Best Backbend Technique to relieve back pain

Backbend Technique to relieve back pain

“BOWING THE SPINE”

Bowing The Spine

Why are backbends uncomfortable for many people?

Can we do anything to change this?

Let’s dive into my #1 backbend technique to relieve back pain, and provide you with maximum range of motion. Before we do, though, we need to first acknowledge that backbends are not something most of us do every day. Quite the opposite. When is the last time you bent over backwards to type on your computer, eat a meal, or scroll through Instagram? It’s not a typical functional movement, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t serve our health and well-being.

A healthy spine has the capability to move forward and back. The easiest starting point to pain relief is always to figure out what your dominant movement or posture is, and slowly work to reverse it. Simply put, strengthening the back muscles and lengthening the front body muscles is the first step toward feeling great in your back. HOW to do this is the challenge. 

Intuitively, we know how to move our bodies but that gets lost due to conditioned, repetitive patterning. Think of babies just about to crawl. They push themselves up into a back-bending low cobra first, and then eventually learn how to coordinate the knees. Somehow they figure out what needs to happen to move. Before your yoga practice, when was the last time your peeled yourself off the floor and did something like that cobra? So give yourself a break. If backbends are uncomfortable, it’s not because you aren’t capable;  your adult body just needs to learn it again. 

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

"HEART OPENERS" IMMERSION

  • Increase Spinal Range Of Motion
  • Master Techniques like “Bowing the Spine”
  • Release Stress Patterns, Discomfort or Pain in your Back
  • Twelve 75 min Classes, All Levels Appropriate
  • Learn Postures: Full Wheel, Bow, Camel, King Pigeon, King Dancer, King Cobra, Scorpion & more!
  • Lifetime Unlimited Access to All

RECONNECT TO YOUR BODY WISDOM 

Make no mistake; you have that same inner wisdom that you did as a child, but it takes some retraining. What’s more, your body develops muscle memory from all the physical and emotional contracting you do during the day. Soon, shoulders slump forward, bringing your neck and head along with them. Arms move closer together and your chest caves in.

Yoga brings awareness to the felt sense of your physical potential beyond just basic needs. Back-bending is beyond your basic, functional needs, yet backbends can be so enriching and healing.

Learning anything new requires focused effort, routine, repetitive practice, and failure. The process is no different when it comes to learning postures in your body, except for one important distinction- failing body postures can lead to short or even long-term injury.

To minimize risk, we have to apply smart techniques and step-by-step actions informed by contemporary anatomy education. Rather than repeating the same uncomfortable backbends over and over, hoping for change, you learn and apply new techniques. With time and repetition, you can develop the appropriate strength and flexibility that could lead to joyful backbends.

 

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WHAT IS “BOWING THE SPINE” ?

THE #1 BACKBEND TECHNIQUE TO RELIEVE BACK PAIN AND INCREASE SPINAL FLEXIBILITY

“Bowing the Spine” is a technique that combines a few key elements which I go over in detail n the video below. The dominant action is sliding your intervertebral discs forward which requires a deliberate shifting of your rib cage. The secondary action is lengthening the distance between the upper and lower body. 

If you want to try this technique in your practice, and learn how to develop greater strength, range of motion, and body awareness with backbends, join me for May’s 12-class immersion: Heart Openers: Discover the Joy of Backbending

FREE VIDEO PODCAST ON BOWING THE SPINE WITH PROFESSOR MATT

To implement this technique and access your spinal potential, check out

 Heart Openers: Discover the Joy of Backbending

WILL THIS WORK FOR EVERYONE?

I personally don’t believe that there exists a practice, pose or technique that is a “one size fits all“. Every body is different and some techniques will be more appropriate for one body than another. I came to yoga with scoliosis, a super tight Psoas, and daily back pain. Doing any backbend was torture for me. Today, backbends are my go-to pose to reset my spine and get back to feeling great in my body. Did that happen overnight? Absolutely not. It took years of practice and refinement. Bowing the spine is a backbend technique to relieve back pain and help you gain greater range of motion in your spine, but the technique itself cannot do it for you. Remember, you are the one doing the pose; the pose doesn’t do you. In other words, never try to fit yourself into a shape. Allow your body to find its own posture. That said, like any great challenge, we must learn the skills necessary to gracefully dance through it. 

release low back pain in backbends with the spinal reset immersion

SPINAL RESET

Reset your spine with 12 classes focused on backbends, side bends, twists and forward folds. This immersion is a great way to learn bio-mechanics of the upper body. Get Lifetime, Unlimited access to all 12 classes today! 

FINAL THOUGHTS ON IMPLEMENTING THE BACKBEND TECHNIQUE TO RELIEVE BACK PAIN “BOWING THE SPINE”

If you want to balance your habitual physical patterns, backbends are an EXCELLENT practice to do so. Be sure that you are not just practicing shapes (that will tend to cause pain). Instead, practice techniques that give you access to the appropriate physical expression for your particular body. To learn how to apply this technique properly in your body, it is best to implement it under the guidance of someone who understands it within their own body. I highly recommend getting the Heart Openers, 12 Class immersion in order to take the step-by-step journey that will not only leave you feeling proficient with the technique but also give you access to a wider range of backbend postures.

TOP RELEVANT RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. HEART OPENERS: Discover The Joy of Backbending [12 Class Immersion]
  2. “Journey to Bliss” (includes Full Wheel Workshop + 11 more master classes)
  3. THE SPINAL RESET: Back Bend, Side Bend, Twist [12 Class Immersion]

MORE WAYS TO DEVELOP YOUR PRACTICE

  1. Live Immersions: 3 Classes Per Week
  2. 200 hour training: Get Certified
  3. 300 Hour Online Training: Get 500hr Certified

 

yoga backbend techniques: 12 classes

"HEART OPENERS" IMMERSION

  • Increase Spinal Range Of Motion
  • Master Techniques like “Bowing the Spine”
  • Release Stress Patterns, Discomfort or Pain in your Back
  • Twelve 75 min Classes, All Levels Appropriate
  • Learn Postures: Full Wheel, Bow, Camel, King Pigeon, King Dancer, King Cobra, Scorpion & more!
  • Lifetime Unlimited Access to All

Continue Learning

Best Backbend Technique to relieve back pain

Best Backbend Technique to relieve back pain

Backbend Technique to relieve back pain "BOWING THE SPINE"Bowing The Spine Why are backbends uncomfortable for many people? Can we do anything to change this? Let's dive into my #1 backbend technique to relieve back pain, and provide you with maximum range of motion....

read more
firefly pose titibhasana

firefly pose titibhasana

FIREFLY POSE TITIBHASANA STEP BY STEP TUTORIAL: LEARN TO FLYFIREFLY POSE FIREFLY POSE: TITIBHASANA STEP BY STEP TUTORIAL: 4 KEY ACTIONS Firefly pose (Titibhasana) might have you thinking, “There is no way I’ll ever be able to do THAT pose!” Yes for sure it requires...

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release low back pain in backbends

release low back pain in backbends

YOGA ALIGNMENT: COBRA POSE RELEASE LOW BACK PAIN IN BACKBENDSCOBRA POSE YOGA ALIGNMENT: COBRA POSE HOW TO RELEASE LOW BACK PAIN IN BACKBENDS If you feel back pain in backbends, you are not alone. Many people experience low back pain in backbends. If you're...

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yoga pose alignment full wheel

yoga pose alignment full wheel

YOGA ALIGNMENT: FULL WHEEL POSE THE 3 MYTHS DEBUNKEDFULL WHEELYOGA ALIGNMENT: FULL WHEEL POSEYoga alignment for Full Wheel Pose is anything but simple, but achieving an easeful expression of the posture in your body is most definitely attainable. We just have to break...

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Chaturanga yoga pose alignment and anatomy

Chaturanga yoga pose alignment and anatomy

Chaturanga Yoga Pose Alignment and Anatomy The Mystery FINALLY Revealed and ClarifiedCHATURANGAWHAT IS CHATURANGA AND WHY IS IT SO CONFUSING?What is the best alignment for Chaturanga? First, let's start with what this pose is. Chaturanga is both a yoga pose and a...

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firefly pose titibhasana

FIREFLY POSE TITIBHASANA

STEP BY STEP TUTORIAL: LEARN TO FLY

FIREFLY POSE

FIREFLY POSE: TITIBHASANA

STEP BY STEP TUTORIAL: 4 KEY ACTIONS

Firefly pose (Titibhasana) might have you thinking, “There is no way I’ll ever be able to do THAT pose!” Yes for sure it requires strength and flexibility, but with the right application of techniques you will surprise yourself.

Firefly is a pose I teach in many of my workshops and online immersion classes because it brings a lot of laughter and a lot of those “AHA” moments. Just have a couple of yoga blocks (or books), and a nice big couch cushion because you are probably going to find yourself accidentally seated a few times while learning. It’s part of the fun factor!

In the video below, I collected a few clips from online classes & immersions so you could see how I come into Firefly from different angles. Try this with me, and together we will unlock firefly pose – titibhasana.

There are four key actions you can apply to your Firefly pose right now. With consistent practice, your Firefly could take flight.

Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

ARM BALANCE IMMERSION

  • Learn over 12 arm balances
  • Step by step instructions in every practice
  • Techniques, Bio-mechanics and Alignment 
  • Unlock your potential, learn to fly
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Firefly Pose • Titibhasana

The following firefly pose titibhasana tutorial footage in this video snippet is taken from the March 2021 Immersion titled MOVE•BREATHE•RELEASE

Firefly Pose Titibhasana Prep

To set up for Firefly pose titibhasana, you first want to separate your feet so that they’re wider than your hips. Then bring a set of yoga blocks behind your feet.  

Now, bring your arms to the inside of each leg, fingers facing forward. Bend generously into your knees, as if coming into a squat. Move your hands back behind your legs. Place the palms of your hands firmly on each block with hands wide- fingers/hands turned outward a bit usually provides more ease on the wrists. 

Final prep step is to bend your elbows, creating a sort of table for you to sit on. Be sure to keep your arms wide.

Now you’re ready for Firefly Pose, Titibhasana!

the best yoga teacher training for alignment

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4 KEY ACTIONS TO MOVE INTO FIREFLY POSE TITBHASANA

  1. Push into your hands and round your back, protracting your shoulder blades. That will activate your serratus anterior (shoulder blade muscles) and your core. You will instantly feel lighter as a result.
  2. Lift your heels and come onto your toes. Squeeze your legs toward each other. Miss this step and you’re likely to fall back. 
  3. Now, keep that squeeze and TURN your legs in. Better yet, try this step one leg at a time to get the feel for the squeeze. This is a really important step! Teachers, here is a key tip if you are demonstrating this for your students: if you’re demonstrating this pose, emphasize the thighs rolling in (if the knees are bent that means the feet will actually go outward – so keep their attention on what your upper thighs are doing to avoid confusion). 
  4. Lastly, and least important, straighten your legs (your knee joints) by activating your quadriceps.
Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

ARM BALANCE IMMERSION

  • Learn over 12 arm balances
  • Step by step instructions in every practice
  • Techniques, Bio-mechanics and Alignment 
  • Unlock your potential, learn to fly
  • 12 all levels 75 min online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

Can’t straighten your legs?

Many people tell me their hamstrings are too tight so they can’t straighten their legs. That may be the case, OR it may be that the quadriceps are too weak against the tightness of the hamstrings. To be honest, approaching from the perspective of what to strengthen is usually far safer and more effective than just stretching.

Sit in a straddle position (don’t worry about how wide). Activate your quads by pulling your knee caps toward your hips and straightening your knees. Now, keep your right knee straight and lift your right thigh off the ground. Crazy how much of a challenge just this can be! You can lean back at first; that might help. Try each side. Even if you can’t get each leg off the ground, you will be developing your quad strength by trying to do this. Over time you will get it!  By strengthening your quads, eventually strength will win over inflexibility.

Want to support the continuation of these blogs? The best way to do so is to share them on social media or with friends via email! Thank you for stopping by!

TOP RELEVANT RECOMMENDATIONS

1. MOVE•BREATHE•RELEASE (footage in above video)12 Class Immersion 

2. Arm Balance Immersion: 12 Classes – 12 Arm Balances

MORE WAYS TO DEVELOP YOUR PRACTICE

  1. Live Immersions: 3 Classes Per Week
  2. 200 hour training: Get Certified
  3. 300 Hour Online Training: Get 500hr Certified

Continue Learning

Best Backbend Technique to relieve back pain

Best Backbend Technique to relieve back pain

Backbend Technique to relieve back pain "BOWING THE SPINE"Bowing The Spine Why are backbends uncomfortable for many people? Can we do anything to change this? Let's dive into my #1 backbend technique to relieve back pain, and provide you with maximum range of motion....

read more
firefly pose titibhasana

firefly pose titibhasana

FIREFLY POSE TITIBHASANA STEP BY STEP TUTORIAL: LEARN TO FLYFIREFLY POSE FIREFLY POSE: TITIBHASANA STEP BY STEP TUTORIAL: 4 KEY ACTIONS Firefly pose (Titibhasana) might have you thinking, “There is no way I’ll ever be able to do THAT pose!” Yes for sure it requires...

read more
release low back pain in backbends

release low back pain in backbends

YOGA ALIGNMENT: COBRA POSE RELEASE LOW BACK PAIN IN BACKBENDSCOBRA POSE YOGA ALIGNMENT: COBRA POSE HOW TO RELEASE LOW BACK PAIN IN BACKBENDS If you feel back pain in backbends, you are not alone. Many people experience low back pain in backbends. If you're...

read more
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yoga pose alignment full wheel

YOGA ALIGNMENT: FULL WHEEL POSE THE 3 MYTHS DEBUNKEDFULL WHEELYOGA ALIGNMENT: FULL WHEEL POSEYoga alignment for Full Wheel Pose is anything but simple, but achieving an easeful expression of the posture in your body is most definitely attainable. We just have to break...

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Chaturanga yoga pose alignment and anatomy

Chaturanga yoga pose alignment and anatomy

Chaturanga Yoga Pose Alignment and Anatomy The Mystery FINALLY Revealed and ClarifiedCHATURANGAWHAT IS CHATURANGA AND WHY IS IT SO CONFUSING?What is the best alignment for Chaturanga? First, let's start with what this pose is. Chaturanga is both a yoga pose and a...

read more

Newsletter

When You Subscribe You Will Instantly Get 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.

release low back pain in backbends

YOGA ALIGNMENT: COBRA POSE

RELEASE LOW BACK PAIN IN BACKBENDS

COBRA POSE

YOGA ALIGNMENT: COBRA POSE

HOW TO RELEASE LOW BACK PAIN IN BACKBENDS

If you feel back pain in backbends, you are not alone.

Many people experience low back pain in backbends. If you’re experiencing this or just feeling stuck in your yoga poses (or you’re a yoga teacher), then you are in the right place. When done properly, backbends feel like a lengthening of the spine rather than stiff and compressive. With the right actions, backbends also strengthen each segment of the back, much of which weakens after hours of sitting, something most of us do each day.

Cobra (Bhujangasana) is often one of the most overlooked backbend poses, because it’s not as sexy or challenging as other backbends. But it shouldn’t be because for most people, it’s one of the most effective and accessible postures to increase spinal mobility. While most of the world does upward facing dog – “up dog” – I choose to practice and teach cobra because it’s hands down the best prep for backbends. BUT, there are many ways to get into cobra pose, and most of them will not serve you well.

BENEFITS OF COBRA POSE

Cobra Pose is my top suggested pose to release low back pain in backbends.

Here’s why I think we should give this pose its due props. First, Cobra is done from the mat, so it’s more stable and doesn’t require balance. Why is that important? When balance is involved, the mid section will unconsciously hold tension, much of which happens in the abdominals. So? Too much abdominal engagement decreases spinal extension (back bending), likely causing compression instead of an expansion.

When the body is stable, it relaxes, and this is one of the keys of backbends. You cannot attack a backbend from a place of fear, aggression, frustration, motivation, or any emotional state associated with an overly active sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). In other words, force does not work when it comes to these postures the way it would when approaching something like an arm balance or heavy weight lifting.

I’m not preaching that there is no effort in cobra, but rather that backbends require softness, surrender, and extremely accurate and well-placed effort. This is best learned in a stable environment, and Cobra Pose is where I suggest you train.

Second, students can take the pose to the level that is right for their bodies, and with consistent practice, progress is apparent fairly quickly. With the alignment I share in cobra pose, your elbows are bent, and rather than pushing your way into a backbend, you pull yourself up. This makes it harder to mistakenly compress the spine as in a posture like upward dog.

Today I want to share with you exactly how to release low back pain in backbends through what I call the “3-part Cobra”.  This approach to Cobra Pose can truly help you and/or your students access a more complete range of motion, while building strength, length, and flexibility through the core region of their bodies. Let’s go over this 3-part cobra that I teach in all of my online immersions and online teacher trainings

 

 

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JOURNEY TO BLISS

  • Increase Shoulder and Spinal Flexibility
  • Includes 2 hour Workshop on Full Wheel Pose
  • Release Stress Patterns in body and mind
  • Inlcudes Breathwork and Meditation 
  • 12 All Levels Live Asana Classes
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Release Low Back Pain in Backbends with The 3-Part Cobra

The footage in this video snippet is taken from the March 2021 Immersion titled MOVE•BREATHE•RELEASE

3-PART COBRA STEPS

THE SET UP

From prone (on your belly) position, bring your hands wide, bend into your elbows and come onto your fingertips. 

THE STEPS

Part 1. Inhale to raise your chest, shoulders, and upper ribs off the mat, gently rounding through your upper back.

Part 2.  Soften your ribcage forward, letting your shoulder blades come toward each other. This will initiate the bowing effect by relaxing the abdominals. In this step, you have the ability to control placement of the backbend. Moving pressure out of the low back by stretching low ribs forward is relieving for most people. If you want to release low back pain in backbends, focus your attention and practice primarily on this step!

Part 3. If and only if your back feels great in Part 2, then you are ready to move to the next step. Here you re-engage your abdominals BUT NOT the outer abdominals. You’re not trying for a six-pack here. Instead, try drawing your abdomen UPWARD while pressing your low ribs forward. If you feel compression in your low back as a result, this means you pushed with your arms instead of pulling your belly up. Think of the image of a bow that I showed at the beginning of the above video. You have to press the center of a bow forward. Instead of pushing, PULL your low rib cage toward the front of the mat.

the best yoga teacher training for alignment

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

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WHY IS THE ALIGNMENT OF COBRA POSE ON FINGER TIPS?

Someone asked me why I don’t suggest doing this pose with the palms of my hands planted on the floor. She said doing it this way gave her a much greater range of motion, pushing her torso higher up.

She is 100% right and I told her THAT’S exactly why I use my fingertips.

When we have palms on the ground, we have a tendency to push. On fingertips, you put less weight, which forces you into using your back muscles (pull muscles). Instead of pushing the upper body into the lower body, causing an L-shape that compresses the lower spine, you will have an easier time pulling your rib cage away from the pelvis, decompressing the spine.

Of course, if you cannot do cobra on your fingertips and this is causing you pain in your joints, then do not force it, but do your best NOT to push.

    release low back pain in backbends with the spinal reset immersion

    SPINAL RESET

    Reset your spine with 12 classes focused on backbends, side bends, twists and forward folds. This immersion is a great way to learn bio-mechanics of the upper body. Get Lifetime, Unlimited access to all 12 classes today! 

    PRO TIP:

    Instead of looking at the backbend from the outside to see if you are getting deeper into it, feel from the inside. When you push yourself up it will certainly look like a deeper back bend, but you are only deepening 1 or 2 joints, and that is the problem. It’s better to appear like you aren’t going deep, and feel the depth with in. This requires letting go of instant gratification, and embracing true transformation, which always looks to be slow on the outside until one day you are placing your feet on your head in a back bend.

    Let’s review that one more time…
    In a supportive backbend, it’s the center of the body- the ribcage- that bows forward in order to lengthen the spine. So it’s not a push of the hands that moves the body up and back; rather, it’s an engagement of the upper back muscles that pulls the chest forward and through the arms.
    If you are ready to apply the 3-part cobra pose to release low back pain in backbends, then I highly recommend Journey to Bliss and Spinal Reset. Both of these Immersions will share with you these steps, and many more toward the goal of increasing spinal mobility and decreasing discomfort.

    To learn more about the proper set up for wheel pose, check out Backbends and The Glutes with a short follow-along video.

    TOP RELEVANT RECOMMENDATIONS

    1. MOVE•BREATHE•RELEASE (footage in above video)12 Class Immersion 

    2. “Journey to Bliss” (includes Full Wheel Workshop + 11 more master classes)

    3. THE SPINAL RESET: 12 Class Immersion 

    MORE WAYS TO DEVELOP YOUR PRACTICE

    1. Live Immersions: 3 Classes Per Week
    2. 200 hour training: Get Certified
    3. 300 Hour Online Training: Get 500hr Certified

    Continue Learning

    Best Backbend Technique to relieve back pain

    Best Backbend Technique to relieve back pain

    Backbend Technique to relieve back pain "BOWING THE SPINE"Bowing The Spine Why are backbends uncomfortable for many people? Can we do anything to change this? Let's dive into my #1 backbend technique to relieve back pain, and provide you with maximum range of motion....

    read more
    firefly pose titibhasana

    firefly pose titibhasana

    FIREFLY POSE TITIBHASANA STEP BY STEP TUTORIAL: LEARN TO FLYFIREFLY POSE FIREFLY POSE: TITIBHASANA STEP BY STEP TUTORIAL: 4 KEY ACTIONS Firefly pose (Titibhasana) might have you thinking, “There is no way I’ll ever be able to do THAT pose!” Yes for sure it requires...

    read more
    release low back pain in backbends

    release low back pain in backbends

    YOGA ALIGNMENT: COBRA POSE RELEASE LOW BACK PAIN IN BACKBENDSCOBRA POSE YOGA ALIGNMENT: COBRA POSE HOW TO RELEASE LOW BACK PAIN IN BACKBENDS If you feel back pain in backbends, you are not alone. Many people experience low back pain in backbends. If you're...

    read more
    yoga pose alignment full wheel

    yoga pose alignment full wheel

    YOGA ALIGNMENT: FULL WHEEL POSE THE 3 MYTHS DEBUNKEDFULL WHEELYOGA ALIGNMENT: FULL WHEEL POSEYoga alignment for Full Wheel Pose is anything but simple, but achieving an easeful expression of the posture in your body is most definitely attainable. We just have to break...

    read more
    Chaturanga yoga pose alignment and anatomy

    Chaturanga yoga pose alignment and anatomy

    Chaturanga Yoga Pose Alignment and Anatomy The Mystery FINALLY Revealed and ClarifiedCHATURANGAWHAT IS CHATURANGA AND WHY IS IT SO CONFUSING?What is the best alignment for Chaturanga? First, let's start with what this pose is. Chaturanga is both a yoga pose and a...

    read more

    Newsletter

    When You Subscribe You Will Instantly Get 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.

    3 Best Yoga Practices for the 5 Layered Self, Asana, Breathwork, & Meditation

    3 BEST YOGA PRACTICES FOR THE 5 LAYERED SELF

    ASANA “YOGA”, PRANAYAMA “BREATHWORK”, MEDITATION

    3 BEST YOGA PRACTICES

    5 LAYERED SELF AND THE 3 BEST YOGA PRACTICES

    What are the 3 best yoga practices and why? You are likely already familiar with Asana, as it is the physical practice of yoga that has been widely popularized across the world. The other two practices are gaining popularity but not necessarily amongst yoga practitioners.

    Imagine if someone came along and said here are the 3 magic herbs you need to take daily in order to heal your mind, body, and balance your energy. Yet instead of taking all 3 herbs, much of the world just got really excited about 1 of them. The recipe would be incomplete, and so would the benefits. This is what has happened with yoga, and we are missing out on massive benefits as a result.

    Asana is for the body

    If you have been reading my blogs, and following my work, you know that I love sharing tips about the physical practice. The human body is something I am particularly passionate about. I am not here to tell you that the physical practice isn’t important; it definitely is. I simply want to support your transition to the next phase so that you not only feel better physically, but you learn to cleanse the mind and balance and optimize your energy, which is what the yogis call prana.

    What is Prana?

    Prana is the word for the relatively unexplainable life force within each of us that causes our hearts to beat and our lungs to inflate and deflate. In its simplest explanation, prana is our energy system. The aspect of prana most asana practitioners are interested in is the energy channels- specifically Ida and Pingala, known in modern science as Parasympathetic and Sympathetic Nervous System. This is your “rest and digest” relaxing energy and your “Go Go” focused, alert energy. Learning to manage, balance, optimize, and utilize energy/prana is one of the major goals of the yoga practitioner. With the right practices, you can become masterful at sleep, wakefulness, alertness, rest, calm, focus, exercise, etc.

     

    200 hour online teacher training certification

    200 Hour Online Teacher Training

    “The 200 Hour Online Teacher Training certification with Matt Giordano is hands down the most detailed, comprehensive, in-depth and effective trainings to learn how to teach yoga and deepen your yoga practice”

    VIDEO PODCAST: THE 5(6) LAYERED SELF

    + 3 BEST YOGA PRACTICES

     

    What is the Mind or Heart-Mind?

    In a moment, we are going to get into the layers of our Self and the 3 practices for total well-being. But first let’s discuss something that is often ignored- the mind. What is the mind? This is no easy question to answer. Even the mental health industry struggles to define it. How can you establish the health of something you can’t even define?

    It’s one of those interesting points of discussion. We know we have a mind, but the only tangible, physical representation of it is the brain and nervous system. No one has yet to dissect a mind or know for sure what thoughts are and how exactly they are formed. Fortunately, yogis have been contemplating and studying the mind for centuries, so we can turn to them for answers.

    The mind is our way of experiencing the world by using thoughts and emotions to process time, space, physical sensations, and events. The mind is perhaps the most important system to take care of because it governs our entire perception of our existence. This is why yoga is most often defined as the study or science of the mind when we look at sacred texts. You will never see it defined as the study of the body, though that, too, is a part of studying the mind.

    So, as magnificent as the physical practice of yoga is, it is limited- only targeting one layer of our being, called deha, or body. Yes, feeling better physically helps us energetically, mentally, and emotionally but it’s a temporary Bandaid. To get to the root of the challenges our mind present, we need a yoga practice that focuses on all the layers of our being, which include:

    The 5 Layered Self, According to Tantra Yoga 

    1. Deha: The Body
    2. Citta: Heart-Mind, thoughts & emotions
    3. Prana: Energy, life force, autonomic nervous system
    4. Shunya: The Void, calming, peaceful, clear, stillness
    5. Cit: Blissful Awareness

     

    the best yoga teacher training for alignment

    300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

    GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

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

    “THE TRIFECTA” THE 3 BEST YOGA PRACTICES

    Under the umbrella of yoga, there are many amazing approaches to working with the 6 Layers of our Self, but if I am to recommend the top 3 best yoga practices, it would be as follows, not in any particular order:

    1. Asana: (commonly referred to as yoga) Cleanses deha, the body.
    2. Meditation: cleanses the heart-mind first. With practice, allows us to root deeper into Shunya and Cit, pronounced “Chit”. Meditation cultivates our ability to experience Blissful Awareness, even in our day-to-day tasks.
    3. Pranayama: Balances out our energy levels.

    For each of these layers, there are specific yogic practices. Most familiar and most popular is Asana- movement of the body which helps develop awareness, strength, and flexibility. We can think of this as a cleanse for the physical form.

    Then there is Citta, Heart-Mind. It’s unfortunate that many of us are not provided with the proper tools to keep the mind clean. We brush our teeth because plaque builds up daily on the teeth. Similarly, the mind builds up and collects unwanted toxicity but rarely do we learn how to take care of that. To cleanse the mind, we use the practice of meditation, specifically mantra– a repetitive phrase to cultivate the mind’s attention and strengthen our ability to focus.

    For prana (Energy) there are incredible breathwork practices available to us in the yoga lineage, called pranayama. Breathwork helps balance the autonomic nervous system,  so that we can harness the “go go” energy when we need it and cultivate “rest and digest” energy when our bodies and minds are stressed and overworked. Finding balance between the two allows us to live our lives with more intention rather than being driven by emotion.

     

      the best yoga teacher training for alignment

      MOVE•BREATHE•RELEASE

      Yoga, Breathwork, Meditation!

      Expand your yoga practice with asana for the body, breathwork to balance your energy, and meditation for greater peace of mind, focus, and clarity. This is the best way to establish a meditation practice while enjoying the benefits of a routine physical yoga practice.

      THE PROBLEM

      Now that we know these 3 practices help us to feel better physically, mentally, emotionally, AND energetically, why don’t we practice them routinely?

      Well, the answer is simple. We created a habit, or pattern, of brushing our teeth, but haven’t yet created one for meditation and pranayama. Maybe you haven’t created one for yoga yet either?

      THE SOLUTION

      To create a habit, repetition is the only thing needed. However, repetition requires effort and prioritizing your time. Most adults struggle with this. I once read a quote that said something along the lines of “If you have the time, meditate for 20 minutes each morning. If you don’t have time, meditate for an hour each morning.” It’s funny but it’s also the unfortunate truth.The more you fill your day, the more time you need to process and digest everything coming in.

      Let’s acknowledge that routinely showing up for yourself and practicing asana, pranayama and meditation might seem like a lot at first. This is why I have created an online program to make this easy for you. It’s called MOVE•BREATHE•RELEASE, consisting of 3 practices per week, each with all three elements, so you do not need to find time to do them separately. Each class is fully guided so all you have to do is commit. I will take care of the rest. 

      TOP RELEVANT RECOMMENDATIONS

      1. MOVE•BREATHE•RELEASE: 12 CLASS PACKAGE
      2. Journey To Bliss: 12 Class Immersion with 4 Guided Meditations

      TEACHER TRAINING COURSES

      1. 200 Hour training: Get Certified
      2. 300 Hour Online Training: Get 500hr Certified
      THE DANCE: YOGA ALIGNMENT AND FLOW

      MOVE • BREATHE • RELEASE

      Yoga, Breath Work & Guided Meditation 

      1. 12 ALL LEVELS LIVESTREAM CLASSES
      2. WATCH ANYTIME WITH LIFETIME ACCESS
      3. DEVELOP YOUR YOGA PRACTICE, RELEASE TENSION IN THE BODY AND MIND

      $298.00 $128.00

      Continue Learning

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      YOGA ALIGNMENT: FULL WHEEL POSE THE 3 MYTHS DEBUNKEDFULL WHEELYOGA ALIGNMENT: FULL WHEEL POSEYoga alignment for Full Wheel Pose is anything but simple, but achieving an easeful expression of the posture in your body is most definitely attainable. We just have to break...

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      yoga pose alignment full wheel

      YOGA ALIGNMENT: FULL WHEEL POSE

      THE 3 MYTHS DEBUNKED

      FULL WHEEL

      YOGA ALIGNMENT: FULL WHEEL POSE

      Yoga alignment for Full Wheel Pose is anything but simple, but achieving an easeful expression of the posture in your body is most definitely attainable. We just have to break through some of the alignment myths that many teachers have been taught are “correct”.

      Let’s quickly discuss the name of this posture because it has many. Wheel Pose is usually translated as “Chakrasana” because it opens ALL the energy centers. The posture is also known as Urdhva Dhanurasana which translates to Upward Facing Bow Pose. Many backbends in the yoga posture are either named Bow or after a type of Bow. Moving forward, I will use any of these names when discussing my suggestions regarding the alignment for full wheel pose.

      Debunking the 3 Myths

      What you may have been taught is the correct Yoga Alignment for Full Wheel Pose:

      Hug your elbows in. Do not activate the glutes. Tuck your tailbone.

      These are cues used often to move a student into wheel pose, but are they helpful? I don’t think so.

       Wheel pose, Chakrasana is a very active and advanced pose. It requires extreme flexibility AND strength of the hips, shoulders, and wrists. Flexibility is required along the front body, and strength is required along the back body. The good news is, with disciplined practice and a healthy dose of body awareness, this powerful heart-opening extension pose can be accessible to many.

      We need to clear some things up so you can start practicing the best alignment for your full wheel pose. Meaning, you may have some things to UNLEARN before you can dive deeply into your practice. Yoga teachers, please take a breath. You are not a bad teacher if you have said any of the following to your students – we are all in the process of learning and developing our skills as practitioners and teachers. Instead, celebrate that you are here, curious and ready to learn.

      200 hour online teacher training certification

      200 Hour Online Teacher Training

      “The 200 Hour Online Teacher Training certification with Matt Giordano is hands down the most detailed, comprehensive, in-depth and effective training to learn how to teach yoga and deepen your yoga practice”

      WATCH FULL WHEEL UNLOCKED

      Myth #1: Tuck, hug or “squeeze” your elbows in.

      Most of us are told to tuck our elbows in before rising into wheel. At this stage of the pose, this cue doesn’t really work.

      I’ll show you why. Try this:

      Follow along with the video at minute marker 7:50. 

      From a seated position, bend your elbows to a 90 degree angle in front of your chest, wrists bent so that palms face up. Now you’re simulating  “tucking” or “squeezing” your elbows in. Move your elbows up and see how high your arms lift.

      Now come back to position and widen your elbows. Press your arms up again.

      Feel the difference? It’s pretty noticeable. Just like weightlifters would never tuck in their elbows to lift massive weight over their heads, you don’t want to limit your shoulder range of motion by keeping your elbows tucked. So elbows wide as you lift into your wheel.

      WHAT IS THE CORRECT YOGA ALIGNMENT FOR FULL WHEEL?

      Once IN the pose, you can certainly wrap your elbows in but this may not serve you if you find it challenging to straighten your arms. The reason why is that hugging your elbows in is actually an action at the shoulders, not at the elbow. This action is called external rotation of the upper arm bone. External rotation can be really great to help stabilize the shoulders, but remember that stability means less mobility. When you externally rotate the upper arms, your shoulder blades will follow the arms and will protract (move away from each other). Protraction creates stability and less mobility.

      There is no correct alignment here; you have to assess what your needs are. Do you need more mobility or stability? If you are struggling to straighten your arms and your upper back feels stiff then DON’T wrap your elbows in, and DON’T protract your shoulder blades. IF, on the other hand, you are very mobile, coming up to wheel is easy, and your upper back easily extends, then of course you will want to balance out your mobility with stability. In that case, wrap your elbows in and broaden your shoulder blades.

      Myth #2: Relax your glutes as you lift.

      I don’t care if you’re Gumby or the Hulk, you cannot lift your hips off the ground against the weight of gravity without activating your glutes. The muscles that lift your hips from the ground ARE THE GLUTES, Gluteus Maximus in particular.

      Imagine yourself walking for a moment. Better yet, walk around. Note how every time your upper thigh goes back behind you and your toes prepare to push off, your back buttock (and upper hamstrings) contracts. It’s activated. That’s what your glute muscles do when your hips are in extension.

      Wheel is a powerful hip extending pose, so to lift yourself off the ground, you cannot relax your caboose. Once you are in full expression of your pose, there is no need to hyper squeeze your glutes or anus for that matter – this is an over activation of deeper muscles, and all it will do is leave you constipated (likely true).

      the best yoga teacher training for alignment

      300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

      GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

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

      THE BUTTOCK SOLUTION

      Instead of hyper squeezing or clenching your deep buttock muscles, try to press into the inner edges of your heels. This will engage the T.F.L. (tensor fascia lattae) and internally rotate the thigh bones. Because T.F.L. is an internal rotator of the thigh, it balances out the Gluteus Maximus, which is an external rotator of the thigh.

      BONUS: Activating T.F.L. creates a facilitated stretch, which is an activation of a muscle while it is in a lengthened position. Facilitated stretching is a way of increasing flexibility without losing muscle and joint integrity. Check out the Best Stretch for Your Hamstrings.

      Myth #3: Tuck your tailbone.

      I imagine the intent behind this cue is to get the student to activate their buttocks and probably core muscles. But anytime you scoop your tailbone, you’re taking your lumbar spine into flexion (rounding). You might ask, Isn’t that safer? In short, no. Trying to round your low back while simultaneously moving into full wheel is a collision course waiting to happen. BE SURE TO WATCH AT 12:35 Seconds FOR CLARITY

        the best yoga teacher training for alignment

        FULL WHEEL WORKSHOP

        PAY WHAT YOU CAN!

        Full-length workshop teaching you yoga alignment for full wheel pose. Develop the necessary flexibility and strength through applied techniques. This workshop is available in pay-what-you-can format or you can purchase Full Body Bliss, the 12 class immersion that includes this workshop.

        Yes, it is true that an active core can help you stabilize your spine, but a lot of people concentrate on superficial muscles like rectus abdominus or obliques. Contracting these muscles while in wheel shortens your abdomen, which in turn shortens the front of your spine. Wheel pose itself shortens the back of your spine – the two together amounts to immobility at best, and pain or injury at worst.

        Instead, consider strengthening your transverse abdominus ahead of time. This is a deep muscle that will strengthen a myriad of postures and stabilize your spine while leaving room for mobility. Build a strong DEEP core ahead of time and your practice will flourish in ways you never imagined, especially in back bending and twisting postures.

        To learn more about the proper setup for wheel pose, check out Backbends and The Glutes with a short follow-along video.

        TOP RELEVANT RECOMMENDATIONS

        1. Full Wheel Workshop (pay what you can)

        2. “Full Body Bliss” (includes Full Wheel Workshop + 11 more master classes)

        3. THE SPINAL RESET: 12 Class Immersion 

        MORE WAYS TO DEVELOP YOUR PRACTICE

        1. Live Immersions: 3 Classes Per Week
        2. 200 hour training: Get Certified
        3. 300 Hour Online Training: Get 500hr Certified
        Yoga Classes for Arm Balance

        UPCOMING IMMERSION

        Each month you have the oportunituy to enroll in three weekly classes! You get lifetime and unlimited access to each of the classes. Once you enroll, you also have the oportunity to view all classes live as they stream. Each month has a physical focus to help you gain targeted techniques and advance your body awareness.

        Be a part of the community! After enrolling, you can connect with members through our exclusive Facebook group where you can get tips directly from me, Matt Giordano. You are encouraged to share photos and videos of your practice for personalized  support.

        I look forward to sharing this practice with you and helping you develop in a big way!

        ~Matt

         

        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 as often as you want. Trust me, you will want to take them again! I can’t wait for next month’s classes and highly recommend everyone to take the next pass and join in on the journey.

        ~Nadja Kyra King - @nadja_kyra

        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.

        ~Amanda Barnes Salowsky

        Covid-19 brought Matt into my home and my yoga practice. This last month I have learned so much. It has deepened my practice and my understanding of anatomy & biomechanics and how we use both in every asana we practice. He has also helped in my teaching, i.e. 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.

        ~Debbie, @the_joyofyoga

        THE DANCE: YOGA ALIGNMENT AND FLOW

        MOVE • BREATHE • RELEASE

        Yoga, Breath Work & Guided Meditation 

        1. 12 ALL LEVELS LIVESTREAM CLASSES
        2. WATCH ANYTIME WITH LIFETIME ACCESS
        3. DEVELOP YOUR YOGA PRACTICE, RELEASE TENSION IN THE BODY AND MIND

        $298.00 $128.00

        Continue Learning

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        Newsletter

        When You Subscribe You Will Instantly Get Access To

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

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        • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

        Chaturanga yoga pose alignment and anatomy

        Chaturanga Yoga Pose Alignment and Anatomy

        The Mystery FINALLY Revealed and Clarified

        CHATURANGA

        WHAT IS CHATURANGA AND WHY IS IT SO CONFUSING?

        What is the best alignment for Chaturanga? First, let’s start with what this pose is. Chaturanga is both a yoga pose and a transition, otherwise known as a movement. A pose implies no movement, while a transition implies movement between two static postures. Because Chaturanga is used as both a static posture and a transition, it’s hard to have a universal conversation about it. We have to first agree on what it is in order to analyze. Globally, there is discussion about chaturanga and yet everyone has a different idea of what it is. Thus, there exists much controversy around correct alignment.

        How could there be correct alignment when the posture is usually taught as movement from one pose to another? In modern vinyasa, this pose is used to go from plank to upward dog. In order for a movement to occur, it is a law of biomechanics that joint alignment has to change. If it doesn’t, then no movement can occur. SO, while there are many reasons to practice chaturanga as an isolated pose, that is not how most people are practicing it these days. It would be more useful to discuss how to move our bones and which muscles we can engage if we want a smooth flowing posture that minimizes risk to our joints. 

        CONFUSED BY GRAVITY 

        While movement is not complex, it can be confusing mostly because of our relationship to gravity. There are only there major joints that change: the elbows go from straight to bent, the arm bones go from being in front to by our side (flexion to neutral), and the shoulder blades go from protraction to retraction (more or less), explained in the video below. If you stand with your arms in front of you and simulate the same actions, there is nothing mysterious or complex, but add the weight of your body and gravity, and now it gets interesting. 

        While the joint actions are simply moving from plank toward the ground, the muscle engagements that slow the body down in this transition are actually the OPPOSITE of the joints.  For example, the elbows bend, BUT the muscles that engage in order to resist the movement are actually your triceps. Triceps are the muscles that help to straighten your arm. So as you bend into your elbows, your triceps fight back, keeping you from landing on your face.  We do this all the time in transitions. We activate the opposing muscles of what is happening anatomically in our joints. We even do it in most static postures. How many poses have you done where you feel your quads burn, and yet your knees are bent? The muscles that straighten the knees are the quads, and yet they are fully engaged in bent knee postures so that you don’t land on the ground.

        200 hour online teacher training certification

        200 Hour Online Teacher Training

        “The 200 Hour Online Teacher Training certification with Matt Giordano is hands down the most detailed, comprehensive, in-depth and effective training to learn how to teach yoga and deepen your own yoga practice”

        October Livestream Yoga Classes

        THE BREAKTHROUGH

        FOCUS: ARM BALANCES & HIP OPENERS

        • Build Upper Body Strength
        • Release Hip Tension
        • Learn Techniques to make hip opening and arm balances more accessible!
        • Experience the revelatory "aha" moments in the postures you struggle with
        • Uncover your range of motion and flexibility
        • Release low back tension through hip opening
        • 12 All Levels Live Asana Classes
        • Lifetime Unlimited Access to All

         

        CLARITY: WHAT IS THE CORRECT ALIGNMENT OR WAY TO DO CHATURANGA?

        In my video below, you will hear more about “correct” and “incorrect” and why there really isn’t a way we could define that, but we can talk about efficiency, joint safety, greatest stability, or range of motion, etc. The way I suggest to practice chaturanga is as follows: .

        Allow your joints to:

        1. Elbow: Bend (flexion)
        2. Shoulders: Arm Bones go from flexion (out in front as in plank) to neutral
        3. Shoulder Blades: Protraction to Retraction while moving from plank to chaturanga

        What Muscles To Engage and HOW to Engage them

        1. Triceps: Try to straighten your elbow while allowing it to bend. This action is an activation of your triceps. You activate your triceps only enough to slow down the bending of the elbow but not enough that your triceps win over the weight of your body and gravity. If you did that, you’d wind up back in plank pose.
        2. Deltoids: Same here. The front deltoids are the muscles that would normally bring your arms from neutral to out in front (flexion). Activate these muscles enough that it slows down the decent but does’t stop it.
        3. Serratus Anterior:  this is the muscle that moves your shoulder blades apart and should be very active in plank; it remains active while lowering. This muscle slows the movement of the scapula from protraction to retraction. Note: this is not the same as punching your shoulder blade forward into what is called upward tilt, which I go over thoroughly in the blogs below.
        4. CHATURANA ALIGNMENT: 3 KEY ACTIONS
        5. CHATURANGA ALIGNMENT PT 2: INTEGRATE THE ACTIONS

        The February 2020 Immersion, titled “The Dance”, is a unique immersion focused entirely on transitions from one pose to another, learning the biomechanics and anatomy of each transition. If you are looking to re-pattern the way you move on your mat and learn which muscles to engage for efficiency and control, this is the livestream immersion for you! See All Livestream Immersions

        MORE WAYS TO DEVELOP YOUR PRACTICE

        1. Live Immersions are all designed to support you with both the development of your knowledge and your embodiment. With every immersion there is a focus, and I guide you through sensation-based practices to help you rediscover your body!
        2. 200 hour training  Dive into your practice in a deeper way, developing body awareness, understanding of anatomy, and how to share it with others.
        3. 300 Hour Online Training Advance your teaching skills. Get 500 hour certified and create a greater impact with your offering as a teacher of yoga.

        the best yoga teacher training for alignment

        300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

        GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

        ATTENTION YOGA TEACHERS! Master your skillset as a teacher through refined techniques, anatomy, biomechanics, sequencing, philosophy, meditation techniques, theming, yoga business, and much more!

        THE DANCE: YOGA ALIGNMENT AND FLOW

        THE DANCE

        ALIGN, REFINE AND MASTER YOUR FLOW

        12 Class Pack for Alignment and Flow! Develop your balance, increase your strength, and learn to transition gracefully between postures. This livestream immersion focuses heavily on providing step by step instruction for popular transitions like plank to chaturanga, hop forwards, warrior 2 to half moon. 

        Do to the challenging transitions and postures this immersion is recommended for intermediate level students. 

        LEARN MORE

        $298.00 $128.00

        Continue Learning

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        Newsletter

        When You Subscribe You Will Instantly Get Access To

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

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