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Asana & Openers

  • Where should I feel this? A common question asked by yoga students is ‘where should I feel this’. This is often harder to answer than it might seem. Firstly bodies are complicated things! The old model of individual muscles moving or restricting a single joint is now largely thought to be too simplistic. The body has come to be seen as a system of inter-connecting or even continuous lines of muscles. In this model, a restriction ...
  • Tips for Developing Arm and Core Strength for Arm-Balancing Postures and Push-up Positions Arm balancing postures and positions such as the Cataranga Dandasana (the push-up) can be very exhilarating. They can energise you by increasing your circulation and they are also good at developing chest, arm and core strength. When done correctly they can really help relieve and prevent back and neck pain and can give direct stimulation to the heart and lungs. Click on the following thumbnails to open and enlarge the full ...
  • The Role of the Adductors in Backbends Many yoga practitioners instinctually know to engage their inner thigh muscles (adductors) in backbends to prevent their knees from falling out to the sides. Let’s examine how we can utilise this action to ignite our core, expand our backward arch and experience simultaneously more stability and spaciousness in backbends. The adductor muscles of the inner thigh are part of our axial core. Below, they are connected to our feet via the ...
  • Tips for the padmasana jump back? Sometimes I nail this and sometimes I just get jammed up trying to get my legs through so when I got a chance to ask Mark for some tips, I didn’t waste any time. Mark Robberds is a Certified Ashtanga Yoga teacher and takes workshops and retreats around the world. You can find out more about his coming events on his website http://www.markrobberds.com. Share this:FacebookTwitterGoogle
  • Prenatal Yoga: The Essential Guidelines for Practice Pregnancy is an exciting time for a woman, and also a time that must be approached with care and love. Maintaining a yoga practice while pregnant provides an expectant mother with an opportunity for deep connection with her unborn child. There are many important things to consider in the approach to practice to ensure a healthy mom and baby. Although every woman is different and pregnancies vary, ...
  • How to Transition out of Warrior II ? 04 March 2015: Interviewee: Laruga Glaser The transition out of Warrior II is another of those things that looks so easy when you get it right but can lead to a lot of fumbling and awkwardness if you feel you can’t free up your front leg. I have spoken to loads of people who struggle with this, so call in Laruga Glaser to the rescue. I have been trying out these ...
  • Technique Pointers for Marichyasana D 06 Febuary 2015: Interviewee: Peg Mulqueen From what I have seen Peg Mulqueen spends much of her time studying with great teachers and that is good news for us because she has a wonderful talent for assimilating what she has learnt and passing that on to the rest of us in her own easy to understand style. She seems to be able to get to the essence of what it takes ...
  • Sun Salutations Part 2 The last article in this series was the introduction to the sun salutations series with an anatomical spin. In this article we will be exploring: How to lift the arms over your head. Raising the Arms It seems as though I have seen hundreds of variations on how students raise their arms over their head to begin a sun salutation. Although it’s a seemingly simple act, it’s not really. I don’t want ...
  • Sun Salutations Part 1 There is nothing that seems to cross all boundaries of yoga styles as clearly as sun salutations. Of course there are variations on the theme, but it seems that all styles do them. Sun Salutations put movement through all of the joints of the body and moves it in many directions. Perhaps we have a little difficulty in finding say, a twist, but many movements are represented. Since it is so ...
  • Yin Yoga for Back bending with Ease and Grace By Melanie Cooper Back bending with ease and grace requires that the Hip flexors (front of the hips), shoulders, and the whole of the front of the body are flexible and strong. Yin yoga is a way of opening the body with passive stretches held for a prolonged period of time. If practiced correctly it is a very sure and safe way to work on increased flexibility. Here are the principles of yin ...
  • Yin Yoga for Lotus Hips By Melanie Cooper Padmasana or Lotus can be one of the most challenging and frustrating poses for a yoga practitioner. The ankles, knees and hip joints all have to be mobile and the muscles in the legs and the hip girdle have to be flexible. It is all too common for the knee to be injured trying to put the body in lotus before it is ready, so first a word ...
  • The Hips A-line-ment By Peg Mulqueen If there’s a holy grail in the Ashtanga yoga practice, it must a long central axis (or spine, for reference) and rooted pelvis, for within the two lie the keys to heaven – or as we say, bandhas. And so it seems logical we do all we can to protect and keep these lines sacred. The primary series offers us the perfect place to practice this alignment with shapes that ...
  • Resisting the Bend: Kapotasana By Peg Mulqueen This was my deal breaker. Everyone has one, and this was mine. I knew this one posture would demand from me more commitment, patience, tenacity and loving kindness than any other I’d ever encountered. It requires me to be fully present, super aware – and willing. So lets just say, we’ve spent some time together and had the chance to really get to know each other. The good news is, ...
  • Size Matters By Peg Mulqueen I don’t know if you know this about Ashtanga – but backbends are a pretty big damn deal. When I started, no one cared that I could stand on my hands. No one wanted to see me float or jump or balance on my arms. No, they wanted to see my backbend. Only, I didn’t have a backbend. I had more of a coffee table. I’ve always known this had to ...
  • Deep Relief for Low Back Pain By Doug Keller By applying these simple principles to your asana practice you can strengthen the hidden muscles that maintain the health of your back. While there are no quick fixes when it comes to low back pain, if you address the root of the problem, treatment can be surprisingly simple. Chronic back pain is often attributed to underlying structural abnormalities such as a herniated or degenerated disk, scoliosis, or a tilted ...
  • David Keil Interview If you are interested in Yoga Anatomy or Ashtanaga you will know about David Keil. With his great and informative website http://www.yoganatomy.com/ and worldwide workshops. I was like a kid in a toy shop when I got the chance to interview David. Loads of topics were covered with plenty of geeky anatomy talk. At this time I am posting the interview in manageable bites with the whole thing coming soon. How ...
  • Where should my shoulders be in chaturanga? By Tim Feldmann Chaturanga Dandansana or ‘Chatuari’ as we call it in the Ashtanga Yoga tradition, is a difficult and somewhat disheartening posture. A quite high state of strength is required to support it and and even more pronounced strength to utilize it well. Chaturanga furthermore tends to mess around a bit with our minds as it is not a ‘real’ asana but a transitory movement which we often cease to ...
  • Ashtanga: Aging and Fatigue By Chad Herst A friend within the Ashtanga community recently reached out to me because she has been struggling to find a way into her practice such that it supports her fatigue and depression.  She wrote, “I have had chronic fatigue for many years, and used to find my practice helpful with my energy levels, but lately, I’ve been struggling with the intensity of the practice… And now that I’m in ...
  • The Evolution of Ashtanga Yoga Part II Yoga and Tradition By Matthew Sweeney Although Yoga, meditation and self inquiry are gaining popularity worldwide, these are still relatively new concepts for many people. How we define these concepts and the clarity with which we pursue them is of great interest to me. I am using the following definitions to shine a light on how adherence to a tradition can either help or hinder your practice of Yoga. It might be ...
  • Sacral Nutation: The Key to Straight Feet in Backbends By Monica Gauci There are countless miracles happening in our physical bodies every moment of our existence. One that continues to intrigue me is the symphony of cranial motion that happens with our every breath! This motion is synchronised with another gentle movement at our sacrum as it rocks between the two pelvic halves or ilia. Cranial-sacral motion is constant and rhythmical as it circulates the vital fluid that our brain ...
  • How do I straighten my arms when lifting into upward bow? By Tim Feldmann Urdhva Dhanurasana The question for this really is: ‘How do I accommodate my shoulders to move correctly when attempting Urdhva Dhanurasana’ … Let’s take a look. A tight shoulder girdle is common in the yoga room, especially amongst men as our arms and shoulders tends to be a bit more muscularly developed than women. When attempting this, you are looking for a relatively simple movement once it has taken root ...
  • Better Backbends By Doug Keller Do you tuck your tailbone in backbending poses? It would be hard to imagine yoga without backbends-they’re invigorating, uplifting, and heart-opening. Backbends stimulate the proper functioning of the digestive system, help preserve the health of the vertebrae and spinal disks, and open the body to deep diaphragmatic breathing. It’s no wonder that backbends are an important part of any hatha yoga routine. At the same time, these poses place ...
  • Muscles – the limited means to asana success By Tim Feldmann When we decide to move our body, in asana practice or in daily life, we most often instantly begin with activating our muscles. We identify movement with activating various muscles. The muscles are the physical system that we mostly rely on to carry out any physical task at hand. So is it in asana practice too. Unfortunately our muscular system is of relative efficiency in complex movement tasks ...
  • Balance Part II – The Leg By Tim Feldmann To get the full benefits out of the standing/balancing asanas, we must master balancing on one leg to a reasonable degree. Knowing a few technical things about the body and mind will help us balance well on one leg, besides clenching everything we’ve got and pray that we’ll make it through! This article aims at assisting you with your one legged balances/movement. Trigger points and images When we want our ...
  • Balance Part I – The Foot By Tim Feldmann The foot: a double dome like shape arching from back-to-front and from side-to-side. The foot: a triangle, wide at the front and narrow at the back. The leg: connecting down into the foot like a pillar through the ankle which intercepts at the peak of the two domes combined. Standing on your two feet takes close to no effort. Balancing, nevertheless, whether on two or one foot is an ...
  • Turning Your Feet Out When Doing a Yoga Drop-Back? By David Keil The inspiration for this month’s article comes from a question posed in an email. The question, from Catherine, asks specifically about keeping the feet straight in drop-backs. For those of you not sure what a drop-back is… it’s when you stand at the front of your mat and drop into a backbend. It’s mostly the Ashtangis who do this and when they do it’s very typical to find ...
  • Glute Max for Maximum Extension By Dr Monica Gauci For some the jury is still not out on whether one should or should not engage the gluteus maximus muscle when performing back bending yoga postures. Firstly, let’s have a close look at the functional anatomy of this muscle. Gluteus maximus, commonly known as glute max, is the superficial ‘rump’ muscle of our buttocks. Its prominent, characteristic shape and large size correlate to its powerful role of maintaining ...
  • What Is ‘Functional’ in Yoga? By Dr Monica Gauci Funcitonal is the buzz word at the moment in the exercise, movement and especially the physical rehabilitation scene. Movements or exercises are considered ‘functional’ if they support the movement patterns that are necessary for us to function in our daily lives. There are seven primal, functional movement patterns: bending, squatting, lunging, twisting, pulling, pushing and gait. Each of these are integrated movements which means that many muscles ...
  • Sitting for Meditation By David Keil The basic goal of all the asana practice is finding and maintaining a comfortable padmasana (lotus pose) for meditation. There are a few key anatomical components and principles to finding this comfort. The foundation of the pose is the crossing of the legs and “sit bones” comfortably on the floor. With a firm foundation we find an upward energy and lift in the spine, which eventually becomes effortless. Sitting ...
  • To Squeeze or Not to Squeeze? That’s the question By David Keil This month’s newsletter article comes out of a recent trip to the Midwest. I was at a new studio with new students and hosts. This piece is actually a request from one of the hosts, Evan at Tapas Yoga Shala. As always on the first day of practice, I mostly watch and get a sense for what I want to work on with any of the students over ...
  • Yes, you can get injured doing a headstand… By David Keil Yes, you can get injured doing a headstand… especially if you take the name literally. We can often gather information from the name of a posture. Sometimes embrace the quality or energy of the name, like Virabadrasana (Warrior). Sometimes the name is exactly what we should be doing. Shoulderstand comes to mind. It’s not neck stand after all is it? Sometimes the English name is a little misguiding though. Headstand ...
  • Supta Kurmasana Goes Pop! By David Keil Some time ago I threatened to write an article about pain showing up in the joint that connects the collarbone to the breastbone. I have had a couple of more recent requests to talk about this potential problem in Supta Kurmasana. As always I try to look at the anatomy, its function, observations about the posture itself and perhaps some ways that information may inform the way we ...
  • Primary Series is… By David Keil Doing an Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga practice involves much more than merely doing the asanas enumerated in the Primary Series. As a sequence, the primary series is the foundation of the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga practice. It plants the seeds that will grow into the other sequences. But it’s not limited to the asana element. The seeds that should be planted are also the more subtle components. The more important seeds ...
  • Ashtanga’s Dynamic Dimension By David Garrigues Dynamic is a word that aptly describes the personality and teaching of my late teacher Sri K Pattabhi Jois (Guruji). And what I learned about the connection between vinyasa and dynamism from him has been a major source of my love for the Ashtanga yoga method. In 94′ when I began studying with Guruji at his old shala in Mysore, I used to stay after class just to ...
  • Summary notes on Pasasana (The Noose Posture) By David Garrigues There are the notes that accompanied the Asana Kitchen video on Pasasana. 1)Establish a Grounded, Immoveable Foundation Balancing in a full squatting position is one of the most important and challenging aspects to this posture. The feet are your foundation, they are directly in contact with the earth. Organize your posture directly over this foundation noticing when/if you are either too far behind or in front of your foundation. Start ...
  • Action in Practice By David Garrigues In this new post I speak about the concept action in asana, action as a catalyst to the revolution within you. There is a wide range from (superficial to deep) of what constitutes action in asana. At times cultivating action may mean that you activate specific muscle groups to move your bones and achieve dynamic alignment of the skeleton. When you lengthen your hamstring muscles in a forward ...
  • Ashtanga Yoga and the Secret of Mula Bandha By David Garrigues Part I Ashtanga Yoga (as in the 8 limbs) begins with Ahimsa, non-harming.   Yama is the first limb of the eight limbs and ahimsa is the first Yama.  Thus ahimsa can be considered the base,  the very foundation and support of the 8 eight limbs.   Consider the use of the word ahimsa, the main root himsa,  means violence, harm, aggression.  When you add the “A” in front of it ...
  • Opening the Heart By Dr Monica Gauci In a yoga practice much emphasis is placed on opening the heart. Opening the heart has physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual benefits. Rounded shoulders and a hunched spine are typically associated as the posture of someone who is less confident, timid, fearful or possibly depressed. We round our shoulders and stoop forward to protect our heart as we carry our emotional, psychological and/or spiritual wounds. As our nervous ...
  • Your Shoulders in Upward Facing Dog By David Keil This is a play off an article I wrote for the newsletter back in May. That one was titled Your Shoulders in Downward Facing Dog. There are perhaps as many variations in what we are told to do with our shoulders in Up Dog and it is sometimes just as confusing for students. As I often do, I look for the bigger pattern that underlies a potential what and ...
  • Your Shoulders in Downward Facing Dog By David Keil I think we can all agree about one thing with regard to the shoulders in downward facing dog. None of us like to have our own or see our students shoulders stuck up in our or their ears. How do we get our shoulders out of our ears? In addition what is the effect of this on our elbows, wrists, and hands? Or is it the other way ...
  • Flexed or Extended Foot in Lotus By David Keil I’ve been hearing for years that we should flex our foot in various poses where we have our knees bent at ninety degrees or more. More recently I’ve received two seperate emails regarding the application of this technique to lotus posture. Should the foot be flexed or extended in padmasana? It’s time I throw in my own two-cents on this topic. As many of you know, I’m for ...
  • Balancing Freedom and Restraint in Yoga By Ray Long  The work of legendary furniture designers Charles and Ray Eames has been described as a balance of freedom and restraint.Mr. Eames was once asked: “Have you ever been forced to accept compromises?” He responded: “I don’t remember ever being forced to accept compromises, but I have willingly accepted constraints.”1  Practicing yoga also involves working within constraints–those of the general form of the human body and also our personal ...
  • Using the TFL to Refine Utthita Parsvakonasana By Ray Long Author; Ray Long View Profile Visit Ray’s Website http://www.dailybandha.com   http://www.bandhayoga.com Share this:FacebookTwitterGoogle
  • Helicoidal Flow: Yoga As A Body Holiday By Helen Noakes Spiralling or helicoidal flow is an omnipresent phenomenon in nature. As humans, we have the choice to consciously join this pattern of movement that can lead us into freedom. The magnitude of the range of spirals in the whole of creation is immense: from the micro level of DNA and double-helix structures in every cell to the vastness of galaxies and our universes. The way we are born and ...
  • Antagonist/Synergist Combinations in Yoga By Ray Long Author; Ray Long View Profile Visit Ray’s Website http://www.dailybandha.com   http://www.bandhayoga.com Share this:FacebookTwitterGoogle
  • Sitting Up Straight and Expanding the Chest Forward in Sukhasana By Ray Long This technique is portable to other poses. In Tadasana, for example, simply fix the palms against the sides of the hips and attempt to drag them backwards. Note how the chest expands forward and the back straightens. See this concept in action for Sukhasana in the video above. Here’s the Anatomy . . . The latissimus dorsi originates from the spinous processes of thoracic vertebrae 6—12, lumbar vertebrae 1—5 (via ...
  • Assessing Range of Motion in Downward Dog By Paul Grilley Students who struggle with Downward Dog may have limited range of motion (ROM) in one or more of four important joints. Learn how to assess your students’ ROM and help them modify their poses. Long Dogs and Short Dogs. There are many subtle variations of Downward Dog but they can be approximately divided into two standard variations: Long Dogs and Short Dogs. Long Dogs are done by stepping further back ...
  • Assessing Range of Motion in Squatting Poses By Paul Grilley Students who struggle with squatting poses may have limited range of motion (ROM) in one or more of three important joints. Learn how to assess your students’ ROM and help them modify their poses. There are three major joints to consider when teaching a Squat: the hip, the knee, and the ankle. If any one of these three joints is limited in its range of motion (ROM), then any ...
  • Shoulderstand By Paul Grilley Help your students get the most out of Shoulderstand—even if that means achieving a pose that’s not textbook-perfect. Shoulderstand, or Sarvangasana, is a wonderful pose that stretches and strengthens different sections of the spine. But many people struggle with this pose—either to get vertical or to clasp their hands behind their back. Some simple tests can determine whether either of these goals is possible for a given student. These ...
  • Let the Lumbar Curve Be  By Paul Grilley Some yoga instructors insist that students avoid curvature of the spine  by insisting on tucking the pelvis. But any healthy movement can be  overdone. Rather than insist on always having the pelvis tucked  encourage your students to utilize the full range of pelvic motion in  their practice. Bad News Ballet? The idea that a “tucked pelvis” is good for you comes from ballet.  Ballerinas are taught to tuck their pelvis ...
  • The Evolution of Ashtanga Yoga By Matthew Sweeney Ashtanga Yoga is a wonderful practice for the body and mind. It is an evolving practice that is changing and growing to suit people of all ages and abilities. At least that is its potential. The tradition and its changing nature can be a difficult thing to reconcile. This problem exists for all traditions, so understanding some of the principles at work is important. In most Ashtanga classes we ...
  • Lengthening the Torso in Forward Bends By Ray Long In “Preventative Strategies for Lower Back Strains Part I,” we discussed femoral-pelvic and lumbar-pelvic rhythm, muscles that influence these rhythms, and the effects of these muscles on the lumbar spine. Here, our discussion progresses as we cover the trunk, the thoraco-lumbar fascia (TLF), Uddiyana Bandha and how accurate knowledge of this can be used to enhance the benefits of yoga and decrease the risk of lower back strains. ...

Breath

  • To Breathe or not to Breathe, that is the Question Pranayama is very popular these days, and, I suspect, often wrongly taught. Although many teachers use that famous quote from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika: “Just as lions, elephants and tigers are controlled by and by, so the breath is controlled by slow degrees, otherwise it kills the practitioner himself” It seems that they disregard – or their students disregard – this advice almost from the start. The reason I say this is comparing ...
  • Manju Jois Mini Interview 24 October 2014: Interviewee: Manju Question: What is the difference between breath with sound & Ujjayi breathing? Actually this is only one of the questions asked in this mini interview, that include questions about chanting , the purpose of the physical practice, what yoga means to him. Manju Jois, Ashtanga Yoga guru of Mysore, South India, is the oldest son of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, recognized worldwide as the foremost authority on ...
  • Iain Grysak Interview While in Bali I have been taking the opportunity to catch up with some of the teachers that can give us insights into the Ashtanga practice. In this interview I talk to Iain Grysak about the breath. We all know that we should use an Ujjayi breath throughout the practice but are you truly connecting with it, and using it to it’s full potential? We discuss the common areas in ...
  • The Voice of a Yoga Teacher: how to make your voice your best teaching tool By Miriam Bauer – Basics – Yoga teachers can use many different tools to lead their students through a class, such as visual demonstrations and hands-on adjustments. Arguably, most important tool is verbal cues. During more than two thirds of a yoga class, students listen to their teacher’s voice. Every voice is different and you cannot make everyone love your voice, but you can work with your voice effectively. You can avoid sounding ...
  • Metronome for Pranayama I was recently on a training with Gregor Maehle and he used a metronome to pace the breathing in pranayama practice. Works great when you are counting with your fingers. It makes sure you keep the same count pace throughout and for different elements. For instance you might subconsciously speed up the count during a kumbaka.  You can download apps if you have a smart phone or even use a ...
  • Hyperventilation: Why more isn’t necessarily better when it comes to breathing. By Joe Miller Recently, when I was in California I spent an evening practicing holotropic breathwork. I didn’t know much about this beforehand, and you might not either, so I’ll just set the scene. There were about 20 or so of us in a circle, along with a facilitator (whose instructions generally only increased my mystification). After a rambling introduction, he switched on some music, and we divided into pairs. One ...
  • The Diaphragm is Key! Don’t Forget It. Observe It. By David Garrigues The diaphragm is the main muscle involved in breathing; when you get an experiential feeling of its actions, that knowledge helps you breathe better and thus helps you develop your yoga practice. You can learn to sense the diaphragms anatomical location within the torso and to follow its contraction (inhalation) and relaxation (exhalation) phases. The diaphragm is a large sheet or dome shaped muscle that resembles a mushroom ...

Energy

  • Being Flexible about Flexibility These are my modest and provisional notes on the subject of hypermobility, the issues of flexibility in yoga, being able to sustain a yoga practice and specifically practicing Yin yoga. When I first taught yoga in 2001, I did not know what hypermobility or being too flexible meant. I remember Richard Freeman saying in June 2005, “the curse of flexibility and the blessing of stiffness”. I didn’t get it at the ...
  • Kundalini, Chakras, Prana and Two Real Intertwining Snakes In this blog I want to discuss some points about Kundalini energy and Chakras. Much of the information available on the subject of Kundalini is esoteric and so not easy to justify with rational conventional science. I think the best explanation of the science of kundalini comes from Jana Dixon and her excellent book ‘The Biology of Kundalini”. The main purpose of this blog is to elucidate a few simple points ...
  • Mula Bandha and Float Backs Part 1: The Three Bandha The word Bandha can be defined variously as “lock”, “blockage” and “doorway”. Mula Bandha is the lower lock, meaning “root” or “earth”. There are a few definitions that I like regarding MB, so I wanted to start by sharing some of those. Wikipedia Mūla Bandha is the principal, key and primary Bandha of the Yogic traditions. Mūla Bandha is endemic to all safe, grounded workings of body-mind disciplines. This ...
  • Frogtastic Meditation Assistant Do you practice in a country where mosquitoes are prevalent? There is often a problem with mosquitoes when you are trying to meditate in Asia. You don’t want to put chemical repellent on your skin or breath in the smoke from a coil so you are left with citronella or your own mini mosquito net which can cause over heating. I spend most of my time in Asia so was delighted when ...
  • When Yoga makes you angry! by Melanie Cooper A new student recently said she had been told that if a yoga teacher knows what they are doing and teaches the class properly then the students should leave feeling energised and good. Did I agree? Well, I thought, I guess that does often happen – but not all the time. Students can leave anasanapractice feeling angry, depressed, paranoid, and hopeless. So what is that about? Isn’t it ...
  • Petri Raisanen Interview Have you ever met someone who just makes you smile with the warmth that they emanate without having to say a word? That is Petri Raisanen. Calm, tranquil,and the sort of person that makes you feel that you have known them for ages even though you have just said hello. When taking a mysore practice this quite but powerful presence holds the energy in the room in a state that ...
  • The Yin and Yang of it all. By Anthea Grimason Eating to balance yin and yang has been the Chinese way of eating for centuries, a concept which later became key to macrobiotics. So what does it mean? Balancing yin and yang is about balancing the energy of food, as opposed to balancing certain food groups. Yang foods are considered to be more heating to the body and dense energetically, while yin foods are more cooling, lighter in ...
  • The Mistaken Expectation of Joy in Yoga By Tim Feldmann Our yoga practice can give rise to difficult emotions, causing unnecessary confusion in our lives. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras offer a surprising context to help us understand this phenonoma. It seems there is a growing frustration in our contemporary yoga community as the popularity of this ancient Indian practice reaches new frontiers in our part of the world. Recently I have had several students approach me with a particular ...
  • Sitting for Meditation By David Keil The basic goal of all the asana practice is finding and maintaining a comfortable padmasana (lotus pose) for meditation. There are a few key anatomical components and principles to finding this comfort. The foundation of the pose is the crossing of the legs and “sit bones” comfortably on the floor. With a firm foundation we find an upward energy and lift in the spine, which eventually becomes effortless. Sitting ...
  • Ashtanga Yoga and the Secret of Mula Bandha By David Garrigues Part I Ashtanga Yoga (as in the 8 limbs) begins with Ahimsa, non-harming.   Yama is the first limb of the eight limbs and ahimsa is the first Yama.  Thus ahimsa can be considered the base,  the very foundation and support of the 8 eight limbs.   Consider the use of the word ahimsa, the main root himsa,  means violence, harm, aggression.  When you add the “A” in front of it ...
  • Opening the Heart By Dr Monica Gauci In a yoga practice much emphasis is placed on opening the heart. Opening the heart has physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual benefits. Rounded shoulders and a hunched spine are typically associated as the posture of someone who is less confident, timid, fearful or possibly depressed. We round our shoulders and stoop forward to protect our heart as we carry our emotional, psychological and/or spiritual wounds. As our nervous ...
  • Helicoidal Flow: Yoga As A Body Holiday By Helen Noakes Spiralling or helicoidal flow is an omnipresent phenomenon in nature. As humans, we have the choice to consciously join this pattern of movement that can lead us into freedom. The magnitude of the range of spirals in the whole of creation is immense: from the micro level of DNA and double-helix structures in every cell to the vastness of galaxies and our universes. The way we are born and ...

Yoga Injuries

  • David Keil Interview 2016 Its that time of year again when David Keil visits Purple Valley in Goa and I get to babble anatomy with someone who really knows his stuff. David is author of the brilliant book Functional Anatomy of Yoga and teaches around the world. In this interview we talk about the emerging interest in fascia, injuries, Ashtanga Yoga and of course a lot more. You can check out his site here www.yoganatomy.com Here ...
  • Themed Interview with Mark Darby: Forwardfolding So this season I decided to do some interviews themed around different aspects of the practice. The format is a chat about the subject and then a demo /workshop. In this interview I get to talk to Darby and I chose forwardfolding not only because a good few students struggle at least initially with these types of postures but also because he has an approach that is not necessarily the ...
  • What’s the Problem with Your Shoulder? Our shoulder is a precision instrument that simultaneously has a vast scope in its range of motion. With pinpoint precision we can synchronise our shoulder muscles to maneuver our arm to point our finger precisely at our object of choice – an action that requires the coordinated recruitment of numerous muscles that surround our shoulder joint like a clock. Your shoulder blade or scapula has 12 muscles which attach to ...
  • Tingling and Numbness in Yoga Poses Pins and needles, or a burning sensation running down the leg, or just a bit of tingling in the fingers? Many meditators and yogis have had them too: should you be worried? What is causing these sensations, and what should you do about them? Certainly, the way we move and hold our body can cause these uncomfortable sensations, but there may be a more serious problem lurking that you will ...
  • Yoga and Aging When I was young and naïve I used to say “the good thing about practicing yoga is that as you get older you only get stronger and more flexible!” This is true up to a point and that point is different for every body. The fact is that as we age our body slows down. All of our bodily functions are affected as our cells multiply more slowly and we ...
  • From Specialists to Humans: Shining a light on the physical blind spots of an advanced yoga practice Introduction Yoga is a state of being in which we experience ourselves as whole and present. To train ourselves in the state of yoga, we include the practice of physical movements for we are physical beings. We experience and express ourselves through a physical body, therefore, every so called spiritual practice must include the body in one way or ...
  • What is That Popping Sound? NEW RESEARCH!!! One of the common questions asked by yoga students is ‘what’s that popping sound from my joints?’ quickly followed by ‘is it safe?’ and ‘does it mean I’m going to get arthritis or injure myself?’ The answer depends – If it’s a grating or crunching sound and/or it’s accompanied by pain – then it is either a bone or a ligament or tendon, grating over something else or it’s worn cartilage. The ...
  • Being Flexible about Flexibility These are my modest and provisional notes on the subject of hypermobility, the issues of flexibility in yoga, being able to sustain a yoga practice and specifically practicing Yin yoga. When I first taught yoga in 2001, I did not know what hypermobility or being too flexible meant. I remember Richard Freeman saying in June 2005, “the curse of flexibility and the blessing of stiffness”. I didn’t get it at the ...
  • How to Relieve Back-pain and Bend Backwards Without Hurting your Lower Back How to ‘open’ your mid-spine in back bends and not squash your lower back:  Lengthen your Psoas at the hips (hip extension) and immobilse L5-S1 Breathe in to your abdomen (use your diaphragm) Breathe out from your chest (ha-uddiyana bandha) Psoas then extends your spine from T12-L5 (and not L5-S1) because the diaphragm attaches to the psoas, which joins to T12-L5 Most modern adults tend to have very stiff middle backs (usually from about the ...
  • Yoga Therapy for Hamstring Injuries If you’ve ever had an injury at your hamstring injury, you will know about it! You’ll go from comfortable forward bending one day to dramatically restricted, often painful forward bends the next day. This injury occurs where the tendon of the hamstring muscle knits into the membranous lining of the bone, the periosteum. In this case it is where the periosteum covers the ischial tuberosity or sit-bone. Often this is ...
  • Putting the Curve Back in Your Neck, Saving Your Neck – Part 3 Although we usually think and talk about muscles as being weak or strong, closer to the truth is that muscles are usually inhibited or facilitated, respectively. Inhibition is when neural input (from our nervous system) to the muscle has been down-regulated. Facilitation is the opposite, when neural input to a muscle is excessive or up-regulated. Facilitated muscles are often those muscles compensating for the loss of input into a movement ...
  • You Were Born to Gaze at the Stars, Saving Your Neck – Part 2 In Part 1 we looked at some of the biomechanics of neck problems and especially how to eliminate unnecessary tension in our neck when weight-bearing on our hands. In yoga asanas we commonly take our head back, extending our head and neck. Students are often cautious and hold back with this movement, concerned that it may hurt their neck. However, our necks are perfectly designed that we can gaze at ...
  • Saving Your Neck, Understanding the Biomechanics of Neck Problems – Part 1 Our necks are one of the most vulnerable parts of our body and once we have a neck problem they can be complex to resolve. There are a few reasons why the neck cops the brunt of it. Firstly the neck or cervical spine has the greatest range of movement possible in the entire spine. This is partially due to the specific angle of the facet joints that connect each vertebra ...
  • A Pointer for Better Posture(s) Asana Quick Fix: 16 November 2014: A Pointer for Better Posture(s) I spend anywhere between 4 to 5 hours sitting in front of a computer … an hour or two, behind the wheel of a car .. and admittedly, an hour or so watching a movie or TV. That adds up to about 8 hours of a seated posture, head forward and tilted up. Kind of like this: It’s no wonder my yoga ...
  • The Pain Free State Tim’s Scribbles: 04 December 2013 : The Pain Free State Femoral Acetabular Impingement is on everyone’s lips these days (from Labrum to Labia). We take the inward rotation of the hip joint a tad too literally for a tad too long; allowing Deep Groin instructions to numb sensory feedback and pushing passionate beliefs into physical matter while uttering Truth! and upgrading alignment from a patient request to full-form religion. O ...
  • No Magic to Protect You in “Wild Thing”, And No Magical Way in Which Yoga Changes the World /// Plus We Heart Be Scofield By Matthew Remski Nugget: The claim that Wild Thing can be done safely might involve the same wishful/magical thinking as the claim that yoga and meditation will automatically “shift consciousness”, whether individually, communally, or “vibrationally”. Both claims seem to depend upon overlooking concrete material conditions in favour of nurturing faith in vague metaphysical principles. Concrete material conditions demand specific learning objectives. If yogis want to be smart on the biomechanics front, ...
  • Update 3: What Are We Actually Doing In Yoga Asana /// “Wild Thing” Pose: Impossible, Injurious, Poignant By Matthew Remski Certum est quia impossibile est. — Tertullian I’m closing in on fifty interviews for this project, and it’s getting richer every week. I’ve spoken to a trauma survivor who has been repeatedly triggered in asana classes by both invasive touch and psychological insensitivity. I’ve spoken to a medical doctor (as well as 30-year practitioner and teacher) who remembers the moment when he actively suppressed his critical thinking medical-mind so that ...
  • Deep Relief for Low Back Pain By Doug Keller By applying these simple principles to your asana practice you can strengthen the hidden muscles that maintain the health of your back. While there are no quick fixes when it comes to low back pain, if you address the root of the problem, treatment can be surprisingly simple. Chronic back pain is often attributed to underlying structural abnormalities such as a herniated or degenerated disk, scoliosis, or a tilted ...
  • Sacroiliac Support By Doug Keller Gentle adjustments and a targeted yoga routine can relieve pain in your SI joints and low back Do you experience stinging pain at the back of your pelvis on one side when you bend, twist, or stand up after a long period of sitting? This is a likely indicator of sacroiliac instability. As human beings, our unique upright posture places a great deal of stress on the sacroiliac region, ...
  • Sitbone Pain from Yoga Asana (proximal hamstring and adductor magnus tendon injuries) by Jenni Crowther Unfortunately enough yoga practitioners suffer from sitbone pain that it has been nicknamed ‘yoga butt’.  We may more correctly refer to this condition as ‘proximal hamstring tendon injury’.The length of time that it may take to heal and the way it will influence your physical practice make it a concern for both new and experienced practitioners. I’m a Level one Anatomy and Physiology ...
  • Using hip muscles effectively in yoga practice – part 1: bridging and back bending By Niki Vetten Weak Gluteal muscles are very common amongst yoga students and teachers alike and cause Sacroiliac pain and dysfunction, lower back pain and hamstring injury. Causes and symptoms are covered in the article on yoga butt and this post looks at the effects of various hip movement cues taught in yoga. Different instructions are required to address individual movement problems and it is up to the teacher to learn ...
  • Update 2: What Are We Actually Doing in Asana? \\\ Questions, questions, questions! By Matthew Remski About a month and two dozen interviews into this research project and I can honestly say I’ve learned more about how folks experience yoga than I have over the past eleven years of teaching. The stories of pain, injury, recovery, and wisdom keep rolling, each unraveling unique twists of psychology along with the tweaks of tissue. •I’ve heard from practitioners who came to yoga as elite athletes who submitted ...
  • What Are We Actually Doing in Asana? (introducing the WAWADIA project) By Matthew Remski On January 2nd 2014, I posted a request to Facebook: ______ Dear Facebook yoga practitioners – I’m doing some research into asana-related injuries for an upcoming writing project. I would like to gather formal interview subjects, but also to hear, via private message whatever details you care to disclose. If you’d like to be an interview subject (Skype), let me know by personal message. Please do not use the comment function ...
  • Preventing Yoga Injuries vs Preventing Yoga, Part III: Joint Mobility, Stability and Proprioception By Ray Long A central concept in all healing arts is that of correcting imbalances within the body. The principle of re-establishing balance can be found across all cultures from Navajo sand paintings, Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine to modern allopathy. And anything with true healing power also has the capacity to cause injury when practiced without balance. For example, joint mobility is beneficial for a number of reasons–provided it ...
  • Preventing Yoga Injuries vs Preventing Yoga, Part II: Joint Hypermobility By Ray Long In this post we discuss labral tears and the condition of joint hypermobility. I also present the case of a specific injury from yoga practice, its biomechanical basis and the steps that can be taken to aid in its prevention. First, however, let’s look at the concept of association vs causality. Simply put, because some activity is associated with a problem does not mean it caused it. In ...
  • Preventing Yoga Injuries vs Preventing Yoga, Part I: The Hip Labrum By Ray Long I’m thinking the ancients were onto something. Meaning this (possibly) 5,000 year old art that so many of us enjoy practicing and teaching. I’m talking about the tradition of Hatha yoga. The one that includes putting our bodies into poses like Uttanasana, Dandasana, Padmasana (Full Lotus), Sirsasana (Headstand) etc. Now, part of that practice involves poses that take some of our joints to the extremes of their range ...
  • Why alignment – Why anatomy? By Tim Feldmann A good use and healthy alignment is the natural state of the body. Connecting to this innate state unravels habitual patterns and untangles energy, enhancing well-being, vitality and effortlessness. The means is to practice with a simple yet profound kinesthetic awareness and understanding of the architectural structure of your individual body. why alignment In this article I would like to attempt to motivate a broader interest in the art ...
  • Got Sit Bone Pain? – What to do with that hamstring By David Keil I was in the DC area this month and saw a student that I knew from a previous workshop. At that time Patricia had recently “pulled a hamstring”. Her major symptom was pain at her sit bone (ischial tuberosity) when folding forward, secondary was that it would also hurt when sitting for long periods, especially in the car. I saw her just a couple of weeks ago and ...
  • Yes, you can get injured doing a headstand… By David Keil Yes, you can get injured doing a headstand… especially if you take the name literally. We can often gather information from the name of a posture. Sometimes embrace the quality or energy of the name, like Virabadrasana (Warrior). Sometimes the name is exactly what we should be doing. Shoulderstand comes to mind. It’s not neck stand after all is it? Sometimes the English name is a little misguiding though. Headstand ...
  • Supta Kurmasana Goes Pop! By David Keil Some time ago I threatened to write an article about pain showing up in the joint that connects the collarbone to the breastbone. I have had a couple of more recent requests to talk about this potential problem in Supta Kurmasana. As always I try to look at the anatomy, its function, observations about the posture itself and perhaps some ways that information may inform the way we ...
  • Nerve compression in the neck, shoulders and wrists from yoga practice By Niki Vetten It is quite common for yogis, particularly women, to develop wrist pain and numbness or tingling in the whole hand or individual fingers, either when they are doing arm balances or Chaturanga or at night if they sleep with arms raised above the head although these sensations subside if the arm is placed alongside the body. Such symptoms should be taken very seriously if the numbness becomes constant ...
  • Action in Practice By David Garrigues In this new post I speak about the concept action in asana, action as a catalyst to the revolution within you. There is a wide range from (superficial to deep) of what constitutes action in asana. At times cultivating action may mean that you activate specific muscle groups to move your bones and achieve dynamic alignment of the skeleton. When you lengthen your hamstring muscles in a forward ...
  • Your Shoulders in Upward Facing Dog By David Keil This is a play off an article I wrote for the newsletter back in May. That one was titled Your Shoulders in Downward Facing Dog. There are perhaps as many variations in what we are told to do with our shoulders in Up Dog and it is sometimes just as confusing for students. As I often do, I look for the bigger pattern that underlies a potential what and ...
  • Your Shoulders in Downward Facing Dog By David Keil I think we can all agree about one thing with regard to the shoulders in downward facing dog. None of us like to have our own or see our students shoulders stuck up in our or their ears. How do we get our shoulders out of our ears? In addition what is the effect of this on our elbows, wrists, and hands? Or is it the other way ...
  • Is Your Hip “Pinching” in a Twist? By David Keil This situation can show up in parvrita parsvakonasana, ardha matsayendrasana, marichyasana C, or other twists. The sensation is anything from mild discomfort to an ice pick sensation in the front and inside of the pelvis. The most common description however is that it seems as though something is getting “pinched.” This is a situation that I’ve come across a number of times in my travels. It’s not limited to ...
  • Flexed or Extended Foot in Lotus By David Keil I’ve been hearing for years that we should flex our foot in various poses where we have our knees bent at ninety degrees or more. More recently I’ve received two seperate emails regarding the application of this technique to lotus posture. Should the foot be flexed or extended in padmasana? It’s time I throw in my own two-cents on this topic. As many of you know, I’m for ...
  • Quadratus Lumborum (QL) A real Pain in the Back! By David Keil I have written about a number of the “lightning rod” muscles such as the piriformis, psoas, and transverse abdominis. I refer to them as “lightning rods” because they attract attention. Sometimes this is for good reason, after all, everyone should know about his or her psoas. However, every problem related to core shouldn’t be thrown onto the back of the psoas or the transverse abdominis for that matter. ...
  • Gluteal and Psoas Relationship for Yogis By David Keil There is a pattern that has shown itself to me over the last few months. I don’t think that this pattern is a result of practice but probably an underlying pattern that already existed. As often happens, regular practice can uncover any number of problems or imbalances in our body. Hopefully the practice helps to create balance and “fix” them. The pattern that I’m referring to in this article ...
  • Neck Pain from the Hips By Niki Vetten Posture affects our necks negatively when there is anterior or posterior pelvic tilt because the spinal curves are altered and the head is carried in a forward position. The muscle at the front of the neck, the Sternocleidomastoideus (SCM) shortens and the shoulder girdle rounds and shifts forward, exaggerating the curvature of the upper back. In some people, the upper back remains relatively straight and the lower cervical ...
  • Sacroiliac Joints and Yoga By Niki Vetten Sacroiliac problems are common in yoga – Chiropractors consider the Sacroiliac joint to be the most common cause of lower back pain, more prevalent than disc problems. The Sacroiliac joint is believed to act as a shock absorber between the legs and the spine and although its movements are very small, restrictions at the joint cause great pain as well as difficulty in forward bending.  Pain is often ...
  • Understanding and Managing Sacroiliac Pain in Yoga Practice By Niki Vetten It is common for yogis to develop painful sacroiliac joints, with serious consequences: dysfunction at the sacroiliac joint inhibits the hip muscles and starts a vicious cycle of hip instability and body misalignment. Painful sacroiliac joints must be treated and stabilised to avoid chronic pain and it is not advisable to continue with any yoga practice that causes sacroiliac pain. Successful treatment by a specialised therapist is life-altering ...
  • Lower Back Pain and Posture (Pelvic Tilt) and how Yoga affects Pelvic Tilt By Niki Vetten Posture is not simply a matter of standing up straight, like your mother told you to; posture is created by the Hamstrings and Hip Flexor (mainly the Iliopsoas) muscles. If the Hamstrings are stronger than the Psoas, the pelvis tilts backwards and if the Psoas is stronger than the Hamstrings, the pelvis tilts forwards. The spinal column balances on top of the pelvis and adjusts its curves according ...
  • Lower Back Pain in Yoga Practice and the Lumbar Spine By Niki Vetten The Lumbar spine, unlike the lower thoracic spine, moves very little and should not be used during back extension movements, because the vertebrae or discs can be damaged. Any muscular imbalances between the hips, legs and lower back cause pain and restriction in the lumbar spine, and can ultimately result in injury. Hamstring muscles that are overactive cause the lower back muscles to tighten up, jamming the lumbar ...
  • Back Flexibility with Yoga By Niki Vetten As we get older our spines bend less, mostly because of the effects of gravity on the spinal discs, which begin to dehydrate and become compressed after 30, reducing the spaces between the facet joints in the vertebrae and limiting movement. Gravity and an upright human posture also causes some the spinal muscles found in children to be converted to more rigid and stable ligaments in adults. Child-gymnasts ...
  • Lower Back Pain and Alignment By Niki Vetten Another cause of lower back pain is found in the alignment of the left and right sides of the body, some bodies are structurally asymmetrical: one leg is shorter than the other, or the pelvic halves are different sizes, people can be born that way, or their structure can be altered by bone fractures. Weakness on one side of the body can also be caused by operations, serious ...
  • Lower Back Pain and Posture (Pelvic Tilt) and how Yoga affects Pelvic Tilt By Niki Vetten Posture is not simply a matter of standing up straight, like your mother told you to; posture is created by the Hamstrings and Hip Flexor (mainly the Iliopsoas) muscles. If the Hamstrings are stronger than the Psoas, the pelvis tilts backwards and if the Psoas is stronger than the Hamstrings, the pelvis tilts forwards. The spinal column balances on top of the pelvis and adjusts its curves according ...
  • Hip Pain and Injury in Yoga By Niki Vetten Hips are vital in all body movements because the body’s centre of gravity is located in the hip area, about 4 finger-widths below the navel or belly-button. Healthy hips are also the key to a pain-free lower back and knees. Flexibility in the hips is determined by strength and overstretching the hips in an effort to make them flexible will instead make the hips weak and dysfunctional. Muscle imbalances ...
  • Hip and Hamstring Flexibility By Niki Vetten Hamstrings and hips get a lot of stretching in yoga, because everyone wants to do Hanumanasana, and also get their feet behind their heads, preferably both feet at the same time. For many, this will never happen, precisely because they try so hard and focus only on one set of muscles without understanding the interlinking between the muscles of the hips, legs and lower back. Please refer to ...
  • Lower Back Pain: Some Yoga-Related Causes By Niki Vetten The causes of lower back pain are varied and complex. Physiotherapy texts state that in most cases it is impossible to pinpoint the exact body tissue that causes the pain and because humans have an upright posture, it is virtually guaranteed that everyone will have an episode of lower back pain in their lives. Most treatment of lower back pain is focused on relieving symptoms. Even hi-tech imagery is ...
  • Movement Habits and their Effect on Yoga Practice By Niki Vetten There are three particular movement habits in asana practice that either cause or indicate problems with the hips: These will be covered in detail in separate posts, to keep posts shorter 1. Allowing the hip to push out to the side and not maintaining a level pelvis in the horizontal plane – lateral pelvic tilt 2. Hinging from the hips when folding forwards from a standing position or returning ...
  • ‘Yoga Butt’ Injury By Niki Vetten ‘Yoga Butt’ is a term for a range of symptoms frequently experienced in Ashtanga and other forms of Vinyasa or Power yoga after a few months of regular practice. It often starts as Pain or discomfort at either of the Ischial Tuberosities (sit-bones) Discomfort in all forward bending and a feeling that the hamstring won’t stretch Inflexibility or pain in Kurmasana and Supta Konasana. Yogis with these symptoms might then tear a ...
  • Practising Through Pain and Injury in Yoga By Niki Vetten Many athletes and many athletic yogis who experience pain believe that they should keep right on with what they are doing, and hope that the pain will eventually disappear. This is very short-sighted, especially if pain is not associated with a specific injury. Pain without a specific injury is often a sign of muscle imbalance. In yoga, muscle imbalance can develop quite easily, if a set practise is followed ...
  • Lateral Pelvic Tilt in Yoga Practice By Niki Vetten When the hips are can’t be held level in a horizontal plane while standing on one leg, lateral pelvic tilt occurs, caused by weakness of the Hip abductor muscles, especially the Gluteus Medius. The pelvis tilts down to one side and the head of the Femur is pushed outwards. This is called Trendelenburg sign by physical therapists. The Gluteus Medius acts a hip abductor but it is also a ...
  • How Hinging From the Hips Creates Weak Gluteal Muscles By Niki Vetten Yoga practice usually starts with some form of Surya Namaskara and most sun salutations include moving from Samasthitih or Tadasasna to Uttanasana and back upright many times. These movements are often made by keeping the back straight and folding forwards at the hips, with the knees locked and rising back to vertical in the same position, lifting the head first. Keeping the back straight to bend forward involves a ...
  • Anterior Pelvic Tilt in Yoga Practice By Niki Vetten When the hip-bones tilt forwards, creating an arch (lordosis) in the lower back, you have anterior pelvic tilt, one of the main causes of lower back pain. Some people, mainly women, have a lower back that is naturally lordotic. This is due to the shape of their Sacroiliac joints, and is not necessarily painful or problematic. Anterior pelvic tilt is extremely painful when it is caused by muscle imbalance, ...
  • Previous Hip Injury and Yoga Practice By Niki Vetten Many people turn to yoga as a way of healing hip injuries that they acquired elsewhere. Some people find that their injuries improve with mild stretching and strengthening, but others find that their symptoms get much worse. Hip injuries that are caused by traumatic events like car accidents or bad falls have a profound effect on overall physical alignment because of the fact that our centre of gravity is ...
  • Hamstring Injury, Sciatica and Sacroiliac Pain in Yoga By Niki Vetten There are three muscles in the legs that are collectively referred to as the Hamstrings – the Biceps Femoris, Semitendinosus and Semimembranosus. All three Hamstrings attach to the Ischial Tuberosity of the pelvis – the sit-bone. At the knee, the Biceps Femoris attaches to the outside of the Femur and the knee and the Semitendinosus and Semimembranosus together are attached to the inside of the knee. The Hamstrings can ...
  • Wrist Pain from Vinyasa Yoga By Niki Vetten Vinyasa, arm balances and handstands often leave yoga practitioners complaining of wrist pain, especially at the Ulnar side of the hand, that is, the base of the palm furthest from the thumb. To combat this, the focus is on various hand positions, pushing down with the base of the thumb, rising up onto the fingers when jumping through, Pada Hastasasna or wrist guards. An analysis of body mechanics ...
  • A Word about Posture By Steve Bracken A report my Eyal Lederman (CPDO Online Journal (2010), March, p1-14.) found that there was: • No proven link between posture and pain. • No proven link for lower back pain and: core strength, disc degeneration, hamstring or psoas tightness, SI joint, pelvic asymmetry, lordosis and kyphosis, muscle strength, trunk asymmetry. In fact Lower back pain can be better predicted by biological, psychological and social factors! Structure and pain is a ...
  • Adductors, the Pelvic Floor and Lower Back Pain By Niki Vetten Pelvic floor contractions are used in Yoga as part of Pranayama practise- Mula Bandha. The pelvic floor also has an important stabilising function, as it controls the forward and backward movements of the Sacrum – these movements are also called Nutation and Counter Nutation. If the pelvic floor is tight and inelastic, the Sacrum remains tucked (Nutated) in all movements, which can contribute to lower-back pain because a ...
  • Reciprocal Inhibition and the Hips By Niki Vetten Reciprocal Inhibition is a process that the body uses to create movements. All movement is controlled by opposing sets of muscles, called Agonists or prime movers, and Antagonists that create the opposing force which returns the part being moved back to its original position. Movement is also aided by other surrounding muscles, called Synergists, and they mostly function as stabilisers, so that movement can occur in a controlled ...
  • How Hip Problems Cause Knee Pain By Niki Vetten Pain felt at the outer or inner sides of the knees is often directly related to the hips and can have a variety of causes, which need to be assessed and treated by a specialist. As explained in Knee Injury and Pain in Yoga, the Gluteus Medius stabilises the pelvis in a horizontal plane and when the Gluteus Medius is not functioning, other muscles take over. Hip stabilisation then ...
  • Knee Injury and Pain in Yoga By Niki Vetten Knee injury in yoga usually involves tearing the Meniscus, a double ring of cartilage between the Femur (thighbone) and the Tibia (lower leg bone) – either through carelessness – by practicing asanas with the feet and the knees pointing in different directions, or in Padmasana. It is also possible to overstretch the supporting ligaments at the sides of the knees. People also experience pain behind the knee, on ...
  • Lateral Pelvic Tilt in Yoga Practice By Niki Vetten When the hips are can’t be held level in a horizontal plane while standing on one leg, lateral pelvic tilt occurs, caused by weakness of the Hip abductor muscles, especially the Gluteus Medius. The pelvis tilts down to one side and the head of the Femur is pushed outwards. This is called Trendelenburg sign by physical therapists. The Gluteus Medius acts a hip abductor but it is also a ...
  • Pain at the Kneecap By Niki Vetten Knee pain that occurs around the kneecap is usually called Patellofemoral pain and can be caused by tightness in the Rectus Femoris muscle or an imbalance between the Quadricep muscles that stabilise the patella. One way that this occurs is through weakness of the Gluteus Medius in the hip. The Tensor Fascia Latae muscle is an internal rotator of the hip so if it compensates for a weak ...
  • Knees and Padmasana By Niki Vetten Padmasana can cause various problems for yoga practitioners. Meniscus tears usually occur as a result of falls and accidents but in yoga they can be caused by incorrect functioning of the Popliteus and Semimembranosus (inner hamstring). Both of these muscles control rotational forces in the leg. The Popliteus muscle retracts the lateral meniscus, while the Semimembranosus retracts the medial meniscus, preventing the meniscus from being compressed and torn ...
  • Pain is your friend! By Stuart Girling BSc Anyone who is suffering from chronic pain is already saying “what is this idiot talking about?” Having suffered my own fair share of severe pain, I must say I would gladly have murdered that friend and buried it at the bottom of the garden. In this article we will focus on acute pain, the type of pain that may arise during your practice or within the subsequent ...
  • Cracking and Popping Joints By Paul Grilley There are many myths and rumors about joint cracking. The two most common being our knuckles will get bigger if we crack them or we will get arthritis. Neither of these is likely but there is some truth to the idea that some forms of cracking are undesirable. Two types of cracking. There are two reasons why our joints crack and creak. 1. Bones are rubbing together. 2. The bones ...

Muscles & Bones

  • From Specialists to Humans: Shining a light on the physical blind spots of an advanced yoga practice Introduction Yoga is a state of being in which we experience ourselves as whole and present. To train ourselves in the state of yoga, we include the practice of physical movements for we are physical beings. We experience and express ourselves through a physical body, therefore, every so called spiritual practice must include the body in one way or ...
  • Where should I feel this? A common question asked by yoga students is ‘where should I feel this’. This is often harder to answer than it might seem. Firstly bodies are complicated things! The old model of individual muscles moving or restricting a single joint is now largely thought to be too simplistic. The body has come to be seen as a system of inter-connecting or even continuous lines of muscles. In this model, a restriction ...
  • The Wonderful World of Fascia This was so much fun to do and of course very topical at the moment coming shortly after the Fascial Research Congress. Joanne Avison is a yoga teacher and author of the book entitled Yoga Fascia Anatomy and Movement and I was lucky enough to be able to interview her when I was back in the UK. The interview runs at two and a half hours and we only realized ...
  • What is That Popping Sound? NEW RESEARCH!!! One of the common questions asked by yoga students is ‘what’s that popping sound from my joints?’ quickly followed by ‘is it safe?’ and ‘does it mean I’m going to get arthritis or injure myself?’ The answer depends – If it’s a grating or crunching sound and/or it’s accompanied by pain – then it is either a bone or a ligament or tendon, grating over something else or it’s worn cartilage. The ...
  • How to Relieve Back-pain and Bend Backwards Without Hurting your Lower Back How to ‘open’ your mid-spine in back bends and not squash your lower back:  Lengthen your Psoas at the hips (hip extension) and immobilse L5-S1 Breathe in to your abdomen (use your diaphragm) Breathe out from your chest (ha-uddiyana bandha) Psoas then extends your spine from T12-L5 (and not L5-S1) because the diaphragm attaches to the psoas, which joins to T12-L5 Most modern adults tend to have very stiff middle backs (usually from about the ...
  • Mula Bandha and Float Backs Part 1: The Three Bandha The word Bandha can be defined variously as “lock”, “blockage” and “doorway”. Mula Bandha is the lower lock, meaning “root” or “earth”. There are a few definitions that I like regarding MB, so I wanted to start by sharing some of those. Wikipedia Mūla Bandha is the principal, key and primary Bandha of the Yogic traditions. Mūla Bandha is endemic to all safe, grounded workings of body-mind disciplines. This ...
  • The Hips A-line-ment By Peg Mulqueen If there’s a holy grail in the Ashtanga yoga practice, it must a long central axis (or spine, for reference) and rooted pelvis, for within the two lie the keys to heaven – or as we say, bandhas. And so it seems logical we do all we can to protect and keep these lines sacred. The primary series offers us the perfect place to practice this alignment with shapes that ...
  • Size Matters By Peg Mulqueen I don’t know if you know this about Ashtanga – but backbends are a pretty big damn deal. When I started, no one cared that I could stand on my hands. No one wanted to see me float or jump or balance on my arms. No, they wanted to see my backbend. Only, I didn’t have a backbend. I had more of a coffee table. I’ve always known this had to ...
  • Beneath the surface By Doug Keller Yes a toned core is great for the bikini season, but when you learn to access the deepest muscles, you will get benefits that are more than just skin deep. It’s almost summer- and chances are good that people all over America want to tone up their tummies, and they’re adding crunches to their routines to do it. But sit-ups alone won’t make a potbelly disappear. In fact, they ...
  • Sacral Nutation: The Key to Straight Feet in Backbends By Monica Gauci There are countless miracles happening in our physical bodies every moment of our existence. One that continues to intrigue me is the symphony of cranial motion that happens with our every breath! This motion is synchronised with another gentle movement at our sacrum as it rocks between the two pelvic halves or ilia. Cranial-sacral motion is constant and rhythmical as it circulates the vital fluid that our brain ...
  • Better Backbends By Doug Keller Do you tuck your tailbone in backbending poses? It would be hard to imagine yoga without backbends-they’re invigorating, uplifting, and heart-opening. Backbends stimulate the proper functioning of the digestive system, help preserve the health of the vertebrae and spinal disks, and open the body to deep diaphragmatic breathing. It’s no wonder that backbends are an important part of any hatha yoga routine. At the same time, these poses place ...
  • Muscles – the limited means to asana success By Tim Feldmann When we decide to move our body, in asana practice or in daily life, we most often instantly begin with activating our muscles. We identify movement with activating various muscles. The muscles are the physical system that we mostly rely on to carry out any physical task at hand. So is it in asana practice too. Unfortunately our muscular system is of relative efficiency in complex movement tasks ...
  • Balance Part II – The Leg By Tim Feldmann To get the full benefits out of the standing/balancing asanas, we must master balancing on one leg to a reasonable degree. Knowing a few technical things about the body and mind will help us balance well on one leg, besides clenching everything we’ve got and pray that we’ll make it through! This article aims at assisting you with your one legged balances/movement. Trigger points and images When we want our ...
  • Why alignment – Why anatomy? By Tim Feldmann A good use and healthy alignment is the natural state of the body. Connecting to this innate state unravels habitual patterns and untangles energy, enhancing well-being, vitality and effortlessness. The means is to practice with a simple yet profound kinesthetic awareness and understanding of the architectural structure of your individual body. why alignment In this article I would like to attempt to motivate a broader interest in the art ...
  • Balance Part I – The Foot By Tim Feldmann The foot: a double dome like shape arching from back-to-front and from side-to-side. The foot: a triangle, wide at the front and narrow at the back. The leg: connecting down into the foot like a pillar through the ankle which intercepts at the peak of the two domes combined. Standing on your two feet takes close to no effort. Balancing, nevertheless, whether on two or one foot is an ...
  • Turning Your Feet Out When Doing a Yoga Drop-Back? By David Keil The inspiration for this month’s article comes from a question posed in an email. The question, from Catherine, asks specifically about keeping the feet straight in drop-backs. For those of you not sure what a drop-back is… it’s when you stand at the front of your mat and drop into a backbend. It’s mostly the Ashtangis who do this and when they do it’s very typical to find ...
  • Glute Max for Maximum Extension By Dr Monica Gauci For some the jury is still not out on whether one should or should not engage the gluteus maximus muscle when performing back bending yoga postures. Firstly, let’s have a close look at the functional anatomy of this muscle. Gluteus maximus, commonly known as glute max, is the superficial ‘rump’ muscle of our buttocks. Its prominent, characteristic shape and large size correlate to its powerful role of maintaining ...
  • What Is ‘Functional’ in Yoga? By Dr Monica Gauci Funcitonal is the buzz word at the moment in the exercise, movement and especially the physical rehabilitation scene. Movements or exercises are considered ‘functional’ if they support the movement patterns that are necessary for us to function in our daily lives. There are seven primal, functional movement patterns: bending, squatting, lunging, twisting, pulling, pushing and gait. Each of these are integrated movements which means that many muscles ...
  • Got Sit Bone Pain? – What to do with that hamstring By David Keil I was in the DC area this month and saw a student that I knew from a previous workshop. At that time Patricia had recently “pulled a hamstring”. Her major symptom was pain at her sit bone (ischial tuberosity) when folding forward, secondary was that it would also hurt when sitting for long periods, especially in the car. I saw her just a couple of weeks ago and ...
  • To Squeeze or Not to Squeeze? That’s the question By David Keil This month’s newsletter article comes out of a recent trip to the Midwest. I was at a new studio with new students and hosts. This piece is actually a request from one of the hosts, Evan at Tapas Yoga Shala. As always on the first day of practice, I mostly watch and get a sense for what I want to work on with any of the students over ...
  • Yes, you can get injured doing a headstand… By David Keil Yes, you can get injured doing a headstand… especially if you take the name literally. We can often gather information from the name of a posture. Sometimes embrace the quality or energy of the name, like Virabadrasana (Warrior). Sometimes the name is exactly what we should be doing. Shoulderstand comes to mind. It’s not neck stand after all is it? Sometimes the English name is a little misguiding though. Headstand ...
  • Supta Kurmasana Goes Pop! By David Keil Some time ago I threatened to write an article about pain showing up in the joint that connects the collarbone to the breastbone. I have had a couple of more recent requests to talk about this potential problem in Supta Kurmasana. As always I try to look at the anatomy, its function, observations about the posture itself and perhaps some ways that information may inform the way we ...
  • Can yoga fix scoliosis? By David Keil I was recently asked a question via email. Can yoga fix scoliosis? It’s certainly not the first time that I’ve ever been asked about scoliosis and I’m sure it won’t be the last. It’s a seemingly simple question but it bends in a direction that makes me wonder about our larger expectations for our yoga practice and our desire for a simple answer to what seems like a ...
  • The Diaphragm is Key! Don’t Forget It. Observe It. By David Garrigues The diaphragm is the main muscle involved in breathing; when you get an experiential feeling of its actions, that knowledge helps you breathe better and thus helps you develop your yoga practice. You can learn to sense the diaphragms anatomical location within the torso and to follow its contraction (inhalation) and relaxation (exhalation) phases. The diaphragm is a large sheet or dome shaped muscle that resembles a mushroom ...
  • Opening the Heart By Dr Monica Gauci In a yoga practice much emphasis is placed on opening the heart. Opening the heart has physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual benefits. Rounded shoulders and a hunched spine are typically associated as the posture of someone who is less confident, timid, fearful or possibly depressed. We round our shoulders and stoop forward to protect our heart as we carry our emotional, psychological and/or spiritual wounds. As our nervous ...
  • The ‘Álmighty’ Psoas Muscle: Your Body’s Center of Movement By David Keil The foundation of our bodies and our yoga practice lies at our feet. In order to incorporate both physical and energetic foundations, we must examine our body’s center of energy, movement and balance which begins near the psoas muscle– the pair of deep muscles extending from the sides of the spine to the femur that are activated in postures like forward bending (paschimottanasana), Boat pose; and lengthened in ...
  • Quadratus Lumborum (QL) A real Pain in the Back! By David Keil I have written about a number of the “lightning rod” muscles such as the piriformis, psoas, and transverse abdominis. I refer to them as “lightning rods” because they attract attention. Sometimes this is for good reason, after all, everyone should know about his or her psoas. However, every problem related to core shouldn’t be thrown onto the back of the psoas or the transverse abdominis for that matter. ...
  • Gluteal and Psoas Relationship for Yogis By David Keil There is a pattern that has shown itself to me over the last few months. I don’t think that this pattern is a result of practice but probably an underlying pattern that already existed. As often happens, regular practice can uncover any number of problems or imbalances in our body. Hopefully the practice helps to create balance and “fix” them. The pattern that I’m referring to in this article ...
  • Balancing Freedom and Restraint in Yoga By Ray Long  The work of legendary furniture designers Charles and Ray Eames has been described as a balance of freedom and restraint.Mr. Eames was once asked: “Have you ever been forced to accept compromises?” He responded: “I don’t remember ever being forced to accept compromises, but I have willingly accepted constraints.”1  Practicing yoga also involves working within constraints–those of the general form of the human body and also our personal ...
  • Using the TFL to Refine Utthita Parsvakonasana By Ray Long Author; Ray Long View Profile Visit Ray’s Website http://www.dailybandha.com   http://www.bandhayoga.com Share this:FacebookTwitterGoogle
  • Antagonist/Synergist Combinations in Yoga By Ray Long Author; Ray Long View Profile Visit Ray’s Website http://www.dailybandha.com   http://www.bandhayoga.com Share this:FacebookTwitterGoogle
  • Sitting Up Straight and Expanding the Chest Forward in Sukhasana By Ray Long This technique is portable to other poses. In Tadasana, for example, simply fix the palms against the sides of the hips and attempt to drag them backwards. Note how the chest expands forward and the back straightens. See this concept in action for Sukhasana in the video above. Here’s the Anatomy . . . The latissimus dorsi originates from the spinous processes of thoracic vertebrae 6—12, lumbar vertebrae 1—5 (via ...
  • Assessing Range of Motion in Downward Dog By Paul Grilley Students who struggle with Downward Dog may have limited range of motion (ROM) in one or more of four important joints. Learn how to assess your students’ ROM and help them modify their poses. Long Dogs and Short Dogs. There are many subtle variations of Downward Dog but they can be approximately divided into two standard variations: Long Dogs and Short Dogs. Long Dogs are done by stepping further back ...
  • Assessing Range of Motion in Squatting Poses By Paul Grilley Students who struggle with squatting poses may have limited range of motion (ROM) in one or more of three important joints. Learn how to assess your students’ ROM and help them modify their poses. There are three major joints to consider when teaching a Squat: the hip, the knee, and the ankle. If any one of these three joints is limited in its range of motion (ROM), then any ...
  • Cracking and Popping Joints By Paul Grilley There are many myths and rumors about joint cracking. The two most common being our knuckles will get bigger if we crack them or we will get arthritis. Neither of these is likely but there is some truth to the idea that some forms of cracking are undesirable. Two types of cracking. There are two reasons why our joints crack and creak. 1. Bones are rubbing together. 2. The bones ...
  • Stretching Ligaments: A Yogi’s Apology By Paul Grilley A stretch by any other name… Sometimes health professionals gnash their teeth when they hear a yogi say they are “stretching” their ligaments. They scream loudly that ligaments don’t stretch. We could quibble and say all biological tissues stretch but that would be avoiding their legitimate concern. Compared to muscles ligaments don’t stretch. But to keep ligaments healthy they must be subjected to stress by pulling on them. So ...
  • Let the Lumbar Curve Be  By Paul Grilley Some yoga instructors insist that students avoid curvature of the spine  by insisting on tucking the pelvis. But any healthy movement can be  overdone. Rather than insist on always having the pelvis tucked  encourage your students to utilize the full range of pelvic motion in  their practice. Bad News Ballet? The idea that a “tucked pelvis” is good for you comes from ballet.  Ballerinas are taught to tuck their pelvis ...
  • Stretching the Spine By Paul Grilley When working a joint the first thing a yogi or yogini must decide is whether she intends to work muscle or bone. She must decide if she wishes to strengthen the muscles that stabilize the joint or stretch the ligaments to increase range of motion. In this article we explore the second option: stretching the joints of the spine. Two layers of the joints A fundamental insight of Taoist analysis ...
  • The Hand by Paul  Grilley The purpose of some Yoga postures is to stress the joints in a beneficial manner. This article explores the different forms of stress that can be placed on a joint so that a Yogi can make the appropriate choices when practicing. Some yoga postures are designed to beneficially stress the joints of the body to stimulate their strength and flexibility. There are two fundamentally different types of stress: tension ...
  • Taoist Analysis: The Three Tissues of the Body By Paul Grilley The first article in this series asked the question “How does my body move?” Before we could examine this question in any depth we took the time to review the Taoist ideas of Yin and Yang. We are now going to return to the original question or rather the question most relevant to Hatha Yoga practitioners: “Why does my body not move the way I want it to?” To ...
  • The Evolution of Ashtanga Yoga By Matthew Sweeney Ashtanga Yoga is a wonderful practice for the body and mind. It is an evolving practice that is changing and growing to suit people of all ages and abilities. At least that is its potential. The tradition and its changing nature can be a difficult thing to reconcile. This problem exists for all traditions, so understanding some of the principles at work is important. In most Ashtanga classes we ...
  • Exercising the Joints By Paul Grilley Exercise is now common place in our culture. So common in fact that it might shock people to remember that people who ran marathons in the first part of the 20th Century were considered of questionable sanity. In the 1950s and 1960s it was common for athletes to be cautioned against lifting weights as such practice would diminish their physical skills by making them “muscle bound” and “slow”. ...
  • Taoist Analysis: Getting familiar with Yin and Yang By Paul Grilley When analyzing the human body there are many things we could discuss. The Thirtieth Edition of Gray’s Anatomy runs to nearly 1700 pages. And that is just a description of body parts. Textbooks on physiology easily go into the thousands of pages. But what is most immediately relevant to Hatha Yoga practitioners is “How does my body move?” or even more precisely “Why does my body not move ...
  • Lengthening the Torso in Forward Bends By Ray Long In “Preventative Strategies for Lower Back Strains Part I,” we discussed femoral-pelvic and lumbar-pelvic rhythm, muscles that influence these rhythms, and the effects of these muscles on the lumbar spine. Here, our discussion progresses as we cover the trunk, the thoraco-lumbar fascia (TLF), Uddiyana Bandha and how accurate knowledge of this can be used to enhance the benefits of yoga and decrease the risk of lower back strains. ...
  • Exercise and Sacrifice By Paul Grilley In our last article we elaborated why we should make a distinction between Yin and Yang tissues. Yang tissues should be exercised in a Yang way and Yin tissues should be exercised in a Yin way. Muscles are Yang, bones and connective tissue are Yin. Yang muscles should be exercised with rhythm and repetition. Connective tissue or bone should be exercised with long periods of stasis or stillness. ...
  • Degenerative Disc Disease, The Sushumna Nadi and Yoga By Ray Long “A sword by itself rules nothing. It only comes alive in skilled hands.” Sir Te to Governor Yu in the martial arts classic, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. With this in mind, let’s look at a condition that affects the spinal column and, thus, has the potential to affect the Sushumna Nadi. Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a condition, or medical malady. It has been shown to affect as much ...

Philosophy

  • Becoming Animal: Using Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and Meditation as Embodiment Practices for the Cultivation of Organic Intelligence A practitioner in my Mysore program recently asked me: “If one side of a posture is more open than the other, and I feel like I can keep going deeper in the more open side, should I hold back to try to even it out with the less open side?” My response drew from what I feel is one of the most beautiful aspects of the Ashtanga Vinyasa practice. What follows ...
  • Starting Third Series (Again) – Reflections on an 11 year relationship. I first began to practice the third series of the Ashtanga Vinyasa system in early 2005, shortly after relocating to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory of Northern Canada. I had learned the primary and intermediate series from Mark Darby in Montreal the year before, and following a period of travel and then settling in a very remote and isolated corner of the world, I was far away from anyone who ...
  • Where is the feminine in yoga? Yoga has become the ultimate female activity, with 80 per cent of practitioners from the ‘fairer’ sex 1 . On the surface, the synchronised movements, bodyweight balances, and attention on breath seem more feminine than masculine, but a closer look shows it is anything but. The angular forms, linear movements, and mechanical instruction stem from male created systems serving to their energy, with scant attention paid to the fluid, rolling, ...
  • You Stop There, Part II – Reflections on my second trip in Mysore with Sharath Jois I recently completed my second three month trip practicing with Sharath Jois at the KPJAYI in Mysore. Last year I wrote two blog posts about my first trip, “A New Chapter” and “You Stop There”. These articles expressed my perspective of the experience of starting over as a beginner with Sharath, after having had a daily Ashtanga practice for 12 years, having completed the 4th series with my previous teacher Rolf ...
  • Holistic Asana Practice An Article for Asana Teachers What does it mean to be holistic in terms of practicing (or teaching) Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga? Holistic means whole, or even part of a whole, and implies completion, integration and oneness. Holistic characterized by the belief that the parts of something are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole Part One In order to be physically holistic we need to look at the whole body. Does the ...
  • This Body Titles can be tricky, especially in this society of speed, sound-bites and stimulants. Other options included ‘What happened in the summer holidays’ and ‘My appendix, the NHS, sangha and sustainability’. It began on the first Saturday of August. A busy day with many commitments. In the afternoon I was feeling a bit unwell – nothing too serious. I mused to myself that perhaps it was too much cake and too many ...
  • Mula Bandha and Float Backs Part 1: The Three Bandha The word Bandha can be defined variously as “lock”, “blockage” and “doorway”. Mula Bandha is the lower lock, meaning “root” or “earth”. There are a few definitions that I like regarding MB, so I wanted to start by sharing some of those. Wikipedia Mūla Bandha is the principal, key and primary Bandha of the Yogic traditions. Mūla Bandha is endemic to all safe, grounded workings of body-mind disciplines. This ...
  • Why I don’t Chant, Part 2: Tradition and Self Authority Last week I published an article titled “Why I don’t Chant”, in which I explained some of the reasons that I don’t use the Ashtanga opening and closing mantras in my classes or in my personal practice. As expected, I received mixed feedback on the article. Some people expressed that it resonated with them deeply, while others felt that by omitting the chant I was failing to do proper justice to ...
  • Why I don’t chant I don’t think I love God more than I love music. Why would a European sitting there, who doesn’t know the difference between Krishna and Rama, listen to this music for two hours? Why are instrumental concerts so popular? Do we know if the performer is playing a kriti in Kannada or Telugu, or if that kriti is talking about this lord or that deity? Our music is not about ...
  • Thoughts on Deepening an Authentic Yoga Practice Authentic yoga practice is an exploration in relationship. One who is practicing yoga as sadhana (rather than yoga as entertainment) has a relationship with their teacher, a relationship with the practice method or tradition, and most importantly a relationship with the self. Ultimately, the real work of yoga is to deepen and strengthen these relationships. A solid and stable relationship with the teacher and with the tradition of practice are essential ...
  • You Stop There: Lessons from Sharath Jois and Reflections on the Mysore Method I recently returned from my first three month trip to practice with Sharath Jois in Mysore. I am not a newcomer to the Ashtanga system – I completed the 4th series with my previous teacher Rolf Naujokat earlier in 2014, and have maintained a daily Ashtanga practice for nearly 12 years. I knew that when I went to Mysore for the first time, none of this would matter. When I went ...
  • Reformation of an Ashtanga Zealot In this article I describe my history with Ashtanga Yoga, how my approach changed over the decades, some of the problems that I encountered, their solution and how this has influenced my teaching. How I came to Ashtanga: Initially I was only interested in the meditation and philosophy aspects of yoga and practiced and studied those for many years. I came to asana only once I realized that the vitality of my ...
  • Broken Gods, Breaking Hearts: Pedestals, Boundaries, Pitfalls By Norman Blair I would like to dedicate this to all teachers and students who have crossed my path. Thank you for your advice and your effort, your encouragement and your sustenance. I hope this article is helpful in our growth towards honesty, compassion and openness. STARTING WITH A SONG To start with words from a song by Katy Perry: “lost my discretion…caught my attention” (‘I kissed a girl’). This article is an ...
  • No Magic to Protect You in “Wild Thing”, And No Magical Way in Which Yoga Changes the World /// Plus We Heart Be Scofield By Matthew Remski Nugget: The claim that Wild Thing can be done safely might involve the same wishful/magical thinking as the claim that yoga and meditation will automatically “shift consciousness”, whether individually, communally, or “vibrationally”. Both claims seem to depend upon overlooking concrete material conditions in favour of nurturing faith in vague metaphysical principles. Concrete material conditions demand specific learning objectives. If yogis want to be smart on the biomechanics front, ...
  • Update 3: What Are We Actually Doing In Yoga Asana /// “Wild Thing” Pose: Impossible, Injurious, Poignant By Matthew Remski Certum est quia impossibile est. — Tertullian I’m closing in on fifty interviews for this project, and it’s getting richer every week. I’ve spoken to a trauma survivor who has been repeatedly triggered in asana classes by both invasive touch and psychological insensitivity. I’ve spoken to a medical doctor (as well as 30-year practitioner and teacher) who remembers the moment when he actively suppressed his critical thinking medical-mind so that ...
  • The Box – Being Inside Looking Outside: An Ashtanga Story By Norman Blair I would like to present this piece in the spirit of compassion, co-operation and communication. My thanks to Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Sharat Jois and all teachers who have developed this practice and helped me along this path. The purpose of writing is to encourage debate and dialogue amongst practitioners. Some of what is written might be controversial but this is not a rocking of the boat simply ...
  • Is This Spiritual? By Melanie Cooper “Spiritual” is a concept or term often bandied around in yoga circles. It can be confusing to anyone – but especially a new student. We go along to a yoga class in our local gym thinking it’d be good to stretch our muscles after our workout. Then suddenly we learn it’s supposed to be “spiritual”. What does that mean? Is this some kind of cult? What’s going to ...
  • Achievement Unlocked By Susan Su Today Iain was given the last asana of the Ashtanga fourth series by his teacher, Rolf Naujokat. For all the non-yoga people out there, “finishing fourth” is an enormous achievement, beyond reach for 99.99% of humans and maybe 100% of Canadian ex-tree-planters/backcountry hikers/science nerds. I’ve spent many months carefully studying Iain’s success formula, and it basically boils down to this: STEP 1 – Work hard STEP 2 – Don’t give ...
  • The Evolution of Ashtanga Yoga Part II Yoga and Tradition By Matthew Sweeney Although Yoga, meditation and self inquiry are gaining popularity worldwide, these are still relatively new concepts for many people. How we define these concepts and the clarity with which we pursue them is of great interest to me. I am using the following definitions to shine a light on how adherence to a tradition can either help or hinder your practice of Yoga. It might be ...
  • The Mistaken Expectation of Joy in Yoga By Tim Feldmann Our yoga practice can give rise to difficult emotions, causing unnecessary confusion in our lives. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras offer a surprising context to help us understand this phenonoma. It seems there is a growing frustration in our contemporary yoga community as the popularity of this ancient Indian practice reaches new frontiers in our part of the world. Recently I have had several students approach me with a particular ...
  • My “Time-On” Sabbatical, or Where the Heck I’ve Been These Past 10 Months Aren’t you done relaxing yet?” a well-intentioned entrepreneur friend once asked me. I was startled. For an overachiever plowing through life, taking time to be with myself and not have anything important to do was the most un-relaxing thing I could imagine. In fact, it was excruciating. Last fall, I left my position running business operations at a web startup in Austin to spend what I thought would be four months with myself, ...
  • Meditations on Embodied Practice By Christine Lee Introduction The last thing I expected was for one of my yoga teachers to sound a Socratic note. After a six hour session, he made a disconcerting remark: “I hope this workshop has raised more questions than provided answers. I hope it has made you realize how lost you really are.” This comment came after a grueling week-long workshop in the traditional practice of Ashtanga vinyasa yoga, which entails memorizing ...
  • Ashtanga Yoga 70 years or 2000? A Side Thread to Matthew Sweeney’s Article ‘The Evolution of Ashtanga Yoga’ In Matthew Sweeney’s article The Evolution of Ashtanga Yoga that we posted here a few weeks ago, he writes the following: “Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a relatively new system, despite some opinions to the contrary. Apart from the obvious fact that the sequences have been changed by Pattabhi Jois over the years (usually for the better in my opinion) most would ...
  • The So-Called Tradition of Ashtanga By Chad Herst I have noticed that as the Mysore-style Ashtanga method becomes more popular over the years, the individual connection between teacher and student is disintegrating. The practice, which was originally designed to be individualized, has become increasingly supplanted by a one-size-fits-all approach. This is a natural outgrowth as more and more people both learn and are touched by the method. The unfortunate thing is that it misses the point of ...
  • The Evolution of Ashtanga Yoga By Matthew Sweeney Ashtanga Yoga is a wonderful practice for the body and mind. It is an evolving practice that is changing and growing to suit people of all ages and abilities. At least that is its potential. The tradition and its changing nature can be a difficult thing to reconcile. This problem exists for all traditions, so understanding some of the principles at work is important. In most Ashtanga classes we ...

Interviews

  • Becoming Animal: Using Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and Meditation as Embodiment Practices for the Cultivation of Organic Intelligence A practitioner in my Mysore program recently asked me: “If one side of a posture is more open than the other, and I feel like I can keep going deeper in the more open side, should I hold back to try to even it out with the less open side?” My response drew from what I feel is one of the most beautiful aspects of the Ashtanga Vinyasa practice. What follows ...
  • Prem Carlisi Interview 2016 Prem is such a pleasure to talk to, he is open and genuine and with so many years behind him both practicing and as a teacher his connection with what really matters is right there. The focus of this interview was really his early years starting out with yoga but as you can imagine we soon digressed to many even more worthwhile topics. If you fancy studying with Prem and Radha ...
  • David Keil Interview 2016 Its that time of year again when David Keil visits Purple Valley in Goa and I get to babble anatomy with someone who really knows his stuff. David is author of the brilliant book Functional Anatomy of Yoga and teaches around the world. In this interview we talk about the emerging interest in fascia, injuries, Ashtanga Yoga and of course a lot more. You can check out his site here www.yoganatomy.com Here ...
  • Michael Gannon Interview 2016 Michael Gannon is certainly not one of those teachers you have to tease information out of. In this interview we talk about his experiences as a teacher, modifying the practice (variation vs approximation), and his upcoming book. You can find out about where you can practice with Michael from his website: http://michaelgannonyoga.com/ Here are some of the other Interviews that I have posted so far. Lots more to come! Check out the ...
  • Themed Interview with David Robson: Floating and Jumping Whenever I think of spicing up the floating and jumping in my Ashtanga practice I think of David Robson. Perhaps this is because of the brilliant videos he has had out like “learn to float” with so much technical detail. It was not a big guess to think of who we wanted for our themed interview on the subject. I always have a lot of fun interviewing David because he ...
  • John Scott Interview 2016 I have been so lucky to be able to chat with John Scott quite a few times now. This interview amused me immensely because John was particularly difficult to keep on track as we meandered through multiple layers of digressions. In the end I think we did circle around to answer the question I posed at the beginning about moon phase and how it might influence our practice but there ...
  • Joey Miles Interview This is a great interview I did with the charismatic Joey Miles. We talk about what brought him to yoga and what he sees for his future as a teacher and practitioner, and of course a lot of other things. Joey is a kind and compassionate teacher and definitely someone I would seek out to study under. Last year I interviewed Joey and somehow the footage got corrupted, so this ...
  • Interview with Simon Borg-Olivier Popular all around the world Simon Borg-Olivier has definitely had an influence on many teachers yoga. It was a great pleasure to be able to catch up with him in Goa and finally get to chat with the man himself. You can also check out Simon’s website for more details about where to catch up with him: http://yogasynergy.com/ And here is the demo I mention in the interview! Simon also runs a world ...
  • Interview with Paul Dallaghan I was extremely lucky to be able to catch up with Paul Dallaghan while I was teaching a retreat in Samahita Retreat in Thailand. In this interview I get to talk to Paul about the teachers that influenced his practice, the studies he has now undertaken and how he feels the physical yoga practice sits within a general approach to health and fitness. You can also check out Paul’s website for ...
  • Themed Interview with Laruga Glaser: Backbending Laruga Glaser is such an inspiration for many students and so there was great excitement when we decided to do this themed interview centered around backbending. I talk to Laruga about her own backbending journey and I think you will be surprised to hear that although we may assume they come so easy for her, they are not always her favorite postures (mine neither 🙂 ). We go on to ...
  • Themed Interview with Mark Darby: Forwardfolding So this season I decided to do some interviews themed around different aspects of the practice. The format is a chat about the subject and then a demo /workshop. In this interview I get to talk to Darby and I chose forwardfolding not only because a good few students struggle at least initially with these types of postures but also because he has an approach that is not necessarily the ...
  • Interview with Josefine Selander In this interview I talk to Josefine about the concepts in her new book called Yoga & ACT. ACT stands for Acceptance Commitment Therapy and the book sets out to help you be effective in using yoga as a vehicle to start addressing some of the ways you deal with things in life. Josefine is very down to earth and has a great way of explaining things. You can visit Josefine’s ...
  • The Wonderful World of Fascia This was so much fun to do and of course very topical at the moment coming shortly after the Fascial Research Congress. Joanne Avison is a yoga teacher and author of the book entitled Yoga Fascia Anatomy and Movement and I was lucky enough to be able to interview her when I was back in the UK. The interview runs at two and a half hours and we only realized ...
  • Maty Ezraty Interview It was a great pleasure to do this interview with Maty. She is so full of enthusiasm and compassion it shines through everything she says. I remember the group at Purple Valley being so excited to be practicing with her and I think you will get a feel of why when you listen to this. You can find out more about Maty and her schedule here: www.matyezraty.com/ Here are some of the ...
  • Interview with Yin Yoga Teacher Magdalena Mecweld I met this lovely lady recently at Purple Valley where she had come to practice Ashtanga. I am all for mixing styles and finding what suits your body so when I found out that Magdalena was a famous Yin teacher and bestselling author I was very keen to interview her. She is so relaxed and full of enthusiasm, that whatever she is doing definitely works for her and maybe will ...
  • Interview with Wambui Njuguna on her Pregnancy and Yoga How you should modify you asana practice when pregnant is obviously a very personal thing, but it certainly helps to hear how other people balanced the two. Wambui has such a great calmness and kindness about her, that after this short interview Karolina (Director of Purple Valley) and I almost said at the same time: We must get Wambui to do a led practice and no sooner said than done! I will ...
  • Mini Interview and Demo with Suresh Munisamy I was in Bali recently teaching anatomy and physiology on a training for Matthew Sweeney and met yoga teacher Suresh Munisamy. He is a very sweet humble guy and I had no idea of the sort of postures he could do until a friend showed me some pictures. I thought you would enjoy a little interview and short demo. Suresh started yoga at 12 years old, that might explain why ...
  • Kino MacGregor & Tim Feldmann Interview Kino MacGregor and Tim Feldmann are both world renowned Ashtanga teachers in their own right but they also manage to find time to teach together as well. I focused this joint interview around them as a couple; how they approach teaching together, how their practices differ, do the like to practice together or seperately, who goes to who when they have a asana conundrum, that sort of thing. Here are some ...
  • David Keil Interview 2015 When I first started getting into yoga anatomy it was David Keil’s website and videos that I turned to so it is always top of my list to get the chance to sit down and chat with him. Ok so it’s going to be a bit geeky but David always explains things in such an accessible way, and the more you know about the way your body works the better! David ...
  • Mark Robberds Interview 2015 It’s great fun to interview Mark Robberds because he is so chilled and as much as surfer dude as he is an Ashtangi. We get to talk about his twin passions and how he works on his strength, lessons he has learnt himself from other teachers as well as techniques he incorporates into his practice. I even managed to get him to demo stuff right there in the interview, not ...
  • John Scott Interview 2015 It was such a pleasure to be able to practice with John Scott recently and to do this interview at Purple Valley in Goa. John’s energy and enthusiasm radiates from him and inspires all those lucky enough to be in the shala. I took this opportunity to delve into some of the things that are at the core of John’s teachings, such as the vinyasa count, and the embodiment ...
  • Laruga Glaser Interview Laruga Glaser is an authorized level 2 Ashtanga yoga teacher whose practice at times seems to defy gravity. If you watch a video of Laruga in action (such as the brilliant one by Alessandro Sigismondi: The Impossible ) it is obvious that her small frame is immensely strong but what impresses me even more is the fluidity and femininity of her practice. I am in the lucky position to be ...
  • Alexander Medin Interview (Back In The Ring 2) Alexander Medin is now into the second year of his ‘Back In The Ring’ project, which aims to help people suffering from drug addiction (mostly heroin) to stay clean through the use of Ashtanga Yoga and the selfless helping of others. The mission statement is: Strength, clarity and transformation through helping others. Alexander brought this years group to Ashtanga yoga retreat center Purple Valley in Goa, India before carrying on further ...
  • Julie Martin Interview Vinyasa Flow teacher Julie Martin is Director of Brahmani Yoga and teaches workshops around the world. In this interview I talk to Julie about the important things to bear in mind when sequencing, multi-level classes, using non linear movement, buoyancy in postures and how she has adapted the way she teaches over the years in response to her changing understanding of the body and yoga. You can find out more ...
  • Loveyogaanatomy Special Emissaries Your Chance to Join the Team You might have already seen the new Magazine page: Hey Stu! What’s your Question?, where I am asking a question to a teacher and posting their video response. Well now it’s your turn to get in on the act! It’s obvious too me that there are so many great teachers out there that I either don’t know about or have no way to contact.  You may also ...
  • Louisa Sear Interview It was great to be able to catch up with Louisa Sear at her new retreat center, ‘The Shala Bali’. Louisa started running yoga teacher trainings over 20 years ago, back in the day when they lasted 9 months. One of the things we talk about in this interview is the key facets that have remained as the trend has been for shorter and shorter courses. The development of a ...
  • Mark Darby Interview It’s great to have the opportunity to talk to teachers that have been with the Ashtanga practice for so many years. Mark explains the things he emphasizes in his teaching, breaking patterns, bandhas and more. Here are some of the other Interviews that I have posted so far. Lots more to come! Check out the Interview page for the full list. Share this:FacebookTwitterGoogle
  • Michael Gannon Interview In this interview with Michael I got to ask him about how he started his journey into yoga, and especially his rather unorthodox approach to teaching and his own practice. Using music! (yes you read right). And of course much more! Here are some of the other Interviews that I have posted so far. Lots more to come! Check out the Interview page for the full list. Share this:FacebookTwitterGoogle
  • Tim Feldmann Interview I really enjoyed doing this interview with Tim. He is easy to talk to and had lots to share. His experience and understanding of the body leads to some useful insights when discussing asana. We had time to talk about many topics including how his background in dance influences his teaching, as well as specific asanas. Visit Tim’s Website: http://www.yogajoy.org Tim also has his own column here at loveyogaanatomy, while you’re here ...
  • Raw Food: Ben and Sayuri Interview Many people have asked me to post more about nutrition on the site, so I recently managed to arrange an interview with popular raw food chefs Ben Richards and Sayuri Tanaka. Not only do they run raw food trainings but they also are involved with joint raw food & yoga retreats as well as have their own raw food restaurant in Ubud Bali. Amoungst other things I get to ask ...
  • Matthew Sweeney Interview I finally caught up with Matthew Sweeney again. this time in Bali. In this interview we get to talk about what it means to have a therapeutic practice, his moon sequence, teacher qualities, observation of moon days, bandhas and more. If you haven’t already done so check out his two articles that are posted here as well, they are listed at the bottom. If you want to just listen to the ...
  • Norman Blair Interview While I was in London recently I snatched the chance to interview Ashtanga and Yin Teacher Norman Blair. Many practitioners are drawn to the idea of supporting their yang predominant practice with something more restorative or yin. In this interview we discuss what is meant by yin yoga and how it can complement an Ashatanga practice. Norman began practicing yoga in the early 1990s and he has been teaching since 2001. ...
  • David Keil Interview If you are interested in Yoga Anatomy or Ashtanaga you will know about David Keil. With his great and informative website http://www.yoganatomy.com/ and worldwide workshops. I was like a kid in a toy shop when I got the chance to interview David. Loads of topics were covered with plenty of geeky anatomy talk. At this time I am posting the interview in manageable bites with the whole thing coming soon. How ...
  • Petri Raisanen Interview Have you ever met someone who just makes you smile with the warmth that they emanate without having to say a word? That is Petri Raisanen. Calm, tranquil,and the sort of person that makes you feel that you have known them for ages even though you have just said hello. When taking a mysore practice this quite but powerful presence holds the energy in the room in a state that ...
  • David Robson Interview David Robson has one of the world’s largest Ashtanga mysore programs outside of Mysore itself. He is part of the new vanguard of teachers that have studied only under Sharath Jois. A level 2 authorised teacher he describes himself as traditional in style. David is one of the most passionate and entertaining teachers that I have had the pleasure in interviewing and I know you will enjoy this. If you ...
  • Melanie Cooper Interview While in Goa this winter I had the chance to interview Melanie Cooper. Melanie is an Ashtanga and Yin Teacher and has recently had a book published called Teaching Yoga Adjusting Asana. She has been teaching for sixteen years and training other teachers for the last eight years. Presently she runs a mysore program at The Life Centre Islington in London. In this interview I talk to her about teaching ...
  • Glenn Ceresoli Interview While at the beautiful Satsanga Yoga Retreat in Goa India I was lucky to arrange a rare interview with senior Iyengar teacher Glenn Ceresoli. Glenn has been practicing and teaching for over 30 years and although based in Sydney Australia he spends a good amount of his time traveling around the world holding intensives, retreats and workshops. His depth of knowledge and experience allows him to guide students deeper into ...
  • Alexander Medin Interview I know you will like this a lot. I managed to grab an interview with Alexander while he was leading a retreat at the wonderful Purple Valley Yoga Center in Goa, India. We talk about the how the asana practice fits into yoga, the importance of finding stillness in the postures, his own experiences starting out as well as one of his most recent projects ‘Back in the Ring‘.I have ...
  • Anthony Prem Carlisi Interview So rather than just lying on the beach all day while I was in Bali, what was I doing, searching out those great teachers for interviews so that I can bring you the juice (ok, so I lie a bit, there was a fair amount of time on the beach, but hey it’s Bali. My Gregor Maehle’s interview is here). So I went to the Ashtanga Yoga Bali Research Center ...
  • Gregor Maehle Interview Gregor Maehle Interview Part 1 Gregor Maehle Interview Part 2 Gregor Maehle Interview Part 3 Gregor started his Yogic practices 30 years ago. In the mid-80’s he commenced yearly travels to India where he studied with various yogic and tantric masters and traditional Indian sadhus and ascetics. Amongst others he studied 14 months with K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India, and in 1997 was authorized by him to teach. Since then he has ...

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