Yoga Props & Your Practice

Yoga Props and Your Practice

alignment

YOGA 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 execution of postures, or we can welcome props with open arms. Using yoga props in our practice can help us achieve greater accessibility within a given posture, and they provide opportunities for us to explore our alignment. They also allow us to discover where our strengths and challenges reside. In today’s video, Matt demonstrates how we can more carefully explore techniques in various postures with a variety of yoga props to move us towards greater understanding of our bodies. This understanding ultimately leads towards an unlocking and expansion of our highest potential.

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THE POSE FACTORY

WAITLIST NOW OPEN

  • Dogmatic alignment versus functional alignment
  • Learn popular postural pitfalls
  • Myths versus truth
  • Formulaic approach for comprehensive learning
  • Excellent guide for yoga enthusiasts
  • Must-have for yoga teachers
  • Joint-health awareness
  • Muscle integrity, range of motion
  • Props for accessibity
  • Alignment alterations in the case of injuries

DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME

It might be surprising to see Matt using a camera tripod as a yoga prop in the first part of today’s video, but what’s great about this portion of the demonstration is that he’s not recommending using a tripod as a prop, but it serves as a very quick “how-to” to incorporate what he’s actually suggesting–a broom or a wooden dowel. This part of the video also serves as a reminder that we have license to be creative with our use of yoga props (as long as they are safe of course).

Later, he offers greater detail in both an Open and Closed Seated Twist and in Revolved Side Angle. 

The point of using a prop in this way is to lock into the expansion of the chest and isolation of the spine in twist postures, which removes the common tendency of compensating with the shoulders in twist postures.

WATCH THE VIDEO

YOGA PROPS AND YOUR PRACTICE: 5 POSTURES TO MULTIPLY YOUR POTENTIAL

TRAIN WITH A CHAIR

If it feels like “train” is the wrong choice of word here, please hear me out. What I really mean is to develop our practice through the use of a chair in foundational postures so as to better practice specific techniques. Matt offers A LOT of opportunities to incorporate various techniques in the following 2 postures with a chair:

Warrior 2

In Warrior 2, we can explore the placement of the pelvis, activation of the legs (glutes and adductors in particular), and strengthening of the ankles and feet. Matt demonstrates the exploration of these techniques while sitting on the edge of the chair and then again translating the techniques while slightly lifting off of the chair. Going back and forth here can help reveal where challenges exist.

Extended Side Angle

Again, the chair provides a checking-in point for the positioning of the groin and further exploration of how to strengthen the legs.

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

BLOCKS FOR MORE THAN BALANCE

It just so happens that in this demonstration, we again explore the importance of the positioning of the pelvis. The intent is to find a position where the pelvis on the side of the elevated leg is just slightly lifted. When we find the ideal positioning in our bodies, we’re better able to activate the glutes and hamstrings of the raised leg. To go even further, the tucking of the sit bone in the standing leg encourages the same outcome.

Why are the use of the blocks and a wall important here? This exploration/negotiation becomes much easier when we are supported. We can then challenge ourselves to lessen the weight on the blocks to see if we are able to maintain the strength we have cultivated. It’s therefore about much more than balance; it’s about how to foster strength.

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

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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

PROPS AND POTENTIAL

As we can see from the video, yoga props (and other tools for that matter) can be like our own private yoga teachers offering adjustments. We can observe this effect in Twist postures. It can be easy to fall into familiar patterns with yoga poses we engage in regularly, but when we incorporate props into our practice, we can better explore more functional alignment. This will have a greater impact on muscle strength and joint health. When we nurture these areas in our asana practice, we can better achieve our true potential.

Matt’s online course The Pose Factory is the perfect course to delve into these concepts. Sign up to get on the waiting list today!

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

Videos Extracted From: Alignment Immersion

lotus pose online yoga classes

ONLINE ANATOMY COURSE

  • Accessible, exciting, and easy to learn
  • Anatomy and biomechanics for yoga
  • Appropriate for both teachers and students
  • Learn joint alignment vs pose alignment
  • Demystify yoga poses and transitions
  • Release aches and pains
  • Learn how to avoid common injuries
  • Caters to all levels with modifications and props
  • 20 hours Continued Education Credits with Yoga Alliance
  • 20 hours toward Chromatic Yoga Certification and 300 Hour
  • Lifetime access

Continue Learning

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana HintssplitsHANUMANASANA HINTS Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be...

read more
Chin Stand

Chin Stand

Chin Standganda bherundasanaCHIN STAND Without a doubt, Chin Stand requires preparation. This posture must be approached with the utmost humility, essential in order to respect the potential risk. If this pose is not explored regularly in our physical practice, it may...

read more
Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone the Stretch SensationflexibilityPOSTPONE THE STRETCH SENSATION If one of the goals of our physical yoga practice is to increase flexibility, we may automatically believe that we just need to stretch more. It’s critical that we understand that increasing...

read more
Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Poseheart openerWAKE UP YOUR WHEEL POSE We don’t have to question it—we know whether or not we’re feeling open, free, and strong in Wheel Pose. There’s a lightness and expansiveness that takes over when everything falls into place: From the initial...

read more
Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousnessdancer poseSPINAL SPACIOUSNESS Some key indicators of spinal health include strong bones, durable yet flexible ligaments, supple discs, and strong supportive muscles. Aside from nutrition, it’s not enough to say that movement in general is enough to...

read more
Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps to Scorpion PosevrschikasanaSCORPION POSE Exhilarating, stimulating, and enlivening are a few words we can use to describe Scorpion Pose. We can also use words such as grounding or even relaxing, which might initially be considered strange descriptors. When we...

read more

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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.

chromatic yoga 15 hour immersion

HIP RELEASE

2-HOUR LIVESTREAM WORKSHOP!

  • Technique-infused 2-hour workshop
  • Nondogmatic alignment awareness
  • Inner thigh & outer hip flexibility
  • Increase active range of motion of the hips and pelvic movements
  • Learn anatomy of the hips as you practice
  • Strengthen the muscles for optimal balance
  • 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.

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

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. 

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

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!

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

Videos Extracted From: Blissful Hips

lotus pose online yoga classes

ONLINE ANATOMY COURSE

  • Accessible, exciting, and easy to learn
  • Anatomy and biomechanics for yoga
  • Appropriate for both teachers and students
  • Learn joint alignment vs pose alignment
  • Demystify yoga poses and transitions
  • Release aches and pains
  • Learn how to avoid common injuries
  • Caters to all levels with modifications and props
  • 20 hours Continued Education Credits with Yoga Alliance
  • 20 hours toward Chromatic Yoga Certification and 300 Hour
  • Lifetime access

Continue Learning

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana HintssplitsHANUMANASANA HINTS Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be...

read more
Chin Stand

Chin Stand

Chin Standganda bherundasanaCHIN STAND Without a doubt, Chin Stand requires preparation. This posture must be approached with the utmost humility, essential in order to respect the potential risk. If this pose is not explored regularly in our physical practice, it may...

read more
Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone the Stretch SensationflexibilityPOSTPONE THE STRETCH SENSATION If one of the goals of our physical yoga practice is to increase flexibility, we may automatically believe that we just need to stretch more. It’s critical that we understand that increasing...

read more
Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Poseheart openerWAKE UP YOUR WHEEL POSE We don’t have to question it—we know whether or not we’re feeling open, free, and strong in Wheel Pose. There’s a lightness and expansiveness that takes over when everything falls into place: From the initial...

read more
Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousnessdancer poseSPINAL SPACIOUSNESS Some key indicators of spinal health include strong bones, durable yet flexible ligaments, supple discs, and strong supportive muscles. Aside from nutrition, it’s not enough to say that movement in general is enough to...

read more
Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps to Scorpion PosevrschikasanaSCORPION POSE Exhilarating, stimulating, and enlivening are a few words we can use to describe Scorpion Pose. We can also use words such as grounding or even relaxing, which might initially be considered strange descriptors. When we...

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.

3 Ways To Stretch & Strengthen Your Neck

3 Ways to Stretch and Strengthen Your Neck

Home In on the Awareness of Your Posture

NECK MOBILITY

STRETCH AND STRENGTHEN YOUR NECK

A common postural tendency or pattern for so many is slouching, which includes forward head posture due to the amount of time spent at a work desk or on a variety of digital devices. Functioning in this way may seem unavoidable due to work/life responsibilities, but welcoming in a level of awareness and actions you can take to shift this pattern will ultimately contribute to greater wellness. 

If you’re holding tension in your neck and upper back, the techniques Matt offers in today’s video will help stretch and strengthen the appropriate muscles in your neck. It also means that you’ll find more freedom of movement, which may also lead to less tension. The key component is the awareness that you’ll nurture throughout the process. There isn’t any “fix” without awareness. This part of the equation must also be implemented.

chromatic yoga 15 hour immersion

THE POWER OF BLISS

November 2023 Immersion

  • Moderately paced Power Yoga classes
  • Perfect blend of movement, alignment, and technique
  • Inspirationally themed to give meaning and power to each practice
  • Tantrik philosophy: The 5 Powers of Consciousness
  • Teachings of the Yoga Sutras
  • 12 classes included
  • Livestream optional! All classes available on demand after livestream's complete

Registration now open!

SVADHYAYA AND AWARENESS

If you want to transform your experience, you must first be aware of your state of being. In my previous blog, Take Action in Flying Pigeon, we touched on the area of understanding the 5 Powers of Consciousness, which Matt explores further in his immersion The Power of Bliss and delves into in greater detail in his 300 Hr. Teacher Training. In Chromatic Yoga, Matt draws on the original teachings of the Yoga Sutras and beyond. He stresses that the key aspect is self-inquiry, Svadhyaya in the Yoga Sutras. This relates back to the first power in the 5 Powers of Consciousness from the Tantik perspective, which is Cit Śakti (the power of awareness itself). The power of awareness leads to the journey of Svadhyaya and therefore the discernment you need to take the right actions.

WATCH THE VIDEO

3 WAYS TO STRETCH & STRENGTHEN YOUR NECK: HONE IN ON THE AWARENESS OF YOUR NECK

TECHNIQUES FOR THE NECK

When you’re experiencing neck tension, it can be quite challenging to shift your awareness from discomfort or pain to the possibility of ease. Part of the formula to create ease is to stretch and strengthen your neck. This is important because the muscles of the neck can become shortened, weak, and tight from constant poor positioning such as forward head posture. Pulling your chin in and your head back and up, without puffing your chest out, can help to stretch the sternocleidomastoid muscle. On each side of the neck, this muscle attaches to both the sternum and the clavicle and then to the mastoid process towards the rear side of your skull.

Adding in rotation can also promote strength and flexibility in your neck. These may be “simple” actions, but it’s imperative to be aware of the execution of these techniques within a given posture.

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

3 POSTURES FOR THE NECK

It can be easy to remain on autopilot in any given yoga posture, especially if you’ve executed the posture many times before. Matt outlines how to stretch and strengthen your neck in 3 “basic” yoga postures.

In Warrior II, you’ll see how Matt pulls his head up and back before initiating the next step, the rotation. When the rotation is added, along with the awareness to shorten one side and lengthen the other, what you achieve is an engagement of the sternocleidomastoid on the front side and a lengthening on the back side. What’s even more effective is the self-adjustment of pressing your head into your hand in order to get more in touch with the positioning and sensation. When exploring Pyramid Pose and High Lunge, the experience in both of these postures is changed by adding the same techniques (without the rotation). 

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

MAKE THE SHIFT

If you shift your awareness within a yoga posture, you’ll transform your awareness in your everyday posture. Once you have incorporated these techniques on the mat, how many times can you incorporate them into your everyday life? This is part of Svadhyaya, the practice of self-inquiry, on the physical level. Of course Svadhyaya goes beyond this aspect only.  

Matt emphasizes that it’s not about staying in this position all the time but about training yourself to stretch and strengthen your neck muscles more often. Like anything else, these repetitive actions will stimulate the muscles to respond and ultimately make the shift to more freedom.

Register for Matt’s November immersion, The Power of Bliss, to go deeper into the awareness of your body and mind. 

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

Videos Extracted From: Chromatic Yoga 15-Hour Immersion

lotus pose online yoga classes

ONLINE ANATOMY COURSE

  • Accessible, exciting, and easy to learn
  • Anatomy and biomechanics for yoga
  • Appropriate for both teachers and students
  • Learn joint alignment vs pose alignment
  • Demystify yoga poses and transitions
  • Release aches and pains
  • Learn how to avoid common injuries
  • Caters to all levels with modifications and props
  • 20 hours Continued Education Credits with Yoga Alliance
  • 20 hours toward Chromatic Yoga Certification and 300 Hour
  • Lifetime access

Continue Learning

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana HintssplitsHANUMANASANA HINTS Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be...

read more
Chin Stand

Chin Stand

Chin Standganda bherundasanaCHIN STAND Without a doubt, Chin Stand requires preparation. This posture must be approached with the utmost humility, essential in order to respect the potential risk. If this pose is not explored regularly in our physical practice, it may...

read more
Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone The Stretch Sensation

Postpone the Stretch SensationflexibilityPOSTPONE THE STRETCH SENSATION If one of the goals of our physical yoga practice is to increase flexibility, we may automatically believe that we just need to stretch more. It’s critical that we understand that increasing...

read more
Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Pose

Wake Up Your Wheel Poseheart openerWAKE UP YOUR WHEEL POSE We don’t have to question it—we know whether or not we’re feeling open, free, and strong in Wheel Pose. There’s a lightness and expansiveness that takes over when everything falls into place: From the initial...

read more
Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousness

Spinal Spaciousnessdancer poseSPINAL SPACIOUSNESS Some key indicators of spinal health include strong bones, durable yet flexible ligaments, supple discs, and strong supportive muscles. Aside from nutrition, it’s not enough to say that movement in general is enough to...

read more
Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps to Scorpion PosevrschikasanaSCORPION POSE Exhilarating, stimulating, and enlivening are a few words we can use to describe Scorpion Pose. We can also use words such as grounding or even relaxing, which might initially be considered strange descriptors. When we...

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.

Lifting The Arches of Your Feet

Are Your Arches Lifted?

Setting the foundation for standing postures - Avoid Collapsed Arches

Is your foundation trong?

Setting the foundation of any posture is arguably the most important step you can take aside from breathing of course, which you can simply consider a part of the foundation. You probably have heard me talk about the foundation of arm balances and handstands a million times, but how about standing postures? If you have practiced with me on retreat or at the Elements of Mastery, you already know the importance of what I am about to share with you. If you have not worked with me before, no problem, I am going to take you through a step-by-step approach to building a strong, solid foundation for all your standing postures.

Have you been asked to lift the arches of your foot in a class? Did you know how to do that on your own? Maybe you were told to lift your toes in order to do so, and you probably noticed a loss of connection to stability. Lifting your toes can be a great way to strengthen some of the muscles I am about to share with you, but it is literally just the beginning.

Does it really matter?

This is a great question and I wouldn’t blame you for asking because ultimately knowing the why behind anything we do gives our actions power. So why lift the arches? Consider your feet the foundation of all standing postures. Would you build your extremely expensive one-of-a-kind house on mud, or would you prefer a solid foundation you know will hold up over time? Picture it, a strong, heavy house resting on a muddy foundation, eventually part of the house would start to sink downward while other parts remained strong. The pressure would build and the weakest parts would start to break. This happens in our body, and the weakest points are typically our joints. The joints are weak because they are the place where two or more bones come together for the purpose of movement. If they were too strong, no movement would be available. Gravity is always upon us and pulling us downward. When our bones are properly aligned there is less stress on the joints. However, what if we have an imbalance at the ankle that causes our weight to fall to the inside or outside of the foot? Not only is the ankle or foot at risk but ALL of the joints that exist above it are too because they have to compensate for the new alignment. This is why you could have a pain in your neck that stems from weakness and miss-alignment at the ankle. You feel it in the neck because the neck is compensating for everything below it. This is very important to understand especially if you are a yoga teacher or in any field of physical health. Does it matter…? YES!

The Anatomy

For the purposes of this article, we will talk about two joint actions and the muscle groups that create them: Eversion and Pronation of the ankle which occurs at the subtalar joint. The subtalar joint is just below the ankle joint. The ankle joint allows for the up and down movements of plantar flexion (pointing the foot) and dorsiflexion (flexing the foot), while the subtalar joint allows the foot to rock from side to side. For the purpose of simplicity, we will refer to both of these joints as a collective –  “the ankle”.

The arch of the foot

There are multiple muscles that help to form the arch of the foot. How high someone’s arches are may be due to the structure of the foot – the bones might be shaped in a more flattened position. However, we aren’t concerned with the external look of an arched foot but rather, training the muscles to activate appropriately for our feet. Most of us can use strengthening of these muscles. The way that I found really helps is first learning how to isometrically engage the muscles of inversion and eversion at the same time which forms a “bootstrap” like scenario around the foot. One of the fibula muscles wraps from the outer shin down the outer ankle and attaches near the ball mound of the big toe – That is pretty cool! There are muscles underneath the sole of the foot that when activated in conjunction with the muscles of inversion and eversion allow us to find greater engagement and lift of our arches.

One of the best ways to integrate these actions in your practice is to repeat them throughout your yoga practices. If you are interested in greater balance, stability, and ankle awareness there are two online immersions – 12 class packages that focus heavily on the feet and ankles.

1. The July 2020 Immersion titled The Chakras & the Elements – the Earth and Water practices will provide a profound awakening to the ankles and feet and how they relate to your practice.

2. The August 2020 Immersion titled Journey To Bliss follows a similar format as of July; the first few practices target the ankles and feet. I highly recommended either or both of these immersions.

Everting

ankle strength, heal sprained ankle with yoga

Inverting

ankle strengthening for yoga
October Livestream Yoga Classes

CHAKRAS AND ELEMENTS

FULL BODY AWAKENING

  • Unlock Your Hips!
  • Awakem Your Arm Balance Practice
  • Detailed Ankle and Feet Articulation
  • Develop Low Back and Buttock Strength
  • Strengthen Your Core
  • Release S.I. Joint Pain
  • Release Neck Pain
  • The July Immersion Has it ALL
  • Each Chakra & Element is Paired with an Area of the Body and Muscle Group
  • 12 All Levels Live Asana Classes
  • 4 Live Guided Meditations

 

3 Steps To Activate the Core of the Foot

  1. Press the outer edge of the food down.
  2. Maintain this action, and counter engage by pressing the big ball mounted and big toes down.
  3. Drag the big ball mound back toward the inner heel.
inversion of the ankle - arch of the feet

Step 1 - invert the ankle

While you can certainly evert the ankle first, I find for most people it is more effective to start with inverting the ankle when approaching standing postures. For clarity of the action, I am showing it in a seated position – try it seated first so you are very clear on how to invert. When in Warrior 2, press the outer edge of the front foot into the ground until your feel the muscle deep in the calf muscle activating. The ball mound and the big toe might lift when you do this – it is ok for now.

evert the ankle in warrior 2 yoga pose

Step 2: Evert the Ankle

I recommend learning everting when seated – first, pull the outer edges of the feet back, it can be helpful to press the big toe and toe mound forward. When articulating this action properly you will feel the muscles along the outer shin engage. After you are aware of the action, the next part can be challenging. In warrior 2, be sure to maintain the muscle activation of inversion and add eversion by pressing the big toe and toe mound down into the ground, while trying to roll the outer ankle in slightly. Be sure not to fall flat into the inner arch while doing so – if this happens it means you are no longer activating the muscles of inversion, so go back to step 1 and try again.

arch of the foot in warrior 2 yoga pose

Step 3: contract The Arch

While this step is optional, it can be really helpful especially for anyone that gets plantar fasciitis. The idea is to maintain steps 1 and 2 but then add an activation of the musculature along the bottom (plantar side) of the foot. The action is to try and drag the big ball mound of the foot toward the inner heel. Like inversion and eversion, this action can be quite foreign and may take a bit of time until you are able to feel the muscles contract. I really like to focus on this action in the change of seasons when I am switching between different shoes and my feet are trying to adapt to the differences.

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The Results

Activating the arch of the foot can be challenging at first. Typically the hardest part is learning how to co-contract opposing muscle groups. When opposing muscle groups contract at the same time, you get lifting and stabilizing of the joints. In this case, when you activate the muscles along the inside and outside the leg, it’s like pulling up your bootstraps and stabilizing the ankle. As a wonderful result, the arch of the foot pulls up.

Integration

 To fully integrate these actions into your practice you will need repetition throughout all of your standing postures. Try it in your next class, or if you want a full workshop that incorporates these exact actions throughout, check out Hips: Rock Em and Unlock Em workshop below.

Thanks for stopping by. Leave a comment if this post has been helpful, or if you have questions or requests for future posts.

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