Articles

Balancing Freedom and Restraint in Yoga

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 limitations. Yoga balances freedom and restraint. Knowledge of the body shows…

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Using the TFL to Refine Utthita Parsvakonasana

TFL

Many of the standing poses have a lunge component; that is, the forward hip and knee flex while the back hip and knee extend. It is not unusual in these types of asanas for the forward knee to drift inward, with the pelvis moving in the opposite direction. An example of this is Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Lateral Angle Pose).

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Helicoidal Flow: Yoga As A Body Holiday

Spiralling 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 enter the world via the birth canal entails travelling through…

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The So-Called Tradition of Ashtanga

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 Mysore-style methodology, which by its nature honors each student’s constitution,…

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Antagonist/Synergist Combinations in Yoga

Warrior II

In this post we explore the relationship between the tensor fascia lata (TFL) and the gluteus maximus. In addition I add a cue for engaging the adductor magnus as a synergist of the gluteus maximus. Knowledge of these relationships can be used to refine and stabilize postures with a lunge component, such as Warrior II. The “Deltoid” of the Hip You might think of the TFL as akin to the anterior deltoid of the shoulder in that it flexes and…

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Neck Pain from the Hips

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 curve reverses. Both of these neck positions cause pain in the upper…

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Sacroiliac Joints and Yoga

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 referred into the buttocks, legs, lower back and neck. The hip area…

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Understanding and Managing Sacroiliac Pain in Yoga Practice

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 for yogis suffering from sacroiliac dysfunction. It is very important to get…

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Lower Back Pain and Posture (Pelvic Tilt) and how Yoga affects Pelvic Tilt

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 to how the pelvis is tilted. This is the body’s internal balancing…

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Lower Back Pain in Yoga Practice and the Lumbar Spine

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 facet joints. An overactive Iliopsoas will do the same thing, which is…

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