Down Dog: Avoid Shoulder Impingement

3 Steps to Avoid Shoulder Impingement

in Downward-Facing Dog

Should You “Relax Your Shoulders” Away From Your Ears?

In my previous blog, “The Yoga Cue That Could Be Destroying Your Shoulders,” I explained how taking the arms up overhead while dropping our shoulders down our back could be a recipe for shoulder impingement. Many teachers use Downward Dog as a “resting pose.”  In my experience, I have found that “relaxing” in Downward Dog is quite often the reason for most shoulder issues but can easily be rectified with the 3 cues I provide in the video and photo breakdown below: 

  1. Externally Rotate the Humerus
  2. Pronate the Forearms (not directly related to the shoulder but balances out Step 1)
  3. Elevate the Scapula 

Elevation of the scapula happens when you lift your shoulder blades upward, which is like “shrugging” your shoulders, or when you excitedly reach your arms up to the sky. We naturally let our shoulders lift when our arms go up, but since many instructors cue the opposite, it is easy develop a pattern that does not serve the health of our shoulders. In addition to the verbal cue of “soften your shoulders,” gravity also causes issues if we don’t actively resist when we are in postures like Downward Dog, Forearm Stand, Handstand, or in a jump forward. My suggestion is to strengthen the muscles that elevate the scapula (upper trapezius and serratus anterior being the primary ones) in order to develop the pattern that can help to avoid shoulder impingement.

Many people cringe when I suggest strengthening the muscles that lift the shoulders up, saying something like “but my shoulders are stuck up by my ears, shouldn’t I relax them down?” The short answer is yes, but the longer answer is that muscles hold tension when they are weak. Your shoulders are likely up by your ears because of stress, rather than excess strength . . . unless you are a world champion bodybuilder . . . then ignore this. We also have muscle-holding patterns, which means that when we hold our neck, head, and arms in one position for most of the day, it will cause the muscles to become accustomed to holding those positions, and as a result you will be somewhat stuck in that shape. Simply pulling your shoulders back down will not relax the trapezius; rather, it could cause more stress, and the muscle could become more aggravated.

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BUT ISN’T IT IMPORTANT TO RELAX MY NECK?

Relaxing is undoubtedly important, and it will help release tension in your mind and body. At the same time, muscles relax from being activated properly and then released. You have certainly experienced this after engaging your muscles in a good workout or yoga class and then the incredible relaxation afterwards. Stretching a muscle can help release tension at times, but more often than not, I find active engagement or passive shortening of a muscle is far more effective. When a muscle is healthy and strong, it is better able to relax.

Follow the 3 easy steps in the video below to avoid shoulder impingement, and you will grow stronger in your trapezius muscles and rotator cuff.

Maintaining Joint Space

Research indicates that externally rotating the humerus helps to move the supraspinatus tendon away from the impingement area under the acromion process. Essentially this means that by rotating your arm bones outward (biceps turn forward) you are less likely to pinch the the soft tissues that run between your arm bone and the shoulder socket. 

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Other Helpful Muscle Engagements

Research also shows that activating both the biceps and triceps at the same time  can actually support creating more space in the glenohumeral joint  (where the arm meets the shoulder socket). You can do this by actively pushing the arms straight, and then try to squeeze your hands toward each other like a bull dog.   It is challenging to do oppositional muscle engagements so this takes a bit of exploring. First work on straightening the elbows and activating the triceps. When you squeeze your arms toward each other you will also get the added benefit of activating the adductor muscles which can also support more space in the shoulder joint.

DOES THIS APPLY TO HANDSTAND AS WELL?

Your shoulder joints do not know the difference between downward dog and handstand – aside from the gravitational pull, the shoulders are in the same alignment in downward dog as they are in handstand, this is called flexion. When the arms are flexed over head, you are at risk of impingement. The only difference is that in handstand you have to compete with gravity and so you will need to increase your efforts. You will find much more on this subject in the online course titled Handstand Part 2: Balance.

Step 1 - Externally Rotate the Arm Upper Arm Bone

Rotating the humerus externally when the arm goes up over head can help to avoid the impingement interval in the joint. One of your rotator cuff muscles, the supraspinatus, runs through the glenohumeral joint (under the acromion process and above the head of the humerus). This muscle helps to lift the arms up from tadasana, but because of its location it is easily pinched if the arms go over head but the shoulder blades don’t follow the movement. Downward dog is often the culprit- the weight of the body on the shoulders requires that we put effort into the posture to push the ground away, however with cues like “relax your shoulders” and “soften” we often release the appropriate muscular action required to maintain space resulting in shoulder impingement. In plain English – Externally rotate your arms (triceps rotate toward your face) and you will maintain more space in the joint and less potential for impingement. 

Step 3: Upward Rotation of The Scapula

From the outer line of your shoulder blades press through your hands into the earth. When you elevate your shoulder blades toward the ears from the outside line of the arm, the bottom wingtip of the scapula begins to rotate out and up – this is known as upward rotation of the scapula. As a result of upward rotation your shoulder blades rotates and angles itself to allow the arm bone to be overhead without a collision of bones in the joint, creating less possibility of impingement. 

Step 2: Pronate the Forearm

When externally rotating the upper arm bone you will notice that the lower arm (forearm) will go along for the ride and rotate as well. This results in an increased pressure in the outside of the hand and wrist. To evenly distribute the weight to the whole hand, simply pronate your forearm, by rotating the inner forearm and hand down toward the ground. Many teachers will stress this by asking you to press your index finger and thumb down. Depending on your range of motion in your radial ulnar joint,  you may not be able to press the inside edge of your hand down and maintain external rotation of the shoulder. My suggestion is to turn the hands slightly outward if this is the case. Learning to rotate the forearm in opposition of the upper arm bone can be challenging, but through mindful repetition you will be able to do it, and you will feel an increased strength and stability from it. To Strengthen your wrist, I highly recommend Handstand Training

The 3 Actions

While I have broken this down into 3 steps, with time and practice it can be 1 step and the 3 actions can happen all at once. To build muscle coordination it is useful to separate the actions and practice them individually. Though I created a definitive order to follow, know that it is beneficial to mix up the 3 steps and put them out of order. You may find another combination to work better for your body! The dotted red line above is to indicate the path of the bottom wing tip of the scapula. If you do not do push the bottom wing tip will wind up closer to the spine, it is helpful to video yourself to see where your shoulder blades are on your back. 

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Depression of the Scapula

Pulling your shoulders down away from the ears is the opposite of everything I have mentioned in this post, however it is an important action to work on especially for arm balances like side plank because depression creates stability when the arms are at or below shoulder height.

When Can I Relax My Shoulders?

One of the best parts about getting stronger with shoulder elevation (upward rotation) is that the muscles of your upper trapezius will become more supple and be able to relax more easily. Just like after working really hard in a yoga class you feel that complete relaxation in your body, each of your muscles experience that after being strengthened. There are plenty of opportunities to relax your shoulders down your back – just not when you reach your arms overhead. So when you are sitting at your chair you can think shoulders move slightly back and shoulder blades relax downward. When you are in a strong posture like crow pose and your upper arms are not over head, you can even work on strengthening the muscles of depression of the scapula. My philosophy on the body is that there are no wrong actions or muscle engagements, there are just appropriate and inappropriate times to use them.

A great rule of thumb you can take with you: when in doubt just let your shoulders follow your hands – if the hands go up, let your shoulders go up, if they go down let them go down, if you reach forward let them go forward, etc. Enjoy your exploration, thank you for stopping by!

-Matt

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Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana Hints

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HANUMANASANA HINTS

Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be quite intimidating if we don’t have an extensive amount of experience with it.  Going slowly and utilizing the “hints”, or better yet, the masterful techniques we receive from Matt in today’s video offer a safe path of permission to explore the variations and methods that feel right in our own bodies.  The Hanumanasana “hints” provided help us to understand what’s required of the physical.  Within the techniques, we get a grasp on what muscles are engaging, when to engage them, and when to lean into expansion.  Extension and expansion are the nature of the posture, but it is also rooted in stability and strength.

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  • Must-have for yoga teachers
  • Joint-health awareness
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4 VITAL ACTIONS FOR THE HIPS

There are 4 main actions that help us to prepare for Hanumanasana.  They help to activate the muscles that surround the hips.  Afterall, it’s strengthening that will ultimately inform our capacity for increased hip mobility.  These actions will also influence what we experience in regards to flexibility in areas like the adductors, abductors, quadriceps and hamstrings.

The 4 main main actions Matt outlines are:

  1.  Pushing in (squeezing in)
  2. Pulling Out (expanding out)
  3. Rotating In 
  4. Rotating Out 

We see how these are applied to the variations and drills in the video clip.

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HANUMANASANA PREPARATION: FULL PROOF PREPARATION FOR THE HIPS

LIZARD ROTATIONS

The Lizard Pose variation offered today is rich with technique.  Matt demonstrates a quadricep activation in the back leg while executing the actions of rotating inward and outward with the front leg.  This provides an opportunity to exercise control within these movements.  There’s also an element of squeezing in, in order to remain balanced, especially if we plantar flex the  back foot.

After this strengthening, we move towards stretching and a degree of expansion.  It’s evidence of what I discussed in a recent blog called, Postpone The Stretch Sensation.  After training the body to understand that it is safe from strengthening, we can then be more free to lengthen.  

After the Lizard rotations in preparation for Hanumanasana, Matt then opens up the posture by taking his torso further from his front leg and then taking hold of his back foot to then stretch the quadriceps in the back leg.

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BOLSTER SUPPORT

Now we actually get into the shape of Hanumanasana with the use of props.  As always, there are options.  Matt demonstrates with a bolster and two blocks however, he also makes mention that using sturdy chairs in the place of yoga blocks would be totally acceptable.  This is where the discernment to utilize what works best for ourselves as individuals is key.

Again, we start with control and contraction.  Matt begins by pulling inward (pressing the heel of the front foot down and the back knee or back foot down while pulling them towards one another).  He then layers on a rotation of the front thigh to activate the adductor muscles.  When he rotates the front thigh outwards, it targets the back inner thighs, front outer hamstrings and gluteus muscles.  After strengthening, stretching and lengthening are the next steps.

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THERE’S NO RUSH

Here comes the expansion.  In this Hanumanasana drill, we use socks as a prop. 

On one hand we are experimenting with more depth, but on the other, it’s imperative that we go slow with the amount of expansion.  We know that we are still in control of the freedom in this drill when we can engage and draw the legs back in towards one another as we alternate on each side.  Matt advises that if we are unable to do this, then we should take a few steps back and shorten the distance when switching the legs.  There’s absolutely no rush.  This is our opportunity to tap into the more controlled techniques previously explored.  This is full proof preparation for Hanumanasana.

The waitlist for Matt’s upcoming online course The Pose Factory is open.  You won’t want to miss more details about the techniques that unlock postures like Hanumanasana.

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Chin Stand

Chin Stand

ganda bherundasana

CHIN STAND

Without a doubt, Chin Stand requires preparation. This posture must be approached with the utmost humility, essential in order to respect the potential risk. If this pose is not explored regularly in our physical practice, it may be quite challenging. At the same time, it’s a rewarding journey! Chin Stand requires an exceptional amount of back and upper body strength, along with a generous amount of front body flexibility. That being said, this posture provides us an opportunity to go more deeply into those areas of the body. We can examine what requires development and attention.  

Taking that approach covers the physical, but what is often lacking is the mental fortitude to let go of the outcomes and simply delight in the process. We are capable of taking actions to develop while challenging ourselves.

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THE POSE FACTORY

WAITLIST NOW OPEN

  • Dogmatic alignment versus functional alignment
  • Learn popular postural pitfalls
  • Myths versus truth
  • Formulaic approach for comprehensive learning
  • Excellent guide for yoga enthusiasts
  • Must-have for yoga teachers
  • Joint-health awareness
  • Muscle integrity, range of motion
  • Props for accessibity
  • Alignment alterations in the case of injuries

POSTERIOR CHAIN FOCUS

Establishing a strong base is the key to preparation, especially when approaching a posture like Chin Stand. We need to be confident while progressing through each step on the roadmap towards the pose. As Matt says in today’s video, the posture is “all about the posterior chain.”  

While prone on his mat, Matt demonstrates a drill for Chin Stand that strengthens the hamstrings, buttocks, and lower back. The drill is designed to teach us how to isolate the strength of these areas of the body on each side. Exploring in this way provides the opportunity to find where there may be gaps we need to fill in terms of strength. If we notice that it is more challenging on one side, we can devote more time to that particular area.

What also happens is that we begin to play with the shape that’s created in Chin Stand.

WATCH THE VIDEO

CHIN STAND: TAKE FLIGHT FROM THESE FOUNDATIONS

PREPARE YOUR NECK LIKE A BACKBEND

Clearly, the neck muscles are in the spotlight in Chin Stand. Flexibility is required along with strength and stability to reduce the risk of injury. 

When stretching the neck, the approach is similar to what we’ve learned about backbends with Matt. In backbends, we first send the rib cage forward. In Chin Stand preparation, Matt demonstrates how to send the chin forward, after creating a support under the occiput (the back part of the skull). We then lift the chin to stretch the muscles in the front of the neck. This mimics the lift of the lower ribs up in order to stretch the abdominals in backbends. One of the last similarities is the exit. Just like in backbends, we take care to maintain the shape we’ve created in the neck while we slowly lower the chin. Keep the jaw closed in order to feel the stretch.

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  • Learn foundational class structures and templates
  • Learn techniques for a wide range of yoga postures
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  • Yoga Alliance Globally Recognized Certification Program

CHIN STAND VARIATIONS

Matt sets himself up with a wall, yoga blocks, a bolster, and a chair. With these props, he delves into various positions with the legs. He offers “stag” positions with either a foot or a knee on the chair. A knee, he suggests, is far more accessible, but placing the foot on a chair more closely resembles the experience in Chin Stand.  

Another variation is placing the arms back behind us. We can still explore the same stag options of the legs with this change in the arms.

Matt emphasizes that one of the key points, as we continue with our quest, is that we use our hand grip along with more of our upper body strength in order to keep the neck safe.  

When selecting the option in which we turn away from the wall, we MUST have a partner educated in how to support us.

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300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

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

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YOU’RE ALLOWED TO CHEAT

If we do go to the point of doing Chin Stand without any props, we can view “cheating” as part of the humility previously mentioned. Matt discusses rolling the elbows more inward as a way of protecting the shoulder girdle and providing stability. Cheating or not, we are better off keeping safety as our first priority rather than attempting to achieve some “aesthetic.” This is an example of choosing to embrace the process and value our discernment when attempting a posture as complex as this one. It’s not about the outcome as much as it is about the experience and journey. It’s the learning that is most valuable.

Matt’s online course The Pose Factory is the perfect platform to expand our learning. The course offers the keys to creating the foundations we desire in our asana practice. Register today to access the building blocks of maximum potential.

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

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Inversion Immersion 

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ONLINE ANATOMY COURSE

  • Accessible, exciting, and easy to learn
  • Anatomy and biomechanics for yoga
  • Appropriate for both teachers and students
  • Learn joint alignment vs pose alignment
  • Demystify yoga poses and transitions
  • Release aches and pains
  • Learn how to avoid common injuries
  • Caters to all levels with modifications and props
  • 20 hours Continued Education Credits with Yoga Alliance
  • 20 hours toward Chromatic Yoga Certification and 300 Hour
  • Lifetime access

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Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana HintssplitsHANUMANASANA HINTS Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be...

read more
Chin Stand

Chin Stand

Chin Standganda bherundasanaCHIN STAND Without a doubt, Chin Stand requires preparation. This posture must be approached with the utmost humility, essential in order to respect the potential risk. If this pose is not explored regularly in our physical practice, it may...

read more
Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone the Stretch SensationflexibilityPOSTPONE THE STRETCH SENSATION If one of the goals of our physical yoga practice is to increase flexibility, we may automatically believe that we just need to stretch more. It’s critical that we understand that increasing...

read more
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Spinal Spaciousnessdancer poseSPINAL SPACIOUSNESS Some key indicators of spinal health include strong bones, durable yet flexible ligaments, supple discs, and strong supportive muscles. Aside from nutrition, it’s not enough to say that movement in general is enough to...

read more
Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps to Scorpion PosevrschikasanaSCORPION POSE Exhilarating, stimulating, and enlivening are a few words we can use to describe Scorpion Pose. We can also use words such as grounding or even relaxing, which might initially be considered strange descriptors. When we...

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.

Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone the Stretch Sensation

flexibility

POSTPONE THE STRETCH SENSATION

If one of the goals of our physical yoga practice is to increase flexibility, we may automatically believe that we just need to stretch more. It’s critical that we understand that increasing flexibility is much more layered than simply stretching. Yes, we know the stretch sensation has the potential to feel really good; in fact, it can feel GREAT when done appropriately for our bodies and at the right time.

What if we were to entertain the idea of postponing the stretch sensation in order to increase flexibility? This might sound like we’d be moving away from our goal, but we’d actually be moving more expeditiously along the path. In today’s video, Matt demonstrates strengthening techniques that target hamstring flexibility. Instead of simply stretching, we can apply techniques that not only cultivate length in the muscles but also foster the overall health of the muscles.

chromatic yoga 15 hour immersion

THE POSE FACTORY

WAITLIST NOW OPEN

  • Dogmatic alignment versus functional alignment
  • Learn popular postural pitfalls
  • Myths versus truth
  • Formulaic approach for comprehensive learning
  • Excellent guide for yoga enthusiasts
  • Must-have for yoga teachers
  • Joint-health awareness
  • Muscle integrity, range of motion
  • Props for accessibity
  • Alignment alterations in the case of injuries

HAMSTRING STRETCH PREPARATION

As we prepare our hamstrings to stretch and create more length, we must understand the difference between tension and strength. If we go straight into stretching, attempting to go beyond our current threshold with the intention of progressing, it’s possible that our bodies will tense up and go into “protection mode.” Tension is activated to halt potential injury.

Preparing the hamstrings prior to a good stretch involves strengthening. At the beginning of today’s video, Matt demonstrates two postures that get us started:

Crescent Pose Preparation

Preparing the hamstrings also means activating the gluteus muscles. What we see are techniques initiated by the feet and pelvis that promote these activations.

Forward Fold

Pressing the heels outward here helps activate the tensor fasciae latae (TFL) muscles, which tips the pelvis and lengthens the hamstrings.

WATCH THE VIDEO

POSTPONE THE STRETCH SENSATION: HAMSTRING FLEXIBILITY TECHNIQUES

STRETCH TECHNIQUE DEVELOPMENT

To progress, we need to find multiple ways during a given yoga practice to implement the acquired techniques within the area of focus. When we do this, we train our brain and body to respond with greater precision. Two more ways to explore the hamstrings before executing a stretch include:

Twisted Monkey

Matt demonstrates a drill in which we go back and forth between activating the hamstrings and activating the quadriceps.

It’s important to be present and intentional about activating the muscles; just going through the motions means we are not implementing the techniques with accuracy.

Warrior III Preparation

Here, Matt emphasizes activating the hamstrings and the glutes by lifting the back leg higher than we might expect. We get a little closer to understanding two concepts: facilitated stretch and reciprocal inhibition.

200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

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

STRETCH YOUR PERSPECTIVE

Matt teaches us how to apply actions that will promote transformation, rather than just executing postures in the “traditional” way. This may be different from what we’re used to in our asana practice, but when we stretch and challenge our perspective on how to practice, we begin to cultivate change.

In the video, after getting into a Cobra pose variation, Matt teaches us how to activate the hamstrings by first flexing the feet, which helps minimize potential cramping in the calf muscles, then pulling the heels towards the back. He then provides the option to undo it by lengthening the legs out. Going back and forth can assist us in deepening the activation sensation.

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

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

  • Get 500 hour certified
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
  • Expand your teaching skills
  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
  • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang

FROM TENSION TO RELEASE

Last, we see the demonstration of both strength and stretch in action when Matt transitions from Dandasana to Paschimottanasana.

In Dandasana, we learn to activate the hip flexors while stretching the hamstrings. This is an example of reciprocal inhibition: activating the opposing muscles of those we’re stretching.

Matt continues to lean more forward in the posture but cues pressing the heels down into the floor and pulling them back. Here, we’re both lengthening and activating the hamstrings. This is a demonstration of a facilitated stretch.

We have postponed the stretch sensation long enough now to more safely enter into Paschimottanasana, where the stretch can be more passive. After strengthening the muscles, our brain and body feel safe enough to release into the stretch.

This process of learning and exploration is available in Matt’s upcoming online course, The Pose Factory. Access the waiting list here!

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

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

Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Twists & Folds Immersion 

lotus pose online yoga classes

ONLINE ANATOMY COURSE

  • Accessible, exciting, and easy to learn
  • Anatomy and biomechanics for yoga
  • Appropriate for both teachers and students
  • Learn joint alignment vs pose alignment
  • Demystify yoga poses and transitions
  • Release aches and pains
  • Learn how to avoid common injuries
  • Caters to all levels with modifications and props
  • 20 hours Continued Education Credits with Yoga Alliance
  • 20 hours toward Chromatic Yoga Certification and 300 Hour
  • Lifetime access

Continue Learning

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana HintssplitsHANUMANASANA HINTS Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be...

read more
Chin Stand

Chin Stand

Chin Standganda bherundasanaCHIN STAND Without a doubt, Chin Stand requires preparation. This posture must be approached with the utmost humility, essential in order to respect the potential risk. If this pose is not explored regularly in our physical practice, it may...

read more
Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone the Stretch SensationflexibilityPOSTPONE THE STRETCH SENSATION If one of the goals of our physical yoga practice is to increase flexibility, we may automatically believe that we just need to stretch more. It’s critical that we understand that increasing...

read more
Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Poseheart openerWAKE UP YOUR WHEEL POSE We don’t have to question it—we know whether or not we’re feeling open, free, and strong in Wheel Pose. There’s a lightness and expansiveness that takes over when everything falls into place: From the initial...

read more
Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousnessdancer poseSPINAL SPACIOUSNESS Some key indicators of spinal health include strong bones, durable yet flexible ligaments, supple discs, and strong supportive muscles. Aside from nutrition, it’s not enough to say that movement in general is enough to...

read more
Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps to Scorpion PosevrschikasanaSCORPION POSE Exhilarating, stimulating, and enlivening are a few words we can use to describe Scorpion Pose. We can also use words such as grounding or even relaxing, which might initially be considered strange descriptors. When we...

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.

Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

heart opener

WAKE UP YOUR WHEEL POSE

We don’t have to question it—we know whether or not we’re feeling open, free, and strong in Wheel Pose. There’s a lightness and expansiveness that takes over when everything falls into place: From the initial setup to the final expression, everything flows like a set of dominoes falling one after the other. When we don’t have a system of execution with knowledge, practice, and preparation behind it, our Wheel Pose can feel quite listless. So the question becomes, how can we wake it up and revive such a powerful posture? There are a few things to pack into the toolkit in order to find our greatest potential in Wheel Pose, but one of the simplest things Matt encourages us to be aware of is DIRECTION. This plays a key role in cultivating the experience we desire.

chromatic yoga 15 hour immersion

FREEDOM OF THE HEART

  • Learn how to access pain-free heart openers
  • Technique-infused 2-hour workshop
  • Step-by-step tutorials for each heart opener
  • Decrease low back discomfort
  • Increase spinal strength, stability, and support
  • Improve your standing and seated postures
  • Improve the flexibility of commonly stuck muscle groups
  • Injury Awareness: Avoiding spinal compression
  • Debunk popular alignment with anatomy knowledge
  • Skillfully guided sequence by the founder of Chromatic Yoga, Matt Giordano
  • LIVESTREAM DATE: June 9 at 10am Eastern Time (NYC Timezone)
  • REPLAY: Available immediately, lifetime access

UP AGAINST THE WALL

If you’ve taken classes, workshops, or courses with Matt, then you’ll know that it’s of the utmost importance to take an intelligent approach to a posture, or in other words, to progress toward it; progression is part of the Chromatic way. When practicing the Chromatic system, we break things down into digestible pieces.

At the beginning of today’s video, Matt demonstrates a Wheel Pose drill up against the wall. This drill removes the weight of gravity, allowing us focus on techniques that create more depth in spinal extension. This focus helps us get sensationally in touch with areas of the spine that require careful attention in order to take care in creating further mobilization. We gain the first inkling of the importance of direction, that is, where we send the chest and feet.  You’ll see that once Matt walks away from the wall, he sends his chest forward and then up to the sky.

WATCH THE VIDEO

WAKE UP YOUR WHEEL POSE: DELIBERATE DIRECTION & ALIGNMENT

ROLL UP YOUR YOGA MAT

Standing upright in the first drill allows for a fair amount of “easy” exploration. As we begin to feel more confident, we can progress further. So next, we get down in order to get up.  

The next progression in the video is an exploration of Wheel in which we roll up a yoga mat against the wall. Here, we also get a sense of the placement of the forearms. Directing them in a wider, outward angle helps unlock the shoulders and again move the direction of Wheel Pose towards the wall. Matt explains that when the forearms are pulled closer together, it places the shoulders into a more locked position, pushing the direction of the pose into the feet. This is not where we want to be when attempting to maximize depth.

200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

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

WHEEL WITH BLOCKS

Here, we swap out the yoga mat for a couple of yoga blocks placed diagonally against the wall. Something to consider here is that even if the feet are not placed far away from the wall, we want to create the sense of a directional pull of the knees away from the wall as we lift the chest up and towards the wall. There is an oppositional pull between the chest and the knees. What may result is less bend in the knees in the final stages of the posture because of the softening of the heart and the depth created in the spinal extension.  

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

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

  • Get 500 hour certified
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
  • Expand your teaching skills
  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
  • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang

TEST OUT THE OPPOSITE

The sensations of the opposite ways we can feel in Wheel Pose are discussed above: We can feel listless and languid, or rather the desired opposite of the spectrum, namely vibrant, strong, and fully awake.

The only way to understand this is through exploration and practice. Through exploration, we can spend time slightly exaggerating where we “should not be” in the pose. Try it! Move deliberately in the opposite direction to investigate the outcomes.  

At the end of the video, Matt first pushes his Wheel Pose in the direction of the feet, but you can see that adjusting by walking the feet out and then pushing in the direction of the wall changes everything about the posture. Changing the alignment and moving in the “right” direction transforms our experience.

Check out Matt’s recent workshop, Freedom of the Heart, to dive deeper into these concepts and transform your backbending practice.

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

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

Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Freedom of the Heart Workshop 

lotus pose online yoga classes

ONLINE ANATOMY COURSE

  • Accessible, exciting, and easy to learn
  • Anatomy and biomechanics for yoga
  • Appropriate for both teachers and students
  • Learn joint alignment vs pose alignment
  • Demystify yoga poses and transitions
  • Release aches and pains
  • Learn how to avoid common injuries
  • Caters to all levels with modifications and props
  • 20 hours Continued Education Credits with Yoga Alliance
  • 20 hours toward Chromatic Yoga Certification and 300 Hour
  • Lifetime access

Continue Learning

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana HintssplitsHANUMANASANA HINTS Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be...

read more
Chin Stand

Chin Stand

Chin Standganda bherundasanaCHIN STAND Without a doubt, Chin Stand requires preparation. This posture must be approached with the utmost humility, essential in order to respect the potential risk. If this pose is not explored regularly in our physical practice, it may...

read more
Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone the Stretch SensationflexibilityPOSTPONE THE STRETCH SENSATION If one of the goals of our physical yoga practice is to increase flexibility, we may automatically believe that we just need to stretch more. It’s critical that we understand that increasing...

read more
Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Poseheart openerWAKE UP YOUR WHEEL POSE We don’t have to question it—we know whether or not we’re feeling open, free, and strong in Wheel Pose. There’s a lightness and expansiveness that takes over when everything falls into place: From the initial...

read more
Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousnessdancer poseSPINAL SPACIOUSNESS Some key indicators of spinal health include strong bones, durable yet flexible ligaments, supple discs, and strong supportive muscles. Aside from nutrition, it’s not enough to say that movement in general is enough to...

read more
Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps to Scorpion PosevrschikasanaSCORPION POSE Exhilarating, stimulating, and enlivening are a few words we can use to describe Scorpion Pose. We can also use words such as grounding or even relaxing, which might initially be considered strange descriptors. When we...

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.

Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousness

dancer pose

SPINAL SPACIOUSNESS

Some key indicators of spinal health include strong bones, durable yet flexible ligaments, supple discs, and strong supportive muscles.

Aside from nutrition, it’s not enough to say that movement in general is enough to nurture spinal health. We need to be active participants and intentional about the techniques we use in our movements to actually maintain a healthy spine.

Even when heart-opening postures are a part of our asana practice, we may not be as dialed in to the techniques required to foster spinal health and spaciousness: Promoting space between the vertebrae helps us avoid compression; developing patterns that don’t serve us over time can result in decreased spinal health and increased pain. In his most recent heart-opening workshop, Freedom of the Heart, Matt highlights how to maintain spinal spaciousness in Dancer Pose. Today, we’ll examine some key points to develop in this posture. 

chromatic yoga 15 hour immersion

FREEDOM OF THE HEART

  • Learn how to access pain-free heart openers
  • Technique-infused 2-hour workshop
  • Step-by-step tutorials for each heart opener
  • Decrease low back discomfort
  • Increase spinal strength, stability, and support
  • Improve your standing and seated postures
  • Improve the flexibility of commonly stuck muscle groups
  • Injury Awareness: Avoiding spinal compression
  • Debunk popular alignment with anatomy knowledge
  • Skillfully guided sequence by the founder of Chromatic Yoga, Matt Giordano
  • LIVESTREAM DATE: June 9 at 10am Eastern Time (NYC Timezone)
  • REPLAY: Available immediately, lifetime access

SENSATIONAL AWARENESS

How can we dial into what’s required of us to reach our potential in our backbends? In the full class, Matt shares the very first step: tuning into the sensations in our bodies. Our bodies are intelligent; they respond in a way that both protects us and supports us in finding more depth in our backbends at the right time.  

For the most part, it may be easier to identify the areas where we feel more open, where we have increased mobility; however, tapping into the sensations of the restricted areas will help us open up overall. It’s in these restricted areas where we need to place our focus and effort, for example, by applying the technique of “bowing the spine.” Staying present in the physicality of the experience will unleash the ability to expand and create spinal spaciousness.

WATCH THE VIDEO

SPINAL SPACIOUSNESS: DETAILED DISSECTION OF DANCER POSE VARIATIONS

DANCER POSE PREPARATION & EXECUTION

After sensational awareness comes the utilization of biomechanics and the application of anatomical knowledge. In preparation for Dancer, Matt demonstrates a drill at the wall to practice bowing the spine.

The key cues here include the following:

  1. Moving the ribs forward
  2. Sending the heart up
  3. Pushing the hips and buttocks back
  4. Pressing the hands isometrically downward to increase the lift of the heart

Next, he demonstrates Dancer Pose at the wall. This time, because we’re grabbing the foot, we’re layering on the sensational awareness of opposing forces: sending the knee back while pushing the foot into the hand, and of course, moving the chest forward by bowing the spine. If we were to just reach back without first lifting and opening the front body, there would be increased compression, therefore placing spinal health at more risk.

200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

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

KING DANCER

One of the most important actions in the body for King Dancer is the movement of the elbow. The elbow comes in and then rotates to help us hold the foot or strap. This encourages the necessary amount of spinal extension for the posture.  

Placing emphasis and awareness on all of the moving parts leads to a more pleasing experience. It’s so important to adopt a systematic approach, knowing that we must first create the spinal extension before moving on to the next actions. Now, Matt continues to emphasize that the approach is not dogmatic, but that listening to the sensations in our bodies will indicate where we need to place our attention and work. This effort may be to relax or to engage a muscle. It may also provide clarity as to where more spinal mobility is required.

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

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

  • Get 500 hour certified
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
  • Expand your teaching skills
  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
  • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang

ACTIVE PARTICIPATION

If we repeatedly engage in actions that cause compression in the spine during backbends, we are only furthering damage and placing our spinal health at risk. Spinal spaciousness allows for better quality of movement. 

Finding such a lightness and spaciousness in the spine during backbends is not impossible. Often, it comes after a period of more effortfulness: In the process of achieving a heart opener like Dancer Pose, we are engaging the proper muscles and implementing the right techniques. The awareness and repetition of these actions makes us active participants and multiplies our potential.

Matt’s most recent workshop, Freedom of the Heart, delves into the explorations of multiple backbends. It’s in these explorations that we uncover more about what’s possible in our heart-opening practice.

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

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

Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Freedom of the Heart Workshop 

lotus pose online yoga classes

ONLINE ANATOMY COURSE

  • Accessible, exciting, and easy to learn
  • Anatomy and biomechanics for yoga
  • Appropriate for both teachers and students
  • Learn joint alignment vs pose alignment
  • Demystify yoga poses and transitions
  • Release aches and pains
  • Learn how to avoid common injuries
  • Caters to all levels with modifications and props
  • 20 hours Continued Education Credits with Yoga Alliance
  • 20 hours toward Chromatic Yoga Certification and 300 Hour
  • Lifetime access

Continue Learning

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana HintssplitsHANUMANASANA HINTS Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be...

read more
Chin Stand

Chin Stand

Chin Standganda bherundasanaCHIN STAND Without a doubt, Chin Stand requires preparation. This posture must be approached with the utmost humility, essential in order to respect the potential risk. If this pose is not explored regularly in our physical practice, it may...

read more
Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone the Stretch SensationflexibilityPOSTPONE THE STRETCH SENSATION If one of the goals of our physical yoga practice is to increase flexibility, we may automatically believe that we just need to stretch more. It’s critical that we understand that increasing...

read more
Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Poseheart openerWAKE UP YOUR WHEEL POSE We don’t have to question it—we know whether or not we’re feeling open, free, and strong in Wheel Pose. There’s a lightness and expansiveness that takes over when everything falls into place: From the initial...

read more
Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousnessdancer poseSPINAL SPACIOUSNESS Some key indicators of spinal health include strong bones, durable yet flexible ligaments, supple discs, and strong supportive muscles. Aside from nutrition, it’s not enough to say that movement in general is enough to...

read more
Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps to Scorpion PosevrschikasanaSCORPION POSE Exhilarating, stimulating, and enlivening are a few words we can use to describe Scorpion Pose. We can also use words such as grounding or even relaxing, which might initially be considered strange descriptors. When we...

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.

Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps to Scorpion Pose

vrschikasana

SCORPION POSE

Exhilarating, stimulating, and enlivening are a few words we can use to describe Scorpion Pose. We can also use words such as grounding or even relaxing, which might initially be considered strange descriptors. When we explore and apply Matt’s techniques in a methodical way, we begin to understand that Scorpion requires both strength and a degree of softening and letting go. Once we get into the intricacies of this backbend, we adopt the ability to “relax” into it. 

Further, we develop the gift of discernment. The challenging nature of the posture forces us to use caution in exploring what works for our individual bodies. The journey reveals a deep discovery of the self.

chromatic yoga 15 hour immersion

FREEDOM OF THE HEART

  • Learn how to access pain-free heart openers
  • Technique-infused 2-hour workshop
  • Step-by-step tutorials for each heart opener
  • Decrease low back discomfort
  • Increase spinal strength, stability, and support
  • Improve your standing and seated postures
  • Improve the flexibility of commonly stuck muscle groups
  • Injury Awareness: Avoiding spinal compression
  • Debunk popular alignment with anatomy knowledge
  • Skillfully guided sequence by the founder of Chromatic Yoga, Matt Giordano
  • LIVESTREAM DATE: June 9 at 10am Eastern Time (NYC Timezone)
  • REPLAY: Available immediately, lifetime access

MOBILIZE THE SPINE

Matt teaches techniques to prepare more specifically.  

In preparatory postures, there’s more that takes place than simply arching the back or assuming that it’s enough to anteriorly tilt the pelvis.

Throughout a backbend practice leading up to Scorpion Pose, pulling the belly in and up helps create a spaciousness in the spine that minimizes compression. The action activates the transversus abdominis and engages the back muscles for support, and it shifts the vertebrae and intervertebral discs forward. Here, we also utilize discernment. Yes, we are trying to lift and send each vertebra more forward, but we must also tap into which segments of the spine feel more “stuck.” Going to the position that feels doable is key. We can use this information in further supplementary work in this asana practice or in others.

WATCH THE VIDEO

STEPS TO SCORPION POSE: BACKBEND TECHNIQUES CLARIFIED

KING COBRA PREPARATION

After many postures and positions that contribute to preparing for Scorpion Pose, Matt teaches King Cobra. He notes that it’s a great posture to explore as part of the Scorpion toolkit because it provides almost the same joint relationships. The difference is that it’s flipped over, with the belly as the base of support.

In the video, Matt offers 2 variations. One variation makes use of a bolster, which provides support under the rib cage. Using the bolster provides feedback as to how much we are lifting and lengthening the abdomen when we send the spine forward.

The variation without the bolster includes the cue about “softening.” It’s not that we shouldn’t soften when using the bolster; in the second variation, he’s simply reminding us when and where to implement this action.

200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

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

SCORPION STEPS

A key consideration is to de-emphasize touching the feet to the head in Scorpion Posebody proportions play a role in whether or not this is actually possible. Emphasizing healthy and safe spinal extension will reap greater rewards.

Here are some key steps when practicing Scorpion at a wall:

  1. On all fours, turn the hands out and set them wide
  2. Soften the heart towards the ground
  3. Snake the chest through the shoulders
  4. Kick the feet up to the wall
  5. Reach into the wall with toes or heels
  6. Simultaneously reach the chest and the feet towards the wall

There’s no doubt about the strength required to follow these steps. The pattern practiced in King Cobra is recreated by softening down the chest while pulling towards the wall. Again, it’s this “relaxing” into the backbend that helps create the required space between the vertebrae. 

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

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

  • Get 500 hour certified
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
  • Expand your teaching skills
  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
  • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang

JOURNEY OVER DESTINATION

We can get caught up in the aesthetics of a robust posture like Scorpion Pose, but Matt always emphasizes that the beauty lies in the discoveries we make about ourselves. As we explore our potential, many opportunities are produced that help us learn more about the levels of our willingness to challenge ourselves and our ability to pull back when necessary. On a physical level, we learn about our capabilities and our limitations in a particular instance. With regular practice, we gradually transform our experience overall. Following precise techniques, along with a willingness to explore, supplies us with confidence.  

We can apply this to Scorpion by calling the touching of the toes to the head the “destination” and all of the spinal explorations along the way the “journey.” If we let go of the destination, we can appreciate all of the outcomes of the journey.

Matt’s recent 2-hour online Freedom Of The Heart workshop reveals techniques and increased insight for stronger, safer backbends.

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

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

Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Inversion Immersion 

lotus pose online yoga classes

ONLINE ANATOMY COURSE

  • Accessible, exciting, and easy to learn
  • Anatomy and biomechanics for yoga
  • Appropriate for both teachers and students
  • Learn joint alignment vs pose alignment
  • Demystify yoga poses and transitions
  • Release aches and pains
  • Learn how to avoid common injuries
  • Caters to all levels with modifications and props
  • 20 hours Continued Education Credits with Yoga Alliance
  • 20 hours toward Chromatic Yoga Certification and 300 Hour
  • Lifetime access

Continue Learning

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana HintssplitsHANUMANASANA HINTS Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be...

read more
Chin Stand

Chin Stand

Chin Standganda bherundasanaCHIN STAND Without a doubt, Chin Stand requires preparation. This posture must be approached with the utmost humility, essential in order to respect the potential risk. If this pose is not explored regularly in our physical practice, it may...

read more
Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone the Stretch SensationflexibilityPOSTPONE THE STRETCH SENSATION If one of the goals of our physical yoga practice is to increase flexibility, we may automatically believe that we just need to stretch more. It’s critical that we understand that increasing...

read more
Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Poseheart openerWAKE UP YOUR WHEEL POSE We don’t have to question it—we know whether or not we’re feeling open, free, and strong in Wheel Pose. There’s a lightness and expansiveness that takes over when everything falls into place: From the initial...

read more
Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousnessdancer poseSPINAL SPACIOUSNESS Some key indicators of spinal health include strong bones, durable yet flexible ligaments, supple discs, and strong supportive muscles. Aside from nutrition, it’s not enough to say that movement in general is enough to...

read more
Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps to Scorpion PosevrschikasanaSCORPION POSE Exhilarating, stimulating, and enlivening are a few words we can use to describe Scorpion Pose. We can also use words such as grounding or even relaxing, which might initially be considered strange descriptors. When we...

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.

Heart Opening Education

Heart-Opening Education

backbend

HEART-OPENING EDUCATION

There is a great deal to learn with regard to heart-opening postures. Of course, negotiating the execution and being aware of the anatomy involved in various heart-opening poses are some of the initial considerations. There is also, however, a psychological aspect that must be contemplated so that a solid foundation may be cultivated. The psychological aspect comes from how the nervous system contributes to the experience within our physical bodies when we are exploring heart openers. What’s important overall is to remain open to gathering a broad spectrum of information and continuing to be a student. Today we’ll dive into some of the physical techniques and psychological aspects of heart opening that Matt teaches in order to maximize our potential for greater expansion.

chromatic yoga 15 hour immersion

FREEDOM OF THE HEART

  • Learn how to access pain-free heart openers
  • Technique-infused 2-hour workshop
  • Step-by-step tutorials for each heart opener
  • Decrease low back discomfort
  • Increase spinal strength, stability, and support
  • Improve your standing and seated postures
  • Improve the flexibility of commonly stuck muscle groups
  • Injury Awareness: Avoiding spinal compression
  • Debunk popular alignment with anatomy knowledge
  • Skillfully guided sequence by the founder of Chromatic Yoga, Matt Giordano
  • LIVESTREAM DATE: June 9 at 10am Eastern Time (NYC Timezone)
  • REPLAY: Available immediately, lifetime access

THE ROLE OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM

In the full class, Matt explains the balance we need for an expansive yet strong backbend. By “balance,” he means finding the “sweet spot” on the spectrum between the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous system. Why is this relevant?  

First, we must understand the difference. The parasympathetic nervous system is associated with the ability to “rest and digest,” which implies an ability to surrender. In contrast, the sympathetic nervous system is associated with “fight or flight,” preparing the body for activity. Both systems are necessary, offering us what we need when it’s appropriate to soften and when it’s appropriate to gather energy. These two ends aptly describe heart-opening postures. There’s a strength required from the back body, while the opposite is true for the front body—length and flexibility are essential here.

WATCH THE VIDEO

HEART OPENING EDUCATION: ESTABLISH A SOLID FOUNDATION

STRETCH VERSUS STRENGTH: THE ANATOMY

In regard to the skeletal system, one of the goals of heart-opening postures is to develop increased opening between each vertebra, or more specifically, opening at the front by moving the spinal column forward, allowing for the intervertebral discs to slide forward.

As for which muscles to strengthen, some of the primary ones we’re looking at are the rhomboids and the middle and upper fibers of the trapezius. Actively engaging these muscles will contribute to bringing the shoulder blades towards the spine (retraction).

In terms of stretching, in heart-opening postures we are generally stretching the pectoralis major and minor muscles, the rectus abdominis, and the anterior deltoid muscles.  

Part of the appropriate patterning in our bodies throughout a heart-opening yoga practice is to intentionally train the activation of the muscles we’re strengthening so that the front body automatically responds with the stretch.  

200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

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

STRETCH VERSUS STRENGTH: FOUNDATIONAL POSTURES

Locust Pose Variation

In the video, Matt delves right into an important action, shoulder elevation, that takes place before the retraction of the scapulae. This allows for more space and increased range in the retraction. The clasp of the hands and lift of the heart effectively strengthen the previously mentioned muscles in the back body. Matt also demonstrates how to use a strap to maximize the benefits of stretch and strength in this posture.

3-Part Cobra Pose Variations

If we’re really interested in learning how to isolate the various sensations we experience in a heart-opening posture, then this foundational pose is an absolute must! Matt offers 2 variations (1 without any props and 1 with a bolster).

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

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

  • Get 500 hour certified
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
  • Expand your teaching skills
  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
  • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang

BE WILLING TO EXPAND

Both literally and figuratively, we need to be willing to expand. This means accepting new information, even if we think it contradicts what we’ve always done in our yoga practice. It also means exploring and applying the techniques that support our body’s unique capacity to transform and potentially go deeper in heart-opening postures.  

When we consider the impact this can have on our nervous system, we can more fully understand the benefits to our physical and emotional body. Consider how empowering it will be to surrender not only to the vigor and strength of a heart opener but also to expansion in our breath because we are relaxed enough to find more stretch and length in the front body. 

Building the confidence to execute strong, safe heart-opening postures takes time, through patience, practice, and education.

Register for Matt’s upcoming 2-hour online Freedom of the Heart workshop, where you’ll become a master of your own body in heart-opening postures.

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

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

Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Anatomy of the Heart Immersion 

lotus pose online yoga classes

ONLINE ANATOMY COURSE

  • Accessible, exciting, and easy to learn
  • Anatomy and biomechanics for yoga
  • Appropriate for both teachers and students
  • Learn joint alignment vs pose alignment
  • Demystify yoga poses and transitions
  • Release aches and pains
  • Learn how to avoid common injuries
  • Caters to all levels with modifications and props
  • 20 hours Continued Education Credits with Yoga Alliance
  • 20 hours toward Chromatic Yoga Certification and 300 Hour
  • Lifetime access

Continue Learning

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana HintssplitsHANUMANASANA HINTS Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be...

read more
Chin Stand

Chin Stand

Chin Standganda bherundasanaCHIN STAND Without a doubt, Chin Stand requires preparation. This posture must be approached with the utmost humility, essential in order to respect the potential risk. If this pose is not explored regularly in our physical practice, it may...

read more
Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone the Stretch SensationflexibilityPOSTPONE THE STRETCH SENSATION If one of the goals of our physical yoga practice is to increase flexibility, we may automatically believe that we just need to stretch more. It’s critical that we understand that increasing...

read more
Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Poseheart openerWAKE UP YOUR WHEEL POSE We don’t have to question it—we know whether or not we’re feeling open, free, and strong in Wheel Pose. There’s a lightness and expansiveness that takes over when everything falls into place: From the initial...

read more
Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousnessdancer poseSPINAL SPACIOUSNESS Some key indicators of spinal health include strong bones, durable yet flexible ligaments, supple discs, and strong supportive muscles. Aside from nutrition, it’s not enough to say that movement in general is enough to...

read more
Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps to Scorpion PosevrschikasanaSCORPION POSE Exhilarating, stimulating, and enlivening are a few words we can use to describe Scorpion Pose. We can also use words such as grounding or even relaxing, which might initially be considered strange descriptors. When we...

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.

Pranayama

Pranayama

breathwork

PRANAYAMA

Pranayama helps us to more deeply connect to the energy that runs through us. This can be done via a variety of breathwork practices. It’s important to understand that the breath is the physical layer through which we can access prana (energy, or life force). There is great power in understanding how and when to move the breath in a specific way through our bodies. Different breath practices serve different purposes and have the ability to offer transformative experiences. In today’s video, Matt explains and demonstrates how and when to utilize various breath techniques to connect with and become more conscious of how breath moves within our bodies. 

Of course, having more knowledge about our anatomy helps increase the benefits of these breathwork techniques. As always, Matt infuses his teachings with anatomy education to give us a broader and more complete picture.

chromatic yoga 15 hour immersion

THE POSE FACTORY

WAITLIST NOW OPEN

  • Dogmatic alignment versus functional alignment
  • Learn popular postural pitfalls
  • Myths versus truth
  • Formulaic approach for comprehensive learning
  • Excellent guide for yoga enthusiasts
  • Must-have for yoga teachers
  • Joint-health awareness
  • Muscle integrity, range of motion
  • Props for accessibity
  • Alignment alterations in the case of injuries

GET TO KNOW THE DIAPHRAGM

The diaphragm is the “breathing muscle” we tend to be more familiar with, but there are other muscles that participate in this natural function. In the video, Matt explains that the diaphragm at rest is in a balloon-like shape and up towards the sternum during the exhalation of the breath. When we inhale, the diaphragm contracts and flattens downward. If we visualize the movement of the diaphragm as we participate in focused breathwork practices, we can better control where we would like to place the breath in our bodies. As we discuss the various breathwork techniques, we comprehend better why it may be more appropriate to direct the breath more downward into the belly or more upward into the thoracic area of the body.

WATCH THE VIDEO

PRANAYAMA: UNDERSTANDING THE POWER OF BREATHWORK

FIND THE ENTRY POINT

One of the most important factors of breathwork is to connect with the sensations we’re experiencing. To better prepare our mind and body, we can use a technique that acts as a doorway or entry point into pranayama.

Padadhirasana, or pranayama preparation, is a way to balance the nervous system. In this practice, from a seated position, we place our hands underneath the armpits. Because we continuously fluctuate between favoring either the sympathetic or the parasympathetic nervous system, the practice is thought to aid in stimulating the nostrils (or, if one so chooses, the left- or the right-side nostril), which directly connects to stimulating the sides of the brain. This fluctuation may manifest by experiencing less opening through either nostril. In the video, we learn how to stimulate the appropriate side.

200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

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

TYPES OF PRANAYAMA

Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

Nadi Shodhana has a calming effect. This is useful when trying to stimulate the parasympathetic system. In the video, this is where we can practice options for how to manipulate the diaphragm.

Dirgha Pranayama (3-Part Breath)

We start with the expansion of the belly on the inhale, which then goes to the ribs and to the collar bone. On the exhale, the pathway is reversed.

Kapalabhati (Skull-Shining Breath)

This is a more energetic breath technique that can be very helpful in increasing energy and as a preparation for the asana practice. The exhalation is emphasized here, which strengthens the transversus abdominis (the deepest abdominal muscle).

Bhastrika (Bellows Breath)

Bhastrika is also an energizing breath practice; however, both the inhale and the exhale are emphasized.

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

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

  • Get 500 hour certified
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
  • Expand your teaching skills
  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
  • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang

A POWERFUL TOOL

These pranayama techniques are powerful tools that can facilitate greater connection with the distribution of energy—in an asana practice or off the mat, during our other daily activities. In times of stress, we can shift into the parasympathetic, and if we require more energy, we can rely on practices like Kapalabhati or Bhastrika. Even though it is easy to become complacent about how we experience our energy or breathing patterns, we actually have the power to transform our experiences by simply incorporating these practices into our daily lives. 

Matt’s Spring registration for his 200 and 300 Hr. Teacher  Training programs begins on June 1. Pranayama, connected to both anatomy and philosophy, enriches both our own understanding and the experiences of our students.  This is the Chromatic way. Click here for more information about these life-changing teacher training programs.

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

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

Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Breath Of Fire Immersion and Move Breathe Release Immersion

lotus pose online yoga classes

ONLINE ANATOMY COURSE

  • Accessible, exciting, and easy to learn
  • Anatomy and biomechanics for yoga
  • Appropriate for both teachers and students
  • Learn joint alignment vs pose alignment
  • Demystify yoga poses and transitions
  • Release aches and pains
  • Learn how to avoid common injuries
  • Caters to all levels with modifications and props
  • 20 hours Continued Education Credits with Yoga Alliance
  • 20 hours toward Chromatic Yoga Certification and 300 Hour
  • Lifetime access

Continue Learning

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana HintssplitsHANUMANASANA HINTS Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be...

read more
Chin Stand

Chin Stand

Chin Standganda bherundasanaCHIN STAND Without a doubt, Chin Stand requires preparation. This posture must be approached with the utmost humility, essential in order to respect the potential risk. If this pose is not explored regularly in our physical practice, it may...

read more
Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone the Stretch SensationflexibilityPOSTPONE THE STRETCH SENSATION If one of the goals of our physical yoga practice is to increase flexibility, we may automatically believe that we just need to stretch more. It’s critical that we understand that increasing...

read more
Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Poseheart openerWAKE UP YOUR WHEEL POSE We don’t have to question it—we know whether or not we’re feeling open, free, and strong in Wheel Pose. There’s a lightness and expansiveness that takes over when everything falls into place: From the initial...

read more
Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousnessdancer poseSPINAL SPACIOUSNESS Some key indicators of spinal health include strong bones, durable yet flexible ligaments, supple discs, and strong supportive muscles. Aside from nutrition, it’s not enough to say that movement in general is enough to...

read more
Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps to Scorpion PosevrschikasanaSCORPION POSE Exhilarating, stimulating, and enlivening are a few words we can use to describe Scorpion Pose. We can also use words such as grounding or even relaxing, which might initially be considered strange descriptors. When we...

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.

Hip Opening Without Knee Pain

Hip Opening Without Knee Pain

hip mobility

HIP OPENING WITHOUT KNEE PAIN

“Hip opening” in a yoga class just sounds glorious if we feel confined or constricted in this area of the body and our intention is to transform this experience. The term may not sound glorious, however, if we know that knee pain will accompany hip-opening yoga postures. In this scenario, it can be quite daunting to try to move across the spectrum from having tight to more open hips. On the other hand, if we’re hypermobile in this area, it may also feel a little nerve-wracking to delve into the action of hip opening. The good news, whether we are hypermobile, hypomobile, and/or dealing with knee pain in hip-opening postures, is that we can explore similar techniques when it comes to creating increased range of motion without knee pain.  

In today’s video, Matt provides us with a roadmap to mitigate knee pain in 6 essential hip-opening postures.

chromatic yoga 15 hour immersion

THE POSE FACTORY

WAITLIST NOW OPEN

  • Dogmatic alignment versus functional alignment
  • Learn popular postural pitfalls
  • Myths versus truth
  • Formulaic approach for comprehensive learning
  • Excellent guide for yoga enthusiasts
  • Must-have for yoga teachers
  • Joint-health awareness
  • Muscle integrity, range of motion
  • Props for accessibity
  • Alignment alterations in the case of injuries

THE IMPORTANCE OF EXTERNAL ROTATION

Nursing knee pain while engaging in our asana practice can be a point of frustration. We may associate it with fear of reinjury or with memories of “what we used to be able to do without pain.” This is why education and exploration are vital—they help reignite possibility. 

When learning about knee pain and its connection to hip-opening postures, we must further comprehend what’s involved with external rotation at the hip. When practicing with Matt and learning the Chromatic way, we quickly find out that such rotation involves much more than just rotating the upper thigh. There are detailed steps that promote both activation and stretch of the muscles that surround the hip, which helps us more safely engage with external rotation and ultimately assists in reducing knee pain. We can apply what we learn in the following postures.

WATCH THE VIDEO

HIP OPENING WITHOUT KNEE PAIN: 6 POSTURES FOR INCREASED RANGE OF MOTION

ACTIVATE WITH INTENTION

One of the best ways to prepare our bodies and increase both flexibility and mobility is to activate/strengthen our muscles. When we do this, we have better control to independently move our joints through a broader spectrum of range of motion. We benefit from having more confidence and power during physical activity. 

Warrior II variation

In the first posture (a variation of Warrior II), we’re strengthening the buttocks and outer hips. Here are some key steps:

  • Pull the feet towards one another
  • Tuck the tail under
  • Push down through the front heel
  • Rotate the toes and shin out slightly while pulling the outer front foot back—this will activate the biceps femoris (external rotator of the knee joint)

Dragonfly variation

This variation includes a specific technique and also targets the biceps femoris, which  closes the knee joint, helping reduce pain in hip-opening postures.

200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

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

DRILL AND STRETCH

Pigeon Pose

Here, we explore a more passive stretch. The trick to getting a little deeper into the stretch (particularly into the piriformis muscle) is to twist and to push the hips back. If knee pain is still present, Matt demonstrates how to further externally rotate the thigh to take the pressure off.

Goddess Pose

This time, we learn a drill to incorporate into our practice.

Once again, pulling the feet towards one another will activate the outer hamstring muscles. Instead of remaining static, we pulse or move side to side in order to engage the muscles while we’re stretching. 

Skandasana

The target here is the adductor muscles, simply to experience the stretch. It’s not about how low we can take the posture. Keep in mind that by the time we reach this point in the practice, our muscles are already prepared for the stretch.

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

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

  • Get 500 hour certified
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
  • Expand your teaching skills
  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
  • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang

THE ULTIMATE HIP OPENER

If we’re experiencing knee pain in hip-opening postures, Lotus Pose might be the farthest thing from our minds. Once we have incorporated the techniques into the postures discussed, the potential for this posture may become a reality. However, we still approach Lotus safely and in phases.

Preparation I

In a Baddha Konasana position, the cue Matt offers—pulling the knees back and out—is key to getting the proper placement of the foot in Lotus.

Preparation II

Executing these actions, we find out just how much they assist in providing us the ability to stack the feet or to access Half Lotus. The two actions result in the closing of the knee joint. If we are still experiencing knee pain in Half Lotus, turning the calf muscles can help release the strain.

Matt’s next online course, The Pose Factory, is full of these extra gems to help us to foster health in our muscles and support our ability to enjoy postures we may have had to put aside.

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

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

Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Hip Release Online Workshop

lotus pose online yoga classes

ONLINE ANATOMY COURSE

  • Accessible, exciting, and easy to learn
  • Anatomy and biomechanics for yoga
  • Appropriate for both teachers and students
  • Learn joint alignment vs pose alignment
  • Demystify yoga poses and transitions
  • Release aches and pains
  • Learn how to avoid common injuries
  • Caters to all levels with modifications and props
  • 20 hours Continued Education Credits with Yoga Alliance
  • 20 hours toward Chromatic Yoga Certification and 300 Hour
  • Lifetime access

Continue Learning

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana HintssplitsHANUMANASANA HINTS Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be...

read more
Chin Stand

Chin Stand

Chin Standganda bherundasanaCHIN STAND Without a doubt, Chin Stand requires preparation. This posture must be approached with the utmost humility, essential in order to respect the potential risk. If this pose is not explored regularly in our physical practice, it may...

read more
Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone the Stretch SensationflexibilityPOSTPONE THE STRETCH SENSATION If one of the goals of our physical yoga practice is to increase flexibility, we may automatically believe that we just need to stretch more. It’s critical that we understand that increasing...

read more
Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Poseheart openerWAKE UP YOUR WHEEL POSE We don’t have to question it—we know whether or not we’re feeling open, free, and strong in Wheel Pose. There’s a lightness and expansiveness that takes over when everything falls into place: From the initial...

read more
Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousnessdancer poseSPINAL SPACIOUSNESS Some key indicators of spinal health include strong bones, durable yet flexible ligaments, supple discs, and strong supportive muscles. Aside from nutrition, it’s not enough to say that movement in general is enough to...

read more
Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps to Scorpion PosevrschikasanaSCORPION POSE Exhilarating, stimulating, and enlivening are a few words we can use to describe Scorpion Pose. We can also use words such as grounding or even relaxing, which might initially be considered strange descriptors. When we...

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.

Strengthen Your Ankles

Strengthen Your Ankles

foot health

STRENGTHEN YOUR ANKLES

Our feet are the foundation of our bodies. Placing great emphasis on creating ankle stability and mobility during our asana practice should be obvious; unfortunately, this is not always the case. Maintaining a regular practice can help us greatly benefit in this area of the body, even when we’re not specifically focusing on our feet. The simple nature of the practice exposes us to a variety of movements in the ankle joints. It’s up to us, however, to be intentional about incorporating specific actions to strengthen our ankles.

The question is how we can incorporate these actions and techniques. What we’ll see in today’s video is how Matt seamlessly integrates techniques into common postures. These techniques not only translate into a more challenging arm balance but also serve to help us to minimize ankle injuries.

chromatic yoga 15 hour immersion

THE POSE FACTORY

WAITLIST NOW OPEN

  • Dogmatic alignment versus functional alignment
  • Learn popular postural pitfalls
  • Myths versus truth
  • Formulaic approach for comprehensive learning
  • Excellent guide for yoga enthusiasts
  • Must-have for yoga teachers
  • Joint-health awareness
  • Muscle integrity, range of motion
  • Props for accessibity
  • Alignment alterations in the case of injuries

ANATOMY OF THE ANKLES

In order to strengthen our ankles and create a “corset of support,” it’s helpful to understand the muscles we are affecting with each action. There are 4 actions of the ankle: dorsiflexion, plantar flexion, inversion, and eversion.  Although Matt touches on each one of these, our focus for today is on inversion and eversion. Everting the ankle helps activate the fibularis muscles (outer shin). There are 3 fibularis muscles (2 that attach into the outer foot and 1 that is more towards the front of the outer ankle). 

The tibialis posterior (along the back side of the calf) helps invert the ankle. This muscle runs along the back of the shinbone, or tibia, and opposes the fibularis muscles. Matt refers to these two muscles as the “bootstrap” muscles, which help stabilize the ankle.

WATCH THE VIDEO

STRENGTHEN YOUR ANKLES TO MINIMIZE INJURY: IMPLEMENT KEY TECHNIQUES IN FAMILIAR YOGA POSTURES

PREVENTING POTENTIAL INJURIES

If you’ve ever experienced an ankle sprain or the pain of plantar fasciitis, you’ll be glad to know that the techniques from this video can be extremely helpful in preventing these types of injuries.

The outer ligaments of the ankles are smaller and less powerful compared to the ligaments on the inside of the ankle. Due to the increased vulnerability of the outer ankle, more sprains happen here. There are 2 tendons that run under the ligaments that help the ligaments keep the ankle in place. To make sure the ligaments have the support they need, it’s imperative to strengthen the muscles of fibularis. It is equally important to strengthen the muscles that support inversion, to help prevent the collapsing of the inner arch.  

If plantar fasciitis is an issue, we want to work on the sole of the foot, in order to reduce strain.  

200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

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

ANKLE ACTIONS

What are the techniques and how can we implement them?

In the video, Matt takes us through exactly how to evert and invert the ankles via a supported Forward Fold. What we gain here is the understanding of how the actions of simultaneously pressing into the big toe (and big toe mound) and the pinky toe create inversion, activating the targeted muscle groups. The band of stability that is created is what strengthens our ability to balance our side-to-side movement. Matt goes on to demonstrate how this can be applied to familiar postures. In Warrior II, for example, we see how the articulation of the toes can have a greater impact on the external rotation of the hip, which supports the journey towards Flying Pigeon. He also includes the articulations of the ankles in a Pyramid Pose variation, a Figure Four preparation, and an Ardha Chandrasana drill.

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

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

  • Get 500 hour certified
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
  • Expand your teaching skills
  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
  • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang

INTENTION

Ultimately, it’s up to us to engage in movements on our mat that may be “less enticing.” The result of the actions described above is that we benefit from an expanded exploration on our yoga mats and from increased foot health and strength for our everyday activities. It’s up to us to be very intentional about our actions. This connects well to a lesson Matt teaches in his 300 Hour Teacher Training about Abhyasa (well-placed effort). The precise movements of the ankles and toes require well-placed thought and effort when focusing on them in a given yoga posture.

Overall, we can also take time to consider the intention of our asana practice. What is our intention in a given practice? What are our intentions overall? These are concepts that will be explored in Matt’s upcoming Pose Factory and Yoga Teacher Trainings

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

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

Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Mobility Immersion

lotus pose online yoga classes

ONLINE ANATOMY COURSE

  • Accessible, exciting, and easy to learn
  • Anatomy and biomechanics for yoga
  • Appropriate for both teachers and students
  • Learn joint alignment vs pose alignment
  • Demystify yoga poses and transitions
  • Release aches and pains
  • Learn how to avoid common injuries
  • Caters to all levels with modifications and props
  • 20 hours Continued Education Credits with Yoga Alliance
  • 20 hours toward Chromatic Yoga Certification and 300 Hour
  • Lifetime access

Continue Learning

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana HintssplitsHANUMANASANA HINTS Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be...

read more
Chin Stand

Chin Stand

Chin Standganda bherundasanaCHIN STAND Without a doubt, Chin Stand requires preparation. This posture must be approached with the utmost humility, essential in order to respect the potential risk. If this pose is not explored regularly in our physical practice, it may...

read more
Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone the Stretch SensationflexibilityPOSTPONE THE STRETCH SENSATION If one of the goals of our physical yoga practice is to increase flexibility, we may automatically believe that we just need to stretch more. It’s critical that we understand that increasing...

read more
Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Poseheart openerWAKE UP YOUR WHEEL POSE We don’t have to question it—we know whether or not we’re feeling open, free, and strong in Wheel Pose. There’s a lightness and expansiveness that takes over when everything falls into place: From the initial...

read more
Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousnessdancer poseSPINAL SPACIOUSNESS Some key indicators of spinal health include strong bones, durable yet flexible ligaments, supple discs, and strong supportive muscles. Aside from nutrition, it’s not enough to say that movement in general is enough to...

read more
Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps to Scorpion PosevrschikasanaSCORPION POSE Exhilarating, stimulating, and enlivening are a few words we can use to describe Scorpion Pose. We can also use words such as grounding or even relaxing, which might initially be considered strange descriptors. When we...

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 Props & Your Practice

Yoga Props and Your Practice

alignment

YOGA PROPS AND YOUR PRACTICE

When it comes to incorporating yoga props into our yoga practice, we can take 1 of 2 paths. We either subscribe to the notion that if we use props, we are somehow “less capable” than others in the execution of postures, or we can welcome props with open arms. Using yoga props in our practice can help us achieve greater accessibility within a given posture, and they provide opportunities for us to explore our alignment. They also allow us to discover where our strengths and challenges reside. In today’s video, Matt demonstrates how we can more carefully explore techniques in various postures with a variety of yoga props to move us towards greater understanding of our bodies. This understanding ultimately leads towards an unlocking and expansion of our highest potential.

chromatic yoga 15 hour immersion

THE POSE FACTORY

WAITLIST NOW OPEN

  • Dogmatic alignment versus functional alignment
  • Learn popular postural pitfalls
  • Myths versus truth
  • Formulaic approach for comprehensive learning
  • Excellent guide for yoga enthusiasts
  • Must-have for yoga teachers
  • Joint-health awareness
  • Muscle integrity, range of motion
  • Props for accessibity
  • Alignment alterations in the case of injuries

DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME

It might be surprising to see Matt using a camera tripod as a yoga prop in the first part of today’s video, but what’s great about this portion of the demonstration is that he’s not recommending using a tripod as a prop, but it serves as a very quick “how-to” to incorporate what he’s actually suggesting–a broom or a wooden dowel. This part of the video also serves as a reminder that we have license to be creative with our use of yoga props (as long as they are safe of course).

Later, he offers greater detail in both an Open and Closed Seated Twist and in Revolved Side Angle. 

The point of using a prop in this way is to lock into the expansion of the chest and isolation of the spine in twist postures, which removes the common tendency of compensating with the shoulders in twist postures.

WATCH THE VIDEO

YOGA PROPS AND YOUR PRACTICE: 5 POSTURES TO MULTIPLY YOUR POTENTIAL

TRAIN WITH A CHAIR

If it feels like “train” is the wrong choice of word here, please hear me out. What I really mean is to develop our practice through the use of a chair in foundational postures so as to better practice specific techniques. Matt offers A LOT of opportunities to incorporate various techniques in the following 2 postures with a chair:

Warrior 2

In Warrior 2, we can explore the placement of the pelvis, activation of the legs (glutes and adductors in particular), and strengthening of the ankles and feet. Matt demonstrates the exploration of these techniques while sitting on the edge of the chair and then again translating the techniques while slightly lifting off of the chair. Going back and forth here can help reveal where challenges exist.

Extended Side Angle

Again, the chair provides a checking-in point for the positioning of the groin and further exploration of how to strengthen the legs.

200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

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

BLOCKS FOR MORE THAN BALANCE

It just so happens that in this demonstration, we again explore the importance of the positioning of the pelvis. The intent is to find a position where the pelvis on the side of the elevated leg is just slightly lifted. When we find the ideal positioning in our bodies, we’re better able to activate the glutes and hamstrings of the raised leg. To go even further, the tucking of the sit bone in the standing leg encourages the same outcome.

Why are the use of the blocks and a wall important here? This exploration/negotiation becomes much easier when we are supported. We can then challenge ourselves to lessen the weight on the blocks to see if we are able to maintain the strength we have cultivated. It’s therefore about much more than balance; it’s about how to foster strength.

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

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

  • Get 500 hour certified
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
  • Expand your teaching skills
  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
  • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang

PROPS AND POTENTIAL

As we can see from the video, yoga props (and other tools for that matter) can be like our own private yoga teachers offering adjustments. We can observe this effect in Twist postures. It can be easy to fall into familiar patterns with yoga poses we engage in regularly, but when we incorporate props into our practice, we can better explore more functional alignment. This will have a greater impact on muscle strength and joint health. When we nurture these areas in our asana practice, we can better achieve our true potential.

Matt’s online course The Pose Factory is the perfect course to delve into these concepts. Sign up to get on the waiting list today!

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

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

Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Alignment Immersion

lotus pose online yoga classes

ONLINE ANATOMY COURSE

  • Accessible, exciting, and easy to learn
  • Anatomy and biomechanics for yoga
  • Appropriate for both teachers and students
  • Learn joint alignment vs pose alignment
  • Demystify yoga poses and transitions
  • Release aches and pains
  • Learn how to avoid common injuries
  • Caters to all levels with modifications and props
  • 20 hours Continued Education Credits with Yoga Alliance
  • 20 hours toward Chromatic Yoga Certification and 300 Hour
  • Lifetime access

Continue Learning

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana HintssplitsHANUMANASANA HINTS Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be...

read more
Chin Stand

Chin Stand

Chin Standganda bherundasanaCHIN STAND Without a doubt, Chin Stand requires preparation. This posture must be approached with the utmost humility, essential in order to respect the potential risk. If this pose is not explored regularly in our physical practice, it may...

read more
Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone the Stretch SensationflexibilityPOSTPONE THE STRETCH SENSATION If one of the goals of our physical yoga practice is to increase flexibility, we may automatically believe that we just need to stretch more. It’s critical that we understand that increasing...

read more
Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Poseheart openerWAKE UP YOUR WHEEL POSE We don’t have to question it—we know whether or not we’re feeling open, free, and strong in Wheel Pose. There’s a lightness and expansiveness that takes over when everything falls into place: From the initial...

read more
Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousnessdancer poseSPINAL SPACIOUSNESS Some key indicators of spinal health include strong bones, durable yet flexible ligaments, supple discs, and strong supportive muscles. Aside from nutrition, it’s not enough to say that movement in general is enough to...

read more
Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps to Scorpion PosevrschikasanaSCORPION POSE Exhilarating, stimulating, and enlivening are a few words we can use to describe Scorpion Pose. We can also use words such as grounding or even relaxing, which might initially be considered strange descriptors. When we...

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.

Titibhasana Techniques

Titibhasana Techniques

firefly pose

TITIBHASANA TECHNIQUES

There are some general rules to follow when executing arm balance postures. To find optimal balance, most require us not to shy away from leaning forward. They also demand a considerable degree of upper body strength to create the rounded position of the torso that’s typically essential in an arm balance. On the other hand, Matt teaches us that if we have the substantial hip flexibility that’s vital for Titibhasana, it is probably one of the easier arm balances. The positioning of the legs in Titibhasana almost automatically places our torso in the rounded position and protracts the scapulae. The pose may sound “simple” when we look at it in these terms, but there are of course techniques we must adopt and master in order to fly in Titibhasana.

chromatic yoga 15 hour immersion

THE POSE FACTORY

WAITLIST NOW OPEN

  • Dogmatic alignment versus functional alignment
  • Learn popular postural pitfalls
  • Myths versus truth
  • Formulaic approach for comprehensive learning
  • Excellent guide for yoga enthusiasts
  • Must-have for yoga teachers
  • Joint-health awareness
  • Muscle integrity, range of motion
  • Props for accessibity
  • Alignment alterations in the case of injuries

STRADDLE VARIATIONS

What’s wonderful about Matt’s Chromatic approach to yoga is that he breaks down postures that appear to be insurmountable into smaller, digestible pieces. This allows us to more deeply comprehend what’s required in terms of technique and of what’s required in a posture as a whole. We receive opportunities to practice the techniques in more accessible ways.

In the first part of today’s video, he demonstrates Titibhasana straddle variations.

Straddle A

Seated on a mat, we’re first introduced to the importance of squeezing the legs in while internally rotating them, that is, activating the tensor fasciae latae and adductor muscles. We also get a sense of the rounded position of the torso.

Straddle B

The difference here is the addition of blocks if we find that our elbows are unable to reach the mat (which again adds more accessibility). We can practice the same techniques with additional support.

WATCH THE VIDEO

TITIBHASANA TECHNIQUES: 6 WAYS TO ACCESS THIS ARM BALANCE

MIMIC THE SHAPE

In Matt’s demonstrations that follow, we observe the development of going deeper into the shape required for Titibhasana.

Turtle Pose

In this variation, we’re taking our chest as close to the floor/mat as possible. We’re still reminded of the squeeze in and internal rotation of the legs, but we’re adding the sensation of getting the legs a little higher on the arms. This is a key factor in finding more success in Titibhasana.

Standing Variations

Option 1

This time, in a standing position, the focus is a bit more on entering Titibhasana and straightening the legs.

Option 2

A bind is introduced here, which encourages increased shoulder mobility. If we know that protracting the shoulder blades is a challenge, this variation can enhance our ability to find the rounding we need.

200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

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

GO FOR BALANCE

Again, Matt patiently takes us through the process by first offering a variation that does not require a significant amount of balance before we attempt full balance in Titibhasana.  

Half Titibhasana

Although we are not balancing completely in Half Titibhasana, Matt advises us to place a blanket behind ourselves in case we fall backwards. 

In this variation, we get an opportunity to “play,” as Matt says, and really put the techniques we’ve learned to the test. Instead of taking flight with both legs, we practice by alternating legs and executing the hip rotation. 

Titibhasana

Finally, we attempt to lift both legs up. When we check out Matt’s entry into Titibhasana, we can see the culmination of all of the explored variations.

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

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

  • Get 500 hour certified
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
  • Expand your teaching skills
  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
  • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang

A TEACHER’S PERSPECTIVE

As a student, the breaking down of these tips and techniques is invaluable. The different variations of Titibhasana offer entry points along our journey towards this arm balance. 

This perspective does not change for yoga teachers. The ability to offer insights and actionable steps for our students is equally priceless. We can’t deny that the Chromatic step-by-step approach is extremely beneficial to our students’ understanding of what’s required for their own bodies. 

Matt’s next online course, The Pose Factory, is suited for both students and teachers. It cracks the code of alignment and techniques to help us refine a variety of yoga postures.

Sign up for the waiting list here to deepen your practice.

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

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

Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Flow & Fly Immersion

lotus pose online yoga classes

ONLINE ANATOMY COURSE

  • Accessible, exciting, and easy to learn
  • Anatomy and biomechanics for yoga
  • Appropriate for both teachers and students
  • Learn joint alignment vs pose alignment
  • Demystify yoga poses and transitions
  • Release aches and pains
  • Learn how to avoid common injuries
  • Caters to all levels with modifications and props
  • 20 hours Continued Education Credits with Yoga Alliance
  • 20 hours toward Chromatic Yoga Certification and 300 Hour
  • Lifetime access

Continue Learning

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana HintssplitsHANUMANASANA HINTS Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be...

read more
Chin Stand

Chin Stand

Chin Standganda bherundasanaCHIN STAND Without a doubt, Chin Stand requires preparation. This posture must be approached with the utmost humility, essential in order to respect the potential risk. If this pose is not explored regularly in our physical practice, it may...

read more
Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone the Stretch SensationflexibilityPOSTPONE THE STRETCH SENSATION If one of the goals of our physical yoga practice is to increase flexibility, we may automatically believe that we just need to stretch more. It’s critical that we understand that increasing...

read more
Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Poseheart openerWAKE UP YOUR WHEEL POSE We don’t have to question it—we know whether or not we’re feeling open, free, and strong in Wheel Pose. There’s a lightness and expansiveness that takes over when everything falls into place: From the initial...

read more
Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousnessdancer poseSPINAL SPACIOUSNESS Some key indicators of spinal health include strong bones, durable yet flexible ligaments, supple discs, and strong supportive muscles. Aside from nutrition, it’s not enough to say that movement in general is enough to...

read more
Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps to Scorpion PosevrschikasanaSCORPION POSE Exhilarating, stimulating, and enlivening are a few words we can use to describe Scorpion Pose. We can also use words such as grounding or even relaxing, which might initially be considered strange descriptors. When we...

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.

Air Line Activation

Air Line Activation

back strength

AIR LINE ACTIVATION

Finding ways to effectively strengthen the back in our yoga practice can be a challenge. If our goal is to cultivate strength in this area of the body, we must understand that it requires more than just adding backbends into our sequences on the mat. What’s imperative is both thoughtfulness and an execution of the specific techniques required to build strength and simultaneously serve our individual needs within any given practice.

Yoga sequences that underpin the air element from yoga philosophy are utterly valuable in the endeavour to find strength in our back bodies. Beyond the air element, however, is Matt’s development of a kinesio-elemental line, called the Air Line in Chromatic Yoga. Utilizing specific techniques to activate the muscles involved in the Air Line will assist in safely and effectively building back strength.

chromatic yoga 15 hour immersion

THE POSE FACTORY

WAITLIST NOW OPEN

  • Dogmatic alignment versus functional alignment
  • Learn popular postural pitfalls
  • Myths versus truth
  • Formulaic approach for comprehensive learning
  • Excellent guide for yoga enthusiasts
  • Must-have for yoga teachers
  • Joint-health awareness
  • Muscle integrity, range of motion
  • Props for accessibity
  • Alignment alterations in the case of injuries

WHAT IS THE AIR LINE?

When studying with Matt, we learn that the qualities associated with the air element include lightness, freedom, and inspiration. When expressed in physical asana, these qualities include postures that elongate and open up the front body. We experience a sense of celebration and expression, and we embody a sense of power.

According to Matt, the Air Line is the reverse of the Fire Line. Through the back core muscles, the Air Line connects the shoulder blade to the opposite hip. Some of the back muscles involved in the Air Line include the erector spinae group, quadratus lumborum, rhomboids, trapezius, rotators of the hip, hamstrings, and the rotators of the spine. The rotators of the spine allow us to articulate specific vertebrae, pulling each one into rotation. When executing postures that target the Air Line, we achieve spinal extension, rotation, and a stretch of the Fire Line (front body).

WATCH THE VIDEO

AIR LINE ACTIVATION: YOGA FOR BACK STRENGTH

BUILD YOUR BASE

Although the spine is designed to move freely in multiple directions, it is equally designed to provide stability. Taking care to warm up the muscles that surround and support the spine is essential in maintaining its health. Integrating precise techniques with the following postures will help prepare these muscles and pattern the right articulations to target the Air Line.

Prone Back-Body Lifts

In today’s video, we see that the key action here is to lift the shoulder of the extended arm up to assist in greater retraction of the scapula. This supports greater spinal extension and rotation.

High-Lunge Twist

As we see in Matt’s demonstration of High-Lunge Twist in the video, another quality included in the air element is momentum. There’s a sweeping action of the arms that more deeply accentuates the connection between the shoulder blade and opposite hip.

200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

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

TIGER POSE, TWISTED MONKEY, AND LOW LUNGE

The only way to progress is to increase the challenge. 

Tiger Pose

In the video, Matt demonstrates a Tiger Pose variation focused on the Air Line. One of the challenges here comes from attempting to maintain the lift and the open position of the pelvis while also maintaining the open position of the lifted arm. When attempting to lift higher through one side, we find that the opposite side tries to move into a more closed position. Lifting as much as possible through both sides will support the activation of the Air Line.

Twisted Monkey

This Twisted Monkey variation incorporates the activation of the hamstrings along with the other actions we’ve already practiced.

Low Lunge

The experience here is a lovely stretch of the Fire Line. It’s important that in the exploration of the pose, we remain mindful not to compress the spine. Lifting the belly and sending the chest more forward will reduce the chance of compression. 

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

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

  • Get 500 hour certified
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
  • Expand your teaching skills
  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
  • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang

EXPAND YOUR BASE

The variations of Supported Warrior III and Half Camel that Matt offers in today’s video help expand our understanding of the Air Line.

Supported Warrior III

Matt describes this as an active version of the Air Line, an excellent strengthener for the back.

Half Camel Pose

A posture like Half Camel becomes easier when we understand the patterning of the Air Line. The shoulder-blade-to-hip connection produces a healthy expansion in the front body. The posture tends to feel more natural, rather than forced.

If we pay attention to the finer details and utilize the step-by-step cues Matt offers, we’ll experience new sensations, benefits, and results.

If you’re interested in breaking down postures so that they make better sense biomechanically for your own body, then you’ll want to get on the waitlist for Matt’s online training course The Pose Factory.

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

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

Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Breath Of Fire

lotus pose online yoga classes

ONLINE ANATOMY COURSE

  • Accessible, exciting, and easy to learn
  • Anatomy and biomechanics for yoga
  • Appropriate for both teachers and students
  • Learn joint alignment vs pose alignment
  • Demystify yoga poses and transitions
  • Release aches and pains
  • Learn how to avoid common injuries
  • Caters to all levels with modifications and props
  • 20 hours Continued Education Credits with Yoga Alliance
  • 20 hours toward Chromatic Yoga Certification and 300 Hour
  • Lifetime access

Continue Learning

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana HintssplitsHANUMANASANA HINTS Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be...

read more
Chin Stand

Chin Stand

Chin Standganda bherundasanaCHIN STAND Without a doubt, Chin Stand requires preparation. This posture must be approached with the utmost humility, essential in order to respect the potential risk. If this pose is not explored regularly in our physical practice, it may...

read more
Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone the Stretch SensationflexibilityPOSTPONE THE STRETCH SENSATION If one of the goals of our physical yoga practice is to increase flexibility, we may automatically believe that we just need to stretch more. It’s critical that we understand that increasing...

read more
Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Poseheart openerWAKE UP YOUR WHEEL POSE We don’t have to question it—we know whether or not we’re feeling open, free, and strong in Wheel Pose. There’s a lightness and expansiveness that takes over when everything falls into place: From the initial...

read more
Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousnessdancer poseSPINAL SPACIOUSNESS Some key indicators of spinal health include strong bones, durable yet flexible ligaments, supple discs, and strong supportive muscles. Aside from nutrition, it’s not enough to say that movement in general is enough to...

read more
Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps to Scorpion PosevrschikasanaSCORPION POSE Exhilarating, stimulating, and enlivening are a few words we can use to describe Scorpion Pose. We can also use words such as grounding or even relaxing, which might initially be considered strange descriptors. When we...

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.

Double Stag Handstand

Double Stag Handstand

balance

DOUBLE STAG HANDSTAND

Cultivating confidence is a non-negotiable when it comes to implementing a handstand practice. If handstands seem insurmountable even to consider, don’t fret; there might be an easier option. Easier? Really? Yes! 

Ok, from appearances alone, this option may still appear inconceivable, but the “easier option” of Double Stag Handstand may be that variation of an inversion that offers us the fortitude to continue on the journey towards Straight-Back Handstand.

Of course, we are all individuals, so the opposite may be true for any one of us. If we’re in a position where neither Double Stag Handstand nor Straight-Back are a part of our practice, today’s video will outline some reasons why exploring this option first may be our ticket to success in ultimately conquering both variations over time.  

In addition, understanding that Double Stag Handstand incorporates more of a backbend position than Straight-Back will keep us on the right track.

chromatic yoga 15 hour immersion

10-DAY HANDSTAND PROGRAM

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN

  • Safe, systematic, and effective
  • 10-day training plan with guided daily tutorials
  • 2 livestream workshops: Replays are automatically included if you cannot attend live
  • Learn the most anatomically aligned and efficient handstand
  • Acrobatic training skills made easy and accessible for regular people
  • All levels appropriate
  • Build YOUR handstand, honoring your body and its unique strengths and challenges
  • No experience required
  • Variations for all levels, from 0 experience to professional hand balancers
  • BONUS: Zoom meeting (available to waitlist members only for the first 24 hours of registration opening): On Day 3, we will meet on Zoom for group coaching and personalized feedback!
  • SPACE IS LIMITED FOR THIS TRAINING TO PROVIDE THE BEST SUPPORT POSSIBLE

SHOULDER PREPARATION

One of the most valuable lessons we learn along the track of preparing for an ambitious posture like Double Stag Handstand is how to dial back and prepare appropriately. 

 Here are 2 ways to prepare the shoulders:

Child’s Pose

Matt’s demonstration in the video outlines the importance of lifting the armpits up to make sure that the head of the humerus isn’t pinching into the acromion process, a bony projection on the shoulder blade. This will help to reduce the possibility of shoulder impingement.

Anahatasana Against a Wall

We can progress this patterning in our bodies by practicing the lift of the armpits at a wall in Anahatasana. In both Child’s Pose and Anahatasana, it can be common to drop into the posture by allowing the chest to fall through without lifting the armpits and activating the muscles of the shoulders, but it’s imperative that we strengthen the shoulder muscles before attempting to go upside down. 

WATCH THE VIDEO

DOUBLE STAG HANDSTAND: IS IT EASIER THAN A STRAIGHT-BACK HANDSTAND?

GROUNDWORK FOR THE LEGS AND SPINE

The chest moving ahead of the arms is important for the backbend quality Double Stag Handstand requires, but we also need to create the increased flexibility for deeper extension in the hips and spine.

Here are 2 variations of Low Lunge: 

Low Lunge With a Side Bend 

When practicing with Matt, we become very familiar with drawing the feet towards one another in postures like Low Lunge. This action creates a facilitated stretch. The strengthening aspect of this technique results in increased flexibility. The additional side bend and backbend encourage the lengthening required for the spine, even though the amount of backbend in Double Stag Handstand is not as extensive as in some other heart openers.

Anjaneyasana Preparation With Cactus Arms

Here, we develop the use of the transversus abdominis while training the backbend. In the video, you’ll see how Matt teaches us how to avoid compression in the spine.

200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

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

3 POSTURES TO FURTHER THE FOUNDATION

Double Stag Legs in Shoulderstand

This is a nice way to practice the positioning of the legs for the counterbalance in Double Stag Handstand. This counterbalance is arguably why it may be easier to access the ability to balance in a handstand.  

Double Stag Headstand

Here’s where we start to put a few of the foundations to the test. In the video, Matt emphasizes that keeping the leg that is on the same side as the front body a little lower will help to maintain a more optimal pelvic position. The strengthening of hip flexion and extension is valuable in this negotiation of balance.

Double Stag Forearm Stand

There’s a short demonstration in the video of this variation. This option is potentially more challenging due to the “tightness” required in the shoulders and the increased requirement of activation in the body for balance.  

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STRAIGHT-BACK VERSUS STAG HANDSTAND

Last week’s blog delves into the position of the pelvis for Straight-Back Handstand (posterior tilt). Due to the backbend quality of Double Stag Handstand, the opposite is true (anterior tilt of the pelvis). The positioning of the legs in Double Stag offers a broader body shape for counter balance and therefore more room for play and negotiation. Attempting to stay completely vertical in Straight-Back leaves us more vulnerable to favouring a lean to one side and potentially losing balance more easily. No matter what, it still comes down to our own individual experience.

Preparation for Double Stag may not be glamorous, but that’s not what it’s about. What’s truly glamorous are the benefits of a deeper understanding of our bodies and the strength and longevity we foster.

You can still register to embark on a journey of a deeper understanding of your body and its potential in Matt’s 10-Day Handstand Program.

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

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Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Inversion Immersion

lotus pose online yoga classes

ONLINE ANATOMY COURSE

  • Accessible, exciting, and easy to learn
  • Anatomy and biomechanics for yoga
  • Appropriate for both teachers and students
  • Learn joint alignment vs pose alignment
  • Demystify yoga poses and transitions
  • Release aches and pains
  • Learn how to avoid common injuries
  • Caters to all levels with modifications and props
  • 20 hours Continued Education Credits with Yoga Alliance
  • 20 hours toward Chromatic Yoga Certification and 300 Hour
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Continue Learning

Hanumanasana Hints

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Hanumanasana HintssplitsHANUMANASANA HINTS Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be...

read more
Chin Stand

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Postpone The Stretch Sensation

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Wake Up Your Wheel Poseheart openerWAKE UP YOUR WHEEL POSE We don’t have to question it—we know whether or not we’re feeling open, free, and strong in Wheel Pose. There’s a lightness and expansiveness that takes over when everything falls into place: From the initial...

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Accelerated Handstand Development

Accelerated Handstand Development

inversion

ACCELERATED HANDSTAND DEVELOPMENT

Accelerating the process of achieving a goal comes from consistent practice, but it also depends heavily on the information and knowledge we’ve acquired.  

Whether a handstand is part of our regular asana practice or not, there is always room for improvement. Learning and understanding the intricate skill sets are imperative. These are the things that will expedite our development. This doesn’t mean that it will happen fast but that we are equipped with more knowledge to apply to our physical practice, which will enhance our results.  

There are a number of different areas for improvement when it comes to a better handstand, and one that might be overlooked is pelvic alignment. The drills and skills from today’s video provide the roadmap towards the final destination of a well-balanced handstand (pun intended lol).

 

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  • Safe, systematic, and effective
  • 10-day training plan with guided daily tutorials
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  • Learn the most anatomically aligned and efficient handstand
  • Acrobatic training skills made easy and accessible for regular people
  • All levels appropriate
  • Build YOUR handstand, honoring your body and its unique strengths and challenges
  • No experience required
  • Variations for all levels, from 0 experience to professional hand balancers
  • BONUS: Zoom meeting (available to waitlist members only for the first 24 hours of registration opening): On Day 3, we will meet on Zoom for group coaching and personalized feedback!
  • SPACE IS LIMITED FOR THIS TRAINING TO PROVIDE THE BEST SUPPORT POSSIBLE

PELVIC ALIGNMENT TENDENCIES

In an upright position, knowing the difference between anterior and posterior tilt of the pelvis may be easier to negotiate. At other times, it may be harder to determine. In the full class, Matt explains that many of us have the tendency to posteriorly tilt the pelvis when standing, which may be because we are trying to find the least amount of energy exertion by placing more weight into the hip joints. 

The opposite is true when upside down in a handstand. Here, the tendency may be to anteriorly tilt the pelvis (especially if there is a wall behind us). We might feel that the safer place to be is behind us, so the hips move in that direction. This tendency does not serve us in a balanced handstand away from a wall. In this case, the posterior tilt of the pelvis is a must.

WATCH THE VIDEO

ACCELERATED HANDSTAND DEVELOPMENT: POLISHING PELVIC ALIGNMENT

SPHINX TO HOLLOW BODY & CRESENT POSE

To find balance in a handstand off the wall, we must polish our pelvic alignment. We don’t start by trying this in handstand; first, we must strengthen and train the appropriate muscles in other postures and drills. In today’s video, Matt begins by demonstrating 2 ways to implement this strengthening and training in our regular practice.

Sphinx to Hollow Body

In this demonstration, we are guided through 4 phases. It is a very slow and controlled process that not only strengthens the core and upper body, it also helps us understand how to effectively isolate and articulate the movements of the rib cage and pelvis.

Crescent Pose

Here we really learn to train and develop the tucking of the tailbone—the posterior tilt of the pelvis—against straightening and lengthening the back leg. When doing this, we’re activating the quadricep and gluteal muscles at the same time. This will translate well when transitioning upside down.

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HANDSTAND WALL DRILLS

Included in the process of handstand development is the practicing of pelvic alignment when we’re inverted in the context of drills. The handstand drills in today’s video are done against a wall. They provide the opportunity to place our feet on the wall in order to focus on the placement of the pelvis into a posterior-tilt position.

  1. First, without any props, we gain the understanding of how important it is to push through the shoulders to initiate greater movement of the rib cage back, which initiates the desired “straight stacking” of the body. When the action of the posterior tilt takes place, our feet become lighter.
  2. This is the same drill with the use of a chair, which can assist by offering more control to get upright. The exit here can also assist in practicing a safer exit when we start practicing away from a wall.
300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

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

  • Get 500 hour certified
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
  • Expand your teaching skills
  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
  • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang

PROCESS & TRANSFORMATION

We can never escape going through the processes our bodies need when we’re working towards a given yoga posture, and those processes are always individual. The muscles we need to train, the techniques we need to develop, and the knowledge we need to acquire will vary at different times throughout the process.  

Matt always says that a posture like a handstand is evidence that we have tapped into increased mastery of the understanding of our own bodies. This is the true gift of the process on the journey towards transformation, not achievement.

Matt’s 10-Day Handstand Program works to systematically expose our greatest potential.  

Transform your relationship with handstand by registering today!

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

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

Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Handstand & Meditation Immersion

lotus pose online yoga classes

ONLINE ANATOMY COURSE

  • Accessible, exciting, and easy to learn
  • Anatomy and biomechanics for yoga
  • Appropriate for both teachers and students
  • Learn joint alignment vs pose alignment
  • Demystify yoga poses and transitions
  • Release aches and pains
  • Learn how to avoid common injuries
  • Caters to all levels with modifications and props
  • 20 hours Continued Education Credits with Yoga Alliance
  • 20 hours toward Chromatic Yoga Certification and 300 Hour
  • Lifetime access

Continue Learning

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana HintssplitsHANUMANASANA HINTS Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be...

read more
Chin Stand

Chin Stand

Chin Standganda bherundasanaCHIN STAND Without a doubt, Chin Stand requires preparation. This posture must be approached with the utmost humility, essential in order to respect the potential risk. If this pose is not explored regularly in our physical practice, it may...

read more
Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone the Stretch SensationflexibilityPOSTPONE THE STRETCH SENSATION If one of the goals of our physical yoga practice is to increase flexibility, we may automatically believe that we just need to stretch more. It’s critical that we understand that increasing...

read more
Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Poseheart openerWAKE UP YOUR WHEEL POSE We don’t have to question it—we know whether or not we’re feeling open, free, and strong in Wheel Pose. There’s a lightness and expansiveness that takes over when everything falls into place: From the initial...

read more
Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousnessdancer poseSPINAL SPACIOUSNESS Some key indicators of spinal health include strong bones, durable yet flexible ligaments, supple discs, and strong supportive muscles. Aside from nutrition, it’s not enough to say that movement in general is enough to...

read more
Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps to Scorpion PosevrschikasanaSCORPION POSE Exhilarating, stimulating, and enlivening are a few words we can use to describe Scorpion Pose. We can also use words such as grounding or even relaxing, which might initially be considered strange descriptors. When we...

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.