Broken into six part for accessibility, and to be explored sequentially, the below videos of the Ashtanga Baby Primary series comprise: 1) Dhyana (meditation); 2) Warm-ups and Surya Namaskar; 3) Standing; 4) Seated; 5) Backbends, and 6) Pacifying including inversions and savasana, plus a reading / message.
NB Health and Safety: This sequence is not suitable for beginners. Please read the descriptions below each video for health and safety information, plus sequence (and asana) specific mods & assists notes.
In Yoga – OFF the mat and ON – we practice Ahimsa, non-harming, the first of the Yamas (universal moralities); meaning non-harming to yourself, to others, to the world and to animals. So don’t do anything which will cause you or anyone else harm. So, please listen to your body, how it feels today; and if you feel any new, sharp or shooting pain, come out of what you are doing and take balasana (child’s pose) or savasana (corpse) – these are still active asanas, you are still breathing!
On Svadhyaya (Self-study)… I am also a student, like you; always learning, so please do not compare with yourself or others because this is not a competition and we are always changing!)
Remember: Twenty minutes a day is better than one hour a week! This is yoga krama. This is bit-by-bit progress. This is what it’s all about.
Note on filming: This was filmed in London, 2020 during lockdown and amidst moving house (appreciate your understanding re: the space – but my aim is not to make this video look pretty, it’s to share the gift of Yoga and help you build a practice – wherever, whenever! Keeping it authentic is key.
1) Dhyana (meditation)
Dhyana (meditation; extreme level of concentration) is one of the FOUR *physical* components of the Yogasana practice, along with Asana, Pranayama and Japa Mantra. Welcome meditation into your sadhana (spiritual practice). Meditation or Dhyana (the seventh limb; “seventh stage of Yoga”-1) is a step beyond, a higher level up, from the sixth stage; Dharana, or concentration. [1-Tree of Yoga; Iyengar].
Start with a few minutes a day (this video is an 8 minute session you could use.) But 1 minute to begin is also good! Whatever you can do is enough! And then every month, add a minute. Bit by bit progress — Yoga Krama — is about patience, perseverance, and daily discipline.
2) Warm-ups and Surya Namaskar
This video focuses on Surya Namaskar sequence which promotes rapid flexibility and fluidity to the spine and limbs, especially when linked to breath. Surya Namaskar is a fantastic all-round warm up for your entire body; preparing your muscles, joints and nervous system for a full asana practice. Integrating Surya Namaskar into your day will build physical strength and help still your mind. 20 mins of Surya a day is better than practicing once a week! Integrate daily discipline with the help of Surya Namaskar.
**Health and Safety & Assists (Blocks)**
Recommend getting the all-clear from your GP before practicing. Please do not practice if your are pregnant in your first 12 weeks; and your first eight weeks after giving birth, and make sure to have clearance from your doctor before practicing, please. I have repeated this in all the video descriptions as it is essential to understand.
Props (general) – Please have blankets, pillow under/cloth folded between for any knee issues, blocks under sitting bones for cross-legged seated (Sukhasana) and (optional) blocks under your hands in Adho Mukha Savasana (or books!) to help elevate you and raise your hips in your inverted V-shape. You can also use something (sweater; cloth) to cover your eyes with for your own savasana if you choose to end the sequence here – remember 5m savasana per every 30m practice!
Adho Mukha Savasana – Use blocks under your heels in Adho Mukha Savasana (Dowward Facing Dog) or keep your knees bent and heels lifted, working gradually to get your heels down to the floor. Don’t rush. Keep it safe!
Uttanasana – Bend your knees slightly in forward folds including (Uttanasana; hands behind ankles, knees bent for beginners).
Theme is Rooting Down to Create Space! Welcome to the Baby Ashtanga Vinyasa Standing sequence (not suitable for beginners). The standing sequence helps build strength and stability (Standing asanas are related to your Muladhara or Root Chakra – remember opening one chakra requires balancing off all chakras, so all chakras are used in each asana!); also helping you develop a connection to your anatomical body.
-Make sure to warm up beforehand, bringing in your dhyana (meditation), and always setting a devotion / intention; practicing Bhakti Yoga (devotional yoga), by offering up your practice to someone you love, or someone you perhaps find challenging. But make it a selfLESS practice. And come back to this intention, devotion, during and after the practice.
Health and Safety note on pregnancy: Please do not practice in your first 12 weeks if you are pregnant, and make sure to have clearance from your doctor; practicing after 8 weeks (minimum) after you have given birth.
-Activate your Pada Bandha (Foot lock – essential for all standing balancing asasas), by rooting down into the earth with your feet – balancing the weight equally across all four corners of each foot, growing tall out the crown of your head.
– After your Namaskar Sq, start in Tadasana and approach the Standing Sq by breaking it down into three parts: 1) Standing Part 1 (Padangusthasana until end of Vasisthasana ‘side plank’); 2) Warrior  Part; 3) Standing Part 2 (From Prasarita until end of Garudasana ‘Eagle’*)
– Always come back to your Tadasana, your Mountain, your Equal Standing place. Find your balance, find your breath, and then progress to the next part.
ASSISTS AND MODS
– Belt / long sock for reaching foot or binds. Belts will assist you while you progress with learning the different baddha hasta (bound hands) alignements for standing asanas in Ashtanga Yoga (binding hands in, for example, Eagle).
– Wall for extra balance and stability (Tree/Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana/Eagle); press foot against wall for alignment and balance in Warrior 3, for example.
– Chair / Cupboard / Couch (i.e place hands on couch or a stable chair for balance in Vira 3). Use with caution and rather use a wall! – Wooden/Cork Blocks (or thick and stable books) under your hands (i.e. Adho Mukha Savasana ‘Downward Facing Dog’, Prasarita 1, Standing Splits)
– Props for Forward Folds – Bend your knees slightly in forward folds including (Uttanasana; hands behind ankles, knees bent for beginners). You can also use a chair in Uttanasana and Prasarita (ragdoll arms with forehead resting on chair – use a folded blanket/mat or pillow if more comfortable. No pressure in neck and face at all! Cannot expand if tense!)
**Further notes on assists in standing sq asanas and health and safety tips**
– Prasarita sequence – In prasarita padottanasana (Wide angle forward fold) you can take the following modification: hands on hips; bend knees for lower back or tight hamstrings; use a belt to wrap around your big toes for Prasarita D. For those new to the practice, remember to take it slow – listen to your body – and can use a chair to place your forearms and head – on top of a pillow – on to until you build the flexibility to fold forwards and place hands and crown of head on the mat.
– Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana: Use a belt if you can’t reach your foot in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (Extended hand to big foot pose), or just bend you knee (with opp. hand resting on it) as the alternative modification.
– Knees – Place padding under your knees for any knee issues in Anjaneyasana; and watch out for over / under extending the knee above the ankle.
– Take Balasana (Childs pose) at any point – this is still an active asana, you are still breathing! There is no hierarchy!
Welcome to the seated part of the Ashtanga Baby Primary Series sequence (not suitable for beginners). Seated asanas help you develop a deeper awareness of alignment and sense of rooting down in your sitting bones to grow tall from the base of the your spine (Muladhara Chakra) to the crown of your head. Some epic hip openers in the seated sq too! Read on for NB info on Health and Safety; Assists and Mods.
**Health and Safety & Assists & Mods **
– Dandasana, Paschimottanasana, Janu Sirsasana, Marichyasana A, Ardha Matsyendrasana – Use padding under your knees when legs are extended and knees do not rest fully on the floor (just prop a small cloth or eye pillow under your knees for extra support.)
– Place block/pillow under elevated knee/thigh (thigh of the bent knee) in Janu Sirsasana, Marichyasana and Ardha Matsyendrasana, for example; and pillow/blanket/sweater under elevated bum cheek (sometimes if it lifts up when folding forward in asanas including Janu Sirsasana, Marichyasana A, and Ardha Matsyendrasana).
– Seated Forward Folds & Twists – Use a belt to reach your feet if you cannot reach comfortably with your hands.
– Navasana – bend your knees and wrap arms around thighs as alternative to straightened legs. Assist: Press feet flat on a wall/cupboard/couch keeping your right angle in tact (thigh and shin at right angles; calf muscle is parallel to the floor).
– Baddha Konasana – Use blocks under thighs in asanas such as Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle; Butterfly) and build a little pyramid of blocks/bolsters/pillows to place your forehead onto until you are able to comfortably reach the floor with your head without straining the lower back and neck.
Welcome to the Backbends part of the Ashtanga Baby Primary Series sequence (not suitable for beginners). Following from the seated sequence, backbends stimulate and energise the central nervous system; and are heart-opening asanas – creating space in the heart centre. Anahata Chakra (Heart Chakra, meaning ‘Unstuck’) are related to backbends (and other asanas! All asanas and all chakras relate to one another.)
**Health and Safety & Notes (specific asana – assists & mods – notes further down):**
– Please do not practice Wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana) if you are not an advanced yogini/yogi. Take caution in backbends, especially your ankles, wrists, lower back, and neck.
– Health and Safety note on pregnancy: Please do not practice in your first 12 weeks if you are pregnant, and make sure to have clearance from your doctor; practicing after 8 weeks (minimum) after you have given birth. Recommend getting the all-clear from your GP before practicing.
– Ahimsa (non-harming): In this video please make sure you have preceded with dhyana (meditation), warms up, Namaskar, and seated. ALWAYS warm up before your practice. Warm ups are asanas themselves, so make time for these and you will still be feeling the love in your knees, ankles, wrists and – most important, your soul – at 100!
ASSISTS & MODS:
– Salabhasana & Dhanurasana – Prop a rolled up mat under your belly in Salabhasana variations (Locust) and Dhanurasana (Bow) to help lift you up. Dhanurasana – Use a Belt if you cannot reach your legs in Dhanurasana (Bow)
– Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – Place a Block between your feet (and knees if you want to just check the alignment is correct!); can also place a block under your sacrum as a modification (or bolster); do not practice without some experience in these asanas, please.
– Urdhva Dhanurasana – Lengthen out through the legs in Wheel (not creating the C-Shape!) Press down through the feet! Toes slightly in. Come down with tucking chin to chest, then lower your Shoulders FIRST, then NECK second, HEAD last! Remember, Wheel is not for beginners — take another bridge as option.
Welcome to the Pacifying part of the Ashtanga Baby Primary Series sequence (not suitable for beginners). Following on from Backbends, the Pacifying sequence asanas include inversions which, if practiced safely and correctly, help prepare you for the final asana, where your ego dies: Savasana or Corpse.
**Health and Safety’s (Scroll down for sq specific asana notes, namely assists & mods)**
Recommend getting all-clear from your GP before practicing. Try to listen to my voice and not look at the screen however tempting it is to look up. Do not practice if you are menstruating; have back or neck issues; have ear congestion, eye issues or glaucoma; suffer from high blood pressure or are pregnant. Please do not practice in your first 12 weeks if you are pregnant, and make sure to have clearance from your doctor; practicing after 8 weeks (minimum) after you have given birth.
**ASSISTS & MODS for specific asanas in Pacifying sequence:**
– Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand – Queen of Asanas) – Do not practice if you are a beginner; Viparita Karani (legs up the wall) as your modification.
– Halasana (Plough) – Use a wall / chair to rest your feet on if they don’t reach the floor, then progress to feet on block(s), then toes on floor; then untuck toes. Do not force yourself into this inversion
– Karnapidasana (knees to ears) – Knees on forehead if you cannot reach ears. Wrap arms around legs to help bring knees closer in to ears.
– Matseyasana (Fish) – Don’t tuck your hands under your bum; forearms down, legs straight, feet together and toes pointer
– Sirsasana (Headstand – King of Asanas) – Please practice Dolphin (shishulasana) as modification, where you can use a block between your hands to build strength and alignment.
– Balasana (Child’s pose) – Place head on block or pillow if you cannot reach the floor comfortably. Place pillow/folded cloth between knees for extra support. Place block/pillow under bum if you cannot reach your heels comfortably when knees are together. Arms by your side. Eyes open, mouth closed; balasana is still an active asana!
– Padmasana (Lotus) – You can fold a belt/place an eye pillow in between your knees in Padmasana. Place Blocks/Pillows under your thighs and/or sitting bones in Padmasana (cross-legged asanas in general) to help elevate your sitting bones ensuring they are higher than your knees. Alternative options / mods: Recommend taking Ardha Padmasana, half lotus, or Sukhasana, cross-legged easy pose, to avoid straining the knees, ankles, and hips.
– Savasana (Corpse) – Please practice Savasana for at least 10 minutes (5 mins per every 30 mins of practice). This is the most difficult of asanas as we let our ego die; practicing aparigraha (letting go), the fifth Yama (Universal Moralities which, combined with our five Niyamas – personal observances – provide a framework for living a moral life present-day.
Savasana assists & mods: Place an eye pillow or cloth over your eyes. Cover yourself with a blanket to stay warm. Prop a pillow or bolster under your knees if they are not touching the floor. Place a bolster/block on your belly to help maximise surface area touching the floor
Thank you to my many teachers, Stewart Gilchrist @ East London School of Yoga (ELSY) and Khaled Kendsi (Iyengar Yoga Teacher), and to my family for your support and love in this journey of recovery and change.
Keep fighting for LOVE (maitri; loving-kindness, friendliness) and COMPASSION (karuna; “…compassion coupled with devoted action…” – BKS Iyengar)
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