6 Postures For Hips and Lower Back

6 Postures for Hips and Lower Back

stretch

6 POSTURES FOR HIPS AND LOWER BACK

When we’re interested in learning about postures that help us with our hips and lower back, it’s simply not good enough to find a video or practice that says that certain poses will help with these areas of the body. A statement like that is too broad—it doesn’t mean very much until we understand how to implement the poses in our yoga practice.  

Yoga is a powerful tool because it provides us with the gift of awareness. In the context of a physical yoga practice, a teacher like Matt shows us how to get to know our own bodies in a deeper way. We learn how to exercise discernment so that a posture becomes tailored to our individual needs. In today’s video, we’ll not only observe 6 postures for the hips and lower back but also obtain the information to guide us in a direction that makes them helpful.

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HIP RELEASE

2-HOUR LIVESTREAM WORKSHOP!

  • Technique-infused 2-hour workshop
  • Nondogmatic alignment awareness
  • Inner thigh & outer hip flexibility
  • Increase active range of motion of the hips and pelvic movements
  • Learn anatomy of the hips as you practice
  • Strengthen the muscles for optimal balance
  • Postural focus: Flying Pigeon and Lotus Pose
  • Injury awareness: Avoiding knee & low-back strain/pain/compression
  • Use anatomy knowledge to debunk popular alignment
  • Skillfully guided sequence by the founder of Chromatic Yoga, Matt Giordano
  • LIVESTREAM DATE: March 30th at 10am Eastern Time (NYC Timezone)
  • REPLAY: Available immediately, lifetime access

PELVIC TILTS IN WARRIOR II AND IN REVERSE WARRIOR

How can postures become helpful? We can get to know when and where stretching and/or strengthening is appropriate. We always have choices.

In Warrior II and Reverse Warrior, the discussion is essentially about the action of leveling or not leveling the hips. 

In the video, Matt explains that in his experience, he has often seen the front pelvis dropped downwards in Warrior II. However, this position in the hips may actually be more beneficial in Reverse Warrior, if we have the intention of stretching the side of the the front waistline. The lateral pelvic tilt helps create a stronger lateral flexion of the spine and an increased stretch in the psoas. Maintaining a more leveled pelvis in Warrior II can eliminate potential compression in the front hip. Exploring these articulations of the pelvis can help us find what is valuable at any given time.

WATCH THE VIDEO

6 POSTURES FOR HIPS AND LOWER BACK: HOW TO DECIDE BETWEEN STRETCH & STRENGTH

STANDING FIGURE 4 AND JANU SIRSASANA

Standing Figure 4

This variation offers another opportunity to explore the positioning of the hips for an increased stretch of the side body. Matt first cues a medial rotation of the hips and then, to again increase the stretch in the side waistline, he cues “hiking up the pelvis” for more lateral flexion when we’re bent over on the diagonal . 

Janu Sirsasana

Here we gain more insight in terms of choosing whether stretch or strength is beneficial. Due to the lateral flexion of the spine, this variation offers a deep stretch for the quadratus lumborum (QL), which might feel good. If the opposite is true and there is more discomfort than ease, an upright version may be more beneficial. In the upright version of the pose, the back muscles are engaged. If they feel tight, we may lean towards stretching, but tight muscles are often an indication of weakness, so opting for strength may be the key to finding relief in the lower back.

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FROG POSE AND HURDLER STRETCH

Frog Pose

Due to the intense shape of the posture, Frog Pose can reveal a great deal about our current experience with the strength and flexibility of our adductors. To encourage the optimal health and safety of the muscles, implementing a facilitated stretch offers stability while stretching. In the video, Matt shares how varying the angles of the pelvis will influence where we feel the stretch in the adductors.  

Hurdler Stretch

This shape offers both stretch and strength for the QL. Matt offers two variations in the video to help us to find what is more accessible. In both variations, both the tilt of the pelvis and “finer” details like pressing the exposed side of the rib cage up and a small tucking of the buttock on the straight-leg side will assist in supporting the lower back and hips to refrain from strain. 

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300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

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  • Expand your teaching skills
  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
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  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang
  • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1

THE FINER DETAILS CARRY THE WEIGHT

Throughout the exploration of these postures, it’s these finer details that help personalize what we experience in the hips and lower back. Thoughtful and careful implementation supports our individual goals regarding increased flexibility and/or strength in the lower back and hips. Paying attention to the finer details makes all the difference in what we feel sensationally in our bodies. 

This is why practicing with Matt creates such a transformational experience. His upcoming workshop, Hip Release, will be filled with techniques to help with increased range of motion in the hips, effective strength and flexibility drills, and ways to avoid pain.  Register at the link to enliven your practice today.

See you on the mat!

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Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Blissful Hips

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Pigeon Leg Lifts

Pigeon Leg Lifts

Ignite Your Core-Hip Connection

pigeon drill

PIGEON LEG LIFTS

Pigeon Leg Lifts are the perfect example of how you can flip a common yoga posture on its head. You may have explored several variations of Pigeon Pose, but this out-of-the-ordinary drill/variation requires something quite different. Pigeon Leg Lifts boost your ability to feel how much of a role the psoas plays in how you experience your core. In fact, the psoas is considered to be part of the core, but it is not always part of the conversation. Its location in the body, combined with the knowledge of how to highlight it in your yoga practice, helps to bridge the gap between your core and hips. Tapping into this results in greater strength and stability in your yoga practice.

Yoga for Core and Breathwork

BREATH OF FIRE

  • Moderate Vinyasa-style classes
  • Core strengthening & integration
  • Master your breath with pranayama practices
  • Access your core in arm balances, heart openers, twists, forward folds, inversions, and more
  • Learn where and how to breathe in challenging postures
  • Each class will include one pranayama (breathwork practice) and several core strengtheners
  • Access your core muscles: deep, superficial, anterior, posterior, and lateral 
  • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
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THE PSOAS 

The iliopsoas (often referred to as the psoas) is actually a combination of two muscles, namely the iliacus and psoas major, but is often thought of as one. It’s unique in that it’s the only muscle in the body that crosses over between the upper and lower body. The psoas is a deep muscle that attaches to the lumbar spine and the inner thigh bone. Due to its location in the body, one of its main roles is to stabilize the lumbar spine. The psoas is both a hip flexor and external rotator of the hip, playing a significant role in how you move, on and off of the yoga mat. Contracting this muscle in Pigeon Leg Lifts promotes deeper range of motion and helps you connect more deeply with the abdominal muscles that are part of the core (i.e., rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques).

WATCH THE VIDEO

PIGEON LEG LIFTS:  IGNITE YOUR CORE-HIP CONNECTION

THE CORE-HIP CONNECTION

The psoas works in conjunction with the other core muscles. As mentioned, it’s both a hip flexor and hip external rotator, but it also creates flexion of the spine. Spinal flexion is an entry point to understanding the core-hip connection. In my previous blog, Rectus Abdominis Handstand Drill, I discussed how Matt very intentionally utilizes the activation of rectus abdominis in order to create spinal flexion. Both the psoas’s ability to create the same action and the placement of its attachment points reveal that the psoas is essentially a bridge between the core and the legs. Understanding the link between the core and the hips has the ability to transform your yoga practice.

Activation and strengthening of the psoas is not often illuminated in unique ways in yoga classes. Practicing Pigeon Leg Lifts offers the opportunity to heighten the sensations within the core and the hips.

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WAYS TO EXPLORE PIGEON LEG LIFTS

In today’s video, Matt demonstrates 2 ways to execute Pigeon Leg Lifts. In the 1st option, you’ll see that it’s almost like a “push-up” action with multiple repetitions. The pushing up, however, comes from driving your hips up as far away from your mat as possible. In both options, your arms stay straight, but the 2nd requires that after you lift your hips, you sustain and hold for a few breaths. If you’re looking to fire up the core, then Pigeon Leg Lifts will do it!  You can’t escape the intensity of what’s involved. As you lift your hips all the way up, you are simultaneously creating more spinal flexion while your front upper thigh is in external rotation to maintain the “Pigeon position.” If that’s not enough, the action of pressing down the ball mound of the back foot also ignites the psoas and the hip flexors of the back thigh.

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  • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1

WHY IS THIS USEFUL?

The strengthening of the core, including the psoas, along with deeper spinal flexion is no doubt the “show stopper” of these Pigeon Leg Lifts. Doing this drill will promote greater stability and mobility for enhanced movement on and off of the mat. What’s incredible about the way Matt teaches is that he always provides a compassionate push. In the full class, he says that deliberately engaging muscles in your practice helps you understand what you struggle with the most. Once revealed, this understanding provides opportunities to work on those areas in order to achieve fuller body participation. Within all of this physical awareness, what ends up happening is an unfolding of the mind. Your ability to confront your perceived limitations also strengthens.

Join Matt’s Breath of Fire Immersion to experience the fullness of your practice.

See you on the mat!

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Breath of Fire Immersion

Yoga for Core and Breathwork

BREATH OF FIRE

  • Moderate Vinyasa-style classes
  • Core strengthening & integration
  • Master your breath with pranayama practices
  • Access your core in arm balances, heart openers, twists, forward folds, inversions, and more
  • Learn where and how to breathe in challenging postures
  • Each class will include one pranayama (breathwork practice) and several core strengtheners
  • Access your core muscles: deep, superficial, anterior, posterior, and lateral 
  • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
  • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that’s convenient for you

$148.00

Continue Learning

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Strengthen Your Diaphragm

Strengthen Your Diaphragm

Resistance-Band Breath Technique

breathe

STRENGTHEN YOUR DIAPHRAGM

Strengthening your diaphragm. Is that a thing? It absolutely is, just like any other muscle you develop and strengthen in your body. The diaphragm is arguably one of the most important because it is one of the main muscles that helps you breathe. How do you strengthen the diaphragm? One way to work with this muscle is to engage it. This happens naturally when we inhale, of course, because of the natural movement that occurs: The diaphragm moves downward towards the lower vertebrae in order to create space, while the vacuum of pressure pulls air into the lungs. What Matt demonstrates today is not this natural engagement but instead a sustained engagement in order to work on the endurance and strengthening of the diaphragm.

Yoga for Core and Breathwork

BREATH OF FIRE

  • Moderate Vinyasa-style classes
  • Core strengthening & integration
  • Master your breath with pranayama practices
  • Access your core in arm balances, heart openers, twists, forward folds, inversions, and more
  • Learn where and how to breathe in challenging postures
  • Each class will include one pranayama (breathwork practice) and several core strengtheners
  • Access your core muscles: deep, superficial, anterior, posterior, and lateral 
  • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
  • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that’s convenient for you

$148.00

BHASTRIKA PRANAYAMA

Maintaining the sustained engagement of the diaphragm may sound reasonably simple; however, it may be quite uncomfortable if it’s something you’ve never practiced before. In order to train your body and nervous system for the mechanics of each movement and/or drill ahead, Matt prepares you in his current immersion, Breath of Fire, with a breath technique at the beginning of each class. 

Bhastrika pranayama is the ideal pairing for the resistance-band technique that Matt demonstrates in today’s video. Bhastrika pranayama is referred to as Breath of Fire, or Bellows Breath. This breath technique involves emphasis and effort on both the inhale and the exhale. Practicing a few rounds with multiple repetitions gets the brain on board, particularly with the action of the inhale. The action of pushing your belly out on the inhale provides more force, focus, and movement of your diaphragm.

WATCH THE VIDEO

STRENGTHEN YOUR DIAPHRAGM: RESISTANCE BAND BREATH TECHNIQUE

HOW DOES BHASTRIKA COMPARE TO KAPALABHATI?

So, why not Kapalabhati pranayama as preparation for the resistance-band technique Matt explores today? It’s because the difference between Bhastrika and Kapalabhati is where the emphasis is placed in the breath. With Bhastrika, the inhale is quite active, whereas with Kapalabhati, the inhale is passive. This creates more emphasis on the exhale and the movement “in and up” of the transversus abdominis. Visually, the two breathing practices may appear very similar, but the sensation and experience are quite different.  

Matt advises you to build gradually. For example, you may start with 15 repetitions and then gradually move your way up to 30. The goal is to gradually become more familiar with pushing your belly out, thus moving the diaphragm down in order to train it for strength. What becomes apparent is that you actually affect more than the diaphragm. You tap into connections with other core muscles.

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
  • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1

MORE THAN YOUR ABDOMINALS

Your core is much more than just your abdominal muscles. The exercise Matt breaks down today requires quite a bit of work from your iliopsoas muscles, which are also part of your core. Creating strength in the diaphragm includes exploring sustained engagement outside of isolation, and activating the iliopsoas in conjunction with the diaphragm means that you are incorporating more of your core muscles and therefore creating more integrity within the whole “core system.” The act of pushing your belly down and out on both the inhale and the exhale also supports the connection with the core muscles in your back body (e.g., erector spinae and multifidus).

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
  • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1

RESISTANCE-BAND BREATH TECHNIQUE

First of all, if you’re familiar with the core exercise called Dead Bug, you’ll be familiar with the basic mechanics of this exercise. What may be new for you is the consistent activation of your diaphragm while executing the core work.

What role does a resistance band play with this breath/core technique? Well, as Matt explains it, the band acts somewhat like the transverse abdominis and is there to entice you to pull your belly in and up. What you will actually do is push your belly down and out, into the band.

This action, in addition to the cross action of pressing your opposite hand into your thigh and the thigh into your hand, is what engages your iliopsoas muscles.

This is much harder than it appears. Of course the level of difficulty is increased due to the balance factor, but it’s really the engagement of your diaphragm that multiplies the sensations in this technique.

Expand on this experience in Matt’s current immersion, Breath Of Fire. Delve into deeper knowledge of your core muscles in order to both breathe and move better.

See you on the mat!

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: Breath Of Fire Immersion

Yoga for Core and Breathwork

BREATH OF FIRE

  • Moderate Vinyasa-style classes
  • Core strengthening & integration
  • Master your breath with pranayama practices
  • Access your core in arm balances, heart openers, twists, forward folds, inversions, and more
  • Learn where and how to breathe in challenging postures
  • Each class will include one pranayama (breathwork practice) and several core strengtheners
  • Access your core muscles: deep, superficial, anterior, posterior, and lateral 
  • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
  • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that’s convenient for you

$148.00

Continue Learning

Double Stag Handstand

Double Stag Handstand

Double Stag HandstandbalanceDOUBLE 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,...

read more
Accelerated Handstand Development

Accelerated Handstand Development

Accelerated Handstand DevelopmentinversionACCELERATED 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...

read more
Tweak The Twists In Your Yoga Practice

Tweak The Twists In Your Yoga Practice

Tweak the Twists in Your Yoga PracticepadmasanaTWEAK THE TWISTS IN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE The definition of "tweak" here is the following: to improve (a mechanism or system) by making fine adjustments to it. This perfectly describes a major part of what’s involved in the...

read more
Lotus Foundations

Lotus Foundations

Lotus FoundationspadmasanaLOTUS FOUNDATIONS Lotus Pose requires a healthy amount of hip flexibility. For some, it comes easy. Reasons for this might be that the person is hypermobile in the hips, knees, and ankles and/or that many months or years of effort have been...

read more
Hips and Eka Pada Galavasana

Hips and Eka Pada Galavasana

Hips and Eka Pada Galavasanaflying pigeonHIPS AND EKA PADA GALAVASANA Depending on where we are in our asana practice journey, arm balances may feel a little overwhelming. It can be difficult to know where to start. Instead of thinking about the final destination, we...

read more
Hip Flexor Health For Better Movement

Hip Flexor Health For Better Movement

Hip Flexor Health for Better MovementstretchHIP FLEXOR HEALTH FOR BETTER MOVEMENT Healthy hip flexor muscles are associated with both stretch and strength. Although we’re going to focus more heavily on strength in this article, always note that both strength and...

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.

Chaturanga Alignment Part 1

Chaturanga Alignment PART 1

3 Actions To Get Stronger

CHATURANGA ALIGNMENT FOR STRENGTH

Chaturanga is one of the most repeated poses in the modern yoga practice, and it happens to be one of the most challenging on the shoulders. It is highly beneficial to take a look at the mechanics of the posture. I have been studying this posture for over a decade and I have to say chaturanga seems to be one of the most mysterious postures out there. So many teachers are offering “correct alignment” and throwing around “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” without taking a deep look at what is really happening. Part of why there are so many contrasting opinions is the simple misunderstanding that bones and muscles are not the same – or better put, alignment and muscle engagement don’t necessarily go hand in hand. When we say that the elbows are bent in chaturanga we are referring specifically to the structure or alignment of the pose, NOT the action of the muscles. If we are to pause in chaturanga and hold it as a posture, what are the muscles that stop the elbows from bending? You may have figured it out – the triceps. What do the triceps do? They straighten the elbows. So we can say pretty confidently that in chaturanga the elbows are bent, but we are trying to straighten them in order to stop or slow down movement. The same is true in the shoulder blades, but because the shoulder blades aren’t as straight forward as bend and straighten, most people have a cloudy understanding of what is happening there.

THE SHOULDER BLADES

What is happening at the shoulder blades in chaturanga? As for the structure, I would argue that they are retracted (closer together) and most likely in what is called upward tilt (Video Time Mark – 3:30) – shoulder blades climb up and over the top of the rib cage. These joint relationships are quite normal when you do a “seated row” with your elbows close in. If the hands are wider in chaturanga the shoulder blades are less likely to be in upward tilt and more likely to just be retracted. If you don’t follow this, don’t worry. Just know that the shoulder blades tend to move in specific ways when the arms move, and the video above will give you the visual of these actions. Let’s keep it simple – the shoulder blades are retracted when in the bent elbow position. In order to slow down the movement, you would have to try to protract your shoulder blades – move them apart – as if you were trying to push back up to plank pose. In the video above there is a great visual of my shoulder blades moving from retraction to protraction at the 4 minute mark. Just like the elbow joint, we can look at the shoulder blades and say the structural alignment is retraction, but the muscle action is the opposite – we are trying to protract the shoulder blades – this is what slows down or stops the movement at the scapula. In the video I use a term that I created for my Mentorship Mastery students, and have now integrated into my new yoga system called Chromatic Yoga. This term is called a Balancing Action – an engagement of the muscular system that opposes the structural alignment. When we engage the triceps while the elbow is bent, this is a “Balancing Action.” The primary muscles that create protraction are the Seratus Anterior. If the shoulder blades are retracted and we activate these muscles, then again this would be called a Balancing Action.

Arm Balances

ARM BALANCES

Learn 12+ arm balances while expanding your knowledge of the body and increasing your body awareness. All classes are 75 minutes and ALL-levels appropriate 

  • Crow Pose, Side Crow, and variations
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  • Titibhasana, Bhujapidasana
  • Handstand, Forearm Stand, and many more!

 

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Step 1 - External Rotation of Arms

To stabilize the arms in chaturanga, external rotation is highly effective. The arms will tend to internally rotate due to the activation of the pectoral major muscles. If we keep the pectoral major activated and oppose it with the external rotators of our rotator cuff group, then we create oppositional stability. Engaging two opposing muscle groups at the same time is not easy. It takes effort and coordination, however it is absolutely possible. In the above picture you see my biceps are facing out and hands are out as a result of that rotation. When the hands are on the ground they can’t move, so when you externally rotate, the elbows will come inward. My suggestion is elbows vertical over the wrists, not touching your rib cage. Bonus- this often takes pressure off of the outer wrist

Step 2: Depression of the Scapula

One way to stabilize the shoulder blades is to depress them down the back. In addition to stability, this provides the added benefit of potentially relaxing the pectoral minor muscle which tends to get over used and abused from repetitive chaturangas. Depression of the scapula can be quite challenging if you are not a climber or actively work your lower trapezius and latissimus muscles. Our shoulder blades are often resting downward, but that is due to gravity, not strength. When depressing the shoulder blades be sure to think from the back muscles, because it is easy to press the front of your shoulder down the front of your chest resulting in upward tilt of the scapula as mentioned in the above video. Depression of the scapula can prevent upward tilt if done properly.

Step 3: Protraction

Separating the shoulder blades away from one another and around the rib cage creates stability and resistance against gravity. While you will likely still be in retraction of your scapula in chaturanga, I am suggesting to actively resist in order to hold the posture or slow down the descent. This takes a tremendous amount of body awareness, so it is highly beneficial to practice this in postures like plank and forearm plank. These two postures have a fixed elbow joint making it easier to feel just the action of protraction. Also see Chaturanga Part 2 in order to learn how develop the body awareness necessary for this action. One tip I will offer is that it helps to think of puffing up the upper back. You may wind up activating the abdominals which can inadvertently support protraction.

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What is Next?

The best thing you can do for yourself when attaining new knowledge is to find ways to integrate it. Through the integration process you can develop proficiency of the techniques which allows you to access them on demand and in more postures. How do you integrate them? This was a common question that came up after this video was released. I created a free follow up blog to support you in this adventure! Part 2 of this blog gives you 3 exercises to practice in order to become familiar with the actions so you can apply them to your practice of chaturanga. Thanks for stopping by, and please share this blog with others who you feel would benefit!

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Arm Balances

ARM BALANCES

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The Key To Arm Balances

The Key to arm Balances

Learn the secret to balancing on your hands

 

The Secret is Simple

Finding ease in arm balances can seem like a mystery and it can be frustrating to figure them out while struggling to breathe in positions that feel constricting. The secret to arm balances is simple, but it is not always easy to put into action. Picture a balance scale, the old-fashioned kind. When both sides are even, the scale is “balanced.” There is no difference between a balance scale and your body, but it’s visually harder to understand. The center of the scale is where your hand meets your wrists.

Let’s think about crow pose for a moment. You will see in the picture to the right (or below if you’re on mobile or a tablet) a red line to show you where the shaft of a balance scale would be. I call the hips and legs the “back side” of the pose, and the heart and head the “front side.” In order for the back and front side to be equal we must lean forward quite a bit. This presents a bit of fear for many yogis, and for a good reason! You could easily lean too far, too fast. This is why it’s important to build strength in your fingers and wrists. The primary muscles that stop the body from leaning too far are the flexors of the wrists and fingers. I call these muscles “The Breaks,” and much like driving any vehicle, you will not feel safe without them! For this reason alone it’s super important to strengthen the breaks so that you build trust in yourself. As your trust builds, you will be willing to lean forward more and more into the strength of your wrists.  In my Handstand Training video, I provide some of my top exercises for “the breaks.”

When most people first try to lean forward they actually tend to sink, softening the elbow joints and melting the shoulder blades toward each other. This will make the posture heavy and will actually make it harder to balance. To be sure you aren’t doing this, film yourself or better yet find a teacher or friend to support you with visual coaching.

yoga arm balance with goats
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yoga pose all 4's wrist strengthener

Step 1 - All Fours with a Block

First work with a block behind the forearms on all fours. To be clear this is a deep extension of the wrist, so be mindful. If you feel that your muscles are straining, back the block up an inch. The idea here is to grip the ground with your fingers which will activate the flexor muscles. Because the hand is in extension, the flexor muscles are elongated significantly, so gripping the ground could prove to be challenging.

chaturanga with block for wrist strength

Step 2: Chaturanga with a block

The next step is to work on lowering from plank to chaturanga with the block directly behind the forearm. I recommend only going down a few inches and trying to hold. You will notice that in my chaturanga and crow pose my elbows are only slightly bent. This will make it easier to stay lifted and light. The same is true for the fingers; keep gripping the ground! To Strengthen your wrist, I highly recommend Handstand Training

crow pose wrist strength and balance

Step 3: Crow Pose

Crow pose is significantly more challenging, so if this is new for you be sure to work with a teacher first (and a landing cushion would be an intelligent choice if you ask me). Apply the same action but go slower. Grip the ground and apply the breaks, then lean into that resistance. If you are more proficient in arm balances, you can try this in a posture like Ekapada Koundenyasana 2  or flying pigeon.

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Avoiding Wrist Pain

Wrist pain is common when people first start their yoga practice or arm balance practice. That doesn’t mean it’s a good thing, but it probably means the muscles that surround the joint are not strong and probably not balanced. The wrists are not a muscle you can simply work really hard a few times and see positive results. More likely you will strain the muscles if you go that route. Instead spend small amounts of time practicing these exercises but do them often. This is how I train my own wrists and I have had much success with feeling good over the course of 12 plus years of practicing handstands and arm balances.

Thank you for reading and watching! if you have questions, comments or requests please share them here!

-Matt

Handstand Strength Training

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Double Stag Handstand

Double Stag Handstand

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Accelerated Handstand Development

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read more
Lotus Foundations

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Lotus FoundationspadmasanaLOTUS FOUNDATIONS Lotus Pose requires a healthy amount of hip flexibility. For some, it comes easy. Reasons for this might be that the person is hypermobile in the hips, knees, and ankles and/or that many months or years of effort have been...

read more
Hips and Eka Pada Galavasana

Hips and Eka Pada Galavasana

Hips and Eka Pada Galavasanaflying pigeonHIPS AND EKA PADA GALAVASANA Depending on where we are in our asana practice journey, arm balances may feel a little overwhelming. It can be difficult to know where to start. Instead of thinking about the final destination, we...

read more
Hip Flexor Health For Better Movement

Hip Flexor Health For Better Movement

Hip Flexor Health for Better MovementstretchHIP FLEXOR HEALTH FOR BETTER MOVEMENT Healthy hip flexor muscles are associated with both stretch and strength. Although we’re going to focus more heavily on strength in this article, always note that both strength and...

read more

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  • the Technique Pack: 15 yoga pose breakdowns
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  • exclusive blogs and videos
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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