10 Sun Salutation Skill Sets

10 Sun Salutation Skill Sets

Polish Your Technique for Masterful Action

POWER YOGA

SUN SALUTATION SKILL SETS

The feeling you get from flowing on your mat to the rhythm of your breath can feel like paradise. There’s a freedom involved in seamlessly flowing from one yoga posture to the next. In a Vinyasa or Power Yoga class, you become intimately acquainted with Sun Salutation sequences. What may get lost, however, is the value of technique within your flow. Maintaining an underpinning of technique within your movements on the mat can drastically enhance the actions you take in your asana practice as a whole. If you’ve practiced with Matt before, then you’re more than aware that the techniques and philosophical guidance he offers within his classes can transform your yoga practice. Polishing your technique in Sun Salutation sequences will establish a solid foundation for your body to move with increased assuredness and ease in your Vinyasa or Power Yoga flows.

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KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

Today’s video is extracted from Matt’s first class in his current immersion, Power Of Bliss. He begins the class by providing a broad overview of the 5 Powers of Consciousness from the Tantrik yoga lineage.  

“Knowledge,” or Jñāna–Śakti, being 1 of the 5 powers, is the acquisition of skill, technique, and understanding. This can be applied to any aspect of your life. On the yoga mat, it may refer to learning more about your body via the vehicle of yoga postures. It may mean learning about how to execute the postures themselves to maximize strength and flexibility. Matt stresses, however, that when you understand that all 5 powers are connected, then you realize that no amount of knowledge will manifest itself without action or without the will to learn in the first place, but knowledge is essential and helps you be more intentional with your actions. 

WATCH THE VIDEO

10 SUN SALUTATION SKILL SETS: POLISH YOUR TECHNIQUE FOR MASTERFUL ACTION

POSTURE SKILLS PART I

There is a plethora of techniques to be explored within Sun Salutation sequences. Fortunately, Matt creates an easily digestible process through which to attain these skills in today’s video.

Standing Chaturanga and Chaturanga

Standing Chaturanga removes the element of strength so you can first align your body for safe and efficient positioning. You’ll learn the placement of the hands and how that connects to the orientation of your shoulders. Practicing on a wall is the next stop before taking it to the mat.

Urdhva Hastasana

Matt teaches that when raising your arms up overhead, elevating your scapulae will help to minimize the risk of shoulder impingement. It will also train your body to utilize muscles like the serratus anterior and trapezius.

Ardha Uttanasana and Uttanasana

One of the most common tendencies in these poses is to misalign your pelvis and ankles. For increased strength, you can also isometrically contract your outer hips and buttocks in both postures.

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POSTURE SKILLS PART II

Plank

Planks are inevitable in Sun Salutation A. They may feel challenging, but layering in the techniques Matt teaches will significantly change your experience.

3-Part Cobra and Upward-Facing Dog

3-Part Cobra is unique to Chromatic Yoga. It’s a great way to prepare for spinal extension and what’s required in Upward-Facing Dog. Each step is precise and reveals a true record of your spinal extension.

Downward-Facing Dog

After practicing the elevation of the scapulae in Urdhva Hastasana, your body is more primed for the same elevation here. The muscle activations create more intensity and more support around the shoulder girdle.

The Jumps

Both forward and back jumps allow for more seamless transitions. There are specific articulations of the ankles and knees that create more fluency when practiced.

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KNOWLEDGE APPLICATION

Learning these techniques brings you closer to what’s required in your own body. Seen through the lens of the 5 Powers of Consciousness, knowledge will create transformation through the awareness that action must take place with consistency. Acquiring more in-depth knowledge of the postures in Sun Salutation A can cultivate deeper understanding and more transformative experiences in other postures. Knowledge is imperative, but it’s the application of that knowledge that helps you reach your fullest potential. The connection of philosophy to your physical practice can also promote deeper self-study, or Svadhyaya.  

Learn how to make these deeper connections and polish your technique in The Power Of Bliss Immersion

See you on the mat!

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Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Power Of Bliss Immersion

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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

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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!

COMMENTS:

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
  • Flying Pigeon, Koundinyasana 1 & 2
  • Titibhasana, Bhujapidasana
  • Handstand, Forearm Stand, and many more!

 

SALE PRICE: $198.00 $128.00

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

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