Articles

Knees and Padmasana

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 when the knee is flexed. Swelling or pain in this area can…

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Pain is your friend!

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 day or so. We will endeavor to explore the common situations that may…

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Sitting Up Straight and Expanding the Chest Forward in Sukhasana

Slumping the back and collapsing the chest is a common occurrence in Sukhasana, especially in those who are new to yoga. Factors that can contribute to this posture include fatigue, defeated mental state, and tight muscle groups. Many yoga poses are designed to counteract these factors, Sukhasana being one of them. Sitting up in Easy Cross-Legged Pose aids to bring the spinal column into alignment, so that the vertebral bodies and their discs support the torso; expanding the chest forward…

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Assessing Range of Motion in Downward Dog

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 with the feet. The arms and shoulders bear more weight…

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Assessing Range of Motion in Squatting Poses

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 of the squatting poses will be awkward and uncomfortable. You can…

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Cracking and Popping Joints

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 of a joint are fixated. We will examine these one…

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Stretching Ligaments: A Yogi’s Apology

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 what word might be better than stretch? A more appropriate word…

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Shoulderstand

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 tests involve three different body segments. Counterbalance Our very first step…

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Let the Lumbar Curve Be

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.

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Stretching the Spine

Paschimattanasana

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.

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