Category Archives: Function Of The Asana

Quads Dominance

Quads Dominance

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I can not emphasize enough the importance of balanced strength in today’s athlete.  Squats are great and have their purpose, but do you really think you can continue to strengthen the front of the legs and continue to ignore the back of the legs with out consequences?

If your hamstrings are weaker then your quads a few things could happen

  • 1.Your hamstrings can tear from the overpowering load of a contracted quad as you extend your leg back from your hip.
  • 2.Your speed will decrease as you lose power from the hip flexors and knee extensors because your hamstrings tend to contract earlier to stop the movement so that they are not overpowered by the strong quad.

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Spinal Flexion and Extension

Spinal Flexion and Extension

shapeimage_1-7Spacial placement of the body cannot be the determining factor of flexion or extension when it comes to the back.  One must have an understanding of the basic structure of the spine as well as physical limitations todays athletes show up with in an effort to counter the repetitive actions as well as avoiding compromising the integrity of the body for the glory of the final pose.

In the womb we have but one curve, our primary curve which is still present in the thoracic spine.   Then as a baby we began to lift up our head and form the lordotic cervical curve.  As we began to get stronger and prepare for walking the lordotic lumbar curve was formed which is what enables us to walk upright on two feet.

So the spacial placement of the body cannot be the only determining factor as to whether you are in spinal extension or spinal flexion.  I have some of my students who go into a spinal flexion simply by raising their arms up over their head.  The restrictions are  mostly muscular and with time they are able to open up and go further into a back bend.  droppedImageOccasionally they present with a pretty severe case of Kyphosis and they will never be able to safely go into a back bend.  This is the result of poor posture and to much rounding of the back.  The muscular tension and pull on the spine over time creates a shift in the structure of the spinal column and care must be taken to educate and modify. 

Further practicing of spinal flexion should be avoided and support offered when doing asanas while lying on the back.

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In a forward fold, one can maintain spinal extension simply by hinging at the hips and maintaining the natural lordodic curves of the neck and low back to avoid increasing the kyphotic curve of the upper back.    Keeping your gaze forward to the wall will also prevent todays athlete from rounding the back, as each of the primary and secondary curves effects the other.  The idea is not to round the back but to flex the hips and lengthen the hamstrings.  It may mean your head is not going to be as close to the floor, but as that is not the intended action and function of the asana, who cares.

As you maintain the curve in the neck, the low back maintains a neutral lordodic positioning, if you exaggerate the primary arch of the mid back the secondary curves of the neck and low back shorten and the tail bone tucks under.

This is important for todays athlete to recognize in their practice and additional modifications and supports may need to be utilized.

This shows up as a restriction in down dog in some of todays athletes as well.  The function of down (with the face) dog pose are many, to strengthen the upper body, open the heart while creating length in the hamstrings as well as a little reverse traction to the spine. droppedImage_2An overall yummy pose, but by focusing only on the alignment and not taking into account limiting structural and muscular factors that todays athlete shows up with, you may lose the benefit.

Knowing the intention and the action as well as being mindful and watchful of limitation, there are so many different variations to help Todays Athlete receive the benefits of the asana with out actually having to express it by the book.  Bringing in props such as balls, straps, chairs, block and even the wall can help create the action of the asana to allow for a safe progression.  It also builds confidence to have other options as opposed to standing there avoiding the pose all together.

How might your expression of spinal extension change as you now look at the action of the asana as opposed the ideal form of the pose?

How might your yoga expression change if your intention of Downward dog were to feel the length in the hamstrings?  Or to simply feel the benefit and release of opening up the heart?

 

See you, on the mat!

What A Ride

What A Ride

shapeimage_1-15Remember that mindfulness, awareness is not about what happens in your physical body, whether you reach an ideal form or shape of an asana, but rather what is happening in your mind.

We all have within us a tremendous amount of wisdom and knowledge, it is known as our intuitive mind and yet we often find it hard to connect or trust this wisdom.  The mind is so busy with tits internal dialogue of endless messages about life, our problems, feelings etc…   This mental commentary that is often running nonstop we are often not even aware that it is there as it is being played out in our unconscious mind.  Yet it influences our feelings and perceptions and eventually it creates everything that happens to us. Read the rest of this entry

Wise Action

Wise Action

shapeimage_1-17Touch!  Such a treat in a yoga practice, to receive the confident, guiding touch of a teacher.  I call this The Art of Compassionate Touch. The confident guided touch of a yoga educator has more then just a temporary effect in the practitioners body.  It is often associated with what I like to call an  “Aha moment”.  I am then able to really process and understand the action of the asana as well as what is taking place in my body while in the asana with a deeper awareness.

I am a practitioner/teacher of Integrative Therapeutic Stretching, love to use it while I teach.  It is a fantastic way to help Today’s Athlete find the extended extension, the deeper twist.  This allows for a greater release in the asanas and for greater ease.  I am not a fan of forced adjustments.  The intention of my touch is not to move your body into what I think looks right but to help student become aware and hopefully understand the dynamics of the asana in Action with regards to the dynamics of their body.  To free themselves up to begin to explore the asana further in a safe and effective manner for their body. Read the rest of this entry