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Why We Practice Asana

“And the asana is really not the yoga. It is the residue the asana leaves in our minds and bodies and hearts that is the yoga.”

Judith Hanson Lasater

Asana is a word you’ll hear at nearly every yoga studio on the planet. The suffix of most Sanskrit names for poses, it’s often hidden within a much longer and complicated instruction. Savasana, Uttanasana, Bhujangasana. See it now?  

In today’s yoga culture, we use asana to refer to the practice of moving through postures or poses. The literal translation of asana is ‘seat,' but you probably already knew that because of the old 'get off your asana' joke.

The earliest Yoga texts only really offer one pose to practice and that is a comfortable seated posture. Lore states that yoga asana was originally developed as a way for monks to train their bodies to endure long, intense sitting meditation sessions.

At its very core, as Yogis, we don’t practice asana because it makes our butt (our asana) look great. Rather, we practice asana because it is the physical body manifestation of a much larger spiritual practice. A practice that calls to us to be our most human and our most divine simultaneously. Asana is a path we follow, a way of engaging the body to reach the spirit.

Because asana is just one of the eight total ‘limbs’ or aspects of Yoga. The first, most basic limb asks that we practice Yama. This concerns itself with how we act in the world. Do we treat others well? Are we living with integrity?

The eighth and final limb is Samadhi, which a self transcendent ecstasy. You could think of the eight limbs as being a ladder of sorts. We put effort and practice into each rung, further preparing ourselves to reach for the next.

Asana falls fairly low on the continuum. It is the third limb of yoga, right after cultivating self discipline (which assists in our asana practice) and before Pranayama or breath work (which prepares us for meditation). We often incorporate pranayama within our practice at the studio, marrying these two integral pieces of Yoga.

What asana does is prepare us for our next reaches into the fullness of Yoga, which is really the fullness of self with an eye toward the transcendent. Holding a demanding physical pose while maintaining a steady breath and keeping a focused mental state. That could be the description of a grueling Hatha class or an extraordinarily deep meditation.

Many stop their exploration of Yoga at asana, though the lessons transposed during your practice  often can’t help but extend into Life. That same habit of maintaining equilibrium in camel pose (Ustrasana) has a way of coming back to grace you in a stressful moment. When your partner doesn’t follow through on a promise, when your kids won’t listen, when a coworker challenges you. The stronger our roots, the deeper our calm, the more we can stretch to meet life’s challenges as our fullest selves and with open hearts.

The next time you’re in class and you reach the end, savor your savasana. It is in this pose that we find ourselves most within reach of the next limb. It is not the bookend of an hour, but rather the target of our asana practice. The time that BKS Iyengar described as “thoughtfully thoughtless.”

A nice perk of practicing Asana is that it makes our butt look great. There’s really no way to gloss over the fact that yoga asana is in itself a fantastic workout. It’s what gets a lot of people through the door in our society that tells us we should all have a beach bod, but doesn’t hold much regard for developing spiritual practices. What we’ve come to realize, though, is that whether or not we are working the larger Yoga Practice -- the capital ‘Y’ Yoga  -- the Yoga has a tendency to work on us.

Hollye Holbrook

August at Sweaty Ganesh Yoga!


  • Friends Free Friday
  • Immersive Sound Bath
  • Core 26 meets Vinyasa Smash-up Class with
    Jess, Karlene & Julie!
  • Music Class w/ Julie: Grateful Dead Night!
  • Community Classes with Teacher Training Graduates
  • Love Warriors Retreat with Cynthia Healey & Jess Eldridge
  • Posture of the Month: Crow Pose
  • Details of the SGY Teacher Training in Fall 2017


Friends Free Friday

August 11th

Bring a friend for free to every class you attend!


Immersive Sound Bath

Sunday, August 13th
$10 per person

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Sunday, August 20th
11am class moved to Abbelone Vineyard!

Core 26 meets Vinyasa Smash-up Class
with Jess, Karlene & Julie!

85505 Christensen Rd, Eugene


We're moving our 11am class out to Abbelone on Sunday, August 20th, so rather than coming to the studio, come out to the winery for this smash-up C26/Vinyasa class co-taught by Jess, Karlene, and Julie! Class will come off your unlimited package or class card, and if you don't have a current membership, you can drop in for $10.  Feel free to invite family and friends. All are welcome for this multi-level, outdoor class! Stay afterward & enjoy a glass of wine, great company, and gorgeous scenery.

*wine and kombucha not included*


Music Class

Friday, August 25th

6:00pm • Core 26 Class
Led by Julie
Grateful Dead Night!



Community Classes
with Teacher Training Graduates

Sundays from 12:30-1:30pm

We continue to offer donation-based community classes every Sunday afternoon 12:30-1:30pm led by our recent teacher training graduates. All classes with be either a 1 hour Core 26 class or a vinyasa flow. Bring your friends! Any donations are most appreciated and all proceeds will go toward a scholarship fund for future trainees.

8/6 Joey
8/13 Susan
8/20 Danika
8/27 James


Love Warriors Retreat with
Cynthia Healey & Jess Eldridge

November 3-5, 2017
Brasada Ranch, Bend, OR


Calling all women, seekers, dreamers, leaders, and visionaries to the first annual Love Warriors Retreat at the beautiful Brasada Ranch in Bend, OR.  Join Cynthia Healey and Jess Eldridge for an incredible weekend of movement (dance, multi-level yoga classes), ceremony, ritual, and connection to facilitate radical expansion.

Cynthia is an integrative psychologist, practitioner of shamanic reiki, and founder of Dance Empowered.  Jess is a yoga teacher, counselor, and the owner of Sweaty Ganesh Yoga in downtown Eugene.  Together, these women are passionate about bringing people home to their true selves, igniting the fire of transformation, and creating connection in all it's myriad forms.


Visit us at lovewarriorstribe.com for more information, including registration and housing options.  Early bird pricing through September 1st.

*This retreat is for all those who identify as "women" regardless of the sex they were assigned at birth.


Posture of the Month: Bakasana / Kakasana


The two names for the asana come from the Sanskrit words baka ("crane") or kak ("crow") and asana meaning "posture" or "seat". While different yoga lineages use one name or another for the asana, Kakasana is cited as being with arms bent (like the shorter legs of a crow) and Bakasana with arms straight (like the longer legs of a crane). Bakasana is the foundation for a larger family of postures that include Parsva Bakasana (Side Crow) and two versions of Eka Pada Bakasana (One-Footed Crow).

Bakasana is iconic. For modern yoga practitioners, the pose not only represents strength, skill, and control, it symbolizes the entire concept of arm balancing. Practicing Bakasana builds self-confidence by reminding us that we’re stronger and more capable than we think.

The foundation of this pose is in your wrists and shoulders. It does take some time to build enough strength in those areas so make sure you listen to your body and don’t push yourself too fast. You don’t need super human strength to get into this pose, it’s more about how to shift your weight and when to engage the specific muscles required in the pose.

Pose Type:
Arm Balance

• Strengthens arms and wrists
• Stretches the upper back
• Strengthens the abdominal muscles
• Opens the groins
• Tones the abdominal organs
• Balance, concentration and coordination improve

Preparatory Poses:
Downward-Facing Dog; Butterfly; Childs Pose; Plank Pose; Hero Pose

Follow-up Poses:
Downward-Facing Dog; Chaturanga Dandasana; Plank Pose

Tips & Variations:
• Some students have a difficult time lifting into Bakasana from the floor. It's often helpful to prepare for this pose squatting on a block or other height, so that your feet are a few inches off the floor
• The full pose sometimes causes varying degrees of pain in the wrists. Instead of spreading the fingers on the floor, curl them slightly. This should take some of the pressure off the wrists.
• Beginners tend to move into this pose by lifting their buttocks high away from their heels. In Bakasana try to keep yourself tucked tight, with the heels and buttocks close together. When you are ready to take the feet off the floor, push the upper arms against the shins and draw your inner groins deep into the pelvis to help you with the lift.
• You can use a partnering technique in Bakasana for better balance. Your partner can support you as you lean forward and lift your feet off the ground in this position.
• Bakasana is the foundation for a larger family of postures that include Parsva Bakasana (Side Crow) and two versions of Eka Pada Bakasana (One-Footed Crow).

• Carpal tunnel syndrome
• Current or chronic wrist pain
• Pregnancy

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As with all postures, I encourage you to listen to your body and honor where you are mentally, physically and emotionally each day. The pose will be there again tomorrow... practice in such a way that you can be too!

Hollye and the SGY Teaching Team

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“In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.”
~ Robert Lynd


Interested in Teacher Training?


Our SGY 200 hour Yoga Alliance certified Hot Yoga Teacher Training program starts up again in Fall, 2017. If you’re interested, don’t hesitate to email Jess at sweatyganeshyoga@gmail.com or speak with any of the current teacher trainees about their experiences.

We will be offering two $500 need-based scholarships and one $1000 diversity scholarship for teacher training in 2017. For scholarship applications, please email Jess.  These applications are due by June 30th, 2017.

Yoga is a lifelong journey of returning home to ourselves by unlocking our true potential, developing a healthy physical body and skillfull mental habits, and living the rich, meaningful, value-laden existence we all seek. In essence, it is a process of becoming more of who we already are. Join Jess Eldridge and her team for this comprehensive hot yoga teacher training at Sweaty Ganesh Yoga this Fall to deepen your knowledge and understanding of Yoga and to learn to guide others along this path.

This is a collaborative, empowering, group-based training that incorporates classical Yoga teachings, psychology, and neuroscience. It offers a strength-based, breath-focused, mindful, non-dogmatic approach to teaching Yoga. Training includes experiential coursework in:

Asana, pranayama and meditation (postures, breathwork and finding stillness)

Anatomy and physiology

The nervous system, including learning to read and calm your own nervous system as well as facilitate a collective, downregulating nervous system experience for your students

Yoga philosophy

Yoga history, including C26 and vinyasa lineages, classical methods and modern developments

Core 26 and vinyasa teaching methodologies

Class sequencing

Hands-on adjustments

Ethics and power dynamics inherent in the teacher-student relationship

Mindfulness practices

Discovering your own unique, authentic teaching voice


Training meets over 8 weekends from October 2017 to March 2018, including one weekend retreat in Yachats. This is a Yoga Allianced certified 200 hour teacher training.

Training Schedule (all SGY weekends meet Fridays 4-8pm, Saturdays 8:30-6pm and Sundays 8:30am-6pm):

Oct 6-8
Oct 20-22
Nov 10-12
Dec 8-10
Jan 5-7
Yachats Retreat Jan 26-28
February 9-11
March 2-4

Cost: $2850; $2600 Early Bird pricing through September 1st, 2017
Payment plan options are available.
Email Jess for an application packet and more information!


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Sweaty Ganesh Yoga 820 Charnelton St Eugene Oregon 97401 United States