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 Trainings, “The Breaks”. Appropriately named because strength in the flexors of the wrist are what stop you from falling when on your hands. You will hear me in the video talking about gripping the ground, this is the action that will turn on the breaks. In the Live Stream on 3-25-2020 that this video is taken from, I went over a little drill that you can try out. 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, right hand try’s its best to dig its fingers into the earth. Left hand try’s to pick right hand’s fingers up. Switch rolls. 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 breaks over time.

Flexibility

I still remember my first flying pigeon, I was in Elena Browers 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 live streams.  In one of my recent articles on compass pose I spoke of 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 than 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 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. 

Strength

When learning this posture, it is very helpful to pull the back knee into the chest which 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 you body forward which is required to maintain the balance in the posture. 

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

 

UPCOMING IMMERSION

Each month you have the oportunituy to enroll in 3 weekly classe! You will get lifetime and unlimited access to each of the classes. Should you choose to enroll you will also have the oportunity to view all classes as they stream live 3 days a week. Each month has a physical focus to help you gain targeted techniques and advance your body awareness. 

Be a part of the community, after enrolling you have the chance to connect with members through our exclusive facebook group where you can get tips directly from me, Matt Giordano. You are encouraged to share photos and videos of your practice for personalized  support. 

I look forward to sharing this practice with you and helping you develop in a big way!

~Matt

 

FLYING PIGEON + SO MUCH MORE!

THIS 8 CLASS PACK INCLUDES 6 YOGA PRACTICES, AND 2 GUIDED MEDITATIONS. FLYING PIGEON AND COMPASS POSE ARE BOTH HIGHLIGHTS OF THE EXPERIENCE!

 

  • Techniques for flying pigeon pose
  • Themed: Abhyasa & Vairagya
  • Harnessing the Power of the mind
  • Strengthen: Wrist, Core, Shoulders and Glutes
Hips Stretches, Handstands, Heart Openers Online Yoga Classes

Continue Learning

5 Step Pigeon Pose Best Hip Stretch

5 Step Pigeon Pose Best Hip Stretch

5 STEPS TO MAKE PIGEON POSE THE BEST HIP STRETCH IS YOUR PIGEON LAZY? PIGEONDOES PIGEON POSE INCREASE FLEXIBILITYIs Pigeon pose the best hip stretch? The quick answer, it depends how you do it. Somebody told me recently on instagram that I was blessed with open hips....

read more
Neck And Shoulder Pain Relief 3 Step Release

Neck And Shoulder Pain Relief 3 Step Release

NECK & SHOULDER PAIN RELEIF THE 3 STEP RELEASENECK & SHOULDERSCAN SHOULDER TENSION CAUSE NECK PAIN?When someone comes to me complaining of neck and shoulder pain, they are usually rubbing their upper shoulder/neck area which are known as the trapezius muscle....

read more
WILD THING YOGA POSE 3 SHOULDER ACTIONS

WILD THING YOGA POSE 3 SHOULDER ACTIONS

Flip Dog Dilemma – 3 Shoulder Actions for Wild Thing. Is the popular yoga pose “FLIP DOG” worth it? If you practice or have been to a modern vinyasa or power yoga class than you know that flip dog is a popular posture that is called out somewhere toward…

read more
Samadhi

Samadhi

SAMADHI Dissolving into the state of oneness.SamadhiSamadhiSamadhi is the experience we have when the mind realizes the totality of itself - that it is one part of an infinitely grander whole. Using an analogy from one of my teachers, Alan Finger – Consiousness is...

read more
Flying Pigeon

Flying Pigeon

FLYING PIGEON Key Actions to Balance in Flying Pigeon PoseFlying pigeonFlying Pigeon: BalanceFlying Pigeon is an exceptionally challenging pose for several reasons, strength, balance, flexibility for starters. Learning to balance on the hands requires tremendous...

read more
Triangle Pose: Trick to Avoid Hip Impingement

Triangle Pose: Trick to Avoid Hip Impingement

Triangle Pose Triangle pose is an iconic posture in yoga that has tremendous benefits for increasing hip range of motion by creating more flexibility of the hamstrings and adductors (inner thigh muscles). There are several potential strength benefits that triangle...

read more

RECOMMENDED YOGA PRACTICES

Livestream Class Packages

back health online yoga classes

HIPS • HEART • HANDSTAND

12 ONLINE YOGA CLASSES

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

$298.00 $98.00

back health online yoga classes

THE SPINAL RESET

  • BACK & SIDE BENDS
  • TWISTS AND FORWARD FOLDS
  • SPINAL BIOMECHANICS
  • 4 POST CLASS MEDITATIONS
  • 12 ALL LEVELS CLASSES

$298.00 $98.00

JOURNEY TO BLISS

  • PHYSICAL MEETS SPIRITUAL
  • EXPLORE THE KOSHAS
  • MIND BODY TENSION RELEASE
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • 12 ALL LEVELS YOGA CLASSES

$298.00 $98.00

BACK, NECK & SHOULDERS

  • 12 YOGA CLASSES
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • LIVETIME ACCCESS TO ALL
  • 12 PEAK POSTURES
  • 12 YOGA SUTRA THEMES

$178.00 $128.00

October Livestream Yoga Classes

THE BREAKTHROUGH

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

$298.00 $98.00

JOURNEY TO THE HEART

  • FULL BODY RESET
  • INCREASE BALANCE
  • ARM BALANCES
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • ELEMENTALLY THEMED

$298.00 $98.00

KING PIGEON & HANUMAN

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

$198.00 $128.00 

boundless freedom

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

$298.00 $98.00

BIRDS OF PARADISE

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

$298.00 $128.00 

BEST STARTER PACKAGE

  • 6 YOGA CLASSES
  • 2 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • LIVETIME ACCCESS TO ALL
  • 6 PEAK POSTURES
  • 6 YOGA SUTRA THEMES

$148.00 $78.00

Newsletter

When You Subscribe You Will Instantly Get 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.

CONTACT

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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 done realize is that pain is usually the result of weak, or under developed muscles resulting in over compensations of 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 over looked are the ABDUCTORS of the Hips. 3 of themuscles that make up the abductos 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 me more lax and so the sacrum can move inside the two sides of the pelvis resulting in pain on the beck 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 hips and back muscles every yoga practice and 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 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, dietary, 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 purposes of this blog is to support your physical well-being in regards 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 short cut 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 long be perplexed when you see a new pose, you will know exactly what is need 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 the 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 its typically easiest to “create a boundry” 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 heals 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 range of motion. This means not only choosing a wide range of static yoga postures to activate the abductors in, 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 time is a form of respect and love. There is no end to mastery, just like there is no end to potential, its 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 asses what is appropriate for the well being of our body at any given time, and we have the tools to do whats 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!  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!

LIVESTREAM PACKAGES

boundless freedom

  • 12 YOGA CLASSES
  • SHOULDER BIOMECHANICS
  • TANTRIK YOGA TEACHINGS
  • 4 POST CLASS MEDITATIONS
  • 12 PEAK POSTURES
  • SALE Price:$98 

BIRDS OF PARADISE

  • 12 YOGA CLASSES
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • LIVETIME ACCCESS TO ALL
  • 12 PEAK POSTURES
  • 12 YOGA SUTRA THEMES
  • SALE Price:$98

BEST STARTER PACKAGE

  • 6 YOGA CLASSES
  • 2 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • LIVETIME ACCCESS TO ALL
  • 6 PEAK POSTURES
  • 6 YOGA SUTRA THEMES
  • SALE Price:$78

JOURNEY TO BLISS

  • 12 YOGA CLASSES
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • LIVETIME ACCCESS TO ALL
  • 12 PEAK POSTURES
  • 12 YOGA SUTRA THEMES
  • SALE Price:$98

KING PIGEON & HANUMAN

  • 12 YOGA CLASSES
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • LIVETIME ACCCESS TO ALL
  • 12 PEAK POSTURES
  • 12 YOGA SUTRA THEMES
  • SALE Price:$98

JOURNEY TO THE HEART

  • 12 YOGA CLASSES
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • LIVETIME ACCCESS TO ALL
  • 12 PEAK POSTURES
  • 12 YOGA SUTRA THEMES
  • SALE Price:$128

BACK, NECK & SHOULDERS

  • 12 YOGA CLASSES
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • LIVETIME ACCCESS TO ALL
  • 12 PEAK POSTURES
  • 12 YOGA SUTRA THEMES
  • SALE Price:$128

Continue Learning

5 Step Pigeon Pose Best Hip Stretch

5 Step Pigeon Pose Best Hip Stretch

5 STEPS TO MAKE PIGEON POSE THE BEST HIP STRETCH IS YOUR PIGEON LAZY? PIGEONDOES PIGEON POSE INCREASE FLEXIBILITYIs Pigeon pose the best hip stretch? The quick answer, it depends how you do it. Somebody told me recently on instagram that I was blessed with open hips....

read more
Neck And Shoulder Pain Relief 3 Step Release

Neck And Shoulder Pain Relief 3 Step Release

NECK & SHOULDER PAIN RELEIF THE 3 STEP RELEASENECK & SHOULDERSCAN SHOULDER TENSION CAUSE NECK PAIN?When someone comes to me complaining of neck and shoulder pain, they are usually rubbing their upper shoulder/neck area which are known as the trapezius muscle....

read more
WILD THING YOGA POSE 3 SHOULDER ACTIONS

WILD THING YOGA POSE 3 SHOULDER ACTIONS

Flip Dog Dilemma – 3 Shoulder Actions for Wild Thing. Is the popular yoga pose “FLIP DOG” worth it? If you practice or have been to a modern vinyasa or power yoga class than you know that flip dog is a popular posture that is called out somewhere toward…

read more
Samadhi

Samadhi

SAMADHI Dissolving into the state of oneness.SamadhiSamadhiSamadhi is the experience we have when the mind realizes the totality of itself - that it is one part of an infinitely grander whole. Using an analogy from one of my teachers, Alan Finger – Consiousness is...

read more
Flying Pigeon

Flying Pigeon

FLYING PIGEON Key Actions to Balance in Flying Pigeon PoseFlying pigeonFlying Pigeon: BalanceFlying Pigeon is an exceptionally challenging pose for several reasons, strength, balance, flexibility for starters. Learning to balance on the hands requires tremendous...

read more
Triangle Pose: Trick to Avoid Hip Impingement

Triangle Pose: Trick to Avoid Hip Impingement

Triangle Pose Triangle pose is an iconic posture in yoga that has tremendous benefits for increasing hip range of motion by creating more flexibility of the hamstrings and adductors (inner thigh muscles). There are several potential strength benefits that triangle...

read more

More Recommendations

Handstand Training

Learn the techniques that make Handstand fun, easy and accessible! This collection of the top 12 most effective exercises will make you rethink how you approach handstand and what is possible.

View Details

Hips Workshop

In this workshop you will practice specific techniques to open your hips, finding greater rang of motion and freedom. Each action in the body is carefully layered and clearly articulated to provide you with success.

View Details

Dance With The Flames

Change is Inevitable but transformation is a choice. Step into the fire and dance amongst the flames in this live workshop! You will get the full energy of being in the class room, strengthen your hips, and free your heart.

View Details

Newsletter

When You Subscribe You Will Instantly Get 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

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Chaturanga Alignment Part 2

Chaturanga Alignment Part 2

3 Steps to Apply Shoulder Actions

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!

From Chaturanga to ARm Balances

Because the majority of the arm balances do not require the elbow joint to be bent at 90 degrees I recommend practicing Chaturanga in the same way. Rather than bending the elbows so the shoulders are at the same height as the elbows, keep the elbows  straighter with only a small bend .

 

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 acrtion 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 build 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

5 Step Pigeon Pose Best Hip Stretch

5 Step Pigeon Pose Best Hip Stretch

5 STEPS TO MAKE PIGEON POSE THE BEST HIP STRETCH IS YOUR PIGEON LAZY? PIGEONDOES PIGEON POSE INCREASE FLEXIBILITYIs Pigeon pose the best hip stretch? The quick answer, it depends how you do it. Somebody told me recently on instagram that I was blessed with open hips....

read more
Neck And Shoulder Pain Relief 3 Step Release

Neck And Shoulder Pain Relief 3 Step Release

NECK & SHOULDER PAIN RELEIF THE 3 STEP RELEASENECK & SHOULDERSCAN SHOULDER TENSION CAUSE NECK PAIN?When someone comes to me complaining of neck and shoulder pain, they are usually rubbing their upper shoulder/neck area which are known as the trapezius muscle....

read more
WILD THING YOGA POSE 3 SHOULDER ACTIONS

WILD THING YOGA POSE 3 SHOULDER ACTIONS

Flip Dog Dilemma – 3 Shoulder Actions for Wild Thing. Is the popular yoga pose “FLIP DOG” worth it? If you practice or have been to a modern vinyasa or power yoga class than you know that flip dog is a popular posture that is called out somewhere toward…

read more
Samadhi

Samadhi

SAMADHI Dissolving into the state of oneness.SamadhiSamadhiSamadhi is the experience we have when the mind realizes the totality of itself - that it is one part of an infinitely grander whole. Using an analogy from one of my teachers, Alan Finger – Consiousness is...

read more
Flying Pigeon

Flying Pigeon

FLYING PIGEON Key Actions to Balance in Flying Pigeon PoseFlying pigeonFlying Pigeon: BalanceFlying Pigeon is an exceptionally challenging pose for several reasons, strength, balance, flexibility for starters. Learning to balance on the hands requires tremendous...

read more
Triangle Pose: Trick to Avoid Hip Impingement

Triangle Pose: Trick to Avoid Hip Impingement

Triangle Pose Triangle pose is an iconic posture in yoga that has tremendous benefits for increasing hip range of motion by creating more flexibility of the hamstrings and adductors (inner thigh muscles). There are several potential strength benefits that triangle...

read more

More Recommendations

Handstand Training

Learn the techniques that make Handstand fun, easy and accessible! This collection of the top 12 most effective exercises will make you rethink how you approach handstand and what is possible.

View Details

Hips Workshop

In this workshop you will practice specific techniques to open your hips, finding greater rang of motion and freedom. Each action in the body is carefully layered and clearly articulated to provide you with success.

View Details

Dance With The Flames

Change is Inevitable but transformation is a choice. Step into the fire and dance amongst the flames in this live workshop! You will get the full energy of being in the class room, strengthen your hips, and free your heart.

View Details

Newsletter

When You Subscribe You Will Instantly Get 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

3 Actions To Get Stronger

Why Get Stronger?

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 “should’s” and “Shouldn’t’s” 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. Lets 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 a part – 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 marker. 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 apposes 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.

Protraction Action

The Seratus anterior is the muscle primarily in charge of protraction which creates stability and control in chaturanga.

 

The Foundation for

Arm Balances

A strong stable chaturanga provides a solid foundation for the majority of arm balances in the yoga practice.

 

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 decent. 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. 

Many Methods, Many Benefits

There are many approaches to postures like Chaturanga, these are just a few of the shoulder actions that can support stability for you.   

 

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! 

Handstand Training

Learn the techniques that make Handstand fun, easy and accessible! This collection of the top 12 most effective exercises will make you rethink how you approach handstand and what is possible.

Continue Learning

5 Step Pigeon Pose Best Hip Stretch

5 Step Pigeon Pose Best Hip Stretch

5 STEPS TO MAKE PIGEON POSE THE BEST HIP STRETCH IS YOUR PIGEON LAZY? PIGEONDOES PIGEON POSE INCREASE FLEXIBILITYIs Pigeon pose the best hip stretch? The quick answer, it depends how you do it. Somebody told me recently on instagram that I was blessed with open hips....

read more
Neck And Shoulder Pain Relief 3 Step Release

Neck And Shoulder Pain Relief 3 Step Release

NECK & SHOULDER PAIN RELEIF THE 3 STEP RELEASENECK & SHOULDERSCAN SHOULDER TENSION CAUSE NECK PAIN?When someone comes to me complaining of neck and shoulder pain, they are usually rubbing their upper shoulder/neck area which are known as the trapezius muscle....

read more
WILD THING YOGA POSE 3 SHOULDER ACTIONS

WILD THING YOGA POSE 3 SHOULDER ACTIONS

Flip Dog Dilemma – 3 Shoulder Actions for Wild Thing. Is the popular yoga pose “FLIP DOG” worth it? If you practice or have been to a modern vinyasa or power yoga class than you know that flip dog is a popular posture that is called out somewhere toward…

read more
Samadhi

Samadhi

SAMADHI Dissolving into the state of oneness.SamadhiSamadhiSamadhi is the experience we have when the mind realizes the totality of itself - that it is one part of an infinitely grander whole. Using an analogy from one of my teachers, Alan Finger – Consiousness is...

read more
Flying Pigeon

Flying Pigeon

FLYING PIGEON Key Actions to Balance in Flying Pigeon PoseFlying pigeonFlying Pigeon: BalanceFlying Pigeon is an exceptionally challenging pose for several reasons, strength, balance, flexibility for starters. Learning to balance on the hands requires tremendous...

read more
Triangle Pose: Trick to Avoid Hip Impingement

Triangle Pose: Trick to Avoid Hip Impingement

Triangle Pose Triangle pose is an iconic posture in yoga that has tremendous benefits for increasing hip range of motion by creating more flexibility of the hamstrings and adductors (inner thigh muscles). There are several potential strength benefits that triangle...

read more

Handstand Training

Learn the techniques that make Handstand fun, easy and accessible! This collection of the top 12 most effective exercises will make you rethink how you approach handstand and what is possible.

View Details

Hips Workshop

In this workshop you will practice specific techniques to open your hips, finding greater rang of motion and freedom. Each action in the body is carefully layered and clearly articulated to provide you with success.

View Details

BlissFlow Masterclass

Enjoy a delightful one hour flow set to the sweet sounds of Kevin Paris playing along. This flow is designed to leave you feeling good for an everyday style practice. If you love live music and yoga this is for you!

View Details

Newsletter

When You Subscribe You Will Instantly Get 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.

The Key To Arm Balances

The Key to arm Balances

Learn the secret to balancing on your hands

 

The Secret is Simple

Finding ease in arm balances can seem like a mystery, and it can be frustrating to figure them out while struggling to breath in positions that feel constricting. The secret to arm balances is simple, but it is not always easy to put into action. Picture a balance scale – the old fashion kind – when both sides are even the scale is “balanced”. There is no difference between a balance scale and your body, but its visually harder to understand. The center of the scale is where your hand meets your wrists.

Lets think about crow pose for a moment, you will see in the picture to the right (or below if you’re on mobile or a tablet)with a red line to show you where the shaft of a balance scale would be. I call the hips and legs the “back side” of the pose, and the heart and head the “front side”. In order for the back and front side to be equal we must lean forward quite a bit. This presents a bit of fear for many yogis, and for a good reason! You could easily lean too far, too fast. This is why its important to build strength in your fingers and wrists. the primary muscles that stop the body from leaning too far are the flexors of the wrists and fingers. I call these muscles “The Breaks” and much like driving any vehicle, you will not feel safe without them! For this reason alone its super important to strengthen the breaks so that you build a trust in yourself, and as your trust builds you will be willing to lean forward more and more into the strength of your wrists.  In my Handstand Training video I provide some of my top exercises for “the breaks”

When most people first try to lean froward they actually tend to sink, softening the elbow joints and melting the shoulder blades toward each other. This will make the posture heavy and will actually make it harder to balance. To be sure you aren’t doing this film yourself, or better yet find a teacher, or a friend to support you with visual coaching.

 

Step 1 - All 4's with a Block

First work with a block behind the forearm on all fours. To be clear this deep extension of the wrist, so be mindful, if you feel that your muscles are straining back the block up an inch. The idea here is to grip the ground with your fingers which will activate the flexor muscles. Because the hand is in extension, the flexor muscles are elongated significantly, so gripping the ground could prove to be challenging. 

Step 2: Chaturanga with a block

The next step is to work on lowering from plant to chaturanga with the block directly behind the forearm. I recommend only going down a few inches and trying to hold. You will notice in my chaturanga and crow pose my elbows are only slightly bent. This will make it easier to stay lifted and light. Same is true for the fingers, keep gripping the ground! To Strengthen your wrist, I highly recommend Handstand Training

Step 3: Crow Pose

Crow pose is significantly more challenging so if this is new for you be sure to work with a teacher first, and a landing cushion would be an intelligent choice if you ask me. Apply the same action but go slower. Grip the ground and apply the breaks, then lean into that resistance. If you are more proficient in arm balances, you can try this in a posture like Ekapada Koundenyasana 2  or flying pigeon. 

Avoiding Wrist Pain

Wrist pain is common when people first start their yoga practice or arm balance practice. That doesn’t mean its a good thing, but it probably means the muscles that surround the joint are not strong and probably not balanced. The wrists are not a muscle you can simply work realy hard a few times and see positive results. More likely you will strain the muscles if you go that route. Instead spend small amounts of time practicing these exercises but do them often. This is how I training my own wrists and have had much success with feeling good over the course of 12 plus years of practicing handstands and arm balances. 

Thank you for reading and watching! if you have questions, comments or requests please share them here!

-Matt

Handstand Strength Training

learn the techniques that make Handstand fun, easy and accessible! This collection of the top 12 most effective exercises will make you rethink how you approach handstand and what is possible, so you can finally build the proper strength and awareness it takes to hold a handstand.

Continue Learning

5 Step Pigeon Pose Best Hip Stretch

5 Step Pigeon Pose Best Hip Stretch

5 STEPS TO MAKE PIGEON POSE THE BEST HIP STRETCH IS YOUR PIGEON LAZY? PIGEONDOES PIGEON POSE INCREASE FLEXIBILITYIs Pigeon pose the best hip stretch? The quick answer, it depends how you do it. Somebody told me recently on instagram that I was blessed with open hips....

read more
Neck And Shoulder Pain Relief 3 Step Release

Neck And Shoulder Pain Relief 3 Step Release

NECK & SHOULDER PAIN RELEIF THE 3 STEP RELEASENECK & SHOULDERSCAN SHOULDER TENSION CAUSE NECK PAIN?When someone comes to me complaining of neck and shoulder pain, they are usually rubbing their upper shoulder/neck area which are known as the trapezius muscle....

read more
WILD THING YOGA POSE 3 SHOULDER ACTIONS

WILD THING YOGA POSE 3 SHOULDER ACTIONS

Flip Dog Dilemma – 3 Shoulder Actions for Wild Thing. Is the popular yoga pose “FLIP DOG” worth it? If you practice or have been to a modern vinyasa or power yoga class than you know that flip dog is a popular posture that is called out somewhere toward…

read more
Samadhi

Samadhi

SAMADHI Dissolving into the state of oneness.SamadhiSamadhiSamadhi is the experience we have when the mind realizes the totality of itself - that it is one part of an infinitely grander whole. Using an analogy from one of my teachers, Alan Finger – Consiousness is...

read more
Flying Pigeon

Flying Pigeon

FLYING PIGEON Key Actions to Balance in Flying Pigeon PoseFlying pigeonFlying Pigeon: BalanceFlying Pigeon is an exceptionally challenging pose for several reasons, strength, balance, flexibility for starters. Learning to balance on the hands requires tremendous...

read more
Triangle Pose: Trick to Avoid Hip Impingement

Triangle Pose: Trick to Avoid Hip Impingement

Triangle Pose Triangle pose is an iconic posture in yoga that has tremendous benefits for increasing hip range of motion by creating more flexibility of the hamstrings and adductors (inner thigh muscles). There are several potential strength benefits that triangle...

read more

THANKS FOR JOINING

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!

 

The Elements of Mastery

Are you looking to go deeper in your study of yoga and want an online resource to support you in your journey? This training packed with content to advance your practice and teaching! You can take your time or immerse yourself in the training.

 

Handstand Training

A long time best seller, this handstand training brings you the tools and training that are required for a masterful handstand. In this series  you will build strength in the areas of the body that actually matter, and learn the why and how with each step.

 

Newsletter

When You Subscribe You Will Instantly Get 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.

Get in Contact

3 + 2 =

Pin It on Pinterest