Mark Stephens' Musings

These writings are informal reflections on practicing and teaching yoga. Click on any title to read the entire piece.

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The New Yoga Paradigm

Submitted by Mark Stephens on Tue, 08/04/2020 - 09:26

There are virtues and drawbacks to the use of the traditional concepts and belief systems in yoga to inform its various practices. On the one hand, for many, the belief that one is engaged in an experience rooted in ancient knowledge and validated by the passage of time provides a level of confidence and reinforcement.

Teaching & Practicing Downward Facing Dog Pose

Submitted by Mark Stephens on Tue, 05/08/2018 - 06:57

Following the basic principles of sequencing instructions, guide the building of full Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose) from the ground up and from what is at most risk of strain or injury: the wrists, shoulders, and hamstrings. We will look alternatively at the upper body (from the hands up) and lower body (from the feet up).

Sustainable Asana Practice: Half Moon Pose

Submitted by Mark Stephens on Thu, 05/03/2018 - 08:35

Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana) is a strong intermediate-level standing balancing asana that asks for steady grounding of the standing foot and leg, opening of the standing leg’s hip in external rotation, elongation of the spine, and expansion of the torso and chest. It invites exploration of confidence in balancing through the opportunity to eventually maintain the gaze toward the thumb of the upper hand while transitioning in, refining, and releasing from it.

The Feet & Pada Bandha

Submitted by Mark Stephens on Tue, 05/01/2018 - 09:30
With twenty-six bones that form twenty-five joints, twenty muscles, and a variety of tendons and ligaments, the feet are certainly complex. This complexity is related to their role, which is to support the entire body with a dynamic foundation that allows us to stand, walk, run, and have stability and mobility in life. In yoga they are the principal foundation for all the standing poses and active in all inversions and arm balances, most back-bends and forward bends, and many twists and hip openers.

Awakening Yoga Anatomy

Submitted by Mark Stephens on Tue, 05/01/2018 - 08:25

This is excerpted from Chapter 9 of Yoga Therapy, "Kinesiology and the Biomechanics of Movement."

The trouble with the fast lane is that all the movement is horizontal. And I like to go vertical sometimes.