6 Postures For Hips and Lower Back

6 Postures for Hips and Lower Back

stretch

6 POSTURES FOR HIPS AND LOWER BACK

When we’re interested in learning about postures that help us with our hips and lower back, it’s simply not good enough to find a video or practice that says that certain poses will help with these areas of the body. A statement like that is too broad—it doesn’t mean very much until we understand how to implement the poses in our yoga practice.  

Yoga is a powerful tool because it provides us with the gift of awareness. In the context of a physical yoga practice, a teacher like Matt shows us how to get to know our own bodies in a deeper way. We learn how to exercise discernment so that a posture becomes tailored to our individual needs. In today’s video, we’ll not only observe 6 postures for the hips and lower back but also obtain the information to guide us in a direction that makes them helpful.

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HIP RELEASE

2-HOUR LIVESTREAM WORKSHOP!

  • Technique-infused 2-hour workshop
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  • Increase active range of motion of the hips and pelvic movements
  • Learn anatomy of the hips as you practice
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  • Postural focus: Flying Pigeon and Lotus Pose
  • Injury awareness: Avoiding knee & low-back strain/pain/compression
  • Use anatomy knowledge to debunk popular alignment
  • Skillfully guided sequence by the founder of Chromatic Yoga, Matt Giordano
  • LIVESTREAM DATE: March 30th at 10am Eastern Time (NYC Timezone)
  • REPLAY: Available immediately, lifetime access

PELVIC TILTS IN WARRIOR II AND IN REVERSE WARRIOR

How can postures become helpful? We can get to know when and where stretching and/or strengthening is appropriate. We always have choices.

In Warrior II and Reverse Warrior, the discussion is essentially about the action of leveling or not leveling the hips. 

In the video, Matt explains that in his experience, he has often seen the front pelvis dropped downwards in Warrior II. However, this position in the hips may actually be more beneficial in Reverse Warrior, if we have the intention of stretching the side of the the front waistline. The lateral pelvic tilt helps create a stronger lateral flexion of the spine and an increased stretch in the psoas. Maintaining a more leveled pelvis in Warrior II can eliminate potential compression in the front hip. Exploring these articulations of the pelvis can help us find what is valuable at any given time.

WATCH THE VIDEO

6 POSTURES FOR HIPS AND LOWER BACK: HOW TO DECIDE BETWEEN STRETCH & STRENGTH

STANDING FIGURE 4 AND JANU SIRSASANA

Standing Figure 4

This variation offers another opportunity to explore the positioning of the hips for an increased stretch of the side body. Matt first cues a medial rotation of the hips and then, to again increase the stretch in the side waistline, he cues “hiking up the pelvis” for more lateral flexion when we’re bent over on the diagonal . 

Janu Sirsasana

Here we gain more insight in terms of choosing whether stretch or strength is beneficial. Due to the lateral flexion of the spine, this variation offers a deep stretch for the quadratus lumborum (QL), which might feel good. If the opposite is true and there is more discomfort than ease, an upright version may be more beneficial. In the upright version of the pose, the back muscles are engaged. If they feel tight, we may lean towards stretching, but tight muscles are often an indication of weakness, so opting for strength may be the key to finding relief in the lower back.

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FROG POSE AND HURDLER STRETCH

Frog Pose

Due to the intense shape of the posture, Frog Pose can reveal a great deal about our current experience with the strength and flexibility of our adductors. To encourage the optimal health and safety of the muscles, implementing a facilitated stretch offers stability while stretching. In the video, Matt shares how varying the angles of the pelvis will influence where we feel the stretch in the adductors.  

Hurdler Stretch

This shape offers both stretch and strength for the QL. Matt offers two variations in the video to help us to find what is more accessible. In both variations, both the tilt of the pelvis and “finer” details like pressing the exposed side of the rib cage up and a small tucking of the buttock on the straight-leg side will assist in supporting the lower back and hips to refrain from strain. 

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  • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1

THE FINER DETAILS CARRY THE WEIGHT

Throughout the exploration of these postures, it’s these finer details that help personalize what we experience in the hips and lower back. Thoughtful and careful implementation supports our individual goals regarding increased flexibility and/or strength in the lower back and hips. Paying attention to the finer details makes all the difference in what we feel sensationally in our bodies. 

This is why practicing with Matt creates such a transformational experience. His upcoming workshop, Hip Release, will be filled with techniques to help with increased range of motion in the hips, effective strength and flexibility drills, and ways to avoid pain.  Register at the link to enliven your practice today.

See you on the mat!

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Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Blissful Hips

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Strengthen Your Diaphragm

Strengthen Your Diaphragm

Resistance-Band Breath Technique

breathe

STRENGTHEN YOUR DIAPHRAGM

Strengthening your diaphragm. Is that a thing? It absolutely is, just like any other muscle you develop and strengthen in your body. The diaphragm is arguably one of the most important because it is one of the main muscles that helps you breathe. How do you strengthen the diaphragm? One way to work with this muscle is to engage it. This happens naturally when we inhale, of course, because of the natural movement that occurs: The diaphragm moves downward towards the lower vertebrae in order to create space, while the vacuum of pressure pulls air into the lungs. What Matt demonstrates today is not this natural engagement but instead a sustained engagement in order to work on the endurance and strengthening of the diaphragm.

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BHASTRIKA PRANAYAMA

Maintaining the sustained engagement of the diaphragm may sound reasonably simple; however, it may be quite uncomfortable if it’s something you’ve never practiced before. In order to train your body and nervous system for the mechanics of each movement and/or drill ahead, Matt prepares you in his current immersion, Breath of Fire, with a breath technique at the beginning of each class. 

Bhastrika pranayama is the ideal pairing for the resistance-band technique that Matt demonstrates in today’s video. Bhastrika pranayama is referred to as Breath of Fire, or Bellows Breath. This breath technique involves emphasis and effort on both the inhale and the exhale. Practicing a few rounds with multiple repetitions gets the brain on board, particularly with the action of the inhale. The action of pushing your belly out on the inhale provides more force, focus, and movement of your diaphragm.

WATCH THE VIDEO

STRENGTHEN YOUR DIAPHRAGM: RESISTANCE BAND BREATH TECHNIQUE

HOW DOES BHASTRIKA COMPARE TO KAPALABHATI?

So, why not Kapalabhati pranayama as preparation for the resistance-band technique Matt explores today? It’s because the difference between Bhastrika and Kapalabhati is where the emphasis is placed in the breath. With Bhastrika, the inhale is quite active, whereas with Kapalabhati, the inhale is passive. This creates more emphasis on the exhale and the movement “in and up” of the transversus abdominis. Visually, the two breathing practices may appear very similar, but the sensation and experience are quite different.  

Matt advises you to build gradually. For example, you may start with 15 repetitions and then gradually move your way up to 30. The goal is to gradually become more familiar with pushing your belly out, thus moving the diaphragm down in order to train it for strength. What becomes apparent is that you actually affect more than the diaphragm. You tap into connections with other core muscles.

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200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

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MORE THAN YOUR ABDOMINALS

Your core is much more than just your abdominal muscles. The exercise Matt breaks down today requires quite a bit of work from your iliopsoas muscles, which are also part of your core. Creating strength in the diaphragm includes exploring sustained engagement outside of isolation, and activating the iliopsoas in conjunction with the diaphragm means that you are incorporating more of your core muscles and therefore creating more integrity within the whole “core system.” The act of pushing your belly down and out on both the inhale and the exhale also supports the connection with the core muscles in your back body (e.g., erector spinae and multifidus).

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  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
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  • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1

RESISTANCE-BAND BREATH TECHNIQUE

First of all, if you’re familiar with the core exercise called Dead Bug, you’ll be familiar with the basic mechanics of this exercise. What may be new for you is the consistent activation of your diaphragm while executing the core work.

What role does a resistance band play with this breath/core technique? Well, as Matt explains it, the band acts somewhat like the transverse abdominis and is there to entice you to pull your belly in and up. What you will actually do is push your belly down and out, into the band.

This action, in addition to the cross action of pressing your opposite hand into your thigh and the thigh into your hand, is what engages your iliopsoas muscles.

This is much harder than it appears. Of course the level of difficulty is increased due to the balance factor, but it’s really the engagement of your diaphragm that multiplies the sensations in this technique.

Expand on this experience in Matt’s current immersion, Breath Of Fire. Delve into deeper knowledge of your core muscles in order to both breathe and move better.

See you on the mat!

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

The 300 Hr. Advanced Teacher Training: Click Here to See the Next Start Date

Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Breath Of Fire Immersion

Yoga for Core and Breathwork

BREATH OF FIRE

  • Moderate Vinyasa-style classes
  • Core strengthening & integration
  • Master your breath with pranayama practices
  • Access your core in arm balances, heart openers, twists, forward folds, inversions, and more
  • Learn where and how to breathe in challenging postures
  • Each class will include one pranayama (breathwork practice) and several core strengtheners
  • Access your core muscles: deep, superficial, anterior, posterior, and lateral 
  • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
  • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that’s convenient for you

$148.00

Continue Learning

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Build Strength & Endurance

Build Strength and Endurance

Infuse Calisthenics Into Your Yoga Practice

resilience

STRENGTH AND ENDURANCE WITH CALISTHENICS

There are both simple and more complex ways of infusing calisthenics into your yoga practice, especially as you get stronger and build upon various skills. First of all, movements associated with “basic” calisthenic exercises are already woven in many ways into asana practices such as Vinyasa and Ashtanga styles of yoga. What we need to understand, however, is that alongside the more traditional approaches, there are creative and innovative ways of incorporating calisthenics into our physical practice. Ultimately, what we are building over time is strength and endurance.

Matt breaks down exactly how to do this in the clips that you’ll see in today’s video, from his current MOVE Immersion. What is the reason for wanting to increase strength and endurance? Well, key components of overall health include both. If you consistently practice calisthenic exercises and/or incorporate them into your yoga practice, it’s inevitable that you’ll develop increased strength and endurance both physically and mentally.  

MOVE

  • Access your movement potential
  • Sweat and raise your heart rate
  • Master your breath/movement coordination
  • Increase mobility at all major joints
  • Learn to gracefully transition between postures
  • Improve your flexibility
  • Strengthen your hips, back, shoulders, and core
  • Improve your balance
  • Each class will raise your heart rate, bring you to a sweat, and return you back to a relaxed state of mind and body
  • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
  • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that's convenient for you

$168.00

WHAT ARE CALISTHENICS?

When you hear the term calisthenics, I wouldn’t be surprised if what comes to mind are some seriously strong folks doing pull-ups, chin-ups, a rude amount of push-ups or some “crazy” complicated movements requiring what may appears to be an obscene amount of coordination. You wouldn’t be wrong. The idea of incorporating calisthenics into your movement practice can be quite intimidating. The good news is that there are entry points, and they may be more accessible than you think.

Essentially, calisthenics are defined as a form of exercise where you’re using your own body weight for resistance. Exercises often associated with calisthenics are pull-ups, chin-ups, squats, lunges, planks, and push-ups, to name a few. How many times have you done chaturanga “yoga push-ups” in your practice?  How many times have you moved in and out of Malasana? Runner’s Lunge? Can you see the crossover? There is a great deal of benefit both physically and mentally. Let’s have a look.

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BUILD STRENGTH AND ENDURANCE: INFUSE CALISTHENICS INTO YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

PHYSICAL STRENGTH & ENDURANCE

Without a doubt, calisthenics are going to help you to build a solid and strong foundation. Incorporating them into your asana practice means that your approach on your mat will be an intense one. To acquire the benefits of muscle  strength and/or cardiovascular endurance, there must be repetition and vigor in your output of each drill or exercise, with minimal rest in between.  

Although calisthenics have an impact on all muscle fibers, they are said to primarily work the slow-twitch fibers (type 1 fibers). These muscle fibers are associated with endurance. Because exercises like push-ups, lunges, and squats typically involve repetition, you can see how they are easily incorporated in the context of an asana practice. The physical demand and strain on your muscle tissues creates the stimulus for them to break down and therefore adapt and ultimately grow. In your yoga practice, the capacity at which you are working does not equate to muscular hypertrophy but to a remarkable amount of strength and integrity in your body.

200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

  • Deepen your yoga practice
  • Build confidence speaking in front of groups in person and online
  • Learn foundational class structures and templates
  • Learn techniques for a wide range of yoga postures
  • Get certified and highly qualified to teach yoga
  • Yoga Alliance Globally Recognized Certification Program
  • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1

MENTAL STRENGTH & ENDURANCE

The attention to skill and technique requires a great deal of focus and concentration. Depending on the level of coordination and difficulty involved in a particular exercise, you’re also building resilience and mental toughness. The drive to complete and “push through” various calisthenic exercises means that you’re also fueling yourself with confidence. You’re actually proving to yourself that you can confront the opposition in your mind that may be telling you that you can’t possibly go any further. As long as you are free from injury and pain, taking action and pushing through is what actually allows you to experience benefits like increased focus, confidence, and tenacity. The resilience you build on your mat will ultimately lead to the same type of resilience in other areas of your life.

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

Master your skill set as a teacher through refined techniques, anatomy, biomechanics, sequencing, philosophy, meditation techniques, theming, yoga business, and much more!

  • Get 500 hour certified
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
  • Expand your teaching skills
  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
  • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang
  • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1

FIVE WAYS TO INFUSE CALISTHENICS INTO YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

In today’s video, Matt outlines 5 ways to infuse calisthenics into your yoga practice. He includes both simplified and more complex options.  

First, Chaturanga Dandasana is great for strengthening your core, chest, triceps, shoulders, and the muscles in your lower body. In the clip, Matt demonstrates the transition from Downward-Facing Dog to Plank (on knees or on toes), then he doubles the Chaturanga before coming all the way down to the ground. This may be a “simpler” way to increase intensity and muscle strength, but if you are not used to using this transition, it will take some time to feel stronger and more confident in your execution.

Second, Matt demonstrates a Boat Pose to Chaturanga transition. He breaks this one down into stages in which you can slowly build your way up to a full jump back into Chaturanga. This exercise will undoubtedly challenge your cardiovascular system and build more heat in your body. It also requires more coordination and timing as you progress into the jump back.

Third are the Adductor Slides With Socks and Blocks. This one is particularly innovative: Not only do you get the cardiovascular benefit, but you also build strength in your adductors (a muscle group that can often be neglected). In the full class from which this clip is extracted, Matt repeats the drill with a timer. He encourages you to perform it quickly while paying attention to very precise articulations in the hips and feet.

The fourth calisthenic exercise involves Plank—you might call this one a Side Plank (Vasisthasana) Crunch. Here, the focus is on strengthening your oblique muscles. It requires a great deal of muscle strength to balance while holding up your body weight and performing the “crunch” in the side body with control. This exercise definitely creates fire in the body! You will feel the elevation of your heart rate. 

Lastly, Matt demonstrates another Plank variation. This one might be referred to as Side Plank (Vasisthasana) With Adductor Leg Lift. In this exercise, you are again strengthening your oblique muscles but adding in the strengthening of your adductor muscles. If you’re looking for a challenge, THIS—IS—THE—ONE! Again, the movements may appear to be quite innocent, but there is always more than meets the eye.

TRANSFORM YOUR PRACTICE

You can see that the intricacy of all of these exercises requires mindfulness, focus, and physical intensity on your part.

When you watch the video, you’ll see how Matt specifically outlines the techniques for each drill in order for you to gain the maximum benefit. This is important because what might appear to be a minor change in body positioning (e.g., the articulation of the feet as they move in and out in the Adductor Slides) can have a drastic impact on the experience within the exercises and the actual muscle groups you’re affecting.

All of the clips are from Matt’s MOVE Immersion. In each and every class, there are so many ways that Matt teaches how to incorporate calisthenics, for strength and endurance, into your yoga practice.   

If you want to practice with more strength and grace, then this is definitely the immersion to sign up for.

See you on the mat!

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

The 300 Hr. Advanced Teacher Training: Click Here to See the Next Start Date

Article by Trish Curling

Video Clips Extracted From: Move Immersion

MOVE

  • Access your movement potential
  • Sweat and raise your heart rate
  • Master your breath/movement coordination
  • Increase mobility at all major joints
  • Learn to gracefully transition between postures
  • Improve your flexibility
  • Strengthen your hips, back, shoulders, and core
  • Improve your balance
  • Each class will raise your heart rate, bring you to a sweat, and return you back to a relaxed state of mind and body
  • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
  • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that's convenient for you

$168.00

Continue Learning

Hip Opening Without Knee Pain

Hip Opening Without Knee Pain

Hip Opening Without Knee Painhip mobilityHIP OPENING WITHOUT KNEE PAIN "Hip opening” in a yoga class just sounds glorious if we feel confined or constricted in this area of the body and our intention is to transform this experience. The term may not sound glorious,...

read more
Strengthen Your Ankles

Strengthen Your Ankles

Strengthen Your Anklesfoot healthSTRENGTHEN YOUR ANKLES Our feet are the foundation of our bodies. Placing great emphasis on creating ankle stability and mobility during our asana practice should be obvious; unfortunately, this is not always the case. Maintaining a...

read more
Yoga Props & Your Practice

Yoga Props & Your Practice

Yoga Props and Your PracticealignmentYOGA PROPS AND YOUR PRACTICE When it comes to incorporating yoga props into our yoga practice, we can take 1 of 2 paths. We either subscribe to the notion that if we use props, we are somehow “less capable” than others in the...

read more
Titibhasana Techniques

Titibhasana Techniques

Titibhasana Techniquesfirefly poseTITIBHASANA TECHNIQUES There are some general rules to follow when executing arm balance postures. To find optimal balance, most require us not to shy away from leaning forward. They also demand a considerable degree of upper body...

read more
Air Line Activation

Air Line Activation

Air Line Activationback strengthAIR LINE ACTIVATION Finding ways to effectively strengthen the back in our yoga practice can be a challenge. If our goal is to cultivate strength in this area of the body, we must understand that it requires more than just adding...

read more
Double Stag Handstand

Double Stag Handstand

Double Stag HandstandbalanceDOUBLE STAG HANDSTAND Cultivating confidence is a non-negotiable when it comes to implementing a handstand practice. If handstands seem insurmountable even to consider, don’t fret; there might be an easier option. Easier? Really? Yes!  Ok,...

read more

THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

When You Subscribe, You Will Get Instant Access to

  • the Technique Pack: 15 yoga pose breakdowns
  • exclusive online course discounts
  • exclusive blogs and videos
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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

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  • 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

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  • 12 classes: Each class targets a specific muscle group
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  • Learn creative ways to strength train within the context of a yoga practice
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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

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Vinyasa and Meditation Yoga Immersion

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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

  1. Live Immersions: 3 classes per week
  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
  • Titibhasana, Bhujapidasana
  • Handstand, Forearm Stand, and many more!

 

SALE PRICE: $198.00 $128.00

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read more
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  • 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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