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.

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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).

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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Videos Extracted From: Breath Of Fire

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Air Line Activation

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Dancer Pose

Dancer Pose

The Chromatic Way

natarajasana

DANCER POSE

Dancer Pose is the kind of posture that embodies both grace and strength. In order to integrate these two things into your practice of this posture, there are quite a number of pieces of the puzzle to consider. You might argue that the “grace” portion of the pose comes from its heart-opening shape, while the strength comes from all that goes into finding balance. There are other components that comprise both. The journey of discovering these elements becomes quite profound and rewarding when you follow Matt’s Chromatic approach. In today’s video, you’ll witness techniques that support your development and observe how the “Chromatic way” is implemented to create deeper awareness and transformation. Dancer Pose, along with other “preparatory postures,” becomes more accessible in your practice.

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WHAT IS CHROMATIC YOGA?

Before we look at Dancer Pose, let’s delve into what Chromatic Yoga actually means: “Chromatic Yoga is a systematic approach to teaching that provides a highly intentional and purposeful experience for students to cultivate awareness of their body and mind.” (Extracted from Matt’s 300 Hr. Teacher Training

What does this look like in your physical yoga practice? In a well-developed class or practice, you’ll start by laying a foundation. This can be done by focusing on specific actions in “foundational postures” and/or shapes. This sets the stage and prepares your body for a “peak posture.” Each movement is executed with a specific intention. Remaining focused on these intentions helps you create more awareness of how you move and where you may need to add or edit a particular action. Everything is broken down, simplified, and repeated to support you in realizing your fullest potential. 

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DANCER POSE:  THE CHROMATIC WAY

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Dancer Pose is a heart opener and a balance posture all in one. Creating the shape of a heart opener requires that you create the action of retracting the scapulae; when done with well-placed effort, this will activate the rhomboids and lower trapezius. Matt demonstrates how to pattern this activation in Upward-Facing Dog. In today’s video, you’ll see that after retracting your scapulae and externally rotating the humerus on each side, you create more space for your chest to move forward. When you lift your rib cage up and out, you create more length and opening in your front body. These are all key actions to start with in order to find more heart space in Dancer Pose. This patterning continues in Twisted Monkey and in Tiger Pose. What you also see are the necessary actions in the pelvis and the activations that promote the lengthening required in the hip flexors and quadriceps.

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DANCER POSE AT THE WALL

If you’ve worked through these progressions, your body is more physically prepared for the next steps. This variation of Dancer Pose is great because it reduces the effort required to stay balanced if you want to be more focused on the backbend and the movement of the pelvis. Here, Matt demonstrates the dance (pun intended) between the movement of the pelvis (more anterior tilt), which assists in lifting the back leg further up, and the action of increased external rotation of the shoulder. Once you have tipped forward with more anterior tilt, Matt advises you to lift your chest up on an inhale in order to expand through your front body. Going back and forth between these actions promotes greater opening altogether. The activation of the quadriceps and hip flexors is continued by pressing your foot into your hand and vice versa.  

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FIND YOUR BALANCE

The repetition of the actions created throughout the previous postures boosts your ability to find more balance in Dancer Pose. The same exchange between tipping forward and lifting up the chest, plus a greater awareness of the internal rotation of the lifted leg, will assist in cultivating more stability.

The definition of finding your balance goes beyond just taking Dancer Pose away from the wall. From a Chromatic Yoga perspective, it also means that in the process of exploring the biomechanics of a posture, you are learning more about your body and mind. Maybe there are vast differences between one side of the body and the other, or maybe there is room for a shift in your thought process during your practice. This can go in multiple directions! Ultimately, the relationship you build with yourself and your practice as a whole is completely transformed when you adopt the Chromatic way. 

Sign up for Matt’s next Online Chromatic Yoga Immersion to deepen your understanding of this approach.

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Vinyasa Immersion

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Spanda: Secret of Life

Spanda

Life’s Little Secret

What is Spanda

Spanda is one of the foundational teachings from the ancient tantric philosophies. To be clear, I am referring to the yoga traditions not the modern westernized term for sexual practices. Spanda refers to the pulse of the universe, the essence of life’s natural cycle and rhythm that is always occurring. What that really means is that everything in life is either moving toward expansion or contraction. For example, a seed that drops from a flower at the end of its life lands on the ground in a contracted state of pure potential. If that seed makes its way into the dirt and receives enough water and sunlight, it will move towards its expansion. The seed will begin to grow roots downward and eventually flowers upward. The seed represents limitless potential, while the flower is the manifestation of that potential. At the end of its life, the flower drops several seeds onto the earth and the cycle of potential begins yet again. The teaching is a reminder that all phases of the seed’s life are natural and inevitable. Even in its death, it leaves behind potential.

SEEING SPANDA IN OUR LIFE  

At first, this teaching can be something nice to think about, however, when you really observe your life you will begin to notice that it exists everywhere. Knowing that there is always a cycle of potential and manifestation, perhaps we could be less surprised and shaken when the projects, relationships, and circumstances of our life die and come back to the pure state of potential. The issue most of us face emotionally is that we believe everything that is happening now will continue to happen forever. This causes us tremendous suffering on both sides. Do you agree? Have you ever taken for granted the good things in your life? Have you lost something or someone special and spent far too long not moving forward? Yes, we all have, and this is where the teaching becomes helpful. It reminds us of the natural pulse of the universe, that sometimes we are the seed, eager to attain what we need in order to dig our roots into the earth and grow tall into our fullest manifestation. The eagerness is great, but it usually turns into impatience, forcefulness, or a retraction into the protective state of being where we give up far too soon wishing there was a shortcut. On the other side, there are aspects of our life where we are the flower, manifested and full of beauty. We all love this part of the process because it feels like everything is going the way we want it to. The potential downfall is either taking for granted the beauty of our life or simply lacking the clarity to see what we have created or who we have become. Look at your life. Where is your potential? Can you embrace the process, step into it, and let it unfold with every step? Look at what you have already created. Can you see it clearly without a sense of insecurity and self-doubt and find gratitude for who you have become and what you have built? 

Where can I practice with teachers who talk about spanda?

Chromatic Yoga Teachers around the world are teaching about Spanda in their classes. Find one near you at www.ChromaticYoga.com  

Embrace your potential

Most of our life is spent realizing our potential. To truly love life we must enjoy both the expansion and the contraction. This requires the ability to see the direction of your your actions. If you know where you are going and that you will get there, than you can relax right where you are now.

The Joy of Spanda

At first, the teaching of spanda was hard for me to embrace. I was annoyed at it in the beginning but I could see with great clarity that it was a teaching rooted in truth, not belief. It took some time to stop resisting the truth. I wanted to believe that if I practiced enough yoga and self-awareness I could live a life that is always in that sweet spot of expansion. The essence of what I was wanting was to feel the joy and freedom that I felt in the expanded states of life, and over time I realized that I could feel that regardless of the phase of spanda that my life was in. This is not about avoiding sadness, pain, or the challenges of life. It’s simply about having perspective and recognizing that life is a gift – ALL of it.

To apply this approach to the body,  I recommend you check out Hips: Rock and Unlock ‘Em! This online workshop is a journey through what I call the 4 quadrants of the hips, supporting you on the path toward mastery of the inner thighs, outer hips, posterior chain, and hip flexors. 

Elements of Mastery

The most in-depth online yoga immersion offered by Matt Giordano. This immersion contains several full-length workshops focusing on how the body relates to nature’s elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, & Space. In addition to deepening your physical practice, you will learn anatomy, adjustments, and the approach to Mastery!

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Air Line Activation

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