Although I’ve been teaching yoga since 2005, I’m disinclined towards New Age philosophy, and tend towards a more scientific, earthy approach in yoga, and generally in life. I was therefore suspicious when I learned that the prime indicator of health in the upper body is ‘pranic fullness.’ I’ll admit that I dismissed this claim as excessively New Agey and esoteric, and instead invested my time in learning anatomy and
I’ve been an athlete for the better part of my life, developing and nurturing a love of running since I was in high school. Running originally brought me to yoga, as I sought out an exercise to counter how tight my hips, thighs, hamstrings, and calves felt constantly. Yoga proved to be an ideal solution; where running tightens the body, yoga brings release and stretch. Throughout my own yoga journey, both as a practi
When we hear “hip openers” in a yoga context, most of us think of poses that stretch our outer hips — and specifically that primary outer rotator, the piriformis — like pigeon pose, lizard pose, and related. But recently, I was working with a private client who has very tight hips and she showed me what she’d been doing to open them, which was pigeon pose. However, because it was the only stretch she was doing, the s
As much as I love to travel, it can be hard on the body! All that sitting on planes, trains and automobiles tightens the hip flexors, makes the lower back achy, and can cause swelling in the feet, ankles and hands. To shake off the discomfort of travel, I like to do a “mini” practice. These poses focus on lengthening the hip flexors and quadriceps, making space in the shoulders and chest, and opening the outer hips.
Last month we started looking at the shoulder joint, and examined some simple observational diagnostics. As I wrote in that article, yogis need to be mindful not to depress the shoulder girdle, and I think many practitioners have misinterpreted instructions that include ‘shoulders down the back’ or ‘shoulders away from your ears.’ But it’s not the structure we were looking at in tadasana last month that causes injury
In this two-part blog on shoulder alignment, I’d like to clear up a common shoulder misconception I regularly see. I know a lot of us have heard instructions like ‘relax your shoulders away from your ears,’ ‘slide your shoulder blades down your back,’ or even ‘press your shoulders down.’ These are well-intended instructions that I think aim to combat tension in the upper traps a lot of get n the modern world.
In the name of all that is right and good, quit standing around with your feet turned out all willy-nilly! The tendencies to turn the feet out, and also to kick the hips to a side and shift our weight primarily into one leg, causes structural imbalances in the low back and the legs, especially the knees. Ideally, stand with your feet parallel as much as you can, and line your kneecaps up to point over the center of y
The body is an interconnected system of moving parts governed by the laws of physics in the greater world around it. Dysfunction in one part of the body may tax other parts of the system, while healthy function in one area can upgrade and contribute to health in other areas, I see this in the natural curves of the spine and how they are expressed in yoga poses. I recently wrote about the lower back, and the most comm
In a recent blog, I detailed one of the most common yoga injuries I see: over-stretched hamstring tendons. This injury puts a real damper on a yogi’s practice, as until it heals, every forward fold can be painful, as well as worsening the tear. The good news is the remedy is very straightforward, and two part: 1. Ease up on forward folds, so there’s never pain at the top of the thigh. 2.