Archive | Vinyasa Flow

RSS feed for this section

Wild Thing vs Flip Dog: What’s the Difference Between These Two Poses?

A common question I get from yoga students is about Wild Thing vs Flip Dog… what is the difference between these two poses?  Let’s first start with their commonalities.  Both of these postures are backbends, where the spine is in extension, but the degree of backbend (usually) differs in each of these poses.  Both poses are also balances where the individual is baring weight on just one hand (with both feet on the earth).  The shape of the legs and feet, however, is quite different in each of these poses, including each pose’s variation that might follow its initial expression.  In wild thing, the legs and feet are asymmetrical while in filp dog, they are symmetrical. 

In this black and white collage, you can see in the first two photos of wild thing pose (the 1st being the initial expression with the right leg leg bent and the 2nd being the expression with the right leg straight).  The toes, while of course pointing in the same direction as the knees, are pointing in different directions with respect to right and left feet.  And the left foot is (usually) not completely flat onto the ground but rather pressing firmly into the pinky side knife edge of the foot.  The reason the feet are doing different things has to do with what the legs are doing. In both the 1st and 2nd photos of wild thing, the front leg (pictured here as left leg) is rotated externally in the hip and the back leg (pictured here as right leg) is internally rotated in the hips.

 For flip dog, the legs are symmetrical and the thighs are internally rotated.  If you look at the 3rd and 4th photos in the collage of flip dog and wheel pose, you will see the toes point in the same direction on both sets of right and left feet- in other words, the feet are parallel to each other and the legs are doing the same thing on right and left sides (seen in above photos of flip dog and wheel, respectively).

To help you understand these postures a little better, consider the starting positions for each. For Wild Thing, you’ll {typically} start in side plank where your hips are about in line with your shoulders (see photo on the left).

For Flip Dog, you’ll {typically} start in downward facing dog where your hips are well above the height of your shoulders (see photo on the right).  And in the final expression of each respective posture, the hips are at different degrees of height. You’ll notice (and hopefully feel in your own body) how the hips are lifted higher in flip dog than in wild thing.

Here is the initial expression of the wild thing, where the leg that moved up and over (landing off of the mat) stays bent with the leg in about a 90 degree angle.  And, like mentioned earlier, t’s good to note that on the stationary foot (on the mat), the big toe side is usually lifted, with the pinky side edge of the foot firmly pressing into the mat (which you cannot see very well in the photo here).

Here, you can see a photo of the flip dog pose… which is really like a one armed wheel pose (urdhva dhanurasana).  The leg that came off of the mat is similar to that of the same leg in wild thing… it’s the stationary leg that has changed shapes.  In flip dog, the leg on the mat adjusts to bend at a 90 degree angle making both legs parallel to each other.

A variation of the wild thing is where the leg off of the mat straightens completely like in this photo here.  To find this variation, you will start in the initial expression of wild thing and then adjust the pose in order to straighten the leg off of the mat.

A variation of the flip dog is where the arm that initially extends overhead plants next to the

grounded hand at a distance of about shoulder width apart (and the grounded hand has to first adjust to face the opposite direction… towards the feet) and this expression becomes wheel pose.  It should be noted that not only is wheel is an advanced pose that requires a lot of opening and warm up in various areas of the body to move into it safely, but the transition from flip dog into wheel is particularly tricky and should be taught and practiced under the guidance of an experienced teacher if trying this out for the first time (or few).  In each of these poses, we want to find continual lift in our heart space and firm grounding though hand(s) and feet while maintaining a constant flow of prana (think smooth and steady breathing) and slow transitions in and out of poses.  I also recommend engaging mula bandha in these poses (including while transitioning in and out of them).

It is always a good idea to address specific asana related questions directly to your teacher in person so that you can be certain of proper alignment and staying safe in your practice.  Come see us for class at Yoga For All Beings to learn more about the wonderful world of asana and so much more that the yoga practice has to offer.  Our current class schedule can be viewed here.

Be Bold. Begin Now.

As we examine our life, no matter how far we are into it, we can see in retrospect Beginitchoices or opportunities that seemed to change our course. We made agonized decisions or we dove unthinkingly into coincidence and instinct, but either way we look back and see certain moments as pivotal. More often than not we over-think decisions that in retrospect seem to not matter at all in the long run. On the other hand those places where our heart drew us against conventional wisdom or without much consideration of pros and cons are often the treasured sparks of inspiration and alignment that we can identify as essential to our stories. For myself I can look back and finger certain experiences as key to my personality – the second time I watched Star Wars (I was a too young the first), my first experience living abroad, my fatigue with academia at the exact moment I should have been applying to grad schools, that part-time job in a wine shop that led to a fulfilling 18 year career, meeting my exquisite husband, and Yoga teacher training. They almost all had this in common: they were not forgettable events at the time, but they also didn’t have an exponentially greater sense of importance than other happenings in my exciting life. In other words, in the moment I was not fully conscious of the shift that took place in me and how it would change my life. Yoga teacher training was different.

I was aware during that first weekend of training that my life had changed. My
sensory experience was different, my attitude was different, my relationships were different, and I knew it right away. I sat at the dinner table with my husband and told him that I moved through the world with a fresher understanding, one that made so much more sense than any of the ideas I had explored up until then. You may say I was on the cusp of some of the realizations that came to me. I had been reading, listening, talking and thinking in terms of spiritual and ethical considerations since I was a teenager. (It was not until later, by the way, that I welcomed the body into these contemplations. The mind and body were quite separate things to me at that time.) Not everyone’s experience is guaranteed to be so dramatic but I have never met anyone who regretted embarking on Yoga teacher training, even those who don’t formally teach Yoga.

I had two “yoga moments,” within a short space of time. For two years I had been 11390118_910716748990247_702657078241727207_nputting my honest best into a job that offered financial rewards and prestige. In my heart though, I dreaded going through what I saw as ethically bankrupt interactions. As part of Yoga class one day, my beloved teacher and friend Toni Gilroy quoted Seane Corn that “Being inauthentic is exhausting. Being true to your self is effortless.” I started crying and couldn’t stop. Downward Dog with tears in my nose – not feeling pretty I can tell you. A few weeks later Toni announced Vinyasa teacher training to be held in the same facility where I took classes. I didn’t know what Vinyasa was! I didn’t care. My heart absolutely doubled in size and I teared up again (like I do every time I think of Han Solo shooting Darth Vader’s tie fighter out of the trench so Luke could blow up the Death Star).

Without knowing what would come of it, I committed to become a yoga teacher. I
would learn how to pass on what my teachers taught me. I would learn how to be something different than what I had been– something I believe I was meant to be. Of course I had my moments of doubt, of being too much in my head. Occasionally I equivocated that I would only teach part time, or that I would only study to deepen my own practice. These are both outstanding paths that completely legitimize teacher training.  But for myself I knew from that first weekend that taking all the skills I had used to other aims in prior occupations, and adding to them from the bottomless well that is contemporary Yoga would help me continue a Dharmic path that looking back would seem inevitable, led as it was by my heart’s true desire.

I have several times now thrown everything up in the air, and trusted that things would fall into place when I needed them to be there. The first time I did it, a friend shared with me this quote by W.H. Murray, and it has inspired me ever since.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, alwaysYFAB_TT_postcard-01 ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.  A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.

Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!’ ”
Yoga For All Beings teacher training starts September 2015. Be bold! Begin. Join us..

Jenni Antonicic Padangusthasana

In Celebration of Vinyasa

By Jenni Antonicic

Jenni A HappyThere is a vision of myself that I treasure.  It’s from one of my first Vinyasa classes at a new studio.  The lights were dim, the music and teacher were exuberant, and things had gotten pretty sweaty.  We were cued to “flip our dogs,” taking one foot high in adho mukha svanasana, bending that knee, stacking our hips and then bringing our foot to the floor behind us, pivoting hips and heart and throat up towards the ceiling into an arcing backbend that felt like flying.  My front-body open, grinning chin lifted to the ceiling, free hand reaching for the horizon – I was in euphoric expansion, anchored firmly to a solid foundation.  This experience was reinforced by a friend who walked by the studio window at just that moment and said to me afterwards “Wow, you looked like you were having the time of your life!” This vision and its emotional and spiritual components encapsulate what I love most about Vinyasa – its joyous and creative expression, its element of deep play, and its emphasis on stillness and connection attained through movement .

After twenty years of accepting chronic pain in my body as just “part of life,” I have healed myself of back, hip, feet and wrist injuries, and certainly more that was brewing.  There is a freedom and ease in my physical experience that I never expected to feel increasing as I get older.  Alignment-based asana gets the credit for the feeling that I am in the best shape of my life.  I also acknowledge my meditation practice and a sincere effort at making ethical choices as contributing mightily to my mental and emotional health.  Harmonious relationships, enriching opportunities, and the conviction that my work is of service to others are all pivotal to my overall sense of well-being.  Soft forms of yoga like Judith Lasater’s restorative and Yin have a weekly place in my routine.  I have been blessed by teachers with a thorough understanding of alignment, and the geek in me is quickly taken in by precision.  Relatively static forms of yoga based on distinct, held poses adjusted by a teacher have an important place in the yoga universe.   I like to learn through many styles, especially from therapeutic teachers.  Nevertheless, I bellow a hearty endorsement to alignment-based “flowing” Vinyasa – a practice of movement, breath, and strong fluid transitions.  It offers intense pleasure in the body – the grossest part of our selves, but a viable portal into other aspects of our experience.  The joy of sure and rhythmic movement; the regaining of steadiness when surety is bobbled; the application of just the right amount of exertion to allow the emergence of subtle sensation; sweet trembling fatigue after an offering of energy and strength; and that precious, delicate skill of prioritizing stability over extension – all these things reward me richly.

choose happinessAt some point in my early 30s, my grandmother was expressing disapproval of my chosen life.  “I’m happy,” I said. “Hmmph!” she replied, “Life is not about being happy.” I adore her, and value every memory of her I can retain, but I think she got this wrong. We are aligned with the Divine when we are truly happy  –  anything on the spectrum from quiet contentment to supernova explosions of glee  – and that IS what life is,  about.  Dr. Wayne Dyer encourages us to “vibrate at a high frequency,” a phrase I embrace and repeat with gusto. When our energy is occupied with creative and generous love and beauty, when we offer and accept that energy by practicing strength and skill, even when we stumble, our motions are Grace-full. That flipped dog pose is still one of my favorites. It makes my body, heart and soul unleash ecstatically!


Jenni Pic Wedding TreeJenni Antonicic has been exploring her spiritual and physical existence with great gusto since she was a teenager.  She spent more than two decades sharing specialized beverages with fellow connoisseurs before shifting her focus to share specialized practices of body and breath with fellow students.