SHORTEN TO LENGTHEN YOUR STANDING SPLITS

SHORTEN TO LENGTHEN YOUR STANDING SPLITS 

INCREASE FLEXIBILITY WITH THIS TECHNIQUE

HANUMANASANA

SHORTEN TO LENGTHEN

What does shorten to lengthen your standing splits even mean? Does that even make sense? At first thought it may seem counterintuitive that if you want to increase your flexibility, you need to shorten. What we’re talking about is shortening muscles in order to find greater length in your hamstrings for this posture. There is a specific technique that supports your ability to increase your flexibility, all while building strength and integrity in standing splits.

PASSIVE VS. ACTIVE STRETCHING

Any variation of splits requires a great deal of flexibility, and because lengthening muscles is non-negotiable to execute this posture, a common go-to strategy in your yoga practice may be to select postures and techniques that passively assist you in this endeavor. This passive assistance might involve using a yoga strap, a wall, and/or the floor to sink into the forces of gravity. These can be effective stretching methods at various times, but if you’re interested not only in lengthening but in the overall health of the muscles that are lengthening, then please introduce yourself to the concept of a Facilitated Stretch (more on this in a bit). This technique asks you to shorten in order to lengthen. A facilitated stretch requires you to be a more active participant in creating stronger and healthier flexibility in your body.

 

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FLEXIBILITY? STRENGTH? or BOTH?

In order to achieve standing splits, there must be a level of flexibility in your hamstrings, adductor magnus, and the hip flexors. There must also be an awareness around the movement of your pelvis. However, an element that often gets overlooked is the fact that a great deal of strength is required for the posture. 

When preparing for standing splits, Matt explains that the goal is to keep the hamstrings engaged through the entire range of motion. How is this possible? This is where the awareness of the articulation of your pelvis is key. In the video, Matt demonstrates the importance of slowing the tipping of the pelvis on the way down and also tucking the sit bone of the standing leg downwards (this will create more of a posterior tilt of the pelvis).

The rest of the body should stay in one piece to ensure that the movement is occurring from the hamstrings of the standing leg—everywhere else is stable and immobile. This may take some time, due to the patterns you may have created in your body.

WATCH THE VIDEO: SHORTEN TO LENGTHEN YOUR STANDING SPLITS

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YOUR BODY’S TENDENCIES

Our bodies just love the familiar, so it will take an incredible amount of focus and awareness in order to go into the places in your body that require more length and strength. This is in fact how you will unlock the posture. You will not only achieve the aesthetic of the posture but also move in the direction of better balance in your body. This also means a reduced risk of injury. Matt always encourages a more intelligent and methodical approach to your practice as a whole, but this method must also be applied as you approach each posture. 

No matter your approach, Splits, Standing Splits, Hanumanasana are very demanding and deep postures that may put you at a higher risk, so the activation of muscles is key. This brings us back to the concept of a Facilitated Stretch. What is it, and how is it implemented?

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ONLINE YOGA IMMERSION

  • Key techniques to increase flexibility
  • Strength development for mobility and range of motion
  • Learn postures: Hanumanasana (Splits), Extended Side Plank
  • Active and passive mobility for shoulders, hips, and spine
  • Improve spinal twists, heart openers, shoulder openers, and hip openers
  • Find greater ease in seated postures
  • Improve mobility and posture off the mat
  • When and how to do active, passive, and isometric stretching

$148.00

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FACILITATED STRETCH

If you’re just starting your journey of practicing with Matt, please believe me when I say that you will become the best of pals with this concept. Is it challenging at times? YES, YES, and YES I said that multiple times, but is it effective? YES, YES, and YES again!

A facilitated stretch is when a muscle is engaged while it is in a lengthened position. We have something called Golgi tendon organs which communicate muscle tension back to the brain. When a muscle is both engaged and lengthened, the brain will receive that information and will in turn send a signal back to the muscle that it is safe, therefore allowing it to lengthen more. This is in fact the key to the development of increased flexibility. This is also in fact extremely effective for those of you who may be hypermobile. It creates a sense of control and awareness around your end ranges in a particular posture. We have the ability to facilitate this tension by the articulations we might create with, for example, an action of the pelvis and/or the directional pull of a particular joint against a surface, prop, or other part of our body. Staying closer to a safer amount of activation usually means placing roughly about 20% of effort (or less) into the activation. At the root of it all is your breath, so keep this in mind as we look at the steps Matt provides in order to set up Standing Splits at the wall.  

STANDING SPLITS AT THE WALL

  1. Use hands as a base of support
  2. Look towards the wall
  3. Lift right heel (shortens the back line)
  4. Turn pelvis closed and turn inner heel of the lifted leg to the sky
  5. Straighten through inner heel of the lifted leg to the sky
  6. Lower heel of the standing leg back down
  7. Lean more into fingers and toes as top leg is straightened

*Here’s the opportunity to tap into the facilitated stretch of the standing leg:

8.  Standing leg (in this case the right leg) is not passive—microtuck the sit bone down towards your heel so that the hamstrings are engaged

If it feels like you’re strengthening rather than stretching, then you’re on the right track. This is in fact the sensation of a facilitated stretch and what actually increases your flexibility. Rather than causing alarm to your body, it will feel safe to release and lengthen.

A DIRECT LINK TO HANDSTAND

Safety breeds confidence, and the beautiful thing about incorporating techniques like a facilitated stretch into your yoga practice is that you feel both prepared and confident to explore a variety of postures. This exploration allows space for you to work towards postures that may feel “intimidating” or even “inaccessible.”  

The specific techniques that Matt has demonstrated for Standing Splits create a direct link to Handstand. The direct link comes from what is required in regard to the setup. Getting into Handstand from the ground up requires a great deal of flexibility and strength. You can find out more about the crossover between these two postures in Matt’s current immersion, Handstand & Meditation.

See you on the mat!

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Video Extracted From: Mobility Immersion

CHOOSE YOUR PATH

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deeper twists and spinal mobility with the fire line

DEEPER TWISTS

INCREASE SPINAL MOBILITY WITH THE FIRE LINE

DEEPER TWISTS

DEEPER TWISTS & SPINAL MOBILITY: “FIRE LINE”

Do you correlate strength with twisting postures in your yoga practice, or is it flexibility that comes to mind first?  There’s no doubt that both strength and flexibility are required for deeper twists, but let’s shine the spotlight on strength as we take a deeper look into how we can unlock our true potential when it comes to the execution of twisting postures in our asana practice.

YOUR INTENTION FOR THE TWIST

Twisting postures in yoga are known for their multitude of benefits. Let’s understand though that our intentions behind various twisting postures and the ways in which we execute them can benefit vs. harm our bodies to varying degrees. We may also have very different reasons for incorporating twists into our asana practice. If the goal is to create more of a therapeutic experience, then gentler twists may be the appropriate approach to take. If the intent and/or purpose is to work more deeply into a twist, then there are ways to heighten the experience with proper awareness and activation (we’ll see this shortly with Matt’s unique approach). Whether there is some level of vulnerability due to injury or not, doing things like pushing through the arms or trying to force more deeply into a twist can in fact cause harm, and this is never the desired outcome.

 

Online yoga to improve mobility

MOBILITY

ONLINE YOGA IMMERSION

  • Key techniques to increase flexibility
  • Strength development for mobility and range of motion
  • Learn postures: Hanumanasana (Splits), Extended Side Plank
  • Active and passive mobility for shoulders, hips, and spine
  • Improve spinal twists, heart openers, shoulder openers, and hip openers
  • Find greater ease in seated postures
  • Improve mobility and posture off the mat
  • When and how to do active, passive, and isometric stretching

$148.00

MORE INFORMATION

Yes, all movements on or off the mat will indeed place varying degrees of pressure on the discs in our spine, and, outside of the body’s natural resilience, there are ways in which we can create more integrity to support these movements. Although simply by twisting, we increase the amount of pressure on the spinal discs, twisting is also the answer to the question of how to increase their health.

Our discs require nourishment, and I love the sponge analogy — the “squeeze and soak effect” — when considering how to stimulate this nourishment. An appropriate twisting action or posture can actually help to equalize the pressure in the discs by supplying them with fluid, which allows them to expand. This creates more space and shock absorption between each vertebra, allowing your spine to react with more resilience to movements that create more weight, pressure, and/or impact in your body.

Now, Matt’s approach to twists is quite unique and extremely effective. His approach asks you to bring your focus and awareness to where you can create activations with more intention in order for your body to respond with greater ease. 

WHAT IS THE FIRE LINE?

If you’ve been following Matt and/or practicing with him, then you are familiar with his Chromatic Approach to yoga. Regarding the physical practice, we understand this approach as systemic with a deep awareness of how we move our bodies and progress to a “peak posture.” Something Matt created is the  idea of  the “Fire Line,” which he describes as a kinesthetic chain of muscle activation, or a co-activated line of muscle, or a co-ordinated engagement of several muscles in order to gain greater access to balance, strength, stability, and flexibility.

MUSCLE ACTIVATION IN THE FIRE LINE

Matt starts off by explaining that we first bring our attention and awareness to the serratus anterior on one side of the body, which funnels into the external obliques through the linea alba, then traveling underneath the external obliques on the other side of the body to the internal obliques, which then go down to the opposite hip bone.  

The Fire Line branches off “like a river” in 2 directions. The 1st branch goes to the outside of the gluteus maximus down through the IT band and connects to the outer shin. The 2nd branch goes from the inside of the hipthe iliacus and/or psoas muscle, which is on the inside of the bowl of your pelvis and attaches right at the inner thigh, where it meets the pelvis inside of the femoral head (inside of thigh bone). This all travels in the same direction, where we find the adductor group, which runs at the inside of your leg; some of the muscles in this group attach down at the shin.

We draw a thread of connection all the way through. Through Matt’s dedication to practice and his experience with his own body and with teaching and observing his students, he realized that activating this line allows the yoga practitioner to execute a variety of different twisting postures with great integrity and ability.

He highlights that the “center of the fire” is right at the core. We must recognize that the fire goes inward and creates a rounding through the back of the body. The key is to bring awareness to this rounding by exaggerating a pulling back of the ribcage.

With all of this in mind, we can see why strength plays a key role. Instead of just “dumping,” or forcing our bodies into a twist, we very thoughtfully engage the muscles in this Fire Line to more safely and deeply experience a variety of twisting postures.

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SPINAL AWAKENING

November 2021 Immersion

  • Twists • side bends • forward folds • heart openers
  • Learn techniques to strengthen & mobilize your spine
  • Release back tension and discomfort
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  • Advance your postural practice
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REVOLVED CHAIR POSE

Take a close look at Matt’s deliberate actions in today’s video.  What we see is not only the chromatic approach, the build, the preparation; but we see the activation of the fire line in order to avoid the collapse into Revolved Chair Pose.

When we approach twisting postures with strength as the anchor, not only do we execute twists with more purpose, but overall we feel more empowered in our bodies and our practice.  What a beautiful outcome.

Imagine getting this type of insight on your practice on a regular basis, and being able to integrate it into your mind and body. Online Immersions with Matt are the perfect way to get techniques like the fire line into your practice. Each immersion consists of 12 all levels classes so you can advance your body awareness and deepen your practice.

If you have been practicing with the immersions than you know exactly how powerful and effective they are.

But what if you want to share this knowledge with others? Take advantage of the opportunity to study with Matt in his upcoming teacher trainings.  His 200 and 300 Hr trainings are open for enrollment.

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

This is for you if you are interested in deepening your yoga practice, building your confidence, learning how to create a class, sharing this practice with friends, family or beyond. Yes it’s for all levels, ages, etc.

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

This training is definitely for you if you are already certified at the 200 or 500 hour level but want to take your teaching career and practice to the next level. In this training you will learn Anatomy, Bio-mechanics, Postural Techniques, Intelligent Sequencing, Breathwork, Meditation, Heart Centered Philosophy, Theming, Business Structure, Marketing, Social Media, Branding and how to build a sustainable and successful career!

Article by Trish Curling  @anioyoga

Video Extracted From: The 200 & 300 Hour Trainings and April 2020 Immersion “The Greatest Hits”

Online yoga to improve mobility

MOBILITY

ONLINE YOGA IMMERSION

  • Key techniques to increase flexibility
  • Strength development for mobility and range of motion
  • Learn postures: Hanumanasana (Splits), Extended Side Plank
  • Active and passive mobility for shoulders, hips, and spine
  • Improve spinal twists, heart openers, shoulder openers, and hip openers
  • Find greater ease in seated postures
  • Improve mobility and posture off the mat
  • When and how to do active, passive, and isometric stretching

$148.00

MORE INFORMATION

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reverse warrior for better back bend flexibility

REVERSE WARRIOR

INCREASE BACK FLEXIBILITY WITH THIS PARTICULAR ALIGNMENT

REVERSE WARRIOR

REVERSE WARRIOR: PREPARE FOR BACKBENDS

Full expansion, widespread freedom, release, and openness — this might describe what we feel as yogis when it comes to the shape of a backbend or heart-opening posture in our yoga practice. We might see ourselves floating easily into this posture and enjoying the lengthening in our front body along with the confidence and strength we embody in our upper and back body (depending on the posture).

Alternatively, we might think about pain, tension, injury, constriction, fear, limitation, even inadequacy if we can’t “achieve” the posture. These are all real experiences, thoughts, and emotions we may have when it comes to backbends. We must always consider, however, what our intent is when it comes to our practice and how we can still find enjoyment and expansion within our bodies, hearts, and mind.

Backbends are also referred to as heart openers because they are associated with doing just that: opening your heart from what may be closed off, such as buried energy and/or emotions like fear, mistrust, sadness, or frustration and anger. We may go to backbends in our practice to shift this energy, to release it. Through this idea, we can create more space between ourselves and our pain. If we can’t make these shapes with our bodies for various reasons, do we not have the ability to shift these energies? The answer: Of course we do.

online yoga immersion for the spine

SPINAL AWAKENING

November 2021 Immersion

  • Twists • side bends • forward folds • heart openers
  • Learn techniques to strengthen and mobilize your spine
  • Release back tension and discomfort
  • Twelve 75-minute classes, all levels appropriate
  • Advance your postural practice
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

$148.00 $118.00

If it’s not an injury or condition that is preventing you from creating these shapes, you can approach a backbend through preparation. (This is not to say you can’t experience release in other ways, like using pranayama to unlock freedom, but that is for another discussion.) Begin by stepping back from what you envision as the end result and looking at placing your attention on areas that focus your mind, prepare your body, and allow you to let go of outcomes.

I’ll show you how we can do this with Reverse Warrior. If we place our awareness specifically on how we execute lateral flexion with the torso in this posture, it offers solid preparation for backbends. It takes our focus into the process. We are investing “well-placed effort” in how we deconstruct the appropriate actions. We can then experience and feel more expansion, opening, freedom, and release with this “preparatory posture.”

The required flexibility in this posture is directly parallel to the flexibility required in a backbend. I’ll discuss this further. Let’s talk about this well-placed effort first.

Abhyasa and Vairagya in Our Asana Practice

In Tantra of the Yoga Sutras, Alan Finger eloquently explains the ideas of abhyasa and vairagya, “the forces of effort and surrender” [Sutras 1.12 – 1.16], in our asana practice:  

“Abhyasa means making your best effort to focus all the vritti* on one single point, whether it is an action, object, thought, or image … Vairagya is the second part of the recipe. Vairagya is the ability to let go of any desire for the fruits of our efforts to focus the mind. This allows our consciousness to take action in the world without attachment.”

*Vritti is the Sanskrit word for all the images, thoughts, emotions, reactions, and belief patterns that are the activity of the mind.

Finger, Alan. Tantra of the Yoga Sutras Pg.22 – 27 )

With this understanding of abhyasa, we can place our attention on how we execute Reverse Warrior for better preparation for heart openers.

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Required Flexibility For Backbends

Wheel Pose (Urdva Dhanurasana) and Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

Just by simply looking at the shapes below, we can see the similarities.  

Both of these postures require flexibility in the pectorals, front deltoids, abdominals, and hip flexors.

Camel pose back bend

How does this compare to Reverse Warrior?

Reverse Warrior requires lateral flexion of the spine, opening the internal and external oblique muscles because of the side bend. It requires flexibility of the latissimus dorsi, rectus abdominis, and the lower fibers of the pectoralis major for greater extension of the spine.

In the video, Matt demonstrates the added “lift of the heart more forward and up.” This is in fact that well-placed effort (abhyasa). Lifting and turning the heart may seem like a small action, but it is actually how we prepare with much more intent for the backbend. Matt describes how with this action, we open the obliques, crossing the whole mid-section into the linea alba, opening up the side body muscles. Adding the turn, we stretch the rectus abdominis to provide us with greater extension of the spine. Greater extension also means more access to a particular backbend.

online yoga immersion for the spine

SPINAL AWAKENING

November 2021 Immersion

  • Twists • side bends • forward folds • heart openers
  • Learn techniques to strengthen and mobilize your spine
  • Release back tension and discomfort
  • Twelve 75-minute classes, all levels appropriate
  • Advance your postural practice
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

$148.00 $118.00

Bringing It All Together

What is our intention? We must ask ourselves this question. Is it the outcome or the experience? If we can settle and focus the mind with well-placed effort (abhyasa) at the same time as releasing expectation for the outcome (vairagya), we can let go of the mind attachments and just experience. Abhyasa and vairagya, when practiced together, help us to release, even dissolve our attachments. Is it not then arguable that in this state, we are experiencing the freedom, openness, vulnerability, and expansion we desire from backbends?

Let’s actualize this state of being in our practice as a whole. Let’s step into this in Matt’s current immersion, Spinal Awakening, where he explores movements of the spine, always through the lens of abhyasa and vairagya.

The focus in this immersion is on heart openers, twists, side bends, and forward folds.

Matt’s intention and emphasis is always about you getting to know your body in order for you to tap into your own individual highest potential. This looks like and is expressed in many different ways. Matt invites you to let go of defining yourself as a specific kind of practitioner and encourages you to delve into your own path without any burden of what the outcomes may look like.

Let’s meet with open hearts on the mat in Spinal Awakening.
It’s never too late to join in. Click here to gain lifetime access to the immersion and to yourself!

Written By Trish Curling @anioyoga

Continue Learning

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HEALTHY HAMSTRINGS

HEALTHY HAMSTRINGS

FACILITATED STRETCH TECHNIQUE

 Hamstrings

 

Hip And Hamstring Flexibility

Why Is Hip Mobility Important?

Tight hamstrings are a common complaint. This may be because it’s one of the most noticeable things to show up in our yoga practice and in our daily lives. How many times have you heard someone say, “I can’t even touch my toes anymore!” Or maybe you have said this yourself. Now, touching our toes does not define our worth; the awareness of this limitation and tension in this area of the body simply provides opportunities for us to investigate. Too often, this investigation leads to repeatedly stretching the area in order to lengthen and hopefully release the tightness. However, continuously stretching hamstrings will not likely provide us with the flexibility we desire and may actually cause further tension, pain, or injury to hamstrings and other areas in our bodies. In order to increase flexibility while maintaining the health of the muscles, we must incorporate a technique called facilitated stretching.

yoga backbend techniques: 12 classes [backbend technique to relieve back pain "bowing the spine']

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WHAT EXACTLY IS MUSCLE TIGHTNESS?

First, let’s discuss why muscles become tight. Muscle tightness results from an increase in tension through active or passive mechanisms. Passively, muscles can become shortened through postural adaptation — think sitting, or walking in high heels all day — or through injury and scarring. Actively, muscles can become shorter due to spasm or contraction. Regardless of the cause, tightness limits range of motion and may create a muscle imbalance.

Page, Phil. “Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitation.” International journal of sports physical therapy vol. 7,1 (2012)

What is facilitated stretching, and how can we utilize it to increase flexibility in our hamstrings?  

What Is a Facilitated Stretch?

This occurs when we activate, or contract, the same muscle(s) we are stretching.  There are two types of muscle contractions — isotonic and isometric: “An isotonic contraction is a voluntary muscle contraction that causes movement … An isometric contraction is a voluntary contraction in which no movement occurs.”

Charland, Jeff & McAtee, Robert E., Facilitated Stretching Fourth Edition, 2014

The latter is the action we adopt in a facilitated stretch. Knowing this is important because it is how we maintain the health and integrity of the muscle. If we don’t engage our muscles, eventually they might lose their ability to contract. Losing this ability can lead to imbalances in our bodies; when these imbalances are significant, we can experience a decrease in range of motion. This decrease can lead to injury or chronic pain.

 

 

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IMPLEMENT FACILITATED STRETCHING

How can we cultivate this in our practice?

One of the best ways to incorporate facilitated stretching into our practice is to go slowly and to utilize props that will support the process. In the video below, Matt demonstrates the use of a facilitated stretch in forward fold, using a chair. He breaks it down into 4 digestible actions.

Four Actions to Utilize Facilitated Stretch in Forward Fold

  1. Lean forward into the big toes.
  2. Press the back of the hamstrings apart.
  3. Move the sit bones up to the sky (will pull up on the hamstring and start to straighten the knees).
  4. Move the sit bones down toward the heels, but don’t move your pelvis.

 

STRATEGY FOR HEALTHY HAMSTRING FLEXIBILITY

You may also enjoy the original blog paired with this video, “Avoid the Yoga Butt”

Suggested Immersion: Hips and Hamstrings: 12-Class Immersion

WHAT IS PNF?

Facilitating these actions may also be referred to as proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF).  

“Multiple studies have shown that PNF stretching is superior to traditional static stretching in terms of improving active and passive range of motion. It can be used to supplement daily, static stretching and has been shown to help athletes improve performance and make speedy gains in range of motion. Not only does it increase flexibility, but it can also improve muscular strength. What’s more, PNF stretching is believed to repair the microscopic damage that typically follows a high-intensity workout.”

Wicke J, Gainey K, and Figueroa M. A comparison of self-administered proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation to static stretching on range of motion and flexibility. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2014; 28(1): 168–172.

Sharman MJ, Cresswell AG, Riek S. Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching: Mechanisms and clinical implications. Sports Medicine. 2006; 36(11): 929-39.

All that being said, it’s important to also consider the amount of activation we utilize. It’s recommended that we only engage roughly between 15% – 20%. We want to stay on the side of a more conservative amount of force so as not to channel too much force to the joints, thus minimizing injury.   

To more fully understand this, click here for Matt’s 12-class immersion

Hips & Hamstrings, which took place in June 2021. To help you explore and uncover the strength in your own body, Matt’s new 12-class immersion, Strength, starts in October. Sign up today for lifetime access.

Written by Trish Curling

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HIPS & HAMSTRINGS

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Side Angle Self Adjustment for Hip Strength

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ACTIVATE YOUR GLUTES FOR GREATER GAINS

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Glute gains! Who doesn’t want those, right? When we think about glute gains though, our minds may go directly to the aesthetic appearance, when in reality, what we really need is the health and strength of that group of muscles (gluteus minimus, medius, and maximus) in order to have functional strength, balance, and endurance. We have the ability to create this reality within our bodies by way of adjustments and focused muscle activation in our physical yoga practice.  

When we think about adjustments in a yoga context, it can be quite a lengthy discussion with many layers. Receiving adjustments from our yoga teachers can be a wonderfully supportive experience, while for some, it may be the complete opposite. There may be an aversion to touch for many reasons; no matter what the reasons are, they are to be 100% respected.  

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The Power of Self Adjustments

Now, we happen to be in a time where so many of us are still not practicing in studios or in person with our private teachers. We are participating in virtual classes more than ever. If you weren’t utilizing self adjustments before, this unique time provides an opportunity to incorporate them. This can be a transformative addition to your physical practice, whether in the studio or at home.  Self adjustments offer more than you may think they do. They can be a really great way to connect with our own bodies. When we maintain awareness of the breath and connect with the specific action in the self adjustment, we can truly transform the experience we are having on the mat.

Incorporating adjustments is more than just placing our bodies into a specific alignment. Taking gradual steps through the process helps us to feel safe, therefore helping us to progress.

3 STEPS TO TAKE BEFORE SETTING UP YOUR SELF ADJUSTMENT

  1. Pay attention to your breath, maintain a rhythm that sends a signal to your brain that you are safe and that you are ready to sync the next action with your breath.
  2. Find stability first.  If you need additional support in the posture, then gather the props you may need. Utilizing blocks, a chair, and/or a wall may be just the thing that helps you to find the sensation or connection to the muscle activation.  
  3. Go for it! Perform the self adjustment. First, find the appropriate alignment in your body and then apply the action/contraction in the muscle with your own assist.

In today’s video, we can see Matt take all of these steps for glute activation in Side Angle Pose. In his preparation for the posture, he has set himself up on a chair, making himself more stable, and then he presses the knee of the front leg out into his bicep in order to turn on the abductors and gluteus muscles. He adds the action of pressing down through the heel in the front foot to turn on the gluteus maximus. These actions completely change the experience in the posture.

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With better proprioception (body awareness), we have a better chance of activating our targeted muscles. In the example of Side Angle from the video, the act of pressing into the bicep provides feedback into the brain and body to activate the abductors. We can understand the sensation of this activation so much more. This feedback shows us how to come back to this activation with more confidence whenever we revisit this posture in our practice. The act of that isometric contraction in the targeted muscles builds integrity and strength in the muscles and surrounding tissues. With more strength, we find an opportunity to increase more active range of motion. With better active range of motion, we in turn unleash our access to new postures. We can truly see that self adjustments provide so much more than stacking bones and joints. We are changing our experience on the mat and in our bodies as a whole.

If you want to develop more strength in your yoga practice, check out Matt’s October 2021 Immersion, titled “Strength  

If you’re ready to unleash your true potential and develop greater strength in your yoga practice, then Matt’s new Immersion Strength for the month of October is perfect for you.

In this immersion, you will gain access to:

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  • Increase mobility by balancing your strength with oppositional muscle groups
  • Joyful accountability to reach your practice goals.

~Written and Edited by Trish Curling

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