I'm usually pretty good at arranging things whenever I move homes. If a room doesn't feel right then I'll rearrange things until it does feel right.
And that's what learning a new yoga pose can be like. In a yoga pose the equivalent of furniture or books on a shelf are the bones and how they relate to each other. By shifting relationships slowly and mindfully we can find an arrangement that feels good.
Then every time we do the pose we can enjoy it while making small adjustments so that energy can freely flow.
Sensational Yoga Poses includes information on yoga poses and also on "yoga anatomy", that is, anatomy that you can directly feel and experience. While knowing your own anatomy isn't a requirement for doing a yoga pose well, it does make it easier to learn the body and explore it.
Directly below are links to yoga pose categories while at the bottom of this page is a yoga pose index linking directly to specific yoga poses.
Grouped Yoga Poses include poses classified according to action or position. Ideally these groupings of yoga poses make it easier to create a balanced (and reasonably complete) yoga practice.
Improving flexibility is one of the main reasons I got into yoga. An important element of stretching is learning to relax and activate muscles at will.
Even more important is creating a stable foundation. Yoga Stretches for flexibility include.
One of the easiest ways to practice balance is by balancing on one foot.
Slightly more advanced is balancing on one leg while binding or connecting parts of the body.
Arm balances are a fun way to practice balancing. One of the simplest arm balances is crow pose. Inverted yoga poses are near the pinnacle of balancing postures. I generally teach poses like headstand, shoulder stand, forearm balance and handstand using a wall first to get students used to being upside down. Then I work at helping them learn to balance.
My current approach to strength yoga poses is minimal muscular effort.
This lazy approach requires awareness and directed effort. Part of this means knowing which parts of the body to stabilize.
In addition I also occasionally play with kettlebells. One movement that I like is the Turkish Get Up.
Sensational Anatomy is about the anatomy that you can learn to feel and control while doing a yoga pose.
So that you can direct your awareness intelligently it helps to understand the bones and muscles of the body and how they relate.
My own understanding of anatomy has been helped by practicing drawing anatomy.
This makes it easier to visualize those structures while meditating and doing yoga or tai ji or any other physical activity with a focus on mindfulness.
Spine and Ribcage
Pelvis and Sacral Area
Integrated Anatomy and Energy Anatomy
In general there is a big difference between what we sense and what we perceive.
A large part of my own training (and what I try to teach my students) is how to calibrate sense information and perception so that there is less of a disparity between sense and perception.
Part of the process of improving both awareness and control involves first isolating body parts so that you can improve your ability to feel and control those body parts. (This is also where we calibrate.)
The next steps are to integrate those body parts so that you can shift the focus of your consciousness easily between the different parts of the body.
The end result is a unification of body and mind otherwise known as yoga.
Note that calibration is a repeated process.
Learning to feel your body is like learning the alphabet. Body Awareness has a very big alphabet but learning it bit-by-bit gives you the building blocks for "spelling" any movement or action.
Stay balanced in yoga balance poses, keep your center of gravity over your foundation. Learn how your center shifts relative to your body.
The single joint muscles at the back of the knee joint are relatively small compared to those at the front of the knee. For knee joint stability, activate the hamstrings as well as the three vastus muscles.
Key to improving balance and proprioception is the conscious control of tension. Tension can be used for both feedback and stability making it easier to stay balanced.
The following sacroiliac joint stability exercises can be used to shape the pelvis. They may also be helpful in forward bending and backbending at the hip.
These yoga pose upper back exercises make it easier to feel the upper back (and lower back) so that it is easier to control them both.
Three simple techniques for alleviating hip joint pain while doing yoga poses.
Hamstring Anatomy for yoga practitioners, focusing on backbending and forward bending of the hips with knees bent and straight.
Sitting bone pain while bending forwards may be a result of a facilitated (overactive) obturator internus or coccygeus muscle.
After a bit of a hiatus its back to stretching for beginners.
The latest installment is a mini sequence that works towards the half split inner thigh stretch with some prone twisting and outer thigh stretching followed by some recovery work with standing poses to help reactivate the inner thighs.
This set of poses is designed to show you how to activate the spinal erectors to bend the spine backwards so that you stretch the front of the torso. It also includes stretches like upright pigeon pose and upward facing dog for stretching the front of the hip (the hip flexors).
The latest stretch in the "Stretches for Beginners" series is a set of hip extensor stretches including happy baby and low lunge. Previous stretches in this series include bound angle (baddha konasana) and a pigeon pose hip stretch for the sides of the hip.
For well being is it better to be able to contract a muscle or relax it? I'd suggest that you learn to do both and just as importantly... Learn to feel when a muscle is activated and when it is relaxed.
The key to both is...
The yoga basics bundle is a collection of five yoga basics ebooks: balance basics, shoulder basics, backbend basics, hamstring basics and the hip control guide all for $52.00. (The suggested regular price is $124.95)
Consciousness is like the Captain of a ship. At times the ship it commands can be very big with lots of sailors to tell what to do, at other times the captain is sailing solo, taking care of the sails and the tiller.
This is a mini-routine that I've been using in my classes recently to teach awareness and control of the foundation in poses like
table top, high lunge, low lunge, extended cat pose, and yoga push ups (leading to chaturanga dandasana.)
This can lead to smoother and more mindful movement.
Tensegrity basics: tension doesn't just integrate the body, it can be used for proprioception and for responsiveness and quicker reactions.
What is proper yoga alignment for handstand? Why not learn to feel and control your shoulders and ribcage so that you can learn to feel when your body is best aligned.
In this video some tips for body weight squat and the one legged pistol squat with a focus on "feeling your body."
Why do a pistol squat? To improve hip strength and left/right hip balance. This may help to alleviate low back pain.
This dance of shiva video playlist includes cyclic movement combinations: F-F, B-B, F-B, B-F, CF-CF, CB-CB, CF-CB, CB-CF.
Learn how to stabilize the shoulder and hip in side plank.
This video goes over some basic body awareness exercises you can do while working towards side plank.