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.

 

Yoga For Flexibility and Mobility

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March 2022 Immersion

  • Key techniques to increase flexibility
  • Strength development for mobility and range of motion
  • Learn postures: Hanumanasana (splits), Extended Side Plank
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  • Improve spinal twists, heart openers, shoulder openers, 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

 

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 hip (the 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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November 2021 Immersion

  • Twists • Side Bends • Forward Folds • Heart Openers
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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”

Yoga For Flexibility and Mobility

Mobility IMMERSION

March 2022 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, 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

 

Continue Learning

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deeper twists and spinal mobility with the fire line

deeper twists and spinal mobility with the fire line

DEEPER TWISTS INCREASE SPINAL MOBILITY WITH THE FIRE LINEDEEPER TWISTSDEEPER 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...

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full side plank and modifications

FULL SIDE PLANK WITH MODIFICATIONS

STEP-BY-STEP VASHISTHASANA BREAKDOWN

FULL SIDE PLANK

FULL SIDE PLANK AND MODIFICATIONS: VASHISTHASANA

USING THE WALL AS A PROP

Full Side Plank (Vashisthasana) has many modification options and variations to help make it more accessible or more challenging. I love teaching this posture with a foot on the wall to increase stability and provide a frame of reference for shifting the weight out of the hand and into the foot. 

Some people avoid props, thinking of them as a “crutch.” For sure, they can be used as a way to avoid challenges if that is your intention, but they can also be used to increase body awareness and help you develop technique. Props are neither good nor bad; it’s just a matter of how and why you are using them. Is it that you want to avoid challenge or that you want to face challenge intelligently and appropriately?

In the video tutorial below, I show how to modify side plank by placing your top foot on the wall. This reduces the required balance and will allow you to focus on the foundations of the posture, like the strength of your hand and wrist. Press your thumb and pinky fingers into the ground. Then focus on your bottom foot, pressing the instep of your foot into the wall. Eventually, you will be able to place the whole standing foot on the ground, which will give you strength and the power to lift the hips up. Lastly, keep your shoulder externally rotating, as indicated in the video.

Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

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Full Side Plank & Modifications • Vashisthasana at the Wall

This Side Plank tutorial footage is taken from the July 2021 Immersion, titled BALANCE

Full Side Plank Setup

What I don’t discuss in this particular clip is how the setup of this posture is exactly like Wild Thing. This means your pelvis is more open toward the sky, while in standard Side Plank, your feet are stacked. The spine is in a backbend as well, unlike the standard variation, where the spine is neutral.

There are other alignments you could explore, but these will tend to give you the greatest access to the full Side Plank variation where you grab the top foot and extend the leg. If you want to practice the full class, be sure to check out Class #9 of the July 2021 Immersion, called Balance

 

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Three Full Side Plank Modifications and Variations

  1. Foot on the Wall: Once you rise up into Wild Thing, place the back foot on the wall and push your weight toward the wall, even if it means both knees are bent. This is not only okay but an indication that you are doing it properly.
  2. Tree Pose: The next step is infinitely more challenging because it requires greater balance and flexibility. Take the foot off the wall, similar to Tree Pose but without placing the foot on your inner thigh (though that is also another variation). I suggest pushing your knee into your hand to get your hip flexors active. Hip flexor strength becomes key when you attempt to straighten the leg. Often the tension of the hamstrings is too much and people have to let go of the foot. If your hip flexors are strong and used to engaging in this position, then they can help out by keeping the top leg closer to your upper body, lessening the chances that you’ll have to let go of the foot when extending the leg up to the sky.
  3. Full Side Plank or “Extended Vashisthasana”: Pull your knee in as tight as possible in order to grab your foot. Either stay as a modification or begin to kick the foot to the sky, straightening the top leg. Pro tip: It’s helpful to keep the bottom, weight-bearing leg bent while extending the top leg upward. 
Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

VITALITY: RIGOR & RELEASE

Get back to feeling energized and alive with 12 all-levels vinyasa & meditation classes to increase your energy, focus, and mental clarity.

 

  • GET BACK TO FEELING ENERGIZED
  • ALL-LEVELS VINYASA CLASSES
  • HIPS, TWISTS, HEART, SHOULDERS, NECK, AND CORE
  • GUIDED MEDITATIONS TO DE-STRESS, INCREASE FOCUS, AND GAIN MENTAL CLARITY

Can’t Straighten Your Legs?

This is normal and really shouldn’t be your focus. This is an incredibly physically demanding posture that requires extreme flexibility. Even with slightly bent knees, the posture is still visually stunning and, I would argue, even more biomechanically sound because bent knees typically trigger more muscle engagement.

 

 

Edited by 300-hour Chromatic yoga teacher, Donna Morin.

 

TOP RELEVANT RECOMMENDATIONS

1. Balance Immersion: 12 Classes Focused on Balance (video above is taken from this immersion) 

2. Arm Balance Immersion: 12 Classes – 12 Arm Balances

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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!

 

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DEEPER TWISTS INCREASE SPINAL MOBILITY WITH THE FIRE LINEDEEPER TWISTSDEEPER 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...

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

 

SALE PRICE: $198.00 $128.00

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

Continue Learning

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KNEE HYPEREXTENSION HOW TO SOLVE HYPERMOBILITY IN PYRAMID POSEKNEE HYPEREXTENSIONKNEE HYPEREXTENSION: PROTECT YOUR KNEES IN PARSVOTTANASANA, PYRAMID POSEWhen it comes to our asana practice, more often than not, the subject of our knees is a hot topic. Typically, we’re...

read more
deeper twists and spinal mobility with the fire line

deeper twists and spinal mobility with the fire line

DEEPER TWISTS INCREASE SPINAL MOBILITY WITH THE FIRE LINEDEEPER TWISTSDEEPER 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...

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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