Here’s the first video in a series of videos on yoga alignment and technique. All the instructions are based on common misalignments and missed techniques that, when corrected, can really help you concentrate once again on the breath. When the position/asana feels ‘wrong’ it’s really easy to lose your flow and enjoyment of the pranayama (breath extension). What’s more, it’s actually harder to breathe when we are pulling ourselves out of alignment. Hope this helps you get back into your groove!!
We’re not all built the same, but we’re often given the same instructions to ‘build’ a pose as everyone else in the yoga class. Your teacher is probably racing around from person to person making those more personal alterations/modifications, but you can get there first:) Here is an adjustment for those in Warrior 2 with tight hips. Learn how to stop pulling your knee and ankle out of alignment to compensate for a stance that doesn’t really suit your body. If you need this, then, as soon as you make the adjustment, you’ll notice the difference in the way the body breathes. Now you can bring your breath all the way up from your feet, allowing the breath to breeze through perfectly aligned joints…..
Chataranga Dandasana, or low-plank, as it is sometimes referred to, has been my bugbear after both losing some strength in my body after an injury and trying to communicate the nuances of this movement in a class setting. Hence, I don’t often teach it in class. When done properly, it is definitely a beautiful pose to behold and be in. It can make the practioner dive deep for the breath and dig deep for unfound resources — blowing on any dying embers of our inner fire and breathing us back into life…..remember, I said ‘when done properly’:)
When done wrong, it is a train wreck, and trying to avert 10 trains wrecking at the same time in class has put me off teaching it in a group setting. But! Have a look and try it out and see if you can feel the embers of your inner belly leap into enthusiastic action? Or do you just hear a shrill scream and apply the brakes??
Downward Dog is the pose I adjust the most in my classes and the pose I enjoy the most in my own practice. This pose is a multi purpose pose and can imbibe qualities such as a heavy peacefulness, a solid strength, a soft reflection or a simple ‘seat’ in which to develop the fullness of the breath. When the alignment is correct, the pose is held effortlessly, as if you were suspended from the ceiling by wires, encouraging a dropping away of patterns of tension from the body and mind…
Ustrasana or Camel Pose is a really juicy backbend that can either make you weep tears of joy as your heart melts open….or can make you weep with frustration. The funny thing about the backbends is that they’re all about the front body. The fact that we call them backbends is very misleading and can encourage us to just bend and bend that back until…OW! Starting with a good solid base, a couple of front opening stretches and then being honest about when to stop can turn this pose into one of your favorites to banish the tightness and shallow breath that happens to pretty much everyone at some point in their day. I hope you start to add this wonderful pose into your practice. It’s ideal for your Spring practice (stretching the pecs and squeezing away tension in the rhomboids), but hey, everyone likes it when Spring comes early!
The back bends are designed to move Prana/electric flow upwards, which enlivens and invigorates. Learning how to adjust your Cobra/Bhujangasana to counteract our tendencies to a cramped low back and a low heart is key to finding this upward energy. Two tiny movements in the toes and the front of the hips can transform this pose from boring to bliss!