Side Angle Self Adjustment for Hip Strength

SELF ADJUSTMENT IN SIDE ANGLE POSE 

ACTIVATE YOUR GLUTES FOR GREATER GAINS

SIDE ANGLE

SELF ADJUSTMENT IN SIDE ANGLE POSE — ACTIVATE YOUR GLUTES FOR GREATER GAINS

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.  

STRENGTH

Yoga For Strength: Strengthen Your Weaknesses • Maximize Your Physical Potential

  • 12 classes: Each class targets a specific muscle group
  • Strengthen your core, back, hips, shoulders, wrists, ankles, legs, and arms
  • Learn creative ways to strength train within the context of a yoga practice
  • Increase mobility by balancing your strength with oppositional muscle groups
  • Joyful accountability to help you reach your practice goals

SALE PRICE: $138.00 $128.00

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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WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

The 3 Main Benefits of Self Adjustments

  • Gain a sense of awareness of where we are in space (proprioception)
  • Develop muscular strength
  • Gain access to increase range of motion

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:

  • 12 Classes: Each class targets a specific muscle group
  • Strengthen your core, back, hips, shoulders, wrists, ankles, legs, and arms
  • Learn creative ways to strength train within the context of a yoga practice.
  • Increase mobility by balancing your strength with oppositional muscle groups
  • Joyful accountability to reach your practice goals.

~Written and Edited by Trish Curling

STRENGTH

Yoga For Strength: Strengthen Your Weaknesses • Maximize Your Physical Potential

  • 12 classes: Each class targets a specific muscle group
  • Strengthen your core, back, hips, shoulders, wrists, ankles, legs, and arms
  • Learn creative ways to strength train within the context of a yoga practice
  • Increase mobility by balancing your strength with oppositional muscle groups
  • Joyful accountability to help you reach your practice goals

SALE PRICE: $138.00 $128.00

Livestream Class Packages

STRENGTH

Yoga For Strength: Strengthen Your Weaknesses • Maximize Your Physical Potential

  • 12 classes: Each class targets a specific muscle group
  • Strengthen your core, back, hips, shoulders, wrists, ankles, legs, and arms
  • Learn creative ways to strength train within the context of a yoga practice
  • Increase mobility by balancing your strength with oppositional muscle groups
  • Joyful accountability to help you reach your practice goals

SALE PRICE: $138.00 $128.00

Vinyasa and Meditation Yoga Immersion

SHOULDER REVELATION

Strength•Mobility•Biomechanics

  • Increase strength and flexibility
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  • Release shoulder tension
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  • Learn binds, heart openers, and arm balances
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
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Vinyasa and Meditation Yoga Immersion

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RIGOR & RELEASE

  • Get back to feeling energized
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  • Hips, twists, heart openers, shoulders, core, & more
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  • Strengthen and lengthen the most essential muscle groups
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
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Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

BALANCE

INCREASE & AWAKEN YOUR BALANCE

  • Learn over 12 balance postures
  • Muscle strength and reactive patterning
  • Increase proprioception and deliberate weight shifting
  • Tree, Standing Hand-to-Foot variations, Warrior III
  • Half Moon variations, Handstand, Side Plank, Headstand
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
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Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

Hips & Hamstrings

RECLAIM YOUR ELASTICITY

  • Learn over 12 hip openers
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  • Pigeon, Eagle, Fire Log, Lizard
  • Lotus, Flying Pigeon, Splits, Straddle
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
$198.00 $148.00
Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

ARM BALANCES

FREEDOM OF FLIGHT

  • Learn over 12 arm balances
  • Step-by-step instructionals in every practice
  • Techniques, biomechanics and alignment
  • Crow, Side Crow, Titibasana, Ashtavakrasana
  • Forearm Stand, Koundinyasana 1 & 2, Handstand
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
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$198.00 $128.00
yoga backbend techniques: 12 classes

HEART OPENERS

DISCOVER THE JOY OF BACKBENDS

  • Learn over 12 backbends
  • Step-by-step instructionals in every practice
  • Techniques, biomechanics and alignment
  • Bow Pose, Camel, Dancer, Full Wheel
  • King Cobra, King Dancer, King Pigeon
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
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Yoga Alignment and Flow

MOVE • BREATHE • RELEASE

YOGA • BREATHWORK • MEDITATION

  • YOGA: TRANSFORM YOUR BODY
  • BREATHWORK: REJUVENATE
  • MEDITATION: AWAKEN YOUR MIND
  • THE TRIFECTA OF YOGA
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS  
$298.00 $128.00
Yoga Alignment and Flow

THE DANCE

ALIGN • REFINE • FLOW

  • MOVEMENT TRANSFORMATION
  • ALIGNED TRANSITIONS
  • TARGETED STRENGTH
  • DEEP HIP OPENERS
  • 12 CLASSES: INTERMEDIATE
$298.00 $148.00
back health online yoga classes

THE PULSE

BALANCE • STRENGTH • FLEXIBILITY

  • SHOULDER STRENGTH
  • HEART OPENERS
  • HAMSTRINGS & BUTTOCKS
  • INNER THIGHS
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS  

$298.00 $128.00

2020 IMMERSIONS

back health online yoga classes

HIPS • HEART • HANDSTAND

  • HIP OPENERS
  • HEART OPENERS
  • HANDSTAND TECHNIQUES
  • BUILD COURAGE & STRENGTH
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS  

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boundless freedom

  • SHOULDER & NECK RELEASE
  • SHOULDER BIOMECHANICS
  • BALANCED STRENGTH
  • INCREASE RANGE OF MOTION
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS

$298.00 $128.00

BIRDS OF PARADISE

  • FLEXIBILITY OF INNER THIGHS
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • LIFETIME ACCCESS TO ALL
  • LEADS TO BIRDS OF PARADISE 
  • COMPARTMENTS OF THE MIND 

$298.00 $128.00 

BEST STARTER PACKAGE

  • 6 YOGA CLASSES
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THE SPINAL RESET

  • BACKBENDS & SIDE BENDS
  • TWISTS AND FORWARD FOLDS
  • SPINAL BIOMECHANICS
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  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS

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JOURNEY TO BLISS

  • PHYSICAL MEETS SPIRITUAL
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BACK, NECK, & SHOULDERS

  • 12 YOGA CLASSES
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  • 12 PEAK POSTURES
  • 12 YOGA SUTRA THEMES

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October Livestream Yoga Classes

THE BREAKTHROUGH

  • HIP OPENERS
  • HIP BIOMECHANICS
  • EMPHASIS ON ARM BALANCES
  • 4 POST-CLASS MEDITATIONS
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS  

$298.00 $128.00

JOURNEY TO THE HEART

  • FULL BODY RESET
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  • ARM BALANCES
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$298.00 $118.00

KING PIGEON & HANUMAN

  • FLEXIBILITY OF HIPS
  • SHOULDER & SPINE MOBILITY
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • 12 INTERMEDIATE CLASSES
  • HAMSTRING RANGE OF MOTION

$198.00 $128.00

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Side Angle Self Adjustment for Hip Strength

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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

VITALITY: RIGOR & RELEASE

Get back to feeling energized and alive — 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

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

MORE WAYS TO DEVELOP YOUR PRACTICE

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  2. 200 Hour Training: Get certified
  3. 300 Hour Online Training: Get 500hr certified
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
  • Titibasana, Bhujapidasana
  • Handstand, Forearm Stand, and many more!

 

SALE PRICE: $198.00 $128.00

Continue Learning

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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.

Flying Pigeon

FLYING PIGEON

Key Actions to Balance in Flying Pigeon Pose

Flying pigeon

Flying Pigeon: Balance

Flying Pigeon is an exceptionally challenging pose for several reasons–strength, balance, flexibility for starters. Learning to balance on the hands requires tremendous strength in the flexors of the wrist, or what I call in my Handstand Training, “The Brakes”. Appropriately named because strength in the flexors of the wrist is what stops you from falling when you’re on your hands. You will hear me in the video talking about gripping the ground; this is the action that will turn on the brakes. On all fours, grip your fingers into the ground. With one hand, challenge the opposite hand by trying to pick up the fingers off the ground. Let’s say your right hand is on the ground; the right hand tries its best to dig its fingers into the earth. The left hand tries to pick the right hand’s fingers up. Switch roles. Reading about this won’t do anything so you will have to get it in your body to really get it…did it? Great! Let’s continue. Whenever you are on your hands in your yoga practice, maintain this type of activation to build strength in your brakes over time.

Flexibility

I still remember my first flying pigeon. I was in Elena Brower’s Anusara Yoga class. My hips were super tight back then. She had some great techniques to help us open our hips, many of which I still implement into my own practice and share in my online trainings , and immersions.  In one of my recent articles on compass pose, I spoke on the topic that flexibility requires technique more than it does forcing repetitive stretches. To increase flexibility for flying pigeon, you need to target several muscle groups which I call the 4 Quadrants of the hips. All 4 quadrants (front, back, inside, backside) can be targeted within your yoga practice by activating them isometrically through the postures. If you have been practicing live or in person with me, then you are very familiar with this approach and if you haven’t felt the benefits, you will soon with repetition. To give you one example to try, get into warrior 2 and pull your feet toward each other like you are trying to bunch up the mat under your feet. This activates the inner quadrant of the back leg and the back quadrant of the front leg. Over time this will create health in these muscle groups which will directly increase your range of motion.

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
  • Titibasana, Bhujapidasana
  • Handstand, Forearm Stand, and many more!

 

SALE PRICE: $198.00 $128.00

KEY TECHNIQUES & ORDER OF ACTIONS

THE SET UP

  1. Invert the ankle and drop the hip: This will help you get the foot high up toward the arm pit
  2. Evert to “clamp” the foot: this will help you avoid the sliding of the foot off the arm
  3. Lift opposite knee into arm pit: This will help you avoid the bruising on the triceps, however it requires a great deal of hip flexibility and may not be possible for you at first.

THE BALANCE

  1. Walk the hands forward: its necessary or you wont be able to balance
  2. Grip the ground: these are your brakes – they stop you from falling.
  3. Lean your body forward: This is what takes the weight out of your feet and hips and into your hands so that flight becomes possible
  4. Press front shin down into the arms: this will give you lift off so that you become lighter, if you are more flexible in the hips than this step is very important.
  5. Squeeze your back knee in: this gets your psoas and core active and keeps the weight of the pose forward.
yoga backbend techniques: 12 classes [backbend technique to relieve back pain "bowing the spine']

HIPS AND HAMSTRINGS IMMERSION

  • Increase range of motion of your hips and hamstrings
  • Learn techniques such as facilitated stretching
  • Release stress patterns, discomfort, or pain in your hips, back, and knees
  • Twelve 75-minute classes, all levels appropriate
  • Learn postures: Pigeon, Lizard Variations, Lotus, Eagle, Hanuman, Fire Log, Seated Straddle Splits, and more!
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

Strength

When learning this posture, it is very helpful to pull the back knee into the chest. This will activate the hip flexors and lower abdominals which helps in two ways. First, it helps to keep the shin on the arm if the front hip is tighter. Second, it helps keep the weight of your body forward, which is required to maintain balance in the posture.

This posture can be deceptively challenging, so go easy on yourself if you find it incredibly difficult. Try these tips and remember that strength and flexibility require technique and repetition. Enjoy!

 

Continue Learning

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REVERSE WARRIOR INCREASE BACK FLEXIBILITY WITH THIS PARTICULAR ALIGNMENTREVERSE WARRIORREVERSE WARRIOR: PREPARE FOR BACKBENDSFull expansion, widespread freedom, release, and openness -- this might describe what we feel as yogis when it comes to the shape of a backbend...

read more
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read more
side crow tutorial

side crow tutorial

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read more
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read more
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Side Angle Self Adjustment for Hip Strength

Side Angle Self Adjustment for Hip Strength

SELF ADJUSTMENT IN SIDE ANGLE POSE  ACTIVATE YOUR GLUTES FOR GREATER GAINSSIDE ANGLESELF ADJUSTMENT IN SIDE ANGLE POSE -- ACTIVATE YOUR GLUTES FOR GREATER GAINS Glute gains! Who doesn’t want those, right? When we think about glute gains though, our minds may go...

read more

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Vinyasa: 12 Class Online Immersion

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  • key techniques to deepen & expand your vinyasa practice
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Online Yoga classes to learn inversions

INVERSION IMMERSION

December 2021 Immersion

  • Build courage and technique for inversions
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Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

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  • Learn over 12 hip openers
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Arm Balances

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  • Learn over 12 arm balances
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yoga backbend techniques: 12 classes

HEART OPENERS

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  • Learn over 12 backbends
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Vinyasa and Meditation Yoga Immersion

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  • Increase strength and flexibility
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  • Learn binds, heart openers, and arm balances
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Vinyasa and Meditation Yoga Immersion

HANDSTAND TRAINING

2 ONLINE COURSES

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Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

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UNLOCK YOUR HIPS

UNLOCK YOUR HIPS

 OUTER HIP STRENGTH AND FLEXIBILITY FOR THE LOW BACK AND S.I. JOINT

 

THE LOW BACK AND S.I. JOINT

Low back pain or S.I. Joint instability are quite common for many people and the cause seems to be a mystery. What most people don’t realize is that pain is usually the result of weak or underdeveloped muscles resulting in the overcompensation by other muscles. In other words, the body develops patterns that are perhaps not the best when it comes to our well-being. Why does it develop patterns? All of nature adapts to the environment. As beings of nature, we do exactly the same thing – the body adapts to what we give it. If we give it a shape and hold that shape for the majority of the day then it will develop patterns of elongated muscles and shortened muscles. Some of the muscles that tend to cause problems for the low back that are often overlooked are the ABDUCTORS of the Hips. 3 of the muscles that make up the abductors are the Gluteus medius, Gluteus Minimus and T.F.L. You can see in the photo to the right (or below if you’re on mobile) that the gluteus medius attaches to each side of the pelvis and to the top of the thigh bone. 

LOW BACK PAIN

The two sides of the pelvis are actually independently mobile structures due to the sacrum that lies in the middle which has a joint on either side that is called the S.I. Joint. This joint allows the pelvis on each side to move. This is a blessing but could also be a curse if the abductor muscles are out of balance. If one side is tight and the other flexible this could cause the pelvis to tilt, potentially resulting in low back discomfort or scoliosis. This was the case for me.

Growing up, I played hockey which strengthens the abductors. Unfortunately, I favored my right leg significantly which caused an over development and shortening of the musculature on the right side resulting in scoliosis and back pain throughout high school and college until about a year into yoga when I finally learned how to unlock my hips!

S.I JOINT

Now for other people, the low back isn’t affected but the S.I. Joint is. This seems to be most common amongst women, especially those that have had children – the ligaments tend to be more lax and so the sacrum can move inside the two sides of the pelvis resulting in pain on the back of the pelvis or radiating through the lower back near the pelvis and sacrum.

THE SOLUTION

There are many muscles that surround the pelvis that can pull on either side of the ilium or sacrum which could create pain, so where do we begin? Often times it can be overwhelming and ineffective to target all the hip and back muscles every yoga practice, so it is useful to focus on one area per practice. In the video below I share with you ways of working on the Abductor group for strength and range of motion. You may find that one side is not as strong as the other – if this is the case I recommend strengthening the weaker side which will help bring the abductors into balance.

I do have a workshop called Hips: Rock and Unlock Em that I created as a way to target as many of these muscles within one practice. You could start there to get a feel for what areas of your hips are underdeveloped or out of balance.

In addition, I highly recommend the JULY IMMERSION which focuses on the Chakras. The first 5 practices of that immersion will awaken your strength, flexibility and awareness of the muscles that surround the hips.

OPEN YOUR HIPS AND HEART

The July Immersion takes you on a 12 Class Journey through the Chakras and the elements, to develop your strength, flexibility, and awareness of each energy center and the corresponding muscles. There is a heavy focus on the Hips in the Earth, & Water classes, and the Back in the Water and Air classes, balanced by Core strengthening in the Fire section.

THE STEP BY STEP APPROACH

“Dream big, start small, then connect the dots.” This quote from Dan Millman’s Wisdom of the Peaceful Warrior has been the foundation of my yoga practice from the moment I stepped on the yoga mat. It was that book that led my to yoga in the first place, and that line that became a mantra in my head from that moment on. How does it apply to the asana practice? Most people come into the yoga practice and feel something magnificent and of course they want to come back. At some point, regardless of how egoless we believe ourselves to be, we become attracted to the external postures of the yoga practice. It’s typically innocent of course, we associate a feeling with certain postures, on a subtle level we believe that when we attain them we will feel strong, powerful, fearless, light, free, at peace, worthy of love, kindness, etc. On an intellectual level, we usually know that this is not reality but we get pulled into it anyway. The beautiful thing is that we are being pulled into practice and the practice reveals what we need to learn. So I wouldn’t ridicule this process, but rather as you walk the path remind yourself that everything you wish to feel already exists within you, and rather than expecting yoga to do the practice for you, step into the feeling you crave and let that amplify your practice. This is what it means to practice with intention.  

All that being said while we are living in this body we want to take care of it and allow it to reach its highest potential which includes movement practices, stability practices, diet, hygiene, mental health, creative expression, and so on. When I say highest potential, I don’t mean an end result or destination but rather a trajectory that gets us to walk the path. The purpose of this blog is to support your physical well-being in regard to your body. Asana is the practice that cultivates our body awareness, but most of us focus on the postures instead of our body and as a result we are left with thousands of shapes and alignment cues. A shortcut to body awareness is to put your body first, and the pose second! What does that mean? There are only a few major joints to learn in the body, and each has a few movements available to it. There are muscles that surround each joint that create this movement. If you use your asana practice to become aware, proficient, or even masterful in each movement then you will no longer be perplexed when you see a new pose, you will know exactly what is needed to put your body in that shape. You will grow to understand your limitations and your abilities, becoming your own best teacher.  

THE CHROMATIC SYSTEM 

I created Chromatic Yoga based on this concept of small steps toward our potential. Each month we have a focus in our classes, a Physical Through-Line (PTL), and a Thematic Through-Line (TTL).  The PTL is the one muscle group or joint action that we pull through an entire class, or workshop, while the TTL is similar but for building awareness of the mind and subtle energies of life. Because I encourage Chromatic Teachers to be authentic with how they teach, each will have their own way of creatively sharing the PTL and TTL. This month PTL – Abductors of the hip, is the focus of the video below. These are just a few ways to strengthen and become aware of the muscles.

To find a Chromatic Yoga Teacher near you be sure to visit us at www.ChromaticYoga.com 

3 Steps to Master the Abductors

  1. Awareness: learn the sensation of activating the abductors
  2. Strengthen: the muscle group through various postures in your yoga practice.
  3. Practice: activate the abductors over the course of time, through as many yoga postures as possible until you can easily activate them on command in any posture!

Step 1. Awareness

The first step to building awareness of any muscle is to intellectually understand where it exists in the body. The abductor group is generally located in the outer hip/pelvic region. In addition to the intellectual understanding, you must learn what it feels like to activate this muscle. For this, it’s typically easiest to “create a boundary” and press into it. So here I have placed a hand outside the knee and I press into the hand which creates the action of abduction and engages the abductors.

Step 2: strengthen

Next, you will want to develop strength in accessible postures. Typically choosing static postures for “isometric” engagement is a safe and stable way to strength. Isometric means activate the muscle without movement of the joints. For this video, I chose Chair pose to share with you. With feet about hip-width apart, push your yoga mat apart with your heels while keeping your knees pointing straight forward. Note: if your pelvis is tucked under you may not be able to access the abductors, stick your buttocks upward.

Step 3: Practice

Lastly, you will need to learn how to activate this muscle group through a range of motion. This means not only choosing a wide range of static yoga postures to activate the abductors in, but you will also want to do the movements that it creates. For this, I chose fire hydrant pose, both abducting the upper hip by lifting the leg up high, and the lower hip by squeezing the pelvis inward. Because the foot is on the ground, moving and rotating the pelvis away from the foot is abduction. You will feel it in your outer hip muscles.

Mastery Leads to Discernment

Why become masterful at anything? Mastery is not an end goal, it is simply a state of heightened awareness and capability. To become masterful in your physical body is not a chore but rather a privilege. Getting to know this vehicle that we have for only a short period of time is a form of respect and love. There is no end to mastery, just like there is no end to potential, it’s simply a trajectory or path that we walk out of respect to the greater energy that pulses through us. Mastery simply means that we can assess what is appropriate for the well-being of our body at any given time, and we have the tools to do what’s necessary to feel better. While we will always have blind spots, we can minimize the vast amount of guesswork by taking the step-by-step approach to understanding our body – one muscle group or joint action at a time.

To apply this approach to the body,  I recommend practicing The July Immersion – 12 Yoga Classes, 4 Guided Meditations – and Hips: Rock and Unlock ‘Em!  The online workshop is a journey through what I call the 4 quadrants of the hips, supporting you on the path toward mastery of the inner thighs, outer hips, posterior chain, and hip flexors.

Hips: Rock & Unlock 'Em

Get 2 full hours with Matt Giordano focusing on the techniques that increase the range of motion in your hips and provide long-lasting freedom. You will have immediate, unlimited access, and can enjoy the benefits today!

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Continue Learning

reverse warrior for better back bend flexibility

reverse warrior for better back bend flexibility

REVERSE WARRIOR INCREASE BACK FLEXIBILITY WITH THIS PARTICULAR ALIGNMENTREVERSE WARRIORREVERSE WARRIOR: PREPARE FOR BACKBENDSFull expansion, widespread freedom, release, and openness -- this might describe what we feel as yogis when it comes to the shape of a backbend...

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side crow tutorial

side crow tutorial

SIDE CROW: POSE TUTORIAL UNLOCK YOUR ARM BALANCE PRACTICESIDE CROWSIDE CROW: POSE TUTORIALSide Crow is a challenging yoga posture but is more accessible than most people think. There are ways of “cheating” the posture that can make the shape more attainable such as...

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HEALTHY HAMSTRINGS FACILITATED STRETCH TECHNIQUE Hamstrings   Hip And Hamstring Flexibility Why Is Hip Mobility Important? Tight hamstrings are a common complaint. It may be because it’s one of the most noticeable things to show up in our yoga practice and in our...

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Side Angle Self Adjustment for Hip Strength

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SELF ADJUSTMENT IN SIDE ANGLE POSE  ACTIVATE YOUR GLUTES FOR GREATER GAINSSIDE ANGLESELF ADJUSTMENT IN SIDE ANGLE POSE -- ACTIVATE YOUR GLUTES FOR GREATER GAINS Glute gains! Who doesn’t want those, right? When we think about glute gains though, our minds may go...

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TOP RECOMMENDATIONS 

Handstand Training

Learn the techniques that make Handstand fun, easy and accessible! This 2 part course consists of the top most effective exercises will increase your strength and technique so you can easefully balance a handstand.

View Details

SHOULDER REVELATION

In this 12 class immersion  you will practice specific techniques to strengthen and unlock your shoulders. Each class focuses on a specific joint articulation and muscle group so you gain mastery in the shoulders.

View Details

HEART OPENERS

Finally, a 12 class immersion designed specifically to help you discover the freedom of heart openers. Learn how to avoid uncomfortable compression, and awaken your true range of motion in a step by step manner.

View Details

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.

Still Have Questions? Email Matt Directly

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Chaturanga Alignment Part 2

Chaturanga Alignment Part 2

3 Steps to Apply Shoulder Actions

CHATURANGA

CHATURANGA: Integrating Shoulder Actions

Integrating the 3 Necessary Shoulder Actions into your practice can be complicated, so to help you I have come up with 3 Steps to Master your Chaturanga. If you haven’t yet watched Chaturanga Alignment: 3 Necessary Shoulder Actions  then it is best to start there and come back to this afterwards. The 3 step process will help you develop “Muscle Intelligence” or the awareness of how to create specific actions in your body to find less complicated positions which require less strength and give you the space to explore new sensations. If done consecutively, these steps will build the strength over time that will make chaturanga feel light and free.

Most of us sitting at our computers are not able to get up and start practicing, but if you do have the liberty of doing so, practice along with this video. If not, then simply watch and come back to it at another time so you can practice along. This is meant to help you apply the actions, not just understand them.

Be patient with yourself as you work through each of the exercises – techniques take time to embody.

The Intention 

Perhaps the most confusing thing in the yoga community is the myriad of opinions about how to do each pose. Part of the reason for this is the differences each of us have from body type, to personality, to experience. Additionally, however,  each of us offering a path has a different intention behind our set of alignment cues or muscle actions. It is for this reason that I want to be clear that this is only one approach, and I am happy to provide for you the benefits and the challenges that come with this way. This approach to Chaturanga comes with the intention to build strength in multiple forearm muscles, the seratus anterior, triceps, external rotators of the the humerus, and the pectorals major. With all of these muscles working together to build strength you will inevitably feel more stable and light in your chaturanga and jump back to chaturanga, and also you will be well prepared for arm balances. If you have no intention of building strength in your upper body or practicing arm balances, there might be better ways of practicing Chaturanga. If you have a movement pattern that does not allow you to do protraction without upward tilt of the scapula then you might be better suited to a softer approach for a while. If you are experiencing chronic strain or compression in your wrist joints you may find leaning back in your chaturanga may be either better or worse for you. I mention this not to deter you from fully understanding and integrating this approach to chaturanga, but to help you to understand that there is never and will never be one correct approach to anything. What is good for you now may not be good for you later, and what was good for you yesterday may not be good for you today. This may be hard to grasp but if you try to keep an open mind and let yourself explore various approaches with the utmost attention to detail, you may find a greater sense of mastery in your body than you could ever find by doing one posture “the right way.” If you are ready to build strength, and/or set your self up for arm balances and jump backs, then let’s get started together!

3 Step Integration

When learning to integrate new muscle engagements or structural alignments into your practice, it is beneficial to simulate the shape with less stress on the muscles and joints. This usually entails changing your relationship to gravity. In the video and in the 3 steps below, I show you how to do this by doing chaturanga at the wall first, and then on your knees before trying the full posture. Doing these steps often provides a greater proficiency than simply trying it all out right away. This is because your body will always fall into its normal patterns when it’s asked to hold all your weight. We have to shake things up a bit to learn something new.

Step 1 - Chaturanga at The Wall

Regardless of your level, doing chaturanga at the wall and applying the three shoulder actions is huge in helping build masterful proprioception. This is the most important step in my eyes, especially since you’ll have plenty of time in class to practice step 2 and 3. Taking all the weight off of your body and just applying the actions until it is fully integrated and completely clear in both mind and body will be the best thing you can do. Mastery is not about halfway getting something, but rather nailing it down so that it will never be forgotten regardless of how long you leave the subject of study. Rock this exercise several times for several days/weeks and you will be well set up for building strength rapidly. Strength builds rapidly when our actions are precise in our body.

Step 2: Chaturanga on Knees

To be honest, when I take a vinyasa class, I do the first 5-10 chaturangas on my knees to get my body and mind linked together prior to floating back. Chaturanga on the knees is a great way to practice the actions with slightly less body weight. This is where you will begin building muscles appropriately, so be as precise and mindful as possible so you are strengthening the muscles required for the 3 shoulder actions. My best advice is start with your shoulders a little bit past the wrists to simulate the leaning forward when coming from plank. With your knees on the ground you can’t actually shift forward so you’ll have to begin by placing your knees closer to your wrists than you normally would. Second, make sure you create one long line from shoulders to knees, without breaking at the hips.

Step 3: Plank To Chaturanga

When attempting full chaturanga with a block, it becomes easier to compensate and “fake it” and either over engage in muscles that are not efficient for the actions, or simply getting caught up in compression – placing your bones in the way of the movement in order to slow the movement down – SEE  FIRST VIDEO when I talk about “Upward Tilt” of the scapula.

Mastering these shoulder actions will not only make your practice of chaturanga easier and more enjoyable, but will open up a whole new world of power and strength in your arm balances.

If you find yourself struggling to integrate the actions in this version, I highly recommend focusing on the first two options for about 3-5 months and then coming back to this.

Complexity

The shoulders are incredibly complex and as a result, it takes quite a lot of self-practice and study to gain any sort of mastery.  I break things down into small steps so that you are able to integrate the actions in your body more easily, however these steps are just the beginning. Let these actions settle into your body over time; rather than forcing them into every chaturanga, pick one action to focus on in your classes and first observe what you are doing before you make changes. Little by little, try to apply the action and notice what it feels like each time. This is a highly effective approach that builds patterns in the body and awareness in the mind. If you are interested in more shoulder strengtheners and stretches check out the Handstand Training. It comes with several videos that directly target the shoulders. Thank you for stopping by. Please share your comments, questions, or requests for other blog topics!

Hips: Rock & Unlock 'Em

Get 2 full hours with Matt Giordano focusing on the techniques that increase the range of motion in your hips and provide long lasting freedom. You will have immediate, unlimited access, and can enjoy the benefits today!

Continue Learning

reverse warrior for better back bend flexibility

reverse warrior for better back bend flexibility

REVERSE WARRIOR INCREASE BACK FLEXIBILITY WITH THIS PARTICULAR ALIGNMENTREVERSE WARRIORREVERSE WARRIOR: PREPARE FOR BACKBENDSFull expansion, widespread freedom, release, and openness -- this might describe what we feel as yogis when it comes to the shape of a backbend...

read more
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TECHNIQUE FOR DEEPER FORWARD FOLDS ACTIVATE TFL & RECTUS FEMORIS TO INCREASE HAMSTRING FLEXIBILITYFORWARD FOLDSDEEPER FORWARD FOLDS: PRASARITA PADOTTANASANAIt’s not unusual to feel “stuck” in our yoga practice at times. We may come to a place in our physical...

read more
side crow tutorial

side crow tutorial

SIDE CROW: POSE TUTORIAL UNLOCK YOUR ARM BALANCE PRACTICESIDE CROWSIDE CROW: POSE TUTORIALSide Crow is a challenging yoga posture but is more accessible than most people think. There are ways of “cheating” the posture that can make the shape more attainable such as...

read more
HEALTHY HAMSTRINGS

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HEALTHY HAMSTRINGS FACILITATED STRETCH TECHNIQUE Hamstrings   Hip And Hamstring Flexibility Why Is Hip Mobility Important? Tight hamstrings are a common complaint. It may be because it’s one of the most noticeable things to show up in our yoga practice and in our...

read more
Yoga Jump Backs and Jump Forwards

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YOGA JUMP BACKS & JUMP FORWARDS  THE DREAMY, MYSTICAL FLOATSIDE ANGLEdreamy yoga jump backs and jump forwardsWe’ve all seen those yoga teachers and/or practitioners who float through the transitions of jumping back from Uttanasana to Chaturanga and/or jumping...

read more
Side Angle Self Adjustment for Hip Strength

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SELF ADJUSTMENT IN SIDE ANGLE POSE  ACTIVATE YOUR GLUTES FOR GREATER GAINSSIDE ANGLESELF ADJUSTMENT IN SIDE ANGLE POSE -- ACTIVATE YOUR GLUTES FOR GREATER GAINS Glute gains! Who doesn’t want those, right? When we think about glute gains though, our minds may go...

read more

TOP RECOMMENDATIONS 

Handstand Training

Learn the techniques that make Handstand fun, easy and accessible! This 2 part course consists of the top most effective exercises will increase your strength and technique so you can easefully balance a handstand.

View Details

SHOULDER REVELATION

In this 12 class immersion  you will practice specific techniques to strengthen and unlock your shoulders. Each class focuses on a specific joint articulation and muscle group so you gain mastery in the shoulders.

View Details

HEART OPENERS

Finally, a 12 class immersion designed specifically to help you discover the freedom of heart openers. Learn how to avoid uncomfortable compression, and awaken your true range of motion in a step by step manner.

View Details

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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