deeper twists and spinal mobility with the fire line

DEEPER TWISTS

INCREASE SPINAL MOBILITY WITH THE FIRE LINE

DEEPER TWISTS

DEEPER TWISTS & SPINAL MOBILITY: “FIRE LINE”

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

YOUR INTENTION FOR THE TWIST

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

 

Yoga For Flexibility and Mobility

Mobility IMMERSION

March 2022 Immersion

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

$148.00

 

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

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

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

WHAT IS THE FIRE LINE?

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

MUSCLE ACTIVATION IN THE FIRE LINE

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

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

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

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

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

online yoga immersion for the spine

SPINAL AWAKENING

November 2021 Immersion

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

YOUR DISCOUNT CODE: STRENGTHMEMBER

$148.00 $118.00

REVOLVED CHAIR POSE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article by Trish Curling  @anioyoga

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

Yoga For Flexibility and Mobility

Mobility IMMERSION

March 2022 Immersion

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

$148.00

 

Continue Learning

Bow Pose: Where to Breathe in a Backbend

Bow Pose: Where to Breathe in a Backbend

BOW POSE—WHERE TO BREATHE  YOGA ANATOMY • BIOMECHANICS • TECHNIQUEBOW POSEThe Challenge of breathing in backbendsEver feel short of breath in a backbend? You aren't the only one. Where to breathe in a backbend is a popular question, and rightfully so. If you look at...

read more
side plank variations

side plank variations

Side Plank Variations VASHISTASANA • MODIFICATIONS • TUTORIALSIDE PLANKExtended Side plank variations  [Click Below to listen to the Audio Version of "Extended Side Plank"]There are definitely more ways than one to access a yoga posture. Not only that, but Matt is...

read more
King Cobra Pose Tutorial

King Cobra Pose Tutorial

KING COBRA POSE  YOGA ANATOMY • BIOMECHANICS • TECHNIQUEKING COBRA5 Key Actions to Decompress Your Spine in King Cobra PoseNot all that glitters is gold, and without the right approach, this glorious backbend may not be a shining example of spinal health. King Cobra...

read more
Wild Thing Shoulder Alignment

Wild Thing Shoulder Alignment

WILD THING SHOULDER ALIGNMENT ANATOMY • BIOMECHANICS • TECHNIQUEShoulder AlignmentWILD THING SHOULDER ALIGNMENTWhat is the correct shoulder alignment for the pose we call Wild Thing? To answer this, we would first have to define the guidelines for "right" and "wrong."...

read more
hyperextension of the knee in pyramid pose

hyperextension of the knee in pyramid pose

KNEE HYPEREXTENSION HOW TO SOLVE HYPERMOBILITY IN PYRAMID POSEKNEE HYPEREXTENSIONKNEE HYPEREXTENSION: PROTECT YOUR KNEES IN PARSVOTTANASANA, PYRAMID POSEWhen it comes to our asana practice, more often than not, the subject of our knees is a hot topic. Typically, we’re...

read more
deeper twists and spinal mobility with the fire line

deeper twists and spinal mobility with the fire line

DEEPER TWISTS INCREASE SPINAL MOBILITY WITH THE FIRE LINEDEEPER TWISTSDEEPER TWISTS & SPINAL MOBILITY: "FIRE LINE"Do you correlate strength with twisting postures in your yoga practice, or is it flexibility that comes to mind first?  There’s no doubt that both...

read more

THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

When You Subscribe You Will Get Instant Access To

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

Side Angle Self Adjustment for Hip Strength

SELF ADJUSTMENT IN SIDE ANGLE POSE 

ACTIVATE YOUR GLUTES FOR GREATER GAINS

SIDE ANGLE

SELF ADJUSTMENT IN SIDE ANGLE POSE — ACTIVATE YOUR GLUTES FOR GREATER GAINS

Glute gains! Who doesn’t want those, right? When we think about glute gains though, our minds may go directly to the aesthetic appearance, when in reality, what we really need is the health and strength of that group of muscles (gluteus minimus, medius, and maximus) in order to have functional strength, balance, and endurance. We have the ability to create this reality within our bodies by way of adjustments and focused muscle activation in our physical yoga practice.  

When we think about adjustments in a yoga context, it can be quite a lengthy discussion with many layers. Receiving adjustments from our yoga teachers can be a wonderfully supportive experience, while for some, it may be the complete opposite. There may be an aversion to touch for many reasons; no matter what the reasons are, they are to be 100% respected.  

STRENGTH

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

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

SALE PRICE: $138.00 $128.00

The Power of Self Adjustments

Now, we happen to be in a time where so many of us are still not practicing in studios or in person with our private teachers. We are participating in virtual classes more than ever. If you weren’t utilizing self adjustments before, this unique time provides an opportunity to incorporate them. This can be a transformative addition to your physical practice, whether in the studio or at home.  Self adjustments offer more than you may think they do. They can be a really great way to connect with our own bodies. When we maintain awareness of the breath and connect with the specific action in the self adjustment, we can truly transform the experience we are having on the mat.

Incorporating adjustments is more than just placing our bodies into a specific alignment. Taking gradual steps through the process helps us to feel safe, therefore helping us to progress.

3 STEPS TO TAKE BEFORE SETTING UP YOUR SELF ADJUSTMENT

  1. Pay attention to your breath, maintain a rhythm that sends a signal to your brain that you are safe and that you are ready to sync the next action with your breath.
  2. Find stability first.  If you need additional support in the posture, then gather the props you may need. Utilizing blocks, a chair, and/or a wall may be just the thing that helps you to find the sensation or connection to the muscle activation.  
  3. Go for it! Perform the self adjustment. First, find the appropriate alignment in your body and then apply the action/contraction in the muscle with your own assist.

In today’s video, we can see Matt take all of these steps for glute activation in Side Angle Pose. In his preparation for the posture, he has set himself up on a chair, making himself more stable, and then he presses the knee of the front leg out into his bicep in order to turn on the abductors and gluteus muscles. He adds the action of pressing down through the heel in the front foot to turn on the gluteus maximus. These actions completely change the experience in the posture.

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TRAINING

Yoga teachers, take your certification to the 500 hour level, and become a master level teacher.

  • Master your skillset as a teacher
  • Refine your practice techniques
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, self adjustments
  • Develop masterful sequencing with the most effective structure
  • Learn to teach meditation and breathwork

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

The 3 Main Benefits of Self Adjustments

  • Gain a sense of awareness of where we are in space (proprioception)
  • Develop muscular strength
  • Gain access to increase range of motion

With better proprioception (body awareness), we have a better chance of activating our targeted muscles. In the example of Side Angle from the video, the act of pressing into the bicep provides feedback into the brain and body to activate the abductors. We can understand the sensation of this activation so much more. This feedback shows us how to come back to this activation with more confidence whenever we revisit this posture in our practice. The act of that isometric contraction in the targeted muscles builds integrity and strength in the muscles and surrounding tissues. With more strength, we find an opportunity to increase more active range of motion. With better active range of motion, we in turn unleash our access to new postures. We can truly see that self adjustments provide so much more than stacking bones and joints. We are changing our experience on the mat and in our bodies as a whole.

If you want to develop more strength in your yoga practice, check out Matt’s October 2021 Immersion, titled “Strength  

If you’re ready to unleash your true potential and develop greater strength in your yoga practice, then Matt’s new Immersion Strength for the month of October is perfect for you.

In this immersion, you will gain access to:

  • 12 Classes: Each class targets a specific muscle group
  • Strengthen your core, back, hips, shoulders, wrists, ankles, legs, and arms
  • Learn creative ways to strength train within the context of a yoga practice.
  • Increase mobility by balancing your strength with oppositional muscle groups
  • Joyful accountability to reach your practice goals.

~Written and Edited by Trish Curling

STRENGTH

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

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

SALE PRICE: $138.00 $128.00

Livestream Class Packages

STRENGTH

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

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

SALE PRICE: $138.00 $128.00

Vinyasa and Meditation Yoga Immersion

SHOULDER REVELATION

Strength•Mobility•Biomechanics

  • Increase strength and flexibility
  • Decrease risk of injury
  • Release shoulder tension
  • Learn anatomy and biomechanics
  • Access a wider range of postures
  • Stabilize the rotator cuff muscles
  • Learn binds, heart openers, and arm balances
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
$198.00 $138.00
Vinyasa and Meditation Yoga Immersion

VITALITY

RIGOR & RELEASE

  • Get back to feeling energized
  • Vinyasa-style approach, accessible to everyone
  • Hips, twists, heart openers, shoulders, core, & more
  • Guided meditations to de-stress, increase focus, and gain mental & emotional clarity
  • Strengthen and lengthen the most essential muscle groups
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
$198.00 $108.00
Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

BALANCE

INCREASE & AWAKEN YOUR BALANCE

  • Learn over 12 balance postures
  • Muscle strength and reactive patterning
  • Increase proprioception and deliberate weight shifting
  • Tree, Standing Hand-to-Foot variations, Warrior III
  • Half Moon variations, Handstand, Side Plank, Headstand
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
$198.00 $128.00
Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

Hips & Hamstrings

RECLAIM YOUR ELASTICITY

  • Learn over 12 hip openers
  • Step-by-step instructionals in every practice
  • Techniques, biomechanics and alignment
  • Pigeon, Eagle, Fire Log, Lizard
  • Lotus, Flying Pigeon, Splits, Straddle
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
$148.00
Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

ARM BALANCES

FREEDOM OF FLIGHT

  • Learn over 12 arm balances
  • Step-by-step instructionals in every practice
  • Techniques, biomechanics and alignment
  • Crow, Side Crow, Titibasana, Ashtavakrasana
  • Forearm Stand, Koundinyasana 1 & 2, Handstand
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
$198.00 $128.00
yoga backbend techniques: 12 classes

HEART OPENERS

DISCOVER THE JOY OF BACKBENDS

  • Learn over 12 backbends
  • Step-by-step instructionals in every practice
  • Techniques, biomechanics and alignment
  • Bow Pose, Camel, Dancer, Full Wheel
  • King Cobra, King Dancer, King Pigeon
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
$148.00
Yoga Alignment and Flow

MOVE • BREATHE • RELEASE

YOGA • BREATHWORK • MEDITATION

  • YOGA: TRANSFORM YOUR BODY
  • BREATHWORK: REJUVENATE
  • MEDITATION: AWAKEN YOUR MIND
  • THE TRIFECTA OF YOGA
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS  
$128.00
Yoga Alignment and Flow

THE DANCE

ALIGN • REFINE • FLOW

  • MOVEMENT TRANSFORMATION
  • ALIGNED TRANSITIONS
  • TARGETED STRENGTH
  • DEEP HIP OPENERS
  • 12 CLASSES: INTERMEDIATE
$148.00
back health online yoga classes

THE PULSE

BALANCE • STRENGTH • FLEXIBILITY

  • SHOULDER STRENGTH
  • HEART OPENERS
  • HAMSTRINGS & BUTTOCKS
  • INNER THIGHS
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS  

$128.00

2020 IMMERSIONS

back health online yoga classes

HIPS • HEART • HANDSTAND

  • HIP OPENERS
  • HEART OPENERS
  • HANDSTAND TECHNIQUES
  • BUILD COURAGE & STRENGTH
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS  

$148.00

boundless freedom

  • SHOULDER & NECK RELEASE
  • SHOULDER BIOMECHANICS
  • BALANCED STRENGTH
  • INCREASE RANGE OF MOTION
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS

$298.00 $128.00

BIRDS OF PARADISE

  • FLEXIBILITY OF INNER THIGHS
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • LIFETIME ACCCESS TO ALL
  • LEADS TO BIRDS OF PARADISE 
  • COMPARTMENTS OF THE MIND 

$298.00 $128.00 

BEST STARTER PACKAGE

  • 6 YOGA CLASSES
  • 2 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • LIFETIME ACCCESS TO ALL
  • 6 PEAK POSTURES
  • 6 YOGA SUTRA THEMES

$148.00 $78.00

back health online yoga classes

THE SPINAL RESET

  • BACKBENDS & SIDE BENDS
  • TWISTS AND FORWARD FOLDS
  • SPINAL BIOMECHANICS
  • 4 POST-CLASS MEDITATIONS
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS

$128.00

JOURNEY TO BLISS

  • PHYSICAL MEETS SPIRITUAL
  • EXPLORE THE KOSHAS
  • MIND-BODY TENSION RELEASE
  • FOUR GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • 12 YOGA CLASSES: ALL LEVELS

$148.00 $118.00

BACK, NECK, & SHOULDERS

  • 12 YOGA CLASSES
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • LIFETIME ACCCESS TO ALL
  • 12 PEAK POSTURES
  • 12 YOGA SUTRA THEMES

$178.00 $128.00

October Livestream Yoga Classes

THE BREAKTHROUGH

  • HIP OPENERS
  • HIP BIOMECHANICS
  • EMPHASIS ON ARM BALANCES
  • 4 POST-CLASS MEDITATIONS
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS  

$128.00

JOURNEY TO THE HEART

  • FULL BODY RESET
  • INCREASE BALANCE
  • ARM BALANCES
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • ELEMENTALLY THEMED

$148.00 $118.00

KING PIGEON & HANUMAN

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

$128.00

Continue Learning

Bow Pose: Where to Breathe in a Backbend

Bow Pose: Where to Breathe in a Backbend

BOW POSE—WHERE TO BREATHE  YOGA ANATOMY • BIOMECHANICS • TECHNIQUEBOW POSEThe Challenge of breathing in backbendsEver feel short of breath in a backbend? You aren't the only one. Where to breathe in a backbend is a popular question, and rightfully so. If you look at...

read more
side plank variations

side plank variations

Side Plank Variations VASHISTASANA • MODIFICATIONS • TUTORIALSIDE PLANKExtended Side plank variations  [Click Below to listen to the Audio Version of "Extended Side Plank"]There are definitely more ways than one to access a yoga posture. Not only that, but Matt is...

read more
King Cobra Pose Tutorial

King Cobra Pose Tutorial

KING COBRA POSE  YOGA ANATOMY • BIOMECHANICS • TECHNIQUEKING COBRA5 Key Actions to Decompress Your Spine in King Cobra PoseNot all that glitters is gold, and without the right approach, this glorious backbend may not be a shining example of spinal health. King Cobra...

read more
Wild Thing Shoulder Alignment

Wild Thing Shoulder Alignment

WILD THING SHOULDER ALIGNMENT ANATOMY • BIOMECHANICS • TECHNIQUEShoulder AlignmentWILD THING SHOULDER ALIGNMENTWhat is the correct shoulder alignment for the pose we call Wild Thing? To answer this, we would first have to define the guidelines for "right" and "wrong."...

read more
hyperextension of the knee in pyramid pose

hyperextension of the knee in pyramid pose

KNEE HYPEREXTENSION HOW TO SOLVE HYPERMOBILITY IN PYRAMID POSEKNEE HYPEREXTENSIONKNEE HYPEREXTENSION: PROTECT YOUR KNEES IN PARSVOTTANASANA, PYRAMID POSEWhen it comes to our asana practice, more often than not, the subject of our knees is a hot topic. Typically, we’re...

read more
deeper twists and spinal mobility with the fire line

deeper twists and spinal mobility with the fire line

DEEPER TWISTS INCREASE SPINAL MOBILITY WITH THE FIRE LINEDEEPER TWISTSDEEPER TWISTS & SPINAL MOBILITY: "FIRE LINE"Do you correlate strength with twisting postures in your yoga practice, or is it flexibility that comes to mind first?  There’s no doubt that both...

read more

THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

When You Subscribe You Will Get Instant Access To

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

CONTACT

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

full wheel shoulder alignment elbows in or out

FULL WHEEL POSE

STOP HUGGING THE ELBOWS IN

SHOULDER ACTIONS FOR MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITY

FULL WHEEL

SHOULDER FLEXIBILITY IN FULL WHEEL POSE

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 plays 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 the elbows need to be hugged in for safety. This is simply not true. Have you ever seen a weight lifter 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 biomechanically. 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 the elbows in is overly stabilizing, which is why everyone struggles with mobility when the elbows are tucked in for Wheel Pose. Furthermore, if we take a closer look, hugging the elbows in will likely trigger your pectoral muscles to engage, not your rotator cuff. Rather than bore or lose you with the anatomical details, I will tell you 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 won’t be able to go too high up without effort. IF you are hypermobile in the shoulders, you may be able to; if Full Wheel is working the way you are doing it, then continue that way. However, if you 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 11 additional classes emphasizing shoulder techniques and biomechanics! 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 $138.00

DON’T HUG THE ELBOWS IN, AND 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 more easily 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 — 12 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

200 hour online yoga teacher training

200 HOUR ONLINE TRAINING

If you are not a teacher yet but a yogi ready to dive deep 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 emphasizing shoulder techniques and biomechanics! In this package, you will 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 $138.00

Livestream Class Packages

STRENGTH

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

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

SALE PRICE: $138.00 $128.00

Vinyasa and Meditation Yoga Immersion

SHOULDER REVELATION

Strength•Mobility•Biomechanics

  • Increase strength and flexibility
  • Decrease risk of injury
  • Release shoulder tension
  • Learn anatomy and biomechanics
  • Access a wider range of postures
  • Stabilize the rotator cuff muscles
  • Learn binds, heart openers, and arm balances
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
$198.00 $138.00
Vinyasa and Meditation Yoga Immersion

VITALITY

RIGOR & RELEASE

  • Get back to feeling energized
  • Vinyasa-style approach, accessible to everyone
  • Hips, twists, heart openers, shoulders, core, & more
  • Guided meditations to de-stress, increase focus, and gain mental & emotional clarity
  • Strengthen and lengthen the most essential muscle groups
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
$198.00 $108.00
Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

BALANCE

INCREASE & AWAKEN YOUR BALANCE

  • Learn over 12 balance postures
  • Muscle strength and reactive patterning
  • Increase proprioception and deliberate weight shifting
  • Tree, Standing Hand-to-Foot variations, Warrior III
  • Half Moon variations, Handstand, Side Plank, Headstand
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
$198.00 $128.00
Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

Hips & Hamstrings

RECLAIM YOUR ELASTICITY

  • Learn over 12 hip openers
  • Step-by-step instructionals in every practice
  • Techniques, biomechanics and alignment
  • Pigeon, Eagle, Fire Log, Lizard
  • Lotus, Flying Pigeon, Splits, Straddle
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
$148.00
Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

ARM BALANCES

FREEDOM OF FLIGHT

  • Learn over 12 arm balances
  • Step-by-step instructionals in every practice
  • Techniques, biomechanics and alignment
  • Crow, Side Crow, Titibasana, Ashtavakrasana
  • Forearm Stand, Koundinyasana 1 & 2, Handstand
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
$198.00 $128.00
yoga backbend techniques: 12 classes

HEART OPENERS

DISCOVER THE JOY OF BACKBENDS

  • Learn over 12 backbends
  • Step-by-step instructionals in every practice
  • Techniques, biomechanics and alignment
  • Bow Pose, Camel, Dancer, Full Wheel
  • King Cobra, King Dancer, King Pigeon
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
$148.00
Yoga Alignment and Flow

MOVE • BREATHE • RELEASE

YOGA • BREATHWORK • MEDITATION

  • YOGA: TRANSFORM YOUR BODY
  • BREATHWORK: REJUVENATE
  • MEDITATION: AWAKEN YOUR MIND
  • THE TRIFECTA OF YOGA
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS  
$128.00
Yoga Alignment and Flow

THE DANCE

ALIGN • REFINE • FLOW

  • MOVEMENT TRANSFORMATION
  • ALIGNED TRANSITIONS
  • TARGETED STRENGTH
  • DEEP HIP OPENERS
  • 12 CLASSES: INTERMEDIATE
$148.00
back health online yoga classes

THE PULSE

BALANCE • STRENGTH • FLEXIBILITY

  • SHOULDER STRENGTH
  • HEART OPENERS
  • HAMSTRINGS & BUTTOCKS
  • INNER THIGHS
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS  

$128.00

2020 IMMERSIONS

back health online yoga classes

HIPS • HEART • HANDSTAND

  • HIP OPENERS
  • HEART OPENERS
  • HANDSTAND TECHNIQUES
  • BUILD COURAGE & STRENGTH
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS  

$148.00

boundless freedom

  • SHOULDER & NECK RELEASE
  • SHOULDER BIOMECHANICS
  • BALANCED STRENGTH
  • INCREASE RANGE OF MOTION
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS

$298.00 $128.00

BIRDS OF PARADISE

  • FLEXIBILITY OF INNER THIGHS
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • LIFETIME ACCCESS TO ALL
  • LEADS TO BIRDS OF PARADISE 
  • COMPARTMENTS OF THE MIND 

$298.00 $128.00 

BEST STARTER PACKAGE

  • 6 YOGA CLASSES
  • 2 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • LIFETIME ACCCESS TO ALL
  • 6 PEAK POSTURES
  • 6 YOGA SUTRA THEMES

$148.00 $78.00

back health online yoga classes

THE SPINAL RESET

  • BACKBENDS & SIDE BENDS
  • TWISTS AND FORWARD FOLDS
  • SPINAL BIOMECHANICS
  • 4 POST-CLASS MEDITATIONS
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS

$128.00

JOURNEY TO BLISS

  • PHYSICAL MEETS SPIRITUAL
  • EXPLORE THE KOSHAS
  • MIND-BODY TENSION RELEASE
  • FOUR GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • 12 YOGA CLASSES: ALL LEVELS

$148.00 $118.00

BACK, NECK, & SHOULDERS

  • 12 YOGA CLASSES
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • LIFETIME ACCCESS TO ALL
  • 12 PEAK POSTURES
  • 12 YOGA SUTRA THEMES

$178.00 $128.00

October Livestream Yoga Classes

THE BREAKTHROUGH

  • HIP OPENERS
  • HIP BIOMECHANICS
  • EMPHASIS ON ARM BALANCES
  • 4 POST-CLASS MEDITATIONS
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS  

$128.00

JOURNEY TO THE HEART

  • FULL BODY RESET
  • INCREASE BALANCE
  • ARM BALANCES
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • ELEMENTALLY THEMED

$148.00 $118.00

KING PIGEON & HANUMAN

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

$128.00

Continue Learning

Bow Pose: Where to Breathe in a Backbend

Bow Pose: Where to Breathe in a Backbend

BOW POSE—WHERE TO BREATHE  YOGA ANATOMY • BIOMECHANICS • TECHNIQUEBOW POSEThe Challenge of breathing in backbendsEver feel short of breath in a backbend? You aren't the only one. Where to breathe in a backbend is a popular question, and rightfully so. If you look at...

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side plank variations

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King Cobra Pose Tutorial

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KING COBRA POSE  YOGA ANATOMY • BIOMECHANICS • TECHNIQUEKING COBRA5 Key Actions to Decompress Your Spine in King Cobra PoseNot all that glitters is gold, and without the right approach, this glorious backbend may not be a shining example of spinal health. King Cobra...

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Wild Thing Shoulder Alignment

Wild Thing Shoulder Alignment

WILD THING SHOULDER ALIGNMENT ANATOMY • BIOMECHANICS • TECHNIQUEShoulder AlignmentWILD THING SHOULDER ALIGNMENTWhat is the correct shoulder alignment for the pose we call Wild Thing? To answer this, we would first have to define the guidelines for "right" and "wrong."...

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hyperextension of the knee in pyramid pose

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deeper twists and spinal mobility with the fire line

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DEEPER TWISTS INCREASE SPINAL MOBILITY WITH THE FIRE LINEDEEPER TWISTSDEEPER TWISTS & SPINAL MOBILITY: "FIRE LINE"Do you correlate strength with twisting postures in your yoga practice, or is it flexibility that comes to mind first?  There’s no doubt that both...

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THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

When You Subscribe You Will Get Instant Access To

  • The Technique Pack: 15 Yoga Pose Breakdowns
  • Exclusive Online Course Discounts
  • Exclusive Blogs and Videos
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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 and hamstrings
  • Learn techniques such as facilitated stretching
  • Release stress patterns, discomfort, or pain in your hips, back, and knees
  • Twelve 75-minute 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 crisscrossed legs will be useful and effective in increasing abductor flexibility. Although there aren’t many traditional postures, aside from Eagle Pose itself, one that comes to mind is Gomukhasana, Cow-Faced Pose. However, I would say that Eagle Pose should usually precede Gomukhasana because Eagle Pose requires less flexibility. The posture that I use in the Hips and Hamstrings immersion to prepare for Eagle is a straight single-leg forward fold with crisscrossed legs.

 

How to Get into the Straight-Leg Crisscrossed Forward Fold

  1. Start in Lunge Pose with your right foot forward.
  2. Heel-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 both legs are crisscrossed.
  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.

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!

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']

GET CERTIFIED & HIGHLY QUALIFIED TO TEACH

  • Deepen your practice of yoga
  • Learn to share the practice with others
  • Build your confidence in speaking
  • Learn postures, biomechanics, alignment, and techniques
  • Learn how to structure a class and sequence postures

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 the flexibility of the opposing muscle group. This is the magic of an educated and deliberate practice — we take the guesswork 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,which will take you through twelve 75-minute online yoga classes, each focused on a different pose and the relevant muscle group(s). I take you through creative ways of strengthening, then I 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 and hamstrings
  • Learn techniques such as facilitated stretching
  • Release stress patterns, discomfort, or pain in your hips, back, and knees
  • Twelve 75-minute 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

Bow Pose: Where to Breathe in a Backbend

Bow Pose: Where to Breathe in a Backbend

BOW POSE—WHERE TO BREATHE  YOGA ANATOMY • BIOMECHANICS • TECHNIQUEBOW POSEThe Challenge of breathing in backbendsEver feel short of breath in a backbend? You aren't the only one. Where to breathe in a backbend is a popular question, and rightfully so. If you look at...

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side plank variations

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King Cobra Pose Tutorial

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Wild Thing Shoulder Alignment

Wild Thing Shoulder Alignment

WILD THING SHOULDER ALIGNMENT ANATOMY • BIOMECHANICS • TECHNIQUEShoulder AlignmentWILD THING SHOULDER ALIGNMENTWhat is the correct shoulder alignment for the pose we call Wild Thing? To answer this, we would first have to define the guidelines for "right" and "wrong."...

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hyperextension of the knee in pyramid pose

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read more
deeper twists and spinal mobility with the fire line

deeper twists and spinal mobility with the fire line

DEEPER TWISTS INCREASE SPINAL MOBILITY WITH THE FIRE LINEDEEPER TWISTSDEEPER TWISTS & SPINAL MOBILITY: "FIRE LINE"Do you correlate strength with twisting postures in your yoga practice, or is it flexibility that comes to mind first?  There’s no doubt that both...

read more

THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

When You Subscribe You Will Get Instant Access To

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

hips and hamstring flexibility

HIP AND HAMSTRING FLEXIBILITY

“The 4 Quadrants of the Hips”

Hip & Hamstrings

Hip And Hamstring Flexibility

Why Is Hip Mobility Important?

If you practice yoga, you are sure to increase the 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, because most of us don’t realize how many muscles surround the hips. Since hips are ball-and-socket joints, there are ample available movements, yet most of us only utilize two daily — flexion and extension — when we walk, sit, and stand.

Because we only make use of two movements, we tend to be overdeveloped in one or two muscle groups and underdeveloped in the others. The problem with this is limited range of motion and, more importantly, imbalanced hip alignment that could lead to hip pain or increased friction in the hip joint over time, potentially damaging soft tissue. Bottom line: it’s important to work toward evenly balanced 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 consistently good and we have the awareness to recognize when one muscle group is too tight, strong, weak, flexible, or inflexible. In other words, we can build a relationship with our body, 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 AND HAMSTRINGS IMMERSION

  • Increase range of motion of your hips and hamstrings
  • Learn techniques such as facilitated stretching
  • Release stress patterns, discomfort, or pain in your hips, back, and knees
  • Twelve 75-minute classes, all levels appropriate
  • Learn postures: Pigeon, Lizard Variations, Lotus, Eagle, Hanuman, Fire Log, Seated Straddle Splits, and more!
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

The 4 Quadrants of the Hips

To simplify the development of your hip and hamstring flexibility, we can break down muscle groups into 4 basic categories: front, back, inside, outside. There are muscles in each of these areas that create movements.

  1. Front: hip flexors and quadriceps
  2. Back: buttock muscles such as gluteus maximus and piriformis
  3. Inside: adductors such as longus, brevis, magnus
  4. Outside: abductors such as gluteus minimus, medius, and TFL

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.

 

the best yoga teacher training for alignment

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

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

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 that 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 this 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 muscle groups has 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 thighbones 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 in speaking
  • Learn postures, biomechanics, alignment, and techniques
  • Learn how to structure a class and sequence postures

How do we apply the “4 Quadrants” to develop greater hip and hamstring flexibility?

The easiest way to develop your flexibility is to strengthen each muscle 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 a muscle, hoping that gravity will do the work for you, strengthen the muscle that does the action you are intending, and flexibility will be the inevitable result. In this way, you gain flexibility AND build strength. It’s a win-win!

In the video above, I also explain facilitated 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, then join me for the Hips and Hamstrings Immersion. I will see you on the mat!

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

 

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

HIPS AND HAMSTRINGS IMMERSION

  • Increase range of motion of your hips and hamstrings
  • Learn techniques such as facilitated stretching
  • Release stress patterns, discomfort, or pain in your hips, back, and knees
  • Twelve 75-minute 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

Bow Pose: Where to Breathe in a Backbend

Bow Pose: Where to Breathe in a Backbend

BOW POSE—WHERE TO BREATHE  YOGA ANATOMY • BIOMECHANICS • TECHNIQUEBOW POSEThe Challenge of breathing in backbendsEver feel short of breath in a backbend? You aren't the only one. Where to breathe in a backbend is a popular question, and rightfully so. If you look at...

read more
side plank variations

side plank variations

Side Plank Variations VASHISTASANA • MODIFICATIONS • TUTORIALSIDE PLANKExtended Side plank variations  [Click Below to listen to the Audio Version of "Extended Side Plank"]There are definitely more ways than one to access a yoga posture. Not only that, but Matt is...

read more
King Cobra Pose Tutorial

King Cobra Pose Tutorial

KING COBRA POSE  YOGA ANATOMY • BIOMECHANICS • TECHNIQUEKING COBRA5 Key Actions to Decompress Your Spine in King Cobra PoseNot all that glitters is gold, and without the right approach, this glorious backbend may not be a shining example of spinal health. King Cobra...

read more
Wild Thing Shoulder Alignment

Wild Thing Shoulder Alignment

WILD THING SHOULDER ALIGNMENT ANATOMY • BIOMECHANICS • TECHNIQUEShoulder AlignmentWILD THING SHOULDER ALIGNMENTWhat is the correct shoulder alignment for the pose we call Wild Thing? To answer this, we would first have to define the guidelines for "right" and "wrong."...

read more
hyperextension of the knee in pyramid pose

hyperextension of the knee in pyramid pose

KNEE HYPEREXTENSION HOW TO SOLVE HYPERMOBILITY IN PYRAMID POSEKNEE HYPEREXTENSIONKNEE HYPEREXTENSION: PROTECT YOUR KNEES IN PARSVOTTANASANA, PYRAMID POSEWhen it comes to our asana practice, more often than not, the subject of our knees is a hot topic. Typically, we’re...

read more
deeper twists and spinal mobility with the fire line

deeper twists and spinal mobility with the fire line

DEEPER TWISTS INCREASE SPINAL MOBILITY WITH THE FIRE LINEDEEPER TWISTSDEEPER TWISTS & SPINAL MOBILITY: "FIRE LINE"Do you correlate strength with twisting postures in your yoga practice, or is it flexibility that comes to mind first?  There’s no doubt that both...

read more

THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

When You Subscribe You Will Get Instant Access To

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

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 an aspiring yoga teacher, an at-home practitioner looking to build your personal practice, 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 in 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 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 the 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 posture is a yoga pose that is challenging to your student. That challenge may present itself as requiring one of 4 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 it requires a few different anatomical elements.

After you choose your peak pose, 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 skill sets 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 both develop a masterful understanding of the body as it relates to the yoga practice and attain highest-level skill sets 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: Typically, you learn this at the 200 hour level. In my 300 hour training, we go a step further and consider the required strength as well as actions, techniques, and biomechanics. 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.

 

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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 what yoga teaches; 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 (Anjaneyasana), 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.

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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.

Co-written and edited by 300-hour Chromatic yoga teacher, Donna Morin

 

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