full wheel shoulder alignment elbows in or out

FULL WHEEL POSE

STOP HUGGING THE ELBOWS IN

SHOULDER ACTIONS FOR MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITY

FULL WHEEL

FULL WHEEL POSE SHOULDER FLEXIBILITY

,You may have noticed that full wheel pose is quite challenging, and you might think the issue is your back, core, or shoulder strength. Sure, each of these play a role, but not nearly as much as the simple technique of retracting the shoulder blades and widening the elbows. For whatever reason, there is a myth that elbows need to be hugged in for safety. This is simply not true. Have you ever seen a body builder press a tremendous amount of weight above their head? If yes, then you know their elbows are not tucked in, and considering the amount of weight they are lifting, it’s pretty obvious that there is nothing wrong with this bio-mechanically. In my opinion, it’s not only okay to widen the elbows; it’s a much better physiological decision.

WHY DOES MY TEACHER ALWAYS SAY TO HUG THEM IN?

This cue is coming from the basic understanding that the shoulder joint is more stable when the arms are externally rotated. However, hugging elbows in is overly stabilizing, which is why everyone struggles with mobility when elbows are tucked in for wheel pose. Furthermore, if we take a closer look, hugging elbows in will likely trigger your pectoral muscles to engage, and not your rotator cuff. Rather than bore or lose you with the anatomical details, I will tell how to find out for yourself by trying out the difference while sitting up.

CONTROLLED TEST WITH A STRAP

OLD WAY:

  1. Bring your arms in front like you’re going to do the Macarena, then bend your elbows, mimicking what most teachers have told you to do in full wheel.
  2. Loop a strap around both elbows to keep them in – this is often used in alignment-based classes.
  3. Without letting the elbows go wider than your shoulders,  raise your arms up, straightening your elbows while keeping them tucked in, and see how vertical your arms can get.

Most likely you wont be able to go too high up without effort. IF you are hyper-mobile in the shoulders you may be able to and if full wheel is working the way you are doing it, then continue that way. However, if your feel pinching in your shoulders, watch the tutorial below.

NEW WAY:

  1. Widen your elbows out to the sides like you are making cactus arms.
  2. Reach your arms up to the sky like you are celebrating a victory.

You will likely notice that this felt more natural and relatively easy. That’s because it IS NATURAL to lift your arms this way. The best way to approach full wheel pose for maximum flexibility in the shoulder girdle is to allow the elbows to be out. 

"Shoulder Revelation"

The September 2021 Immersion includes a full length class to Wild Thing Pose as well as eleven additional classes emphasizing shoulder techniques and bio-mechanics! In this package, you get twelve 75-minute yoga classes to help you gain maximum strength, flexibility, and range of motion of the shoulders. You will also learn how to release neck tension, and reduce risk of shoulder and neck injuries.

If you want to feel better in your shoulders, this is THE immersion to practice!

SALE PRICE: $198.00 $98.00

DON’T HUG THE ELBOWS IN & ENJOY YOUR LOW BACK 

Amazingly enough, when you allow the shoulders to move properly, you will notice that you can shift your weight into your hands and out of your feet and this will take the pressure off of the low back! This is because the backbend will now be dispersed throughout the whole spine instead of targeted straight into one or two vertebrae in your lumbar spine (typically L4 and L5 for most people).

EASIER SAID THAN DONE?

Ok Ok Ok, after that demo you might visually or intellectually get it, and perhaps you want to give this a try. Doing the shoulder actions while seated is far easier than trying it upside down and on your head. This is partially because our body can propriocept (know where it is in space) much easier when right side up simply because that’s how we exist most of the day. But your nervous system needs to learn where your bones are and how to activate your muscles when everything is flipped upside down. This is just the way it is; the only thing you can do about it is put yourself upside down MORE OFTEN, AND watch this video repetitively to stimulate your “mirror neurons”, which allow you to mimic something more easily through repetitive viewing.

To get these shoulder actions fully integrated into your practice sign up for the Shoulder Revelation Immersion – twelve classes designed to help you develop mastery of movement within the shoulder girdle.

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

Co-written and edited with 300-hour Chromatic teacher, Donna Morin.

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200 HOUR ONLINE TRAINING

If you are not a teacher yet, but a yogi ready to dive deeply into your yoga practice and get certified to share this practice with others, then the 200 hour training is your next step!

"Shoulder Revelation"

The September 2021 Immersion includes a full length class to Wild Thing Pose as well as 11 additional classes emphasising shoulder techniques and Bio-Mechanics! In this package you will get 12, 75-minute Yoga Classes to help you gain maximum strength, flexibility and range of motion of the shoulders. You will also learn how to release neck tension, and reduce risk of shoulder and neck injuries.

If you want to feel better in your shoulders, this is THE immersion to practice!

SALE PRICE: $198.00 $98.00

Livestream Class Packages

Vinyasa and Meditation Yoga Immersion

SHOULDER REVELATION

Strength•Mobility•Biomechanics

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  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
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  • Learn over 12 hip openers
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Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

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  • Forearm Stand, Koundinyasana 1 & 2, Handstand
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
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yoga backbend techniques: 12 classes

HEART OPENERS

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  • Learn over 12 backbends
  • Step-by-step instructionals in every practice
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Yoga Alignment and Flow

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2020 IMMERSIONS

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$298.00 $128.00 

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October Livestream Yoga Classes

THE BREAKTHROUGH

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KING PIGEON & HANUMAN

  • FLEXIBILITY OF HIPS
  • SHOULDER & SPINE MOBILITY
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • 12 INTERMEDIATE CLASSES
  • HAMSTRING RANGE OF MOTION

$198.00 $128.00

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GARUDASANA - EAGLE POSE How to Double Wrap the LegsEagle Pose GARUDASANA - EAGLE POSE Why is it hard to double wrap the leg? Garudasana, known as Eagle Pose, is a challenging hip opener and hip strengthener. It's useful in developing balance, but for many people,...

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Eagle Pose technique how to double wrap the legs

GARUDASANA – EAGLE POSE

How to Double Wrap the Legs

Eagle Pose

GARUDASANA – EAGLE POSE

Why is it hard to double wrap the leg?

Garudasana, known as Eagle Pose, is a challenging hip opener and hip strengthener. It’s useful in developing balance, but for many people, double wrapping the leg is not accessible. For sure, some people have no trouble at all, but others are completely perplexed.

There are three reasons why it would be challenging for you or your students to double wrap:

 

  1. Lack of flexibility of the abductor muscles (outer hip muscles) – these are the muscles that are lengthened when we cross our legs.
  2. Lack of strength of the standing hip abductor muscles. This is a bit confusing unless you watch the video below. The standing hip abductors help to elevate the opposite side of the pelvis, making it more possible to cross the top leg over the bottom leg.
  3. Lack of technique and timing. In most cases, if you are not applying deliberate technique while moving into a pose, you will be entering the pose the hard way, which means you will only be able to do the postures that match your set of physical muscular patterns. This is a disservice, not because you will miss out on the poses, but because you will miss out on the opportunity to change your muscle patterns. In the video below, you will see the timing and techniques for getting into Eagle Pose with double wrapped legs. 
yoga backbend techniques: 12 classes [backbend technique to relieve back pain "bowing the spine']

"HIPS & HAMSTRINGS" IMMERSION

  • ,Increase Range Of Motion Of Your Hips & Hamstrings
  • Learn Techniques like “Facilitated Stretching”
  • Release Stress Patterns, Discomfort, or Pain in Your Hips, Back and Knees.
  • Twelve 75 min Classes, All Levels Appropriate
  • Learn Postures: Pigeon, Lizard Variations, Lotus, Eagle, Hanuman, Fire Log, Seated Straddle Splits, and More!
  • Lifetime Unlimited Access to All

How to Increase Flexibility of the Abductors – Outer Hips

If flexibility is inhibiting you from accessing Garudasana and you want to find ways to access your greater range of motion of the outer hip muscles, there are a couple postures you can work with. Any posture that includes criss-crossed legs will be useful and effective in increasing abductor flexibility. There aren’t many traditional postures aside from eagle pose itself. One that comes to mind is Golmukhasana, cow-faced pose. However, I would say that eagle pose should usually precede Golmukhasana because eagle pose requires less flexibility. The one that I use in the hips and hamstrings immersion to prepare for eagle is a straight single leg forward fold with criss-crossed legs.

 

How to Get into the Straight Leg Criss-Cross Forward Fold

  1. Start in lunge pose with your right foot forward.
  2. Heal toe (move) your right foot to the left side of the mat.
  3. Step your back left foot to the right side of the mat so that now both legs are criss-crossed
  4. I suggest using block under both hands prior to the last step.
  5. Straighten your legs to a degree where you are stretching without strain.

IMPORTANT KEY ACTION: Wag your tail bone to the left to increase the stretch along the outer hip and IT band. If that’s too intense, wag your tail to the right to decrease the outer hip stretch. 

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WHY LACK OF ABDUCTOR STRENGTH HOLDS YOU BACK IN EAGLE POSE

Strength of the abductor group (outer hip muscles) is super important for two reasons. First, the standing hip abductors are what lift the opposite side of your pelvis, which allows you to cross your top leg over. Second, without outer hip strength on the standing leg, you would struggle to balance the pose! Outer hip muscles play a major role in balancing any single leg pose. If you find it challenging to balance Garudasana, then you will want to start with a strength-training routine for the abductors. We focus in on strengthening these muscles in the Hips and Hamstrings Immersion

FREE VIDEO TUTORIAL: HOW TO DOUBLE WRAP LEGS IN GARUDASANA, EAGLE POSE

This video clip was taken from class #3 in the  Hips and Hamstrings: 12 Class Immersion

HOW TO DOUBLE WRAP THE LEGS

 

    Notice in the video that I am focused on squeezing the outer standing hip inward, and lifting the opposite side of the pelvis upward as a result. This allows the thigh bone to more easily cross the midline of the body. You will also notice that my thighs are significantly rotated inward; this helps to access the wrapping of the legs as well. In the class leading up to this tutorial we used a wall to eliminate the necessity to balance while working with these actions. In this video, I joke about the use of a wall, but I highly recommend you try it that way. 
yoga backbend techniques: 12 classes [backbend technique to relieve back pain "bowing the spine']

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  • Deepen your practice of yoga 
  • Learn to share the practice with others
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  • Learn postures, bio-mechanics, alignment & techniques
  • Learn how to structure a class, and sequence postures together 

HOW DO I INCREASE FLEXIBILITY OF MY HIPS FOR OTHER YOGA POSTURES?

The easy answer to this is to practice in such a way that you are deliberately strengthening each muscle group around the hips. To learn more about what muscle groups are involved in hip opening, check out the article I wrote on The 4 Quadrants of The Hips, where I share my methodology and approach for my personal practice and in my teaching. Once you understand which muscles surround the hip joints, the next step is to begin strengthening each muscle group. Strengthening one muscle group through range of motion will increase flexibility of the opposing muscle group. This is the magic of an educated and deliberate practice; we take the guess work out and efforts are more effective in achieving intended results. 

To increase your strength and flexibility of the hips, you can join the Hips and Hamstrings Immersion that will take you through twelve 75min online yoga classes, each focused on a different pose and the relevant muscle group(s). I take you through creative ways of strengthening, then provide you with effective techniques for stretching and accessing various yoga postures. 

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

"HIPS & HAMSTRINGS" IMMERSION

  • Increase Range Of Motion Of Your Hips & Hamstrings
  • Learn Techniques like “Facilitated Stretching”
  • Release Stress Patterns, Discomfort, or Pain in Your Hips, Back and Knees.
  • Twelve 75 min Classes, All Levels Appropriate
  • Learn Postures: Pigeon, Lizard Variations, Lotus, Eagle, Hanuman, Fire Log, Seated Straddle Splits and More!
  • Lifetime Unlimited Access to All

Continue Learning

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Crow Pose Tutorial UPGRADE YOUR CROW POSE  SHOULDER ACTIONS FOR OPTIMIZING STRENGTHFULL WHEELCROW POSE TUTORIAL: FIND FULLNESS TO FIND STABILITYFinding fullness in our yoga practice usually starts with our connection to breath.  It’s not uncommon to take our time at...

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Eagle Pose technique how to double wrap the legs

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GARUDASANA - EAGLE POSE How to Double Wrap the LegsEagle Pose GARUDASANA - EAGLE POSE Why is it hard to double wrap the leg? Garudasana, known as Eagle Pose, is a challenging hip opener and hip strengthener. It's useful in developing balance, but for many people,...

read more

Newsletter

When You Subscribe You Will Get Instant Access To

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

hips and hamstring flexibility

Hips & Hamstrings Flexibility

“The 4 Quadrants of The Hips”

Hip & Hamstrings

Hips And Hamstrings Flexibility

Why Is Hip Mobility Important?

If you practice yoga you are sure to increase your flexibility of the hips and hamstrings. However, that doesn’t mean you will gain greater mobility and functionality, or even be able to access the myriad of hip opening postures. The reason for this is because most of us don’t realize just how many muscles surround the hips. Because it is a ball in socket joint, there are a tone of available movements. That said, most of us only utilize about 2 of the movements on the daily: flexion and extension which allow us to walk, sit and stand.

Because we only make use of two movements, we tend to be over developed in one or two muscle groups and under developed in the others. The problem with this is limited range of motion, but more importantly imbalanced hip alignment which could lead to hip pain, or increased friction in the hip joint over time, potentially damaging the soft tissue. Bottom line, its important to work toward more even strength and flexibility in all the muscles that surround the hips.

Before we dive in, let me be clear – there is no magic place of health and balance where everything is perfect and no pain ever exists. We can however find a place where our body feels good on a regular basis, and we have the awareness to catch ourselves when one muscle group is getting too tight, strong, weak, or flexible. In other words we can build a relationship with our body, and learn what it needs and be able to catch an issue before it becomes a long term problem. 

THE BENEFITS GO BEYOND PAIN RELIEF. Developing awareness of your hips can allow you to move better on a daily basis, AND access more postures within the context of yoga.

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

"HIPS & HAMSTRINGS" IMMERSION

  • Increase Range Of Motion Of Your Hips & Hamstrings
  • Learn Techniques like “Fascillitated Stretching”
  • Release Stress Patterns, Discomfort, or Pain in Your Hips, Back and Knees.
  • Twelve 75 min Classes, All Levels Appropriate
  • Learn Postures: Pigeon, Lizard Variations, Lotus, Eagle, Hanuman, Fire Log, Seated Straddle Splits and More!
  • Lifetime Unlimited Access to All

4 Quadrants of The Hips

To simplify development of your hips and hamstrings flexibility we can break down the muscle groups into for basic categories: Front, Back, Inside, Outside. There are muscles that exist in each of these areas that create movements.

  1. Front: Hips Flexors, and Quadriceps
  2. Back: Buttock Muscles such as Gluteus Maximus and Piriformus 
  3. Inside: Adductor Muscle Group 
  4. Outside: Abductor Muscle Group such as Gluteus Minimus, Medius and T.F.L

This is of course a simplified way of looking at the hips, some muscles cross over from the outside to the inside such as the Sartorius, or from the back side to the inside such as the Adductor Magnus. But the simplification is helpful if you aren’t an anatomy nerd and just want to feel better in your hips.

 

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WHAT ARE “The 4 Quadrants of the Hips”?

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 in 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: STRATEGY FOR HIP AND HAMSTRING FLEXIBILITY

To implement this technique and access your flexibility

 Hips and Hamstrings: 12 Class Immersion

WHAT ARE THE ACTIONS AT THE HIPS?

Each quadrant of muscles groups have actions, meaning movements that we are capable of when we engage one or more muscles. 

  1. Front: Hip Flexion & Anterior Tilt of the Pelvis
  2. Back: Hip Extension & Posterior Tilt of the Pelvis
  3. Inside: Adduction – moving thighbones toward each other
  4. Outside: Abduction – moving thigh bones away from one another
yoga backbend techniques: 12 classes [backbend technique to relieve back pain "bowing the spine']

GET CERTIFIED & HIGHLY QUALIFIED TO TEACH

  • Deepen your practice of yoga 
  • Learn to share the practice with others
  • Build your confidence with speaking 
  • Learn Postures, Bio-Mechanics, Alignment & Techniques
  • Learn how to structure a class, and sequence postures together 

How Do We Apply The “4 Qaudrants” to Develop Greater Hips and Hamstrings Flexiblitty?

The easiest way to develop your flexibility is to strengthen each muscles group until it can perform to its potential. The Rule of thumb is to pick a side that you want to increase flexibility on, and strengthen the opposite. That means if you want to increase hamstring flexibility (back quadrant) you would strengthen the front quadrant (hip flexors and quads). It’s actually simple but we make it super complicated. Instead of just trying to stretch of muscle, hoping that gravity will do it for you, just strengthen the muscle that does the action you are intending and flexibilty will be the innevitable result. In this way not only will you gain flexiblity but you will ALSO be building strength.

In the video above I also talk about fascillitated Stretching as another technique. Be sure to watch the video for more details on this method and if you want to develop flexibility, access more postures, and release nagging pain than join me for the Hips and Hamstrings Immersion. I will see you on the mat! 

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

"HIPS & HAMSTRINGS" IMMERSION

  • Increase Range Of Motion Of Your Hips & Hamstrings
  • Learn Techniques like “Fascillitated Stretching”
  • Release Stress Patterns, Discomfort, or Pain in Your Hips, Back and Knees.
  • Twelve 75 min Classes, All Levels Appropriate
  • Learn Postures: Pigeon, Lizard Variations, Lotus, Eagle, Hanuman, Fire Log, Seated Straddle Splits and More!
  • Lifetime Unlimited Access to All

Continue Learning

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DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE  WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE, AND HOW TO DO IT?DEEPEN What Does it Mean to Deepen Your Yoga Practice?Have you ever seen a yoga event advertising, this will deepen your practice? Of course you have. Every teacher training,...

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Improve You Balance in Standing Postures

Improve You Balance in Standing Postures

Improve Balance In Standing Poses Focal Points of the Feet BALANCEYou Might Be Missing These 3 Key Components in the FeetStanding balance postures can sometimes be a source of frustration in our physical yoga practice. We all have moments like this on the mat and...

read more
Crow Pose tutorial for shoulder and core strength

Crow Pose tutorial for shoulder and core strength

Crow Pose Tutorial UPGRADE YOUR CROW POSE  SHOULDER ACTIONS FOR OPTIMIZING STRENGTHFULL WHEELCROW POSE TUTORIAL: FIND FULLNESS TO FIND STABILITYFinding fullness in our yoga practice usually starts with our connection to breath.  It’s not uncommon to take our time at...

read more
full wheel shoulder alignment elbows in or out

full wheel shoulder alignment elbows in or out

FULL WHEEL POSE STOP HUGGING THE ELBOWS IN SHOULDER ACTIONS FOR MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITYFULL WHEELFULL WHEEL POSE SHOULDER FLEXIBILITY,You may have noticed that full wheel pose is quite challenging, and you might think the issue is your back, core, or shoulder strength....

read more
full side plank and modifications

full side plank and modifications

Full Side Plank With Modifications STEP BY STEP VASHISTHASANA BREAKDOWNFULL SIDE PLANK pFULL SIDE PLANK & MODIFICATIONS: VASHISTHASANA USING THE WALL AS A PROP Full Side Plank (Vashisthasana) has many modification options and variations to help make it more...

read more
Eagle Pose technique how to double wrap the legs

Eagle Pose technique how to double wrap the legs

GARUDASANA - EAGLE POSE How to Double Wrap the LegsEagle Pose GARUDASANA - EAGLE POSE Why is it hard to double wrap the leg? Garudasana, known as Eagle Pose, is a challenging hip opener and hip strengthener. It's useful in developing balance, but for many people,...

read more

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Yoga Sequencing: Teaching Technique Reverse Engineering

Intelligent Yoga Sequence Technique

“REVERSE ENGINEERING”

Yoga Sequencing

HOW TO DESIGN AN INTELLIGENT YOGA SEQUENCE

REVERSE ENGINEERING

Designing an intelligent yoga sequence for your at-home practice or for your students can create a massive lifelong impact. Whether you are an at-home practitioner looking to build your personal practice, an aspiring yoga teacher, or a seasoned teacher looking to increase the efficacy of your classes, this is for you.

Because most of the 200 hour yoga trainings in the west have so much material to cover in a relatively short amount of time, the element most often neglected is anatomy, especially designing yoga sequences that help your students get the most from their time with you.

So today I want to share a yoga technique with you that I teach in my 200 and 300 hour trainings.

Designing a class is much like a puzzle; there is a clear destination in mind, but we need to put one piece together at a time. Or consider sequencing as an instruction manual, a step-by-step, action-oriented guide for what to do and when to do it. In order to design an intelligent yoga sequence, we can use a technique that I call “Reverse Engineering.” What does that mean?

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

200 HOUR TEACHER TRAINING

  • Expand Your Yoga Practice, Body Awareness, and Study of Yoga
  • Build Confidence in Your Voice 
  • Learn the Step By Step Approach To Teaching Yoga
  • Get Personal Support of a Dedicated Mentor 
  • Learn Postures, Anatomy, Sequencing, Verbal Cuing, Alignment, Breathing Techniques, Inspirational Philosophy, Teaching Methodology, and More!

First you want to know what your peak posture is.

A peak pose is a yoga pose that is challenging to your student. That challenge may present itself as requiring one of four anatomical elements.

  1. Strength
  2. Flexibility 
  3. Balance 
  4. Proprioception (knowing where your body is in space)

Balance and proprioception can overlap, but they each present their own challenges, so I count those as separate features.

So choose a peak posture. For today, let’s work with Dancer Pose (Natarajasana), because Dancer Pose requires a few different anatomical elements.

After you choose your peak pose, now assess the anatomy of the pose.

In my 200 hour and 300 hour trainings, we go into much more specificity of many yoga poses- covering anatomy, biomechanics, and technique. To clarify, the 200 hour training is designed for yogis looking to deepen their practice and learn the skillsets for teaching yoga. The 300 hour training, on the other hand, is for certified yoga teachers looking to certify at the 500 hour level. In this training, you wish to develop a masterful understanding of the body, as it relates to the yoga practice, and attain highest level skillsets as a teacher (200 hour + 300 Hour = 500 Hour Certified). 

You don’t have to be an anatomy expert to design a yoga sequence that will help your students get the most from your classes and come to know their bodies better. Anatomy is really just a language- names for bones, muscles, joints, etc. These are important, of course, but communication and connection with your students is arguably even more important.

A surgeon might be incredible at her craft but if she doesn’t have a good bedside manner, she won’t make her patient feel comfortable and that can impact how well the surgery goes. A yoga teacher might know a lot about anatomy but if they aren’t connecting with their students, the students may not return and a valuable opportunity is missed.

So let’s think about Dancer Pose. If you’re an anatomy geek like me, you may already be thinking about what makes this posture challenging for some and accessible for others. To assess this, we need to look at which muscles are lengthening and which will require flexibility. If you are a yoga teacher already, this will likely be familiar because typically you learn this at the 200 hour level. In my 300 hour training, we go a step further and consider required strength, as well as actions, techniques and bio mechanics. To keep things simple, I won’t be diving into all these avenues here. My intention is to convey the structure of an intelligent yoga sequence. Once you understand the structure, it can be applied to all aspects of the physical practice. 

 

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!

Assessing The Peak Pose

What is a peak pose?

Many people get worked up when I mention a “peak pose” because they feel yoga shouldn’t be destination-oriented. This is not actually the teaching of yoga. Yoga has a very clear goal, or destination, in every ancient text. No sacred teaching instructs us to eliminate the destination. Rather, the teachings reveal that focused attention on actions,  thoughts, breath, etc. cultivate awareness. Some would call this ultimate awareness Samadhi,  or Consiousness, Being, Union, Stillness, Mindfuless….the list goes on. Point is, these are all goals.

So asana practices are what help us move toward the ultimate awareness, BUT there is a caveat. If you are focused solely on that goal while you practice, you will not be aware of the elements of your practice and will miss out on important nuances. Ironically, keeping your focus only on the goal means you’re less likely to achieve it. This applies to a peak pose as well. If you are focused only on the peak pose and rush through the preparatory poses and techniques,  you miss necessary learning and will be less likely to access the peak pose in the most efficient, functional, and even life-changing way.

As a teacher, you use a peak posture as a destination and work backwards. Think of it like using a GPS in your car: you enter the destination from your original point and it delivers step-by-step instructions. If you don’t pay attention to the steps, you don’t arrive.

Let’s assess Dancer Pose and develop a road map for your students so they can step into presence and action. With you as their guide, your students do not necessarily need to know the destination. In this way, you can keep calling their attention to “the now” every step of the way. This method is for you, the designer of an intelligent yoga sequence. 

Let’s think about the shape. You know that in Dancer Pose, you will need to reach your arm back. So what could you do with your students that would prepare their bodies to reach back?

Here’s the question:

What muscles are limiting the ability to reach back?

Answer: pectoralis major (chest), front deltoids (shoulder)

Do you need to know that? NO. Another easy way to assess is to reach back with your arm and feel what area of your body is stretching. To prepare yourself for this action, you would simply do other poses that stretch the same area.

Dancer Pose also requires balance. What pose could you offer that would require balance AND reach arms back? 

If you said Airplane Pose (Dekasana), we’re on the same flight. 😉

Dancer Pose also requires a backbend, so you’d want to prepare your students by including yoga poses that extend the spine, like Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana). 

Bonus: Stretch the front thighs and hip flexors. You could prepare students for this in a low lunge (Anjanay asana), perhaps with bound hands, or reaching for the back foot. (This might be too intense for some with tight quads. Use a strap to make it more accessible.)

All these poses that prepare your students for the peak pose are what I call “layering poses.” In my trainings, I teach my students to prepare 5-7 of these poses. These are the real substance of a good sequence. You can still include other poses to help warm up the body and get your students connecting their movements to breath, but layering poses are the ones you’ve put the most thought into. They are the poses that will transform your time with your students from a class to an experience. 

So let’s review. Here are the steps to design a powerful and effective yoga sequence for your yoga students. 

1.     Choose a peak posture.

2.     Assess the anatomy of that peak pose, or look at the shape.

3.     Teach 5-7 poses that mimic that shape and prepare your students for the peak pose.

FREE VIDEO PODCAST ON CREATING AN INTELLIGENT YOGA SEQUENCE USING THE TECHNIQUE OF “REVERSE ENGINEERING”

LOOKING TO DEVELOP YOUR BACKBENDING PRACTICE? CHECK OUT

 Heart Openers: Discover the Joy of Backbending

MISTAKES TO AVOID

It’s pretty common for a teacher to think of a peak pose, like Dancer Pose, and think hmm…shoulder openers; I need shoulder openers. Then they offer poses like Eagle Pose (Garudasana). True, Eagle opens the shoulder muscles, but the exact opposite shoulder muscles needed for Dancer. If you were using this as a way to shorten opposing muscles before lengthening them, then that could be an intelligent decision. But in terms of preparatory lengthening, Eagle is not the right layering pose for Dancer.  Accuracy is key, which is why the 200 Hour and 300 Hour are so focused on developing refined skills and understanding of the body. 

With the right sequencing, your classes will be more supportive and your students will leave feeling like they’ve learned something. That learning will stay with them throughout their lives. This is what it means to create an impact.

Follow the structure laid out in the video:

1. Choose a peak posture.

2. Assess the challenges: flexibility, strength, balance, proprioception. I suggest starting with flexibility to keep it simple.

3. Choose 5-7 layering postures.

4. Weave these poses through your class.

Ready to go deeper into anatomy, biomechanics, and sequencing? In my 200 and 300 hour trainings, we not only cover those topics, but you will also learn techniques for meditation, pranayama, yoga philosophy, and developing your yoga business. The 200 hour training is suitable for all levels. If you have a burning curiosity to learn and develop your practice, then the 200 hour training is perfect for you. The 300 hour training is only suitable for yoga teachers at the 200 or 500 hour level looking to become more masterful as professional yoga teachers. 

Not sure if the training is right for you at this time? Send me an email and we can set up a time to chat.

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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

deepen your yoga practice

deepen your yoga practice

DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE  WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE, AND HOW TO DO IT?DEEPEN What Does it Mean to Deepen Your Yoga Practice?Have you ever seen a yoga event advertising, this will deepen your practice? Of course you have. Every teacher training,...

read more
Improve You Balance in Standing Postures

Improve You Balance in Standing Postures

Improve Balance In Standing Poses Focal Points of the Feet BALANCEYou Might Be Missing These 3 Key Components in the FeetStanding balance postures can sometimes be a source of frustration in our physical yoga practice. We all have moments like this on the mat and...

read more
Crow Pose tutorial for shoulder and core strength

Crow Pose tutorial for shoulder and core strength

Crow Pose Tutorial UPGRADE YOUR CROW POSE  SHOULDER ACTIONS FOR OPTIMIZING STRENGTHFULL WHEELCROW POSE TUTORIAL: FIND FULLNESS TO FIND STABILITYFinding fullness in our yoga practice usually starts with our connection to breath.  It’s not uncommon to take our time at...

read more
full wheel shoulder alignment elbows in or out

full wheel shoulder alignment elbows in or out

FULL WHEEL POSE STOP HUGGING THE ELBOWS IN SHOULDER ACTIONS FOR MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITYFULL WHEELFULL WHEEL POSE SHOULDER FLEXIBILITY,You may have noticed that full wheel pose is quite challenging, and you might think the issue is your back, core, or shoulder strength....

read more
full side plank and modifications

full side plank and modifications

Full Side Plank With Modifications STEP BY STEP VASHISTHASANA BREAKDOWNFULL SIDE PLANK pFULL SIDE PLANK & MODIFICATIONS: VASHISTHASANA USING THE WALL AS A PROP Full Side Plank (Vashisthasana) has many modification options and variations to help make it more...

read more
Eagle Pose technique how to double wrap the legs

Eagle Pose technique how to double wrap the legs

GARUDASANA - EAGLE POSE How to Double Wrap the LegsEagle Pose GARUDASANA - EAGLE POSE Why is it hard to double wrap the leg? Garudasana, known as Eagle Pose, is a challenging hip opener and hip strengthener. It's useful in developing balance, but for many people,...

read more

Newsletter

When You Subscribe You Will Get Instant Access To

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

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.

 

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!

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 in 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 “one size fits all“. Everybody 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

deepen your yoga practice

deepen your yoga practice

DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE  WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE, AND HOW TO DO IT?DEEPEN What Does it Mean to Deepen Your Yoga Practice?Have you ever seen a yoga event advertising, this will deepen your practice? Of course you have. Every teacher training,...

read more
Improve You Balance in Standing Postures

Improve You Balance in Standing Postures

Improve Balance In Standing Poses Focal Points of the Feet BALANCEYou Might Be Missing These 3 Key Components in the FeetStanding balance postures can sometimes be a source of frustration in our physical yoga practice. We all have moments like this on the mat and...

read more
Crow Pose tutorial for shoulder and core strength

Crow Pose tutorial for shoulder and core strength

Crow Pose Tutorial UPGRADE YOUR CROW POSE  SHOULDER ACTIONS FOR OPTIMIZING STRENGTHFULL WHEELCROW POSE TUTORIAL: FIND FULLNESS TO FIND STABILITYFinding fullness in our yoga practice usually starts with our connection to breath.  It’s not uncommon to take our time at...

read more
full wheel shoulder alignment elbows in or out

full wheel shoulder alignment elbows in or out

FULL WHEEL POSE STOP HUGGING THE ELBOWS IN SHOULDER ACTIONS FOR MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITYFULL WHEELFULL WHEEL POSE SHOULDER FLEXIBILITY,You may have noticed that full wheel pose is quite challenging, and you might think the issue is your back, core, or shoulder strength....

read more
full side plank and modifications

full side plank and modifications

Full Side Plank With Modifications STEP BY STEP VASHISTHASANA BREAKDOWNFULL SIDE PLANK pFULL SIDE PLANK & MODIFICATIONS: VASHISTHASANA USING THE WALL AS A PROP Full Side Plank (Vashisthasana) has many modification options and variations to help make it more...

read more
Eagle Pose technique how to double wrap the legs

Eagle Pose technique how to double wrap the legs

GARUDASANA - EAGLE POSE How to Double Wrap the LegsEagle Pose GARUDASANA - EAGLE POSE Why is it hard to double wrap the leg? Garudasana, known as Eagle Pose, is a challenging hip opener and hip strengthener. It's useful in developing balance, but for many people,...

read more

Newsletter

When You Subscribe You Will Get Instant Access To

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

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

ARM BALANCES

Learn 12+ Arm Balances while expanding your knowledge of the body and increasing your body awareness.  All Classes are 75 minutes and ALL levels appropriate 

  • Crow Pose, Side Crow, and Variations
  • Flying Pigeon, Koundenyasana 1 & 2
  • Titibasana, Bujaspidasana
  • Handstand, Forearmstand, and many more!

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. 

The 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

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!

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

ARM BALANCES

Learn 12+ Arm Balances while expanding your knowledge of the body and increasing your body awareness.  All Classes are 75 minutes and ALL levels appropriate 

  • Crow Pose, Side Crow, and Variations
  • Flying Pigeon, Koundenyasana 1 & 2
  • Titibasana, Bujaspidasana
  • Handstand, Forearmstand, and many more!

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

deepen your yoga practice

deepen your yoga practice

DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE  WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE, AND HOW TO DO IT?DEEPEN What Does it Mean to Deepen Your Yoga Practice?Have you ever seen a yoga event advertising, this will deepen your practice? Of course you have. Every teacher training,...

read more
Improve You Balance in Standing Postures

Improve You Balance in Standing Postures

Improve Balance In Standing Poses Focal Points of the Feet BALANCEYou Might Be Missing These 3 Key Components in the FeetStanding balance postures can sometimes be a source of frustration in our physical yoga practice. We all have moments like this on the mat and...

read more
Crow Pose tutorial for shoulder and core strength

Crow Pose tutorial for shoulder and core strength

Crow Pose Tutorial UPGRADE YOUR CROW POSE  SHOULDER ACTIONS FOR OPTIMIZING STRENGTHFULL WHEELCROW POSE TUTORIAL: FIND FULLNESS TO FIND STABILITYFinding fullness in our yoga practice usually starts with our connection to breath.  It’s not uncommon to take our time at...

read more
full wheel shoulder alignment elbows in or out

full wheel shoulder alignment elbows in or out

FULL WHEEL POSE STOP HUGGING THE ELBOWS IN SHOULDER ACTIONS FOR MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITYFULL WHEELFULL WHEEL POSE SHOULDER FLEXIBILITY,You may have noticed that full wheel pose is quite challenging, and you might think the issue is your back, core, or shoulder strength....

read more
full side plank and modifications

full side plank and modifications

Full Side Plank With Modifications STEP BY STEP VASHISTHASANA BREAKDOWNFULL SIDE PLANK pFULL SIDE PLANK & MODIFICATIONS: VASHISTHASANA USING THE WALL AS A PROP Full Side Plank (Vashisthasana) has many modification options and variations to help make it more...

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Eagle Pose technique how to double wrap the legs

Eagle Pose technique how to double wrap the legs

GARUDASANA - EAGLE POSE How to Double Wrap the LegsEagle Pose GARUDASANA - EAGLE POSE Why is it hard to double wrap the leg? Garudasana, known as Eagle Pose, is a challenging hip opener and hip strengthener. It's useful in developing balance, but for many people,...

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