Benefits to using yogaprops
Understanding the benefits to using yoga props will help the student access the skill of a particular pose.
Why use the yogaprops ?
While it is true not everyone has a rope wall as in Figure A, the block stack is easily obtainable for a home practice. In fact, some students may even benefit from subbing blocks for a chair. The primary reason for this is to bring the pose closer to the student rather than having the student risk misalignment and overstrain. In both these photos, the student is able to access the skill and stability in the pelvis and legs by bringing hand(s) to blocks to lift and open the chest and lengthen the spine without losing that skill. It can be harder to use props than you would think!
Revolved Triangle Pose
As you can see, in addition to the strap and blocks, the wall is used as a yogaprop in order to stabilize the back leg. Your balance and the rotation of the torso grow from the stability of the legs. She has that, and is using the strap and blocks to help initiate the twist from the back ribs.
Standing Wide Angle Pose
In the variation pictured below, the blocks are used to help extend the breastbone forward and the pubic bone back. Reaching to the floor, if this is a strain for the student, can end up tipping you backwards rather than having the legs vertical with hips above feet.
yoga basics: come join me at 9:30 Sundays for yoga basics class in Jersey City
“yoga is not for the flexible, it’s for the willing” love it!
I am teaching this morning, a basics class, called FUNdamentals. Each week we break down some of the essential skills in asana and pranayama, and try to fit in a little practical yoga wisdom so that you leave feeling refreshed and inspired. Last week we worked on backbends. This week we are going to work on standing poses. All standing poses begin with Tadasana, mountain pose. Also referred to as samasthiti, which means pose of balance, this one pose establishes the fundamentals of alignment that are required for al other standing poses. Look for creating symmetry and stability.
The key ingredient to any pose is awareness, even if you can’t somehow access a certain area in your body, or movement that is asked of you. In this pose we look for a neutral pelvis, and a lengthening from kneecaps up.. It is also a great pose to investigate how you place your head, whether you thrust your chin forward or drop your head back. We look to lengthen the back of the neck and lift from the crown of the head upwards. Any gains in flexibility, by the way, happen when you are not struggling, and you are able to hold a posture for a length of time, as opposed to just 3 breaths. Join us or contact me for a one-one!
Restorative yoga pose of the day: Today we included in our restorative segment a posture that is called Viparita Karani or legs up the wall. There are many variations of the pose, I did teach the simplest variation today; the bolsters are very round and large, making it almost impossible for some of the smaller framed students to approach. Also, this may have been the first time for some of the students, so I kept it simple, although we did add some variations while we were in it. You can actually see how unique each person is by how bent or straight their legs, and how much space from the wall they needed.
Definition: “The name comes from the Sanskrit words viparita meaning “inverted” or “reversed”, and karani meaning “doing” or “making” and asana (आसन; āsana) meaning “posture” or “seat” “
Our restorative yoga pose of the day was a passive, supported variation of the Shoulderstand that is said to have the following benefits:
- Digestive problems
- High and low blood pressure
- Mild depression
- Respiratory ailments
- Urinary disorders
- Varicose veins
- Menstrual cramps
- Premenstrual syndrome
Restorative yoga poses in the Yapana® system are called “being” poses. They are held with the support of strategically place yoga props. Instead of chasing a pose, you can allow your body to receive the stretch, as well as the calming effects on the mind. This particular class, as I am subbing for a vinyasa teacher, I do an active component first, but by the end of class fit in restoratives and savasana so it is a fully balanced class
yoga for everybody:
This post is inspired by two things. The first is by this photo. The second, is I recently met someone who said “this body is not meant to do yoga”. the comment made me a little sad that this person felt excluded from the entire eight limbed system of yoga because of the shape of the body this person lives in.
The Western culture very much identifies Yoga with the body. Yes, we do have one, live in one, and use it to move around in, so let us respect it and maintain it. I like how she expresses things up above. “Not all yoga poses are upside-down and pretzelly. They can be simple like this and still work their magic”. I have heard before, “If you are breathing, you can do yoga”. I agree, and as a yoga therapist, I would say that most of the poses can be brought to you, whether through the use of strategically placed yoga props, or modifications, and substitutions. Breathing practices can also find you, as can visualizations, relaxations, and meditation. You can focus on your breath and do a simple joint opening series, and bring mindfulness into sitting at your desk. Not everything has to be bendy and fancy in order for you to be yoga. “All bodies are yoga bodies”. It is not a one-size fits all practice, your uniqueness can be respected and appreciated.
Yoga Twists Without The Shout: Yoga Twists can either unwind the spine and help digestion or they can torque the spine and de-stabilize the SI joints..etc. Most of my students – especially those with generic back pain tell me twists feel great but you do want to approach yoga twists with safe alignment (think belly button up). Using your yoga as therapy, a few tips to keep in mind when you want to unwind with a yoga twist:
~ avoid twisting from the lumbar; stacking the pelvis and shoulders while maintaining a ‘straight’ spine … you may not go as deep but it will be a safer exploration
~ try to open the thoracic area enough to be able to emphasize the rotation here
~ put yourself into neutral after a twist (child’s pose for eg)
~ typically if you have just had abdominal surgery, are pregnant, have sciatica, herniated discs, SI joint dysfunction, twists are contraindicated. Some people want to go deeper into a twist and then you may have to let the opposite hip slide forward with you.
You may find one side easier that the other. You can do the tighter side twice. Feel it out.
Breathe, Stretch, Relax !
I am teaching a free yoga class on the Pier at Exchange Place tomorrow, Saturday June 7 2014.
You need to RSVP and bring a mat and 2 towels
If you cannot make it, you can always book a private yoga class with me
Yogatherapy for the neck is one of my favourite yogatherapy subjects! I have a perfect yogatherapy workshop entitled “Pain in the Neck” so when I found this photo I quickly chose it for today’s blog.
Here is what one new student said after a private yoga class where we focused on learning skills to improve her posture especially since she is prone to headaches:
“I feel more space in the back of my neck very cool” ~ R.G.
I think what we all need to remember is that the body eavesdrops on our thoughts, responds to our sleep positions, driving habits, and other holding patterns. Change or transformation is possible through Yoga if the right practices are used for the right person. This includes postures, modifications of postures, breathing, affirmations, insights and so on.
Today’s yogatherapy tip: just be aware how you hold your head – does it tilt, fall, is your chin lifting up? Maybe this affirmation will help you heal today, feel your head on straight with the top throat light or at least not clench up as you deal with whatever life brings your way…”It is with flexibility and ease that I see all sides of an issue…”
I had this in mind when I practiced today ~ yoga as a way to cultivate open mind, body, heart
I reflected that I was grateful for a space to unroll my yoga mat, stack my props and breathe.
The pose, ustrasana = camel pose, can jam the neck if done in a hurry or incorrectly so it isn’t the first pose in your sequencing. There is an art to opening your upper spine (mid-back) and chest fully and this not only frees the neck but also helps ihelps protect your lower back from compression and improves nearly every other aspect of the posture ~ that’s my yogatherapy tip of the day. It is a pose that really prepares you for pranayama too.
That and “make an attitude to be in gratitude”…
So cute! Just look at that supple spine, and how, although we know this asana takes strength from the arms, the lack of tension in the shoulders makes it seem so effortless ~ the blend of strength and flexibility, plus the calm breath
How do we, as adults, re-create this? Often we have to let go something to ‘achieve’ something else. One of the things you want to consider in plank pose is safety in the wrists.
If you are starting in downward facing dog, inhale and draw your torso forward until the arms are stacked with shoulders directly over the wrists, torso parallel to the floor.
Press your outer arms inward, firming the bases of your index fingers into the floor. Keep your shoulder blades against your back, with some expansion from the spine. Also spread your collarbones away from the sternum.
Draw your front thighs up toward the ceiling, but resist your tailbone toward the heels. Lift the base of the skull away from the back of the neck and look straight down at the floor, keeping the throat and eyes soft.
As with any Yapana® yoga therapy practice, we modify with strategic prop placement depending on who you are and what needs to be worked or relaxed. That is where a private yoga class comes in handy, as it assesses you
I teach yoga with yoga props, and love it. There I said it. Why? Click here for a blog devoted to the benefits of using them. No matter who you are I can bet that somewhere in your practice, a strategically placed prop will empower and power up your yoga practice.
You can see in this comic that T-Rex has short arms so the blocks help to add length which makes the pose more accessible to him. This means better alignment which = he is going to actually benefit from the asana rather than be overloading his spine, chest, arms etc. Your arms may not be ‘short’ but they might be extra tight.
Basically if the stretch feels too far away, bringing it closer with a well placed prop or two is going to allow you to stay in it longer and it will overall be healthier, so try it next time ~ reduce struggle and compression and increase comfort, stability and strength…so adapt and invite your practice to find you where you are or you are welcome to contact me for private yoga class assistance