Moving Into Stillness with Erich Schiffmann
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A Few AsanasPrint View

Cat Pose, Mountain Pose, the "ten core poses" (Standing Forward Fold, Standing Side Stretch, Dog Pose, Spread Leg Forward Fold, Bridge Pose, Reclining Leg Stretch, Locust Pose, Sage Twist, Hero Pose, Shoulder Stretches) and the Lotus are presented here.  The other thirty-two poses I recommend can be found in my book.

Standing Side Stretch (Ardha Chandrasana I)

The Standing Side Stretch is another pose with two lines of energy radiating outward from your center. One line of energy reaches upward from your belly and outward through the arm, and one line travels downward through the legs. Your pelvis will be in cat tilt. This is a simple pose with a wonderful stretch.

1 Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with your feet together. Have your arms by your sides, gaze straight ahead, and establish a smooth flowing breath as you wait for the inner cue to begin. When you are ready, exhale.

2 As you inhale, raise the left arm until it is vertical, alongside your ear, with the palm facing inward. Stretch outward through your arm and hand as you bring it up, circumscribing as large a circle as possible with your fingertips. Keep your left arm alongside your ear throughout the pose. Place your right hand on your right hip.

3 Feel where the lines of energy are, one up the arm and one down the legs, and then establish the alignment of your center. Do this by pulling the abdominal muscles inward, gently backward toward the spine, so the coccyx (tailbone) points straight down and tile sacrum comes to a more vertical alignment - cat tilt.

4 Establish the leg line. Spread your toes and snuggle your feet into the floor. Lift the kneecaps, tighten the thighs, and gently squeeze your legs together. Press downward through your legs into your feet, become grounded, and take a moment to be very solid and stable. You will not be coming up on your toes in this posture, but create that same springy feeling.

5 Establish the upward-moving arm line, From your belly, lift upward into your chest, and from the left shoulder, stretch straight upward through the arm and out your hand. Spread your fingers. Keep both shoulder blades tugging down your back, and continue pulling the navel backward toward the spine. Feel the difference between the left side of your body and the right.

6 Stay in this position for several breaths, clarifying the vertical line upward and downward from your center. Then inhale deeply and increase the current up the arm. Stretch with enthusiasm.

7 As you exhale, lean to the right. Turn your head and look down, pressing your hips sideways. This feels wonderful.

8 Go as far as you comfortably can, then take inventory. Expand the chest away from the waist, slide the shoulder blades down your back, and keep the abdominals pulled backward toward the spine. Squeeze your legs together as you press downward into your feet, and reach enthusiastically outward through your left arm. Stretch through the arm in the direction it is pointing. If your arm is pointing straight up, stretch straight up; if it's at a forty-five-degree angle, stretch outward at a forty-five-degree angle. Follow the lines deeper into the pose.

9 Keep your body in one plane with the abdomen facing straight ahead. Correct the tendency to sway off-plane by moving the left frontal hip bone forward and the left shoulder backward, so the left shoulder stays directly above the right.

10 Breathe consciously, smoothly, and bring the pose to life with the breath. Increase the stretch through the arm line as you inhale, then exhale as you lean farther into the pose, pressing your hips to the left. Stretch through the shape as you inhale, release through the shape as you exhale. Practice "doing" and "not-doing" within the span of a single breath. Take your time.

11Close your eyes, go inward, and experience the pose. Feel what you're doing. Stay relaxed as you increase or decrease the current through your lines. Be as effortless as possible. Relax with the intensity. Wait for the sensations of stretch to diminish somewhat before going deeper. Be here from thirty seconds to one minute.

12 Do not concern yourself with how far you can or cannot lean to the right. Instead, savor the stretch. Enjoy what's happening. It's exhilarating. You're one long curve of energy.

13 When you're nearly done, turn our head and gaze upward, spiraling your chest toward the sky, and then accelerate your energy through the pose for a few seconds. Then come out of the pose.

14 Inhale as you come up. Exhale as you lower your arm.

15 Stand still for a few moments and savor the after-effects of the pose. Wait for the inner signal to proceed and then do the other side.

Benefits: Standing Side Stretch or Ardha Chandrasana I

Tremendous side stretch increasing flexibility of spine, arms, and rib cage. Stimulates liver, kidney, spleen function.


Cat Pose, Mountain Pose, Standing Forward Fold, Standing Side Stretch, Dog Pose, Spread Leg Forward Fold, Bridge Pose, Reclining Leg Stretch, Locust Pose, Sage Twist, Hero Pose, Shoulder Stretches, Lotus

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