hyperextension of the knee in pyramid pose

KNEE HYPEREXTENSION

HOW TO SOLVE HYPERMOBILITY IN PYRAMID POSE

KNEE HYPEREXTENSION

KNEE HYPEREXTENSION: PROTECT YOUR KNEES IN PARSVOTTANASANA, PYRAMID POSE

When it comes to our asana practice, more often than not, the subject of our knees is a hot topic. Typically, we’re looking for ways to minimize pain and/or strengthen the knees in order to feel stable when holding certain joint alignments or while bending and straightening our legs during transitions from one posture to the next.  

It’s not unusual to utilize props like blankets or an extra roll of a yoga mat under our knees in an effort to minimize painful sensations in postures where our knees are making direct contact with the floor or our yoga mats.  

In regard to creating more stability or feeling stronger in a particular posture, we may utilize yoga blocks, a wall, and/or a chair to help us maintain better alignment in order to hold ourselves up for a longer period of time without concern for our balance.

Online yoga to improve mobility

MOBILITY

ONLINE YOGA IMMERSION

  • Key techniques to increase flexibility
  • Strength development for mobility and range of motion
  • Learn postures: Hanumanasana (Splits), Extended Side Plank
  • Active and passive mobility for shoulders, hips, and spine
  • Improve spinal twists, heart openers, shoulder openers, and hip openers
  • Find greater ease in seated postures
  • Improve mobility and posture off the mat
  • When and how to do active, passive, and isometric stretching

$148.00

MORE INFORMATION

PARSVOTTANASANA/PYRAMID POSE

Pyramid Pose is a single-legged forward fold that requires a reasonable amount of hamstring flexibility. This can affect us in a couple of different ways.

As practitioners, we may fall under two different categories. When exploring a posture like Parsvottanasana, or Pyramid Pose, we may be the type to either hyperextend in the knee (due to overflexibility in the hamstrings), or we may overbend in the knee to compensate for the lack of flexibility we are experiencing in the hamstrings. In both scenarios, be mindful to straighten the leg to the degree that’s possible without overdoing either end of the spectrum. So, what category do you fall under, and how can you support your practice in a way that provides you with the tools you need to stay safe?  

In today’s video, Matt provides thorough examples of ways we can take action to level up our capacity for strength and flexibility in Pyramid Pose.

HYPEREXTENSION OF THE KNEE

How does this happen?

Hyperextension of the knee may develop over time for those of us who have spent a great deal of time creating flexibility in our hamstrings and are arguably “overflexible” in this area. This often means we lack strength and/or have neglected to put effort into activating the hamstrings.

Matt explains that if we are hyperextending through the knee joint, we are creating pressure there and that this is the key point. If there is evidence of pressure, this is cause for concern. The pressure comes from overly straightening the knee. It’s actually not about the angle of the knee but about whether or not we are placing pressure there.

ACTIONS TO CREATE STRENGTH

Action 1

In the video, Matt shows us how to press the big toe and pinky toe down while lifting up through the heel, which activates the gastrocnemius (calf muscle that attaches to the back of the femur bone), causing the knee to bend.

Action 2

He adds on the action of activating the hamstring by pulling the ball mound of the foot towards the back of your mat while the heel is lifted. This will contribute greatly to the strength of the hamstrings. Engaging the muscles helps us hold the joints in better alignment, therefore also addressing our need for better stability and balance.

yoga backbend techniques: 12 classes [backbend technique to relieve back pain "bowing the spine']

HIPS & HAMSTRINGS

ONLINE YOGA IMMERSION

  • 12 classes to increase flexibility of the hips and hamstrings
  • Maximize your strength through range of motion
  • Access your pose potential
  • Release tension of hips and back
  • Sensation-based practices
  • Unlock and strengthen major muscle groups
  • Active, passive, and isometric stretching
  • Improve mobility and stability
  • So much more!

$148.00 $128.00

MORE INFORMATION

OVERBENDING THE KNEE

While some people struggle with hypermobility, others struggle to straighten the leg. In the latter case, the hamstrings are caught in a shortened holding pattern. Just stretching over and over again will not teach the body to release tension. There is, however, a solution to gain range of motion, and it too involves activating our muscles — in this case, it’s the quadriceps, the 4 muscles of the thigh. Their primary role is to straighten the knee. Matt demonstrates how we can achieve this by pulling the kneecap up. This action of “reciprocal inhibition” contributes to our ability to find better range of motion and improved flexibility in the hamstrings over time. 

Understanding our bodies and getting in tune with our tendencies unlocks opportunities for a fuller experience in our postures.
Once we tap in and take the necessary actions, what we uncover is limitless potential.

This potential is waiting for you in Matt’s current 12-class immersion, titled Mobility. You get lifetime access to this immersion, in which Matt takes you on a journey through the major areas of the body, exploring how to increase mobility while simultaneously developing greater muscular strength and integrity. Instead of sacrificing your joints for the sake of achieving a posture, you will learn how to keep your joints safe by developing the necessary strength in each area of the body.

The 200 Hr. Teacher Training: Click Here to See The Next Start Date

This is for you if you are interested in deepening your yoga practice, building your confidence, learning how to create a class, and sharing this practice with friends, family, or beyond. Yes, it’s for all levels, ages, etc.

The 300 Hr. Advanced Teacher Training: Click Here to See The Next Start Date

This training is definitely for you if you are already certified at the 200- or 500-hour level but want to take your teaching career and practice to the next level. In this training, you will learn Anatomy, Biomechanics, Postural Techniques, Intelligent Sequencing, Breathwork, Meditation, Heart-Centered Philosophy, Theming, Business Structure, Marketing, Social Media, Branding, and how to build a sustainable and successful career!

Article by Trish Curling  @anioyoga

Video Extracted From: The 200 & 300 Hour Trainings

Online yoga to improve mobility

MOBILITY

ONLINE YOGA IMMERSION

  • Key techniques to increase flexibility
  • Strength development for mobility and range of motion
  • Learn postures: Hanumanasana (Splits), Extended Side Plank
  • Active and passive mobility for shoulders, hips, and spine
  • Improve spinal twists, heart openers, shoulder openers, and hip openers
  • Find greater ease in seated postures
  • Improve mobility and posture off the mat
  • When and how to do active, passive, and isometric stretching

$148.00

MORE INFORMATION

Continue Learning

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Reverse Plank Pose

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Reverse Plank Pose Scapular Retraction for Back StrengthPURVOTTANASANAREVERSE PLANK POSE Asymmetry is a common issue when it comes to our asana practice. Opportunities to work on strengthening muscles in the back body are much less frequent than opportunities to...

read more

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When You Subscribe You Will Get Instant Access To

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deeper twists and spinal mobility with the fire line

DEEPER TWISTS

INCREASE SPINAL MOBILITY WITH THE FIRE LINE

DEEPER TWISTS

DEEPER TWISTS & SPINAL MOBILITY: “FIRE LINE”

Do you correlate strength with twisting postures in your yoga practice, or is it flexibility that comes to mind first?  There’s no doubt that both strength and flexibility are required for deeper twists, but let’s shine the spotlight on strength as we take a deeper look into how we can unlock our true potential when it comes to the execution of twisting postures in our asana practice.

YOUR INTENTION FOR THE TWIST

Twisting postures in yoga are known for their multitude of benefits. Let’s understand though that our intentions behind various twisting postures and the ways in which we execute them can benefit vs. harm our bodies to varying degrees. We may also have very different reasons for incorporating twists into our asana practice. If the goal is to create more of a therapeutic experience, then gentler twists may be the appropriate approach to take. If the intent and/or purpose is to work more deeply into a twist, then there are ways to heighten the experience with proper awareness and activation (we’ll see this shortly with Matt’s unique approach). Whether there is some level of vulnerability due to injury or not, doing things like pushing through the arms or trying to force more deeply into a twist can in fact cause harm, and this is never the desired outcome.

 

Online yoga to improve mobility

MOBILITY

ONLINE YOGA IMMERSION

  • Key techniques to increase flexibility
  • Strength development for mobility and range of motion
  • Learn postures: Hanumanasana (Splits), Extended Side Plank
  • Active and passive mobility for shoulders, hips, and spine
  • Improve spinal twists, heart openers, shoulder openers, and hip openers
  • Find greater ease in seated postures
  • Improve mobility and posture off the mat
  • When and how to do active, passive, and isometric stretching

$148.00

MORE INFORMATION

Yes, all movements on or off the mat will indeed place varying degrees of pressure on the discs in our spine, and, outside of the body’s natural resilience, there are ways in which we can create more integrity to support these movements. Although simply by twisting, we increase the amount of pressure on the spinal discs, twisting is also the answer to the question of how to increase their health.

Our discs require nourishment, and I love the sponge analogy — the “squeeze and soak effect” — when considering how to stimulate this nourishment. An appropriate twisting action or posture can actually help to equalize the pressure in the discs by supplying them with fluid, which allows them to expand. This creates more space and shock absorption between each vertebra, allowing your spine to react with more resilience to movements that create more weight, pressure, and/or impact in your body.

Now, Matt’s approach to twists is quite unique and extremely effective. His approach asks you to bring your focus and awareness to where you can create activations with more intention in order for your body to respond with greater ease. 

WHAT IS THE FIRE LINE?

If you’ve been following Matt and/or practicing with him, then you are familiar with his Chromatic Approach to yoga. Regarding the physical practice, we understand this approach as systemic with a deep awareness of how we move our bodies and progress to a “peak posture.” Something Matt created is the  idea of  the “Fire Line,” which he describes as a kinesthetic chain of muscle activation, or a co-activated line of muscle, or a co-ordinated engagement of several muscles in order to gain greater access to balance, strength, stability, and flexibility.

MUSCLE ACTIVATION IN THE FIRE LINE

Matt starts off by explaining that we first bring our attention and awareness to the serratus anterior on one side of the body, which funnels into the external obliques through the linea alba, then traveling underneath the external obliques on the other side of the body to the internal obliques, which then go down to the opposite hip bone.  

The Fire Line branches off “like a river” in 2 directions. The 1st branch goes to the outside of the gluteus maximus down through the IT band and connects to the outer shin. The 2nd branch goes from the inside of the hipthe iliacus and/or psoas muscle, which is on the inside of the bowl of your pelvis and attaches right at the inner thigh, where it meets the pelvis inside of the femoral head (inside of thigh bone). This all travels in the same direction, where we find the adductor group, which runs at the inside of your leg; some of the muscles in this group attach down at the shin.

We draw a thread of connection all the way through. Through Matt’s dedication to practice and his experience with his own body and with teaching and observing his students, he realized that activating this line allows the yoga practitioner to execute a variety of different twisting postures with great integrity and ability.

He highlights that the “center of the fire” is right at the core. We must recognize that the fire goes inward and creates a rounding through the back of the body. The key is to bring awareness to this rounding by exaggerating a pulling back of the ribcage.

With all of this in mind, we can see why strength plays a key role. Instead of just “dumping,” or forcing our bodies into a twist, we very thoughtfully engage the muscles in this Fire Line to more safely and deeply experience a variety of twisting postures.

online yoga immersion for the spine

SPINAL AWAKENING

November 2021 Immersion

  • Twists • side bends • forward folds • heart openers
  • Learn techniques to strengthen & mobilize your spine
  • Release back tension and discomfort
  • Twelve 75-minute classes, all levels appropriate
  • Advance your postural practice
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

YOUR DISCOUNT CODE: STRENGTHMEMBER

$148.00 $118.00

REVOLVED CHAIR POSE

Take a close look at Matt’s deliberate actions in today’s video.  What we see is not only the chromatic approach, the build, the preparation; but we see the activation of the fire line in order to avoid the collapse into Revolved Chair Pose.

When we approach twisting postures with strength as the anchor, not only do we execute twists with more purpose, but overall we feel more empowered in our bodies and our practice.  What a beautiful outcome.

Imagine getting this type of insight on your practice on a regular basis, and being able to integrate it into your mind and body. Online Immersions with Matt are the perfect way to get techniques like the fire line into your practice. Each immersion consists of 12 all levels classes so you can advance your body awareness and deepen your practice.

If you have been practicing with the immersions than you know exactly how powerful and effective they are.

But what if you want to share this knowledge with others? Take advantage of the opportunity to study with Matt in his upcoming teacher trainings.  His 200 and 300 Hr trainings are open for enrollment.

The 200 Hr. Teacher Training: Click Here to See The Next Start Date

This is for you if you are interested in deepening your yoga practice, building your confidence, learning how to create a class, sharing this practice with friends, family or beyond. Yes it’s for all levels, ages, etc.

The 300 Hr. Advanced Teacher Training: Click Here to See The Next Start Date

This training is definitely for you if you are already certified at the 200 or 500 hour level but want to take your teaching career and practice to the next level. In this training you will learn Anatomy, Bio-mechanics, Postural Techniques, Intelligent Sequencing, Breathwork, Meditation, Heart Centered Philosophy, Theming, Business Structure, Marketing, Social Media, Branding and how to build a sustainable and successful career!

Article by Trish Curling  @anioyoga

Video Extracted From: The 200 & 300 Hour Trainings and April 2020 Immersion “The Greatest Hits”

Online yoga to improve mobility

MOBILITY

ONLINE YOGA IMMERSION

  • Key techniques to increase flexibility
  • Strength development for mobility and range of motion
  • Learn postures: Hanumanasana (Splits), Extended Side Plank
  • Active and passive mobility for shoulders, hips, and spine
  • Improve spinal twists, heart openers, shoulder openers, and hip openers
  • Find greater ease in seated postures
  • Improve mobility and posture off the mat
  • When and how to do active, passive, and isometric stretching

$148.00

MORE INFORMATION

Continue Learning

Seated vs. Standing Dandasana

Seated vs. Standing Dandasana

Seated vs. Standing Dandasana Prepare for Seated Forward Foldstaff poseSEATED VS. STANDING DANDASANA Seated vs. Standing Dandasana (Staff Pose)—why compare the two? Not only are we going to examine how they differ, but we’re also going to dive in and really look at...

read more
Transversus Abdominis

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Transversus Abdominis Connect to Your Core With This Twist Techniquespinal rotationCONNECT TO YOUR CORE Once you are exposed to transformational techniques for your yoga practice, there’s no turning back. In the context of asana, these techniques open you up to a...

read more
Hip Flexor Strength

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Hip Flexor Strength Access Deeper Forward FoldsuttanasanaHIP FLEXOR STRENGTH OVER HAMSTRING FLEXIBILITY? Hip flexor strength for deeper forward folds over hamstring flexibility? It’s not a matter of one or the other; it’s about how one can inform the other. It’s also...

read more
Spinal Freedom In Revolved Low Lunge

Spinal Freedom In Revolved Low Lunge

Spinal Freedom in Revolved Low Lunge 5-Part Twist TechniqueanjaneyasanaREVOLVED LOW LUNGE TECHNIQUE You’re going to multiply the benefits of twisting postures with this 5-part twist technique. There are already benefits you may knowingly and/or unknowingly receive...

read more
King Pigeon Variations

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King Pigeon Variations Full Body Awareness for Your ShouldersmobilityKING PIGEON If you’ve practiced with Matt before, you’ll be aware of the domino effect or the ripple effect of how a yoga posture unfolds. Matt brilliantly breaks down every pose with care and...

read more
Reverse Plank Pose

Reverse Plank Pose

Reverse Plank Pose Scapular Retraction for Back StrengthPURVOTTANASANAREVERSE PLANK POSE Asymmetry is a common issue when it comes to our asana practice. Opportunities to work on strengthening muscles in the back body are much less frequent than opportunities to...

read more

THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

When You Subscribe You Will Get Instant Access To

  • The Technique Pack: 15 Yoga Pose Breakdowns
  • Exclusive Online Course Discounts
  • Exclusive Blogs and Videos
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

reverse warrior for better back bend flexibility

REVERSE WARRIOR

INCREASE BACK FLEXIBILITY WITH THIS PARTICULAR ALIGNMENT

REVERSE WARRIOR

REVERSE WARRIOR: PREPARE FOR BACKBENDS

Full expansion, widespread freedom, release, and openness — this might describe what we feel as yogis when it comes to the shape of a backbend or heart-opening posture in our yoga practice. We might see ourselves floating easily into this posture and enjoying the lengthening in our front body along with the confidence and strength we embody in our upper and back body (depending on the posture).

Alternatively, we might think about pain, tension, injury, constriction, fear, limitation, even inadequacy if we can’t “achieve” the posture. These are all real experiences, thoughts, and emotions we may have when it comes to backbends. We must always consider, however, what our intent is when it comes to our practice and how we can still find enjoyment and expansion within our bodies, hearts, and mind.

Backbends are also referred to as heart openers because they are associated with doing just that: opening your heart from what may be closed off, such as buried energy and/or emotions like fear, mistrust, sadness, or frustration and anger. We may go to backbends in our practice to shift this energy, to release it. Through this idea, we can create more space between ourselves and our pain. If we can’t make these shapes with our bodies for various reasons, do we not have the ability to shift these energies? The answer: Of course we do.

online yoga immersion for the spine

SPINAL AWAKENING

November 2021 Immersion

  • Twists • side bends • forward folds • heart openers
  • Learn techniques to strengthen and mobilize your spine
  • Release back tension and discomfort
  • Twelve 75-minute classes, all levels appropriate
  • Advance your postural practice
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

$148.00 $118.00

If it’s not an injury or condition that is preventing you from creating these shapes, you can approach a backbend through preparation. (This is not to say you can’t experience release in other ways, like using pranayama to unlock freedom, but that is for another discussion.) Begin by stepping back from what you envision as the end result and looking at placing your attention on areas that focus your mind, prepare your body, and allow you to let go of outcomes.

I’ll show you how we can do this with Reverse Warrior. If we place our awareness specifically on how we execute lateral flexion with the torso in this posture, it offers solid preparation for backbends. It takes our focus into the process. We are investing “well-placed effort” in how we deconstruct the appropriate actions. We can then experience and feel more expansion, opening, freedom, and release with this “preparatory posture.”

The required flexibility in this posture is directly parallel to the flexibility required in a backbend. I’ll discuss this further. Let’s talk about this well-placed effort first.

Abhyasa and Vairagya in Our Asana Practice

In Tantra of the Yoga Sutras, Alan Finger eloquently explains the ideas of abhyasa and vairagya, “the forces of effort and surrender” [Sutras 1.12 – 1.16], in our asana practice:  

“Abhyasa means making your best effort to focus all the vritti* on one single point, whether it is an action, object, thought, or image … Vairagya is the second part of the recipe. Vairagya is the ability to let go of any desire for the fruits of our efforts to focus the mind. This allows our consciousness to take action in the world without attachment.”

*Vritti is the Sanskrit word for all the images, thoughts, emotions, reactions, and belief patterns that are the activity of the mind.

Finger, Alan. Tantra of the Yoga Sutras Pg.22 – 27 )

With this understanding of abhyasa, we can place our attention on how we execute Reverse Warrior for better preparation for heart openers.

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

Master your skill set as a teacher through refined techniques, anatomy, biomechanics, sequencing, philosophy, meditation techniques, theming, yoga business, and much more!

  • Get 500 hour certified
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
  • Expand your teaching skills
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  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang
  • Business, branding, marketing, and social media skills

Required Flexibility For Backbends

Wheel Pose (Urdva Dhanurasana) and Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

Just by simply looking at the shapes below, we can see the similarities.  

Both of these postures require flexibility in the pectorals, front deltoids, abdominals, and hip flexors.

Camel pose back bend

How does this compare to Reverse Warrior?

Reverse Warrior requires lateral flexion of the spine, opening the internal and external oblique muscles because of the side bend. It requires flexibility of the latissimus dorsi, rectus abdominis, and the lower fibers of the pectoralis major for greater extension of the spine.

In the video, Matt demonstrates the added “lift of the heart more forward and up.” This is in fact that well-placed effort (abhyasa). Lifting and turning the heart may seem like a small action, but it is actually how we prepare with much more intent for the backbend. Matt describes how with this action, we open the obliques, crossing the whole mid-section into the linea alba, opening up the side body muscles. Adding the turn, we stretch the rectus abdominis to provide us with greater extension of the spine. Greater extension also means more access to a particular backbend.

online yoga immersion for the spine

SPINAL AWAKENING

November 2021 Immersion

  • Twists • side bends • forward folds • heart openers
  • Learn techniques to strengthen and mobilize your spine
  • Release back tension and discomfort
  • Twelve 75-minute classes, all levels appropriate
  • Advance your postural practice
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

$148.00 $118.00

Bringing It All Together

What is our intention? We must ask ourselves this question. Is it the outcome or the experience? If we can settle and focus the mind with well-placed effort (abhyasa) at the same time as releasing expectation for the outcome (vairagya), we can let go of the mind attachments and just experience. Abhyasa and vairagya, when practiced together, help us to release, even dissolve our attachments. Is it not then arguable that in this state, we are experiencing the freedom, openness, vulnerability, and expansion we desire from backbends?

Let’s actualize this state of being in our practice as a whole. Let’s step into this in Matt’s current immersion, Spinal Awakening, where he explores movements of the spine, always through the lens of abhyasa and vairagya.

The focus in this immersion is on heart openers, twists, side bends, and forward folds.

Matt’s intention and emphasis is always about you getting to know your body in order for you to tap into your own individual highest potential. This looks like and is expressed in many different ways. Matt invites you to let go of defining yourself as a specific kind of practitioner and encourages you to delve into your own path without any burden of what the outcomes may look like.

Let’s meet with open hearts on the mat in Spinal Awakening.
It’s never too late to join in. Click here to gain lifetime access to the immersion and to yourself!

Written By Trish Curling @anioyoga

Continue Learning

Seated vs. Standing Dandasana

Seated vs. Standing Dandasana

Seated vs. Standing Dandasana Prepare for Seated Forward Foldstaff poseSEATED VS. STANDING DANDASANA Seated vs. Standing Dandasana (Staff Pose)—why compare the two? Not only are we going to examine how they differ, but we’re also going to dive in and really look at...

read more
Transversus Abdominis

Transversus Abdominis

Transversus Abdominis Connect to Your Core With This Twist Techniquespinal rotationCONNECT TO YOUR CORE Once you are exposed to transformational techniques for your yoga practice, there’s no turning back. In the context of asana, these techniques open you up to a...

read more
Hip Flexor Strength

Hip Flexor Strength

Hip Flexor Strength Access Deeper Forward FoldsuttanasanaHIP FLEXOR STRENGTH OVER HAMSTRING FLEXIBILITY? Hip flexor strength for deeper forward folds over hamstring flexibility? It’s not a matter of one or the other; it’s about how one can inform the other. It’s also...

read more
Spinal Freedom In Revolved Low Lunge

Spinal Freedom In Revolved Low Lunge

Spinal Freedom in Revolved Low Lunge 5-Part Twist TechniqueanjaneyasanaREVOLVED LOW LUNGE TECHNIQUE You’re going to multiply the benefits of twisting postures with this 5-part twist technique. There are already benefits you may knowingly and/or unknowingly receive...

read more
King Pigeon Variations

King Pigeon Variations

King Pigeon Variations Full Body Awareness for Your ShouldersmobilityKING PIGEON If you’ve practiced with Matt before, you’ll be aware of the domino effect or the ripple effect of how a yoga posture unfolds. Matt brilliantly breaks down every pose with care and...

read more
Reverse Plank Pose

Reverse Plank Pose

Reverse Plank Pose Scapular Retraction for Back StrengthPURVOTTANASANAREVERSE PLANK POSE Asymmetry is a common issue when it comes to our asana practice. Opportunities to work on strengthening muscles in the back body are much less frequent than opportunities to...

read more

THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

When You Subscribe You Will Get Instant Access To

  • The Technique Pack: 15 Yoga Pose Breakdowns
  • Exclusive Online Course Discounts
  • Exclusive Blogs and Videos
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Deeper Forward Folds with TFL Technique

TECHNIQUE FOR DEEPER FORWARD FOLDS

ACTIVATE TFL & RECTUS FEMORIS TO INCREASE HAMSTRING FLEXIBILITY

FORWARD FOLDS

DEEPER FORWARD FOLDS: PRASARITA PADOTTANASANA

It’s not unusual to feel “stuck” in our yoga practice at times. We may come to a place in our physical practice where we are not experiencing our full potential. One of the common areas we may feel “stuck” is with our flexibility.

In my previous article, Healthy Hamstrings, I discussed a technique Matt shows us to create more flexibility in our bodies: facilitated stretching. There is yet another technique to encourage a flexible body, which I want to discuss more here. That’s reciprocal inhibition.

Reciprocal inhibition is doing the opposite of what a facilitated stretch asks us to do. It’s true that we are still activating muscles in order to achieve greater flexibility, but we are now activating the muscles that oppose the muscles that are stretching.

In today’s video, Matt demonstrates how to explore these actions in Prasarita Padottanasana: Wide-Legged Forward Fold.

PRASARITA PADOTTANASA: WIDE-LEGGED FORWARD FOLD

In Prasarita Padottanasana (an open-hip posture), our legs are in abduction, while we also flex at the hip. This position requires flexibility in our hips, adductors, and hamstrings, and there are also key areas to explore activation of potential strength. These areas include adductors, abductors, quads (including the rectus femoris, which is also a hip flexor), and hamstrings.

Activating the adductors and hamstrings supports the facilitated stretch technique because those muscle groups are already being actively stretched. On the other hand, activating the abductors and quadriceps generates the reciprocal inhibition technique, because those muscles oppose the adductors and hamstrings. In this video segment, Matt demonstrates why and how to activate the quadriceps and one of the abductors, called tensor fasciae latae, or TFL for short.

online yoga immersion for the spine

SPINAL AWAKENING

November 2021 Immersion

  • Twists • side bends • forward folds • heart openers
  • Learn techniques to strengthen and mobilize your spine
  • Release back tension and discomfort
  • Twelve 75-minute classes, all levels appropriate
  • Advance your postural practice
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

$148.00 $118.00

PREPARE THE POSTURE

With your feet spread wide on your mat, turn your thighs slightly inward. This will allow your toes to also turn slightly towards one another.
With your hands on your hips, initiate an anterior tilt of your pelvis as you tip your torso forward.
Hands come to the floor or blocks in front of you to support. If your hamstrings feel tight in this position, reciprocal inhibition is about to help with that.

How to Activate Your Quadriceps: Reciprocal Inhibition Technique

Activate your quads by energetically lifting your thighs away from your knee caps.
Feel as though you are drawing your upper thigh bones up into your hip socket. Matt describes this as almost “suction-cupping” your thigh bones upward, which will help turn on hip flexors and quads.

You activate reciprocal inhibition the moment you engage your quads, because when these muscles are activated, the opposing muscles release (in this case, the hamstrings), and you’re able to relax more deeply into the pose.

TENSOR FASCIAE LATAE (TFL) ENGAGEMENT FOR DEEPER FORWARD FOLDS 

Just as activation of your quad muscles, in particular the rectus femoris, will help you deepen into your forward fold, Matt explains that activating the TFL (tensor fasciae latae) will also deepen forward folds. Like the rectus femoris, the TFL is also a hip flexor but can be easier to engage because of its additional functions as an abductor and internal rotator. By isometrically pressing your heels away from each other, you will trigger TFL to engage. Pushing the heels or backs of the legs away from each other is both abduction and initiates internal rotation. If you don’t know these anatomy terms, do not worry; just apply the action of pressing the backs of the legs apart and you will feel your outer hips engage, supporting you in tipping your pelvis forward.

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Why take this approach?

 Aside from achieving deeper forward folds, is there a reason to apply this approach? We must, in a sense, be a “professor in our postures.”  What does this mean?

It means that there is infinite space for inquiry in our practice. Each time we step onto the mat, we have an opportunity to examine and reflect on how we approach our practice. Equipped with this kind of knowledge, our practice becomes more informed and supports our ability to realize our potential and create resilient and healthy tissues. Then we really start tapping into what is available to us in our bodies by using fundamental actions that our bodies are so brilliantly designed to perform.

Matt’s November 2021 Immersion, Spinal Awakening, includes the following:

  • Twists • side bends • forward folds • heart openers
  • Techniques to strengthen and mobilize the spine
  • Releasing back tension and discomfort
  • Twelve 75-minute classes, all levels appropriate
  • Advancing your postural practice
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

Take advantage of this opportunity to awaken both mind and body.  

Already have Spinal Awakening and want another immersion to support you in deeper forward folds? We suggest the Hips & Hamstrings Immersion!

Written By Trish Curling 

online yoga immersion for the spine

SPINAL AWAKENING

November 2021 Immersion

  • Twists • side bends • forward folds • heart openers
  • Learn techniques to strengthen and mobilize your spine
  • Release back tension and discomfort
  • Twelve 75-minute classes, all levels appropriate
  • Advance your postural practice
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

$148.00 $118.00

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side crow tutorial

SIDE CROW: POSE TUTORIAL

UNLOCK YOUR ARM BALANCE PRACTICE

SIDE CROW

SIDE CROW: POSE TUTORIAL

Side Crow is a challenging yoga posture, but it is more accessible than most people think. There are ways of “cheating” in the posture that can make the shape more attainable, such as placing your hip on your elbow. In this tutorial, we won’t be going over that version. The intent here is not to help you attain a shape but rather for you to gain both a greater awareness of how your body works and ways in which you can strengthen it. As a result of increased strength and body awareness, postural attainment is inevitable, but the process is far more fulfilling and long-lasting.

WRIST STRENGTH TO BREAK THE FEAR

Side Crow is a yoga pose that requires a twist of the spine, and like all other arm balances, upper body strength and technique are a must. The most important muscle group to strengthen is the flexors of your wrists. These are the muscles that stop you from falling, and since fear of falling often holds people back, you will want to make sure these muscles are ready for the job. The easiest way to strengthen the flexors of the wrists is to start gripping your fingers into the ground. Of the muscles in this muscle group, 2 are in charge of finger flexion as well. Finger flexion is like making a fist or grabbing something. Grip the ground in postures like All 4s, Down Dog, Plank Pose, and Chaturanga, and with repetition, you will get stronger and stronger.

STRENGTH

Yoga For Strength: Strengthen Your Weaknesses • Maximize Your Physical Potential

  • 12 classes: Each class targets a specific muscle group
  • Strengthen your core, back, hips, shoulders, wrists, ankles, legs, and arms
  • Includes Side Crow, Jump Forwards, Flying Pigeon
  • Learn creative ways to strength train within the context of a yoga practice
  • Increase mobility by balancing your strength with oppositional muscle groups
  • Joyful accountability to help you reach your practice goals

SALE PRICE: $138.00 $128.00

UPPER BODY STRENGTH FOR ARM BALANCES

The second important muscle group to focus on when working toward Side Crow are the shoulder muscles, namely the serratus anterior, rotator cuff, anterior deltoids, and pectoralis muscles. For the purpose of this article, we don’t need to get into what each of these muscles does; just know that they form the structure for your arm balances. Mostly, what you need to do is try and maintain Plank Pose with a rounded, full upper back, where your shoulder blades are apart from each other. Minimize the elbow bend — most people bend their elbows too much and lose stability in the upper body, making the foundation spongy. A microbend at the elbows is all you need. See the video below to get an idea of how much to bend.

    THE PRIMARY AND SECONDARY FOUNDATIONS

    Now let’s get to the good stuff! All arm balances have what I call “2 foundations.” You have the primary foundation, which is the hands — this is most important. Then the second foundation is where the leg(s) rests upon the arm. With all foundations, we want to dig downward like a tree rooting into the soil. The fingers gripping the earth is a downward dig. For Side Crow, our second foundation is where the thigh connects to the arm. If you press the thigh down into the arm, your hips magically lift. It’s not magic actually; that’s just the mechanics and science. In this case, the muscles that do the pressing down are called the abductors (gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, gluteus maximus, and tensor fasciae latae). To get these stronger, follow along with the video below.

    online yoga immersion for the spine

    SPINAL AWAKENING

    November 2021 Immersion

    • Twists • Side Bends • Forward Folds • Heart Openers
    • Learn techniques to strengthen & mobilize your spine
    • Release back tension and discomfort
    • Twelve 75-minute classes, all levels appropriate
    • Advance your postural practice
    • Lifetime unlimited access to all

    $148.00 $118.00

    THE CORE: WHY ARE THE LEGS APART?

    The last point of discussion is what connects the upper body and lower body: the obliques. Because this posture is a twist, the major core muscles that we need to activate are the external obliques. These muscles will help us to twist, and in the case of Side Crow, we can actually use them to untwist. This is confusing, but once you are in the shape of Side Crow, you are working to untwist along with the abductors, which will keep your buttocks up high and make the posture feel light instead of heavy. In the video, I go over some oblique warm-ups. When you are in Side Crow, it is quite hard to think about untwisting, which is why I show you a technique hack. By abducting the legs away from each other in Side Crow, you will automatically untwist the spine, and your hips will have to lift upward. The abductors of the hips and the obliques work together in this action, and you won’t have to waste brainpower trying to make it happen.

    Arm Balances

    ARM BALANCES

    Learn 12+ arm balances while expanding your knowledge of the body and increasing your body awareness. All classes are 75 minutes and ALL-levels appropriate 

    • Crow Pose, Side Crow, and variations
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    • Handstand, Forearm Stand, and many more!

     

    SALE PRICE: $198.00 $128.00

    Continue Learning

    Seated vs. Standing Dandasana

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    read more
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    Hip Flexor Strength Access Deeper Forward FoldsuttanasanaHIP FLEXOR STRENGTH OVER HAMSTRING FLEXIBILITY? Hip flexor strength for deeper forward folds over hamstring flexibility? It’s not a matter of one or the other; it’s about how one can inform the other. It’s also...

    read more
    Spinal Freedom In Revolved Low Lunge

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    Spinal Freedom in Revolved Low Lunge 5-Part Twist TechniqueanjaneyasanaREVOLVED LOW LUNGE TECHNIQUE You’re going to multiply the benefits of twisting postures with this 5-part twist technique. There are already benefits you may knowingly and/or unknowingly receive...

    read more
    King Pigeon Variations

    King Pigeon Variations

    King Pigeon Variations Full Body Awareness for Your ShouldersmobilityKING PIGEON If you’ve practiced with Matt before, you’ll be aware of the domino effect or the ripple effect of how a yoga posture unfolds. Matt brilliantly breaks down every pose with care and...

    read more
    Reverse Plank Pose

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    Reverse Plank Pose Scapular Retraction for Back StrengthPURVOTTANASANAREVERSE PLANK POSE Asymmetry is a common issue when it comes to our asana practice. Opportunities to work on strengthening muscles in the back body are much less frequent than opportunities to...

    read more

    THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

    When You Subscribe You Will Get Instant Access To

    • The Technique Pack: 15 Yoga Pose Breakdowns
    • Exclusive Online Course Discounts
    • Exclusive Blogs and Videos
    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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