WILD THING YOGA POSE 3 SHOULDER ACTIONS

WILD THING YOGA POSE 3 SHOULDER ACTIONS

FLIP DOG DILEMMA

3 SHOULDER ACTIONS FOR WILD THING YOGA POSE

WILD THING

IS the popular yoga pose “FLIP DOG” WORTH IT?

If you practice or have been to a modern vinyasa or power yoga class than you know that flip dog is a popular posture that is called out somewhere toward the middle or end of the yoga class as an option. I have yet to be in a class where the instructor explains what flip dog is or how to get in to it. So how do you do the pose?

RISK VS REWARD

If you have practiced with me than you know that I am not a “there is only one way to do a pose” kind of teacher, but more of a “one or two ways not to do the pose”. The way NOT to do a pose is one that presents high risk of injury. While I don’t think flip dog poses a massive immediate threat on the shoulder girdle I do think that the way people are approaching it presents a higher than necessary risk on the gleno-humeral joint (shoulder) with out any real reward that would outweigh the risk. This is an important distinction, within the physical practice of yoga or anything else for that matter there is a risk factor that is unavoidable but when we weigh the potential benefits we often still make the choice to proceed. We do this everytime we sit in a car or board an airplane – the risk is catastrophic but the potential gain is worth it to us that we take the risk. So what is the risk of flip dog and what is the potential gain?

The way most people execute the yoga pose we call “flip dog” is more or less like reverse table top but on one hand and that but hand is turned out. To me the extreme extension of the shoulder is fine when baring weight on both hands and fully activating the posterior shoulder muscles (the muscles around the shoulder blades. Take away one hand and enter the pose from down dog and most people wind up punching the head of the humerus (arm bone) forward, putting the pressure in the anterior (front) part of the glenohumeral joint capsule. there are ligaments there that keep the arm bone snuggled into the shoulder socket – putting pressure on them starts to destabilize them and over time this could cause a knocking of the arm bone in the shoulder socket causing all sorts of soft tissue damage.

SOLUTION

First off, Don’t freak out, doing a flip dog here and there is not going to kill you, but there is an easy solution that still allows you to participate in this section of class, simply do Wild Thing Prep (shown as the starting position in the video below, and rise up to wild thing). Flipping over from down dog makes it easy to over load the joint as the weight of your body and gravity are falling downward. RISING UP you will be forced to use the muscles of your shoulders, hips, and back and you are less likely to have enough stretch to put yourself in a compromising position.

In the September Immersion we worked through the 3 primary shoulder actions through out a 75 minute class and then we learned how to apply them directly to wild thing! Each immersion practice focuses on a different yoga pose in order to develop a greater understanding of our body.  

We start in a prep position and line up the shoulder for maximum muscle recruitment and minimal joint risk, and then we try our best to maintain these actions as we rise up. You will see some further details in the video about how to line up your legs and how to shift your weigh out of your hand as well in order to utilize your hips and back which are much stronger than the shoulder.   

If you practice or have been to a modern vinyasa or power yoga class than you know that flip dog is a popular posture that is called out somewhere toward the middle or end of the yoga class as an option. I have yet to be in a class where the instructor explains what flip dog is or how to get in to it. So how do you do the pose? 

RISK VS REWARD 

If you have practiced with me than you know that I am not a “there is only one way to do a pose” kind of teacher, but more of a “one or two ways not to do the pose”. The way NOT to do a pose is one that presents high risk of injury. While I don’t think flip dog poses a massive immediate threat on the shoulder girdle I do think that the way people are approaching it presents a higher than necessary risk on the gleno-humeral joint (shoulder) with out any real reward that would outweigh the risk. This is an important distinction, within the physical practice of yoga or anything else for that matter there is a risk factor that is unavoidable but when we weigh the potential benefits we often still make the choice to proceed. We do this everytime we sit in a car or board an airplane – the risk is catastrophic but the potential gain is worth it to us that we take the risk. So what is the risk of flip dog and what is the potential gain? 

The way most people execute the yoga pose we call “flip dog” is more or less like reverse table top but on one hand and that but hand is turned out. To me the extreme extension of the shoulder is fine when baring weight on both hands and fully activating the posterior shoulder muscles (the muscles around the shoulder blades. Take away one hand and enter the pose from down dog and most people wind up punching the head of the humerus (arm bone) forward, putting the pressure in the anterior (front) part of the glenohumeral joint capsule. there are ligaments there that keep the arm bone snuggled into the shoulder socket – putting pressure on them starts to destabilize them and over time this could cause a knocking of the arm bone in the shoulder socket causing all sorts of soft tissue damage. 

SOLUTION 

Don’t freak out, doing a flip dog here and there is not going to kill you, but there is an easy solution that still allows you to participate in this section of class, simply do Wild Thing Prep (shown as the starting position in the video below, and rise up to wild thing). Flipping over from down dog makes it easy to over load the joint as the weight of your body and gravity are falling downward. RISING UP you will be forced to use the muscles of your shoulders, hips, and back and you are less likely to have enough stretch to put yourself in a compromising position. 

In the September Immersion we worked through the 3 primary shoulder actions through out a 75 minute class and then we learned how to apply them directly to wild thing! Each immersion practice focuses on a different yoga pose in order to develop a greater understanding of our body. 

We start in a prep position and line up the shoulder for maximum muscle recruitment and minimal joint risk, and then we try our best to maintain these actions as we rise up. You will see some further details in the video about how to line up your legs and how to shift your weigh out of your hand as well in order to utilize your hips and back which are much stronger than the shoulder.   

Wild Thing Shoulders: 3 Actions 

Step 1 - Elevate the shoulder

Step 1 is to allow the shoulder to come toward the ear, this makes step 2 more possible by releasing any of the muscles that are trying to stabilize the shoulder blade and this allows for mobility. As a result your shoulder will be stuck in front of your chest with very little access to back body muscles. So step 1 is really a preliminary step in order to access step 2 & 3.

Step 2: retract shoulder blade

Next, move your shoulder back (retract the shoulder blade toward the spine) this will recruit your back muscles bringing you greater stability while you rise up. The more you retract your shoulder blade the less you will stress the shoulder joint so focus heavily on this action, though it will take time for your pectoral muscles to develop flexibility.

Step 3: Rotate Shoulder Outward

To Stabilize the shoulder joint we then rotate the arm bone outward. This action winds up moving the shoulder blade down your back (shoulder away from ear) but this time instead of your front body muscles pulling it down, the back body muscles are at work. As you rise you will be able to rotate outward more, this will nudge your rib cage forward forming a deeper back bend. 

WHAT NEXT?

Of course I didn’t mention anything here about what is happening in the hips/buttocks, back or core. Every yoga pose is a full participation with your physical body and therefor requires more than just knowledge of your shoulders. However, We have to take everything one step at a time if we are to fully integrate these techniques into our body and be able to masterfully access them throughout our daily life. I suggest focusing on these actions every time you have a chance to do flip dog in a class – flip to a seated position and prepare your self for wild thing.

If you read this far you are either a yoga teacher already, or you are ready to be. For Yoga Teachers looking to advance your anatomy, biomechanics, and teaching skills you will be interested in the 300 Hour Online Training

On the other hand, If you are not a teacher yet, but a Yogi that is ready to dive deeply in to your yoga practice and get certified to share this practice with others than the 200 hour training is your next step!

Thank you for reading, and watching, I look forward to sharing more with you in an upcoming training or monthly immersion!

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WILD THING CLASS

The September Immersion includes the full length class to Wild Thing Pose as well as other peak poses with a heavy emphasis on Shoulder Bio-Mechanics! In this package you will get 12,  75 minute Yoga Classes, 4 of which include guided meditations! So, If you want to get to know your shoulders than this is THE immersion to practice!

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Are you interested in developing your practice, and taking it to the next level? Do you want learn the techniques that maximize your potential in advancing your practice while minimizing risk of injury? This immersion is for you. Take a deep dive into the heart of yoga both body and mind. With 12 Live Yoga Practices and a dedicated private facebook group to get all your questions answered about any yoga pose, this immersion is sure to meet your expectations and go well beyond. Can't practice at the live times? NO Problem, you get lifetime, anytime, anywhere access. After the class goes live, you will be able to tune in and watch as much as you would like! 

 

 

 

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HOW DOES IT WORK?

When you sign up for the immersion you will gain access to an exclusive members area of theyogimatt.com. When you are logged in your will have access and be able to watch the livestream that day, and any previously aired livestreams from that month.

ARE THERE RECURRING PAYMENTS?

NO. You are paying for access to one month of classes, after that you will be provided a discounted rate should you want to continue practicing regularly. You will NOT be automatically billed, THIS IS A ONE TIME PAYMENT that gives you access to the classes in the respective month that you purchase. 

WHAT IF I CAN'T MAKE THE LIVE TIME?

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IS THIS TOO ADVANCED FOR ME?

Matt specializes in teaching ALL Levels yoga practices, providing modifications, and options throughout each class. These immersions are suitable for anyone with as little as 1-3 months yoga practice or more. You do not need to have a regular practice, nor do you need to be flexibly or strong. First time yogis are welcomed so long as you have no major injuries. Each class focuses on a different yoga pose in order to gain a greater understanding of our body within the asana practice.

WHAT STUDENTS SAY ABOUT THE LIVE IMMERISONS

Matt‘s classes are phenomenal- if you ever have the ability to practice with him, make use of it!! He has a very unique talent of combining anatomy, yoga philosophy and his own perspective into a super intense package of knowledge which is fun AND easy to understand. I enjoyed the April immersion a lot as it was a great way of deepening my own practice and broadening my horizon, especially as the lifetime access allows you to take classes
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Matt’s April pass was a journey. It was more than just the physical exploration of my practice but also helped me explore my spiritual practice. It was very nice to have a consistent practice during this time of uncertainty. If you are looking for a practice to ground yourself I would highly recommend exploring the Live Immersion of the Month.
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Covid_19 bought Matt into my home and my yoga practice. This last month I have learn't so much it has deepened my practice and my understanding of the anatomy & biomechanics and how we use both in every asana we practice. He has also helped in my teaching, ie asking my students to think about the foot as a tripod "big toe, pinkie toe, heel " I never imagined I would learn so much from the immersion.

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Samadhi

Samadhi

SAMADHI

Dissolving into the state of oneness.

Samadhi

Samadhi

Samadhi is the experience we have when the mind realizes the totality of itself – that it is one part of an infinitely grander whole. Using an analogy from one of my teachers, Alan Finger – Consiousness is like the ocean. When the ocean swells and crashes upon the shore, drops of water fly up in the air. These drops are still the ocean separated by time and space. We are those drops in relationship to the bigger more expansive ocean of consciousness. For brief moments in time we arise and take shape in the form of this body, collecting unique experiences in our mind and forming beliefs and identity. In meditation, the mind has the opportunity to realize this and come back to the awareness of all that is. In those moments when the mind returns to the understanding that it is simply a drop that is apart of the ocean, there is a feeling of indescribable goodness that overwhelms our being, yogis call this Samadhi. 

How Do We Reach Samadhi?

Samadhi is the result of your Sadhana (yogic practices). For the past month, I have been offering you teachings out of the yoga sutras, weaving them through the live classes, and sharing them here on this blog. We’ve discussed  “Abhyasa and Vairagya” and “Burning Samskara” amongst many others. Why are these practices necessary to experiencing Samadhi? Samadhi is the state of being when the intellect or budhi lets go of duality and releases into the realization that it is one with all things. The intellect is incredible, it allows us to understand life on the physical plane, dividing, defining, and systematically looking for like and unlike in everything. The Intellect’s ability to separate is incredible. We have spent our entire lives training the intellect, and therefor have become really good at separation. Unity or Oneness requires that the intellect surrenders to the reality that it is one of many tools. This requires that our identity or ego also surrenders to the fullness of reality that we are yes unique individuals that are a part of the magnificent power of nature, not separate but yet a thread woven into the fabric of something much grander. The Ego gets scared of the idea that it is not most important, so you have to remind it that this means it is not less than, it is actually far more than it thinks, it is a manifestation of the vast ocean of Awareness.

Maybe you want to experience the state of oneness with the universe and are ready to jump in but where to start? The Yoga Sutras are a guide map to this, but if you are going to practice one thing only its Self Reflection, Swadyaya. You can practice Self Reflection in your asana (physical practice) by observing the sensations of your body before, during and after each posture. You can do this through Pranayama, observation of the vital energy that pulses through your system. There are endless practices of Self Awareness. Start with the live classes from the Month of March and join me for the asana and meditation practices throughout the month of April. I am committed to sharing dharma talks to inspire self awareness in order to support the dissolution of the intellect, and mergence into the state of oneness. We will be doing this together, with he support of the global community to give us power and strength. 

OneNess 

In a time when everyone is feeling separateness, moving inward to the state of oneness is more important than ever. Underneath the layers of intellect and ego that disconnects us from the whole, exists One undivided consciousness that permeates all things. It is always there, omnipresent, and it pervades all aspects of our being. The only thing standing in our way of experiencing it is the need to hold up the illusion that we have created of truth – the need to know in order to feel safe. Instead find comfort in the unknown, vast potential that is at the core of your being. Thanks for tapping in with me Enjoy your practice!

 

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When You Subscribe You Will Instantly Get Access To

  • The Technique Pack: 15 Yoga Pose Breakdowns
  • Exclusive Online Course Discounts 
  • Exclusive Blogs and Videos
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Flying Pigeon

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FLYING PIGEON

Key Actions to Balance in Flying Pigeon Pose

Flying pigeon

Flying Pigeon: Balance

Flying Pigeon is an exceptionally challenging pose for several reasons, strength, balance, flexibility for starters. Learning to balance on the hands requires tremendous strength in the flexors of the wrist, or what I call in my Handstand Trainings, “The Breaks”. Appropriately named because strength in the flexors of the wrist are what stop you from falling when on your hands. You will hear me in the video talking about gripping the ground, this is the action that will turn on the breaks. In the Live Stream on 3-25-2020 that this video is taken from, I went over a little drill that you can try out. On all fours, grip your fingers into the ground. With one hand, challenge the opposite hand by trying to pick up the fingers off the ground. Let’s say your right hand is on the ground, right hand try’s its best to dig its fingers into the earth. Left hand try’s to pick right hand’s fingers up. Switch rolls. Reading about this won’t do anything so you will have to get it in your body to really get it…did it? great! let’s continue. Whenever you are on your hands in your yoga practice maintain this type of activation to build strength in your breaks over time.

Flexibility

I still remember my first flying pigeon, I was in Elena Browers Anusara Yoga class, My hips were super tight back then. She had some great techniques to help us open our hips, many of which I still implement into my own practice and share in my online trainings , and live streams.  In one of my recent articles on compass pose I spoke of the topic that flexibility requires technique more than it does forcing repetitive stretches. To increase flexibility for flying pigeon you need to target several muscle groups which I call the 4 Quadrants of the hips – All 4 quadrants (front, back, inside, backside) can be targeted within your yoga practice by activating them isometrically through the postures. If you have been practicing live or in person with me than you are very familiar with this approach, and if you haven’t felt the benefits, you will soon with repetition. To give you one example to try, get into warrior 2 and pull your feet toward each other, like you are trying bunch up the mat under your feet. This activates the inner quadrant of the back leg, and the back quadrant of the front leg. Over time this will create health in these muscle groups which will directly increase your range of motion. 

Strength

When learning this posture, it is very helpful to pull the back knee into the chest which will activate the hip flexors and lower abdominals which helps in two ways. First it helps to keep the shin on the arm if the front hip is tighter. Second it helps keep the weight of you body forward which is required to maintain the balance in the posture. 

This postures can be deceptively challenging so go easy on your self if you find it incredibly difficult. Try these tips, and remember that strength and flexibility require technique and repetition. Enjoy!

 

Previous Live 3-25-20

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Triangle Pose: Trick to Avoid Hip Impingement

Triangle Pose: Trick to Avoid Hip Impingement

Triangle Pose

Avoid Hip Impingement & Increase Your Range of Motion

Triangle Pose

Triangle pose is an iconic posture in yoga that has tremendous benefits for increasing hip range of motion by creating more flexibility of the hamstrings and adductors (inner thigh muscles). There are several potential strength benefits that triangle pose has to offer, however it requires an intentional activation of our muscles, they likely won’t engage on their own. In the video and photo breakdown below I go over my favorite muscle activations for triangle pose. From my experience in practicing triangle pose with teachers across the world I have heard these verbal alignment cues more often than not: “Square your pelvis to the side wall, tuck your tail bone, and place your hand on your shin, block or ground.” When I practice, I try to really do what the teacher asks, but every time I tried this I noticed an immediate pain in my hip that I never get when I approach triangle pose on my own or coming from a posture like side angle pose. I also noticed that if I maintain these alignment cues my hand only goes to my shin at best unless I fall into a deep side bend. Knowing the anatomy of the hip, I assumed that this alignment increased the potential compression at the hip joint, and maybe caused the soft tissue to be pinched. I decided to do some research on Hip FAI (femoralacetabular impingement) or hip impingement.

The Research

After much research on Hip FAI (femoralacetabular impingement) I was hoping to bring you conclusive data on how yoga could cause or help hip impingement, however the current research on yoga specifically is minimal and mostly all over the place. It is commonly agreed that range of motion and proper strength training can help prevent hip impingement. It is also commonly agreed that many athletic sports could be the cause of it, as well as childhood development of the bones and joints. There is however an interesting study that showed increased impingement and stress on the hip joint in dancers when performing specific dance positions which include external rotation and posterior titled pelvis. The research doesn’t mention these specific structural alignments, however being the husband of a dancer raised on ballet I was able to confirm my suspicion about these pelvis and femur bone alignments. In ballet you are asked to keep the low back long which is a posterior tilt of the pelvis – often cued as “tuck your tail” in yoga classes. One pose in the research article stood out to me: développé à la seconde, which is essentially standing triangle pose or Utthita Hasta Pandangusthasana B. The photo of my good friend Beau Campbell (@theyogarina) to the right (below on mobile) shows the posture in the study. Food for thought: If this posture is creating compression at the hip, what happens when you add the weight of gravity as we do in triangle pose. 

What is Hip Impingement 

Hip impingement is the result of increase friction or damage of the soft tissue that makes up the hip joint. The hip joint is where the thigh bone, and pelvis connect. it is a ball and socket joint – the head of the femur (thigh bone) is round “ball” and the pelvis has a “socket” that receives it. There are soft tissues that cover and surround the bones so that the joint becomes slippery and smooth. Articular cartilage covers the two bones, and the labrum is like a gasket that forms a tight seal around the joint. When these soft tissues become inflamed, irritated or damaged it is referred to as hip impingement. Some Hip impingements are the result of the way our bones were formed growing up, and others could be the result of repetitive high impact exercises or sports. A healthy hip joint is one where there is no wear and tear of the soft tissues.

Are there other hip injuries?

Hip impingement is not the only kind of injury around the hip area. The hip is surrounded by Ligaments, muscles, fascia and nerves that can all become injured do to stress, strain or structural miss-alignments. Just because you have hip pain does not mean you have and impinged hip. We are also coming to realize that not all physical pain exists in the body, but can also be stemming from mental or emotional trauma. What should you do if you have hip pain? Don’t freak out, see a specialist to assess where the pain is stemming from so you can take proper action to support your health. It could be a pulled muscles, or as simple as a muscle that is hyper active and causing a myriad of issues. Physical therapy, Accupuncture, and Massage are all great healing modalities to try.  

Dance With The Flames

Do you have struggle with tight or weak hips, low back discomfort, or emotional stress? This workshop will provide you with a step by step approach to increase flexibility,  strength and peace of mind. Evoke your inner fire and dance through life, the journey starts now!

BIRDS OF PARADISE

The Jume Immersion takes you on a 12 Class adventure focused on flexibility of the inner thighs for two peak postures: Birds of Paradise and a pose thats called Vishva Mitrasana. Both of these challenging postures are broken down over the course of 12 yoga classes providing you with the appropriate techniques that will give you greater access to them in your body!

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4 Steps TO ENTER TRIANGLE POSE 

 

Step 1 - Internal rotation

Rotate the back foot, thigh bone and pelvis inward toward the front leg. No need to overdue this like you would when trying to square the hips in a lunge pose. How much to turn in will depend on you and your structure so go slow and try various angles and observe what you feel. This will increase the amount of possible joint mobility but tight hamstrings might still inhibit range of motion.

Step 3: Glute Activation

From your front buttocks press down into your heal until you feel your pelvis starts to open back toward the sky (the opposite of step 1). Ideally activating both gluteus Maximus, and gluteus medius/minimus as you do so. This likely will all happen when you press down, but if your pelves doesn’t rotate open and your outer hips don’t engage, try pressing your inner heal down and outward.

Step 2: bow at the pelvis

Flex (or bow) at the hip joint to bring your front hand to the block or the ground, I personally avoid asking students to go to the shin as not to put more downward pressure in to the front knee. Personally I come to finger tips as its a bit  easier than full palm and still grounded.  Press down into your hand for support and activation of your deep core – psoas muscles. 

Step 4: Counter Action

Similar to step 1, we are trying to rotate the thigh and hip inward again however the major difference is that in step 4 it is simply an activation of the muscles not an actual movement of the bones. Counter action creates stability, and also helps to prevent going too deep into the end range of motion which could bring you right back to impingement or just an over stretch of the adductors. 

Facilitated Stretching

Increases your range of motion while maintaining muscle integrity. Facilitated stretching is the activation or engagement of the muscles that are stretching. Activating the muscle while stretching causes the Golgi tendon organ to send a signal to the spinal column, and the spinal column speaks back, telling the muscles to relax.

The Adductors

The muscles along the inner thigh are referred to as the adductor group, and typically serve to bring the thigh bones toward the midline of the body, but they can also internally rotate the thighbones, extend them backward like the hamstrings (adductor magnus) and even externally rotate when in deep extension. The adductors also help to stabilize the pelvis.

The Adductors

The muscles along the inner thigh are referred to as the adductor group, and typically serve to bring the thigh bones toward the midline of the body, but they can also internally rotate the thighbones, extend them backward like the hamstrings (adductor magnus) and even externally rotate when in deep extension. The adductors also help to stabilize the pelvis.

Practicing Triangle

Is triangle a high risk posture? probably not on my list of postures to avoid, but it depending on your body and how you approach it may have massive benefits or setbacks. The steps I have provided for you have helped me feel better in my triangle pose, and many students have felt the same. This doesn’t mean it will be best for you, so proceed with presence, observe what you feel as you practice and go slow enough to be able to make choices. There are many more potential options of how to isometrically activate your muscles in postures like triangle, should you want to learn more please check out the Hips: Rock Em and Unlock Em workshop below.  Leave a comment if this post has been helpful, or if you have questions or requests for future posts.

MAY 2020 LIVE IMMERSION

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Triangle Pose Triangle pose is an iconic posture in yoga that has tremendous benefits for increasing hip range of motion by creating more flexibility of the hamstrings and adductors (inner thigh muscles). There are several potential strength benefits that triangle...

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Pigeon Without Knee Pain

Pigeon Without Knee Pain

Pigeon Pose

without Knee Pain

Why STretching your hips might cause knee pain

Pigeon Pose is one of the most widely beloved postures in the yoga practice across a multitude of styles. This is for good reason. However, the issue I see most often with this posture is that it comes with little guidance as to how to activate your muscles and align your bones and joints, and as a result many people experience pain in their knees, or quite simply never find an increase in hip mobility.  In this video I share my top three steps to a deep stretch in the hips without compromising the knee joint.

In my most recent online workshop, “Hips: Rock and Unlock Em” I go over some key actions in detail, and guide students into one of my favorite variations of pigeon posture – so if you like what you get in this video definitely check out that full 2 hour workshop that goes over all you need to know about hip opening.

The key point that I go over in the video below and in the online workshop is that some of the hip muscles cross both the hip joint AND the knee joint, and so when we stretch the hips we are also stretching the knee. In addition, many hip stretches require putting pressure on the knee joint in order to rotate the thigh bone in the hip joint. One of the techniques I personally use is something called a facilitated stretch in order to target the belly (middle) of the muscles rather than the attachment points near each joint. Facilitated Stretch simply means an activation of the same muscles that are stretching. In the case of pigeon I aim for the activation of the buttock muscles.

The Gluteus Maximus in particular is my focus because it feeds into the IT band, and the IT band connects to the knee joint. Any stretch of the buttocks could result in a straining of the knee. I find it incredibly helpful to activate the buttocks in order to ground and stabilize the knee joint. In addition, I also offer an activation from the other surrounding joint – the ankle. By activating certain muscles of the ankle I have found more access to spaciousness in the knee.

To be fair, nothing is fool proof. I have, however, tested these techniques among various body types over the past ten years and I have found it to be incredibly effective for most students. The result is deeper stretch in the hips and less or no strain or pain at all in the knee. That being said, this is your body and you have the greatest understanding of it when you tune in to how you feel and what you feel. The online Hips workshop is designed to help you with exactly that – Learn to feel your body on a more specific and nuanced level. Enjoy this free tutorial and as always let me know if you have questions about your body or your practice. If the video is helpful please share it!

Facilitated Stretching

Increases your range of motion while maintaining muscle integrity. Facilitated stretching is the activation or engagement of the muscles that are stretching. Activating the muscle while stretching causes the Golgi tendon organ to send a signal to the spinal column, and the spinal column speaks back, telling the muscles to relax.

OPEN YOUR HIPS AND HEART

The July Immersion takes you on a 12 Class Journey through the Chakras and the elements, to develop your strength, flexibility and awareness of each energy center and the corresponding muscles. There is a heavy focus on the Hips in the Earth, & Water classes, and the Back in the Water and Air classes, balanced by Core strengthening in the Fire section.

Hips: Rock & Unlock 'Em

Get 2 full hours with Matt Giordano focusing on the techniques that increase the range of motion in your hips and provide long lasting freedom. You will have immediate, unlimited access, and can enjoy the benefits today!

3 Steps for Pigeon Pose

Step 1 - Evert the ankle

Everting at the ankle joint aligns the shin at the knee joint, and activates the outer shin muscles (fibularis muscles). In addition, when in pigeon pose, it supports the external rotation at the femur bone (front leg) in the hip socket. When everting you can try rolling the calf muscle forward toward the front of your mat to initiate external rotation at the knee, this can help to open the inner portion of the knee.

Step 2: Press outer Front knee Down

From your buttock muscles press the outer front knee down, and as a result you should feel your hips lift up a little bit. If you don’t feel this you may have to think about pulling your front knee toward the back knee. Once you get your buttocks to activate, your femur (thigh bone) will begin to externally rotate. This action supports more congruency (more space) at the knee, and begins a facilitated stretch.

Step 3: Rotate The back Hip inward

Rotating the back thigh bone will help to rotate the pelvis toward the earth. Because the muscles of the front hip are connected to the pelvis, if you rotate the pelvis it lengthens the muscles causing a deeper stretch. I only recommend this if you are feeling at ease in the front knee, and if so go slow because it is very easy to loose what you have already created in step 1 and 2.

Sit, Stand, Walk.

Keeping the buttock muscles healthy and supple can really help in finding comfort when sitting, standing, or walking. Since most of our day is spent doing one of these three things, I highly recommend taking the time to do postures like pigeon pose, and do them well.

Listen To Your Body

Alignment cues and muscle engagements can be highly beneficial, so take the time to feel how they land in your body. There is no magic action or alignment for everyone, so I really encourage you to explore these actions while truly listening to your body. This particular set of cues might be what creates an aha moment to you, or it could be the complete opposite, so try them and ask yourself what you feel and what your experience is. Try to dissociate feeling bad with effort, and good with doing nothing, they sometimes correlate and sometimes not. If these actions wound up being right for you then I recommend practicing them whenever you are doing pigeon, and always maintain awareness of what your body is feeling. Through deep focus, and exploration you will be able to collect the right actions for you.  If you found this useful, please share this post and for a full practice using this approach, check out Hips: Rock and Unlock ‘Em

OPEN YOUR HIPS AND HEART

The July Immersion takes you on a 12 Class Journey through the Chakras and the elements, to develop your strength, flexibility and awareness of each energy center and the corresponding muscles. There is a heavy focus on the Hips in the Earth, & Water classes, and the Back in the Water and Air classes, balanced by Core strengthening in the Fire section.

Hips: Rock & Unlock 'Em

Get 2 full hours with Matt Giordano focusing on the techniques that increase the range of motion in your hips and provide long lasting freedom. You will have immediate, unlimited access, and can enjoy the benefits today!

LIVESTREAM IMMERSION PACKAGES

boundless freedom

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BIRDS OF PARADISE

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  • 12 YOGA CLASSES
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  • 12 PEAK POSTURES
  • 12 YOGA SUTRA THEMES
  • SALE Price:$128

BACK, NECK & SHOULDERS

  • 12 YOGA CLASSES
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
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  • 12 PEAK POSTURES
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  • SALE Price:$128

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Flip Dog Dilemma – 3 Shoulder Actions for Wild Thing. Is the popular yoga pose “FLIP DOG” worth it? If you practice or have been to a modern vinyasa or power yoga class than you know that flip dog is a popular posture that is called out somewhere toward…

read more
Samadhi

Samadhi

SAMADHI Dissolving into the state of oneness.SamadhiSamadhiSamadhi is the experience we have when the mind realizes the totality of itself - that it is one part of an infinitely grander whole. Using an analogy from one of my teachers, Alan Finger – Consiousness is...

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Triangle Pose: Trick to Avoid Hip Impingement

Triangle Pose: Trick to Avoid Hip Impingement

Triangle Pose Triangle pose is an iconic posture in yoga that has tremendous benefits for increasing hip range of motion by creating more flexibility of the hamstrings and adductors (inner thigh muscles). There are several potential strength benefits that triangle...

read more
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read more
Chaturanga Alignment Part 2

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Integrating Shoulder ActionsIntegrating the 3 Necessary Shoulder Actions into your practice can be complicated, so to help you I have come up with 3 Steps to Master your Chaturanga. If you haven't yet watched Chaturanga Alignment: 3 Necessary Shoulder Actions  then it...

read more

More Recommendations

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Learn the techniques that make Handstand fun, easy and accessible! This collection of the top 12 most effective exercises will make you rethink how you approach handstand and what is possible.

View Details

Hips Workshop

In this workshop you will practice specific techniques to open your hips, finding greater rang of motion and freedom. Each action in the body is carefully layered and clearly articulated to provide you with success.

View Details

Dance With The Flames

Change is Inevitable but transformation is a choice. Step into the fire and dance amongst the flames in this live workshop! You will get the full energy of being in the class room, strengthen your hips, and free your heart.

View Details

Newsletter

When You Subscribe You Will Instantly Get Access To

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Chaturanga Alignment Part 2

Chaturanga Alignment Part 2

Chaturanga Alignment Part 2

3 Steps to Apply Shoulder Actions

Integrating Shoulder Actions

Integrating the 3 Necessary Shoulder Actions into your practice can be complicated, so to help you I have come up with 3 Steps to Master your Chaturanga. If you haven’t yet watched Chaturanga Alignment: 3 Necessary Shoulder Actions  then it is best to start there and come back to this afterwards. The 3 step process will help you develop “Muscle Intelligence” or the awareness of how to create specific actions in your body to find less complicated positions which require less strength and give you the space to explore new sensations. If done consecutively these steps will build the strength over time that will make chaturanga feel light and free.

Most of us sitting at our computers are not able to get up and start practicing, but if you do have the liberty of doing so, practice along with this video. If not then simply watch and come back to it at another time so you can practice along – this is meant to help you apply the actions not just understand them.

Be patient with yourself as you work through each of the exercises – techniques take time to embody.

The Intention 

Perhaps the most confusing thing in the yoga community is the myriad of opinions about how to do each pose. Part of the reason for this is the differences each of us have from body type, to personality, to experience. Additionally, however,  each of us offering a path has a different intention behind our set of alignment cues or muscle actions. It is for this reason that I want to be clear that this is only one approach, and I am happy to provide for you the benefits and the challenges that come with this way. This approach to Chaturanga comes with the intention to build strength in multiple forearm muscles, the seratus anterior, triceps, external rotators of the the humerus, and the pectorals major. With all of these muscles working together to build strength you will inevitably feel more stable and light in your chaturanga and jump back to chaturanga, and also you will be well prepared for arm balances. If you have no intention of building strength in your upper body or practicing arm balances, there might be better ways of practicing Chaturanga. If you have a movement pattern that does not allow you to do protraction without upward tilt of the scapula then you might be better suited to a softer approach for a while. If you are experiencing chronic strain or compression in your wrist joints you may find leaning back in your chaturanga may be either better or worse for you. I mention this not to deter you from fully understanding and integrating this approach to chaturanga, but to help you to understand that there is never and will never be one correct approach to anything. What is good for you now may not be good for you later, and what was good for you yesterday may not be good for you today. This may be hard to grasp but if you try to keep an open mind and let yourself explore various approaches with the utmost attention to detail, you may find a greater sense of mastery in your body than you could ever find by doing one posture “the right way”. If you are ready to build strength, and/or set your self up for arm balances and jump backs then let’s get started together!

From Chaturanga to ARm Balances

Because the majority of the arm balances do not require the elbow joint to be bent at 90 degrees I recommend practicing Chaturanga in the same way. Rather than bending the elbows so the shoulders are at the same height as the elbows, keep the elbows  straighter with only a small bend .

 

3 Step Integration

When learning to integrate new muscle engagements or structural alignments into your practice, it is beneficial to simulate the shape with less stress on the muscles and joints. This usually entails changing your relationship to gravity. In the video, and in the 3 steps below I show you how to do this by doing chaturanga at the wall first, and then on your knees before trying the full posture. Doing these steps often provides a greater proficiency than simply trying it all out right away. This is because your body will always fall into its normal patterns when it’s asked to hold all your weight. We have to shake things up a bit to learn something new. 

Step 1 - Chaturanga at The Wall

Regardless of your level, doing chaturanga at the wall and applying the three shoulder actions is huge in helping build masterful proprioception. This is the most important step in my eyes, especially since you’ll have plenty of time in class to practice step 2 and 3. Taking all the weight off of your body and just applying the actions until it is fully integrated and completely clear in both mind and body will be the best thing you can do. Mastery is not about halfway getting something, but rather nailing it down so that it will never be forgotten regardless of how long you leave the subject of study. Rock this exercise several times for several days/weeks and you will be well set up for building strength rapidly. Strength builds rapidly when our actions are precise in our body.

Step 2: Chaturanga on Knees

To be honest, when I take a vinyasa class I do the first 5-10 chaturangas on my knees to get my body and mind linked together prior to floating back. Chaturanga on the knees is a great way to practice the actions with slightly less body weight. This is where you will begin building muscles appropriately, so be as precise and mindful as possible so you are strengthening the muscles required for the 3 shoulder actions. My best advice is start with your shoulders a little bit past the wrists to simulate the leaning forward when coming from plank. With your knees on the ground you can’t actually shift forward so you’ll have to begin by placing your knees closer to your wrists than you normally would. Second, make sure you create one long line from shoulders to knees, without breaking at the hips.

Step 3: Plank To Chaturanga

When attempting full chaturanga with a block, it becomes easier to compensate and “fake it” and either over engage in muscles that are not efficient for the actions, or simply getting caught up in compression – placing your bones in the way of the movement in order to slow the movement down – SEE  FIRST VIDEO when I talk about “Upward Tilt” of the scapula.

Mastering these shoulder actions will not only make your practice of chaturanga easier and more enjoyable, but will open up a whole new world of power and strength in your arm balances.

If you find yourself struggling to integrate the actions in this version I highly recommend focusing on the first two options for about 3-5 months and then coming back to this. 

Complexity

The shoulders are incredibly complex and as a result it takes quite a lot of self practice and study to gain any sort of mastery.  I break things down into small steps so that you are able to integrate the actions in your body more easily, however these steps are just the beginning. Let these actions settle into your body over time; rather than forcing them into every chaturanga, pick one acrtion to focus on in your classes and first observe what you are doing before you make changes. little by little try to apply the action and notice what it feels like each time. This is a highly effective approach that build patterns in the body and awareness in the mind. If you are interested in more shoulder strengtheners and stretches check out the Handstand Training, it comes with several videos that directly target the shoulders. Thank you for stopping by, please share your comments, questions, or requests for other blog topics!

Hips: Rock & Unlock 'Em

Get 2 full hours with Matt Giordano focusing on the techniques that increase the range of motion in your hips and provide long lasting freedom. You will have immediate, unlimited access, and can enjoy the benefits today!

Continue Learning

WILD THING YOGA POSE 3 SHOULDER ACTIONS

WILD THING YOGA POSE 3 SHOULDER ACTIONS

Flip Dog Dilemma – 3 Shoulder Actions for Wild Thing. Is the popular yoga pose “FLIP DOG” worth it? If you practice or have been to a modern vinyasa or power yoga class than you know that flip dog is a popular posture that is called out somewhere toward…

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Samadhi

Samadhi

SAMADHI Dissolving into the state of oneness.SamadhiSamadhiSamadhi is the experience we have when the mind realizes the totality of itself - that it is one part of an infinitely grander whole. Using an analogy from one of my teachers, Alan Finger – Consiousness is...

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Flying Pigeon

Flying Pigeon

FLYING PIGEON Key Actions to Balance in Flying Pigeon PoseFlying pigeonFlying Pigeon: BalanceFlying Pigeon is an exceptionally challenging pose for several reasons, strength, balance, flexibility for starters. Learning to balance on the hands requires tremendous...

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Triangle Pose: Trick to Avoid Hip Impingement

Triangle Pose: Trick to Avoid Hip Impingement

Triangle Pose Triangle pose is an iconic posture in yoga that has tremendous benefits for increasing hip range of motion by creating more flexibility of the hamstrings and adductors (inner thigh muscles). There are several potential strength benefits that triangle...

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Pigeon Without Knee Pain

Pigeon Without Knee Pain

Why STretching your hips might cause knee pain Pigeon Pose is one of the most widely beloved postures in the yoga practice across a multitude of styles. This is for good reason. However, the issue I see most often with this posture is that it comes with little...

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Chaturanga Alignment Part 2

Chaturanga Alignment Part 2

Integrating Shoulder ActionsIntegrating the 3 Necessary Shoulder Actions into your practice can be complicated, so to help you I have come up with 3 Steps to Master your Chaturanga. If you haven't yet watched Chaturanga Alignment: 3 Necessary Shoulder Actions  then it...

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