> Breath: It’s in the exhale that we release our stress out into the universe, as well as all tension and worry. If all you do in class is focus on the in and out of your breath, you will be much more effective and able to take your postures to a higher level.
> Stance: How you stand between postures is as important as the postures themselves. Spread your weight evenly over both feet (that includes your big toes, little toes and heels) and keep your legs, hips and knees tight and engaged. Your arms should hang by your sides, fingertips facing down toward the floor.
> Setup: The setup for each posture also deserves your attention. In Half Moon Pose, for example, bring your arms up over your head by stretching them down toward the floor first and then raising them up in a slow, wide arc on either side of your body. Keep your arms tight and engaged at all times.
> Eyes: Your eyes are your primary motivator, playing a huge role in helping to align the spine – so look where you want to go! This doesn’t, however, mean you should turn your head to look at the mirror during Standing Separate Leg to Knee Pose or Triangle Pose, for instance, to make sure that your feet are properly lined up!
> Standing Deep (Pranayama) Breathing: This should be a continuous breath. Breathe in through your nose for six counts and then out through your mouth for six counts, using your throat. The key to Pranayama is that the flow of the breath should never stop – Craig called it “circular breathing.”
> Half Moon Pose: Focus on the outer arc that your body is making in order to deepen the inner arc. When it’s time to do the first backward bend, concentrate on “setting the bar higher” by bending more through the upper back (with your chest lifting up toward the ceiling), rather than the lower back.
> Awkward Pose: If your arms get tired easily in this posture, focus on stretching them out to ease the exhaustion. By keeping tension in your arms you also remove tension from what your legs are doing, allowing you to go deeper.
> Standing Head to Knee Pose: When you kick your leg out during this posture, make sure that you initiate the movement with your heel so that you extend the back of the leg properly. If your hips are out of alignment, kick your heel more forward rather than trying to push or move your hip.
> Balancing Stick Pose: First thing’s first: this posture is not 10 seconds long! Every teacher is different, but Craig said that the pose is held longer than 10 seconds. Rather than focusing on the timing, however, concentrate on keeping every part of your body tight and your heart slightly below your hips.
> Wind Removing Pose: When you bring both legs up in this posture, think of pushing your knees together rather than pulling them into your body. This should be the main point of concentration in this posture.
> Full Locust Pose: Never bend your knees in this posture, or you will break the “static arc” of the pose.
> Bow Pose: To do this posture correctly, imagine your eyes and feet lifting up toward the ceiling at exactly the same time. Eventually, some day, your eyes and feet will meet in the middle.
> Rabbit Pose: Lean back, look at your stomach and try to envision your body “rolling” into itself like a giant cinnamon bun. (Rea said she imagined a Solly’s cinnamon bun specifically, which is the best kind there is!)
Craig finished the class with a long final Savasana and a meditation, where he had everyone in the room “floating in a sapphire sea, with fish tickling the backs of our bodies.”
Experience LuxYoga with Craig Villani
If you loved (or missed out on) this class – good news! You can spend a week in the south of France with Craig Villani, transforming your practice through his LuxYoga Experience, which combines traditional Bikram Yoga classes in an immaculate, state-of-the-art hot yoga room with posture workshops, photo analysis and personalized instruction. Watch this space for more details on this amazing experience!
Did you attend Craig Villani’s Comprehensive Class at Cambie? What was the No. 1 thing you took away from the class? Share what you learned with others by leaving a comment below this post!