Spinal Freedom In Revolved Low Lunge

Spinal Freedom In Revolved Low Lunge

5 Part Twist Technique

anjaneyasana

REVOLVED 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 from incorporating twist postures into your asana practice, but this is going to take it to a new level.  This technique is going to show you how you can strengthen your body and be more intentional about how you execute twist postures. In today’s video, Matt breaks down this technique in a revolved low lunge.  It can be applied to other twisting postures in your yoga practice, but  Revolved low lunge is a great way to explore the technique with a solid base.

TWISTS & FOLDS

TWISTS & FOLDS

  • Strengthen core muscles of rotation and side bends
  • Improve spinal mobility
  • Improve spinal flexion for seated postures
  • Strengthen your back and deep core
  • Access greater flexibility of the hips for seated postures
  • Classes will bring you to a sweat and back down to a relaxed state
  • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
  • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that's convenient for you

$168.00 $98.00

THE BENEFITS OF TWIST POSTURES

So, what are some of the benefits of twist postures? At the most basic level, there’s nothing like the “feel good” sensation they provide.  Twist postures are often a nice go to when experiencing tension in your back.  It’s almost an intuitive response of the body to twist when we want to “get the kinks out” so to speak.  They also play a role in increased circulation and mobility.  “Twists do affect our mobility (movement of organs in relation to each other) and our motility (movement within an organ)”, which also promotes increased circulation.  This is not to say that there are not other factors involved, but there is a contribution.  They are an important part of creating a more balanced asana practice.

Kaminoff, Leslie & Matthews, Amy. Yoga Anatomy, Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL 2012

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SPINAL FREEDOM: 5 PART TWIST TECHNIQUE

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SPINAL HEALTH & FREEDOM

“The spine is literally the “core” of the body. It is the deepest, most centrally located structure.”  David Keil in Functional Anatomy Of Yoga, goes on to detail that there are a variety of structures in the body that are directly and indirectly attached to it.  This delineates the importance and weight that the spine carries in your body.  

In order to experience “spinal freedom”, there must be a level of both strength and fluidity in the spine.  Your experience on your yoga mat always depends on your intention for a particular pose and/or practice.  It also depends on what you know about your body.  In regards to twists and this 5 part technique Matt utilized in Revolved low lunge, he talks about your approach to the technique.  You’ll see in the video, and read  in the breakdown, that there are a number of muscle activations that take place.  These activations can be executed to suit your body’s individual needs.  Matt details that if you are hypermobile (he talks about this in the full video where today’s clip is extracted from) (see below) that it may be more appropriate to hold onto each activation as you go through the ladder of steps.  This will help to create more stability.  If the opposite is true, then you may perform the activations one at a time. Implementing the activations one at a time helps to create more movement.  Whether your intention is to stabilize or create more movement, both are necessary in order to maintain spinal health. 

Keil, David.  Functional Anatomy of Yoga: A Guide to Practitioners and Teachers., Lotus Publishing, Chichester, England . 2014

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MOVEMENTS OF THE SPINE

There is so much more than rotation in order to achieve an increased amount of your body’s potential within this twist technique.  This technique (demonstrated in Revolved low lunge) actually shows you how to create movement with the strength of the rotators of the spine and the abdominal muscles.  Instead of relying on a more passive execution (using the strength and push of the rear deltoids and triceps to push or deepen the twist), this technique creates an opportunity to create more strength and integrity in order to support spinal stability and freedom of movement.  You’ll see in Matt’s demonstration that multiple movements of the spine are implemented in order to fulfill the technique.  You’ll see a degree of axial extension (lifting and lengthening in order to activate transversus abdominis), spinal flexion (to initiate the initial twist), a degree of lateral flexion on each side of the body and finally, spinal extension in order to create the backbend within the twist.  Exploring all of these movements of the spine support the ambition to create stability, strength, flexibility, and mobility.  Let’s break down the steps of this technique in Revolved low lunge.

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300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

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5 PART TWIST TECHNIQUE

In truth, it probably can be broken down into 4 parts, but there’s no getting stronger or going deeper in any yoga posture without setting a foundation, and becoming more aware of your breath within each step.

In the video, Matt goes through the steps multiple times in order to offer a focus on the technique itself, the muscle activations taking place, and the breath pairing alongside the technique.

Steps in Revolved Low Lunge

(Left foot forward)

  1.  Set the foundation – pull your knees together and pull your belly up
  2. Round the upper back & twist
  3. Side bend up to the sky (left waistline shortens)
  4. *Pause & wait, breath in, then side bend back towards the thigh (close the gap – right waistline shortens)
  5. Backbend (with option to open the arms)

Breath Pairing Steps

  1.  Take a breath in and pull the belly in and up like cobra, as you exhale round the upper back and initiate the twist
  2. Inhale, side bend left ribs up to the sky (can also hold for some of the twist)
  3. Inhale and side bend (exhale) right side body gets short, so side bend towards the ground
  4. Inhale backbend
  5. Twist more on the exhale

REQUIRE MORE FROM YOUR TWISTS

Approaching twists in this way offers you the opportunity to be in more control of your body both on the mat, but also in your everyday functional movement and activities.  Moving in this way creates more confidence.  It may be more challenging to ask more from your body, but the pay off is extraordinary.  Not only will you experience a deeper twist, but the sensations you are left with reveal the strength and integrity you are creating in your body.  The advantage of exploring this twist technique in Revolved Low lunge is that you can remain closer to the ground, which removes the added balance element.  You can safely delve into the technique and then later apply it to more complex twisting postures.  Take the opportunity to dive deeper into the possibility of twists in Matt’s December 2022 immersion Twists & Folds.

See you on the mat!

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Spinal Awakening

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Continue Learning

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 more infrequent than opportunities to...

read more
Crow Pose On Blocks

Crow Pose On Blocks

Crow Pose On Blocks Take Your Shoulder Stability To New HeightsSTABILITYCROW POSE  It’s not unusual to have a healthy amount of fear and hesitation when it comes to finding balance in crow pose.  Will I fall?  Am I strong enough? Will I hurt myself? One of the most...

read more
Side Angle Pose

Side Angle Pose

Side Angle Pose Shoulder Fix At The Wallupward rotationSIDE ANGLE POSE Stop for a moment  and think about how many times you lift your arms overhead in any given asana practice.  There are plenty of opportunities, aren't there?  Side Angle pose is a perfect example of...

read more
Open Splits

Open Splits

Open Splits Follow This Flexibility FormulaSAMAKONASANAOPEN SPLITS Open splits is one of those postures that may not always make it into your asana practice, but there are a number of good reasons for it to start showing up more often.  It does require a considerable...

read more

TWISTS & FOLDS

TWISTS & FOLDS

  • Strengthen core muscles of rotation and side bends
  • Improve spinal mobility
  • Improve spinal flexion for seated postures
  • Strengthen your back and deep core
  • Access greater flexibility of the hips for seated postures
  • Classes will bring you to a sweat and back down to a relaxed state
  • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
  • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that's convenient for you

$168.00 $98.00

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.

King Pigeon Variations

King Pigeon Variations

Full Body Awareness for Your Shoulders

mobility

KING 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 intricate detail. This helps you not only to understand a pose intellectually but also to physically feel this unfolding take place in your body; it’s like the satisfaction you feel when you hear the snap of the correct puzzle piece connecting into the right place. King Pigeon is a perfect example of this unfolding. One action intimately informs the next.

SHOULDER MOBILITY

Access Your Active Range of Motions

  • Increase strength and flexibility
  • Decrease risk of injury
  • Release shoulder tension
  • Learn anatomy and biomechanics
  • Access a wider range of postures
  • Stabilize the rotator cuff muscles
  • Learn binds, heart openers, and arm balances
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

SHOULDER ACTIONS

At first glance, it appears that a great deal of shoulder flexion is required for King Pigeon Pose. That’s not false, but there is more to that than meets the eye. The setup of King Pigeon additionally requires shoulder extension, elevation, a balance between internal and external rotation, and retraction of the scapulae. In other words, it can appear and/or even feel quite complex because there are a lot of muscle engagements and contracting actions taking place. More specifically, it’s how these actions are carried out.  

If you’re not familiar with how Matt teaches Downward-Facing Dog, you should check out my previous article, Downward-Facing Dog Shoulder Alignment. There are parallels that are extremely helpful. Once you are in King Pigeon, the key to safer alignment is the elevation of the shoulders and then the pulling of the armpits back (hollowing of the armpits). These 2 actions take place in Downward-Facing Dog in order to help to minimize the possibility of shoulder impingement. In King Pigeon, these actions will also help to create greater shoulder mobility while reducing the potential for pain in the front of the shoulders and in the upper trapezius.

WATCH THE VIDEO

KING PIGEON: FULL BODY AWARENESS FOR YOUR SHOULDERS

MORE THAN THE SHOULDERS

In order to diminish potential strain or pain in the shoulders, there are other actions and muscle activations that also hold great importance. Understanding the rest of the posture will help you to find more ease in your execution. For example, creating a more robust backbend (spinal extension) will help reduce the amount of pressure in the shoulders. This will of course require the activation and then stretching/opening of the chest.

One of the most valuable actions is actually the pressing forward of the inner elbow. This is the catalyst for the external rotation that brings the arms up into flexion. When the arms are here, the armpits lift and pull back, through which, with awareness and intention, you can actively create scapular retraction (activation of the rhomboids, upper & middle trapezius, and rear deltoid muscles). Let’s look at the ripple effect.

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KING PIGEON WITH A YOGA STRAP

(Right leg in front)

  1. Come into Pigeon Pose. A block underneath the right-side buttock is a great reminder and support to keep the hips more leveled. You can still stabilize and be intentional about activating the glute muscles.
  2. Loop a strap around your foot.
  3. Grab the strap with your  left hand (palm facing up).
  4. Turn your chest towards your foot.
  5. Do a side bend by sending the right ribs forward.
  6. Use hamstrings to pull your foot closer.
  7. Pull your elbow in. 
  8. Rotate the arm so it is externally rotated.
  9. Elbow comes up.
  10. Once the elbow is by your face, you can close/turn the pelvis.
  11. Lift your hips up.
  12. Grab the strap with other hand.

It’s almost like a checklist—once you have completed one action, you will see how the others intuitively get checked off and naturally fall into place; in other words, once you maintain the side bend and pull your foot closer, your elbow will naturally pull in closer to your body.

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300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

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  • Business, branding, marketing, and social media skills

KING PIGEON WITHOUT A STRAP

(Left leg forward)

This variation will require deeper spinal extension and more shoulder mobility. Following Matt’s Chromatic formula (the layering of actions) helps you to move towards the reality of achieving the posture. In the video, you’ll see directly how with each step taken, the body reacts.

Here are the steps:

  1. With a block under the left side buttock, come into Pigeon Pose.
  2. Turn towards your right foot to grab hold with the right hand (palm facing up with foot flexed and toes turned away from your midline).
  3. Turn the chest and lift the hips up.
  4. The elbow now comes in close to the body.
  5. Rotate the arm into external rotation.
  6. The chest goes forward significantly.
  7. Other hand also comes around to grab the foot.

King Pigeon is not a posture to jump into! It demands awareness, patience, and understanding. Full-body awareness is the key to unlocking access to this posture.

There is still time to join in on the Shoulder Mobility immersion. Practicing these classes will help to close the gap between what can seem like overwhelm—in more advanced postures like King Pigeon—and a deeper understanding of your own body in these postures.

See you on the mat!

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

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Shoulder Revelation

UPCOMING TEACHER TRAININGS

NEXT TRAINING BEGINS FEBRUARY 26, 2023 ENROLLMENT NOW OPEN
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Continue Learning

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 more infrequent than opportunities to...

read more
Crow Pose On Blocks

Crow Pose On Blocks

Crow Pose On Blocks Take Your Shoulder Stability To New HeightsSTABILITYCROW POSE  It’s not unusual to have a healthy amount of fear and hesitation when it comes to finding balance in crow pose.  Will I fall?  Am I strong enough? Will I hurt myself? One of the most...

read more
Side Angle Pose

Side Angle Pose

Side Angle Pose Shoulder Fix At The Wallupward rotationSIDE ANGLE POSE Stop for a moment  and think about how many times you lift your arms overhead in any given asana practice.  There are plenty of opportunities, aren't there?  Side Angle pose is a perfect example of...

read more
Open Splits

Open Splits

Open Splits Follow This Flexibility FormulaSAMAKONASANAOPEN SPLITS Open splits is one of those postures that may not always make it into your asana practice, but there are a number of good reasons for it to start showing up more often.  It does require a considerable...

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 Plank Pose

Reverse Plank Pose

Scapular Retraction For Back Strength

PURVOTTANASANA

REVERSE 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 more infrequent than opportunities to strengthen our front body. Improving mobility and strength in the shoulders for a posture like Reverse Plank has a direct influence on strengthening the back body. Reverse Plank is a posture that is easily neglected, but as Matt stresses in today’s video, it’s probably one of the most important postures we can include in our asana practice.  

It’s easy to spend a considerable amount of time in Plank Pose and/or use it as a transition in a given asana practice, but we don’t necessarily flip it very often. Flipping the pose upside down and incorporating Reverse Plank into our practice can create extremely therapeutic effects.

SHOULDER MOBILITY

Access Your Active Range of Motions

  • Increase strength and flexibility
  • Decrease risk of injury
  • Release shoulder tension
  • Learn anatomy and biomechanics
  • Access a wider range of postures
  • Stabilize the rotator cuff muscles
  • Learn binds, heart openers, and arm balances
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

THERAPEUTIC OUTCOMES

If you spend a lot of time with a rounded spine, it’s easy to default into that shape on a regular basis. Even if you attempt to offset your body positioning to open up the chest and come into a more upright or even a backbend position, it can feel abnormal and/or hard to sustain. When this is the case, it can lead to things like chronic neck and back pain.

In the very first class from the Shoulder Mobility immersion, Matt explains about how the muscles of the back body are commonly underused. We can see this not only in our yoga practice but also in everyday activities off of the yoga mat. Increasing attention and action in this area of the body can help us reap the therapeutic benefits that are available. 

WATCH THE VIDEO: REVERSE PLANK POSE FOR BACK STRENGTH

WHY BACK STRENGTH IS IMPORTANT

Seems like common sense to know that any type of strength development in the body is not only important but essential. Unfortunately, we don’t always seek or develop balanced strength within our bodies when it comes to our asana practice. It’s human nature to resist things that bring challenge, and engaging the muscles in the back body can be tiring and difficult. The action of drawing the shoulder blades together feels good because it offsets forward shoulder-rounding and increases the stretch in the pectoral muscles. The pectoral muscles spend a lot of time in a shortened position, so retraction of the scapulae in poses like Reverse Plank creates the desired length and stretch in the front body.

Retraction of the scapulae will help strengthen the rhomboid muscles and the middle fibers of the trapezius. This is important because it informs the quality of your daily posture.

200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

  • Deepen your yoga practice
  • Build confidence speaking in front of groups in person and online
  • Learn foundational class structures and templates
  • Learn techniques for a wide range of yoga postures
  • Get certified and highly qualified to teach yoga
  • Yoga Alliance Globally Recognized Certification Program

HAND VARIATIONS IN REVERSE PLANK

In the video, Matt offers both reverse side plank and reverse table top.  Within the exploration of these variations, you’ll find different ways to place your hands.  The reason why this is so important is because a specific hand position might be more suitable for your current state of shoulder mobility.  It also  provides opportunities for you to retract the scapula from both internal and external rotation of the upper arm bones (humerus).  This can help with a better understanding of how to isolate the area of the rhomboids and trapezius.  Specific actions like pulling the hands towards one another and/or apart can help to activate the rear deltoids as well.  

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
  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
  • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang
  • Business, branding, marketing, and social media skills

REVERSE PLANK POSE SET UP

  1. Find a seated position with legs stretched out ahead of you and fingers pointing towards heels (internal rotation of upper arm bone)
  2. Lift shoulders up to the ears 
  3. Pull shoulders back
  4. Move chest forward (increases activation of back muscles)
  5. Feet flexed or pointed
  6. Press down through heels (using glute, back, and shoulder muscles to lift up into plank)

You can see that Matt goes into great detail with each action, helping you to maximize the benefit of generating strength in your back.  Retraction of the scapula is much more than just pulling your shoulder blades together if you’d like to actually see a difference in your posture and reduction of pain.

Matt’s Shoulder Mobility immersion continues for the month of November.  Register now and you’ll be able to practice live for the rest of the month, or practice the classes in your own time.  You’ll have lifetime access to all 12 classes once complete.

See you on the mat!

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

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

Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Shoulder Mobility

UPCOMING TEACHER TRAININGS

NEXT TRAINING BEGINS FEBRUARY 26, 2023 ENROLLMENT NOW OPEN
NEXT TRAINING  BEGINS FEBRUARY 18, 2023. ENROLLMENT NOW OPEN

Continue Learning

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 more infrequent than opportunities to...

read more
Crow Pose On Blocks

Crow Pose On Blocks

Crow Pose On Blocks Take Your Shoulder Stability To New HeightsSTABILITYCROW POSE  It’s not unusual to have a healthy amount of fear and hesitation when it comes to finding balance in crow pose.  Will I fall?  Am I strong enough? Will I hurt myself? One of the most...

read more
Side Angle Pose

Side Angle Pose

Side Angle Pose Shoulder Fix At The Wallupward rotationSIDE ANGLE POSE Stop for a moment  and think about how many times you lift your arms overhead in any given asana practice.  There are plenty of opportunities, aren't there?  Side Angle pose is a perfect example of...

read more
Open Splits

Open Splits

Open Splits Follow This Flexibility FormulaSAMAKONASANAOPEN SPLITS Open splits is one of those postures that may not always make it into your asana practice, but there are a number of good reasons for it to start showing up more often.  It does require a considerable...

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.

Crow Pose On Blocks

Crow Pose On Blocks

Take Your Shoulder Stability To New Heights

STABILITY

CROW POSE 

It’s not unusual to have a healthy amount of fear and hesitation when it comes to finding balance in crow pose.  Will I fall?  Am I strong enough? Will I hurt myself? One of the most amazing things about an asana practice however, is how much we learn so much about our bodies. We learn through exploration. When you have a teacher like Matt, he not only provides inspiration for you to explore, but through his extensive knowledge of the body, he offers a myriad of specific actions for you to experiment with that allow you to move towards a desired result.  In today’s video, Matt demonstrates the dual action for you to take for improved shoulder stability in crow pose.  The use of yoga blocks in this variation of crow pose serves as an excellent support to take your shoulder stability to new heights.

SHOULDER MOBILITY

Access Your Active Range of Motions

  • Increase strength and flexibility
  • Decrease risk of injury
  • Release shoulder tension
  • Learn anatomy and biomechanics
  • Access a wider range of postures
  • Stabilize the rotator cuff muscles
  • Learn binds, heart openers, and arm balances
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

HYPERMOBILE VS. HYPOMOBILE

Whether you are hypermobile or hypomobile, working on stability in your yoga practice is a must.  What’s the difference between the two?  “Joint hypermobility (JH) is a clinical condition in which the joints move beyond the expected physiological range of motion.”  When this is the case, understanding your body and knowing your individual “end range” can be helpful in knowing when to pull back in order to minimize instability and possible injury.  Hypomobility means that there is a decrease and a more significant limitation in range of motion that is actually possible within a specific joint.  When it comes to the shoulders, both states are common and both have the potential to result in pain.  It may seem counterintuitive to work on stability when hypomobile, because you may associate the toughness or rigidity with stability.  Stability is just part of the equation when developing healthy muscle tissue, but it is an important part of the equation.  

Atici A, Aktas I, Akpinar P, Ozkan FU. The relationship between joint hypermobility and subacromial impingement syndrome and adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder. North Clin Istanb. 2018 Sep;5(3):232-237. doi: 10.14744/nci.2017.35119. PMID: 30688930; PMCID: PMC6323568.

WATCH THE VIDEO: CROW POSE ON BLOCKS

SHOULDER STABILITY

An essential part of shoulder stability happens when the muscles around the glenohumeral joint (rotator cuff muscles) have the ability to contract and help the head of the humerus to stay central and secure in the joint.  These muscles having the ability to contract means that they actually have less rigidity.  It means that there is a suppleness to the tissues which allows them to expand, contract, move, and glide as they should.  An arm balance like crow pose requires a sizable amount of shoulder stability.

200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

  • Deepen your yoga practice
  • Build confidence speaking in front of groups in person and online
  • Learn foundational class structures and templates
  • Learn techniques for a wide range of yoga postures
  • Get certified and highly qualified to teach yoga
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2 MAIN ACTIONS

The 2 main actions Matt demonstrates in the video for shoulder stability in crow pose are protraction and external rotation.  He explains that in scapular protraction, the tendency will be to internally rotate the humerus (upper arm bone), but if you can externally rotate the arm bones while in protraction, this will create a vast amount of shoulder stability in your arm balances.  There’s actually a counteraction taking place. The goal is to apply these two actions simultaneously.  Matt teaches us that internal rotation is fine, it’s actually something we want, but in the context of this arm balance, if you counteract the protraction with external rotation there will be a tremendous amount of muscle activation that surrounds the joints. This in turn, translates into better stability and better balance.

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IMPLEMENT THESE KEY ACTIONS FOR CROW POSE ON BLOCKS

Executing crow pose on blocks is not as simple as only doing the 2 actions for the shoulders (protraction and external rotation), but bringing your focus and attention here might just be what is missing from actually realizing your full potential with the posture.

Here are the steps:

  1. Stack 2 blocks horizontally on their first height
  2. Place your hands wide on the ground, just ahead of the blocks
  3. Step onto the blocks 
  4. Lower hips down towards the heels
  5. Take your knees wide and out to the sides  *(The height of the blocks allow you to have a better handle on allowing your shins the space to rest onto the upper arms for better support
  6. Squeeze legs into the chest
  7. Get your fingers active (grip the ground)
  8. Lean forward into fingers
  9. Rotate elbows in (external rotation of the humerus)
  10.  Squeeze knees in towards your midline (activating the adductor muscles)
  11. Push the floor away to protract the scapula more (round your back more)

TAKEAWAYS

What you end up finding out about your body is whether or not your proprioception is accurate; (is your physical body able to respond to the cues in order to follow through with these actions? Do you require more strength?)  This helps you to map out your next steps and course of action.

A good step in the right direction is to sign up for Matt’s next Shoulder Mobility Immersion.  In this immersion you’ll learn more about how to strengthen key muscles of the shoulders.  Matt will also be teaching techniques that assist in increasing both active and passive range of motion.  Classes start this Friday, so don’t miss out!

See you on the mat!

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Shoulder Revelation Immersion

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Side Angle Pose

Side Angle Pose

Shoulder Fix At The Wall

upward rotation

SIDE ANGLE POSE

Stop for a moment  and think about how many times you lift your arms overhead in any given asana practice.  There are plenty of opportunities, aren’t there?  Side Angle pose is a perfect example of this.  

Also, think about how this action is an everyday occurrence off of your yoga mat.  It doesn’t even have to be in another movement practice, or reaching up to grab something out of a cupboard.  It could simply be a natural bodily instinct when you feel like you need a little stretch after sitting at your work desk for most of the day. An action like this can be so easily taken for granted.  Lifting your arms up over your head without pain is a privilege for so many and it can be quite frustrating when you want to engage in such a “simple” movement/action like  that, but have difficulty doing so. The same thing rings true, when you consider a foundational posture like Side Angle pose. Side Angle pose seems  “innocent” enough, but may not be simple or innocent when there is a significant level of pain that keeps you from lifting your top arm overhead.

Unfortunately, pain from this action is commonly rooted from the myth that it is better to draw your shoulders away from your ears even when your arms are overhead. This was and is often communicated in a number of  yoga classes, but let’s bust this myth with some anatomy of the shoulder.

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SHOULDER ANATOMY

The acromion process is almost like a little bone that sticks out, that is essentially the front part of the scapula.  If you were to palpate and travel along the “spine of the scapula” (on the upper border of the scapula) and follow that along towards the top of the shoulder, you would feel a small flat surface underneath your fingers.

Underneath the scapula is the supraspinatus (a rotator cuff muscle).  It exists underneath this acromioclavicular joint (AC joint).  Within this space, you’ll also find soft tissue called the bursa.  Bursae are like little liquid filled sacs that help to minimize friction between the moving parts of the joints throughout your body.  Underneath the “shelf” of the AC joint, you’ll find the subacromial bursa and the subdeltoid bursa.  

The action of pulling your shoulders down while trying to lift your arms up may cause compression, therefore a pinching of the soft tissues.  This can lead to issues like bursitis (inflammation of the bursa) , tendonitis, or in some more extreme scenarios, the tearing of the supraspinatus.  When these types of issues arise, they create what’s often referred to as shoulder impingement.  “Patients with shoulder impingement syndrome suffer from painful entrapment of soft tissue whenever they elevate the arm.”   In order to avoid this entrapment, Matt explains that it’s imperative that we learn how to rotate the shoulder blades upwardly.  

Garving C, Jakob S, Bauer I, Nadjar R, Brunner UH. Impingement Syndrome of the Shoulder. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2017 Nov 10;114(45):765-776. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2017.0765. PMID: 29202926; PMCID: PMC5729225.

WATCH THE VIDEO: SIDE ANGLE POSE: SHOULDER FIX AT THE WALL

SHOULDER IMPINGEMENT

Once you understand the mechanics, it’s easier to understand why shoulder impingement may start to present itself in side angle pose and other yoga postures where your arms go past shoulder height.  

In the above study, we learn that shoulder impingement is both common and can be more complex, it says:

“Shoulder pain is the third most common musculoskeletal complaint in orthopedic practice, and impingement syndrome is one of the more common underlying diagnoses. On the pathophysiological level, it can have various functional, degenerative, and mechanical causes. The impingement hypothesis assumes a pathophysiological mechanism in which different structures of the shoulder joint come into mechanical conflict. The goal of treatment is to restore pain-free and powerful movement of the shoulder joint.”

Garving C, Jakob S, Bauer I, Nadjar R, Brunner UH. Impingement Syndrome of the Shoulder. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2017 Nov 10;114(45):765-776. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2017.0765. PMID: 29202926; PMCID: PMC5729225.

Asana practice does not replace treatment where necessary, but you can attempt to be proactive in your attempt to avoid shoulder impingement by the way in which you move with more intention and understanding.  An asana practice may also serve as support to medical treatment.

So how can you move with more intention and understanding in Side Angle pose?

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MOVE WITH INTENTION

Part of the intention in Side Angle Pose and other postures that require the action of lifting your arms overhead is to protect the subacromial space, underneath the acromion process.  You can reduce collision and obstruction by accentuating the movement of the angle of the joint.  This happens by lifting the collar bone up and lifting the scapula upward.  As your arm goes up, the angle of the glenohumeral joint changes due to the fact that the bottom tip of the scapula rotates up and forward.  This change in articulation of the joint helps to reduce or possibly remove any pinching in the area, therefore preventing pain.

When your arms go up, there are a number of muscle co-activations that are taking place in order to facilitate the movement of bones ( i.e. collar bone and scapula).  As the supraspinatus engages, it hopefully lifts the clavicle.  The serratus anterior helps to pull the shoulder blade forward and the co-activation of the lower and upper fibers of the trapezius will help with the rotation of the scapula.  In order to maintain the subacromial space, your shoulders need to lift up towards your ears.  Setting yourself up at a wall for Side Angle pose assists in the deeper understanding of the anatomy and biomechanics of the posture.

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SIDE ANGLE SHOULDER FIX AT THE WALL

(right foot forward)

In the video, you’ll see how Matt uses the wall to deepen the sensation of engagement/activation of muscles.  Using a wall in Side Angle Pose is a great prop that reminds you to reach not only through your hand, but also through the shoulder blade.

Here are the steps:

  1.  Set up your mat perpendicular to a wall
  2. Right toes facing the wall & right forearm on your thigh with groins back
  3. Hand by your side like Tadasana 
  4. Externally rotate the upper arm bone (will retract scapula)
  5. Reach down and away (point the finger to emphasize the reach)
  6. As the arm comes up around shoulder height, make sure that outer line of the scapula is reaching and get shoulder to touch your ear, with this you’ll find that you have a greater range of motion
  7. Touch the wall with fingertips and  push into the wall with the hand 
  8. Turn chest underneath (if your armpit goes forward here, suck the armpit back as you push)

This is where a progression may be possible.  The right forearm might leave the thigh and you can place your hand to the pinky side of your foot.  If this is the case, your head may lower, creating more space between your shoulder and your ear.  This is where it is important to continue reaching through your hand while pulling your armpit back. 

It’s these seemingly tiny actions that create a huge impact on the experience in your body.  Building in this kinesthetic awareness can help you to reduce the occurrence of injury and help you to increase your range of motion in the shoulders.  Shoulder Mobility starts Saturday November 5th.

See you on the mat!

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Anatomy In Motion

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read more

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Open Splits

Open Splits

Follow This Flexibility Formula

SAMAKONASANA

OPEN SPLITS

Open splits is one of those postures that may not always make it into your asana practice, but there are a number of good reasons for it to start showing up more often.  It does require a considerable amount of flexibility and Matt lays out the perfect flexibility formula in order to safely execute the posture.  What it does is offer much more than the result.  It takes you on a path toward greater balance in your body, more specifically in the hips.  The adductor muscles don’t often get as much of the limelight as some of the other muscles of the hips (i.e. glutes), so open splits (Samakonasana) is an opportunity to create more muscle integrity in the adductors, tensor fascia latae (TFL), hip flexors, and inner hamstrings).

 

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MUSCLE INTEGRITY

What is muscle integrity? It’s essentially the health of a muscle(s).  This can still be vague, what is a healthy muscle?  Part of having  healthy muscle tissue means that you have the ability to control the contraction and/or amount of contraction and relaxation within a particular muscle and/or group of muscles at any length.  This is important in open splits, because even though your legs are out wide, you should have the ability to contract back inwards.  One of the most important things to do to maintain safe execution is to never go to full end range.  Staying at approximately 70% of your range will help to minimize the chance of injury.

WATCH THE VIDEO: OPEN SPLITS: FLEXIBILITY FORMULA

MORE THAN MUSCLE ACTIVATION

There are specific articulations in your body that are key components of the flexibility formula for open splits.  These articulations will help in achieving the desired activation of muscle tissue and joint placement. For example, the anterior tilt of the pelvis assists in activation of the TFL (an internal rotator).  Once you bring your awareness to this sensation, you can then layer on the additional and contrasting action of spiraling the thigh bones outwards in order to ignite the outer hips (abductors) as well.

The most important thing is to always take it step by step.  Let’s examine each action Matt breaks down in the video from the beginning.

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FOLLOW THIS FLEXIBILITY FORMULA

There are a number of actions and co-activations that need to happen in order to maintain safety and build upon muscle integrity in open splits.  As mentioned before, once you get into a straddle position, it’s important to be mindful to stay away from going to your complete end range.  You should recognize a subtle sensation of stretch in the inner thighs and hamstrings.  Staying within this range and then isometrically activating your adductors, hamstrings, and TFL is the formula to follow.  The stars of the show however, are patience and being conservative.  Staying behind your end range and having the patience to allow your muscles to adapt, and continue to grow into new flexibility will promote increased healthy muscle tissue.

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300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

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OPEN SPLITS EXECUTION

In the execution of open splits, remember to layer each action

  1.  Dorsiflex your toes and point both knees and toes to the sky
  2. Send inner groins down to the ground
  3. Micro bend your knees (to alleviate pressure here) and press your heels down into the earth (this will light up the hamstrings)
  4. Push outward now while pushing toes out and pressing legs apart, so pelvis goes more into anterior tilt (legs stay as they are)
  5. Once you feel the stretch adductor muscles, start to press heels down and micro tucking tailbone (more posterior tilt of the pelvis), or suction thigh bones into hip sockets, so TFL starts to ignite and pull feet towards each other (it is more about stability here, rather then straining) 

Playing with different articulations are helpful in deciphering what areas continue to require attention (what feels tight and/or what feels hypermobile). For example, if you want to continue bowing forward, you may return back to pressing legs apart and groins back or hips more forward.  This will offer a deeper stretch in your adductors.  Going back and forth between push and pull actions help to increase hip mobility.

Matt’s current Hip Mobility immersion offers a deep dive into the breakdown of specific asana related to increased flexibility, strength, and mobility of the hips, but more importantly, it puts hip health at center stage.  Direct your experience and elevate your practice by registering today.

See you on the mat!

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

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Hips & Hamstrings

UPCOMING TEACHER TRAININGS

NEXT TRAINING BEGINS FEBRUARY 26, 2023 ENROLLMENT NOW OPEN
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Continue Learning

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read more
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read more
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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 more infrequent than opportunities to...

read more
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read more
Side Angle Pose

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Side Angle Pose Shoulder Fix At The Wallupward rotationSIDE ANGLE POSE Stop for a moment  and think about how many times you lift your arms overhead in any given asana practice.  There are plenty of opportunities, aren't there?  Side Angle pose is a perfect example of...

read more
Open Splits

Open Splits

Open Splits Follow This Flexibility FormulaSAMAKONASANAOPEN SPLITS Open splits is one of those postures that may not always make it into your asana practice, but there are a number of good reasons for it to start showing up more often.  It does require a considerable...

read more

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