Got a stiff neck? Tight shoulders? Tension headache?
I’m spending a lot more time at the computer these days as I continue to research and work on my thesis. The hours I put in staring at a screen and with my hands on the keyboard, coupled with my poor standing habits (that’s another blog), leave me with hard and overworked levator scapulae and upper trapezius.**
This is a simple technique you can use to alleviate muscle tension. All you need is a 10 foot yoga belt. A second yoga belt will allow you to give yourself the adjust we show, but really, just the shoulder jacket helps.
You can use this shoulder jacket while sitting at your desk. You can use the whole double belt set up if you have a standing workstation, like this one:
You can even do your standing poses this way. Join me in my fully equipped home studio for a private yoga lesson in Hermosa Beach and I will show you the benefit of adding props to your practice. You challenge yourself more comfortably (not more easily) so you can stay in the poses longer and get better access to the benefits of yoga – if you know how to use props well.
That’s my idea of yoga therapy. What’s yours?
**I’ve simplified the muscles group for clarity and ease. Really, I mean the entire network of neck, shoulder and back muscles. But that’s a can of worms I don’t want to open right now.
Triangle Pose is one of the foundational poses you learn in yoga, but it is far from easy.
In the beginning, just dealing with the strength and flexibility required in the legs can keep you busy. But after a few years of practice, you develop your own posture in the pose – that is to say, you tend to move more where you already move easily.
If you are someone who likes to use the bend in spine associate with this type of twist, this variation is for you. Or if you tend to collapse in the front hip, this might just keep you honest.
I teach private yoga lessons in Hermosa Beach with a therapeutic approach. If this triangle variation isn’t right for you, another one will be. Ultimately, my goals is the have the pose work for you.
Yoga teachers want to learn more? We offer a 300 hour certification and continuing education for yoga teachers at the Leeann Carey Yoga school.
Teaching Yapana yoga takes me all across the country. I find that teachers are obsessed with how to “cue” a pose. While I can appreciate the dedication to teaching yoga, I fear that it doesn’t help the teacher see the student in front of her. There is no universal “cue” – only a skill that requires muscle force to work with (or against, depending on who you are) gravitational forces and external forces to ignite natural and safe movements.
Here’s an example: “lean back” in revolved triangle pose.
Depending on who you are, “lean back” could mean the following:
- excess movement in the lumbar, thus shortening the spine here
- too much torque at the SI joint
- pelvic twisting and lack of presence in the legs
- throwing the top shoulder posteriorly
- yanking the bottom shoulder anteriorly
- some crazy stuff in the neck
- _________ (fill in the blank, I know you’ve seen it)
Here’s a way to practice Parivrtta Trikonasana in a way that helps you find the right skill. The wall acts as that external force for you to work with (or against) so your relationship to gravity is a little more enjoyable, even if that doesn’t mean easier.
The yoga headstand requires skill to practice safely and wisely.
- The muscles of the shoulder joint must be strong : rotator cuff muscles, deltoids, long head of the triceps.
- The shoulder girdle must be mobile enough posteriorly: rhomboids, upper and middle trapezius lengthen.
- In addition the shoulder girdle must be stable enough to support the weight of the body properly – think serratus anterior.
When this is a challenge (which it is, even in a skilled yoga student) the result is somewhere along this continuum:
- Doing the pose when the skill isn’t yet achieved.
- Avoiding the pose entirely.
Most people fall somewhere between, but some stay at the extreme end.
The Yapana approach is therapeutic. You can increase your access to the skills through support. Try it, it feels great. Plus, feeling successful in the pose is always good for learning and for that delicate ego we hate to crush.
More videos at www.leeanncareyyoga.com
Contact me for private yoga classes in Hermosa Beach, where you get one one instruction to help you find the skills in your unique body.
I know, I know. I never blog anymore.
But this is what I am doing:
- Teaching anatomy on weekends for Leeann Carey Yoga
- Taking a biomechanics course for my graduate program
- Researching for my thesis on tissue mechanics
- Teaching 10 weekly private yoga lessons in Hermosa Beach
- Teaching a weekly public yoga class in Manhattan Beach
- Teaching one weekly Yapana style South Bay yoga class: a donation based clinic
- Directing the South Bay Yoga Conference
Sometimes I sleep.
I was fortunate enough to have Leeann film me teaching last weekend. It makes the perfect blog. Less than 2 minutes and totally useful information. It teaches our Key Positioning Skill “Sternum Lifts” from our Anatomy Module. Check it out.
Leeann’s recent article inspired me. We are a yoga teacher certification program that focus on the details of the pose and how the pose fits the student.
Here’s my take on the biomechanics of downdog…Part One.
Leeann recently wrote an article for Teachasana.
Because my carrying angle is so great, I’m a subject in her blog. Check it out.
It’s been quiet over here. My apologies.
The yoga anatomy blogs are rare, but that’s because the biomechanics studies are in full force. Just wait until I’m on summer break…you should find some great posts here.
Actually, it’s spring break, which is why I’m posting this.
Leeann and I have managed to get some filming in…some “how to” practice and teach yoga videos. I thought I’d share some with you. These are basically different yoga tips, yoga adjustments, and yoga modification so you can work the necessary skills in the pose and still find what’s right for you.
The first video is Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward facing dog). We show a great variation using yoga blocks which increase the segment length of the arms, allowing for more space for the spine to arrange and work through the necessary extension for the pose. Try it and see how great it is.
This next one is quite literally Urdhva Mukha Svanasana inverted. Purvottanasna requires similar skills to get the mid and upper back to move forward while the action in the legs, hips and abdominal direct the pelvis. Try this variation at home and notice what changes before and after the belt around the feet.
I just wrote a new blog for the Leeann Carey Yoga newsletter. You can catch it here:
It basically discusses the action of the serratus anterior and the non-action of the upper trapezius, particularly in backbends. Although the yoga anatomy concepts actually apply to all yoga poses, including the everyday down dog.
Here is a picture of me from the article that shows how the yoga belt and block helps me access the serratus anterior when upside down and backwards.
I teach private yoga lessons in Hermosa Beach, CA for the South Bay Yoga community. My emphasis is on preventing and healing injuries, and choosing a yoga practice that counters your daily routine. The photo is in my home studio.
Follow the link to read the whole article: http://leeanncareyyoga.com/yoga/2012/01/urdhva-dhanurasana-balance-efforts/
Jules Mitchell Yoga Anatomy ERYT 500