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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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Postpone The Stretch Sensation

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Steps To Scorpion Pose

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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...

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read more

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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. 

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300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

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  • 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

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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read more
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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
Heart Opening Education

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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

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

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
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

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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