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4 Week Fundamental Series

Luke Downward DogWe are excited to announce a new workshop series at YogaSport, The 4 Week Fundamental Series. In this 4 class workshop, you will learn the basic alignment and form of Power Flow Yoga. Through demonstration, discussion, hands-on adjustments, and guided practice, we will provide you with a solid foundation of this dynamic style of yoga. Each series will cover the following:

Class 1: Sun Salutations
Class 2: Warrior Poses
Class 3: Balance & Triangle Poses
Class 4: Backbends/Abs

All classes will include additional floor and inversion postures. This series is designed for brand new students who want to learn more about the practice as well as seasoned practitioners looking to fine tune their asanas.

Fall Sessions
Session 1: Thursdays 9/17-10/8
Session 2: Tuesdays 9/22-10/13
Session 3: Tuesdays 10/20-11/10
Session 4: Thursdays 10/22-11/12

If you purchased a Groupon for this workshop, please email nicole@yogasportdallas.com to complete your registration.  

Holiday Happiness with Half Pigeon

By YS Instructor, Morgan Martindale

You can prepare for the chaos, mad shoppers, and drama of the holidays by addressing and releasing your emotions through hip opening postures such as half pigeon. Everyone can benefit from a deep hip opener. Open hips also release the negative feelings and energy from your system since stress, tension and anxiety are often stored there.

Half pigeon pose stretches your thighs, groins, hip flexors, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and neck. It is also known to stimulate abdominal organs and helps to open your chest and shoulders.

Step 1: Start in a low lunge, with your right foot forward and your back (left) knee down.

Step 2: Walk your right foot to the outside of your left hand and lower your right knee near your right hand. Lower your right hip to the floor. Place your right shin as parallel as possible to the front edge of your ma and flex your right foot.

Step 3: Extend your back leg straight from the hip socket.

Step 4: Externally rotate your right thigh and internally rotate your left thigh.

Step 5: Inhale and draw your torso upright. Sit up tall and square hips to the floor. If your hips are not square there will be unnecessary force on your low back, and you won’t be able to open your hips to their fullest. If you find yourself falling into your right hip, prop up your hip with a block or blanket to stay aligned.

Step 6: Exhale and walk your hands forward. Rest your head on a block or towel. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your abdomen active. Forward bends turn on our parasympathetic nervous system (rest & digest) and are cooling, calming poses.

Step 7: Stay with it! You can create a mantra or count your inhale and exhale breaths, with your inhale & exhale at the same fluid length.

Repeat on the other side.

Don’t shy away from practicing the pose if you feel a rush of released emotion and cry. Sometimes this pose will take your breath away because of its depth, but stick with it, stay in the pose, and ultimately you’ll begin to notice improvement and even feel empowered. It’s important to remember in yoga that it’s not where we are going (to get out of the pose), but where we are right now (in the pose and in life). Keep the peace this holiday season.

Namaste.

The Funny Thing About Folding: A Safer Way to Fold Forward

By YS Instructor, Christopher Roberson

As a yoga practitioner, it is easy to get caught up in trying to nail a fancy arm balance, or rock a full Wheel, but some students struggle with the most seemingly basic poses. Whether you have just found your way onto your mat or have been shaking your asana for years, try taking a deeper look at the way you fold.

Most of us know that forward folds are great for stretching the hamstrings, the long muscles that run down the backs of your legs. If these muscles are tight, the pelvis will have a hard time tilting forward. If the pelvis doesn’t tilt forward (meaning the tailbone lifts, and the front of your pelvis drops) pressure is placed on your low spine when the naturally concave curvature of your lumbar spine, or low back, begins to curve away from your body, causing hyperflexion. This is especially hard on your spine when it’s also supporting the weight on your torso.

Below are a few practical tips to tilt your pelvis, lengthen your back, and keep your spine healthy for a long life of yoga when you forward fold.

Squeeze your thighs. Your body’s muscles work together. As one muscle contracts, an opposing muscle stretches. This concept is called reciprocal inhibition, and it’s the building block for how your muscles function together. Your thighs oppose your hamstrings, so squeezing the tops of your legs will actually cue the backs of your legs to release and allow a deeper stretch.

Bend your knees. You do NOT need to have straight legs. In fact, most people should NOT have straight legs when folding. Bending your knees shortens the length of your hamstrings along the backs of your legs, which allows your tailbone to lift higher, and the front of your pelvis to drop lower. When your pelvis has room to tilt, you will find you have a greater ability to extend your spine longer. This isn’t cheating; it’s honoring your body.

Use your belly! Remember that reciprocal inhibition mumbo jumbo from before? Let’s put this concept to use in another way. The rectus abdominal muscles are responsible for folding your torso toward your legs and are what create the appearance of the much sought after 6-pack (a 1-pack is cool too). Engaging this muscle provides the physiological effect of keeping your back muscles from contracting. Combine this action with bent knees and your belly will kiss your thighs in appreciation.

Breathe like it matters. Because it does! Slightly lift and lengthen your torso with each inhalation. Release deeper into the pose as you exhale. This is a technique you can use in just about every pose in your practice.

Separate your feet. Try adding a little space between your feet. A wider stance opens up space around your sacrum and will allow your pelvis to tilt more. Over time, as your legs become more limber you can move your feet closer together.

Use a block. If you have a ways to go before you can touch the ground in a standing forward fold, don’t sweat! Nothing magical happens when you touch your toes, so give your back a break by using blocks! Place a block a few inches in front of your feet, and then place your hands on it to lengthen your reach. Remember, the goal is to keep your back straight instead of letting it round out and away from your body, so use whatever tools you can to protect your spine.

Try sacral nutation. Sacral what?! The area around your sacrum, the sacroiliac joint, is pretty much the most stable joint in the body. It’s meant for supporting weight, which means it’s really inflexible. Nutation is just a fancy word for nodding (as in nodding your head). In a forward fold, if you drag your feet away from one another, without allowing your feet to actually move, parts of your glute muscles, as well as a few more supporting muscle structures will tighten and free space around this oh-so-inflexible space. This will allow a few more millimeters of folding from the subtle nutation of your sacrum and will help protect your lumbar spine from hyperflexing. This is really helpful in longer forward folds, such as Ragdoll.

It’s easy to look back at the list above and get a little overwhelmed. But here’s the deal: try these techniques out when you practice and get a sense for what feels better in YOUR body. Overtime, these elements will become second nature and you’ll wonder how you ever folded before!

The Wayward Warrior: Virabhadrasana 1, in 10 Steps

By YS Instructor, Christopher Roberson

In every class, in almost every yoga studio, you will practice Warrior 1 multiple times. In a vinyasa flow, there is a tendency for this pose to become a transitory pose and not one that receives as much attention as it should. These 10 steps will help you strengthen and stabilize your Warrior 1, and create beneficial alignment.

  1. From Downward Facing Dog, step your right foot between your hands. Ensure that the toes on your right foot are facing forward and not turned in or out. You want your weight distributed over your ankle so you can press your foot evenly into the mat.
  2. Pivot your back foot to the ground and squeeze the pinky edge of that foot into your mat, then straighten the back leg. Target a 40-60 degree angle in your back foot. If the outside edge of your foot isn’t pressing into the ground, the arch of your back foot will collapse, and your heel will lift off the floor. This will decrease your connection to the ground and make you less stable. Once you get active in your feet you will realize that they make or break this pose. Your entire back leg should be straight and solid. If you allow a bend in your leg you risk torquing your knee. A good rule of thumb is that the front of your ankle, shin, knee, and thigh should all face the same direction.
  3. Engage your core and lift your arms overhead. When lifting into any pose, tightening your belly in will stabilize your spine.
  4. Deepen into your lunge until your front knee is directly over your ankle. Most people with tight hip flexors have a tendency to let their knee roll inwards. Press your knee towards the pinky toe side of your right foot while drawing your right hip back. This will externally rotate your front thigh and help you avoid strain in your knee. For those of us who are tight, this is a LOT of work.
  5. Square your hips! If your hips aren’t square, you won’t access the deep stretch in the front of your right hip. The psoas connects your low spine to the inside of your leg and lets you do all sorts of amazing things like bend over, walk, and kick. Sitting all day long at work makes these muscles perpetually tight, so if drawing your right hip back is difficult, you’re doing it right!
  6. Tilt your tailbone down. Your spine should be vertical in Warrior 1. If you don’t tuck your tail, your low back will scoop in, and you could compress vertebrae in your low back. You can create this action by squeezing into your left butt cheek while drawing your belly in tight. These muscle groups oppose one another, and activating them both at the same time by tucking your tailbone down and lifting your pubic bone up will stabilize your pelvis.
  7. Square your chest forward. If your chest opens out to the left, the muscles in your back won’t be evenly engaged, and your hips will struggle to stay in alignment.
  8. Roll your shoulders back and down. By squeezing your shoulder blades together and dropping them away from your ears, you will strengthen the muscles in your upper back and open muscles in your chest. Sitting all day long tends to tighten the muscles in our chest and weaken the muscles in our back. This imbalance between the chest and back muscles cause your posture to suffer, which can cause all sorts of issues in your upper body.
  9. Rotate your pinky fingers towards each other and your thumbs away from each other. This movement eternally rotates your shoulders and helps support the action described in #8.
  10. Drag your heels toward the midline of your mat. They shouldn’t actually move, but the muscles that are responsible for drawing your legs together will tighten up and stabilize your pelvis. This is particularly important for those of you with a bit more flexibility that might otherwise rest in the stretch instead of staying active in your legs.

As you read through this list you might think, “Geez, this is a lot! How am I ever going to remember all that”?

Don’t freak out.

Keep checking back to this list, and work on incorporating these elements each time you practice. Warrior 1 is work, and you have unlimited opportunities to do your body good by being in alignment and building all the right strength in all the right places.

How to do Forearm Balance – August Pose of the Month

Forearm_Balance_Pose_PrepHappy August everyone!  There is no better way to stay cool and be cool than an inversion pose! Yes, your August Pose of the Month is Forearm Balance, or Pincha Mayurasana. We all know that an inversion, such as shoulder stand, is excellent for calming the nervous system and restoring a sense of balance and equanimity. Forearm Balance provides the same benefits, with a lot of core thrown in for good measure. Enjoy this challenging pose and we look forward to seeing you on the mat!

Benefits:

• Improves sense of balance and calms the brain
• Strengthens shoulders, arms, back, and core

Key Alignment Points:

• Engage your core muscles
• Look between your arms
• Drop your shoulder blades down your backForearm_Balance_Pose
• Ground your forearms and palms down and push away from mat

Step by Step:

1. Come to dolphin with arms shoulder width distance.

2. Take feet together and walk them forward a step.

3. Lift right leg in a full internal rotation extension.

4. Bend left knee and gently kick up.

5. Make sure both legs are extended when in the air.

6. Internally rotate thighs and press the balls of feet up.

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July Pose of the Month – Hero Pose

Alright y’all, we know you are super sad to see June’s core work go away but get excited to STRETCH YOUR QUADS! Our Power Flow practice loves to stretch our hammies but doesn’t allow for a ton of extra quad stretching. Hero pose is a great way to get into those four awesome muscles we call the quads, and give yourself some relief from walking, running, sitting or whatever else it is you do (or don’t), all day long. Here’s to a great month of front body releasing. Don’t forget to grab your block if you are tight or have knee limitations.

BENEFITS:

  • Stretches quads, hips and ankles
  • Opens heart
  • Facilitates digestion

KEY ALIGNMENT POINTS:

  • Knees together
  • Calves rotated outward
  • Feet flat and straight behind you
  • Stay seated or recline back

STEP BY STEP:

1. Kneel on your mat with your knees together and feet flat.
2. Slide your feet apart and, using your hands, rotate your calf muscles outward.
3. Sit between your ankles. If you feel pressure in your knees, sit on a block.
4. Stay seated or recline back, placing your palms, elbows, or back on the mat.
5. Place your hands in a comfy position on your thighs or at your sides.
6. Engage your core and tuck your talk to support your lower back.
7. Draw your shoulder blades together and open your heart center.
8. Relax and breathe.

 

 

Pose of the Month – Handstand

Pose of the month is back! Over the past four years, we have heard how much you miss this program so we have officially revived it.  Each month we pick a pose and you will practice that pose in every class at YS.  We start in March of 2012 with handstand. We will be practicing leap frogs as well as one leg entrances into the pose (directions shown in the poster below).  By April, you will be flying high on your hands!