the torso into a parallel relationship with the floor. The pelvis is in a neutral position which encourages the twist to happen from the spine as the top arm extends up and completes the posture.
YCNYC: What body parts are engaged in the second pose?
AS: The second version of this pose engages the same body parts as the first pose - but goes deeper. Bringing the block to the outside of the front foot deepens the stretch of the hamstrings and hips as well as deepens twist of the torso.
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?
AS: The third pose is the “full pose” with the bottom hand on the floor to the outside of the front leg. When experiencing this pose you understand the pose’s complexity and power. You also understand clearly that the magic of this pose is not in how deeply you can fold or twist — but how much attention and concentration you can find in it.
For each of these poses, depending upon a person’s body and their level of flexibility and range of motion, they will find a version that works for them with equal parts ease and stability and receive all of the benefits (strengthening and stretching legs, hips and spine, opening the chest and stimulating abdominal organs and improving balance).
To take class with Alyssa Snow, check her schedule at MindBodySoul. She will be leading the studio's 200-hour hatha/vinyasa teacher training beginning Sept 2016.