“Movement is medicine” is a phrase that is commonly used these days, but it seems that idea (as far as I know) actually started gaining currency in the late 1700’s thanks to C.J Tissot’s book on ‘Medical Gymnastics’. This work was further developed by the Swede, P.H Ling, who is credited to be, not only the father of Swedish Massage, but also the ‘inventor’ of modern calisthenics because he developed a system of gymnastics and physical education that did not require the use of equipment. Not only this, according to Singleton, it was the adoption of the Ling method of gymnastics on a global scale, and in particular the YMCA, which led to this method being the main system taught in the Indian education system during the 1800’s and early 20th century (and thus being one of the main players in the development of modern yoga). Besides the physical fitness element of the system, the medical side of it was based around the idea that movement is medicine - and that many diseases and ailments could be prevented, alleviated or cured through the medical application of exercise. The legacy of all this work that began in the late 1700’s is still very much a part of our culture today as we find the convergence of many different systems of yoga, calisthenics and movement merging and blending and fighting for supremacy! The Battle of the Systems... I’ll save that for another post. 📸 @sigismondiphotography posture/asana/movement? System? Capoeira, breakdance, modern dance, yoga, movement ?
To get better results in Baddha Konasana I find it works really well to alternate between using the contract/relax (in this case adduction of the legs against resistance) technique as well as working actively into abduction by activating the glutes. This can be difficult for students to understand so I find that working the same cues in Malasana (squat position) works well. Here’s how: Keeping the spine tall press the elbows out while squeezing the knees in for a few breaths. Relax. Then do the opposite, squeeze the glutes and pull the knees away from the elbows. At the same time you can get more bang for your buck by working the ankles/feet/toes (see my last post) and the wrists and spider grip (check my post from the other day). Then apply the same principles to Baddha Konasana - grab two blocks to put between the elbows and thighs so you can keep the spine long. Adduct the legs by lifting them up while pressing down with the elbows. Calm relaxed breathing here. Relax but hold the position. Then squeeze the glutes and abduct the thighs away from the elbows to the floor. Repeat or start going forward. Be sure to keep attempting to tilt the pelvis forward, and the spine long to isolate the movement in the hips, stop before you lose the lower back and repeat the above steps. Keep going till you reach you reach your comfortable end range for the day. Keep breathing, stay relaxed. Keep in mind that I’ve been doing this for a loooonnnnggg time! Just following this video once is not going to change your musculoskeletal system! Nor would we want it to. It takes time. It’s still something I need to work on regularly but not like I did in the beginning - now it’s just about maintenance and this is one of the techniques I use. #yoga#yogainspiration#mobility#flexibility
(Sound on to see if you understand Australian 😉) Building a solid foundation in your yoga poses starts with the feet, and if we think about yoga as therapy then we need to pay attention to how we use them. First of all the ankle bone needs to be in line with the heel (in people with flat feet you’ll see the inner ankle falling to the inside of the heel), this is something often overlooked and none of the following instructions will be useful without this correction. Then align the foot so the outer edge of the foot is more or less in line with the edge of the mat, because we want to create a line of force running from the second toe, through the centre of the ankle, centre of the knee, continuing to the centre of the hip - and vice versa. Then we use the concept of a tripod and press weight down through three main points: the centre of the heel, and the base of the big and little toes - lifting the the toes away from the floor helps us to find these points of contact. Then we want to be able to articulate each toe - in the same way we can with our fingers, and slowly press them back to the floor from the little toe, one toe at a time, to the big toe - while maintaining even contact through the tripod. From there use the toes to ‘grip’ the floor which will create a foot/ankle ‘bandha’ “co-contraction of opposing muscle groups around the joint, and keep the arches of the foot lifted. Depending on whether you want to create internal or external rotation of the tibia or femur, then you can either (1) Press the forefoot out and squeeze the heel in (without letting the foot move - external rotation) or, (2) press the forefoot in and the heel out (without letting the foot move - internal rotation). In common postures like Trikonasana (Triangle pose) or Parsvakonasana (Side Angle) for example, the front foot ‘ideally’ creates external rotation (press the forefoot out) while the back foot does the opposite (squeeze the forefoot in) which will help to keep the arch of the foot lifted, create internal rotation of the tibia - even if the femur appears to be (or is actually) externally rotating. #yoga#yogainspiration
Here’s a great example of how to upgrade your practice and teaching. First up I asked @mattexp to lift his leg actively as high as he could with a straight knee. This is an example of mobility of the joint being limited by passive insufficiency (tightness of the hamstrings - so flexibility is still important!). He then grabbed the toe and I helped him lift higher and to find his passive end range. He stayed there for some breaths, brought the head and chest to the leg which further relaxed the nervous system, as well as stretching the lower back, then he stood up and I asked him to start lifting his foot off my hand. This forced him to engage his entire leg, core and glutes (standing leg) until eventually he was able to hold the leg by himself - and if you check the difference between the active hold and the one he started with, you’ll see there is a massive difference. In this way adjustments in yoga class can really help the students to progress much faster and to develop much more strength and stability in the process.
It was a big breakthrough for @mattexp this morning - getting his first ever ‘toc’ from the floor 🤙🏼 . We have had a lot of students working on tic-tocs lately and this progression that you see Mattia used this morning is really a great way for the body to adapt progressively to this challenging movement. Starting with a box, then a bench, then gym mats which we lowered one by one after each successful attempt, until finally he was ready for the floor. Not everyone is going to be ripe enough to learn this as quickly as him though - which is why it’s important to always stay at the progression that you can handle, and if you can’t, then you must ‘regress’ and choose the right option - so that the nervous system has time to adapt to each stage. There is no time frame for this. It takes as long as it takes. This is the approach we take to all elements of practice. Great job @mattexp I’m proud of you man 🤟🏼.
This is one of my go-to ‘Spider🕷 Grip’ wrist and finger drills/sequences that helps a lot with preparing the wrists for arm balancing - both as prehab and as a warm up. From a yoga asana point of view it is creating a wrist ‘bandha’; “the co-contraction of opposing muscle groups around a joint complex” (@simonsynergy). This is achieved because as the wrist goes into extension the forearm flexors are also activated as the fingers grip the floor. Not only does this protect the wrists it also helps to find balance in handstands and postures like the crow. The fingers act like the toes do on your feet - if you are falling forward while standing then the toes grip the floor to keep your balance. The first part of this video is a great coordination drill that I got from @mattexp : keeping the heel of the hands and the base of the knuckles touching, bend the first knuckle of each finger individually- without letting the adjacent fingers also bend - it’s a head trip! But with practice you can isolate each finger. You can do reps for each finger 5-10 X each. Then creating the spider grip with all fingers, keeping the base of the knuckles and the heels of the hands touching move the hands from up to down, forward to the chest, and down to up until you feel a good stretch on the forearms. Leave a comment below if you have any questions and let me know what else you’d like help with. 🙏
Yesterday’s post got a few people asking about the difference between mobility and flexibility. Here’s a good example of mobility training and how to apply to it a yoga practice. In this case we are looking at scapula movement and the four main actions of retraction, protraction, elevation and depression. Mobility work involves moving the scapulae through these four movement patterns. It’s easy to understand this first with an open-chain movement which most of us are familiar with - scapula circles/shoulder shrugs. From there we can progress to a closed-chain exercise in the Puppy pose with the knees on the floor and try to move the scapulae through those four positions again. Already this becomes harder not only as we have taken the arms overhead and started to bring a little load onto them, but because can be difficult to understand depression in this position. From there we progress to the Downward Dog and this significantly increases the load and this is where many yoga students that I teach can no longer isolate the scapulae - interestingly it is common for ‘advanced’ students to have difficulty with this which is why I am convinced that we need address these issues first before we start moving into more complex and dangerous postures. As a good balance to the pushing patterns of yoga asana we can apply these patterns to vertical pulling by hanging on a bar. First it should be done with the feet on the floor and only if there is no pain should the feet be taken away. So this is a good example of mobility - simply moving the joints through an active and functional range of motion and making sure that the joint is working properly and pain free. There is very little sensation of ‘stretching’ as is common with flexibility training. Leave a comment below on what yoga poses you would like to understand from a mobility perspective. #yoga#mobility#yogainspiration#yogaeverywhere#yogachallenge#yogaeveryday
In yesterday’s post I mentioned that these days I’m more interested in mobility than flexibility - which is the current (and necessary) trend worldwide now. I don’t often give away my secrets, but one of the reasons why I’m able to maintain a 4th Series Ashtanga practice, and learn one arm handstands and acrobatics, is that I’ve been working on mobility training for a few years now. For the last month I’ve been doing the #RemoteKinstretchMembership with @coachzachdeck and it has been a great addition and compliment to my practice. This is one of the many drills that have been so useful and it’s a great way to work on the Thoracic Spine. As I share more of this information with my students I’m constantly surprised and shocked to see how little control and isolation most have of the T-spine, considering that even the most elementary yoga sequences, like sun salutations, require this level of awareness. In my opinion having this prerequisite level of mobility throughout the entire body will be an important element in the evolution of modern yoga asana practice. If you swipe left you’ll see some of the common compensations followed by their corrections for each of the four positions of the T-spine rotations. If you’d like more of these kinds of posts comment below ✌🏼.
This week is my turn to be a student - something I try to do regularly, but most of the time I’m doing self practice alone. It’s been a while since I have attempted this posture, Gandha Bherundasana, but with this adjustment (best I’ve ever received actually) from @houseofyoga_savvas I wanted to do it twice (this was the second time... it felt so good that I wanted to film it to watch his adjustment). To be honest I don’t know when I’ll do this posture again - these days I’m far more interested in mobility than flexibility, as well as learning new things for all round movement variety and balance. Too much to say about this topic at the moment - I’d rather keep it as an open question than a definite answer. #yoga#notcontortion 😉
And this just happened 😁... it’s been a big dream and a big obstacle of fear for a long time! Every night I have been visualising and watching YouTube videos and progressively trying to overcome fear and work on my technique. Now to get it on the flat ground ✌🏼. Thanks coach @sofiayoga for the tips 🙏.
Yogena cittasya, padena vācāṃ, malaṃ śarīrasya ca vaidyakena । Yo’pākarot taṃ pravaraṃ munīnāṃ patañjaliṃ prāñjalir ānato’smi॥ Abahu purushakaram shankha cakrasi dharinam sahasra shirsam svetam pranamami patanjalim ॥ As many of you may already know this is an invocation usually chanted at the beginning of traditional studies of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. According to this, Patanjali is credited with writing treatise on Yoga, Grammar and Ayurveda. Not only this, he was also half serpent, half man, had four arms and a hoodie made of Cobra’s. No ordinary man that’s for sure! That’s why I’m very excited to be joining @yogicstudies upcoming Yoga Sutras course. You may remember my post about his brilliant History and Philosophy of Yoga course, which I found to be an invaluable tool to fill in some of the pieces of this complex puzzle. Now I’m really curious to see what he has to share with us about this text that is such an important element in how we understand the Yoga practice today. @yogicstudies is again offering a 10% discount if you follow the link in my profile. Who’s going to join me on this course? #yoga#yogainspiration
One month since my last progress report. It’s been a good month of practice with a few disruptions due to time on the road. At the moment I find the days off beneficial and absolutely essential for recovery, but I always find that I’m rusty for a few days afterwards. So I’m now up to a PB of 34! Right arm and 24 Left arm. I’m beyond stoked!! What you don’t see in these progress reports is the amount of times I have fallen. My teacher’s @miguel_hand_balance words always stay with me, “I fall down and I get back up again - I don’t sit there over analysing it”. Plain and simple. Empty the mind, get the emotions and the mental stories out of it and get back up there. #handbalance#handstand