Yoga Practice - Sitting at a Desk

alignment health real life Oct 25, 2020
 

It’s quite common to hear people say ‘I’m going to my yoga class now’ or ‘I'm going to practice yoga’.
Many teachers and instructors also promote ‘yoga off the mat’.
All this sometimes really puzzles me.

Even if we were to reduce yoga practice to postures and movements - don’t tell me sitting on a desk is not a posture.
And it’s often our absence of paying attention to our posture , especially when we’re seated, that it is blamed for sore lower backs, tight shoulders, necks and hips.

Paying attention to how we sit, how we move - that is yoga practice in action.

Now you might ask, does it really matter? I need to focus on my work, not my posture, I’ll do some stretches later.

Here are two observations that may help you decide to pay more attention to your work posture.
And this is not about tight and tired shoulders. This is more profound.
1- forward head posture: can reduce blood flow to the brain, especially in the...

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Locust Pose - Practical Yoga Applications

 

Watch this video for a look at locust pose to support your sitting posture.

Don't we often find ourselves sitting slumped using our arm or hand to prop us up when at a desk or table? This is quite an external body support.

In this video, we’ll take the first step and focus on the muscles along the spine in the back, often collectively called the erector spinae muscle group.
One pose that really addresses these muscles, is the locust pose, or salabasana.
To really get to the bottom of this, we would need to look at many different factors coming together. The many different muscle groups and postural support ideas.

In locust pose, or salabasana, we lie on our belly and lift both the torso and the legs up against gravity.
The active muscles for lifting up are along the back side of the body. Since muscles only pull, and do not push, we can imagine ourselves a little bit like string puppets. The strings on the back of the torso or spine and on the back of the legs need to pull to lift...

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Knee Stability Results from Action

The knee is NOT a hinge. It can twist and slide. 

The shin bone / tibia ends rather flat, while the thigh bone / femur meets this flat top with two convex round bony ends. There is no connection or stability inherent in the joint or skeletal structure of the knee. All restrictions to this joint, making it appear to some as a hinge, are the result of soft tissue structures.

Depending on the density and strength of each person's soft tissue the knee joint might present with more or less of this passive support.

Real knee support requires active engagement of muscles. The resulting forces have a strengthening and supportive effect on the knee joint.

However, because of the open structure of the bony parts of the knee joint, movements in all directions are possible. Trying to support the knee only linearly, as if it was a hinge, leaves it vulnerable to strain in all the other directions.

One of the muscles that can provide an aspect of knee stability is the quadriceps, or...

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Keep Your Shoulders Safe When Binding Arms in Yoga Postures

Practicing playfully or with curiosity can lead us to try new movements and postures. One group of interesting posture variations are bound postures.

Many bound poses are twisted poses. Depending on your mobility, practicing these can put strain on on your lower back or parts of your shoulder joint.

When done well, binding the arms in some yoga postures can add stability and depth.
Prerequisite steps need to be in place for arm-binding to have a positive impact on yoga practice development, and ultimately the health of your joints, especially the shoulder.

 Keep the following steps in mind when you practice any bound postures next.

1 Set a foundation

In standing poses the engagement of the feet and legs creates the stability to keep balance. Additionally, force transmissions from the engaged feet and legs have a stabilizing influence on the hip joints, lower back and sacro-iliac joints.

2 Rotate the spine - twist the torso

Support the spine in trikonasana  (triangle pose)...

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Unkink Your Neck to Relax

alignment yoga postures Jun 03, 2020

Make the most out of your opportunities to rest and restore your nervous system.
Our nervous system deserves a break. Regularly.
We can make an effort to reduce stress, or avoid stress in our lives. But honestly, there is still a build-up, a ‘background noise’ of sorts.
A regular reset of this deeper level of stress can be hugely beneficial and feels really good.

When we take rest, either by catching a nap somewhere, or in savasana after a yoga practice, there is one little trick that can make a big difference to the quality of your relaxation.

When resting in savasana or other restorative postures the neck position is very important.
The relaxation response in your body is directed by a part of your autonomic nervous system called the Parasympathetic Nervous System PSNS.
The main nerves of the PSNS are the vagus nerves, which run through our necks. Our head position clearly depends on our neck positions, and with it we can change the function and influence of the vagus.
A...

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How to improvise yoga props and mat for online yoga practice at home

alignment yoga postures May 11, 2020
 


Yoga classes have abruptly shifted from the studio to our homes. Not everyone has a yoga mat, block or other props available for home practice with online courses.

Learn how to use household items as props and yoga mat to participate in online yoga classes.
This video explains how to adjust for missing props with general household items and still participate fully in your favourite yoga classes.
Watch the surprise explanation why not having a yoga mat can be good for you.

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Is Your Body Tighter on One Side?

alignment yoga postures Apr 02, 2020
 

Have you ever wondered why one side of your body always feels somewhat more stiff, the other side more mobile or you seem to twist further to one side than the other?

This video and post explore one important factor in this imbalance and how to check for it.

You might remember a song from when you were little, something from primary school. It includes the line: ‘… the thigh bone is connected to the hip bone, …

Because of its direct connection at the hip socket, along with the many ligaments and strong muscles, the thigh (and with it the thigh bone) have a strong influence on positioning and stability of the hips.
The hip bone is only one part of the three-part pelvis. The pelvis itself is comprised of the left and right hip bones, and the sacrum in the back centre of this ring structure.

What makes the difference between a rigid ring structure and our pelvis are the three joints.
At the front of the pelvis the pubic joint is mobile, so are the two sacroiliac joints,...

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The Arches of Your Feet are an Action You Can Choose

alignment yoga postures Feb 10, 2020

You have a choice. Now you do. As a baby you didn’t. Back then, the task was to stand, counteract gravity in whichever way possible until your feet carried you.

Fast forward to today. How much have you consciously upgraded your standing skills?

When you let your mind drift to the last time you saw baby feet, or the feet of a very young child that couldn't stand yet, what shape feet were they? 

I get it, they are cute, and soft, and puffy and - flat. Babies don’t have arches in their feet. By what process do we then, hopefully, gain the arches of our feet as we grow up? 

The answer lies simply in the use and coordination of our muscles. 

Remember we have twenty six bones held together by connective tissues in our feet? 

In order to move and animate and support our body weight on our feet, we need to add muscles into the picture. Ligaments and fascia are all good and useful, but they don’t initiate movement. Plus, when put under load they stretch...

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How to Interpret Instructions in Yoga Practice - Arm Rotations in Downward Dog

alignment yoga postures Nov 11, 2019
 

Following yoga class instructions helps us move in and out of postures without having to look at and observe the teacher.

Many instructions that are given produce varying responses and results in class participants. This can be a result of individual interpretation of the meaning of such instructions, or, maybe for the sake of brevity, a hint actually referring to a range of actions or movements.

Interpreting yoga instructions helps us gain clarity on what certain instructions mean, what the intended postural action is.

Watch this video about turning the upper arms out in downward facing dog to see the difference between intended action and literal response.

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Alignment - Yoga & Life

 

Alignment suggests specific positions and relationships of body parts in postures.

In our life off the yogamat, or when not practicing specifically, we rarely adhere to those specific alignment guidelines.

In this video I discuss the reasons why alignment can be helpful. Looking at the example of the fierce pose, or utkatasana, or chair pose, I describe the difference between specific alignment and its real-life application and relevance. 

Once we are clearer why we suggest or follow alignment cues, we have greater choice and freedom to explore a broader range of movement and positions safely.

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