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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Octopus Sequence

I was surfing YouTube last week for inspiration and came across this sequence called The Octopus Series, beautifully demonstrated by Rodolfo Mari.  I love the fluidity and grace of it, the winding and unwinding.  Done with a steady and strong flow and attention to transitions it really does resemble an octopus moving through the water.  

I took the sequence and built an hour long class around it, using it as the apex of the class.  For this class I chose to loosely follow Shiva Rea's concept of Mandala of Asanas for overall class structure.  If you're not familiar with this, no worries, just follow the sequence as outlined below.    If you like a creative flow I definitely recommend doing some workshops with Shiva or any of her teacher trainers.  I was introduced to this way of sequencing during a weekend workshop with Simon Park.  As a dancer, I immediately connected to fluid grace of it.  I have used variations of this same sequence for all of my classes this week including; Power Vinyasa, Hot Yoga, Mixed Level Vinyasa and Gentle Flow.  

The sequence in it's entirety is a 60 minute intermediate (or mixed level with options) class moving at a relatively quick pace, about 3-5 breaths per hold and using the classic Ashtanga vinyasa transition, with the option to float the leg if appropriate.  Sorry, I can't find a YouTube video of this but if you are familiar with any Power or Vinyasa style you probably know what I'm talking about... except Bikram.  I've never done Bikram but I've heard they don't do vinyasa.  (I'll get a video of this transition posted asap:)

Ways to modify
-follow the portions of the sequence in Italics only for a gentle class, eliminating Vinyasa transitions except for those in Surya Namaskara.
-reduce the # of vinyasas to transition or eliminate them completely
-vary the pace and length of holds to suit your class needs
-child's pose and cat/cow make nice transitions for a gentle class and rest periods for hot classes.
-to moderately reduce the intensity of the class, eliminate the sequences that are in bold type.  These are the highest intensity, deepest stretches and twists.  All other sections are preparations for those that are in bold type.  Eliminating any other than those that are in bold type could prevent you/your students from getting the most they can out of those more intense movements and may result in injury.

Note: T=transition

Teachers, I highly recommend that you do the sequence yourself and become comfortable with it before attempting to teach it.  

Read the following legal stuff before you go further:  

Not all exercise is suitable for everyone.  This or any exercise program may result in injury. Consult with your doctor before use.  Yoga instructors teaching this sequence to students should have comprehensive yoga training and liability insurance.

To reduce the risk of injury, never force or strain yourself or your students during exercise. If you feel pain, stop and seek medical attention if necessary.

This sequence may not be appropriate during pregnancy.  Any instructor teaching yoga to pregnant women should have specialized training in Prenatal Yoga and should provide appropriate modifications for contraindicated poses.  Those with special health considerations should consult their medical practitioner before performing any exercise.

Yoga in the Valley/Tracy Johnson cannot guarantee that this yoga program is suitable and safe for every individual.

Any liability, loss or damage in connection with the use of the following yoga sequence , including but not limited to any liability, loss or damage arising from the performance of the exercises demonstrated here is expressly disclaimed.

Octopus Series - Revised


Surya Namaskara B var. (3x:  1st=Vira 1, 2nd=Vira 2, 3rd=Vira 2 to Trikonasana)

Sequence 1: 
  • Uttanasana
  • Standing Ustrasana
  • Uttkatasana
  • Parivritta Uttkatasana R&L
  • Standing Back Bend with fingers laced behind back
  • Uttanasana Var. (deep bend in knees, palms up with elbows close to body, back of hands rest on floor fingers pointing forward, belly rests on thighs
T (step back foot forward behind front foot)
  • Garudasana
  • Uttkatasana var. - uncross R leg, step feet together, L hand to R outer ankle, R hand up
  • Uttanasana

Repeat on L

Sequence 2: (see video  for sequence - hold poses 3-5 breaths)
  • Balasana
  • Vajrasana w/backbend
  • Bharadvajasana var. R&L
  • Vajrasana w/backbend
  • Balasana
  • Anjaneyasana
  • Anjaneyasana var. - externally rotate R leg, reach back w/R arm, catch foot, pull heel to hip
  • Parsvotanasana low var. (I couldn't find a name for this pose, watch for it on the video.  Wanted to call it Hurdler's Stretch but it turns out that name is commonly used for a one legged arm balance that is very different.   If you have an idea of what it is/should/could be called please comment below)
  • Hanumanasana
  • 3 Legged Dog
  • Eka Pada Rajakapotasana w/backbend
  • Eka Pada Rajakapotasana w/forward fold
  • Eka Pada Rajakapotasana w/ quad stretch
  • Gomukhasana w/forward fold

Repeat on L


Sequence 3: R&L

*Same as sequence 2 with no holds
*pace will not necessarily be 1 breath=1 movement but movement should be fluid, continuous and connected to breath
*see video for reference


Closing: (for gentle class you might consider using props for the closing sequence)
  • Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
  • Ardha Parvana Muktasana
  • Jatara Parivartanasana
  • Savasana - (*if you need a link for this one please reconsider if you are qualified to teach yoga!  If you are not a teacher and just looking for a home practice I would advise that you have an established yoga practice and understanding of basic poses before attempting this sequence)

1 comment:

  1. I also study Prana Flow and my teacher just calls it Parsva Anjaneyasana variation. Its a deeper twist and side stretch