Ignite Your Core

Ignite Your Core

Add These 7 Postures for Strength and Stretching

SPINAL FLEXION

IGNITE YOUR CORE

It’s no secret that you go to your yoga mat for a purpose, whatever that may be on a given day. It’s important, however, to marry that purpose with intention. When it comes to strengthening your core in your asana practice, this is vital. As your center, your core is involved in every movement, but that doesn’t mean you’re maximizing your potential for strength. In many yoga postures, you may be missing opportunities to intentionally move in a way that will truly ignite your core. In today’s video, you’ll see how Matt transforms the execution of 7 yoga poses. You will learn new ways to achieve strength in your core, and you’ll gain the benefit of a target  stretch, which in Chromatic yoga can become a secondary focal point to support the desired action on the mat.

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  • Improve strength, balance, flexibility, and proprioception
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PREPARE WITH “CORE” CAT/COW

Igniting your core in Cat/Cow may not be exactly as you imagine. What Matt says in the video about defaulting to just allowing gravity to take over can be so true. He mentions that when moving into spinal flexion (Cat), you may just be dropping your head and the lower vertebrae, but flexing the entire spine is extremely important. The actions to take here are to pull your chin and throat back and to pull your ribs back, while lengthening the occipital ridge (where your skull meets your neck). By doing this, you’ll really feel the difference in sensation. You’ll get the activation of the core, receiving the benefit of strength while also lengthening the erector spinae muscles. These are also great foundational actions for arm balances and forward folds.

WATCH THE VIDEO

IGNITE YOUR CORE: ADD THESE 7 POSTURES FOR STRENGTH & STRETCH

PROGRESSION AND PATTERNING

In Chromatic yoga, you’re directed toward a specific focal point or action. This not only allows you to practice it repeatedly to integrate it, but eventually, it also transforms the way your body moves altogether. After repatterning Cat/Cow to attain more core engagement, multiple opportunities will unfold in the rest of the practice. Postures like High Lunge and the transitions between postures change when you focus on the physical throughline. In today’s video, you’ll see how the same actions from Cat/Cow are repeated in High Lunge. Coming from Three-Legged Dog towards “knee to chest” requires more strength from your wrists, shoulders, and serratus anterior. So what should you do? Stay focused on the key actions. What’s interesting is that sometimes your body finds more connection on a different plane, so repeatedly exploring these actions is crucial.  

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CORE ACTIVATION—TRADITIONAL AND UNEXPECTED

Matt offers a variety of options in standing and seated Dragonfly.  

As discussed, the key actions today are to pull your ribs back, pull your chin and throat back, and elongate your neck. In the last 4 postures in the video, Matt demonstrates some traditional and unexpected ways to ignite your core.

  1. Lizard Pose is a hip opener, but bringing your awareness to the key actions is what changes the dynamic. 
  2. Forearm Plank may be a more typical posture with regard to strengthening the core, but pay attention to the plantar flexion (pointing) of Matt’s feet in the video—it leads to more emphasis on your trunk.
  3. Gravity can take over in Pyramid Pose, but it’s an opportunity again to engage.
  4. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold) is the final pose in the clip. Although an intense hamstring stretch, it becomes effective as a core strengthener when you stretch your back muscles in spinal flexion.
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THE ULTIMATE GOAL

The ultimate goal is to BE INTENTIONAL. Every posture has multiple benefits, but it’s the focus you keep within a given practice that will ultimately bring clarity and purpose to your experiences on the mat.

One thing truly affects another, as is shown in the 7 postures Matt demonstrates in today’s video. Enhanced awareness of core activation will ultimately lead to improved spinal flexion. Taking a Chromatic approach opens up more opportunity for breakthroughs in your practice.

You can register for Matt’s current 15 Hour Chromatic Yoga Immersion to open yourself up to new possibilities.

See you on the mat!

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Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Chromatic Yoga 15 Hour Immersion

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Hip Flexor Strength

Hip Flexor Strength

Access Deeper Forward Folds

uttanasana

HIP FLEXOR STRENGTH OVER HAMSTRING FLEXIBILITY?

Hip flexor strength for deeper forward folds over hamstring flexibility? It’s not a matter of one or the other; it’s about how one can inform the other. It’s also about how, through the process of connecting with developing strength in your hip flexors, you not only learn and discover more about your body, but you also build a deeper, more intimate connection with your body’s potential. In today’s video, you’ll get a glimpse into one of the formulas Matt utilizes to gain access to a deeper forward fold. The method is very specific and intentional. You’ll learn to execute how you have the potential to strengthen and articulate specific movements of the pelvis and spine. Within specific techniques that Matt breaks down, you’ll witness the evolution of your new approach to accessing deeper forward folds.

TWISTS & FOLDS

TWISTS & FOLDS

  • Strengthen core muscles of rotation and side bends
  • Improve spinal mobility
  • Improve spinal flexion for seated postures
  • Strengthen your back and deep core
  • Access greater flexibility of the hips for seated postures
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REVERSE YOUR BACKBEND

Coming into a forward fold position, whether seated or standing, can be an almost “effortless” action if that’s your intention. This may be all that is necessary in a specific scenario, but there is so much more available to you. It’s funny how you would never take this “effortless” approach going backwards into a backbend. It’s easy to conceive and appreciate how calculated and thoughtful you must be to safely execute a backbend like Wheel, for example. Folding forward, however, presents opportunities to be just as deliberate. Matt compares the approach to a forward fold as almost the “reversal of a backbend.” If you’ve practiced with Matt before, then you’ll be familiar with the concept of bowing the spine (lifting the belly in and up while flaring the ribcage forward) in order to reduce spinal compression by creating increased length between each vertebra.

A similar approach is taken in a forward fold. In this case, it’s important to be aware of finding more of an anterior tilt of your pelvis—this may require sitting up on blankets—and then drawing the mid-section back to find more flexion of the spine. There is much more involved in the approach, but reversing a backbend is probably one of the most accessible visuals.

WATCH THE VIDEO

HIP FLEXOR STRENGTH:  ACCESS DEEPER FORWARD FOLDS

SPINAL FLEXION & DISC INJURIES

It’s extremely important to note that spinal flexion is not advisable if you’re experiencing any disc injuries—a herniated disc, for example. Aggravating this condition with spinal flexion may cause further compression of the nerves or spinal cord, causing more pain and/or dysfunction. When you practice with Matt, however, you’ll learn very quickly that there are always ways and opportunities to transform the experience in your body. Focusing on hip flexor strength for deeper forward folds might be the only aspect you work on, if that is all that’s possible in your body at a given time.

200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

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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

THE ROLE OF THE HIP FLEXORS

Focusing on hip flexor strength for deeper forward folds is integral to your practice because it both informs the articulation of the pelvis and helps increase flexibility in the hamstrings. This happens via a technique called reciprocal inhibition: activating the muscles that oppose the muscles that are stretching. Yes, hamstring flexibility is necessary, but it can be challenging, and if that is an area of tension for you, it can be extremely vulnerable to injury.  

In today’s video, Matt demonstrates (from an Ardha Uttanasana, or Halfway Lift, position) that when you push your heels out (causing internal rotation of the upper thighs) and lift up through your sit bones, you will activate the tensor fasciae latae (TFL) muscle. In addition, Matt explains that if you lift your kneecaps up, it will also activate the rectus femoris, a quadricep muscle that is also a hip flexor. A bonus effort is to pull your big toes towards one another to activate the pectineus, a deep adductor muscle; as mentioned, it will support bringing the pelvis into anterior tilt. Activating these muscle groups while the hamstrings are lengthening is in fact reciprocal inhibition. These steps offer an essential foundation to help you intelligently move into a forward fold, safely and deeply.

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  • Get 500 hour certified
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
  • 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 FINAL STEPS

Once you’ve implemented the above steps, and if spinal flexion is a safe shape for you to explore, following these next steps will offer deeper access:

  1. Bow forward
  2. Lean more into your fingers and toes
  3. Pull your front ribs back to round the spine and create more spinal flexion (with a focus on the thoracic region)
  4. Think about the back of your skull reaching towards the ground
  5. Lean more into your toes and fingers once again to support your balance
  6. Pull your front ribs in and look towards your belly button

Finally, stay there to breathe and enjoy the new sensations and patterns you’re creating for your body and your nervous system.

Working on hip flexor strength for deeper forward folds will actually offer a gateway to a vast number of other yoga postures. You can continue to explore the possibilities in Matt’s current Twist & Folds immersion.

See you on the mat!

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

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Mobility Immersion

UPCOMING TEACHER TRAININGS

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