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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Alignment Immersion

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Yoga Props & Your Practice

Yoga Props & Your Practice

Yoga Props and Your PracticealignmentYOGA 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...

read more

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Get A Wheel Pose Upgrade

Get a Wheel Pose Upgrade

Prop Options to Refine Your Alignment

urdhva dhanurasana

WHEEL POSE

Okay, buckle up for this one! These drills and variations are about to literally flip you upside down for Wheel Pose. The unique ways in which Matt demonstrates how to use props will help you get a Wheel Pose upgrade. Even if you think you have a grasp on what’s required for the pose, today’s video provides techniques that lead you away from common tendencies and guide you towards improved patterning in this heart opener. Adding to your toolkit as regards the preparation and execution of various asanas is vital in continuing to understand your body. You can only develop this understanding by mastering “micro actions.” It’s these micro actions that set a safe foundation for you to go deeper and explore further. Utilizing the support of yoga props and of the environment around you can dramatically shift your experience. Let’s find out what’s possible in Wheel Pose.

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SHOULDER MOBILITY WITH BLOCKS AND A WALL

Paying attention to the finer details makes for a significant shift in your yoga practice. This can be applied in various ways, including when it comes to improving shoulder mobility. The first two preparation drills Matt shares in the video showcase accessible ways to find shoulder mobility for greater range in Wheel Pose. The important detail here is the lifting of your shoulders “up to your ears” and keeping them there once your arms are overhead. Whether you are utilizing the blocks or the wall, Matt emphasizes how important it is to do this action first in order to avoid shoulder impingement. 

In any conversation surrounding mobility, strength must be a part of it. In both drills, there is a pressing action that is added to keep your armpits lifted. As a result, you’ll activate the rhomboids and upper trapezius.

WATCH THE VIDEO

GET A WHEEL POSE UPGRADE:  PROP OPTIONS TO REFINE YOUR ALIGNMENT

LUNGE-POSITION PREPARATION

The lifting and activation from the first 2 drills nicely translates into the next Wheel Pose preparation. A vital component of the posture is the stretch of the pectoralis muscles, but hip extension is also essential. This lunge-position drill demonstrates how to combine both of these factors. The setup against the wall helps to pattern the activation of your quadriceps and glutes. The next steps involve spinal extension and the use of greater shoulder mobility. Narrowing the space between your shoulder blades (imagine that lift of the armpits) and sending the ribs forward really mimic the alignment of Wheel Pose. This bowing of the spine, as Matt refers to this technique, creates both a deep stretch in the front body and strength in the back body.

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ROLL UP YOUR YOGA MAT AND GRAB YOUR BLOCKS

Pressing straight up into Wheel Pose is not the next step; better advised is to break the press down into increments. The next two progressions involve a rolled up yoga mat and a couple of blocks placed diagonally up against a wall. Both of these options provide a great deal of support and less wrist extension, which may feel more comfortable when it is time to lift up into Wheel Pose. 

The increments are as follows:

  1. Lifting up into Bridge Pose
  2. Coming to the top of the head, with chest towards the wall
  3. Slowly extending the arms 
  4. Kicking through the heels (like the Lunge preparation)

Other imperative details in both drills include the following:

  1. Keeping the elbows wide (in a cactus shape)
  2. Activating the glutes
  3. Adjusting the feet
  4. Pushing down through inner heels

Equally important is to also exit the posture in increments. This maximizes safety for the spine.

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  • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1

UPGRADE YOUR TECHNIQUE

Upgrading your technique essentially means that you’re in fact upgrading the alignment of your body. Doing this helps you maximize your potential. The drills from today’s video demonstrate that there’s much more to it than just practicing Wheel Pose over and over again. The mindful and methodical approach Matt offers with the use of props gives you the support and time to understand exactly how your body responds at each step. If you haven’t yet mastered a specific action, you can explore and learn how to execute the action without feeling compromised in a deeper position of the posture. This will allow you to gain as much as possible from your overall yoga practice.

If you’re interested in diving more deeply into how to maximize technique and alignment in common yoga postures, then you’ll want to register for Matt’s next immersion, Alignment.  

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Anatomy Of The Heart

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Continue Learning

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Yoga Props & Your Practice

Yoga Props & Your Practice

Yoga Props and Your PracticealignmentYOGA 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...

read more

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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.

Downward Dog Shoulder Alignment

DOWNWARD DOG

SHOULDER ALIGNMENT 

How Yoga Props Enhance Your Downward Dog

ADHO MUKHA

ALIGNMENT QUESTIONS IN DOWNWARD-FACING DOG

How many times have you done Downward-Facing Dog in your yoga practice? I can’t answer that either. It’s a posture that shows up in a yoga class quite often. It just becomes part of the foundation of a physical practice after a while. When you started your practice, you may have been told that it’s a resting posture, but it doesn’t always feel like that, does it? It takes some time for it to feel “right” or even “comfortable.” You’ve most likely navigated through things like the following:

Should my heels touch the mat?

How far apart should my hands be from one another?

What about the direction of my hands?

How far apart should my hands be from my feet?

Should my wrists feel this way?

Is it ok to bend my knees?

This list goes on. 

Over time, you start to develop a deeper understanding of the pose and to develop and integrate patterns in your body that feel “right.”

As you continue to learn and grow in your practice, you may also reach a point where you begin to wonder if these patterns are actually serving you. This wondering may come from pain and/or injuries that arise, or simply from exposure to different practices and/or teachers. What often happens is that once you get comfortable with “the way you’ve always done it,” the challenge may be to consider a different way and/or to add on some new actions to actually improve not only the posture but also the health of your joint placement/alignment in the posture.  

It is important, however, to be open to the process of “unlearning” and the process of developing new patterns. The important perspective to take when you encounter times like this in your yoga practice is to understand that it is all a part of growth and your specific journey to learn more about your own body. It’s actually an opportunity. Approaching your practice with an openness to opportunity often leads to the unraveling and to access to new breakthroughs in your practice. 

SHOULDER REVELATION

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WHAT IS SHOULDER IMPINGEMENT?

“Shoulder impingement is a common condition believed to contribute to the development or progression of rotator cuff disease.” 

Ludewig, Paula M, and Jonathan P Braman. “Shoulder impingement: biomechanical considerations in rehabilitation.” Manual therapy vol. 16,1 (2011): 33-9. doi:10.1016/j.math.2010.08.004

Shoulder impingement and/or a pinching sensation in the shoulders is a common complaint when it comes to the execution of Downward-Facing Dog. You might feel this in early attempts to do the posture or after repeating patterns like drawing your shoulders away from your ears, which may cause pain or irritation in the posture.

In the video, Matt explains quite nicely by saying that when you draw the scapulae (shoulder blades) away from your ears, the upper arm bone (humerus) collides with the acromion process. This action and collision is what creates the impingement, or “pinching.” This pinching can create pain or discomfort or may even lead to injury. From a visual standpoint, how do you know this is happening? Matt explains that you can see what looks like a “dimple” in the shoulder when the humerus is pulling down away from your ears. For further information for proper alignment in Downward Dog, you can also check out Matt’s blog 3 STEPS TO AVOID SHOULDER IMPINGEMENT IN DOWNWARD-FACING DOG.

WATCH THE VIDEO: DOWNWARD-DOG SHOULDER ALIGNMENT

NEXT TRAINING BEGINS FEBRUARY 2024 ENROLLMENT NOW OPEN!
NEXT TRAINING BEGINS FEBRUARY 2024 ENROLLMENT NOW OPEN!

USING A ROLLED UP YOGA MAT FOR DOWNWARD-FACING DOG

Rolling up a yoga mat and using it as an additional prop provides excellent feedback and even assists you in the execution of the steps to set up Downward-Facing Dog. It helps to create new patterns in your body to avoid shoulder impingement in this foundational posture.

 Matt details exactly how to use your mat by following these steps:

  1. Place a rolled-up mat horizontally across the top of your mat.
  2. Place your hands in front of the rolled-up mat.
  3. Move backward into Downward Dog (bend your knees and send your tailbone to the sky).
  4. Lifting them up, move your armpits forward toward your hands. 

What’s happening here is that this action will activate the rhomboids, and the upper trapezius will activate from the lift of the armpits. This will also support the movement of the top of the shoulder blades going inward while the bottom of the scapula are protracting.

This step also provides a great opportunity to check in and get some feedback within your body. If you’re putting a lot of pressure into the yoga mat, then you know you’re dropping the armpits down and are causing the sub-acromion pinch. Matt offers the cue here of reaching through the outer lines of the arms so that the scapulae upwardly rotate.

 “During normal motion, the scapulae will upwardly rotate and posteriorly tilt on the thorax during elevation of the arm in flexion, abduction, scapular plane abduction, or unrestricted overhead reaching.”

 Ludewig, Paula M, and Jonathan P Braman. “Shoulder impingement: biomechanical considerations in rehabilitation.” Manual therapy vol. 16,1 (2011): 33-9. doi:10.1016/j.math.2010.08.004

5. Externally rotate the humerus (biceps face forward, and pinky edge of the hand pulls bottom portion of scapula around).

After these actions are put into place, you may feel like the inside edge of your hand is pulling up, so articulating the next step is important.

6. Turn your palms down (the radioulnar joint pronates the forearm, and this is a separate action that happens specifically at the forearm, separately from the action of the external rotation of the humerus).

7. Turn hands out a little more and wider (this also helps to create less chance of shoulder impingement).

8. Heels of the hands are lifted (again, creating that lightness and less touch against the yoga mat). 

Not only will this create less impingement, it will also strengthen the flexors of the wrist, which will feel better and allow you to feel more safe.

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SIMPLIFY THE STEPS FOR MASTERING DOWNWARD-DOG SHOULDER ALIGNMENT

In the video, Matt offers what’s called a “Mock” or “Modified” Downward Dog on your knees. Here are the steps:

  1. Lift armpits 
  2. Lengthen — shoulders to the ears 
  3. Go up and back
  4. Externally rotate the arm bones (biceps face forward)
  5. Lift heels of the hands (carpal tunnels)

Integrating these new actions may feel quite awkward once you start to gradually implement them. They may not feel quite “right.” This is that process of “unlearning” and creating new neuromuscular patterns in your body.  Eventually they will start to feel more “comfortable,” and you will notice the change in the development of your strength. Setting this foundation will help to support your journey in other postures in which it is necessary to utilize strength and balance from your shoulders, forearms, and hands.

If you enjoy diving deeper into the potential of your body and of the yoga practice as a whole, you can deepen your studies in Matt’s 200 and 300 Hr. Trainings.  

CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW FOR MORE DETAILS.

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

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: 300 Hr. Training

CHOOSE YOUR PATH

NEXT TRAINING BEGINS FEBRUARY 2024 ENROLLMENT NOW OPEN!
NEXT TRAINING BEGINS FEBRUARY 2024 ENROLLMENT NOW OPEN!

Continue Learning

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 might also use words like grounding, or even relaxing (which may initially be thought of as a strange descriptor), but...

read more
Heart Opening Education

Heart Opening Education

Heart-Opening EducationbackbendHEART-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...

read more
Pranayama

Pranayama

PranayamabreathworkPRANAYAMA 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...

read more
Hip Opening Without Knee Pain

Hip Opening Without Knee Pain

Hip Opening Without Knee Painhip mobilityHIP 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,...

read more
Strengthen Your Ankles

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Strengthen Your Anklesfoot healthSTRENGTHEN 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...

read more
Yoga Props & Your Practice

Yoga Props & Your Practice

Yoga Props and Your PracticealignmentYOGA 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...

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.

full side plank and modifications

FULL SIDE PLANK WITH MODIFICATIONS

STEP-BY-STEP VASHISTHASANA BREAKDOWN

FULL SIDE PLANK

FULL SIDE PLANK AND MODIFICATIONS: VASHISTHASANA

USING THE WALL AS A PROP

Full Side Plank (Vashisthasana) has many modification options and variations to help make it more accessible or more challenging. I love teaching this posture with a foot on the wall to increase stability and provide a frame of reference for shifting the weight out of the hand and into the foot. 

Some people avoid props, thinking of them as a “crutch.” For sure, they can be used as a way to avoid challenges if that is your intention, but they can also be used to increase body awareness and help you develop technique. Props are neither good nor bad; it’s just a matter of how and why you are using them. Is it that you want to avoid challenge or that you want to face challenge intelligently and appropriately?

In the video tutorial below, I show how to modify side plank by placing your top foot on the wall. This reduces the required balance and will allow you to focus on the foundations of the posture, like the strength of your hand and wrist. Press your thumb and pinky fingers into the ground. Then focus on your bottom foot, pressing the instep of your foot into the wall. Eventually, you will be able to place the whole standing foot on the ground, which will give you strength and the power to lift the hips up. Lastly, keep your shoulder externally rotating, as indicated in the video.

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Full Side Plank & Modifications • Vashisthasana at the Wall

This Side Plank tutorial footage is taken from the July 2021 Immersion, titled BALANCE

Full Side Plank Setup

What I don’t discuss in this particular clip is how the setup of this posture is exactly like Wild Thing. This means your pelvis is more open toward the sky, while in standard Side Plank, your feet are stacked. The spine is in a backbend as well, unlike the standard variation, where the spine is neutral.

There are other alignments you could explore, but these will tend to give you the greatest access to the full Side Plank variation where you grab the top foot and extend the leg. If you want to practice the full class, be sure to check out Class #9 of the July 2021 Immersion, called Balance

 

300 hour teacher training online

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!

  • 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
  • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1

Three Full Side Plank Modifications and Variations

  1. Foot on the Wall: Once you rise up into Wild Thing, place the back foot on the wall and push your weight toward the wall, even if it means both knees are bent. This is not only okay but an indication that you are doing it properly.
  2. Tree Pose: The next step is infinitely more challenging because it requires greater balance and flexibility. Take the foot off the wall, similar to Tree Pose but without placing the foot on your inner thigh (though that is also another variation). I suggest pushing your knee into your hand to get your hip flexors active. Hip flexor strength becomes key when you attempt to straighten the leg. Often the tension of the hamstrings is too much and people have to let go of the foot. If your hip flexors are strong and used to engaging in this position, then they can help out by keeping the top leg closer to your upper body, lessening the chances that you’ll have to let go of the foot when extending the leg up to the sky.
  3. Full Side Plank or “Extended Vashisthasana”: Pull your knee in as tight as possible in order to grab your foot. Either stay as a modification or begin to kick the foot to the sky, straightening the top leg. Pro tip: It’s helpful to keep the bottom, weight-bearing leg bent while extending the top leg upward. 
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Can’t Straighten Your Legs?

This is normal and really shouldn’t be your focus. This is an incredibly physically demanding posture that requires extreme flexibility. Even with slightly bent knees, the posture is still visually stunning and, I would argue, even more biomechanically sound because bent knees typically trigger more muscle engagement.

 

 

Edited by 300-hour Chromatic yoga teacher, Donna Morin.

 

TOP RELEVANT RECOMMENDATIONS

1. Balance Immersion: 12 Classes Focused on Balance (video above is taken from this immersion) 

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

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Lifting The Arches of Your Feet

Are Your Arches Lifted?

Setting the foundation for standing postures - Avoid Collapsed Arches

Is your foundation trong?

Setting the foundation of any posture is arguably the most important step you can take aside from breathing of course, which you can simply consider a part of the foundation. You probably have heard me talk about the foundation of arm balances and handstands a million times, but how about standing postures? If you have practiced with me on retreat or at the Elements of Mastery, you already know the importance of what I am about to share with you. If you have not worked with me before, no problem, I am going to take you through a step-by-step approach to building a strong, solid foundation for all your standing postures.

Have you been asked to lift the arches of your foot in a class? Did you know how to do that on your own? Maybe you were told to lift your toes in order to do so, and you probably noticed a loss of connection to stability. Lifting your toes can be a great way to strengthen some of the muscles I am about to share with you, but it is literally just the beginning.

Does it really matter?

This is a great question and I wouldn’t blame you for asking because ultimately knowing the why behind anything we do gives our actions power. So why lift the arches? Consider your feet the foundation of all standing postures. Would you build your extremely expensive one-of-a-kind house on mud, or would you prefer a solid foundation you know will hold up over time? Picture it, a strong, heavy house resting on a muddy foundation, eventually part of the house would start to sink downward while other parts remained strong. The pressure would build and the weakest parts would start to break. This happens in our body, and the weakest points are typically our joints. The joints are weak because they are the place where two or more bones come together for the purpose of movement. If they were too strong, no movement would be available. Gravity is always upon us and pulling us downward. When our bones are properly aligned there is less stress on the joints. However, what if we have an imbalance at the ankle that causes our weight to fall to the inside or outside of the foot? Not only is the ankle or foot at risk but ALL of the joints that exist above it are too because they have to compensate for the new alignment. This is why you could have a pain in your neck that stems from weakness and miss-alignment at the ankle. You feel it in the neck because the neck is compensating for everything below it. This is very important to understand especially if you are a yoga teacher or in any field of physical health. Does it matter…? YES!

The Anatomy

For the purposes of this article, we will talk about two joint actions and the muscle groups that create them: Eversion and Pronation of the ankle which occurs at the subtalar joint. The subtalar joint is just below the ankle joint. The ankle joint allows for the up and down movements of plantar flexion (pointing the foot) and dorsiflexion (flexing the foot), while the subtalar joint allows the foot to rock from side to side. For the purpose of simplicity, we will refer to both of these joints as a collective –  “the ankle”.

The arch of the foot

There are multiple muscles that help to form the arch of the foot. How high someone’s arches are may be due to the structure of the foot – the bones might be shaped in a more flattened position. However, we aren’t concerned with the external look of an arched foot but rather, training the muscles to activate appropriately for our feet. Most of us can use strengthening of these muscles. The way that I found really helps is first learning how to isometrically engage the muscles of inversion and eversion at the same time which forms a “bootstrap” like scenario around the foot. One of the fibula muscles wraps from the outer shin down the outer ankle and attaches near the ball mound of the big toe – That is pretty cool! There are muscles underneath the sole of the foot that when activated in conjunction with the muscles of inversion and eversion allow us to find greater engagement and lift of our arches.

One of the best ways to integrate these actions in your practice is to repeat them throughout your yoga practices. If you are interested in greater balance, stability, and ankle awareness there are two online immersions – 12 class packages that focus heavily on the feet and ankles.

1. The July 2020 Immersion titled The Chakras & the Elements – the Earth and Water practices will provide a profound awakening to the ankles and feet and how they relate to your practice.

2. The August 2020 Immersion titled Journey To Bliss follows a similar format as of July; the first few practices target the ankles and feet. I highly recommended either or both of these immersions.

Everting

ankle strength, heal sprained ankle with yoga

Inverting

ankle strengthening for yoga
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3 Steps To Activate the Core of the Foot

  1. Press the outer edge of the food down.
  2. Maintain this action, and counter engage by pressing the big ball mounted and big toes down.
  3. Drag the big ball mound back toward the inner heel.
inversion of the ankle - arch of the feet

Step 1 - invert the ankle

While you can certainly evert the ankle first, I find for most people it is more effective to start with inverting the ankle when approaching standing postures. For clarity of the action, I am showing it in a seated position – try it seated first so you are very clear on how to invert. When in Warrior 2, press the outer edge of the front foot into the ground until your feel the muscle deep in the calf muscle activating. The ball mound and the big toe might lift when you do this – it is ok for now.

evert the ankle in warrior 2 yoga pose

Step 2: Evert the Ankle

I recommend learning everting when seated – first, pull the outer edges of the feet back, it can be helpful to press the big toe and toe mound forward. When articulating this action properly you will feel the muscles along the outer shin engage. After you are aware of the action, the next part can be challenging. In warrior 2, be sure to maintain the muscle activation of inversion and add eversion by pressing the big toe and toe mound down into the ground, while trying to roll the outer ankle in slightly. Be sure not to fall flat into the inner arch while doing so – if this happens it means you are no longer activating the muscles of inversion, so go back to step 1 and try again.

arch of the foot in warrior 2 yoga pose

Step 3: contract The Arch

While this step is optional, it can be really helpful especially for anyone that gets plantar fasciitis. The idea is to maintain steps 1 and 2 but then add an activation of the musculature along the bottom (plantar side) of the foot. The action is to try and drag the big ball mound of the foot toward the inner heel. Like inversion and eversion, this action can be quite foreign and may take a bit of time until you are able to feel the muscles contract. I really like to focus on this action in the change of seasons when I am switching between different shoes and my feet are trying to adapt to the differences.

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The Results

Activating the arch of the foot can be challenging at first. Typically the hardest part is learning how to co-contract opposing muscle groups. When opposing muscle groups contract at the same time, you get lifting and stabilizing of the joints. In this case, when you activate the muscles along the inside and outside the leg, it’s like pulling up your bootstraps and stabilizing the ankle. As a wonderful result, the arch of the foot pulls up.

Integration

 To fully integrate these actions into your practice you will need repetition throughout all of your standing postures. Try it in your next class, or if you want a full workshop that incorporates these exact actions throughout, check out Hips: Rock Em and Unlock Em workshop below.

Thanks for stopping by. Leave a comment if this post has been helpful, or if you have questions or requests for future posts.

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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.

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